Whether it’s a history of
baseball or a bio of Luke Burbank, you can find out about
nearly anything on Wikipedia. But who actually does all
the posting and editing of the information on the open
source site? Mostly volunteers, but none more dedicated
than Justin Knapp.
The 30-year-old Wikipedia devotee just became the
first person to complete 1,000,000 edits on the site. In
an interview with Ross and Burbank, he says he does it
simply out of a desire to share knowledge with others.
It’s a dedication that borders on obsession for the
Indiana University nursing student pursuing his third
“Some days, if I’m not busy and if I’ve got nothing
going on, back when I was living with my parents, I would
spend the whole 16 hours, the whole waking day, and I
would just periodically come back to Wikipedia.”
Knapp says on average, he spends about two hours a day
editing others work as well as articles he created
himself. Among his highlights, he says a proud
achievement was building the bibliography for the
Wikipedia entry on George Orwell, which he says is the
most comprehensive of its kind in the world.
Knapp also has an affinity for music (especially
R.E.M.), politics and religion.
Some question whether Wikipedia can survive with just
donations and volunteers like Knapp and the site is said
to be perilous financial condition. But Knapp isn’t
willing to write its obituary.
“As long as there are persons out there who are
interested in sharing, and community, openness, liberty,
and knowledge, then of course it will survive.”
So what qualifies someone like Knapp to be a Wikipedia
editor? Turns out, not much.
“The thing that qualifies me is I make quality edits, I
do things that are helpful,” Knapp says.
“I have a basic competence in English, I have an idea,
a little bit about technically how some of these things
work, but barring that, I have an Internet connection and
I want to help. That’s all that it really takes.”
Knapp is getting plenty of media attention because of
his recent accomplishment, but in a somewhat cruel twist
there isn’t a Wikipedia page about him or his
contributions to the site (now the sixth most-visited on
the Internet.) And that’s just fine with him.
“I’m not the sort of person who really likes the
spotlight,” he tells Ross and Burbank.
-Josh Kerns/My Northwest.com editor