Voluntary writers at the Wikipedia Conference
I’m journalist, writer and sometimes I have created articles for wikipedia and when I was in New York I had the opportunity to enjoy of the Wikiconference USA. According to Wikipedia, there are nearly 22,000,000 registered “Wikipedians”: contributors to the online encyclopedia’s treasure trove of content, responsible for writing and editing everything from entries on the Presidents of the United States to the List of Fictional Raccoons. Of those users, “Only a minority are regular contributors,” according to the site. “And only a minority of those users interact in discussions about the community.” The latter minority came together at Wikiconference USA, a series of panel discussions about the state of Wikipedia held at New York Law School’s Tribeca campus. Jim Henderson, a retired telephone switchman in New York City, was one of the volunteers of Wikiconference and he share the desk with me the first day to receive the people at the conference.
But really, according to some attendees, it was actually a minority of the minority of the minority. “Some hardcore Wikipedians, you never see,” says Kevin Rutherford, a braces-wearing 23-year-old whose badge identifies him as a volunteer with the New England Wikimedians. “Some are very antisocial,” he says, nodding at a group of people spilling out of a panel titled The State of Wikidata. “Even some of the ones who are here. You’ll recognize them. They have like the pizza-stained shirts. We’re the well-dressed, chill ones,” he continued, gesturing to the small group he was sitting with on a leather couches, which included Frank Schulenburg, the head of the Wiki Education Foundation, and Alex Stinson, a graduate student at Kansas State University.