This article in-tells a response to articles that discuss the authorship of the infamous online fact finder, Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, owned by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization. The site aims to allow internet users to have access to a multi facet of information, all while giving those same internet users, the ability to make edits to the articles produced on the site. This ability for anyone to be able to edit the site posses the question: Who are the authors of the pages on Wikipedia? This big question is looming in the heads of numerous internet users, specifically those who use or are weary of the sites credibility.

Creative Commons Image — Giulia Forsythe

Although there has been an abundance of ambiguity around the owners of the infamous site know as Wikipedia, people still continuously use the site, despite their knowledge of an author. In an article entitled Who The Hell Writes Wikipedia, Anyway? written by Business Insider, they commented that the author was in fact “1,400 freaks.” This number derived from the late Aaron Swartz essay, back in 2007 after receiving comments by Jimmy Wales. But how can one quantitatively pin point the exact number of authors. Every day someone is exposed to Wikipedia and ever day people are free to edit and make changes as they see fit. So how can one tell ? Swartz makes it clear in his investigation of the site and authorship.

Swartz took it upon himself to conduct an experiment gathering and analyzing a percentage of original text rather than the number of edits individuals made. His findings found that a majority of the original text was made by tens of thousands of what he calls “outsiders.” These outsiders may make just one contribution to the site and that be it. But those who continuously make edits and correction are the central authors of the site. These editors are noted as the 1,400 “insiders.” Taking a closer look at RAW THOUGHT, six-part blog post on the site, one can concisely see where Swartz gathered his reasoning. In part three Who Write’s Wikipedia? he writes:

“…an outsider makes one edit to add a chunk of information, then insiders make several edits tweaking and reformatting it. In addition, insiders rack up thousands of edits doing things like changing the name of a category across the entire site — the kind of thing only insiders deeply care about. As a result, insiders account for the vast majority of the edits. But it’s the outsiders who provide nearly all of the content.”

Interesting enough, I personally think that, although it is extremely hard to label the exact author of the individual site. Everyone who makes a contribution whether an “outsider” or “insider” as described above, should have the option to take authorship, and thus be able to be a co-author. The range in which an individual can contribute to a piece is in fact extremely vast. But I feel as though the minimalist task is worth recognition. When assessing how that is true, I like to think of a candy production line. Whether you have the major job of making the candy or the minimal of placing a label on the packaging of the candy, it is important to note that both are key components to the success of the candy. Essential each component make a unit. A packaging of candy is comparatively nothing without it’s name and a label is nothing without it’s precious cargo. I am a true believer in everyone having a part in the process.

Creative Commons Image — Scott Ogle

When considering who the authors are of a particular Wikipedia page it is essential important for people to consider these possibilities. Imagine if you were an “outsider,” wouldn’t you want recognition for the work that you contributed to a page. One thing that I feel like would be beneficial to make the site more creditable to the public eye is to have scholar or expert in the subject or area of study to go back and then proof read after some many edits are made. With that in mind, users should remember Wikipedia is a tricky source and when using it you should always evaluate your source and double check if information actually makes since.

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