One Man And His Bot Have Written Almost 10% Of Wikipedia

One Man And His Bot Have Written Almost 10% Of Wikipedia

You’ve probably never heard of Sverker Johansson, but you probably should have. He is, after all, the most prolific WIkipedia author on the internet — having written 2.7 million articles for the online encyclopaedia.

The Wall Street Journal has a wonderful profile of the 53-year-old Swede, whose output outstrips any other Wikipedia editor. Holding degrees in linguistics, civil engineering, economics and particle physics, he’s contributed most heavily to the subjects of obscure animal species — particularly butterflies and beetles — and is proudest about his work on towns in the Philippines.

You may not have read anything he’s written though: a third of his contributions are in Swedish (his native tongue) and two third in Filipino (that of his wife). And his contributions aren’t a solo effort, as the Journal explains:

[T]he bulk of his entries have been created by a computer software program — known as a bot… Mr. Johansson’s program scrubs databases and other digital sources for information, and then packages it into an article. On a good day, he says his “Lsjbot” creates up to 10,000 new entries.

Bots are a controversial tool on Wikipedia, with some people claiming they drown out human creativity — though their use is allowed under the rules governing the site. You can read more about how Johansson and his bot work over on the Journal. You should, it’s a fascinating read. [WSJ]

Picture: Kristina Alexanderson/Flickr

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