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, afterall, 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]

Image by Kristina Alexanderson under Creative Commons license.