(1) Because I want to.
I think this is the most important reason, really. I find editing and being a “Wikipedian” fun! Wikipedia is generally one of the first links that comes up in a Google search for anything, and is the first link many people click to get quick information.
It’s really exciting for me to think that when someone does a web search they are looking at information I’ve added, sentences I’ve copyedited, and photos I’ve taken!
(2) Because of Living in Hungary.
Being in Hungary has opened my eyes to just how dependant on the Internet I am.
Back home in the States, if there’s something I don’t know, I Google it. The opening hours of the teahouse down the street? Google it. The formula I need for my physics homework? Google it. The winner of yesterday’s midterm elections? Google it.
Here, in Hungary, there have been so many times when I have tried to find information I need that simply doesn’t exist online. The chances of a webpage both existing and being accessible in English for a store or cultural attraction in Budapest are quite low. The best information tends to come from second-hand sites such as budapestbylocals or TripAdvisor. Otherwise, you have to get your information the “old-fashioned” way: by going to the store and reading the sign for their opening hours, etc. While I expect every “mom & pop shop” in the States to have a webpage, it’s an exception in Budapest if that’s the case.
Further, while trying to learn about monuments, history, and culture of Hungary, the information just isn’t there on English webpages the way it is for American culture. In particular, the Wikipedia pages for Hungarian topics, if they even exist, are severely lacking in information in English.
Compare the Wikipedia page for St. Stephen’s Basicialla in Budapest, cited as the third-largest church in Hungary, to St. Paul’s in London. The article on St. Stephen’s is tiny, and frankly, not very helpful or informative. It shouldn’t be the case that I can’t get information on St. Stephen’s online, just because the basicialla exists in a country where I do not speak the language.
I realised that Hungary is something I know about and care about that most people don’t. So I do the opposite of what I would do back home: instead of searching about someplace before visiting it (since it won’t be helpful), I go on Wikipedia after I’ve visited and update the page with the information I’ve learned and photos I’ve taken.
I love this city and this country, and I want to help make it more accessible to other English-speakers.
(3) Because of the Gender Gap.
For me, simultaneously editing Wikipedia and lessening the Gender Gap is just sort of a cool side-effect.
Image: “Mind the gap1” by London Student Feminists
As of 2011, it was estimated that only about 11% of Wikipedia editors identified as female (Cohen, Define Gender Gap?…). This is a serious problem because the content that is available on Wikipedia is completely reflective of the volunteer editors who take the time to add it. If the editors are primarily male, then the information is skewed to what men stereotypically know about. This is unacceptable for an online encyclopedia which is consistently one of the top ten most-visited websites in the world.
I think Wikipedia is really cool, and I’ve realised there are so many places where my knowledge, experiences, and interests are helpful to the online community. For me, I think it’s sort of similar to blogging, related in the way where blogging is like the op-ed section of a newspaper while Wikipedia editing is more fact-based journalism.
If you want to start getting into Wikipedia editing, I highly recommend trying the Wikipedia Adventure game. It’s a little bit silly, overly cute, and has some bugs, but it’s a fun and simple interactive way to learn the basics of the Wikipedia syntax as well as the rules and regulations of Wikipedia culture.