Greetings and salutations! If you’re reading this (and I suspect that you are) then you have found the first post at The Wikipedian. I believe this here “Web-site” is the first “Web-log” about Wikipedia written specifically for the non-insider — that is to say, the non-Wikipedian. Which I suppose makes me your presumptively self-appointed host — the “The Wikipedian” — but I’ll probably just stick with “William Beutler.”
As the title suggests, I am an active editor on the English Wikipedia, where I contribute primarily as User:WWB and have been editing in some way, shape or form since the middle of 2006. Here’s how I put it on my user page:
I first started editing Wikipedia as a reader who finally decided to try my hand at editing the articles I read. Beyond that I continued with simple spelling, grammar and formatting corrections, which led to more substantial contributions to existing articles and, eventually, creating new ones.
I am not one of the very top elite contributors, nor am I an administrator or sysop, nor am I anywhere near being a member of the alleged cabal, but I’ll wager that I’m probably somewhere in the top 20 percent — just in deep enough to explain the inside to the outside and, one hopes, avoid being too jargony.
The idea first came to me late last year as I noticed two things happening, at work and in my spare time. In my capacity as Innovation Manager at New Media Strategies I’ve spent the past year (and then some) developing consultative services for clients regarding Wikipedia engagement, leading the white hat approach to Wikipedia optimization. Meanwhile, I noticed that my primary site, Blog P.I., was becoming more and more about Wikipedia (that is, when it wasn’t becoming more and more about Twitter) and so maybe it would be worthwhile to devote more resources to covering Wikipedia on a regular — who knows? maybe even daily — basis. Hence the brand-new blog before you.
Today’s soft-launch comes to you from a third-floor room of the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet on the George Washington University campus during TransparencyCamp 2009, where in just a few short hours I will be delivering a brand new PowerPoint-supported presentation about Wikipedia; the focus of my talk will be Congressional staff edits to Wikipedia. Now, that much I had planned for. Less planned for: I’ve just received notice that, for the first time, an article I created made the front page of Wikipedia this morning in the “Did you know” category. Specifically, did you know
… that despite being an object of ridicule in popular culture, over 8 million British Rail sandwiches were sold in 1993?
Call it serendipity if you like, and then look it up on Wikipedia just for the heck of it.
As I get started on this project, there are many arguments and debates I want to cover but avoided previously for fear of hijacking my own blog, and I’ve got more than a few ideas about recurring features to create that heretofore remain uncreated for the same reason. One thing you will certainly see is a version of the old “All the Rage” series from my Thomas Magnum-esque previous base of operations. I will also be seeking guest posts and occasional contributions from others, so if the idea interests you, please contact me at thewikipedianblog at gmail (you know, dot com).
On a goofier note, this blog is named in part for The Oregonian, the daily paper of my hometown, and also in part the inspiration owes something to The Origamian, a defunct newsletter of OrigamiUSA, whose name was also inspired by The Oregonian.
And I might as well add that this is at least the fifth blog I have started since 2002 and at least the eighth I have contributed to in that time, but it’s the first I’ve launched in more than two-and-a-half years. Also noteworthy: this time I will not be shuttering my other sites: Blog P.I. will continue as my increasingly occasional outlet for writings on matters of politics and technology and the Washington Canard is still where I will post about life in the District, when said life and endeavors such as this aren’t keeping me too busy.
Okay, I think that’s enough for an introductory post. Expect topical posts to commence later today or tomorrow, and I hope to see you on Wikipedia.