For every Wikipedia article you've read about pop stars, historical figures, Star Trek races, or defunct fast food chains, there's been a writer behind it. And there's an outsize likelihood that writer is Steven Pruitt. The Virginia resident has made 3 million edits and authored 35,000 articles on the website over the past 13 years, meaning that he has helped shape up to a third of all English-language content on Wikipedia, CBS News reports.
Pruitt made the news back in 2017 when TIME magazine named him one of the 25 most influential people on the internet. Prior to that, he had been working for the site for more than a decade, writing under the username Ser Amantio Di Nicolao, an homage to his favorite opera character (from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi).
He wrote his first article while studying art history at William & Mary college, and his passion for history drives many of his contributions. His first Wikipedia subject was Peter Francisco, a sergeant-at-arms during the Revolutionary War (who also happens to be Pruitt’s great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather).
Today, Pruitt spends at least three hours a day researching, writing, and editing for Wikipedia, but he doesn't receive any compensation for his work. The time he devotes to the website on evenings and weekends is strictly on a volunteer basis. His day job is working for the records and information governance department at U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C.—a gig he believes he landed thanks in part to his experience with Wikipedia.
Pruitt is notable not just for the sheer number of articles and edits he has contributed, but for what he chooses to highlight. After learning that women were the subjects of just 15 percent of biographical articles on the site, he worked to fix that imbalance by writing hundreds of articles about influential women. That number has risen to 17.6 percent in just the past couple of years.
Learn more about Pruitt and his Wikipedia habit in the video from CBS below.
[h/t CBS News]