Hacking the Encyclopedia: how open source citizens like you made Wikipedia possible*
The history of how open source citizens built Wikipedia, and what you can do to sustain the project in to the future, even if you don't want to edit an encyclopedia.
You may not know it, but you built Wikipedia. That’s right, you.
Even if you’ve never clicked “edit this page”, open source citizens like yourself are what made possible the largest single gathering of human knowledge in the history of the world.
Even before Wikipedia was a twinkle in Jimmy Wales’ eye, the free and open source software movement was laying the groundwork necessary to make the free encyclopedia a reality. Stallman, the GNU Project, FSF, Linus, Linux, and every other pioneering open source citizen created the cultural framework that allowed Wikipedia to be conceived. Even if they aren’t building software, the editors of the site have more in common with you than they do with those who write Britannica and World Book.
It’s your culture, your code, and everything else you do for open source that enables thousands of people the world over to have a free encyclopedia in their native tongue.
Steven Walling is a writer and wiki enthusiast from Portland, Oregon. Currently working with AboutUs.org, he’s also an administrator for the English Wikipedia and an organizer of WikiProject Oregon.