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Wikipedia: The Missing Manual

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Wikipedia: The Missing Manual, 9780596515164 (0596515162), Pogue Press, 2008
What made you write the book? In November 2006 I started working on an index for editors of Wikipedia – a single page that had links to all relevant policies, guidelines, how-to pages, reference pages, tools, and other things that an editor might conceivably want to read. The more I worked on the index, the more I discovered of the complexity of editing Wikipedia. As the index developed, I realized that I had the basis for the book. I also realized, given how incredibly complex Wikipedia is, why there hadn’t yet been a book about editing Wikipedia.

Why is your book especially important now?

Wikipedia is immensely popular as a source of information. But it needs many more active editors than it has now, because it is so incomplete. It also needs many more editors who are experts in a particular subject matter. This book helps such potential editors avoid a lot of the mistakes that newcomers make, and shows them how to deal with various situations as they are encountered.
What is the single most important thing readers of your book will be able to do after buying your book?
Readers will be able to find specific things in Wikipedia that they’re particularly interested in editing, and other editors with the same interests.

How important is the subject matter of your book? What do you think is on the horizon for your readers?
I think as more and more people grow up computer-immersed, Wikipedia will become even more important, and the idea of editing it will be intimidating to an ever-increasing percentage of people. Someday perhaps chatting about recent Wikipedia editing experiences may be almost as common as talking about the weather or the traffic or sports.

In researching the book, did you come across any surprising facts, figures, or statistics that the world might be interested in?
Before I did the book, I had no idea that Wikimedia Commons – the central "stock photo" site for all language versions of Wikipedia – had more than 2 million images available for encyclopedia articles. I sometimes find the sheer volume of transactions at Wikipedia to be astonishing. 100 million article views per day. More than a quarter of a million edits per day. Several thousand new articles added every day. More than a thousand articles deleted every day. More than 7,000 new registered user accounts every day. And that’s just for the English language Wikipedia - the other 250+ non-English language versions combined are more than three times the size of the English Wikipedia. Then there’s this odd statistic: The vast majority of the more than 6 million registered user accounts have never actually done an edit. Perhaps that says something about how easy it is to register versus how easy it is to edit? Finally, I still find it astonishing that Wikipedia and the Commons and a bunch of sister projects (Wiktionary, Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikispecies, Wikiversity, and Wikibooks), in all languages across the globe, are all being run by a non-profit foundation that has only a handful of employees and a budget of only a couple of million dollars per year. And that even includes developing and distributing – for free - the wiki software that all these projects run on. It shows what the Internet makes possible, given a good idea, inspired leadership, and the opportunity for everyone to contribute their time and knowledge.

About the Author

John Broughton has been a registered editor at Wikipedia since August 2005, with more than 15,000 edits by the time he wrote this book. His biggest Wikipedia endeavor was to build the Editor's index to Wikipedia (just type that in the "search" box at the left of any Wikipedia page). This index lists every important reference page on Wikipedia, as well as hundreds of off-Wikipedia Web pages with useful information and tools for Wikipedia editors. John's first experience with programming computers was in a 1969 National Science Foundation program. Since then, he's held various computer-related management positions in the headquarters of a U.S.

Army Reserve division, worked in internal audit departments as a Certified Information Systems Auditor, and was the Campus Y2K Coordinator at U.C. Berkeley. A Certified Management Accountant, John has B.S. in Mathematical Sciences from Johns Hopkins University; an M.B.A. from Golden Gate University; an M.S. in Education from the University of Southern California; and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley.
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