For every article that you read on Wikipedia, there is a writer and an editor. A towering figure among them is Steven Pruitt, the Virginia resident who has made over three million edits on the "free encyclopedia".
Mr Pruitt made the news back in 2017 when Time Magazine named him one of the 25 most influential people on the internet, alongside former US President Donald Trump, JK Rowling and Kim Kardashian. Since 2006, he has made over three million Wikipedia edits, more than any other English-language editor. He has personally also written hundreds of new articles on influential women in order to “correct Wikipedia's gender imbalance and also strengthen the backbone of the platform itself”.
“Wikipedia is such an incredible tool because it makes so much information accessible to so many people at once,” he told Time.
Mr Pruitt was named one of the most influential people on the internet in part because one-third of all English language articles in the online encyclopedia have been edited by him. He goes by the name Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Wikipedia, the name of his favourite Opera character. In an interview with CBS News, Mr Pruitt revealed that he is deeply obsessed with history and his first article was about Peter Francisco, who was his “great great great great great great grandfather”.
Mr Pruitt's primary profession is at the US Customs Office, where he organises documents. However, in the evening, after completing his duties, he spends more than three hours a day researching, editing and writing for the online portal. He doesn't receive any compensation for his work, but he has remained true to his interests.
"The idea of making it all free fascinates me. My mother grew up in the Soviet Union... So I'm very conscious of that - what it can mean to make knowledge free, to make information free," he said.
Further, speaking to CBS News, Mr Pruitt revealed that the longest he has gone without editing Wikipedia is two or three weeks. In fact, WikiMedia's vice president of communications, Kui Kinyanjui, had also stated that the site would not exist without the dedication of its volunteers, especially Steven Pruitt.
“We're very excited about projects like Women in Red, which seeks to identify and place more content on women on our platform... Steven has been a large contributor to that project," Kui Kinyanjui said.
Several of the other top 10 Wikipedia editors also agree that Mr Pruitt's contributions have been remarkable. He is notable not just for the sheer number of articles and edits he has contributed, but for what he chooses to highlight as well. For example, he learned that women were the subjects of just 15 per cent of biographical articles on the site, and worked to fix that imbalance by writing hundreds of articles about influential women.
To put into perspective what it took for Mr Pruitt to become the top editor, he has been dedicating his free time to the site for more than 13 years now.