Wikifauna: meet the creatures that created Wikipedia

By Aditya Madanapalle Published Date
15 - Jul - 2009
| Last Updated
15 - Jul - 2009
Wikifauna: meet the creatures that created Wikipedia

The editors on Wikipedia have classified themselves into a whole range of real and mythical beings, depending on their behavior while editing. Although the word “fauna” strictly means animals, there are princesses and knights loose in this zoo. We check out the habits of the most interesting Wikifauna. In the editor classification, some Wikifauna have sub-species as well, including a range of WikiElves and WikiDragons.

To learn more about how Wikipedia works, read “Wikipedia: Behind the pages” article in the August issue of Digit

WikiGnomes: WikiGnomes are one of the most important kind of Wikifauna. When a new article is created, perhaps by someone who is new to Wikipedia, the article is usually written at one go, without subdivisions, section headers and links to other articles on Wikipedia. References and crosslinks make Wikipedia easy to navigate, and are an important part of Wikipedia. WikiGnomes go about editing these pages once they are written, fixing typo errors, cross-linking articles and adding details where they are missed out. WikiGnomes often add flags or templates to an article, when it is biased, or does not cite enough references.

WikiElves: There are many kind of WikiElves, and these editors work on the non-article pages of WikiPedia. WikiElves normally do not work on the articles, and instead concentrate on the disambiguation pages, the categories and the templates. The boxes that you see on the articles are probably the work of WikiElves. An exception to these are the ExpandElves, which try to save articles marked for deletion by adding in more content.

WikiDragons: WikiDragons are the creatures that follow one policy and take it to the heart. This is the “’be bold” policy. WikiDragons start new articles, or edit existing ones spectacularly. Readers know when a WikiDragon has passed through when a stub or a short article has been suddenly changed and increased in size and information. WikiElves, WikiGnomes and WikiFairies move in once the WikiDragons have done creating a new page, or have written in a large chunk of an article. WikiDragons are said to be on the decline, as the scope for dramatic edits or creating a number of new articles has reduced on the English language Wikipedia. WikiDragons are classified geographically by the language of the Wikipedia they edit, and they are also classified by personal choice and colour. Typically, every editor who claims to be a WikiDragon allocates an individualised name for the WikiDragon.

WikiImp: WikiImps work after a WikiDragon has left, and before WikiElves, WikiFairies and WikiGnomes move in. WikiImps add flags and tags to articles, pointing out things but seldom actually correcting them. WikiImps are responsible for the “citation needed” tags that you see in the articles, or pointing that a particular line or paragraph is original research. WikiImps spoil the readability of the article, while at the same time potentially pointing out what needs to be improved. Both readers and editors are slightly irritated by overenthusiastic WikiImps.

WikiFairies: WikiFairies are creatures that improve the visual appeal of articles. These editors add images, organise the content, add sub-divisions, and make sure that the article reads smoothly and clearly. Some WikiFairies are good at photo-editing, and will clean up images, or remove distracting background information from images. These are known as cut-outs. WikiFairies lurk in the categories of pages and images that need improvement, and work on them.

WikiPrincess: WikiPrincesses are one of the stranger breed of Wikipedia editors. Editors that like the culture around Wikipedia, and mainly socialize with the editors and the creators of Wikipedia more than actually editing Wikipedia are classified as WikiPrincesses. WikiPrincesses often recognize the contributions of editors by doling out barnstars to deserving individuals.

WikiCats: WikiCats make a large number of small and often inconsequential edits, to attain a certain edit count in a certain period of time, which allows them to become a SysOp on Wikipedia, or increase their edit count. Any kind of Wikifauna can show WikiCat like behavior when they want to increase their reputation or gain additional privileges.

Wikipedia editors like to classify themselves and proclaim that they are a particular kind of Wikifauna. Other editors may disagree, or the same editors may display the behavior of a different kind of Wikifauna from time to time. There are also many invisible editors, who behave like WikiGnomes, and do not prefer to have a user page at all, but are constantly cleaning up an article.