Hobbies. We all have them. For some it’s reading, for others it’s fishing, playing golf, or gardening. For alumnus Steven Pruitt ’02, it’s editing. As the reigning champ on Wikipedia—with the user name Ser Amantio di Nicolao—he has made roughly 1,742,045 edits (and counting!) to Wikipedia pages—more than any other editor in the site’s 15-year history. It’s a hobby he never saw coming. “To be honest, I didn't think Wikipedia was going to take off; the idea of a ‘free encyclopedia that anyone can edit’ struck me as rather far-fetched,” he said. More than 12 years later and over a million edits tracked, he’s “pleased to have been proven wrong.”
Steven created the Ser Amantio di Nicolao account during his senior year at the College of William & Mary in 2006, but he traces his first Wikipedia edit to June of 2004. He dedicates most of his time to editing humanities-related topics, putting his art history major and music experience to good use. He also ventures into science, mathematics and sports, with a special interest in obscure geography.
“I've always been fascinated with encyclopedias,” Steven says. “I enjoy writing, and Wikipedia's a nice way to keep in practice and put my talents to some good use. Articles I've written have been translated into German, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, Norwegian, possibly Japanese—it's incredible to me, to think that one person behind a computer can have that kind of influence on the world.”
Outside of Wikipedia, his main passion is his choir, the Capitol Hill Chorale. His Wikipedia user name stems from his love for opera—Ser Amantio di Nicolao is a minor role in Giacomo Puccini‘s opera Gianni Schicchi. “Wikipedia is changing the world. It's giving me a chance to change the world, and others like me,” said Steven. “The beauty is that anyone, anywhere can have that power, and it's magnified so much because of that.”