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Ulpu Pajari is an enthusiastic Wikipedia editor
The online encyclopaedia has more than two thousand active writers in Finland
By Ilmari Huhtala
We go there often enough, sent by a high ranking in Google, and as the web-page opens we are often amazed that information has been updated - for example in the case of some recently deceased personage the verbs have all been deftly switched from present to past tense and there is a date of death alongside the date of birth - even before the news of his or her demise has really spread from the wire services.
Who are these eager beavers, apparently working around the clock on our behalf?
Wikipedia, the world’s most extensive online encyclopaedia, has editors also in Finland.
The hard-core writers of the online service include 2,074 Finns.
One of them is Ulpu Pajari from Vantaa.
“Wikipedia’s idea is good. From it one learns new things, and one can always find things to do there. For example, one can improve an article’s language or elaborate on its content”, the 23-year-old Pajari explains.
One is considered an active Wikipedia editor if one updates an article at least once a month. Pajari joined the Wikipedia community in 2007. From then on she has spent a couple of hours a week - and sometimes much more than that - to renew its content.
“If I find a topic particularly interesting I just have to turn it into an article of its own”, Pajari smiles. “I am particularly keen on very small articles.”
The updating work requires a lot of information.
This has caused Pajari to buy many books and she also uses the Internet as a source.
At times the Finnish version of Wikipedia has also caused disappointments.
“The Finnish Wikipedia has so few diligent editors that often you are the only one out there who knows anything about a certain specialty area, for example, horses.”
For this reason Pajari has gradually moved over to the English side of the online encyclopaedia.
“Over there, there are plenty of people who are experts in the same field. They can comment on your article and give you advice on how to say certain things.”
Wikipedia is often criticised for the factual mistakes that it contains. Many educational institutes have banned their students from referring to Wikipedia as a source in their scientific papers. Pajari would act differently.
“If I were a teacher, I would allow the use of Wikipedia as a reference, but I would encourage the students at every opportunity to check the veracity of the sources used in the article.”
Pajari urges everybody to take part in the updating efforts, so long as one possesses reasonable writing skills and has the time to do it.
“Because the editing takes place online, external factors such as someone’s age are immaterial. People of all ages can take part in the editing work.”
The article is one in a series of six that throw light on Finns who do volunteer work. Roughly one in three Finnish people take part in some form of volunteer activity.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 4.5.2011