WikiGnome - what?

1.  WikiGnome - some definitions

1.1  Ward’s Wiki

As defined on the original wiki, a WikiGnome “works behind the scenes [of a wiki] to tie up little loose ends.” They “love to work in the shadows making what some would call StupidLittleEdits,” and “are basically good, along with WikiFaeries and HousekeepingZombies, unlike WikiGremlins.”

1.2  Wikipedia

The Wikipedia says “examples of WikiGnome-like behavior include fixing typos, bad grammar, and broken links; adding links to text already in an article or to useful Categories; or adding examples and details to information referenced in the text”

1.3  JSPWiki

The JSPWiki says “A WikiGnome will not necessarily add content, instead adding links, correcting spelling mistakes, toning down WikiTrolls and making clarifications.

“If more than 10% of your wiki edits are correcting TextFormattingRules or spelling mistakes in other people’s edits, you need to look in the mirror to see whether you’re a WikiGnome.”

1.4  InfoAnarchy

InfoAnarchy says:

These are the people who will quietly fix your links and spelling, remove spam or ambiguation, link pages together and do general tidying.

Gnome is a fay (faerie) creature from Germanic mythology. You may already be familiar with lawn/garden Gnome statues.

When a page becomes obviously dated, some wiki gnomes become bold and will step in and “do it right” by refactoring a page, or cutting and piecing a topic apart to put its content into other pages. This generally known as a “merciless refactor”.


There are different kinds of Wiki Gnomes, just as there are many kinds of people. Some vigorously reinforce what they see as “standards” and will correct links, spelling and punctuation without thought to an author. Some will wait for pages to become stale before moving in. Where some Wiki Gnomes correct spelling, others enjoy going off on walkabouts researching links for a topic they found interesting a moment ago. Some will thereby create lists of interesting links appropriate to a topic, but still others will organize existing material to make it more presentable. Most Wiki Gnomes try to be unobtrusive and helpful, acting as a serf to noble topic-contributors.

Generally speaking, the presence of an active wiki gnome indicates great interest and potential for a Wiki. The more authorship or original content there exists in a host wiki, the greater the wiki gnome activity. This is probably why Wikipedia attracts many gnome types.

Gnomes often repair stubs, or they might select a specific task or editing chore and make sure all entries conform to the same style, such as by ensuring that captions for thumbnails are created and worded uniformly.

1.5  Back where we started, at Ward’s Wiki:

Q What motivates the WikiGnomes?

  1. Clean up zillions of WikiPages.
  2. ???
  3. PROFIT!!!

Yikes, they’re on to me. And no, I don’t know what goes in that “???” gap. Wish I did.

2.  Tegan as WikiGnome

Here’s acknowledgement from David Wilcox in London, England (then a stranger-to-me, now a 3-wiki customer), of a little bit of gnoming I did on a site of his - just because I couldn’t help myself.

In fact, I was a wikignome before I ever wiki-ed. I’m proudly abashed to mention that there was a period when I carried the eraser end of a broken pencil around in my coin purse because someone at a deli I frequented insisted on putting “Soup’s” at the top of a white-board easel next to the soups, and sometimes the apostrophe was too small for me to erase quickly with my thumb (and so I needed that little eraser, you see … and yeah, I know … that’s kind of pathetic).

Those bona fides aside, my WikiGnoming has consisted of

  • a few gnomish contributions to the Wikipedia,
  • a few more to the development community of the PmWiki software that we use for our sites,
  • a whole lot of work on the sites and training of our customers, and
  • even more on developing the combination of plugins that comes pre-installed on our wikis and
  • the supporting documentation that accompanies our installations.

^ back to top ^


Last edited by TeganDowling.   Page last modified on August 18, 2006

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