Wikipedia has more than 45.5 million users, but only around 100,000 editors. And of that group, only a select few are responsible for just about everything you see. Amazingly, according to a 2017 Vice article, “77 percent of Wikipedia articles are written by 1 percent of Wikipedia editors.”
One such editor is 59-year-old software engineer Bryan Henderson, known on Wikipedia by the username Giraffedata. Except instead of writing articles or fact-checking data, Henderson’s mission is comprised of, excuse me, consists of, the utter eradication of the phrase, ‘comprised of.’ Over the course of 15 years, Giraffedata has made over 90,000 edits, written a 6,000-word essay on his least favorite phrase, and earned quite the online reputation.
lol I knew about the Wikipedia editor with 90,000+ edits, almost exclusively fixing the phrase "comprised of", but what I did not know about was his 5,300-word essay on why he's done that for 15 years pic.twitter.com/ml3J4V2Iqt— Jake Eberts (@jeeeberts) May 5, 2023
“I’m proud of it,” Henderson said in a 2015 piece on Medium. “It’s just fun for me. I’m not doing it to have any impact on the world.”
Henderson’s motivations are grammatical in nature. “I believe using "comprised of" is poor writing,” he says in his own Wikipedia article. “It's illogical for a word to mean two opposite things… The etymology of the word does not support ‘comprised of.’” He goes on to say that the phrase did not come into popular use until recently when grammatical rules loosened considerably. “It was barely ever used before 1970,” he says. “Even now, style manuals frequently call out this particular usage as something not to do.”
it's all Woodstock's fault pic.twitter.com/DjXx7QCPHb— Jake Eberts (@jeeeberts) May 5, 2023
So, every Sunday night, Henderson sits down at his computer and goes through every single new post containing his arch nemesis phrase. Using a computer program he wrote himself, he claims it takes him about an hour.
While not everybody agrees with Henderson’s reasoning, there has yet to be anyone willing to challenge his work. As this 2015 NPR article remarks, “Nobody's about to be as zealous about hanging on to the phrase as Giraffedata is about getting rid of it. And after all, it's not as if eliminating it does any real harm.”
a sentiment i've frequently seen from other editors runs along the lines of "yeah just let him cook it's not worth it" lmao pic.twitter.com/2yDARfm0Cm— Jake Eberts (@jeeeberts) May 5, 2023
Of all the hobbies you could choose to comprise your life, excuse me, construct your life, I suppose this one isn’t so bad.