A Wikipedia editor has corrected 47,000 instances of the same mistake on the site - a tiny grammatical error which he has been on a crusade to eliminate.
Bryan Henderson, aka Giraffedata, has been editing the site for 10 years, and now boasts there is not a single use of the term ‘comprised of’ remaining on any of Wikipedia’s 4.7 million pages.
Henderson has personally eliminated every use of the term, which is grammatically incorrect (it should be ‘composed of’, or ‘comprises’, not ‘comprised of’), and eliminates 70 to 80 new uses of it per week.
While not strictly wrong, the phrase is considered clumsy - and most newspaper stylebooks forbid it.
Henderson points out that the Encyclopaedia Britannica uses ‘comprises’, rather than ‘comprised of.’
Henderson sets aside an hour every Sunday to hunt down new uses of the term - although his fellow editors are not always grateful for having a mistake pointed out.
‘Some people object to this work,’ says Henderson on his official Wikipedia page. ‘Some don’t but think it is a waste of time.’
While eight million Wikipedia articles are read every hour, very few readers go on to be unpaid editors - and fewer still are as persistent as Henderson.
‘I have been actively removing the phrase from Wikipedia articles for years. Not everyone agrees ‘comprised of’ is wrong, but no one finds it better than the alternatives.’
'The fact that lots of other people feel the same way is what makes it seem like a good edit to me."