PETALING JAYA: It’s Chinese New Year but Evangeline Han, 20, who is studying in the United States, is celebrating it in an understated fashion this year – with a video call to her family and some hours on Wikipedia, her primary passion.
She began editing the online encyclopedia in 2009 when she was 15, and has since made nearly 10,000 edits – what Wikipedia says is among the most edits for anyone her age in Malaysia. There are currently around 100 Malaysian “Wikipedians”.
Han even became a Wikipedia ambassador, which requires that she mentor university students from around the world on how to edit Wikipedia.
“We have professors from many universities in the United States, Brazil and the Middle East among others who require their students to create or expand Wikipedia articles,” she said.
“Since many of these students and professors are not familiar with the editing aspect of Wikipedia, my role is to help them edit in a way that is acceptable. That might mean checking their articles to ensure they are properly formatted or explaining a Wikipedia policy to them.”
Han said that because she was home-schooled, she had plenty of time to work on projects like editing Wikipedia – spending up to five or six hours on the site daily when she was most active.
Currently studying English in the Unied States, Malacca-born Han still spends time on Wikipedia but less these days.
“Now, school takes precedence. I spend about two hours a day editing now.”
Han, who hopes to become a teacher, usually corrects grammar and repairs vandalised pages, but has written articles as well.
“Editing Wikipedia has taught me to use innovative ways to garner sources based on my limited resources. A method I use is Googling for reliable sources and using the information in those to cite the facts in my articles.”
A voracious reader, who regularly reviews books and interviews authors for her blog, Han credits Wikipedia with aiding her academic achievements, urging other youths to join the site as editors as well.
And of her quiet new year celebrations, Han said she would be missing not just her family, but the food as well.
“This will be my first time missing a reunion dinner. I will be in class while everyone else celebrates the New Year. I will definitely miss the cookies, especially the Peranakan pineapple tarts,” she said.