In memory of Holger Ellgaard

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Holger Ellgaard as the recipient of the Swedish Wikimedia Award in 2017. Photo: Wikimedia Sverige-pristagare 2017 Holger Ellgaard 01.jpg by Bengt Oberger, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Holger Ellgaard – the Wikipedian Holger.Ellgaard – is dead.

Ellgaard was one of the most prolific article writers on Swedish Wikipedia, having written thousands of articles. He made a couple of hundred thousand edits on Swedish Wikipedia and another hundred thousand edits on Commons, where he had uploaded more than fifty thousand photographs since coming to the Wikimedia movement in the spring of 2007.

An edit count says very little in itself – some of us, like me, have a large number of minor fixes and few excellent articles. Holger, on the other hand, wrote a large number of featured and good articles, the kind of texts the community wanted to highlight as its best and put on the main page for everyone to see, more than anyone else on Swedish Wikipedia. On Swedish Wikipedia, his texts were the embodiment of quality content. Having spent his professional life as an architect and with a passion for photography, he wrote about buildings and city planning, architecture and infrastructure. His articles were long, well sourced and full of illustrations, usually his own photos. He liked to visit a place before writing about it, photographing it and making sure he had the pictures he wanted.

Many of his best articles were ambitious in scope. He wrote about buildings, but also on the Swedish kitchen standard and the redevelopment of central Stockholm from the 1950s to the 1970s. He wrote about any conceivable aspect of Stockholm as a city: public toilets in Stockholm, traffic signals in Stockholm, emergency housing in Stockholm, illuminated signs in Stockholm, railroad tunnels in Stockholm.

When Wikimedia Sweden started giving out an annual award to someone who had contributed to free knowledge in Sweden, Holger was the inaugural recipient. He felt like an obvious choice. Not only because of the amount of work he had put into writing his articles, but also his willingness to help anyone writing within his area of expertise. The Swedish Wikipedia community has lost one its most treasured contributors.

He was a great public educator. And now he isn’t, and we’re less for his absence.

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