A term created by wiki enthusiasts to describe one of its authors who is generally unobtrusive, willing to do some grunt work editing work and willing to do behind-the-scenes research on topics that are hinted about but not expounded upon. 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 organizing 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. For example, making sure captions for thumbnails are created and worded uniformally.
- Sy was infoAnarchy's original hardcore Wiki Gnome. He spent literally hundreds of hours trolling through every single topic to add in the "See also" links, to create topic pages, sort out sections of content, and generally tidy the entirety of the place up. He created his own huge todo list and scratchpad, and spawned the iA Wiki/RFE pages. Before his time, others created rough drafts he would push around, and after his time, topics have flourished into many different subsections. It has since become generally understood that his inane amount of wickification is a good idea. And Google appears to agree.