James Heilman

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James Heilman
James 5 (Final 4)a.png
Born 1979/1980 (age 33–34)[1]
Citizenship Canadian
Medical career
Profession Doctor
Field Emergency room physician
Institutions East Kootenay Regional Hospital, University of British Columbia
Question and answer session with James Heilman about editing Wikipedia at the University of British Columbia

James Heilman is an emergency room physician known as an advocate for the improvement of Wikipedia's health-related content, and for encouraging other clinicians to contribute to the website.[2][3] He became interested in editing Wikipedia on a slow night shift, when he looked up the article on obesity and found that it contained many errors. "I realized that I could fix it. I made a huge number of edits and improved the quality a great deal. I sort of became hooked from there," he recalls.[3] He formerly sat on the Wikimedia Canada board of directors, and is president of Wiki Project Med Foundation.[4][5][6] Heilman is a clinical instructor at the department of emergency medicine at the University of British Columbia,[7] and an emergency physician at East Kootenay Regional Hospital in Cranbrook, British Columbia, where he lives.[1]

Wikipedia advocacy and controversy[edit]

In 2009, Heilman added public domain images of the ink blots used in the Rorschach test to the Wikipedia article on the subject, and concerned psychologists said that this could invalidate the tests.[8][9][10] Some psychologists stated the test had "already lost its popularity and usefulness."[10] In an interview with The New York Times, Heilman stated that he added the entire set because a debate about a single image seemed absurd and psychologists' fears were unfounded.[11] In August 2009, two Canadian psychologists filed complaints about Heilman to his local doctors' organization; Heilman called the complaints "intimidation tactics".[12] An extensive debate ensued on Wikipedia, and the images were kept.[11]

In 2012, Heilman was one of two Wikimedia contributors sued by Internet Brands for shifting freely licensed content and volunteer editors from the for-profit site Wikitravel to the non-profit site Wikivoyage. The Wikimedia Foundation defended Heilman's actions in the lawsuit, citing volunteer freedom of choice.[13][14] In February 2013 the parties settled their litigation.[15]

Heilman is part of an initiative through Wiki Project Med Foundation with Translators Without Borders, working to improve and translate the top importance English Wikipedia medical articles into minority languages.[16][17] The Wiki Project Med Foundation has also partnered with the University of California, San Francisco, to give students college credit for improving medicine-related Wikipedia pages.[18] In 2014, the Wiki Project Med Foundation partnered with the Cochrane Collaboration, with the goal of improving the reliability and accuracy of information on Wikipedia. Heilman said, "Much of Wikipedia can still use improvement and we know that with the support of research evidence experts, our goal to create easy-to-read, thoroughly referenced articles can be more easily reached and maintained."[19]


  • Wikipedia: A Key Tool for Global Public Health Promotion, Journal of Medical Internet Research (2011)[20]
  • Why We Should All Edit Wikipedia, University of British Columbia Medical Journal (2011)[21]
  • Creating Awareness for Using a Wiki to Promote Collaborative Health Professional Education, International Journal of User-Driven Health Care (2012)[22]
  • Cochrane and Wikipedia: the collaborative potential for a quantum leap in the dissemination and uptake of trusted evidence, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2014)[23]


  1. ^ a b Laidlaw, Katherine (September 2013). "Is Google Making Us Sick?". Reader's Digest. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  2. ^ Fleck, Fiona (January 1, 2013). "Online encyclopedia provides free health info for all.". Bulletin of the World Health Organization (World Health Organization) 91 (1): 8–9. doi:10.2471/BLT.13.030113. PMID 23397345. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Mcneil, Mark (October 4, 2011). "Wikipedia makes a house call to Mac". The Spec. Retrieved January 12, 2014. 
  4. ^ Berko, Lex (2013). "Medical Students Can Now Earn Credit for Editing Wikipedia". Vice. Retrieved January 12, 2014. 
  5. ^ Trujillo, Maria (November 25, 2011). "Wikipedia and Higher Education – The Infinite Possibilities". University of British Columbia. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  6. ^ Bunim, Juliana. "UCSF First U.S. Medical School to Offer Credit For Wikipedia Articles". University of California, San Francisco. Retrieved January 12, 2014. 
  7. ^ "James Heilman, MD, CCFP-EM". University of British Columbia. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  8. ^ Sample, Ian (July 29, 2009). "Testing times for Wikipedia after doctor posts secrets of the Rorschach inkblots". The Guardian. Retrieved January 12, 2014. 
  9. ^ White, Patrick (July 29, 2009). "Rorschach and Wikipedia: The battle of the inkblots". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved January 12, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Sask. MD's Wikipedia posting of ink blots angers psychologists". CBC News. July 31, 2009. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Cohen, Noam (July 28, 2009). "A Rorschach Cheat Sheet on Wikipedia?". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2014. 
  12. ^ Cohen, Noam (August 23, 2009). "Complaint Over Doctor Who Posted Inkblot Test". New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  13. ^ Cohen, Noam (September 9, 2012). "Travel Site Built on Wiki Ethos Now Bedevils Its Owner". New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  14. ^ Morris, Kevin (September 6, 2012). "Wikimedia announces travel site, launches countersuit against competitor". The Daily Dot. Retrieved January 10, 2014. 
  15. ^ Musil, Steven (February 17, 2013). "Wikimedia, Internet Brands settle Wikivoyage lawsuits". CNET. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  16. ^ Cohen, Noam (June 12, 2012). "Book That Plagiarized From Wikipedia Is Pulled From Market". New York Times. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  17. ^ Teigen, Sarah (October–November 2012). "Medical translations for minority languages". Multilingual. Retrieved January 12, 2014 – via TranslatorsWithoutBorders.org. 
  18. ^ Bunim, Juliana (September 26, 2013). "UCSF First U.S. Medical School to Offer Credit For Wikipedia Articles". University of California, San Francisco. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  19. ^ Robertson, Paul (February 11, 2014). "Wikiproject Medicine partnership aims for greater reliability on Wikipedia". Cover Magazine. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  20. ^ Heilman, James M.; Kemmann, Eckhard; Bonert, Michael; Chatterjee, Anwesh et al. (January 31, 2011). "Wikipedia: A key tool for global public health promotion". Journal of Medical Internet Research 13 (1): e14. doi:10.2196/jmir.1589. 
  21. ^ Heilman, James (September 2011). "Why we should all edit Wikipedia". University of British Columbia Medical Journal 3 (1): 32–3. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  22. ^ Heilman, James (2012). "Creating awareness for using a wiki to promote collaborative health professional education". International Journal of User-Driven Healthcare 2 (1): 86–7. doi:10.4018/ijudh.2012010113. 
  23. ^ Mathew, Manu; Joseph, Anna; Heilman, James; Tharyan, Prathap (October 22, 2013). "Cochrane and Wikipedia: The collaborative potential for a quantum leap in the dissemination and uptake of trusted evidence". Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 10: ED000069. doi:10.1002/14651858.ED000069. PMID 24475488.