Editorial: Wikipedia could become a trusted medical resource
An editorial in BMJ, a highly ranked medical journal, titled "WikiProject Medicine", argued that its Wikipedia articles "could become a trusted resource if it is assisted not shunned". Written by Lyndal Trevena, associate professor for public health at the University of Sydney, the article is a reaction to a viewpoint article by members of WikiProject Medicine that was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (Signpost coverage: Medical Wikipedians issue 'Call to Action' to their peers).
After noting Wikipedia's popularity as a source for medical information, the author discusses Wikipedia's article quality assessment system:
||Impressively, of the more than 25 000 medical articles published, all but 304 have been assessed, according to the WikiProject article quality grading system, by one of the 206 group members. [...] Unfortunately, only around 70 articles have been graded as suitable for a “feature article or listing,” [...] Most articles are graded as either incomplete or a “stub,” providing “little meaningful content.” With the exception of a small star given to “feature articles” the grade is publicised only to readers who register for that specific feature [apparently referring to the fact that some assessments are only available on talk pages]. Improving this quality grading process could be a key step towards improving the overall quality of the information.
Trevena acknowledges the success of Wikipedia's open editing model, mentioning "commitment by trusted administrators and editors" as a key factor in maintaining quality, but warned against COI editing problems in the medical sector:
||[Wikimedia] will have to tackle the tension between promoting a free speaking virtual community of authors that publishes exclusively under pseudonyms and the need to declare conflicts of interest and allow greater transparency for readers. It is currently difficult to detect commercial and other conflicts of interest, although such conflicts are likely in articles where particular treatments are over-represented compared with current clinical practice guidelines.
She continues by noting the usefulness of Wikipedia's health information for developing countries, but points to the challenge of improving non-English coverage: "129 articles are published on hypertension in English but only six in Bahasa Indonesian. Chinese contributions are non-existent, which is a pity given the burden of disease from hypertension in that nation." (Last year, Google.org started a – now concluded – pilot project to address this issue by software-assisted translations; see Signpost coverage: "Major Google–Wikipedia translation project: Health Speaks".)
The article concludes by discussing the already frequent use of Wikipedia by doctors, and states that for evidence-based medicine, "the simplicity and speed of the Wikipedia format is appealing. Clinicians have continually stated that they want simple summaries of evidence rather than lengthy detailed technical items that require access to complex and sometimes expensive databases. If we really want to see the dissemination of evidence based information and facilitate putting evidence into practice, perhaps we need to start writing articles for Wikipedia."
The abstract is available online, and interested readers may purchase one-day access to the full text (which is less than one and a half pages long) for $30.00 in the US, £24.00 in the UK and €32.40 in other European countries.
Edits per month to the noted article. A very clear spike is visible starting last month.
In keeping with its tradition of being highly critical of Wikipedia, the British technology news and opinion website The Register writes "The world's Wikifiddlers are obsessed with santorum. Though they can't agree on what that is." The article discusses the heated controversy that has recently sprung up around the article Campaign for "santorum" neologism (current title, but it may soon be moved). Last month, the issue had generated 130 postings on the Wikien-l mailing list alone. In 2003, pundit Dan Savage (known for his relationship and sex advice column Savage Love), in response to former US senator Rick Santorum's conservative statements on homosexuality, proposed to his readers that they invent a new derogatory meaning for the word "santorum". As recently noted by several US media sources, said meaning continues to rank highly in Google search results for the politician's last name, at a time when he is aspiring to become the Republican candidate for the 2012 presidential elections. The debate on Wikipedia centered around whether the Wikipedia article must be considered a de facto part of the campaign by perpetuating this Google ranking, or merely an NPOV description.
- NARA Wikipedian-in-Residence: The Atlantic described "How Wikipedians-in-Residence Are Opening Up Cultural Institutions", focusing on the example of User:Dominic's stay at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) (covered earlier in The Signpost, in a Washington Post interview, by Yahoo! News and in other media).
- The death of expertise continues. Sven Birkets published an article on the Los Angeles Review of Books website titled "The Room and the elephant" which responds to Maria Bustillos' piece "Wikipedia and the death of the expert" (covered in The Signpost on May 23).
- Wales praises Russian president: As reported by Russia Beyond the Headlines, Jimmy Wales has praised Russian president Dmitry Medvedev as "the only world leader who actually understands the Internet", referring to his proposals to reform the country's copyright laws (cf. Signpost coverage: "Russian president pushes for Creative Commons licencing", "Russian president meets with Internet community representatives, including Wikimedia"). Wales contrasted this with French president Nicolas Sarkozy's push for stricter regulation of the Internet, evident at last month's E-G8 Forum in Paris (cf. Signpost coverage: Jimmy Wales attends eG8 summit). He made the remarks on a one-day visit to Russia last week, covered by RIA Novosti, too, which quoted him as saying: "Of course, I never realized how important Wikipedia might be to freedom of speech but, you know, we've taken over the years a very firm stand against censorship of Wikipedia and I am very proud of that."
- Wales on online civility: In a talk about the need for civility in online discourse (held at Georgetown University last week and covered by several online sources   ), Jimmy Wales outlined how Wikipedia deals successfully with vandalism and trolling. Wales co-presented together with Andrea Weckerle, the founder and president of CiviliNation, a US nonprofit which describes itself as "taking a stand for civil digital discourse", where Wales serves as one of three directors.
- US college professors soften on Wikipedia: According to U.S. News & World Report, "Wikipedia (is) Gradually Accepted in College Classrooms" as "many professors' aversions to the site have softened in the decade since its inception in 2001."
- Wikipedia files: Chicago public radio station WBEZ continued their "Wikipedia files" series – video interviews in which celebrities comment on the Wikipedia article about them – with actress Eve Myles.
- Get a Wikipedia article for your band: A blog posting on CD Baby advised musicians on "How to Create a Wikipedia Page for Your Band/Music", listing five tips including "Don’t Write it Yourself".
- Get a Wikipedia link to your website: A blog about "domain name investing" advised website owners how to "Get Targeted Traffic From Wikipedia": "If you review Wikipedia pages associated with the topic of your website, you can add external links to the bottom of Wikipedia pages".