In the news
Heights reached in search rankings, privacy and mental health info; clouds remain over content policing
Wikipedia scores on privacy, mental health info
Research publicised this month concluded that Wikipedia is the best online source of mental health information, outstripping Encyclopaedia Britannica
, dedicated health portals and psychiatry textbooks.
Wikipedia is the leading source for online information concerning mental health, researchers at the University of Melbourne concluded in research publicised this month. The scholars assessed 14 sources, including Encyclopaedia Britannica and a psychiatry textbook, judging them on how up to date, easy to use, broad in scope, well-researched and accurate the information they provided was. The results spoke favourably of Wikipedia's record at a time when editors are self-conscious about the standards of the encyclopaedia's medical and health-related content:
||Researcher, Dr Nicola Reavley and her colleagues discovered that the quality of information on depression and schizophrenia on Wikipedia was generally as good as, or better than that provided by centrally controlled websites or psychiatry textbooks.
Primacy in search results
The search engine optimization world went through one of its periodic fits of interest in Wikipedia's position in the search results, triggered by a study by Intelligent Positioning which showed that out of a sample of 1000 randomly selected nouns, Wikipedia featured on page 1 of the search results 99% of the time, and in first place 56% of the time. Econsultancy ran an article arguing that Wikipedia's positioning was a fairly predictable result of its articles being typically on-topic and well-developed. Heavy inbound linking to Wikipedia was credited for giving the site a significant boost while its well-structured system of wikilinks was said to have distributed these beneficial effects across topic areas. Search Engine Land meanwhile responded by arguing that the focus on single-word nouns in the test meant that it was not representative of real-world searches, and that the study was of limited usefulness as a consequence.
Haymarket affair affair redux
The debate over sourcing in the Haymarket affair article that made news headlines last month (Signpost coverage) has continued to garner attention in the media, as well as being discussed at length on the foundation-l mailing list. Much of it was churnalism, but some contributions did advance the discussion. The Atlantic ran a piece which argued that while the situation wasn't handled well by Wikipedia editors, the underlying problem of how to handle conflicts over established narratives and newer, less supported theories was a fixture of standard historiographical discourse, and that Wikipedia therefore was in some ways being held to an unreasonably high standard. National Public Radio ran a debate on the subject between Professor Timothy Messer-Kruse, Andrew Lih – longstanding Wikipedia editor and author of The Wikipedia Revolution – and the Wikimedia Foundation's Steven Walling. Professor Messer-Kruse suggested in part that Wikipedia's lack of credentialism made attempts to rapidly adapt the historical record to changes in prevailing opinion in the face of new evidence difficult.
- State of the wikis: The Guardian was among international news media who took note of the imminent Cairo education program pilot aimed at driving improvements of the 150,000 article-strong Arabic Wikipedia, commenting that the global education had been a "mixed success" thus far. Meanwhile, The Hindu discussed the travails of the struggling Kannada Wikipedia afloat, as The Times of India praised Sanskrit Wikipedia for reviving interest in the language, and Haaretz chronicled the activism of editors of Hebrew Wikipedia to convince Israeli state institutions to embrace the facilitation of free culture. Lastly, the block of Uzbek Wikipedia by the Uzbeki government received notice in the Telegraph, The Atlantic, and Registan.
- Wikipedia as gamer bible. Well, for one game at least: Crusader Kings II, a strategy game set between 1066 and 1337, was reported by Gamercast to have used Wikipedia data to provide biographies of many of the historic characters that appear in the game. Players curious about the historical depth of characters such as vassals and bishops will be able to quickly access Wikipedia-sourced information on them.
- Featured article gets some local attention Warren County, Indiana's appearance on the main page on March 1, 2012 was covered by the Journal & Courier, with the president of the local history society thanking one of the article's main authors for writing it.
- Wikiqueered: The launch of Wikiqueer, a wiki encyclopedia focusing on LGBT content, was noted this week by Pinknews. The project is being led by long-standing Wikipedian Varnent, who fielded questions about its relationship with the Wikimedia Foundation and its projects on foundation-l.