Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine/RFC on medical disclaimer

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The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

RfC closed. See content page for result.


I've removed the following content; although it was in the draft that was announced a week ago at every place where this RFC was being discussed,[1] [2] [3] two editors have now objected, so I removed the text rather than having the RFC mucked up. Now, changing an RFC after launch when the draft was put up a week ago is not a good thing; if you have any other issues, please bring them forward on talk. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:17, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

Local discussions

As of mid-December, local discussions showed approximately 60% in favor of a disclaimer on medical content, and approximately 20% against, with the remainder open to a trial or expressing no opinion. Opposing editors cite Wikipedia's content guideline against disclaimers in articles and say that other websites offering medical information do not have disclaimers at the top.

Yes should have used this talk page not your user page, apologies. It is not a numerical vote. The fist sentence is a bit subjective and such derived figures would vary according to the reader of the previous discussion. Many did not express clear opinions one way or the other. The second sentence does not fully cover all of the reasons not to use disclaimers as brought forward by all commentatorsn in the previous discussion. For example, neither of these 2 cited reasons are the main reasons in my opinion, which are (i) we already have a disclaimer, there is no evidence of either (ii) harm caused by wikipedia medical articles or (iii) benefit of a disclaimer, (iv) work involved, (v) more clutter in the lead of the article. Lesion (talk) 17:48, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
My point is not where you raised it but when; I announced this draft a week ago, specifically pinged you, and worked to notify everyone involved so that we would have a clean RFC. Objecting to wording after launch, when there was a week to review before launch, is messy. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:56, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
I wasn't aware that you pinged me, but I do recall you mentioning this RfC before, but I never visited this page until today. Lesion (talk) 18:20, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

The editors who weighed in on preliminary discussions were:

Here's the math for Lesion (yes, I know consensus is not determined via tally, but Lesion questioned the numbers). My initial count of 28 editors (17 in favor, 6 against, 5 iffy to no opinion) did not include LeadSongDog (who only weighed in with a question at the end) and Benlisquare, who weighed in only to say an RFC would be needed. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:42, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

This discussion needs to be much more broadly publicized[edit]

This proposal will affect some tens of thousands of Wikipedia articles (based on the counts of categorized medical articles shown at WP:MED) and represents a pretty significant departure from standard Wikipedia practice (as described at Wikipedia:No disclaimers in articles).

If the outcome of this discussion is to be expected to carry weight with the Wikipedia community, there's going to have to be a bit more effort to publicize it. I don't know what the policy and practice are around adding a watchlist header notice, but at a minimum there should be neutral notifications at WP:CENT, the Village Pump, and probably WT:MOS. TenOfAllTrades(talk) 17:37, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

It is at the Central Notifications template,[4] that template is linked at the VP and at AN and ANI, and it is not that much of a wide deviation from norm, since we do currently have disclaimers on current events. I'm not sure it is a MOS issue? I'm not a fan of watchlist notifications; if you want to work on that, cool. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 17:58, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
Agree with TenOfAllTrades. The matter seems (to me) to have popped up very suddenly. If there has been discussion of the content/wording of proposals A and B, I've missed it / can't find it. That should come first, IMO. Hordaland (talk) 18:05, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
It has not popped up suddenly; it has been under discussion since at least early November, and links to the earlier discussions are clearly in the first paragraph. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:13, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
Found, and read, discussions. Thanks. Hordaland (talk) 20:05, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

For the record, also at Jimbo Wales talk. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:17, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Bold text[edit]

Is it possible we can only have one copy of this text: "All signed comments and talk not related to an endorsement of a view should be directed to this page's discussion page. Threaded discussion should not be added below; it should be posted on the talk page. Threaded replies to another user's !vote, endorsement, response, or comment should be posted to the talk page, and may be moved there."? It's quite hard to read with the text jutting out constantly. --LT910001 (talk) 00:54, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, I just saw this. This seems to always become a problem on RFCs, but if you find them troubling, for now I will comment them out, and then only add them back in should a problem with threaded discussions take hold. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:19, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

RfC template[edit]

To mark this article for RfC using the RfC process (WP:RFC), add {{rfc|sci|rfcid=3FB1144}} to the article. --LT910001 (talk) 00:56, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

I think those are for topics only-- this is already at WP:CENT. I've never seen one of those tags on a global RFC, but I could be wrong. I'll put them here, and if I am wrong, someone will hopefully fix it. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:17, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
This section has the complete list. About a third of them are specifically non-article categories (a list that seems to be longer every time I look at it). You can choose as many as apply, but I think the current two are just fine. I've added a date stamp for the RFC bot (you can change it to any date you want, but the bot needs a date to calculate it's 30-day I-bet-this-has-been-abandoned timer). WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)


Something about the way this was set up is causing the RFC page to point to this talk page instead of the main page. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:26, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

The template directs readers to this page, but the RFC is at Wikipedia:WikiProject Medicine/RFC on medical disclaimer. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:35, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

I do not know how to make this template work, but the expanded RFC now has a proposed Version C that would go on all articles, so the RFC language in the places that template links to needs to be adjusted. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:13, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

WhatamIdoing whatever you did, it's all working right now-- thanks! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:42, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Moved from SandyGeorgia: support version A[edit]

Threaded discussion moved from main page: SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:34, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

At wikipedia a single driven person can dominate and control an article or even vandalize it for a brief period. It is dangerous to allow this to happen in medical pages without an obvious disclaimer. Any argument that people know the nature of wikipedia ignores all the studies to the contrary, and a person who wants no disclaimer may have a suspect motive like wanting to manipulate people's health decisions in this way. IWannaPeterPumpkinEaterPeterParker (talk) 06:33, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

User of course is arguing that because I am not allowing him to refute the position of the Cochrane collaboration with their own person opinion at cough medicine that 1) I want to manipulate people 2) Wikipedia needs a disclaimer Doc James (talk · contribs · email) (if I write on your page reply on mine) 08:53, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Do you mean this situation where you were also edit warring? [5] Yes it is one good example but it does not make what I say less true in general. If someone does not have a valid argument they usually attach the messager and not the message, like you did. You obviously have more support on this site than I do because you know more people and know how to bring them to a discussion so you probably win any conflict you get in to. Like completely ignoring my RFC[6] and everyone discussing it at Cough Medicine during the time I was blocked to create your own consensus a few threads down quickly[7]. Your talk page is full of people who have issues with how you do things, and if they did not all get quickly discouraged it would be noticed more. IWannaPeterPumpkinEaterPeterParker (talk) 17:40, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

Dispute of Doc James position[edit]

  1. Many other sites have content worse than that of Wikipedia and do not contain a warning.
    1. This says "other sites are poor so wikipedia does not need to be better than them".
  2. A disclaimer will clutter the top of the article (how will this mesh with the new text messaging option for getting access to Wikipedia content?).
    1. This is simple to deal with.
  3. The warning is already at the end of the article.
    1. Dispute like point 1.
  4. There are mistakes in other sites including the Lancet and the Mayo Clinic (which people expect to be accurate).
    1. This is the same as point 1 again.
  5. People do not expect Wikipedia to be accurate. I have asked many students if they use Wikipedia and all respond with hesitance as they have all heard from profs how bad it is.
    1. This is untrue and has been proven untrue in studies.
  6. If these notices drive away editors and have no effect on readership / usage then it could potentially result in overall harm.
    1. Conjecture.

IWannaPeterPumpkinEaterPeterParker (talk) 17:44, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

  • Agree with all of this. Also regarding #3, "the warning is already at the end of the article" is a colossal exaggeration. What we have is the word "Disclaimers" in tiny, tiny type, along with some other links in tiny, tiny type. Virtually nobody will click that. Ever. It is misguided at best to suggest that we have any kind of noticeable disclaimer on medical articles. — Scott talk 23:10, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
    • I've expanded the above comment to an opinion section on the RFC. — Scott talk 16:33, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
    • "Virtually nobody" means less than 100 per day for the medical disclaimer, and about 25 times that number for the general disclaimer. I'm not sure what the overall site traffic is, but this is a tiny fraction of users each day. To give one potentially relevant comparison, both "Wikipedia:About" and "Contact Wikipedia" (which are on the same line and in the same font size) get about 12,000 page views per day. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:25, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
      • Thank you! That's a very valuable contribution. I'm going to quote it in my opinion section. — Scott talk 20:25, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
        • Hah, "The warning is already at the end of the article." is fucking ridiculous! I am long time wikipedia editor with several thousand edits and after reading this it went for me like this: "oh, there is already a warning? ... goes to check some medical article ... I cant see anything! ... checks back at discussion ... what are they talking about? ... checks article again ... oh right, you can scroll it even further down ... Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization. ... Disclaimers - I foundt it!"--Staberinde (talk) 09:17, 31 December 2013 (UTC)


NeilN, re "What should be done is move the current disclaimer link to the top and make it more prominent", would you like to propose a version in a section of your own so others can endorse? I'm assuming this would be a starting point for what you have in mind?

Larger? Colored text? On all articles? I don't really know how to fuss with the font etc in this sample, but thought you'd want to propose something. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:54, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

I do that in the Discussion section? I thought that was specifically for commenting on the two proposed options but I will propose a third if that's acceptable. --NeilN talk to me 15:01, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
It's always possible to present a new view to see if others endorse; the idea is for any RFC to have a good outcome. If you can develop here on talk a version that you like, I could add it to the lead of the RFC as Version C. If you want to do that, I'd first suggest getting it pretty well nailed down here, though-- the other versions were subject to a good deal of discussion. I envision something like the above, but am thinking you want it larger, or colored, or with a background, or something to make it more prominent. I'm also unclear if it would then apply on all articles (which would be a good thing, IMO). SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:19, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I don't know if it's technically possible but here's what I would like:
  1. A simple General Disclaimer link appearing above the Article/Talk tabs on all articles.
  2. A bolded Medical Disclaimer link appearing beside it if a setting is switched on in an article (set by editors).
Thoughts? --NeilN talk to me 15:54, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
My thoughts are that some of the opposition is precisely to the idea that we would flag only medical articles, so if your version were to be all of the above on every article, it might get less opposition. Some people say that doing "only" medical articles creates a problem, so your proposal would have strength if it included the whole thingie above on every article. Also, in some of the earlier discussions, people pointed out that there were also legal, financial, other risks and that all articles should have the prominent disclaimer. More importantly, I don't know how to design this beast to bring it forward. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:03, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Sure, okay. Option 3) Have what you have above on all articles, above any tabs, which should minimize some opposition. Option 3 a) The same as option 3 but allow editors to bold certain links on certain articles. --NeilN talk to me 16:18, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Do you want to write a view on that, and I'll add this as Version C? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:36, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for your assistance/lead on this. --NeilN talk to me 20:14, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

I had hoped that version C would be seen as a good compromise by both sides of the issue which seem to be almost evenly split. Guess not. Oh well. --NeilN talk to me 20:43, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

I'm with you, NeilN; when I saw your proposal, I thought it a good middle-of-the-road alternate, that everyone might be able to accept. I'm surprised it's gotten no traction. I suspect that Casliber is right-- that the design of the RFC and your late entry affected that. And, as WhatamIdoing has mentioned, it may take a second RFC to better hone in. I thought your proposal nicely solved the problem that we need something up front, as well as something that addresses reliability problems in other kinds of articles, and removing the problem of figuring out exactly which medical content needs a disclaimer. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:06, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

Medicine Project assessment[edit]

Medicine quality scale
Medicine importance scale

As of December 30, 2013, of the 25,241 articles and lists tagged by WP:MED (that is, excluding images, cats, dab pages, etc):

  • 77% are Start or Stub class
  • 20% are B or C class
  • 1% are GA or FA
  • 2% are other lists.

On articles rated as Top or High Importance, the articles tagged by WikiProject Medicine do much better. Of those 1,010 articles and lists:

  • 25% are Start or Stub class
  • 65% are B or C class
  • 8% are GA or FA
  • 2% are other lists.

SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:18, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

Lack of "oppose" or "non-endorse", "neutral" and/or "discussion" sections[edit]

I hate that the structure of RFCs lacks these - makes them look stupid, like a bunch of folks with megaphones talking past each other and making pronouncements. Also obfuscates a person's ability to gage consensus by not knowing whether alot of people are opposed or neutral (or haven't read it). Does anyone object if we include these? Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 01:38, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

It's the same way arbcases are run, where each person's evidence is in their own section, no (?) and I took the format from RFC/U-- the idea is to avoid a free-for-all that makes it even harder to see who stands where. Changing the format at this point would make a mess. People who are opposed can start an oppose section-- there are several, so that option should be apparent. As in arb cases or other RFCs, there is always the possibility of discussion here on talk.

I see the problem with the RFC now as a different one: that User:WereSpielChequers tacked on a non-starter Version (with no prior discussion, although this RFC was under discussion for a month) creates such a confusing array of options that this may derail or obscure any consensus that might emerge. I imagine s/he did that in good faith, but the result is no different than if it had been done in bad faith. Options were developed in advance, and s/he plopped in something from left field, based on no discussion, and not very well thought out IMO. Perhaps s/he will remove it.

But adding a discussion section under each view can't hurt, I spose, so I'll go do it. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:39, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

I suppose it depends on what outcome the proposers are hoping to achieve. If they're just looking to have a wide ranging discussion about what options people might think could be useful or potentially viable, or what factors ought to be considered, then this format might work. (Though you're right that readers are going to have 'option fatigue' by the time they get to later statements on the page.) On the other hand, if they're hoping that an actual final policy declaration will emerge from this discussion...well, neither the current format nor the addition of an oppose/neutral section is likely to work. At the beginning of this RfC when the three options were Support Banner A, Oppose Banners, and (the effectively irrelevant) Oppose Banner B, one might have been able to count votes/endorsements in the Support A and the Oppose sections to get a somewhat clear yes/no answer, but that's pretty clearly out the window now.
That said, of course, this is sort of a weird hybrid of an RfC and a policy proposal, so it would have some problematic gaps if we were ever to try to apply it as a policy change. Among other things, the scope of the template usage would have to be stated much more clearly. While the tens of thousands of pages in the various WP:MED categories might be default be included — though that could be overkill – should we also include, for example, articles on other topics which may include or refer to medical information, e.g. aluminum, James Watson, or fennel? TenOfAllTrades(talk) 04:30, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
<sigh> ... I don't think anyone was tied to any outcome, just wanting to solve the problem and get a clear outcome one way or another. Naturally, after all the work and preparation, going through the phases methodically, discussing everything preliminarily to nail down the issues and options, I'm dismayed that we now have pretty much Version D sabotaging the RFC, IMO. I had hoped to avoid chaos so that whatever the outcome was, it would be clear-- hence, ample preliminary discussion with a version put forward everyone agreed on. Have you any suggestions at this point, TenOfAllTrades to get clarity? Is the addition of a Discussion section at the bottom helpful? Enough?

I'm not sure what you are referring to with "policy" proposal, because as of now, NO Disclaimers isn't policy-- it's a content guideline-- another reason I'm discouraged that WereSpellwhatever brought in a "policy" issue (BLP-like). If we want to change policy, we have to start a whole nother discussion, somewhere else.

That said, I added NeilN's proposal because it solved the "scope" problem-- that is, his version would go on everything, not just medical content, so it provides a yes or no on *everything* option. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:23, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

@TenOfAllTrades: I am all for anything which adds any sort of accuracy. If there are more participants than a handful, we need support/oppose sections to be able to quantify consensus. Oppose sections also help gage how many folks have actually looked at a section and may not agree. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 14:40, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
My concern is that changing the basic RFC format at this point will screw the pooch even further. I also don't see that outcomes aren't clear in the current format ... it is pretty clear so far that most responders have weighed all options, and it is clear who stands where. That is, I don't see so far that the RFC closer would have a hard time. Still open to ideas, though, since I certainly didn't foresee someone derailing the RFC into a related policy matter or adding on non-starter templates resulting in option fatigue. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:15, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
@SandyGeorgia, yes I did read this Request For Comment before commenting and making alternative/additional suggestions. Several people including yourself have made a very good case that we have a problem worth solving. I have made a number of suggestions, some merely build on existing processes, others more radical. I note that no-one has yet made a case against my 3rd, 4th and 5th proposals. As for redefining medical articles that haven't reached a certain quality level as drafts, well yes that is a radical departure, but when you have a major problem appropriate and sufficiently radical change is often what is needed. I'm aware of the draft namespace proposal, but I consider it as conceptually flawed as AFC. I accept your point that article accuracy is not necessarily reflected well by our current assessment system, but IMHO that is something one can deal with separately. Once we introduce the concept that a medical article has to reach a certain standard before we treat it as other than a draft, then we can start reassessing what that quality standard is. ϢereSpielChequers 16:03, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
@ Along with a completely unhelpful Version D that clutters the RFC, you've introduced a policy discussion into a guideline RFC. In other words, you screwed the pooch. And your signature still stinks. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:12, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
None of which gives me any idea why you don't like the suggestion that medical info be given similar status to BLP info where protection and edit warring are concerned. I might also point out that I made my comments at a stage of the RFC where support and opposition for a medical disclaimer was pretty evenly matched - 16 15 last I looked. If that isn't the time to be thinking of other ways to address the problem then when would be? ϢereSpielChequers 17:03, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I have not said I don't like that suggestion (I have long been a proponent), but changing policy is a proposal that needs to be explored on the right pages, and with a separate RFC based on deliberative prior discussions, as was done for this RFC. You have branched an RFC that was correctly formulated and discussed over several months to a new policy discussion. You screwed the pooch, not only by branching the discussion but also with the poorly considered addition (with no prior discussion) of Version D. If I haven't made my disgust of this approach clear enough, then I'll stop trying. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:29, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
WSC, I have no doubt that you meant well, and as you've seen I like your ideas. However, I have to agree with Sandy here that you've introduced unnecessary complication into a process that was meant to be simple. It was discussed extensively in advance precisely to develop an accessible RFC, and you've thoroughly torpedoed that aspiration. I'd like you to understand that there are a number of people involved with this who are disappointed at your intervention, and for you to agree to the removal of your proposals from the RFC. To be completely honest, I don't believe that your consent is strictly necessary for the organizer of this RFC to do so. There is no reason why you can't run a parallel policy RFC for your ideas, but they're not conducive to achieving the specific outcome of this one. — Scott talk 18:39, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Oh, no, please please User:WereSpielChequers, do not launch a parallel policy RFC for your ideas-- that policy proposal is too important to be initiated by someone whose proposals here indicate lack of knowledge of medical content, medical sourcing, medical assessment, and issues facing medical editors, not to mention a disrespect for the careful planning needed for an RFC. Please allow experienced medical editors to approach the policy discussion with calm deliberation-- for WSC to launch something akin to what s/he did here, it would surely fail. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:32, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I think overall that the exact structure isn't that important. Only experienced editors—mostly of the Metapedian sort—are commenting. As a result, we can count on people finding a way to make their views understood. If we really need something that requires only a simplistic vote count, then we can take the two most popular options and hold a vote-style RFC after this one. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:02, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Other than my concern that "option fatigue" because of the inappropriate late insertion of version D will result in many editors failing to engage, I don't disagree with WAID overall. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:34, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

WSC, elevating medical sourcing to the level of BLP sourcing is something a lot of med editors support, but I agree with Sandy and Scott that this is not the forum for that proposal. If it is to be launched as a policy proposal, the best time to do it will be once the disclaimer question is settled, and preparatory discussion should involve others who have given a lot of thought to the question - perhaps beginning with a discussion at WT:MED. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 21:54, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Hi Anthony, I agree that any separate RFC on the protection and edit warring proposals would best be started after this RFC ends. Thus far I'm seeing little or no specific opposition to either of those two ideas, but I'm not seeing sufficient support to expect that this RFC will close as enacting either of them. However I'm realistic enough to expect that if an RFC starts then the option that emerges will not be exactly as I start the RFC with - building consensus requires one to try to accommodate reasonable objections, and perhaps others will find better ways to address the problem. As for extensive preparatory discussions, I'm not keen on RFCs that look like an attempt to turn the RFC process into some sort of referendum on one or more predefined options. If I start an RFC it literally will be a Request for Comment, and I would hope that the proposal that emerges will be better than the one I started it with. ϢereSpielChequers 09:14, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

Query on "option fatigue"[edit]

Considering the late additions, which messed up the TOC and options, would it be less "fatiguing" if the TOC were re-organized again by editor, thusly?

The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
  • Views
  1. SandyGeorgia
    Support version A
    Oppose version B
    Neutral on version C
    Oppose version D
  2. Doc James: oppose medical disclaimer
  3. User:Lesion: Oppose extra banner linking to medical disclaimer
  4. Sunrise
    Oppose version A
    Support medical disclaimer
  5. Ian Furst: support Version A
  6. Scott Martin
    Support version A
    Oppose version C
  7. NeilN: Support Version C
  8. User:WereSpielChequers proposal

SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:30, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Did that-- if anyone hates, I'll move it back, but bedtime here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 05:38, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Press coverage of this RfC[edit]

Shoulds and don'ts[edit]

Overleaf, NickCT writes:

It's reasonable to assume that students and particularly med students shouldn't be using Wikipedia as a primary source for important medical information.

It's certainly reasonable to assume that they shouldn't. It's not, however, reasonable to assume that they don't. — Scott talk 15:07, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

I teach first and second year med students, and at least a substantial fraction of them use Wikipedia in their studies. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 17:19, 11 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks. Good to have some actual, direct facts here rather than assumptions and hand-waving, which easily accounts for 90% of the opposing comments. — Scott talk 18:12, 11 January 2014 (UTC)
Still anecdotal, but I see staff looking stuff up as I go around hospital at work too. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 21:19, 11 January 2014 (UTC)
@Scott - Sure. I guess the point I was making was, if you feel it's reasonable to expect the reader to know better, then you probably don't need an obvious disclaimer. If you don't feel it's reasonable, you'd probably want a disclaimer. NickCT (talk) 21:48, 2 January 2014 (UTC)
I think there's another question here. I don't think any of us here disagree that one shouldn't rely on the Internet for dispositive medical advice, whether that's Wikipedia or otherwise. It might be a good resource to suggest to someone what they might like to discuss with a doctor, but "discuss with a doctor" should always be the end of that sentence, whether the initial advice/idea came from Wikipedia, Jack Crack's blog, or your Aunt Mildred. The people who are likely to uncritically take someone's word for it are the same type of people who probably don't read disclaimers even if they're in a 72-point blinking bright red font.
So the story there isn't "Person takes medical advice from Wikipedia and doesn't verify with doctor, ends badly", but "Person takes bad advice from $SOURCE_BESIDES_DOCTOR and doesn't verify with doctor, ends badly". We can't fix that with a disclaimer, and we can't make people verify with a doctor rather than dear old Aunt Millie. A disclaimer is likely to reach exactly the people who knew it and would have heeded it anyway, and be ignored or disregarded by others. Seraphimblade Talk to me 09:32, 5 January 2014 (UTC)
....which is why I am leaning towards disclaimer B, polite for "Go see yer doctor!" @Seraphimblade: if one person in twenty/fifty/whatever gets off their proverbial and goes to see their doctor then I am happy. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 10:06, 5 January 2014 (UTC)
Seraphimblade, what you say may apply to option B, but option A explains to the reader just how disastrously wrong Wikipedia medical articles can be by pointing out that anyone can edit - something a lot of otherwise sensible readers don't know. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 07:28, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
@Anthonyhcole & Cas Liber - I feel like neither of you really read Seraphimblade's point, which was that someone silly enough to take medical advise from wikipedia without a grain of salt, is probably too silly to read a disclaimer. If they can't read the disclaimer, then it wouldn't really matter if it's disclaimer A, B or X, they're not going to read the disclaimer. NickCT (talk) 14:30, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
And even if they don't, at least we tried, and that is the point here. — Scott talk 14:44, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
People do silly things. They run stop lights, they drink and drive, the list goes on and on. That doesn't mean we don't warn them with stop lights and tickets. Its not our job to to decide no one will listen so why bother. Its our job to identify the dangers both that these articles are edited by anyone who comes along, and that they cannot provide complete medical advice, and then readers are responsible for what they do after that. We are responsible for the content in those articles, and at the moment we have no way to control content and safety. If articles are locked once they are checked for correctness maybe , but that's not happening yet.(Littleolive oil (talk) 15:16, 6 January 2014 (UTC))
@NickCT: - thing is, we are talking not of single, or even dozens of editors but thousands of times where someone is looking something up medical.(i.e. we need to scale up our thinking)...and I would suspect a significant proportion of times it is because a person has a concern or experience of that condition. Yes alot of folks might fall in the category of not reading the disclaimer but even if 1 in 100 does and pauses, then that is a Very Good Thing. One of the biggest issues in medicine is getting folks to get stuff checked out early by a doctor - getting that suspicious mole/change in bowel habit/unexplained weight gain or loss/fatigue/low mood/whatever - which might be a precursor to something serious and fiscally very costly. It is not like an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure...more like an ounce is worth several tonnes of cure, a lot of pain and maybe an early death. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 19:55, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
@Cas Liber - re "an ounce is worth several tonnes of cure" - Really? In an age where major studies are concluding that access to health care has no measurable health benefit, and long established preventative tests have been shown to cause more harm than good, the assertion that going to your doctor to get stuff checked out seems a tad shaky.
But regardless, both you and Littleolive oil need to acknowledge there is a cost in terms of clutter and complication in putting a disclaimer on every single medical related subject page. Frankly, I don't completely disagree with your sentiments that a disclaimer could possibly be a good thing in some limited cases. But when you measure that against the hassle it would take to implement, I think I'm still pretty firmly in the no disclaimer camp. NickCT (talk) 22:37, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
Frankly, clutter to an encyclopedia web page, a slight change in an aesthetic doesn't weigh at all against less hardship to a single human life in my opinion (Littleolive oil (talk) 00:35, 7 January 2014 (UTC))
Five years is piss-all for determining benfits of early intervention in diabetes for example. I wouldn't hold that study up for much. I don't think dissing qualitative medicine on early detection of various maladies is intuitive. But this is off-topic. The disclaimer could be readily slotted in by a bot. No dramas there. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 00:30, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

Tagging medical vs pseudomedical articles[edit]

 Note: Split from above section following Cas Liber @ 00:30, 7 January 2014 (UTC). — Scott talk 18:07, 14 January 2014 (UTC)

"Just make a bot" he says. "No drama" he says. Out of curiosity, have you ever made a bot before? How would you discern between pages that should or should not have a disclaimer? What happens when other people disagree with that opinion? NickCT (talk) 02:09, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

Putting a medical disclaimer - by bot - on the 25,000 articles that have the WPMED template on their talk pages would capture most of the relevant articles. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 14:14, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
This includes such pseudomedical articles as Homeopathy and ECA stack. The planned disclaimer would then appear to be branding these as medical articles, i.e. having the opposite effect to that desired - David Gerard (talk) 15:20, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
Homeopathy is very much a medical article. Like Osteopathy and Acupuncture. On what planet are these not medical topics? Most alternative medicine is not evidence-based and most is pseudoscience, but all of it is medicine. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 17:47, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
Your planned disclaimer would give the appearance of branding the subjects as medicine when they're in WPMED because they're the opposite of medicine. Frankly, you can't just automate the tagging process - David Gerard (talk) 18:37, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
It looks like this conversation got into the ulterior motives behind the disclaimer tagging - putting one on "Homeopathy" deems it a medical article, which may be followed by efforts to put it under special restrictions about what sources can be used and, thereby, what POV the article should have. This is why these page-specific disclaimers would be contentious, just like "NSFW" tags on images, and this is a major reason why I oppose all the page-specific disclaimer ideas, because it will end up being very contentious.
Now, a rationalist may be tempted to say hey, whatever puts those homeopathy quacks in their place, but let's remember that the homeopaths still have their own treasured regulatory powers, including the right to dispense "prescription" homeopathy cures (that are really really really highly diluted with water, I think) not available for anyone who doesn't pay the racket under penalty of law. Some doctors continue to insist that prescribing expensive homeopathy as "placebos" is ethical. So we should not assume that we can guess the POV of a homeopathy article that has been restricted ... we can only guess there will be ... less of them. Wnt (talk) 16:05, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
It's pretty much already under such "special restrictions". My problem with a medical disclaimer on it is that it would appear to brand it as "medicine", when it's in WPMED for being the opposite of medicine.
I don't think a medical disclaimer is a great idea (hence supporting James Heilman's position), but if we do have one, we can't just put it on articles by bot - David Gerard (talk) 19:57, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
That seems even worse, because then editors would battle it out to determine whether our Official Point Of View accepts any given concept or practice as medicine or quackery in order to place a disclaimer. Gee, what could possibly go wrong...? And we'd have no disclaimer on articles advocating dangerous practices (or otherwise inadvisable practices like colloidal silver)? It seems like we'd be back arguing for some special kind of disclaimer "this is pseudo science" for those, and then the battle of the OPOV would get even hotter. Wnt (talk) 20:59, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

FormerIP's proposal[edit]

FormerIP, I agree this measure is not enough on its own. And I agree radical action will be needed to make the top search engine result for most medical queries reliable. Presently, of the roughly 25,000 articles tagged as of interest to WP:MED only 58 are tagged as featured article quality - and in some cases that rating is as old as 2004 with no serious review in more than 5 years. However, I'm not hoping to pass responsibility from editors to readers with this disclaimer, but to clearly warn the readers, which I think they deserve and we have a moral obligation to do. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 07:14, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

I believe someone said a while ago that Wikipedia is now typically the second or third result in a web search. It's not always even on the first page. My quick test for 'Stroke symptoms' put Wikipedia in the middle of the third page. WhatamIdoing (talk) 16:42, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
It probably depends on the search used. Wikipedia tends to be among the easiest-to-find sources on obscure subjects (including rare deseases and treatments). עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 17:00, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

Recent study on intern use of Wikipedia on smartphones[edit]

Not sure if this has been posted but thought it was interesting. A recent study of interns in Ireland found that the most commonly used website was Wikipedia. It was accessed at least weekly by 38.2% (39/102) of respondents with a smartphone.{{cite pmid|24243966}} — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ian Furst (talkcontribs) 21:18, 11 January 2014‎ (UTC)

I don't have access to the full text of the article, so can't see if it mentions Wikipedia. If it does, I'll add it. If it doesn't, we should discuss whether it should be added. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:12, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
I can't get to the full-text, emailed a friend but in the abstract, under results it says, "The most commonly used website was Wikipedia. It was accessed at least weekly by 38.2% (39/102) of respondents with a smartphone." Ian Furst (talk) 00:15, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────SandyGeorgia I forgot to mention that I got the original article and can email to you if you like. It was an electronic survey of medical interns in Ireland. Of the 108 respondents (47% response rate), 102 (94%) had smart phones. 38% (of the 102) accessed Wikipedia at least weekly to perform their job. Here's a direct quote from the results section,

"Although websites were not used as commonly as apps, almost half of the smartphone owning interns reported accessing a website on their smartphone for a work related purpose at least once a month. The most commonly accessed website was Wikipedia, with 39/102 (38.2%) of the respondents accessing it in order to perform their job at least once a week."

This was the authors' conclusions regarding Wikipedia,

"Although the BNF and MIMS apps are electronic versions of the published paper based guides, the same may not be the case for other apps and websites such as Wikipedia. Although not rigorously peer reviewed, the quality of the information on Wikipedia may not be as poor as expected when compared to other more regulated sources of information.16–19 Wikipedia was found to answer significantly fewer drug related questions than Medscape (40% and 83%, respectively). However, there were no factual errors in Wikipedia identified in the study.18 Similarly, another study of drug information in Wikipedia identified the absence of information on dosage, drug interactions, and adverse drug events.19 Therefore, although the information on Wikipedia was not complete, it was not found to be incorrect."

In this sample, roughly 1 out of every 3 interns is using Wikipedia, at least weekly, as a resource. Not sure about you, but I was my most critical of data when an intern/resident. This speaks volumes to the quality of information being published on Wikipedia in my opinion. Good on you (and many others) SandyGeorgia. Ian Furst (talk) 20:47, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks, Ian Furst. I am ... quite wiped out today from the bookkeeping chores to keep this RFC on track ... I'm wondering if this info was covered in the broad overview I already list in the Context section ... will look at this when I get a second wind here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:57, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
NP SandyGeorgia, thank you for all the work on the Rfc - turned into quite the debate. I checked the context and didn't see it listed. If you need, the reference is {{pmid|24243966}}. Regards. Ian Furst (talk) 21:04, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Ian Furst, I added something under "Context", if you want to have a look and fiddle as necessary. Thanks! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:18, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Clarification requests[edit]

  1. Ian Furst, could you please revisit to clarify your stance? You Endorsed Doc James general opposition to a disclaimer, but then later on, you supported Version A. You also changed your position after several editors had endorsed your view. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 19:40, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
    sorry about the confusion, SandyGeorgia here or on project page? Ian Furst (talk) 20:34, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
    I'm looking ahead to the fact that someone will eventually be closing this RFC, so you should make your positions clear on the page, that is, clear enough for an uninvolved admin who hasn't followed to know your position. I'm just starting to point out issues where clarity for the closing admin will be needed. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:38, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
    moved support to your position SandyGeorgia and placed my late edition opinions on C and D below the original text. Removed support for no-disclaimer for clarification. Bottom line, I support version A and think a RCT on the real-world effects would be a good idea. Ian Furst (talk) 21:58, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
    All clear now, thanks! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:02, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
    BTW, if anyone else has interest, I'm happy to form a group to create a trial to measure effects of the banner (whichever it may be). Ian Furst (talk) 00:18, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
    That should be interesting. We introduce some incorrect medical information into some articles, then survey the readers to see who believed it...? Wnt (talk) 02:12, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
  2. Mendaliv, I wanted to ping you to make sure you were aware that Version C applies to all articles, in case you want to clarify anything in your statement for the closer. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 22:02, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
    Thanks for pointing that out. Removed my statement and just added a support to NeilN's statement, though I may come back and qualify that support later. —/Mendaliv//Δ's/ 22:11, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
  3. NeilN, you signed on as endorsing Doc James general oppose to a disclaimer, but then you support Disclaimer Version C-- these two are inconsistent. Please adjust so the RFC closer will know where you stand. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:28, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
    Doc James specifically referred to a medical disclaimer. I oppose only highlighting medical disclaimers (thus Version C). --NeilN talk to me 02:21, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
  4. Wnt, you've endorsed two blanket opposes, but then say you support the sidebar notion. Could you provide anything else to help out the admin who has to close the RFC ? How is your support for the sidebar proposal aligned with your general opposes, or did the sidebar come up after you opposed? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:39, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
    I don't see any harm in improving the visibility of the site's general disclaimer, provided that this is done on all pages in a way without the need to classify pages as medical or not. I see no merit in a disclaimer that can be removed in the same vandal edit that introduces deliberate misinformation, nor do I believe that medical articles should be treated differently than others. (Technically Version C may also be acceptable under these criteria, if the optional bolding scheme is omitted, but it is verbose, and appearing in the main flow of the article it is just a bit much.) Wnt (talk) 23:55, 12 January 2014 (UTC)
    Thanks, Wnt! SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:05, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
  5. Cirt, ditto above. You've entered a general oppose, but then also supported the Sidebar notion; can you clarify? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 00:05, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
    Please be more specific, where exactly have I supported this? — Cirt (talk) 23:18, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
    If you are referring to my Support of View by Anomie, I have re-read that statement and I reiterate my Support for View by Anomie. Cheers, — Cirt (talk) 23:57, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
  6. Anomie, would you mind if I (or you) change your section heading from "View by Anomie" to "View by Anomie: general disclaimer in sidebar"? As you can see in my clarification requests above, we have multiple users who have earlier entered blanket opposes, but later supported your version (which will make a dandy mess for the closer), and I'm thinking we should highlight and clarify that yours is a new proposal. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:12, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
    I wouldn't object to that particular change. I also don't see why the closer might be confused by people opposing all the proposals to shove banners at the top of articles but supporting a simple link in the sidebar. Anomie 18:00, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
    I built a spreadsheet yesterday to see where we stand by editor (rather than by proposal), and ... well ... it's not that simple, and this thing is all over the map. There is support for something, but just what is not clear. Sumbuddy (moi) doesn't know how to design an RFC, and I suspect a followup will be needed. Anyway, just want to highlight that your proposal is quite distinct from the rest. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 18:04, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

More clarification pings[edit]

  1. Holdek, the RFC is formatted for endorsing views. You added an oppose to an oppose, which I have removed. You can endorse the sidebar view in this section, or start your own endorse section, although I'll add that this RFC was not about a sidebar view, or a general disclaimer. It was about a medical disclaimer, although the RFC was hijacked early on by everybody wanting everything else including the kitchen sink. Please do not change the format of what is left of what the RFC started out as. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:23, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Discussion from ArnoldReinhold view, "anyone can edit"[edit]

(Off-topic discussion moved from Wikipedia:WikiProject Medicine/RFC on medical disclaimer#Discussion)

I'd just point out that "anyone can edit" is a core principle of Wikipedia and is not likely to change. What I am proposing does not change that principle, it just lets readers check the current version against an earlier version that has had some level of review. --agr (talk) 20:57, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

There is nothing in the "anyone can edit" principle that necessitates live editing. A pause for fact-checking by experts before publishing each draft is perfectly in line with "anyone can edit". --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 03:51, 11 January 2014 (UTC)
I disagree. In practice, contributions would get ahead of "expert" review, and then be stifled by increasing backlogs. The net result would be another Nupedia, no worthwhile content to be reviewed, and an ultimate demise of the project. DES (talk) 21:22, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, not if we ensure locked FAs are reviewed regularly. You know. Like a real encyclopedia. (Does anyone mind if I move this thread down to the discussion section?) --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 00:38, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
We are the real encyclopedia. We killed the others. If you're arguing from failed examples ... - David Gerard (talk) 16:55, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
We aren't "the real encyclopedia". We're merely a primitive forebear of (declamatory tone à la Deep Thought) The Encyclopedia That Is To Come After Wikipedia. An Encyclopedia whose operational parameters are unlikely to include the disclaimer that you should not rely on it. - Pointillist (talk) 17:35, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
No, I'm not arguing from failed examples, David. You haven't understood my argument. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 09:55, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
@Anthonyhcole, rather than being locked to prevent change, existing Featured Articles could automatically lose FA status when changed. The former featured version would be promoted to readers somehow, and a group of special curators would be able to restore FA status after checking the changes since the most recent FA version. Re: @DESiegel's point, the desire to regain featured status would motivate the curators to act quickly. Such curators should have proven editing skills and broad subject-matter knowledge – sufficient to recognize whether further work will be needed to bring the article back to FA standard – and would probably be authorized on a per-wikiproject basis (e.g. a MILHIST curator wouldn't be able to restore FA status on a MEDICINE article). I've no doubt that Wikipedia will eventually need a more reputation-based approach to watchlisting: FA-status-curators could allow us to get experience of this without impacting the "anyone can edit" meme. - Pointillist (talk) 10:55, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
The point, for me, is having a WP:RS-reliable article presented to the reader. What you're proposing there doesn't do that. The only way to do that is to submit it to genuine, named subject-matter experts for stringent fact-checking and to lock it in place between reviews. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 11:46, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
I suspect this idea is not going to fly, but if you push it hard enough, particularly here, it might kill the medical disclaimer idea from backlash - David Gerard (talk) 12:43, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
David, it is clear you haven't actually grasped what I'm talking about. But this is off-topic for this RfC so - for that reason - I'll be moving this thread onto the talk page unless someone objects. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 12:48, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Agreed, it won't achieve what you want overnight, but that's not how Wikipedia works. Over time, it could be the basis for something close to what you propose. We'd need a technique for making it trivial to permalink to the latest "known good" FA-reviewed version. A protected redirect might be sufficient to begin with, e.g. Meningitis/FA could redirect to this version, though with a modified "old revision" box that would assert this this is the most recently reviewed FA version. The principle of using FA as a stable revision point isn't new – @Casliber was talking about it four years ago – what we need is a way to make it work. Here are the key points as I see them:
  • Having a method for stabilizing FAs will motivate more of us to build more of them. It could spark a major wave of content improvement and re-organization.
  • Curation will be seen as an attractive next step for committed content editors who do not wish to become admins. It will help the big wikiprojects to get the most out of their members.
  • The role of curator will help attract additional high-calibre contributors from libraries and academia.
  • If there's a way to watchlist for "article has just lost FA status", re-assessment should be far more rapid than it is at present.
  • When other websites republish our content, or link to our articles, they will increasingly prefer to use the FA-permalink.
  • The FA-permalink can also be used internally for diff-ing and maybe for main page links and search results.
My reasoning is that instead of trying to invent a wholly new environment for FA's, we look for an evolutionary approach that's widely acceptable in the short term, but is still focused on the goal of offering a reliable encyclopedia that doesn't need disclaimers on every page. - Pointillist (talk) 13:34, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
I must say I am not keen on the idea of two versions of articles, but prefer a more vigorous system of vetting changes to ones already FAs - I really think we need to think about stable versions...and that the stable version should be the one and only version. I think we probably need to be more proactive in reassessment if problems are found. I like the idea of using perma-links to compare and review versions. Cas Liber (talk · contribs) 13:42, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
It certainly isn't ideal to have two versions within a single encyclopedia. It would be helpful to have some reliable stats on the size of the problem. Back in 2009 you were saying "Fascinating watching high traffic FAs erode over time". But what counts as unacceptable erosion? For example, there were 61 edits in the two weeks after Meningitis got its FA star (diff) of which about 25 were vandalism or good faith errors, requiring 20 reverts. Some of reverts happened almost immediately and the longest delay was 77 minutes. The total time spent unreverted was c. 414 minutes, so the freshly promoted FA was wrong about 2% of the time. Is that satisfactory? - Pointillist (talk) 14:38, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
By all means re-invent FA. (Pending changes/flagged revisions on all FAs would be good. Instead of the meaningless gold star at the top, there should be a link to the most recent version that passed FA. Etc.) But none of that is WP:RS-reliable. I'm getting the sense that everybody but me on this project thinks it doesn't matter that the world's encyclopedia is unreliable ... or that it matters but not so much that we should actually devise a strategy and work toward it ... or that it matters but we can evolve toward that aspiration over the next 20-50 years. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 15:22, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
It does matter, and we're trying to find the right way forward. So far there are four suggestions: have a bigger disclaimer (per the RfC); lock-and-review-quickly (you and Casliber); automatic checkpoint (agr); curated checkpoint (me). I think we've each said our piece. What we need now is other people's opinions on what combination would best work in practice. - Pointillist (talk) 16:13, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

I think we should start with the reality that "anyone can edit" is a widely accepted core value at Wikipedia. A stable version that is the one and only version is not going to happen unless someone forks the project, and good luck with that. What I am proposing at Wikipedia:Village pump (idea lab)/Archive 12#Wikipedia checkpoint edition is a mechanism that does not interfere in any way with the "anyone can edit" principle, but adds the ability of a reader to compare the current version of an article with a version that has had some level of review, with a baseline of "vandalism free". As others point out, the present system for article reviews is discouraging because version that was reviewed has no visibility, making the displayed star, and the hard work that earned it, increasingly meaningless over time. My proposal is an attempt at a compromise between editing freedom and need for stability that has at least a chance of community acceptance. No doubt it can be improved upon. So if this discussion is seen as off topic for the RFC, may I suggest moving it to the Village pump (idea lab) rather than the RFC talk page?--agr (talk) 15:13, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Why not just point the Village Pump thread at this page? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:19, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
I could, but if this discussion is off-topic on the main RFC page, how is it on-topic on this talk page? The Village pump (idea lab) seems a more appropriate venue, and this thread started from what I had wrote about the proposal there.--agr (talk) 16:59, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Add: Can I rely on Wikipedia for advice on medical, legal, financial, safety, and other critical issues?[edit]

Per a discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine/RFC on medical disclaimer, I would like to propose adding this question the main FAQ page: "Can I rely on Wikipedia for advice on medical, legal, financial, safety, and other critical issues?" Here is my suggestion for an answer (the sentences in italics are copied verbatim from Wikipedia:General disclaimer and would not be italicized in the FAQ):

In a word, no. If you need specific advice (for example, medical, legal, financial or risk management) please seek a professional who is licensed or knowledgeable in that area. That is not to say that you will not find valuable and accurate information in Wikipedia; much of the time you will. However, Wikipedia cannot guarantee the validity of the information found here. The content of any given article may recently have been changed, vandalized or altered by someone whose opinion does not correspond with the state of knowledge in the relevant fields. See Wikipedia:General disclaimer for more cautionary information. --agr (talk) 15:44, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
What "main FAQ page"? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:15, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Yikes, I meant to post that to Wikipedia talk:FAQ, which I have now done. Any further discussion should go there.--agr (talk) 16:55, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Page shuffling[edit]

I feel certain qualms at just how remarkably much cut'n'paste'n'refactor'n'move-to-another-page proponents of the disclaimer are presently indulging in. I feel this suffers the danger of resulting in an erroneous impression of consensus. Anyone else share these qualms? - David Gerard (talk) 16:14, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

Since I'm the one doing the "housekeeping" here, that must refer to me. Specific and constructive pointers would be helpful (how would you like to be the admin who has to sort this mess ... for example, editors who have entered blanket opposes, but later added support for a more visible general disclaimer)?

Which of my moves concern you, and which of the moves of threaded discussions (as announced in the instructions on the RFC from day one) have been done in any way that may create "an erroneous impression of consensus"?

Further, I can't decipher where you're getting any impression of consensus; the only consensus I'm seeing at this point is that a followup, more tightly formulated RFC may be the only outcome. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 16:23, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

I'm the latest page shuffler. I moved the above thread about how to improve Wikipedia's reliability from the RFC discussion section to this talk page. David, if you can see anything in there of direct relevance to the RFC questions, please return that thread to the RFC page. If you can see anything in my moving the thread - or any other moves - that might give an erroneous impression of the RFC consensus, please explain it to me. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 16:32, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Don't hold your breath. — Scott talk 09:30, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Version G[edit]

Proposed by --Jakob (talk) on January 18. Similar to existing article message templates.

King jakob c 2, please discuss. This RFC started out to determine if there was support for a medical disclaimer. Form and style can be determined later. Everyone and his/her brother has dropped in new versions, and even alternate issues, like a disclaimer in the sidebar. We are beyond the point of having something that can be sorted by the closing admin, and proposed, undiscussed iterations are unlikely to add clarity.

I realize that I should have removed spell checkers calamity of Version D early on and insisted that it had no place in the RFC formulation, and that the sidebar proposal (which is unrelated to the medical disclaimer) should have been done in its own RFC, but it's too late to remove them now, we are where we are (with a mess that can't be sorted), so I'm sorry to remove your good-faith version while others stand, but any more additions are not adding clarity, and may only discourage feedback via option fatigue. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:29, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

@SandyGeorgia: It's OK. If there's a future discussion on what form the disclaimer will take, I'll submit it there. Although I suppose my idea of putting it only on B-class or lower articles is worth discussing still? --Jakob (talk) 13:35, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Bluntly, no. That was discussed before the launch of the RFC (which is one of the many reasons that the proposal by User:WereSpielChequers was a diversion). Some older FAs are no more vetted or accurate than start class articles, and some stubs or start class articles are more accurate than some GAs. That idea was always a non-starter, and it should not have been added here at all, but spell checkers insisted, so the RFC was cluttered. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:38, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Early summary[edit]

With about a week remaining, I pity the poor admin who has to sort this mess after so many things were tacked on to this RFC after its launch. Recognizing that discussion/consensus is "not a tally", to help sort out which supporters of a medical disclaimer oppose certain versions of same; which opposers of a medical disclaimer support a more prominent sidebar disclaimer; and which opposers support a general disclaimer for all articles, please have a look at the chart below to see if I've got you in the right place vis-à-vis those three options. Of course it is assumed that the closing admin will read all detailed arguments and positions, but the big picture is a mess because, frankly, I let others tack things on here when I perhaps should have taken a stronger position that this RFC was supposed to be about a medical disclaimer only. Thank you to everyone who participated, and best regards to all, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:04, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Summary of main positions by editor, updated through 23 Jan 03:42
Editor Support
Note Oppose
Acer No Supports sidebar proposal
Adrian J. Hunter Yes Opposes D
Alanl Yes
Alanscottwalker Yes Version E
Alexbrn Yes
Anomie No Sidebar proposal
Anthonyhcole Yes Opposes B, C Opposes sidebar proposal
ArnoldReinhold No Supports sidebar proposal
AxelBoldt No Supports sidebar proposal
Axl No
BenMoore No In particular, Version D
Brandmeister No
Casliber Yes Opposes C, D
Ceoil Yes Opposes B
Cirt No Supports sidebar proposal
Collect Yes Version F
Coretheapple Yes
DESiegel No Supports sidebar proposal
David Gerard No Supports sidebar proposal
Ebe123 No
FiachraByrne Yes Opposes D Opposes sidebar proposal
First Light Yes
FormerIP No
Geni No
Gigs No
GrahamColm No
HectorMoffet No
Holdek Yes Opposes D See talk
Hordaland Note Supports C or sidebar only No General oppose, but supports sidebar or Version C on all articles
I JethroBT Yes Opposes B
Ian Furst Yes Opposes B, C, D
Jayen466 Yes Opposes B, C
Jbmurray Yes Opposes A, D
Jfdwolff No
Jmh649 No
Joefromrandb No
Johnbod Yes Opposes B
John Vandenberg Yes
JoshuaZ No
Kaldari No
Ken Arromdee Yes
KillerChihuahua Yes Version F
King Jacob c 2 Yes Opposes D
Konveyor Belt Opposes C, D, F
Lfaraone Yes Opposes D
LT910001 No
Lankiveil Yes
Legoktm No Supports sidebar proposal
Lesion No
Littleolive oil Yes
Looie496 No
Malke 2010 Yes Opposes B
Mangoe Opposes Version C, no overall view stated
MarioNovi Yes
Markworthen Yes
Mendaliv Yes Version C
Narutolovehinata5 No
Nbauman No
NeilN Note No Opposed medical specifically, but proposed more prominent version C for all articles
Neljack Yes
Neutron Yes
NickCT No
Nihiltres No
Od Mishehu Yes
Piotrus No
Pointillist Yes Opposes D, E
Psychonaut No
Quiddity No
Ramaksoud2000 No
Reaper Eternal Yes
Resolute No
Robofish Yes
Ross Hill No
SandyGeorgia Yes Opposes B, D, E Opposes sidebar proposal
Santa Claus Yes
Scott Martin Yes Opposes B, C, E Opposes sidebar proposal
Seraphimblade No
Shudde No
Sj Yes
Snowfire No
Sportfan5000 Yes Supports a one-time pop-up
Staberinde Yes
Sunrise Yes
Suriel1981 No
TenOfAllTrades No
TheDJ Version E, Opposes ambox design for disclaimers Supports sidebar proposal
Tryptofish Yes
Underlying lk No
Victoriaearle Yes Opposes B
WSC  ?  ?
I neither understand nor know how to categorize this contribution. WSC appears to support something; they put up an unsupported Version D, but then added a proposal which I can't reconcile with Version D.
WhatamIdoing Supports sidebar proposal
Wincent77 No
Wnt No Supports sidebar proposal
Wouterstomp No Supports sidebar proposal
Ypnypn No
  • TheDJ thanks for this correction; I see now that I misread it. Perhaps you want to add a clarification on the RFC to help assure the admin who closes the RFC doesn't misread the same way I did? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:57, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
  • I also received an email from Holdek asking me to doublecheck their entry here; they say the only version they oppose is D, not B and E as I have indicated. But s/he has in fact endorsed views that oppose B and E; I'm not sure if I should change this in the summary based on an email (Holdek is currently blocked), since this small change won't make a difference in the outcome. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:58, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
    • Oh, well; Holdek is blocked. The change Holdek requested I make in the summary makes no difference in the outcome overall, but, wow. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:08, 22 January 2014 (UTC)


Whatever the results, thank you for the work you have put into this, Sandy. --NeilN talk to me 21:15, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

And thank you to you, too! At this point, I want to make sure we have enough information for the closing admin to determine if a followup RFC is called for, and for us to begin to think about what form it might take. Best, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:17, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
To be clear, I found it a bit alarming to hear this described as a "three-way" decision. I thought it was either a) whichever individual view had the most support (i.e. Jmh) or whether the proposal had overall support (i.e. rejected). I hope I'm being paranoid here, but I should make it clear that retroactively playing with how you categorize the votes to lump them as a) have disclaimer b) have sidebar c) have nothing would be most unjustifiable. Conceptually, I see this as a choice between the A, B, D versions with disputes about whether a tag belongs on a particular article, versus everything else -- with an entirely separate set of discussions of whether the overall prominence of the site disclaimer can be increased by a sidebar, a pagenotice per version C, moving the disclaimer link in the mobile version, etc. Wnt (talk) 21:20, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Wnt, I don't think there's any reason for alarm; it is rather abundantly clear that there is no consensus for any specific disclaimer here, so concerns about "retroactive" shenanigans can hopefully be put aside in the interest of looking at whether anything can be said about the outcome. The only question remaining, really, is whether there is anything here upon which a followup RFC can be based, or even if there is justification for a followup RFC. I don't know how the closer will see it, but because things were so split up, no individual view has predominated. I'm trying to make things easier on the closer, who may very well decide to view the entire mess from a different perspective. I'm not sure how you can see it as a choice between versions A, B, D when there is not enough support for any one given version to predominate, and there is general opposition, for example, to version D. The only consensus I can see here is that 1) I don't know how to design an RFC, and 2) I perhaps shouldn't have let side issues (like a sidebar disclaimer, which could have had its own RFC) get tacked on, so that even Jmh's view (which had the most support) became tempered by those who wanted a sidebar. At first glance, what would the closing admin make of that mess? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:29, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
@SandyGeorgia - re "I don't know how to design an RFC" - No. You don't. But that said, you asked an important question. And furthermore, demonstrating there's "no consensus" is still measuring consensus, which is an important and vital part of WP. So here's to you Sandy. Well done! NickCT (talk) 22:02, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
I think that different admins have different methods, based on their own respective strengths. Some might make a tally like SandyGeorgia's; some might read it all and focus on the overall feeling. My suggestion is to let the closer deal with it. Trying to "summarize" sometimes feels (to anyone who disagrees with you) that the summarizer is trying to stack the deck in favor of their preferred outcome. It's clear to me that you aren't trying to bias the close, and you do have a thousand other things to do, so I recommend leaving all of the remaining work for the closer: it's both less donkey work for you and will reduce the risk of undeserved accusations against you. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:06, 20 January 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, Sandy, that's reassuring. Sorry about the syntax error above: I meant ((A + B + C) with disputes) vs. (everything else). Apparently the operator precedence of "with" and "versus" was parsed differently. :) Wnt (talk) 03:15, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Noting Anthonyhcole backed F, Littleolive oil backed F and Neutron backed F, giving it 5 supporters. Cheers. Collect (talk) 22:15, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

Yes, Collect, but I removed your addition of that from the chart above. I intentionally have not tallied the different versions supported, as that would make the chart unbearably complicated and would be getting into the closer's job (see post from WAID above). I wanted to sort out what level of support there was for the sidebar proposal, and the supporters of a medical disclaimer who also opposed some ideas or versions, and the opposers of a medical disclaimer, who also supported some ideas (eg sidebar). Doing any more than that wasn't the purpose of the chart, and I don't want to start tallying which versions were supported when, basically, the overall conclusion is that there is not consensus anyway for the general idea. Also, I don't want to start tallying at all, much less when there is still a week left for the RFC to run. I only added Version supported when the editor said they would only support one version, or had originated that version. I did not intend to reflect all versions supported; if we had general consensus, we would be moving forward to a next step of determining what it would look like. We don't have general consensus. I'd like to focus on whether there is a next step. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:55, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

Floating next idea[edit]

Two oppose arguments that stood out for me were:

  1. Why add a template at the top of a page that can be removed by vandalism?
  2. How would we choose which articles get a medical disclaimer?

Adding that even some opposers of a medical disclaimer supported a more visible general disclaimer in the sidebar, would it be worth it to discuss a more general idea of redesigning article pages so that every article would have the general disclaimers we now have at the bottom moved to the top, not as a template, but as part of article page design? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 13:53, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

With respect to the sidebar, please keep in mind that the mobile view and most mobile apps don't show it. Mobile views comprise a substantial number of visits and are growing quickly. [8] --NeilN talk to me 14:34, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Mobile does have a sidebar, but you have to click the 'three horizontal bars' icon to see it. That is the only location for the disclaimer in the mobile view. You will not find it at the bottom of the page in mobile view. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:40, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
Since most readers will never click those 3 horizontal bars - so will never see the side bar or the "Disclaimers" link in it - a request has been lodged with Bugzilla to have it moved from the sidebar to the article. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 11:37, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
You wrote: "...redesigning article pages so that every article would have the general disclaimers we now have at the bottom moved to the top..." All articles? To that I say yes. --Hordaland (talk) 16:06, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Yes-- I'm thinking a general site-wide change in the way the disclaimer is viewed (that is, not in the sidebar, but a whole new way of displaying them at the top of article space). I guess such a proposal would mean asking the developers if it's even possible? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 21:01, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

I suspect with high certainty that the single line disclaimer could be appended to the main format for all pages - to appear immediately below the "page title" as part of the "page name section". It would not be editable or vandalisable in such a case. Collect (talk) 21:59, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

And be noticed as frequently as the current tagline beneath every page title. "[citation needed]" has entered popular culture, but "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" sure hasn't - David Gerard (talk) 22:38, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
There is no way to make sure everyone heed's any warnings on anything at all -- the point is that prudence dictates we say something to the reader that indicates the articles may not be true panaceas. Collect (talk) 22:42, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
Warning-label theatre - you literally don't care about effectiveness, only being seen to have taken action? - David Gerard (talk) 23:49, 21 January 2014 (UTC)
You seem to be saying that because everyone won't read the warning, there is no point in having one. Collect seems to be saying we should put a prominent warning on our articles, even if only some readers read it, and only some of those heed it. --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 10:55, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
I'm saying that I'm not at all convinced this will actually be effective, and that literally no evidence has been offered that it will be any more than warning-label theatre. "There may be a problem!" does not automatically imply "Therefore we must take this particular action" or even "any action is better than none" - you actually have to show it. I'm far from the first to note this either - David Gerard (talk) 11:31, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Mmm. Just to be really clear: are you conceding there may be a problem? If so, what might that possible problem be? --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 11:46, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
It's a plausible claim. It's your claim, so you would be the one to expand on what the actual (real-world verifiable) problem is that you are claiming there is, and, as the one making the claim, that your proposed course of action will do more good than harm. Now then, can you show that we must take this particular action, or even that any particular action is in fact better than none? - David Gerard (talk) 17:08, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Still trying to understand your position. Wikipedia medical articles do contain wrong information. See Wikipedia:Recent changes (medicine). That is a problem, right? It is a problem for something that pretends to be an encyclopedia. I suppose we can agree on that. But that problem exists across the project, not just in our medical content.
Is there something special about medical content that makes our unreliability more of a problem in that domain than in, say, Pokemon? I believe there is more chance of real harm being done to our readers by misleading dose information than by false information about Giratina. I can't prove that, if that's what you're expecting, but I question the sanity of anyone who would challenge it. Yesterday, an editor deleted advice from our featured article, Bupropion, that recommended 400 mg per day without explaining it should be taken in 4 divided doses over 24 hours and single doses should not exceed 150 mg. That advice had been in the article for seven years. Spend a few days patrolling Wikipedia:Recent changes (medicine) and you'll get the idea.
Does the potential harm to our readers from misleading dose (or other medical) advice warrant us effectively warning our readers about our unreliability? Yes. I can't prove that. Sorry. It's an ethical, not a scientific question. It's about moral compass. Behaving responsibly.
What is an "effective" warning? Personally, I'd make the first paragraph of each medical article: "You can edit this article. Just click one of the "edit" links and start typing. Or click here for help. Because anyone can change important details in this article, please do not rely on it for medical advice." No box. Same text as the rest of the article. Anyone who reads the article will read the warning. But that's unlikely to attract wide support. So, I'll settle for the clearest, most prominent warning people like you will allow me to use.
How would you determine whether the intervention worked (that readers read the warning)? What measure would satisfy you? --Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 00:48, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Comparing having a basic sense of medical ethics to security theater is pretty crass. — Scott talk 17:25, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Personal attacks are also crass, so I'd ask you to please desist. New medical interventions are not undertaken without clear positive evidence they are superior to doing nothing. Apply that standard here - David Gerard (talk) 20:37, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, "comparing having a basic sense of medical ethics to security theatre" is crass, and it's not a personal attack, either. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:18, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

Collect - which version of a single line disclaimer are you thinking of? Yes, this is technically possible. Wording something to be usefully informative and not dramatic is rare in the world of disclaimers; I'm not sure we've gotten there on WP:disclaimers. – SJ + 23:19, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

I am partial to F -- short, concise, and clear as glass. Collect (talk) 03:59, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

I would like to suggest a different approach: find ways can we improve readers' awareness of Wikipedia's limitations without placing a warning at the top of every page. I have already taken a couple of steps in that direction by adding disclaimer content to Wikipedia:FAQ and Wikipedia:About and I've proposed adding our disclaimer header to the top Help:Contents, which is where the Help link in the sidebar lands. Portal:Contents, where the Contents sidebar link lands, is another possibility, as is Portal:Contents/Health and fitness. I think an Help page on how to use Wikipedia wisely could also be valuable. We might even consider a sample school curriculum module on using Wikipedia. A Help essay and help area for subject experts, who often flee in frustration with our editorial process, could be a way to reduce content errors.--agr (talk) 23:50, 21 January 2014 (UTC)

The best path to improving readers' awareness of Wikipedia's limitations is probably "convert them into editors". Once you've edited an actual page, and seen the results, the step to "Hey, someone could just put nonsense in here" is not far away. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:50, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
We had 96 million unique visitors from North America alone in November. Converting most them into editors isn't likely or desirable. And my impression is that most first time editors complain they are quickly reverted. --agr (talk) 19:23, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

I am not proposing, on this next pass, that we put a "warning"; I am asking if we should discuss moving the current disclaimer line that is at the bottom of every page to the top of every page, as a matter of site-wide design. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:03, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

Sandy: An RfC on moving the "Disclaimers" link (or that and the Terms of use and Privacy policy links) to the top of the article would stand a good chance of passing, IMO. If you'd like this thread to focus on that proposal, would you consider renaming this thread? Or perhaps splitting discussion of that proposal and Collect's proposal into two sub-threads?--Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 10:55, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
continued below in "site-wide change" thread. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:55, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
oh, well ... Anthonyhcole, it seems you can please some of the people some of the time ... SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:07, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

IMS Institute report confirms public's and professionals' trust in Wikipedia[edit]

See Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine#Another person finally said it. Key quotes:

...the public perception of Wikipedia being a legitimate source of information has increased dramatically in recent years. For healthcare in particular, patients are concerned about the validity and neutrality of the information they seek out, and Wikipedia increasingly meets this need ... nearly 50% of U.S. physicians who go online for professional purposes use Wikipedia for information...

Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 21:54, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

And this negates the need for any disclaimer at all? Collect (talk) 22:23, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
On the contrary, the more we're seen as a legitimate information source, the greater the need to remind/educate our readers where the information comes from. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 22:48, 22 January 2014 (UTC)
Sigh. This RFC attempted to point out that John Q. Public generally has no idea that Wikipedia content is vetted in no way, and it could be written by the psychopath next door, and it is quite often quite bad, yet people depend on our medical content as if it were written by doctors. To the extent this RFC failed, I suspect it was a good deal because it became focused on the "design" of multiple templates, globbed on after the RFC launch, rather than focusing on the seriousness of the issue. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 02:08, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Not just "people". Unless there is a typo in the quote above, nearly half of the physicians rely on Wikipedia's medical articles. Scary. Too bad we don't have an effective community decision-making procedure on this project. RFC (at least for major policy issues like this) is a fundamentally broken process, in my opinion. Neutron (talk) 04:09, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Heck, even Jimbo acknowledged we need to get on this problem, yet this RFC got bogged down in stupid design discussions, with everyone and their brother/sister adding a new design proposal that obscured the important issues. How many of the opposers actually understand how really bad most of our medical content is ??? SandyGeorgia (Talk) 15:02, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
I would point out that 39 people have (so far) endorsed Doc James's view, and 24 (with a fair amount of over lap) have endorsed Lesion's view, both opposing any added medical disclaimer at all in any form. Those editors do not seem to have been "bogged down in stupid design discussions", and I question whether all the supporters of any form of added disclaimer would out weigh them, even had they all supported a single option. DES (talk) 17:03, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
It looks like I did all that work above for nothing :) DES, there are 50 editors who endorsed some version of opposition to the medical disclaimer, and within that 50, there is a non-trivial number of editors who nonetheless support some kind of change to the disclaimer. There are 44 editors who endorsed some version of support for the medical disclaimer, and within those 44, there is opposition to some aspects of some of the multiple proposals. In other words, besides no consensus for anything, what we have is an almost even division, and no clarity on much of anything except that there is no consensus, and part of that lack of clarity is that there were multiple things tagged on to this RFC after it started. Not the least of which was pointed out early on by Casliber-- with so many options tacked on, newcomers to the RFC would have "option fatigue" and be unlikely to even read the thing. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:04, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Neutron, I don't think it's scary to have physicians use Wikipedia. I think it would be a handy way to get free access to images from Gray's Anatomy, for example, if you needed to double-check that some fiddly bit was directly connected to some other fiddly bit. It'd also be a good way of getting information about what some of your patients are being told. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:29, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

Site-wide change to put disclaimers at top of every page[edit]

Continued discussion from Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Medicine/RFC on medical disclaimer#Floating next idea

Every Wikipedia page now has small text at the bottom that includes links to:

Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

Privacy policy · About Wikipedia · Disclaimers · Contact Wikipedia · Developers · Mobile view

Rather than adding a specific medical disclaimer template on some articles, a new proposal is a site-wide redesign (that would apply to all pages) to place some links to the top of every page.

Move (potentially, although not essential) the general line ("Wikipedia is a registered trademark ...) and eliminate the General disclaimers from the bottom of the page. Add instead of General disclaimers at the bottom, a line with all disclaimers to the top of every page:

Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

General disclaimer · Content disclaimer · Legal disclaimer · Medical disclaimer · Risk disclaimer


  1. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 14:59, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
  2. Agree with the idea (though the Wikipedia® line needn't be included?). Agree with those below that this is the wrong place and time; Village Pump probably better. --Hordaland (talk) 19:43, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
  3. Anthonyhcole (talk · contribs · email) 01:48, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
  4. I'd still rather see a prominent disclaimer on medical articles, but I would support this proposal if the prominent medical disclaimer idea is not supported. I agree with Hordaland that putting the Wikipedia® line up top is not necessary. Mark D Worthen PsyD 01:10, 31 January 2014 (UTC)


  1. No sign that anyone would actually click on the words "Medical Disclaimer" at all. The current page is "viewed" under 2500 times per month, and a lot of those are bots. It is more like the "agreement" one has to say they agree to for any downloads from Apple or Microsoft. Best solution is to use a single dispositive line about not relying on WP for any medical advice. Collect (talk) 15:27, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
  2. One step at a time. I'd wait until the RfC closes before we move on to something else. (Littleolive oil (talk) 05:17, 24 January 2014 (UTC))
  3. Oppose. There's already plenty of informative links in the sidebar quite near the top of the page. And also we already have the disclaimers at the bottom of the page, which seems to be standard practice for placement of disclaimers across most websites on the Internet. — Cirt (talk) 05:08, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
  4. Oppose - doesn't address the issue. A user will reach the point of banner blindness, come to rely on Wikipedia for giving the most relevant information (especially in stable FAs), and then rely on medical information. We need some prominent medical disclaiomer on every medical article. עוד מישהו Od Mishehu 06:44, 27 January 2014 (UTC)
  5. No, we don't need to clutter the top of every page with this junk, and we still don't need links to five different disclaimers that basically all say the same thing. This is just like "Option C" but formatted differently. One link in the sidebar should be fine. Anomie 00:11, 31 January 2014 (UTC)


We have a saying here. Don't place the carriage in front of the horses. This is not the time or place for this. We have an RfC pending, whichever way it is closed will have a direct impact on this proposal. Also, having this discussion on this talk page is only going to muddy the waters for the closing admin. It should, at the very least, be moved somewhere else. I should also note that the very existence of this discussion implies certain assumptions about the outcome of the RfC that might place the closing admin in an awkward position. There's only roughly 5 days left to go. This can wait. Acer (talk) 16:31, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

I would suggest moving this to Wikipedia:Village pump (idea lab), where we can have a discussion on these issues with starting out with a vote. --agr (talk) 17:16, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
I agree with that idea. Any site wide proposal needs wider attention than it would be likely to get on this page, anyway. DES (talk) 18:43, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Acer, I find it difficult to imagine that anything about the way this RFC was already muddied will change in the next five days; this RFC is done. We have at this point 50 editors endorsing opposition to a medical disclaimer, but a non-trivial number of them expressing support for some kind of change to the disclaimer. We have 44 editors endorsing some version of support for a medical disclaimer, but differences among even those who support. I don't believe the Village pump is likely to generate any more information in terms of clarity or discussion about which way to head next than can be had on this page, where we might better understand the levels of differences found in the RFC where everyone and their mother could add an option. I do not see any harm in finding out where folks who participated here stand on this other issue, as that might then give a direction for moving forward on a next-step proposal. Of course no definitive outcome can be based on an informal look here. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 20:06, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, I do see harm in moving ahead with this before the current RfC is properly closed. This amounts to an RfC within an RfC even if you consider it an informal survey. It undercuts the closing admin. What I don't see harm in is waiting for another 5 days. Is there any reason this needs to happen now instead of next week? I haven't seen any justification. There's no rush. I also agree that this proposal is going to need wider publicity since it's no longer specifically about a medical disclaimer. Finally, I can't say that I agree with your interpretation that "option fatigue" derailed this RfC. I think it's clear where most people stand and I trust the closer will be able to correctly judge the situation. When that happens we can move ahead, and where "ahead" lies will depend significantly on the closing arguments. And as for the non-trivial number of editors you mention, I dind't support "some kind of change". I supported the sidebar option specifically, as I believe most did. Acer (talk) 02:27, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Of the 50 opposers to a specific medical disclaimer, like you, a dozen of them supported a more prominent general disclaimer in a sidebar. I'm not bureaucratic-minded enough to see the value in starting a separate RFC so that some of you might explain or discuss whether you see any difference in having a disclaimer at the bottom, side, or top. It strikes me as most helpful additional feedback to have at this juncture, and not asking for such feedback just strikes me as bureaucratic. Of course, I started it as just a discussion point, and moved it to this separate RFC section at Anthonyhcole's suggestion above, and I'm disinclined to consider someone else's good faith effort to help us figure out how to move forward as a poor use of our time. Because as we work through the layers of Wikipedia bureaucracy, unsuspecting readers are still accessing a lot of bad medical content. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:38, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
You still haven't answered my question, not properly. That's no answer. Why does the discussion have to happen now? Why not next week after the closure? Whats the emergency here? This is improper and so is the way this new "RfC" here is being framed Acer (talk)
I thought I did answer your question; I'll try again. I started a discussion point above. Anthonyhcole suggested I address it separately, in its own section, and suggested an RFC, so I followed his suggestion. I'm not bureaucratic enough to undo a helpful suggestion, intended to get more feedback. YMMV; if you aren't interested in providing more feedback, would you mind at least not putting up impediments to those who may wish to? Thank you, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:01, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Right, and why all of this can't happen next week? You cooked up an RfC inside the talk page of another RfC without waiting for the first one to close. A number of people have said the Village pump would be a better venue. Why haven't any of the opposers been given a say in this? Why isn't the sidebar proposal being used as a starting point for discussion since it had quite a few supporters? Why instead of a discussion we are having a precipitated vote? This is absurd. And now I'm "bureaucratic minded" because I'm opposing this? Sorry, this isn't an RfC. And I do intend to "put up impediments" if by that you mean questioning the way this is being set up. Acer (talk) 04:18, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
No one doesn't have a say in anything on Wikipedia. If you want to impede discussion, that is your prerogative, but my interest is in finding out if there is anything to move forward with. The sidebar proposal, you may have noticed, had as much opposition as support, which is why I didn't choose to focus on it. You can see the original discussion I started, and the reasons, on this page. I'd ask you the same question from the other side of the coin: considering I was exceedingly patient as everyone and their brother tacked things on to an RFC I started, which should have had their own RFCs, why are you impatient now with attempts to advance discussion to determine next steps? The sidebar proposal was tacked on here, it didn't garner support, and I started a discussion to determine if people care if general disclaimers are at the bottom, the top, or the side. Seems logical to me, but you are welcome to disagree. Regards, SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:27, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
It's 13 to 4 in favor of the sidebar per my count. That's over 3 to 1. Why are you so impatient to have this discussion now? We've only got 4 days to go now. The next steps, if any, are dependent on the outcome of the current ongoing and about to be closed RfC. It's not at all unreasonable to expect that attempts to "move ahead" take place after the current proposal has been properly closed, especially if these attempts take the form of new RfCs. It's also not unreasonable to expect, when that happens, that an actual discussion take place, in an appropriate venue with ample participation, instead of a vote Acer (talk) 04:47, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Acer, as you are determined to have the final word, and you don't want your discussion in a separate section, would you mind leaving the space after your post so others can easily find the point of insertion? Thanks in advance. I don't see that following someone's helpful suggestion to start a section to discuss an idea as "impatient"; I just see it as following a helpful suggestion. You may have the last word; we're going in circles. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 04:53, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Right, so again you fail to address any points I raised. No comment on the sidebar? You did mention equal opposition? My numbers don't match your claim. We are indeed going in circles since you continue to sidestep any argument I make or provide any of your own. There is no compelling reason to precipitate this discussion and quite a few reasons not to. It also should not have been framed the way it was. This is not a valid RfC. Acer (talk) 05:09, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
I would like to see a broader discussion than where to place disclaimers. The issue as I see it is the possibility that Wikipedias readers might rely on inaccurate information on medical subjects to their detriment. Do we have any evidence that more prominent disclaimers will materially reduce that risk? What about other approaches, like extending Wikipedia:Pending changes to medical articles? Maybe find a better way to encourage experts to review our medical articles and report problems (after all many doctors use the site for information)? Can we arm our readers with more knowledge about how Wikipedia works? No doubt there are other possibilities. It's time to think and talk, not vote.--agr (talk) 20:37, 23 January 2014 (UTC)
And similar have been discussed at length already. Pending changes assumes we have a good revision to revert to; even in the case of FAs, we don't usually. Nor do we have enough editors period, much less experts, to review all of our content. As to your question about evidence, see Anthonyhcole's posts above.[9] SandyGeorgia (Talk) 01:05, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Pending changes addresses recent vandalism which is one of the concerns you repeatedly raise. And there is no evidence presented in the section you linked to. Frankly, the chances of your getting community consensus on a site-wide page redesign without any evidence it will make a material difference is zero.--agr (talk) 15:52, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

Back to discussion[edit]

Collect, regarding your opposition to this idea:[10] 1. The views of our current disclaimer are affected by the fact that it is a lonnnnnng scroll down to find it. People can't click on it if they can't see it. Many people have some idea that Wikipedia is an "encyclopedia" in the real sense of the word, and assume someone with some knowledge writes or vets it. The problem with a disclaimer like you propose, as one line on medical articles, is that a) as others mentioned on the RFC, it may be hard to decide on which articles to place it, and b) it can be removed by vandals; and another problem is that your proposed wording is similar to what one would find on any medical website, that was in fact written by experts, and it doesn't convey to our readers the special nature of Wikipedia, which is that any nut could have written the text, and it can change any second. So, I'm not convinced that your proposal will address the issues that need to be solved. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 03:33, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

Moving the disclaimer link, IMO, will not get the number of clicks up to any significant extent. For instance -- when was the last time you really read all the boilerplate on a download? Or do you simply click to get "agree" to show up? ("you" refers to any user) My own view is that we can boil this down from the current link which has a "readability" of 26, or slightly better than a fine-print legal contract, and less readable than 89% of all Wikipedia articles, and create something which actually gets read. IOW, are we trying to get something which "officially meets requirements" or get something which "actually gets the job done." I discount "sidebars" as not being relevant to a great many users at this point. Collect (talk) 14:09, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

More news[edit]

Accept It, Wikipedia Is a Public Health Issue. Now Let's Fix It. 3BL Media, 13 December 2013
"Medical articles on Wikipedia receive about 150 million page views per month, and nearly 50% of practicing physicians use Wikipedia as an information source for providing medical care. And while Wikipedia itself has disclaimers that information included on its site may be inaccurate, that doesn’t stop consumers and medical professionals alike from using it as a health source that they consider credible. What should we do? Stop sticking our head in the sand and take accountability to fix this very concerning public health issue.
"I recently spoke with a colleague whose doctor’s medical assistant provided her with incorrect information and referenced Wikipedia as the source. Thankfully, she knew enough to go online herself (not to Wikipedia!) and learned the information was wrong. But, that’s not the case for many consumers. They trust their medical professionals without question, and believe that everything they read online is fact, especially from such a popular site as Wikipedia – never realizing that the information might be inaccurate and sometimes downright dangerous."
Pharma Should Make Better Use of Social Media To Engage Patients and Improve the Use of Medicines. IMS Health, 21 January 2014
"Wikipedia is the single leading source of medical information for patients and healthcare professionals. The top 100 English Wikipedia pages for healthcare topics were accessed, on average, 1.9 million times during the past year. Rarer diseases, which often have fewer available information sources and are less understood by patients and clinicians, show a higher frequency of visits than many more common diseases. In an assessment of 50 major disease-specific Wikipedia articles, the Institute found a strong correlation between page views and medicine use, with online information-gathering occurring throughout the patient journey."
Funny, I Just Read About That Disease! The Boston Globe, 25 January 2014
"For all their training, doctors are just as susceptible to bias as the rest of us—and a recent study of the decision-making of internal medicine residents illustrates why a second opinion can be a good idea. The residents were first presented with the Wikipedia entry for a particular disease and were asked to judge its accuracy. Then they returned to work. Six hours later, in an ostensibly unrelated task, they were presented with a case that had clinical manifestations similar to the disease considered earlier on Wikipedia, but that was actually caused by something different. A significant bias resulted: 'Simply reading about the diseases on the Internet increased by almost 100% the number of cases mistakenly diagnosed as one of those diseases.' The good news is that accuracy returned to normal when the researchers asked the residents to go back over the cases in detail.
"Schmidt, H. et al., 'Exposure to Media Information about a Disease Can Cause Doctors to Misdiagnose Similar-Looking Clinical Cases', Academic Medicine (forthcoming)."
America’s future doctors are starting their careers by saving Wikipedia Quartz, 28 January 2014
"Dr. Amin Azzam, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine. [has] launched an elective for fourth-year medical students that consists solely of editing Wikipedia articles for accuracy. [...] Most of Wikipedia is surprisingly accurate, Azzam said, because it uses the 'wisdom of the crowd' to vet information. But medical pages have catching up to do. 'Medical professionals haven’t been editing Wikipedia,' he said. 'In fact, we were told not to go near it.'"

My thanks to Mancunium on Wikipediocracy for finding these articles. — Scott talk 22:27, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

What I take from these stories (especially the first) is that they prove that the deference some have been demanding towards medical professionals is unjustified. I have been told so many times on the Refdesk that we must not dare to answer any question a sick person might pose us about his health, not even to suggest a list of articles for him to read for background, because only the exalted Medical Professional, not any mere biologist, should be allowed to speak on such things. And here we are seeing that half of those Exalted Professionals are going to Wikipedia to look up what to say!!! This is proof that our democratic process works anyway - and that despite being open to any idiot to sound off at any time, Wikipedia is nonetheless a resource good enough to tempt physicians who have ready access to very expensive private sources and very technical sources. Admit it - this is applied Daoism. We should be more confident in the basic model that led us to this point, try harder to ensure that all points of view about an issue, fairly represented in terms of their degrees of acceptance, are represented, and reject any and all measures that would hinder our coverage further. Wnt (talk) 00:25, 30 January 2014 (UTC)
Well said. Of note is the unspoken assumption that the Medical Professionals represent only the pharmaceutical-driven ("evidence based"), modern form of experimental medicine practiced in the West. Those making a living in this field are going to be hard-pressed to edit fairly articles about healing with herbs, nutrition, and other unprofitable, natural, ancient and non-Western methods. Similarly, from what I've seen, articles about pharmaceuticals get the light touch or are ignored. Compare the warning in the Lede to the Medical Cannabis article with the Lede for Oxycodone. Cannabis is nontoxic, however Oxy causes more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined. petrarchan47tc 04:42, 30 January 2014 (UTC)
What "warning"? The apparently accurate statement that there might possibly be some adverse effects from long-term use, even though it's "natural" (and, by the way, extremely profitable)? I don't think that's a "warning". WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:54, 1 February 2014 (UTC)

David Gerard uncollapsed my collapse of the above, dishonestly describing it as "an advocate of one side... collaps[ing] the views of the opposing side". Complete bollocks. The above has nothing to do with whether articles require disclaimers, and everything to do with noodling off into a discussion of alternative medicines. What have the relative toxicity of cannabis and oxycontin got to do with the point of this page? Nothing. "Unbecoming"? Speak for yourself, David. — Scott talk 22:33, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.