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Wikipedia and Health Information


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Presentation for the Tufts School of Medicine class: Digital Strategies for Health, July 2012. There is also a version of these slides on Wikipedia:

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Wikipedia and Health Information

  1. 1. Wikipedia and Health Information Readership • Quality • Production processPete ForsythUser:Peteforsyth@PeteForsyth @WikiStrategies Prepared for: Summer Institute on Digital Strategies for Health Communication Tufts University School of Medicine July 18, 2012 Follow online:
  2. 2. Wikipedia readershipGuess: how many times is each ofthe following articles viewed in a month? Article Monthly views1 Bicycle safety2 Bicycle helmet3 BH laws by country4 BHs in New Zealand5 BHs in Australia6 BHs in the US7 BH laws8 BH Safety Institute
  3. 3. Wikipedia readershipReadership during April 2012, as reported at Article Monthly Views1 Bicycle safety 21202 Bicycle helmet 73243 BH laws by country 8694 BHs in New Zealand 5185 BHs in Australia 6266 BHs in the US 2197 BH laws 13348 BH Safety Institute 114
  4. 4. Factors that impact readership ● Search results ● Incoming links ● Internal links ● Article quality (drives each of above) ● News events
  5. 5. Are these numbers low? High?Free license–many views are not counted:● mobile apps● offline uses● Facebook/Google republishing
  6. 6. Are these numbers low? High?Source:
  7. 7. Pew Research on durabilitySource:; used by permission
  8. 8. Pew Research on durabilitySource:; used by permission
  9. 9. Quality of content Study: Wikipedia as accurate as Britannica. –Nature, 2005 ● Claim has been disputed, but even being close is signif cant. i ● English Wikipedia has 8x as many articles in 2012 as in 2005. ● Proportion of Featured Articles (top quality, peer reviewed content) remains about 1/1000. ● Peer review process has become more rigorous, and found to be robust. ● International and multilingual focus has grown.Source:
  10. 10. Quality of content Study: Curious people use Wikipedia as scaffolding. –Ed Chi, 2011 ● Subjects were asked to research a topic. ● Most spent a lot of time on Wikipedia in the i f rst few minutes, later gravitating toward more thorough or more authoritative sites.Source: (slide 21) •
  11. 11. Quality of contentSource: (slide 21) •
  12. 12. Peer productionWikipedia construction guided by strong values.The Five Pillars:● Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.● Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view.●Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit,use, modify, and distribute.● Editors should interact with each other in a respectful and civil manner.● Wikipedia does not have f rm rules. i
  13. 13. Talk pages: a key innovationReaders and editors are invited and encouraged todiscuss editorial changes, on a separate, but linked"talk page."Example: Talk:Bicycle safety, 2005
  14. 14. Talk pages: a key innovationExample from Talk:Bicycle safety, 2005:I acknowledge that this [article] might containelements of [bias], I have strong opinions. I aim toreference more of it in the near future. —JzG Heres a suggestion… present one side as [unbiased] as you can. … I like the idea of presenting as many sides as feasible, and letting the reader decide. Informative over persuasive. --ChristopherlinYes, you are right I know. … —JzG
  15. 15. Edit history: Perceiving activitySoftware supports following actions of yourfellow editors very closely.Example: "Bicycle helmet" history page
  16. 16. Production: WikiProjects etc. Analogous to a “talk page” for a topic area●WikiProject Medicine is a very active project●WikiProject Health & f tness is not i● Many refinements to Featured Article system
  17. 17. Production: Further discussion● Conf icts of interest (WP:COI) l● See: Evolution of an article (case study)
  18. 18. How do Wikipedians define quality?The short answer: METICULOUSLY.
  19. 19. Wikipedia readership Quality as determined by the “Wikipedia 1.0” system Article Monthly Quality Views1 Bicycle safety 2120 Start2 Bicycle helmet 7324 B3 BH laws by country 869 Start4 BHs in New Zealand 518 B5 BHs in Australia 626 Start6 BHs in the US 219 stub7 BH laws 1334 Start8 BH Safety Institute 114 stub
  20. 20. Context● Open research video:● Citizen science example: Personal Genome Project site and related blog post
  21. 21. Context
  22. 22. BBC News Magazine features WikipediansSource:
  23. 23. BBC News Magazine features WikipediansSource:
  24. 24. DiscussionPlease add your questions online! ForsythUser:Peteforsyth@PeteForsyth @WikiStrategies