[LINK] Wikipedia hosts forum to improve online health info

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Thu Jul 16 15:38:42 AEST 2009

Wikipedia hosts forum to improve online health info
By Liz Tay
Jul 16, 2009 2:54 PM

Discussions centred on accuracy of user-generated health information.

Wikipedia is hosting a forum with the US medical community in an effort 
to improve the accuracy of its health-related information.

The public outreach event, dubbed a U.S. Academy, will take place on 
July 16, at the Maryland campus of United States National Institutes of 
Health (NIH).

It is expected to increase dialogue between the Wikipedia community and 
NIH's network of more than 3,000 research institutions across the country.

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia whose entries are authored and 
edited by members of the public.

Despite there being no guarantee of the validity of its content, 
Wikipedia is widely used. It currently contains almost 13.5 million 
articles and attracts more than 14 million page views per hour.

There will be nine Wikipedia contributors presenting at the July 16 
Academy, including Tim Vickers and Michael Laurent, whose research paper 
about Wikipedia's significance as a source of online health information 
has recently been published in the Journal of the American Medical 
Informatics Association.

After the Academy, instructions about how to contribute, including video 
footage of the event, will be made available to scientists on NIH and 
Wikipedia Web sites.

NIH's Director of Public Information, Marin P. Allen, called the Academy 
a training effort that targets "the public's growing need for reliable 
health information."

"The more scientists and health communicators who participate, the more 
accurate the information will become," she told iTnews.

Previous Wikipedia Academies have taken place in Europe, focussing on 
academic subject matter experts as well as users with local cultural 

"Academies have helped reduce broad misunderstandings about Wikipedia, 
and have also brought new kinds of users into the project," said Jay 
Walsh, who is Head of Communications at the Wikimedia Foundation, which 
operates Wikipedia.

There currently are no plans for a Wikipedia Academy in Australia. 
However, Walsh said organisers plan to create an event format that will 
enable volunteers to host similar events locally.


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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