Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

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With respect to using "susana" as part of peoples names, I am not 100% on the rules around this. En-Wikipedia does not allow names that include companies within them as we do not wish people to claim they represent an organization when we have no mechanisms in place to verify this. We may be okay because susana is simply a common name.

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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

Elisabeth encourged my to join the Susana Forum because I have written numerous articles on drinking water supply and sanitation on Wikipedia over the past years. I met Elisabeth in 2009 at a conference and have not seen her since. The fact that she remembers my work on Wikipedia five years after I mentioned it to her is a tribute to her commitment to the cause of sanitation and knowledge management, and I am glad to share my views about what I have read on this blog post so far.

First, I agree with Krishan that sanitation does not get people's attention as much as health. In September 2014, the sanitation entry on the English Wikipedia got 23,294 views, compared to 140,751 views for cancer and 1,207, 285 views for Ebola virus disease, the most watched article on the entire Wikipedia during that month, far ahead even of George Clooney in his wedding month. For comparison, septic tank got 22,530 views, latrine 5,289, sustainable sanitation 458 and SuSana 62. You can check other page view statistics at stats.grok.se/en/

Second, I agree with Florian that quite a bit of information on sanitation is already on Wikipedia. Indeed, interested readers can easily find most information they need there or on specialist websites. Wikipedia articles on sanitation already have plenty of links to these. For example, if I want to find out about pit latrines, I started with the Wikipedia article, but quickly followed the link to Practical Action, where there are plenty of pictures (as on Akvopedia) that explain the different forms of pit latrines and could help me build one, if I wanted. No need to replicate this information on Wikipedia.

Third, Joe Turner mentioned the risk that a page that you have written will be re-written by someone with a completely different view. In my experience, this risk is very low for sanitation articles. I have more than 300 pages on Wikipedia that I have on my "watch list" which allows me to follow any changes to these articles with minimum effort. Many of the changes are simply a correction of a typo, which I am grateful for. There is also some vandalism by people who enter some silly words or change a number, persumably for the sake of testing if someone notices. This is easy to spot and easy to correct with a few clicks, often by another Wikipedian even before I detect the vandalism. They never undo my changes. There are also discussion pages behind the Wikipedia articles where authors can discuss the article. For an example, see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_supply_and_sanitation_in_India

Fourth, one area where Wikipedia can be quite useful to sanitation practitioners, in my view, is as a source of information on what has worked well and what hasn't. Here more content could and should be added. Let me explain this by using total sanitation as an example. Total sanitation has been hailed as a miracle solution to the sanitation woes of poor countries a few years back. When people want to find out what it is and if it has worked or not, they will probably start by googling it. The first hit is a waste removal company in Minneapolis. Discount that one. The second is a site that profusely praises the merits of total sanitation. Heard that one. Then comes the Wikipedia article "Community-led total sanitation" that provides some balance between the good and the not so good experiences. Quite useful. Then come UNICEF, the World Bank, WSP, a few Indian sites, and only on the third page (if anyone has the patience to scroll that far down) one finds the Akvopedia article on the subject. That article is well written and informative. It includes links to 15 projects - perhaps too many for the quick reader. Unfortunately, there is no word on what has not worked so well with total sanitation in the article. SuSana, IWA Wiki or other specialist sites do not even show up on the first three pages of Google search results.

For the sake of comparison, I entered the same search term in the search bar of the SuSana website. I got hundreds of results, but the first ten were not in English and did not include the term I looked for in their titles. So, as most quick readers, I did not look further on SuSana. The only site that gave me more information of the kind I was looking for in the short amount of time I had was Wikipedia.

Now I do not know if others are more patient or persistent than I am. I also do not know if the results turn out to be very different for other search terms. But if this little experiment is representative, then the members of the sanitation community may be well advised to invest some of their time in improving selected sanitation articles. My personal suggestion would be to focus such efforts on one cross-cutting issue: how well have the myriads of pilot projects and
approaches that have been tried in sanitation in developing countries worked on the ground, with an equal balance between what has worked and what has not worked, so that people can learn from the mistakes made by others instead of repeating some of the same mistakes.

One place to start would be to look at one of the more than 60 water supply and sanitation country profiles that I have helped to create, pick a country where you know the sanitation situation well, and start adding what you know about it while quoting reliable, published sources. If you are afraid someone will criticize what you do or to make mistakes, this is very unlikely to be the case. If it still happens, post a note on the talk page of the article and I will be there to "protect" and advise you. The list of water supply and sanitation country and city profiles can be found here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProj...untry/Water_profiles
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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

Thanks Mschiffler,
very clear and motivating post.
Your post encouraged me to have a look at the wiki country sanitation page of Brazil which you did, in order to understand better "the making of" - never thought about that until now.
There are numbers for water use which do not have a reference. How does that work?
I added a sentence and really it is easy, but it might be better to have a login or is that not important if I don´t care (or makes it easier to be a "trusted writer"?

A message to the secretariat...a) you are well trained to edit Wikipedia when you use Susana :)
b) there are editors which are worse than ours :woohoo:

Thanks again, really easy to alter things which are wrong or missing and as a frequent user of Wikipedia for many aspects, I really felt I should invest some moments to improve.

Christoph
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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

Dear Christoph,

Your message brought a smile to my face! Glad to know that you are trying things out. And thank you as well to Manuel for his post in this thread, explaining to us his experiences.

I didn't even know one could edit a Wikipedia page without having a login? Did you create an "anonymous" login or how did it work? I think you have to have a login but you do not have to provide your e-mail address, right?

Secondly about the editor. Well, Wikipedia must have known for a while that this is a weak point of their system and there is a new editor available called the Visual Editor which works like Word. It is so far in the beta version. At the top right in Wikipedia you see a little tab called "beta" (maybe you only see it when you are logged in).
I actually tried to use it for a page that I am trying to edit but did not yet succeed. Here is a description about this beta visual editor:
www.mediawiki.org/wiki/VisualEditor/Beta_Features/General

On wikis which have VisualEditor enabled as an opt-in, you can choose to switch it on for your account as part of the Beta Features programm.

VisualEditor provides a WYSIWYG-like rich text editor that lets you edit most MediaWiki content, including templates, references and text. More features are being developed, and will be enabled as other Beta Features during testing before being rolled out to all users.

When enabled, VisualEditor provides a second editing tab, labelled "Edit" (or "Edit beta" on the English Wikipedia), and relabels the existing editor for wikitext to "Edit source".

If you have any feedback about VisualEditor, please comment on the general feedback page. There may also be a local feedback page on your wiki.


Imagine once they have perfected their visual editor tool, perhaps the number of active Wikipedians will sharply increase again? (I heard it's been stagnant for some time)

It's great to be learning together on this. :-)

Edit 5 minutes later: It seems some Wikipedia pages have the new visual editor already enabled, some not.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

I didn't even know one could edit a Wikipedia page without having a login? Did you create an "anonymous" login or how did it work? I think you have to have a login but you do not have to provide your e-mail address, right?


I didn´t know that either - but no - you just click on edit and start to edit. Click on save and it is done. Too easy? Seems to work for Wikipedia, so it should be ok. (they register your IP if you are not logged in)
Christoph
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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

Hi Christoph,

The Brazil water and sanitation article was one of the earlier articles and has some serious gaps in terms of references when I look at it today, seven years later. The reference for water use is definitely missing. This shows again the importance of using references, something on which I have become more careful in water and sanitaiton sector profiles written at later dates.

I saw you edited the link to the National Water and Sanitation Information System SNIS. When I last looked at it years ago it had a lot of disaggregated data for each municipality, but I found it hard to find aggregated national average data, especially since I do not speak Portuguese. If you could update the data in the article and introduce references that would be great.

Manuel
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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

Today I fixed some broken URLs of references (that were linking to the SuSanA library) on some Wikipedia pages. I found this rather gratifying, knowing that this will help other people who are searching for information, but I have to admit it can chew up a bit of time (and could even become addictive for someone like me). ;-)

It's interesting that you don't need to have a login. James can perhaps tell us what the disadvantage of editing without a login is? I know one advantage of editing with a login: today I made an edit to a page that Manual is watching (the page on Jordan had one of those broken links that I mentioned above: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_supply_and_sanitation_in_Jordan ). Because he is "watching" that page, he got notified of that change and then he sent me an automated thank-you note, thereby acknowledging the change I had done. That's neat, I think.

James, can you explain how that queue for translation works exactly? Who can decide to put something into such a queue? How long are articles in such a queue for typically?
I know you have worked on the page on pit latrines lately ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pit_toilet ), I assume you are happy with your page and does that mean you have put it into the queue for translation?

If I have some spare time this week, I plan to edit your page on pit latrines a bit. I look forward to adding a bit of objective information on "when are pit latrines not appropriate" with some very good, credible references to cite. Watch this page on Wikipedia. :-)

If you were to tackle any other Wikipedia pages on sanitation-related topics that people from the medical field might be interested in (and search for on Wikipedia) which ones would you - as a doctor - recommend? Do you already have some particular sanitation pages in mind?
(if this is not inter-sectoral collaboration at its best then I don't know what is ;-) )

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

Yes one can get notifications of changes when they have an account. It also keeps your edits associated with you. The "thank you note" was; however, manually sent.

To put an article in the translation queue you need to 1) improve the lead of the article (at most three or four paragraphs) 2) it must be well referenced 3) it must be in simple English 4) you convince me that it is an important topic, that the above three have occurred and I put it in the queue...

With respect to pit latrine, only the first 4 paragraphs are being translated. I am happy enough with it. The article could be better though and am happy to have others edit it.

Other good topics could be waste disposal, open defecation and garbage dump.

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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

I still don't understand this translation queue: In which capacity can you in particular put that into such a queue? Do you have some additional authority compared to normal people because you have reached a certain Wikipedian status from your previous work? Or could anyone put it in the translation queue?

And then how are the people doing the translation work (apart from being volunteers of course) and which languages are they translating it into?

Sorry for my basic questions, but it's all new to me, and I really appreciate being able to ask someone who is an expert on Wikipedia.

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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

This translation project is one that I started in collaboration with the NGO Translators Without Borders a couple of years ago. I am leading the Wikipedia side of things. Translators Without Borders has a few thousand translators. Project is described here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProj...anslation_Task_Force

People of course are free to translate content independent of this effort.

James

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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

Dear all,

To practice what I preach, and to try things out, I have taken the plunge and become a writer on Wikipedia!

I have so far worked on three pages: I invite you all to check out my work and to edit it, improve it, change it and to get involved! If you don't like anything: no problem! Just change it or when it's a more significant change, then use the "talk" page that is available with each Wikipedia page to discuss things before changing it. Note that any change that is made can easily be reverted if necessary (this is important especially in the case of vandalism).

Christoph: you mentioned the old editor tool. I agree with you, that one must have been very difficult to use! All the articles I have worked on so far have the "Edit beta" visual editor (see tab at the top of the Wikipedia page) and it's just like writing in Word.

You will see that the pit latrine page now has the schematic from the second version of the Compendium. I was able to take it straight from the eCompendium that Dorothee had mentioned here (after clarifying with her about the licence issue): forum.susana.org/forum/categories/89-new...mit=12&start=12#9948

All pages that I work on will cite documents that I think are important, e.g. of course the compendium, also the GIZ technology reviews, and in selected places I have also cited a forum discussion (the latter is not preferred by Wikipedia but in the absence of another document to cite I think it is better than nothing).

What I have learnt so far:
  • It is fun and might also be addictive, I have to admit.
  • It does take up time, even though the individual edits are fast but one gets more and more ideas on how to improve the pages...
  • The visual editor tool is very easy to use.
  • It is tremendously helpful to have a mentor at hand (James Heilmann) who can quickly help me with little things and answer all my questions (of course there are also lots of question-answer pages available on Wikipedia itself but you know what it's like: asking a real person is so much easier). James is very, very knowledgeable on Wikipedia.
  • For Wikipedia citing good, reliable references is very important.
  • I find I can write articles quite fast because I can draw on other publications which I have written in the past, previous posts I wrote on the forum, other publications that I know are good (e.g. Compendium) and so forth.
  • I also find I can draw on other good work we have done in the past, e.g. the bibliographical information from the SuSanA library is excellent when I want to cite something.
  • In terms of photos, I can quickly pick out photos from our enormous photo collection on Flickr (photos have already been transferred to the Wikimedia Commons area in the past: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:File...on_Alliance_(SuSanA) )
James is by the way working on an open textbook of medicine, see project description here:
The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
www.opentextbookofmedicine.com

and e.g. the page on pit latrines would be included there because it is a page that people with a medical background will refer to.

Do I sound overly excited? Perhaps I am. ;-)

But I think having the "right" information on some of the key sanitation pages on Wikipedia will help us (= sustainable sanitation people) further to become more "mainstream" in the WASH sector and in general.

And as I said: anyone who uses Wikipedia to get other information has a bit of a moral duty to also give back about topics that one knows a bit about, don't we? Out of 4000 SuSanA members, there's got to be a dozen who will join me by also spending an hour to improve Wikipedia pages on sanitation here or there?

I will also start a separate thread about those Wikipedia pages that I have worked on so far (in case there is specific feedback), as this thread here is getting a bit long and should remain to focus on the more general and strategic issues on how Wikipedia could be used.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Re: Health information on Wikipedia is going from strength to strength - can we do the same for sanitation (together with others)?

Elisabeth wonderful having you join us at Wikipedia. If this effort takes off one could even create a WikiProject pertaining to Sanitation.

Here is the WikiProject for medicine en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Medicine

It allows one to "collect" articles associated with the subject area. And allowed automated creation of pages such as this that list articles within that subject area by pageviews en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProj...dicine/Popular_pages

All this of course takes a fair bit of work to set up. More important to concentrate on improving articles right now IMO :-)

James

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