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

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  • 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)?

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
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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  • Mschiffler
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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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  • 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)?

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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  • 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)?

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
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Freelance consultant on environmental and climate projects
Located in Ulm, Germany
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  • 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)?

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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  • Mschiffler
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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)?

[Start of Page 3 of the discussion]


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.
James Heilman
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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)?

With respect to translation, once the first 4 paragraphs are written in a specific format and are well referenced, plus I am happy with the language being sufficiently easy to understand than we put them into the translation queue.

With respect to sources, discussions such as this and blogs do not count as high quality sources typically. Prefered sources are major textbooks and publications by national or internationally recognized bodies such as the World Health Organization, etc. Wikipedia does really respect published expert in that these are the sources it requires.

James


[End of Page 2 of the discussion]
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  • 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)?

Thanks James, for these clarifications! I am finding this very helpful.

As I saw my husband watching TV tonight, I thought of your point:

Who has time? Those of us who believe that everyone deserves access to high quality information and priorities this over watching tv and writing about ourselves on facebook.

;-)
As I don't like TV anyhow, I will devote a bit of my life time to Wikipedia. ;-)

Could you tell us a bit more how this translation thing works? E.g. how would one find volunteers to translate the page on "septage" into Hindi?

I found it really interesting that you said you don't have to be an expert to write on Wikipedia. Amateurs are welcome. Provided they lean on and cite credible sources (which were written by experts). I actually think that for students, writing on Wikipedia could be a nice method of confirming the knowledge they have gained on a certain subject and perhaps to figure out together with other students how best to write about it. When you try to explain something to someone (on Wikipedia), it takes you to a higher level of learning (and might also hone your writing skills).

In order to not keep talking theoretically about this, let me propose to my fellow SuSanA members (with a special welcome to students!):
Who is game to get a login and join with me on this quest? You could get a login with your initials and dash SuSanA (like I did with "EvM-Susana") so that we can easily be identified as a kind of group later. Surely there's got to be some people out there? At least a hand full?

Then let's take baby steps. How about we each look at one existing page on a topic that we care about? E.g. if you think CLTS is important, then why not go the page on CLTS and improve it?
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community-led_total_sanitation

(I reckon for beginners like us it is easier to start with improving existing pages rather than creating new ones)

Or another example: There is a page on Wikipedia where you can see in which places on Wikipedia links are made to another website. So I checked where on Wikipedia someone has linked to our SuSanA website. The result is shown here - it's only in 16 places!:
en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Speci...arget=www.susana.org

What's worse is that the 16 links made to the SuSanA website are not all functional (probably due to the re-launch of the website).
So I reckon it will be a small baby step that I will take and correct those broken links.

There is by the way, exactly one link only from Wikipedia to this discussion forum and that's in my profile page that I created 2 days ago. I reckon I could also change that for topics where content on the discussion forum can be cited as a reference (OK, only if the particular topic, thread or sub-category counts as a "credible source" (?). I will have to think about that). Who knows, perhaps this will lead to more new readers and contributors on this forum if people reading on Wikipedia stumble over a link to the forum every now and again?

Oh and James also sent me this list with beginner links for Wikipedia authors, very useful:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:EvM-Susana#Welcome.21

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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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)?

By the way our translation are done by humans not by machine. We are in many more languages than any translation machine works in.
James Heilman
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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)?

Wikipedia is about verifiability not about truth. Yes it takes time. Sometimes controversy arises and discussion is required but most of the time things go smoothly.

Who is the audience you are writing for on Wikipedia? It is everyone and yes that is a hard audience to write for.

A large portion of Wikipedia's medical content is written by a few hundred individuals and it was viewed more than 5 billion times last year. It does not take many people. We write on Wikipedia not because it is a perfect platform but because this is where the world is reading.
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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)?

So how could this be improved? While:

1) I see 3 languages. You do not have this content in Dagbani like Wikipedia does. incubator.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wp/dag/Bimbo%C9%A3ku%C5%8B Also I doubt akvo is in 287 languages or has the ability to handle the typeface for all these languages if there was a community interested in translation.

2) I also doubt that there are deals with telecommunications companies such that the material is accessible without data charges to 350 million people via their cellphones in the developing world? See: wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Zero . Or that there is a team of people helping the telecoms with the technical details of setting this up.

3) Does Akvo link to related topics that do not pertain specifically to sanitation? I see no linking to other articles on akvo within the text. See: akvopedia.org/wiki/Dry_Toilet Also what other names are used for a "dry toilet"?
James Heilman
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