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)?

To clarify a few misconceptions:

1) Wikipedia's no original research policy means that if you do a trial on 12 rats Wikipedia is NOT the place to publish the results. This is what journals are for.

2) Wikipedia is the place to provide an overview of what is already known. There are lots of great sources dealing with sanitation. For example this pdf among others www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/hygi...mergencies/fs3_4.pdf . We provide summaries information on sanitation

3) Within medicine there are a few types of articles. There are primary research articles and there are review articles (that summarize the primary research among other sources). Both these often undergo peer review. What we at Wikipedia published was a "review type article" after formal peer review. Wikipedia is basically a collection of review type articles

4) Getting "decent, usable, credible content" on Wikipedia is actually easy as long as you start with a high quality source as a reference. If you do that the chance of the content being removed is low. It might be edited to improve upon it.

5) With respect to repeating the work of akvo. What matters is not the "good work" what matters is, is it read! I bet we can take any topic that exists on both akvo and Wikipedia, and Wikipedia will have a higher readership.

6) What is wrong with amateurs? If they decide that building toilets in Africa and Asia is important they are more likely to have success than the so called experts. These are called grass root efforts and these amateurs likely have a better understanding of cultural barriers than those who fly over from the developing world in suits. That experts have not been successfully is exemplified by one billion people still defecating outside and 2.5 billion people not having access to a proper toilet.

The wonderful thing about editing Wikipedia; however, is that the fact that you are an expert or not matters less as we value high quality references above all else. If you bring a good source, paraphrase that source well, and add it appropriately you will be respected. P.S. 50% of Wikipedia's medical editors are health care professionals. 85% have at least a university education. So yes it is partly a collection of expert peers.

7) People with a specific agenda are rare. Most articles are not as good as they should be because NO one cares / edits them.

8 ) 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.

9) Who is going to pay? Likely no one. There's no money there's no fame. We do this because we believe in it. We hear stories of our efforts improving peoples lives so we continue. People do stuff for more than just money.

10) "Non-credible pages" It is about the references. Wikipedia is only as good as the references it is built upon. Most people are good people. If one does not believe this then yes their is no reason to contribute to Wikipedia (or to any other social cause really).

11) "No easy answers" We are not looking for easy answers. We want to help people find actual solutions. A 14-19 year old in Africa managed to build a windmill to power a lightbult and a radio based on books he found in the library and material from a garbage dump www.ted.com/talks/william_kamkwamba_on_b...windmill?language=en

This is not only an example of the power of information but it is an example of the power of an amateur. The "amateur" "expert" divide is a false one. We all start out as amateurs.
James Heilman
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The Wikipedia Open Textbook of Medicine
www.opentextbookofmedicine.com

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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)?

Another thought (apologies in advance) which is edited from an email exchange to Elisabeth:

How would having more sanitation pages on wikipedia help? Who are the target audience?

To just take the septage example. Say, for the sake of argument, Elisabeth took an hour to edit the wikipedia page (she says she thinks it is something she could do in an hour). Then tomorrow I come and edit it to reflect my opinion (which in this example let us assume is different to hers). Are you going to come back tomorrow to re-edit it? How much time are you prepared to spend on a page that has very little importance outside of the very narrow band of people who are interested in sanitation terms? Also - I suspect that the term actually means different things in different contexts. So how would Elisabeth (and/or anyone else) resolve the issue if someone else was to come along who works in Developed Country sanitation and who removes all the content and replaces it with a definition for something totally different.

I agree there are mechanisms on wikipedia to resolve these things, I'm just trying to illustrate how something which looks like it should take 1 hour can spiral into many hours of work. Whilst I agree that medicine must have similar issues, there are a lot more medical professionals and students editing wikipedia pages.


In terms of helping people, I think there is far more to be gained from encouraging people [working in sanitation] to discuss things in a professional setting rather than attempting to reinvent the wheel on wikipedia. I just don't think the comparison with health is very helpful.

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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 is akvopedia on sanitation: akvopedia.org/wiki/Sanitation_Portal

My question is what exactly people would want to see on wikipedia which is not on akvopedia - given what I've already said about the detail of things we discuss here, the resources available here and elsewhere for sanitation professionals etc.

I generally agree that akvopedia is not particularly dynamic, but I'm not really sure what else could be said on wikipedia which is more useful without getting away from the encyclopedia format. As a basic guide to the terms and concepts, I think it is pretty good.

Also, it has to be said, that akvo got a lot of funding to get as far as this (if I recall correctly).

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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 have been having a bit of a discussion with Elisabeth by email about this.

In my view, the problem is the wikipedia policy of 'no original research' en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:No_original_research

As it has been explained to me, wikipedia is an encylopedia not a research journal, so it is not designed to present new ideas. But as Elisabeth also says, this appears to be contradicted by recent talk of 'peer review' articles on wikipedia. I don't have an answer for that - I suspect that there may well be different groups on wikipedia pulling in different directions.

My view is that getting decent, usable, credible advice on wikipedia would be extremely difficult, would be repeating the good work which is being done by experts - such as akvo - and runs the risk of encouraging amateur contributions which are plain wrong.

Wikipedia is not a collection of expert peers, but a crowd of people. In that context, I believe it is very hard to build something which is credible when you are fighting against people who have a specific agenda and who will continually edit out sources that they don't like.

Who has the time to do that? Who is going to be paid to do that?

In my view, this can only create non-credible pages which could actually be dangerous if people searched and found them on the internet.

As a final point for discussion, I would say that sanitation is far more a work-in-progress than subjects like medicine or engineering. Given that it is so often affected by the individual context, there is no easy answer which can be easily explained on a wikipedia page.

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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)?

Our health colleagues are discussing this issue further, i.e. the topic "First Wikipedia Article Passes Formal Peer Review and is Published".

I copy an interesting message from Ghaiath:

++++++

Thanks James and Neil for sharing this.

I have slightly different opinion that you may find provocative. To me, publishing a Wikipedia article in a peer-reviewed journal is a downgrade not an upgrade. To understand what I mean, let's return to the very basic concept of 'peer-review'. Basically, it is the so-thought to be the 'gold standard' of publications because it makes helps in maintaining the integrity of the scientific publications by making the manuscripts resulting from research work reviewed by 2-3 'experts' in the field then they either reject, suggest major/minor changes, or approve the manuscript based on some scientific and ethical standards. Most of us know how the 'real' peer-review works. It is lengthy, time-consuming, and sometimes too expensive to be afforded by researchers in some parts of the world where they have to pay to have their work published, then pay again to have access to their own work. I am not interested in discussing any of these issues now.

My focus is on two main aspects, which, I argue, what makes publishing in Wikipedia more credible than publishing in any other model of peer-review journals (with my due respect indeed to the journal that published the article that you referred to in your post).

First, as time went, Wikipedia had more editors, reviewers, checkers, and experts in almost all the fields of human knowledge than what any other peer-reviewed journal. For instance, if Wikipedia was a health-related peer-reviewed journal; it would have had the impact factor of the top 10 journals all together. The only thing that it misses to get into this position is that the efforts to defend what Wikipedia has become and how it developed are still as timid and as limited as they were in early 2000s. This need to change. Wikipedia needs to make as loud and clear as possible to the professional scientific community that it have moved miles away from what one of my professors described it as the 'place where any unreliable person can publish unreliable **** so that any **** like you (referring to me) can copy and paste it to get a degree'. (I don't think you really want to know that the stars refer to, right?)

Second, is that Wikipedia has proved many more times than any other peer-review journal did or can do that it does not let scientifically incredible data or information get into Wikipedia and stay in it. Sometimes, it is as little as one day before an inappropriate material is removed from the site. Just imagine if this happens in another peer-reviewed journal. It will take few months, if not years to correct or retract a published piece from its site.

There are other powers of Wikipedia over the normal 'peer-reviewed', at least in its current model that I would not discuss to maintain the length of the message reasonable. One last note is that I don't think Wikipedia is flawless, yet it is in very better position to manage its deficits and flaws than any other peer-reviewed journal.

Best Regards,

Dr. Ghaiath M. A. Hussein

School of Health & Population Sciences, University of Birmingham,
Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK


++++++++++

And in another post he wrote yesterday:

+++++++++

I agree with you James. I did not mean to say that Wikipedia is in its perfect shape, at least in terms of the 'acknowledged' contribution to the health knowledge. It indeed need more contributors, and editors who do not feel ashamed to write this on their CVs.

I was only emphasizing the potential of strength of Wikipedia compared to the apparant weaknesses of the current 'peer-reviewed' publishing model. That said, I have to acknowledge that reviewing a manuscript for a journal (which I do every now and then) is easier than that in Wikipedia.

Perhaps, it's only me who is too lazy (or too stupid!) to learn how Wikipedia works. However, we may need to acknowledge that Wikipedia can be more user-friendly with easier User Interfaces (UIs) and perhaps even templates to be simply filled, previewed, then published.

We will keep dealing with the peer-reviewed model, and strive to make the mind-shift about the role that Wikipedia can play.

++++++++++++

Meanwhile, I just got myself a login to become a writer on Wikipedia.
This is me as a Wikipedia writer:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EvM-Susana
Let the Wikipedia adventure begin!

Greetings,
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)?

And here is another encouraging development coming from our colleagues in the health sector and the way they use Wikipedia (posting in the HIFA Dgroup by James Heilman):

+++++++++

The first Wikipedia article (on dengue fever) has passed formal peer review and been published today in the journal Open Medicine
hesp-news.org/2014/10/02/dengue-fever-a-...dia-clinical-review/

Editorial is here www.openmedicine.ca/article/view/652/565

My hope is that this will encourage academics to contribute.

James

+++++++++


Looks like our medical colleagues are leading the way here and I still cannot see what makes sanitation and sanitary engineering so "different" that we could not also push for putting our wisdom onto Wikipedia (instead of (or if needed: in addition to) separate Wiki pages).

For academics, what counts is peer-reviewed publications. If they can now get that at the same time as writing on Wikipedia, this seems pretty awesome to me.

Or is one difference that their field (the medical field) is evolving much faster than our field (the sanitation field)?

Take the case of Ebola (again copied from said Editorial):

At least temporarily. Medicine and science, like the diseases they attend to, move fast—much faster than the systems that are responsible for making medical science known. As this editorial is being written, Ebola continues its surge in West Africa. Since the 2014 epidemic started, there have been 1549 changes to Wikipedia’s Ebola disease page, 10 times as many as the year before. Which ones are accurate? Given Wikipedia’s history, one would suspect that most of them are. All of them? Without the attention of dedicated, capable, and responsible eyes, one can’t be sure. What we can be certain of is that the story of the 2014 Ebola epidemic, like the recent dengue outbreak in Japan, will be told on Wikipedia and that a determining factor for its final sentences will be how much relevant information about how to treat and control the disease makes its way into capable hands.


(about Ebola and sanitation, please also see this thread on the Forum: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/26-hea...uring-ebola-epidemic)

I am envisioning a situation where summaries (or key points) of good discussions that we have had here on the Forum are used to feed into updating Wikipedia articles. This would at the same time give added value to high quality posts made here on the Forum.

Regards,
Elisabeth


P.S. Some further information:

Note from HIFA moderator (Neil PW):
"This is an exciting development and I believe this will be an important part of the current revolution in medical publishing. Here are extracts from the editorial commentary (www.openmedicine.ca/article/view/652/565)":

James Maskaly. How putting Wikipedia articles through a medical journal’s traditional process can put free, reliable information into as many hands as possible.

'If you graduated from a medical or nursing school before the turn of the millennium, a single glance in a teaching hospital can tell you how things have changed. Resident and student physicians no longer huddle in groups, listening to their seniors: they lean alone over smartphones or computers, searching for diagnoses and doses. With an Internet connection, you don’t need to talk to the brightest people in the room to get the information you need. With the right access, you are one of them...'

'Wikipedia is the most heavily used health resource on the Internet—even more than MEDLINE—and is the sixth most popular website in the world...'

'In this issue of Open Medicine, we are pleased to publish the first formally peer-reviewed and edited Wikipedia article... In a year’s time, the most responsible author will submit the changed piece to an indexed journal, so it can move through the same editorial process and continue to function as a valid, reliable, and evolving free and complete reference for everyone in the world...']


Regarding the issue of a Wikipedia article being peer reviewed, I wondered how this peer reviewed article will deal with the fact that the content is not set in stone but that it can continually be modified by others. The editorial gives the answer to my question (www.openmedicine.ca/article/view/652/565):

Although by the time this editorial is read the Wikipedia article will have changed many times, there will be a link on the Wikipedia page that can take the viewer back to the peer-reviewed and published piece on the Open Medicine website. In a year’s time, the most responsible author will submit the changed piece to an indexed journal, so it can move through the same editorial process and continue to function as a valid, reliable, and evolving free and complete reference for everyone in the world. [?] it is anticipated that thhe Wikipedia page on dengue will be a reference against which all others can be compared. While it might be decades before we see an end to dengue, perhaps the time and money saved on exhaustive, expensive, and redundant searches about what yet needs to be done will let us see that end sooner.

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)?

[Start of Page 2 of the discussion]


Yes this is a common and not unexpected perspective. I guess the question is what is adequate coverage? Many of our article on medical topics stretch to five or ten thousand words. They are used extensively by both medical students and physicians in clinical practice as well as members of the lay public. About half of our medical contributors are healthcare providers. The same is technically possible with sanitation topics and sanitation professionals.

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)?

Maybe to put my points a bit in perspective, I'd like to add that for sure I don't want to dimish the value of wikipedia or so. If anyone wants to put detailed arcticles on UDDTs or other sanitation topics on wikipedia, fine, that's great.

But I don't think that wikipedia should be the main priority for Susana members to disseminate detailed specialist information on sanitation. The Susana website, akvopedia, e-compendium etc. etc. are the more appropriate platforms for this, in my opinion.

That said, I still see the point of the Susana community taking interest and initiative in ensuring that on wikipedia, sanitation topics are adequately covered and that information is correct and up to date. With "adequately covered", I understand short encylcopedia style articles explaining the term and directing to relevant specialist information. I don't see the need of the Susana community to invest resources in more than that. (still, if anyone does more than that, great!)


[End of Page 1 of the discussion]

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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, I had a small email-exchange with Elisabeth on the topic, and Elisabeth suggested that I post it here, so I do that...

Elisabeth:
Did you see the 2 threads that I have going on that? See:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/54-wg-1-cap-development

Would you like to add your opinion to that on the forum?


Florian:
I thought about posting, but it would have been a little unenthusiastic, so I didn’t. I just don’t share so much the enthusiasm or feel the need to invest much in these Wikipedia articles. I also I don’t agree to the statement of Wiki-James that e-compendium and akvopedia are the duplication and all should be on Wikipedia first. I find there is already quite a bit of info available on sanitation Wikipedia, probably more than enough for the general interest, and those with real interest, will have no trouble to find the specialist websites like Susana or e-compendium. For in-depth information, I personally still prefer very much such specialist sites or publications, where I know who is the author.

But then, I know Wikipedia just as a normal user, I’ve never edited anything on there.

Elisabeth:
I see.
But then you look at the discussion on “septage” and the first thing that Kris quotes is the Wikipedia page on septage! That, for me is proof (again) how much Wikipedia is used. I think you really need to put yourself in the shoes of the general uninformed public, not in the shoes of sanitation experts. You and I don’t need that information on Wikipedia, but others do. I am thinking of students, journalists, housewives, people running small charities and so on.
And does it not bother you that the entry on ecosan on Wikipedia is quite out of date? And that there is no entry on UDDTs? It does bother me...


Florian:
The septage definition is a good example. Kris mentioned it probably because he found it when googling “definition, septage”. That’s what I do when I look for information, and surely, often enough Wikipedia is the first answer. But if we dig deeper in the topic, e.g. discuss which definition of septage is the best one, we won’t be satisfied with Wikipedia, but rather take Sandec or EPA documents as reference.

So if you or anyone in Susana is to invest into Wikipedia, I would see it most useful and efficient to focus on short summaries, with links to the relevant specialist information. Just as Kris suggested. For example, to me the ecosan article is totally fine. It tells the “uniformed public” in a few clear sentences enough to understand the term and gives a few links to the most relevant specialist sites. Perhaps the definition does not correspond to the latest wording we prefer. But does it harm? I don’t think so. If you think so, it would probably take no more than 10 min to update the definition…

And for UDDT, if I google it, the first hits are: 1. Akvopedia 2. Wikipedia (urine diversion), 3. SSWM. 4. Phlush, 5. Susana. Do you really see a problem here for the general public to get proper information?

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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 NIH stands for National Institute of Public Health

With respect to editing about SuSanA, yes if the content added is supported by references and if their is no financial issues it is not an issue.

Have fixed the naming issue

J
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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)?

Interesting and encouraging to hear of this example.
What is NIH exactly? I googled it and found this one: National Institutes of Health in the USA, is that the one you mean? www.nih.gov/

Secondly, what does this mean in practice:

People here [...] need to be careful about editing the article on SuSanA itself.

?

It is obvious that one would try to write in a totally objective, non-biased view. As SuSanA is a lose network (no income, no formal structure etc.), I can't imagine much of a conflict of interest here if one or several of the 4000 members wrote about SuSanA on Wikipedia?

By the way the current entry on SuSanA has not been edited since 2007 (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_Sanitation_Alliance_(SuSanA) ) and has a note which says:

This article appears to be written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by rewriting promotional content from a neutral point of view and removing any inappropriate external links. (March 2008)


Oh and the first thing I would do (if I knew how) is to connect the two pages, as this page says there is no entry for SuSanA:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_Sanitation_Alliance

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)?

Wikipedia will not pay people to edit Wikipedia but other organizations are allowed to pay people to edit Wikipedia as long as that editing is not in conflict of interest.

So for example the NIH* is allowing a few staff to edit Wikipedia's articles on women's health on paid time. They are not for obvious reasons editing the articles on the NIH as that would be a conflict of interest.

People here should edit Wikipedia's content on sanitation and water. They need to be careful about editing the article on SuSanA itself.

Best
James

* National Institute of Public Health
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