“Let’s ignore Wikipedia for health… there are better platforms”

There are two ways that media outreach can go. One way is that people can oppose the public’s natural behavior and run advertising campaigns and make infrastructure interventions to get everyone to do something unnatural. Definitely Wikipedia has problems, but it would take a lot of effort, advertising, and interventions to get people to use something else in preference. Another way that media outreach can go is to do an intervention where the public’s natural behavior is already sending them and make sure that when they get there they find developed infrastructure. Again, Wikipedia has problems, but I think it would be easier to develop and maintain good content on Wikipedia than it would be to both develop something superior and create the intervention campaign to make everyone recognize that something else is superior.

Wikipedia has been around since 2001 and for the foreseeable future is probably going to get at a minimum USD 40 million a year for development if its current fundraising practices at level. I expect that it will rise, probably a lot. It is my own unusual opinion that Wikipedia could become very big. Considering the brand, the funding, the history of proven traffic, and the cost of developing articles, I hardly think that anyone can reasonably say that Wikipedia should not be considered as a communication channel for audiences who might be expected to do Google searches on a topic which Wikipedia covers.

A lot of people are not ready to say this yet, but Wikipedia is probably the world’s most consulted source of information on a great many important topics. I personally believe and have some data supporting the idea that Wikipedia for years has been the world’s most consulted source of health information, and even if it is not that I think it is indisputable that it is a major player in helping people make health decisions. Maybe there should be an international campaign to get people to quit using Wikipedia in this way, but my intuition is that it would probably be easier to integrate all medical consensus onto Wikipedia than to reform the outreach strategies of lagging players like the NIH, WHO, the CDC, and others who are not quite ready to bet heavily that the Internet will be around for a long time.

Here’s something from 9 September-

It’s just one small consulting company’s non-robust research, but at least now people in the field are starting to recognize that a Google search for any disease, medical procedure, or drug returns a Wikipedia article and perhaps not every reader is ignoring it.

Right now people who work in health communications may say, “Let’s ignore Wikipedia for health. There are better platforms.” I expect the day will come when people will not ignore Wikipedia. There may be a better platform someday, but the fundamental idea that people should have and will use good free health information if they can access it is not incorrect.

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This is Lane Rasberry's personal blog. None of the information on this blog is private, but it is personal and I have not written it with the intent to make it of public general interest. Anyone visiting this site has my permission to use anything they find here for friendly, share-alike purposes.