Anyone can edit Wikipedia, but who actually does? Weird Al Yankovic, for one, according to his song “White and Nerdy.” But while many citizen editors have good intentions in sharing and refining information in the public domain, subjects such as medical information require further oversight by qualified professionals. Beth Bengston, principal at Hale Advisors, writes in a piece for Ragan’s Health Care Communication News that Wikipedia’s unreliable information, often taken by readers as truth, poses a public health problem.
From the piece:
Those in the health care industry, especially drug manufacturers and the FDA, have a public health responsibility to play a role in helping to fix the inaccuracies and incomplete information on Wikipedia. Sure, there are some challenges—like the perception that the drug manufacturers have a conflict of interest or that getting anywhere near user-generated content will result in a visit from the FDA, but we should work toward common sense solutions.
Wikipedia has a role to play, as well. It needs to embrace drug manufacturers and assume they have the right intent in ensuring accurate information is available to the public. Some might argue that drug manufacturers in the past have been caught trying to game the system by removing damaging information about their products. But the beauty of Wikipedia is that the community will find and fix those self-serving changes.
Previously: The importance of curation and communities when crowdsourcing clinical questions, A call to tap “latent creative” physicians in the medical community, Social media advice from a physician-blogger and Advice for physicians when interacting with patients online
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