Developing a scalable framework for partnerships between health agencies and the Wikimedia ecosystem

Abstract:  In this era of information overload and misinformation, it is a challenge to rapidly translate evidence-based health information to the public. Wikipedia is a prominent global source of health information with high traffic, multilingual coverage, and acceptable quality control practices. Viewership data following the Ebola crisis and during the COVID-19 pandemic reveals that a significant number of web users located health guidance through Wikipedia and related projects, including its media repository Wikimedia Commons and structured data complement, Wikidata.

The basic idea discussed in this paper is to increase and expedite health institutions’ global reach to the general public, by developing a specific strategy to maximize the availability of focused content into Wikimedia’s public digital knowledge archives. It was conceptualized from the experiences of leading health organizations such as Cochrane, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other United Nations Organizations, Cancer Research UK, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Each has customized strategies to integrate content in Wikipedia and evaluate responses.

We propose the development of an interactive guide on the Wikipedia and Wikidata platforms to support health agencies, health professionals and communicators in quickly distributing key messages during crisis situations. The guide aims to cover basic features of Wikipedia, including adding key health messages to Wikipedia articles, citing expert sources to facilitate fact-checking, staging text for translation into multiple languages; automating metrics reporting; sharing non-text media; anticipating offline reuse of Wikipedia content in apps or virtual assistants; structuring data for querying and reuse through Wikidata, and profiling other flagship projects from major health organizations.

In the first phase, we propose the development of a curriculum for the guide using information from prior case studies. In the second phase, the guide would be tested on select health-related topics as new case studies. In its third phase, the guide would be finalized and disseminated.