Improving Wikipedia’s human factors articles, an idea from @danielpjenkins via @UKIEHF’s Ergonomist mag

Whenever people search for a word or phrase the chances are that Wikipedia pages appear in the top results of the search engine page.

In their 2011 blog post “Wikipedia and the changing world of online cancer information” Cancer Research UK recognised that investing some time and effort in updating information, or correcting misinformation, on Wikipedia articles could pay dividends in improving cancer information on the web.

People around the world searching for ‘cancer’ may choose to visit Wikipedia (or have it as the first result) and the more reliable the information is, the better. (It’s important to note that because anyone can edit Wikipedia the information should always be treated with caution).

In the May 2013 edition of The Ergonomist there is a new competition to encourage proactive improvements to Wikipedia articles about human factors. Click on the image in the tweet below to see the full competition details, but briefly they are:

  1. Find a Wikipedia page on a human factors topic and make improvements (or create a page if there isn’t one)
  2. Take a copy (eg copy and paste the text or save it to a PDF)
  3. Make your improvements and copy the new text
  4. Send both (before and after text) to (subject:Wiki) and say if you’re a student or non-student – deadline 31 July 2013

Entries will be judged on ‘quality of writing, suitability for novices, quality of links to key references, and impartiality.’ Winning articles will be published in The Ergonomist and receive £100 from Ashgate Publishing to spend on their books.

It’s also helpful to be aware of some of the human factors at play within the Wikipedia community. Bold editing is certainly encouraged but it’s helpful to add an explanation of what’s been changed / why it’s been changed (there’s a space in the editing panel to fill in reasons for changes made). Major revisions to an article are often (ideally) discussed first in the Talk page for each article (one automatically appears whenever a new article is created).

In addition to the ‘how to’ of editing pages, one of the things Cancer Research UK staff also learned was about Wikipedia’s etiquette or ‘Wikiquette’.

“At the two-hour seminar in late January, a bunch of dedicated volunteer Wikipedians, led by Mike Peel,  gave us a glimpse of what was under Wikipedia’s  bonnet and taught us about the social etiquette (or ‘Wikiquette’, as it’s called) of making edits to the site’s content. What they told us also reinforced the importance of the exercise – a quick survey Mike carried out revealed that, in the month of January alone, 1,500 cancer-related pages were viewed an astonishing 3.5 million times.

Our appetites’ whetted, Mike and co returned to our offices last week to hold a full day’s training for a small number of staff.. There, we learnt how to create and edit pages, engage with other users, propose changes to pages and get fully immersed in the site’s inner workings.”

Good luck to all entrants, and remember to cite references appropriately…

Wikipedian Protester

xkcd’s Wikipedian Protester cartoon

Further reading

  • Wikipedia articles related to ‘human factors
  • Wikipedia’s help page on Editing
  • Wikipedia’s guidelines on ‘Wikiquette‘, and how to work with other users of Wikipedia
This entry was posted in campaigns and awareness, events - public, human factors resources, non CHI+MED and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Improving Wikipedia’s human factors articles, an idea from @danielpjenkins via @UKIEHF’s Ergonomist mag

  1. Andy Mabbett says:

    “Send both (before and after text)” Unnecessary. Wikipedia has a facility for showing the “diff” (differrnce) brtween any two versions of a page. See for example. Visit any article’s “history” tab for the tools to generate such a URL.

    • jobrodie says:

      Undoubtedly true, but it may well be easier for the organisers to handle a bunch of PDFs rather than visit various pages at Wikipedia directly 🙂

      Jo Brodie
      CHI+MED blog moderator.

  2. Pingback: “Patient & Healthcare Provider Safety” one-day symposium from @ukiehf, London 25 Nov 2013 via @DomFurniss | chi+med blog

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