Via The New York Times: Wikipedia Emerges as Trusted Internet Source for Ebola Information. Excerpt:
As a fresh wave of Ebola fear grips the American public, the Internet is rife with conspiracy theories, supposed miracle cures and Twitter posts of dread.
But amid the fear mongering are several influential sites that are sticking to the facts about Ebola. Millions have come to rely on these sites, including those run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and Wikipedia.
Wikipedia? The online encyclopedia’s Ebola Virus Disease article has had 17 million page views in the last month, right up there with the C.D.C.’s Ebola portal and the W.H.O.’s Ebola fact sheet, as well as the Ebola coverage of prominent health care brands like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic.
Once the butt of jokes for being the site where visitors could find anything, true or not, Wikipedia in recent years has become a more trusted source of information — certainly for settling bar bets, but even for weighty topics like Ebola.
“It is because Wikipedia is such a recognized brand — obviously the C.D.C. is still much more authoritative than we will ever be — that people will click on that link,” said Dr. Jacob de Wolff, 37, an internist at Northwick Park Hospital in London, who founded Wikiproject Medicine in 2004 and has seen it go from obscurity to mockery to acceptance.
On Oct. 15, when it was announced that a second nurse in Dallas had tested positive for the virus, traffic for the Ebola Virus Disease article on English Wikipedia’s site reached a peak of 2.5 million page views — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 3.5 million page views that day of its Ebola content, while the Mayo Clinic Ebola content had about 200,000.
Search engines, no doubt, drive such traffic totals. An “Ebola” Google search had put Wikipedia’s article above the C.D.C.’s portal. But this weekend Google highlighted the C.D.C. material and moved it to the top. Bing uses Wikipedia’s article for its Ebola summary.
The initial skepticism about Wikipedia was mainly structural: how could you trust an article in an “encyclopedia that anyone can edit?” The growing confidence in the site — certainly when it comes to public health articles — in part reflects the fact that much of Wikipedia is not edited by just “anyone.”
“Wikipedia is a do-ocracy,” said Dr. James Heilman, an emergency room doctor from British Columbia, Canada, who leads the Wikiproject Medicine that keeps close watch on the most important public health articles, like Ebola Virus Disease. “Those who do the most, do have a greater influence.”
Many impediments exist to someone casually editing the Ebola article. Only registered Wikipedia editors with at least some experience are permitted to edit the page, and the requirement for sourcing is much more rigorous than for other Wikipedia entries. Newspaper articles, for example, do not cut it.
I've had a link in Ebola Resources to Wikipedia's article on the West African outbreak for months; I've just added the EVD link mentioned in the report.