The value of a wiki for public health appears obvious for improving community knowledge and practices, and projects such as Wikipedia have demonstrated the value of a wiki for general knowledge. However, efforts in the public health field are in their infancy.
The only active wikis which cover public health in depth appear to be:
- Wikipedia - extensive coverage, but limited in detail allowed, due to Wikipedia's strict criteria.
- Appropedia - strongest in areas related to technologies (e.g. water treatment), but also covering social aspects (e.g. community-led total sanitation).
Appropedia[edit | edit source]
Appropedia covers public health, but with an international focus, and content on water, sanitation and human development more generally, so it can be considered a "global health wiki" or "international public health wiki".
Reasons for a broad scope[edit | edit source]
There are very few successful wikis with a narrow scope on serious subjects. Rare examples do exist where they are actively supported by a committed organization, typically with one committed employee who edits the wiki and promotes it within the organization.
The most successful wikis tend to be extremely broad, e.g. Wikipedia and wikiHow. Appropedia is by far the most active in the areas of sustainability and development. The largest body of wiki content on public health is probably Wikipedia
Larger wikis are more visible, and have benefits in search rankings.
A combined maintenance team - those workers and volunteers who guard against spam and poor quality content.
Shares the load in technical management - smaller wikis with smaller communities and support teams can more easily disappear.
Shares the load in policy making - e.g. it is common to see narrowly defined wikis without a copyright policy, or with content.
Dedicated public health wikis[edit | edit source]
There appear to be no active wikis specifically about public health.
The largest wikis specifically about public health are almost completely inactive: WikiPH (or "Wiki Public Health") and University of Manitoba's Public Health Wiki. Neither of these fall into the category of open knowledge, as they have not used an open license of any form. (No copyright information could be found on WikiPH, and the U Manitoba wiki's About page states that copyright is held by a university body.)
Support required for success[edit | edit source]
A successful wiki project requires resources. Wikipedia, a pioneer, began with $10 million in seed funding; however more modest funding would be effective for newer projects, as some of the key work (such as development of the MediaWiki software platform), has been largely done.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Active wikis about some specific topics in popular culture do exist, supported by the enthusiasm and affinity that the participants bring to their hobby or interest. In particular, certain video games have active wikis, aided by the fact that gamers are more comfortable with taking on a mildly technical task like editing a wiki.
- E.g. http://solarcooking.wikia.com/
- See Wikipedia:Public health and Wikipedia:Category:Public health
- On 27 Nov 2010, checking the RecentChanges of each showed no edits in 30 days for WikiPH, and 2 edits on UoM's wiki.