Wiki Project Med/traffic

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This page makes a request that the Wikimedia Foundation give advice to communities about how the community should talk about traffic to health content on Wikipedia. The community needs this support to be able to make public statements describing the traffic to health content on Wikipedia in a way that the WMF supports.

There are explanations here of why this is important, what has already been done, and who needs this support.


The Wikimedia Foundation should provide best possible data describing the traffic to Wikipedia health articles. The Wikimedia Foundation should advise what kind of statement ought to be made as a conclusion based on that data, and it ought to authenticate this statement by saying that the foundation would verify to anyone who asks that the statement is accurate within whatever statistical uncertainties and considerations apply.

Requested outcome[edit]

The community needs data, a chart, or some figures from the Wikimedia Foundation to support some interesting assertion about the traffic to health content on Wikipedia.

Here are some ideas for drafting an ideal assertion which would be useful if it could be verified and backed by some authority:

  • The traffic which health content on Wikipedia gets is significant compared to the traffic of many other communication channels. In absolute terms, yyy people visited Wikipedia's health content as compared to zzz people visiting something else.
    • an alternative - "Wikipedia is one of the world's most consulted sources of health information."
    • Also, can this statement be disproved? - "Wikipedia is the world's most consulted source of health information."


Recruiting more people to consider committing to develop health content on Wikipedia would be easier if there were supporting evidence for the argument that developing health content on Wikipedia were a worthwhile effort. Believers in the below two theories, for example, might be more easily persuaded of the importance of health content on Wikipedia than persons who rejected the below two theories.

  1. (theory about traffic) Health articles on Wikipedia are important because a significant number of people are getting health information from these articles.
    1. There is currently no identified research which gives good quantification of traffic to Wikipedia health content.
    2. It may not be inappropriate for the Wikimedia Foundation to say something about this traffic, if in fact it were significant.
  2. (theory about quality) If health information on Wikipedia is good then users of this information benefit.
    1. (premise) Access to health information increases community levels of health education.
    2. (premise) Increases in health education bring improvements in public health because education improves people's health practices.
    3. (conclusion) Access to health information on Wikipedia improves public health in communities.

Past efforts to do this[edit]

(left) A comparison of unique visitors for Wikipedia's medical content verses that of other popular health sites. Aug 2012 (right) A comparison of pageviews for Wikipedia's medical content versus that of other healthcare sites. Aug 2012

Having data such as what is presented in these charts would be nice. It would be ideal to have this kind of information authenticated by the Wikimedia Foundation if possible. If it is not possible then I would like to know that also.

See also en:WP:MED500 for other efforts at quantification.

Currently none of this information has been deeply checked by a statistician or presented as information which is backed by an authority such as the Wikimedia Foundation.

Should these charts be presented?

Why focus on health?[edit]

Health is already in the media[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation should take extra care to describe traffic to health articles; a lot of people are talking about health content on Wikipedia.

Special care for health articles[edit]

There is en:Wikipedia:Medical disclaimer, which seems to indicate that something about the health content on Wikipedia is fundamentally different than other content on Wikipedia.

Perhaps if it were possible then extra scrutiny could be applied to the development of health content on Wikimedia projects.

There are already significant partnerships[edit]

All of these partnerships happen because these communities believe, despite the lack of evidence, that Wikipedia health content gets significant traffic. The traffic is the major attractive draw for the attention of these organizations!

"Significant traffic" as an unsupported premise[edit]

All partnerships and volunteer effort done in good will is based on an unsupported premise. This premise is that "the traffic to Wikipedia health articles is significant enough to merit a response." Whereas elsewhere on Wikipedia, many community efforts are for the benefit of the editors, in health, the demand for good articles far surpasses the community's current ability to deliver satisfactory content.

If the community of editors who develop health content are to recruit enough additional editors to help develop this content, then this community really does need the best available evidence to be able to communicate with authority about just how much this matters. Are there significant numbers of people accessing Wikipedia health content? Are the numbers such that anyone should care?

The more general problem[edit]

The entire Wikipedia project has a public relations problem in that large numbers of people use Wikipedia but there is an international perception amongst most people that Wikipedia is not widely read. The reality might be that in some cases, a given Wikipedia article might be the most consulted source of information on that topic. Another reality might be that the Wikimedia Foundation is one of the "largest" media organizations in the world. Wikipedia might be among the most influential extant publications. The Wikimedia projects themselves might be significant media sources.

Right now, no one says any of these things. Would it be absurd to say such things?