The Power of Crowd Curation: We Investigate Wikipedia 1

How many times have you utilized Wikipedia as a source to learn a topic? If you’re like me, quite extensively. It’s hard to pass up since Wikipedia is almost always at the top of the list in search results. So why does this matter for the Lilly COI team? In our quest to stimulate an Open Clinical Intelligence Network (OCIN), we found that Wikipedia demonstrates a unique ability to engage the crowd to curate content, aligning well with our 4C model.

The free online encyclopedia has demonstrated the unique ability to attract crowd participation while maintaining sustainability in its open platform.

Research demonstrates its awesomeness as well. A recent study shows that Wikipedia ranks highest in customer satisfaction of online properties, ranking above Facebook and even Twitter.

A robust content library

It’s astonishing that Wikipedia now has 23 million articles with 4 million in the English language alone. As one can see, Wikipedia is a wide-ranging and rich content library, maintained by a passionate community of over 80,000 users who make five or more edits on the site in a month. That’s a lot of folks maintaining a lot of content.

Beneath the surface of the articles are editors and curators who remain passionate in maintaining and evolving the content within the Wiki. Through our analysis of Wikipedia as an open model for crowd curation we came across unique features that make the encyclopedia sustainable. Editors and curators of content are awarded for their constructive efforts through a variety of gamified reward mechanisms and have the ability to move up the hierarchical administrative ladder depending on their contributions.

Connectivity Diagram. This network depicts the articles affected by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. For more information, click on the image above to see the full description.

Principles of the Wikipedians

So how does one contribute as an editor or curator of content?  We interviewed experienced Wikipedian Jake Orlowitz [User: Ocaasi], who spent time with us to discuss the processes in becoming an effective editor of the community. In our interview we discussed how one would approach becoming an editor of content while abiding by the principles of engagment. As Jake put it, ” be bold while being mindful of etiquette within Wikipedia.” Although other principles should be considered as well, we learned the top 5 principles for engaging, which are:

  1. Be bold
    •  Take the initiative to contribute; as Wikipedia sums it in three words, “just do it!”
  2. Identify reliable resources to back your content
    • Reliable resources are those that have expertise backing the content and establish the credibility of the content.
  3. Maintain a neutral point-of-view
    • Helps content sound encyclopedic rather than promotional material.
  4. Remain civil and assume good faith
    • Be civil and assume that “editors’ edits and comments are made in good faith,” as Wikipedia states it.
  5. Do not edit pages where you have a conflict of interest
    • Pages that have a direct relationship to you should not be edited by you as this poses a conflict of interest and can skew the neutral point-of-view [see Rule 3].

These rules highlight the most important ones one should check-off in his mind before contributing as an editor to the database.

Why is Wikipedia important to the drug development process?

Wikipedia is an example of our 4C model at its finest. The encyclopedia has done an extraordinary job at generating the world’s largest knowledge platform and has kept it sustainable.

More importantly, Wikipedia contains a lot of relevant clinical knowledge for drug development, in of itself. A way to think of this is to relate it back to the connectivity diagram, depicted above. There exists a connection of various knowledge domains around our central effort, gathering intelligence for clinical development. Wikipedia can be thought of as one of the nodes that makes up the network, or OCIN. Imagine a connected gathering of clinical intelligence in the center of the above diagram.

In upcoming posts, I’ll be exploring areas within Wikipedia where Lilly COI and pharma contributions might be valuable to the encyclopedia of knowledge. I would love you here your feedback on topics, within Wikipedia, you would like to see evolve as they relate to drug development.

One comment

  1. Pingback: Stepping Foot in Wikipedia « lillycoi

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