The next time you read a health-related article on Wikipedia, it might have been improved through a new collaboration between the National Institutes of Health and the Wikimedia Foundation. Ten experienced Wikipedia volunteers visited the NIH headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, last week to train the scientists there on how to use and contribute to the world’s de facto outboard brain. It was the first “Wikipedia Academy” to take place in the United States.
“One of our goals is to increase the scientists’ understanding of Wikipedia and the established practices and procedures that have evolved over the years,” said Frank Shulenberg, who organized the academy as head of public outreach for the Wikimedia Foundation. “They need some instructions about what’s going on and why Wikipedia culture is like it is.” While the subject experts have epigenetics and infectious-disease outbreaks down cold, they don’t really know the complex social dynamics of the site’s thousands of contributors.