Wikipedia Emerges as Trusted Internet Source for Ebola Information

James Heilman, an emergency room doctor in British Columbia, leads Wikiproject Medicine, which monitors the site’s major public health articles, like Ebola Virus Disease.

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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.

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