NewsQ KNoW

Why does Wikipedia need a reliable sources list on vaccines? 

And… How you can get involved

Wikipedia strives to be a source of accurate information. This concern for accuracy comes in part from the Wikipedia community’s collaborative, robust approach to reviewing new articles, and new additions to existing articles. 

For example, English-language Wikipedians develop consensus evaluations around news and other information sources for citation in Wikipedia’s Perennial Sources list. In 2020, the Wikipedia community decided that some aspects of Fox News were no longer generally reliable, and downgraded the news outlet on the list. These sorts of community guidelines help Wikipedia editors and authors to understand whether to cite or avoid certain sources.

However, the Wikipedia community has no such list of reliable sources for specialized topics such as vaccines.  In addition, discussions within the community about source quality overall are often based upon one-off conversations tied to individual articles, rather than systemic evaluations. This is why NewsQ has started a project with Knowledge Futures Group that will allow members of the Wikipedia community to use data, based upon previous Wikipedian deliberations, to achieve a more robust, defensible consensus around reliable sources. We are collaborating with experienced Wikipedia editors participating in the Wikimedia DC chapter to gather this data and refine a list of reputable sources of vaccine information throughout 2022 and 2023. You can find the current list of reliable sources about vaccines here

Wikipedia, as one of the most-visited resources for information on the Internet worldwide, including healthcare, is vital to people’s everyday decision making. This effort to clarify what sources are appropriate for citation for vaccine information has potential to both strengthen Wikipedia articles and create a healthier online environment. 

Next steps     

In the coming months we will be working with communities that depend on such a list to design an effective and equitable system for maintaining, distributing, and accessing data on reliable sources. Some of the questions we will be addressing in collaboration with Wikimedia DC include:

  • How do we decide what pieces of data to include in the list? 
  • How are changes to the list made?
  • What is the review process for changes? 
  • How do we communicate the source of such changes?      

NewsQ and Knowledge Futures Group will be using these design sessions to inform the build-out of a publicly accessible data platform. If you would like to participate or learn more, please email hello [at] newsq [dot] net.

The NewsQ team would like to extend thanks to the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the CUNY Newmark Graduate School of Journalism for its support of this work.