A CHARITY has unleashed a legion of experts on Wikipedia, where – like a swarm of antibodies assailing a tumour – they will seek out and edit spurious entries on cancer.
When you search for information about cancer online, Wikipedia entries usually come up in the first few results, ahead of Cancer Research UK. Rather than try to rise in the ranks, the charity has decided to tidy up Wikipedia, assigning its experts to vet the encyclopedia’s pages about cancer for accuracy and clarity.
A 2009 study found that information on oral cancers from the top websites gathered by Google and Yahoo searches was “poor” (Oral Oncology, vol 45, p e95). Although Wikipedia has been shown to be mostly free of factual errors, some drug firms have been caught removing negative information from pages that describe their products.
A study last year concluded that Wikipedia’s cancer information is quite accurate but does not read well. Perhaps Cancer Research UK should pair its learned scientists with veteran writers.