Why to work in Wikipedia: I’ve been mentioned in Nature Medicine

nat.JPGAfter more than a year of hard work in Wikipedia, now I got a great feedback. Some weeks ago, Brandon Keim, a well-known, freelance science and culture writer and news intern at Nature Medicine asked me to give him an interview about my experiences in Wikipedia and to talk about the future of online encyclopedias. By the way, Brandon is a lead blogger at Bodyhack, Wired.com’s biotech/health blog. To read the whole article, a subscription is needed, but I show you the parts mentioning me:

Bertalan Mesko is a fourth-year medical student at Hungary’s University of Debrecen. He’s not yet qualified to practice medicine and, at 22, is barely old enough to buy beer in some parts of the world.

On Wikipedia, however, Mesko is a prominent medical voice. Since last May he’s added to and edited topics for the online encyclopedia’s coverage of health and medicine…

Last July Mesko, who hopes to become a clinical geneticist, created Wikipedia’s medical genetics project, which already has more than 1,100 entries. For his work reorganizing the medical articles, the Wikipedia community rewarded him with a Barnstar of Diligence. In October he successfully applied to become a site administrator… “That’s why I love Wikipedia: you’re rated just by your work,” Mesko says.

Then he asks: despite the fact that my expertise has never yet been challenged, should a fourth-year medical student like me be trusted to produce information that can influence life and death decisions?

He talks about Ask Dr. Wiki, Citizendum and Digital Universe. We know well that Digital Universe makes it possible for laymen to edit articles but those must be peer-reviewed by experts before publishing them. Citizendum only lets experts to work on the articles. So he writes:

Mesko says that, rather than submitting to this sort of peer review, Wikipedia’s health and medicine articles could be improved by adding citations to journal articles.

Once Citizendium and other specialized wikis add to their articles, Wikipedia users can, in keeping with the model that makes Wikipedia so powerful, benefit from their work, Mesko says. “We can copy all of them.”

I mean the licence will be GFDL so even if their experts improve the articles, those must keep the licence and it means that we can copy them back.

I’m really happy to get this opportunity and spread the words of Wikipedia. I hope that this article will drive people towards this online encyclopedia and many more medical experts will contribute to our articles.


  • Brandon Keim: WikiMedia; News@Nature 13, 231-233 (01 Mar 2007); or Nature Medicine; Published online: 28 February 2007; | doi:10.1038/nm0307-231

My photo in the article is the courtesy of Katalin Horváth at haon.hu. I’m really thankful for their kindness to give me that image!