Do you surf the Internet for health information? New research suggests you may often be getting bogus information.
About 60 percent of Wikipedia articles contain factual errors, according to research published in the Public Relations Society of America's Public Relations Journal.
The study, conducted by Marcia W. DiStaso, a public relations specialist at Penn State University, also indicated many people can’t get past the online encyclopedia’s editing processes to fix inaccuracies.
"It does not surprise me that so many Wikipedia entries contain factual errors," said DiStaso. "Without clear, consistent rules from Wikipedia regarding how factual corrections can be made this will be a very difficult learning process for public relations professionals."
Wikipedia, a frequently consulted online source for health information, is an open-ended Web-based encyclopedia largely produced – and updated -- by experts in the topics presented. But DiStaso’s study found when experts attempted to engage editors through Wikipedia's "Talk" pages to request factual corrections to entries, 40 percent said it took "days" to receive a response, 12 percent indicated "weeks," while 24 percent never received any type of response.
Of those who were familiar with the process of editing Wikipedia entries, 23 percent said making changes was "near impossible." Twenty-nine percent said their interactions with Wikipedia editors were "never productive."