This post was written by Dr Martin Poulter as part of the collaboration between Jisc and Wikimedia UK
Two projects that provide free information about animal health and disease are joining forces in an event this November, for the benefit of the veterinary profession and the wider public.
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, has around a thousand articles in English related to veterinary science, from reverse sneezing to wobbly hedgehog syndrome. It has many more articles on related topics including animals, birds, and agriculture. MediaWiki—the software powering Wikipedia—is free for anyone to take, adapt, and use. One of the projects doing this most successfully is WikiVet.
Whereas Wikipedia is open for the public to edit, WikiVet is written and reviewed exclusively by professionals and students in veterinary science. Registration is free and is available to veterinarians, veterinary students, veterinary nurses and academic staff at veterinary schools in any country.
WikiVet integrates educational material such as flashcards with its reference material, as the Royal Veterinary College’s Chris Trace showed at the EduWiki 2012 Conference. Just as Wikipedia draws images and media from Wikimedia Commons, WikiVet has its own image and video repository, WikiVet Commons. Despite being a smaller project, WikiVet shares Wikipedia’s aim of providing information in multiple languages (French and Spanish as well as English).
Their different approaches mean that WikiVet and Wikipedia complement each other in many ways. WikiVet’s restricted editing means that it can be used as a source by other reference works, including Wikipedia, where it is already cited by many veterinary articles. In turn, images from Wikimedia Commons illustrate topics in WikiVet such as equine breeds.
As part of the Jisc/Wikimedia UK collaboration, there will be a WikiVet/Wikipedia joint editathon event, improving both projects, at the Royal Veterinary College’s Camden Campus in London on the afternoon of Wednesday 20th November, the day before the London Vet Show. There will be presentations and in-person help from both projects, and training for newcomers to wiki-editing.