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Every now and then somebody has a question about a medical condition or about health in general.

I see that all of their medical-related content is posted by a doctor or a similar professional in the respective field. It also says their articles are reviewed by their Medical Review Board.

Is about.com a reputable resource for these things?

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    Depends. Reputable resource for what? If you want to get general idea about a condition it is okish. If you want to try and diagnose yourself or even worse self assign a treatment - definitely not. – Daniel Iankov Aug 15 '11 at 11:55
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    +1 because I think this is a very good question, although I think it should probably be moved to meta. Maybe you should actually modify it to be more general ("what constitutes a reputable resource"), as I can see the same question coming out for Wikipedia, Yahoo! Answers etc., although they are not peer-reviewed by specialists. – nico Aug 15 '11 at 12:02
  • Unless the web site is operated by a reliable source such as a credible government (e.g., the domain ends with .gov, .gc.ca, etc.), I'm inclined to generally be skeptical of information on just about any web site -- the main problem I see is that dozens of people will duplicate the same content, and then people will often assume that it's correct because they found the multiple instances of the same information. – Randolf Richardson Aug 15 '11 at 17:11
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I would treat about.com the same way we treat wikipedia.

Wikipedia is a collection of information from different sources, we should when possible get the information directly from the linked source and not from the wikipedia page itself.

The same should apply for about.com, just because they said it was true or that it came from a certain page doesn't necessarily mean it is true. Go to the source and reference the source directly.

Take for example this about.com article on Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; Here is how the sources appear on that page:

Sources: The Best Cure For Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Is Prevention, Newswise, 9/20/02; Study: Surgery best for most carpal tunnel syndrome cases, CNN, 9/11/02; Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons - www.aaos.org

Notice they don't even provide a direct link to the information they are claiming as a source. That is even worse than wikipedia because now we are a further step away from the information.

Any studies or reports linked to in this site should link directly to the item itself and even better practice is to quote from the article itself not from the paraphrasing in the wiki or about.com page.

Consider Wikipedia or about.com as your stepping stone not as your reputable source.

  • thanks for your answer. Its well thought out and I agree with it. The question stemmed from another post on StackExchange where a comment blasted another answer claiming it was not reputable. I would argue that its as reputable as any other source available today, short of first-hand experience. – shanabus Aug 18 '11 at 13:41
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I don't think it's very reputable. More or less I would assume as reputable as going to your doctor, which is to say not very much (we get questions by people skeptical of their doctors)

Definitely not as reputable as a peer reviewed article or a meta study.

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