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Operational definition of the HONcode principles
concerning collaborative Websites
version 1.0 - September 2009


To speed up the review process and to ensure approval of your site, please read these guidelines carefully and make sure that your web site follows all the principles of the HONcode concerning collaborative Websites. The Foundation has solicited, for more than 8 months, the Internet users and the webmasters, for new guidelines HONcode Web 2.0.

Leave your

These directives apply to all collaborative websites such as Web 2.0 forums, social networking sites, file sharing sites, wikis and blogs among others. We define Web 2.0 as all sites/platforms where the user can interact with the content and / or with others. The platform must have a charter to use the following principles and must be accessible to all and from the home page.

These guidelines are a framework/template for your Web 2.0 guidelines. It is up to you to use them to establish the Web 2.0 guidelines relevant to your website, with maximum transparency. Principle 7 asks if the moderators are volunteers or not. If your forum is moderated by persons who are employed by your organization as well as by volunteers, simply state this: "Our forums are moderated by paid employees as well as volunteers"

Please find at the bottom of this page, some simple templates which you can use to aid you when making your own set of guidelines.

In addition, we recommend you supplement this with a set of Netiquette rules. You can edit your own Netiquette rules or use already existing Netiquette rules to inspire you. Please find at the bottom of this page, two examples of netiquette rules. If you use these, please do not forget to cite them as appropriate.

Your HONcode Web 2.0 charter should explain how your Web 2.0 collaboratve application is operating according to the general principles detailed below, the goal being to be tranparent regarding the production process of your collaborative platform.

Principle 1 - Information must be authoritative

It must be clearly stated if the platform is moderated or not. The qualifications/credentials of the moderator(s) must be clearly stated. The true names of the moderators are not mandatory. Moderators may use pseudonyms. The frequency of the moderatorís visits of to the website must be given.

It must be stated that all users are by default considered as non medical professionals. If otherwise, it must also be stated.

It must be stated that if a health professional gives medical information as a platform user, his status as a medical professional must be identified.

It must be clearly stated that platform users and moderators must behave at all times with respect and honesty.

It must be clearly stated how the moderators intervene and how platform users may be banned. It must be stated if platform users are warned or notified before being banned.

Principle 2 - Purpose of the website

A statement clearly declaring that the information on the platform is not meant to replace the advice of a health professional has to be provided. E.g. of such a statement is 'The information provided on [web 2.0 platformís name] is designed to complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own physician.' The minimum age for the use or participation in these platforms must be clearly stated and strictly adhered to.

Principle 3 - Confidentiality

The platform must have a privacy policy. It must underline the fact that everyone can read a post and use its content. It must be clearly stated if the platform user has the possibility to modify or erase his posts.

Principle 4 - Information must be documented: Referenced and dated

A statement asking platform users to give references (links for ex.) to the health/medical information they provide when it is not personal experience, must be provided.

Personal experience is any symptom, test, treatment etc that the person or a close family member has undergone himself/herself.All posts must be automatically dated.

Principle 5 - Justification of claims

It should be stipulated that all users of the platform undertake to disseminate only information that is true and correct in light of their knowledge.

Principle 6 - Website contact details

A specific contact form or an email address must be accessible for web 2.0 platform members in order to contact the editor or the moderators of the forum.

The platform rules must be easily accessible from the platformís homepage.

Principle 7 - Disclosure of funding sources

It must be clearly stated if the moderators are volunteers or not.

Principle 8 - Advertising policy

It must be determined whether  the users of the platform have the right to publish advertisements in the form of content, banner or links etc.


Template for Web 2.0 guidelines: (to display in your footer)

Netiquette rules  :

guidelines Web 2.0 - v 1.0 - 1st September 2009

Online Text to Speech by ReadSpeaker

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