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Certification for Websites with Web 2.0 elements

As the internet continues to evolve, so does the Foundation's methods, operations, and plans of action. To make the certification of websites with collaborative and web 2.0 elements even more efficient and streamlined, we have created the HONcode Web 2.0, an adaptation of the eight HONcode principles, which focuses on the dynamic interaction between internet users and developers.

For HON, a close partnership with patients, internet users, medical professionals, and web developers is vital.

If your website falls under the category of a collaborative website, one that contains web 2.0 elements (see definition below), the certification process will be a bit different from the regular one. It will especially focus on the special features and functionalities of web 2.0 platforms.

The Foundation has developed a set of guidelines to make the certification process of collaborative websites more streamlined and efficient. For more than 8 months, HON has carefully solicited information from Internet users and webmasters to develop these new guidelines, called HONcode Web 2.0. These guidelines are in addition to the original eight HONcode principles, taking into close account the demands and complexities of the various web 2.0 platforms.

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

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.

Does my site fall under the “collaborative Website” category ?

Collaborative websites are defined as such: websites having discussion 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.

What are these guidelines all about ?

These guidelines are a framework/template for you to establish your own website's set of rules and regulations. It is up to you to use them to establish the Web 2.0 guidelines relevant to your website, with maximum transparency.

Your HONcode Web 2.0 charter should explain how your Web 2.0 collaborative application is operating according to the general principles detailed below, the goal being to be transparent 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 moderator’s 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 platform’s name] is designed to complement, not replace, the relationship between a patient and his/her own physician.'

The mission or purpose of the web 2.0 will be clearly provided on the website

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.

This privacy policy should be accessible from the web 2.0 rules, for example by a link.

Furthermore, the web 2.0 rules must contain these points :

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 platform’s homepage.


Principle 7 - Financial disclosure

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)

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