Call it “SecondOpinion”

The creators of StackOverflow should team up with the Dept. of Health & Human Services and launch a medical Q&A site based on the SO model.

StackOverflow was designed by a few programmers to scratch an itch within the community, and the model they came up with made it the most effective question/answer site I’ve ever used. Got a really, really tough programming question? You can probably get a half dozen answers in 5 or 10 minutes, and if you wait a day, you can see them ranked by quality by several programmers within your field.

As medical professionals contributed answers, comments, and votes in their spare time, a medical version of SO would quickly turn into an amazing resource for public health.

It might require some tweaking. SO users are generally in the same community, though sometimes different specialties. This makes it easier to design behavior-reinforcing tricks to keep user contributing. Every time I get a question answered I almost always end up taking a few minutes to provided input to other questions, and I earn points and “badges” for contributing (what other users deem as) good info.

On a medical Q&A site the advice takers and givers are mostly exclusive communities, but I think professionals would still contribute, and we could create ways to encourage them. Medical schools could require students to earn points on the site; we could reward consistently good contributors financially or with real awards.

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