Dermatology entries on Internet slide-sharing websites
To the editor
PowerPoint slides have been and still remain the most effective and most widely used educational tool in medicine. Health care practitioners and trainees share their slides through conferences and also by e-mail. However, not all e-mail servers allow the attachment of large files of PowerPoint presentations.
Slide hosting services are websites which permit users to upload, view, comment, and share slideshows created with presentation programs. The most popular slide hosting services include websites such as Author Stream, Slideshare, MyPlick, Slideboom, and SlideServe.  In addition to PowerPoint slides, these websites also share other materials like documents and electronic books. These websites are extremely helpful in eLearning and web-conferencing.
Although the materials posted are seen by very large number of people, they are not edited and some of the uploaded presentations are very old. The aim of this letter is to explore the current materials related to dermatology uploaded on these sites.
Registrations on each of these sites were carried out, and a search for dermatology-related files was done in each of them by writing the word dermatology in the search box of each. The search was performed on 27 June 2010.
The results obtained were 17 files for Author Stream, 1940 files Slideshare, 131 files for MyPlick, 1 file for Slideboom, and 2 files for SlideServe. The files are mostly PowerPoint presentations on different topics of dermatology.
With the above results, we feel that these potential educational resources are underutilized by the community of dermatology; we had expected higher numbers than we obtained. We do not know exactly how often any of these files are viewed or downloaded, but some websites do display information on how many times a given file was viewed. Some websites allow space for comments of the viewers.
We, dermatologists around the world, need to appreciate the importance of sharing information and practical tips through these websites in order to improve the education in our specialty. In our uploading and sharing we have to refrain from commercialization and marketing and from violating the ethics of copyrights and publications.
One possible reason for the presumed underutilization of these websites is most likely that most dermatologists are not aware of them. This is reason enough for us to bring them to the surface by way of this letter.
Ali Raddadi, M.D., and Khalid Al Aboud, M.D., are from the Dermatology Section, Department of Medicine, King Abdulaziz Medical City, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Contact corresponding author via email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
1. Slide hosting services. [A page on the Internet]. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc . [This page was last modified 2010 June 10; cited 2010 June 27]. Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slide_hosting_services.