Wikisource:What is Wikisource?

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Important project pages:What is Wikisource?Wikisource and WikibooksVotesCopyright policyPossible copyright violationsProposed deletionsCatalogingWikisource and Project GutenbergLanguage policyLanguage domain requestsLanguage domain requests/Rules for votingActive testsList of Wikisource Languages

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This page attempts to define what Wikisource is, what it is not, and what distinguishes it from other Wikimedia projects. The descriptions on this page are relatively brief. Detailed discussion or debate should happen on the talk page.


Wikisource was originally called "Project Sourceberg" during its planning stages (a play on words for "Project Gutenberg").

The project began its activity when source texts were placed at "PS" was taken to mean either "primary sources" or "Project Sourceberg" by the contributors, who erroneously took over the subdomain of the Pashto language Wikipedia!

Project Sourceberg started officially when it received its own temporary URL on November 24, 2003 (; all texts and discussions were moved there from A vote on the project's name changed it to Wikisource on December 6, 2003. Despite the change in name, the project did not move to its permanent domain (at until July 23, 2004.

Within two weeks of the project's official start (at, over 1000 pages had been created, with approximately 200 of these being designated as actual articles. At the start of 2004, the site had 100 registered users. In early July 2004, the number of articles exceeded 2400, and more than 500 users had registered.

A vote that ended May 12, 2005 supported the adoption of separate language subdomains at Wikisource, allowing texts in each language to be hosted on their own wiki. These language subdomains were set up in June 2005. On May 18, shortly after the vote's conclusion, Wikisource reached 20,000 articles.

See also:

Languages and translations

Wikisource is a multilingual project. Texts and translations of texts are welcome in all languages that have no own subdomain.

It is important to link and classify texts and translations so that they will be as accessible as possible to everybody.

For information on languages and translations, please see:

For information on creating a subdomain ( in your language, please see:

What do we include?

Some things we include are:

  1. Source texts previously published by any author
  2. Translations of original texts
  3. Historical documents of national or international interest
  4. Bibliographies of authors whose works are in Wikisource

Contributions are not limited to this list, of course.

What do we exclude?

Some basic criteria for texts excluded from Wikisource are:

  1. Copyright infringements
  2. Original writings by a contributor to the project

These are just the most basic, obvious things that are excluded from Wikisource. There may of course be other things excluded by policy or convention.

Wikisource and other Wikimedia projects

Wikisource or Wikibooks?

The distinction between these two projects is relatively easy.

  • Wikisource focuses on material published elsewhere. Wikisource can be viewed as a library of public domain works.
  • Wikibooks are instructional materials written by the contributors themselves (e.g. study guides, classroom textbooks, and annotated texts).

See Wikisource and Wikibooks for additional information.

Wikisource or Wikipedia?

While Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, Wikisource is a library. Wikipedia contains articles about books, while Wikisource includes the book itself. To some extent both may include bibliographical material about the author.

Protecting pages

The wiki pages on most Wikimedia projects are designed to evolve forever. Typical examples are Wikipedia articles or Wikibooks study guides.

By contrast, Wikisource is a library of static texts that have already been published elsewhere. In many or most cases, these texts are not meant to change and evolve, and it would deeply hurt their integrity if they did! Therefore, it has been suggested Wikisource policy to "protect" pages from editing (once they are thought to be correctly formatted and error-free). Comments about needed changes or corrections can always be made on the talk page.

In this way, Wikisource is more similar to Wikinews, which "protects" the pages in its news archives for historical integrity.


Neutral Point of View is a major policy rule applicable to all projects in the Wikimedia family. There is no need for the original texts themselves to reflect a NPOV. As long as we are faithfully reproducing them, and crediting them we are not in violation of NPOV. Nevertheless, putting emphasis on certain parts of the text, or reproducing only certain parts of the text could be seen as acts that express a particular point of view.

Introductory and other explanatory material should always be written with NPOV in mind.


Copyright rules apply to Wikisource as much as to any other Wikimedia project, so they must be kept in mind.

For a thorough treatment of copyright, please see: