Wikisource:Wikisource and Wikibooks

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Wikisource and Wikibooks are two collaborative projects managed by the Wikimedia Foundation.

The general distinction[edit]

In most cases, distinguishing between content appropriate to Wikisource and Wikibooks is relatively easy:

  • Wikisource is a collection of public domain texts that have already been published elsewhere in the past. Most of the texts at Wikisource are old books whose copyright has expired.
  • Wikibooks (*.wikibooks.org) are new texts written collaboratively by the contributors themselves in wiki fashion.

The goals of the two projects differ:

  • Wikisource is essentially a library for all kinds of published texts.
  • Wikibooks specifically hosts instructional materials, such as:
    • Classroom texts
    • Study guides
    • Annotated texts

Annotated texts[edit]

It is the last category, annotated texts, that lends itself to a certain amount of overlap with Wikisource. Annotated texts are orginal-source texts supplemented with helpful study aids: Introductions, summaries, notations, charts, links, indexes, illustrations, topical essays...

The original source-text is included within the annotated text, the latter being written by the contributors on Wikibooks. Annotated texts, since they are a kind of study guide with aids newly written by the contributors themselves, normally belong on Wikibooks rather than on Wikisource. This is despite the fact that they also contain the original source-text. Several source-texts are hosted at Wikibooks which contain annotations, or which are planned to have them in the future (such as the works of Shakespeare). See Wikibooks:Annotated texts for further information.

Even for annotated texts, the distinction between Wikisource and Wikibooks is clear in most cases. When there is a significant amount of original annotation contributed by the users themselves, the text belongs on Wikibooks. When the source-text is more-or-less presented "as is" the text belongs at Wikisource. This is a common sense distinction.

Nevertheless, there are some borderline cases and gray areas. These are mostly a result of the fact that even a "pure" source-text held at Wikisource may not be entirely what it seems. Here is a brief explanation of the phenomenon:

When we talk about the "original text" of Charles Dickens (to be kept on Wikisource), everyone knows pretty much exactly what is meant by that. However, when dealing with pre-modern texts it is much less clear. Nearly every edition of a text from ancient, classical or medieval times involves a huge number of editorial decisions regarding textual criticism, formatting, punctuation, and numerous other details, often subjective decisions which can turn even the "original text" into a somewhat new creation.

Here is where the border between Wikibooks and Wikisource becomes blurred. The more editorial decisions there are, and the more formatting or other features are added in order to make the text "user-friendly" - the more it begins to resemble an "annotated text"! Where exactly should the line be drawn?

The following are some suggestions, though the very best guide is, of course, common sense:

  • An exact representation of a previously published edition of a classical text should clearly be kept at Wikisource.
  • When the source-text remains prominent despite minor editorial features such as punctuation, division into paragraphs, removal of archaic spelling, etc., the text should probably be kept at Wikisource.
  • Every translation is also a commentary (no matter how literal or how basic). Nevertheless, translations unaccompanied by further annotations are likely to belong here at Wikisource.
  • Annotations within the flow of the original source-text: The more expansive they are, and the farther removed from the flow of the primary text, the more likely they are to be considered an independent commentary, and the work is more likely to belong at Wikibooks. Very brief notes on technical issues in the primary text (such as textual criticism) are more likely to belong at Wikisource. Other examples of minor annotation that would clearly be unproblematic at Wikisource might include:
    • Adding wikilinks inside the document to relevant Wikipedia articles, Wiktionary definitions, other Wikisource docs, etc.
    • Linking to relevant external articles (corresponding Wikipedia article, Wikibooks commentary and analysis, etc).
    • Short summaries of sections.
  • If supplementary text is clearly subordinate to the source text, then the text as a whole may still be appropriate for Wikisource. However, the more the added text stands on its own, and the more it resembles study material for classroom purposes, the more likely it is to belong at Wikibooks. An example of the latter would be something along the lines of A Step-by-Step Guide to Reading Shakespeare's Sonnets (even though it also includes the source texts). In cases like these, always remember that the primary goal of Wikibooks is the creation of instructional materials. Anything designed for steady classroom use almost certainly belongs on Wikibooks, not Wikisource.

Despite the above suggestions, the most important factors in deciding whether an annotated text belongs at Wikisource or Wikibooks are common sense and good will. There will always be a few borderline cases, a few gray areas between Wikibooks and Wikisource, but this needn't be a problem. The main thing is that the location of each text-project should be decided on its own merits, and any reasonable decision by its contributor(s) should be respected.

Clean texts and objectivity[edit]

Though there are some differences of opinion among Wikisource users as to how much supplementary material can or should be added to an original source text, there is agreement two major policies (see the talk page):

  1. Even if supplementary materials are added to Wikisource texts, the future reader must always be given the option to view a "clean" version of the text. This means an objective version of a previously published edition without the possibly subjective additions of Wikisource contributors. Technically, this can be accomplished by providing parallel texts, but the best method is through the use of templates.
  2. Any supplementary materials must be kept NPOV. This is no more difficult to do here than at Wikipedia, and is probably easier in most cases. However, it makes sense to be more stringent about this on Wikisource when these materials are used alongside authoritative versions of source texts. The problem is that if the supplementary materials are biased or skewed, that could also lower the respect for our source texts, which we need to prevent.

Falling through the cracks[edit]

Special text projects require a certain amount of annotation or supplementary material for some of the texts included, but not others. I.e. a text project with a unified goal and the need to be on the same wiki may contain many texts that properly belong here on Wikisource, while other parts of the same project may fit best on Wikibooks. In cases like these, there is a danger that valuable text projects may find it difficult to find a single home not because they are inappropriate for the current Wikimedia projects, but to the contrary because they fit too well on more than one project!

Rather than forcing such a project to exist piecemeal on two separate wikis (which prevents the use of templates and even worse forces the duplication of source texts that will not automatically be updated together), the contributors should make a serious initial decision about what the primary goal of the project is: Source texts or instructional materials. As long as the major goal of the project matches Wikibooks or Wikisource, that should be enough.

This may be especially important for multilingual text projects, where one language focuses more on source texts and the other on supplementary materials. In these and all other cases, the most important factor is as above: The main thing is that the location of each text-project should be decided on its own merits, and any reasonable decision by its contributor(s) should be respected.