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, but contain links to more detailed policy pages. Discussion of policies should take place on the relevant policy talk pages.
Wikisource – originally called Project Sourceberg as a play on words for Project Gutenberg – began in November 2003, as a collection of supporting texts for articles in Wikipedia. It grew rapidly, reaching a total of 20,000 text units in various languages by May 18, 2005.
In August and September of 2005, Wikisource moved to separate subdomains for different languages.
For more information on the history of Wikisource, please see:
- Wikipedia's article on Wikisource (detailed history, especially of the project's early stages)
- A personal historical perspective on Wikisource from its very beginnings (this contains links to many historical documents)
- Meta's article on Wikisource (historical pre-launch discussions)
What do we include and exclude at Wikisource?
Some things we include are:
- Source texts previously published by any author
- Translations of original texts
- Historical documents of national or international interest
- Bibliographies of authors whose works are in Wikisource
Contributions are not limited to this list, of course.
Some basic criteria for texts excluded from Wikisource are:
- Copyright infringements
- Original writings by a contributor to the project
- Mathematical data, formulae, and tables
- Source code (for computers)
- Statistical source data (such as election results)
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.
For more information, please see:
Languages and translations
Wikisource is a multilingual project. Texts and translations of texts are welcome in all languages at the appropriate subdomains and at the general wikisource.org wiki.
This English wiki is for:
- Source texts originally in English
- English translations of source texts in other languages
- Parallel source with translations into English.
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:
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 works either in the public domain or freely licensed.
- Wikibooks are instructional materials written by the contributors themselves (e.g. study guides, classroom textbooks, and annotated texts for classroom use).
The area of annotations to source texts is a gray area, with some legitimate overlap between Wikisource and Wikibooks. For guidelines on this, see the information pages on the topic at both projects:
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.
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, Wikisource has adopted a policy of noting text quality and "protecting" 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 and if necessary the page can be unprotected.
In this way, Wikisource is more similar to Wikinews, which "protects" the pages in its news archives for historical integrity.
For more information, please see:
Neutral Point of View (NPOV) is a major policy followed by most, but not all, projects in the Wikimedia family. A neutral point of view on Wikisource means faithfully reproducing and crediting the original texts, without editors putting their own emphasis on certain parts of the text or reproducing only certain parts of the text. There is no need for the original texts themselves to reflect a neutral 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:
- Wikisource:About – brief information and the most pertinent links