Last modified on 11 August 2011, at 09:30

Help:FAQ/Overview

What is a wiki?Edit

A wiki is a collaborative collection of interlinked open content web pages, all of which can be visited and edited by anyone at any time. You could even edit this page by clicking the "edit" link, the third tab at the very top of this page, or edit only a section by clicking on "[edit]" to its right. If you don't have anything to add or correct on this page and you just want to see how it works, try making some test edits in the Sandbox. See wiki and the Editing FAQ for more on wikis and editing.

What is Wikibooks?Edit

Wikibooks is a project to produce a new kind of instructional resource that is comprehensive and free. See Wikibooks:Welcome for more information.

What are the aims of Wikibooks?Edit

Wikibooks's goal is to create a free instructional resource—indeed, the largest instructional resource in history, both in terms of breadth and depth, to become a reliable resource. It's an ambitious goal which will probably take many years to achieve.

How did Wikibooks start?Edit

Wikibooks was started on July 10, 2003 as a sister project to Wikipedia. It was opened in response to a request by Wikipedia user Karl Wick for a place to start building open-content textbooks. Longtime Wikipedia contributor Daniel Mayer helped Karl advocate for starting such a project, and once the project was started, he helped set it up and coined the name "Wikibooks" and registered the domain names for the project. Soon the focus of the project was expanded to include any book resource that may be used in the classroom. This does not include encyclopedias, dictionaries or quote books, since there are specific Wikimedia projects for those (see next FAQ entry).

Who owns Wikibooks?Edit

Wikibooks is managed by a non-profit parent organization, Wikimedia Foundation, which also manages the operation of similar projects like Wikipedia (a wiki encyclopedia), Wiktionary (a wiki dictionary), and Wikiquote (a wiki quote book), and owns all domain names and servers that the Wikimedia projects run on. Bomis, Inc, a company mostly owned by Jimbo Wales, currently provides free bandwidth and power to the servers.

The modules hosted on this site are released by their authors under the GNU Free Documentation License; this means they are open content and may be reproduced freely under the terms of the license. See Copyrights and Readers' FAQ for information on how you can use Wikibooks content.

It is important to note that the content of Wikibooks is not owned by the Wikimedia Foundation, but instead individually owned by each of the contributing authors, usually noted on the history tab on each page. A notable exception to this is that content found elsewhere may be added here that has been either given copyright clearance by the original author or is already in the public domain. In these cases, a responsible Wikibook contributor would note that in the discussion pages of the module.

Who is responsible for pages on Wikibooks?Edit

Wikibookians. Wikibooks is a collaborative endeavor. Many people have contributed to different parts of this project, and anyone can do so, including you. All you need is to know how to edit a page, and have some knowledge you want to share.

You can learn who is responsible for the most recent versions of any given page by clicking on the "Page history" link. For example, you can look at the full history of this FAQ just by clicking here. You can also see who is most responsible for a particular Wikibook by reading that book's "authors" page (if it has one). If you spot an error in the latest revision of an module you are highly encouraged to be bold and correct it. This practice is one of the basic review mechanisms that maintains the reliability of this instructional resource.

If you are uncertain or find the wording confusing, quote the material on the associated talk page and leave a question for the next person. This helps eliminate errors, inaccuracies or misleading wording more quickly and is highly appreciated by the community.

What software is used to run Wikibooks?Edit

Wikibooks and its sister Wikimedia projects all use the MediaWiki software. See Installing MediaWiki for information on what's required to run mediawiki.

How about the hardware?Edit

See Wikimedia servers.

How do I report bugs or suggest new features?Edit

MediaZilla is used by mediawiki software developers to keep track of software bugs and feature requests. For more information, see bug reports and feature requests. If you don't report bugs or feature requests, then it will probably never be fixed or implemented. You can discuss feature ideas that would benefit Wikibooks with other Wikibookians at proposals reading room.

What kind of markup language does Wikibooks use?Edit

Wikibooks uses a very simple markup based on UseModWiki. For more details, see Wikibooks:How does one edit a page.

Can you tell me anything about the Wikibooks logo?Edit

More information about the logo and versions of it are best found at Meta:Wikibooks/Logo.

How is Wikibooks backed up? Could an accident destroy everything?Edit

Database dumps are made periodically. Anyone can store their own copies.

Is it possible to download the contents of Wikibooks?Edit

Yes, the whole contents of Wikibooks can be downloaded. See Help:database download.
Note that downloading the database dumps is much preferred over trying to spider the entire site. Spidering the site will take you much longer, and puts a lot of load on the Wikimedia server (especially if you ignore our robots.txt and spider over billions of combinations of diffs and whatnot). Heavy spidering can lead to your spider, or your IP, being barred with prejudice from access to the site. Legitimate spiders (for instance search engine indexers) are encouraged to wait about a minute between requests, follow the robots.txt, and if possible only work during less loaded hours (2:00-14:00 UTC is the lighter half of the day).

Can I get wiki books on paper?Edit

You are welcome to print out your own copy. See Using Wikibooks/The Wikibooks Reader/Printing A Wikibook for tips.

How can I contact the project by email?Edit

Given the massively collaborative nature of the project, there's no official email address. If you're looking for a project leader, it would be best to get in contact with Jimbo Wales (jwales at bomis.com). Otherwise, see the next question. Note that if you want a faster response and from active participants in the project, you might want to send the e-mail to the mailing list. You can also send an e-mail directly to some active Administrators through the web-based e-mail form. Administrators are usually quite active and can be considered some of the project leaders.

Where can I talk about Wikibooks with others?Edit

There are some mailing lists, and also the Meta-Wiki. If you want to communicate with a specific user, leave a message on their talk page; you can find a list of personal pages (and link to your own) at the Wikibookians list (this list is by no means complete). Many Wikibookians have also registered their email addresses, which you can use by clicking the "Email this user" link from the personal pages. Finally, if you're looking to talk about a specific module or page, the best place to put your comments is on that page's Talk page. Use the discuss this page link in any module to get to the talk page. Every page has a talk page, even this one, so there is always a way to discuss the content with others. See also: Wikibooks:Contact us

How should I link to Wikibooks?Edit

We don't require you to do so in any particular way. Please use your own best judgment.

Should I create an account? Can't I just edit anonymously?Edit

Users with account names enjoy several benefits, among them is the positive reputation that goes with quality work. Editors with an established history are respected especially with regard to neutralising module disputes. This is not to say there is a hierarchy per se—though there are editors with administrative abilities (see Wikibooks:Administrators), these are approved by the community, and the goal of most Wikibookians is to maintain that democracy, albeit with a little anarchy, remains the supreme power on Wikibooks. Also, Wikibookians with user names are in a sense more anonymous than contributors that are not logged in: while everyone can see the IP address of a user who did not log in when they edited, only server administrators can find the IP of a logged-in user. So if you're concerned about privacy and anonymity, you may prefer to create a username for yourself in order to hide your IP. See also How to log in.

Is there any legal implications in allowing anyone to edit? Is it safe?Edit

In practice, illegal material gets removed from active wikis quite quickly. See this discussion on Ward's Wiki for more thoughts.

I have a problem not on this list, where do I go?Edit

If you cannot find answers to your specific technical problems in this FAQ, try asking in the technical reading room.