How Wikipedia Works/Chapter 16

In addition to Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation runs several other projects to produce free-content reference material. Commonly known within Wikimedia as sister projects, sibling projects, or simply the projects, the nine current Wikimedia projects are Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikinews, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikiquote, Wikispecies, Wikiversity, and the Wikimedia Commons. Each project handles a different type of material, from textbooks to images, and each has a separate group of volunteers working on a dedicated wiki, usually with many language versions. The Wikimedia Foundation also coordinates the MediaWiki software that all of the projects run on. Often thought of as the tenth sister project, the MediaWiki software development process will be described more in the next chapter. The Meta-Wiki site, also described in the next chapter, serves as a coordination site for all of the projects and languages. Volunteers produce the content for all Wikimedia projects using a wiki model similar to Wikipedia's, and all of the projects license their content under the GFDL or another free license.

These different wiki projects all complement each other. The intention is to separate out types of content, such as dictionary definitions, encyclopedia articles, and archival material, while allowing crosslinking between the projects topic by topic. For instance, you would add quotations related to Abraham Lincoln to Wikiquote, and the Wikipedia article w:Abraham Lincoln can link to that store of quotations, rather than trying to include them all. With over 500 sites involved—nine sister projects, each with a large number of language versions—a systematic naming system to enable linking is obviously needed. We'll explain how this works in "Linking Between Projects and Copying Content," on Section 3, “Linking Between Projects and Copying Content”.

All of these projects use the MediaWiki wiki software, so you don't have to learn new editing processes to contribute to them; all you need to learn are some different namespace and page structure conventions. Don't expect every project to have the full development seen now on Wikipedia, however, because the projects were started at different times and develop at their own (sometimes leisurely) pace. Additionally, you shouldn't assume that Wikipedia culture (particularly English-language Wikipedia culture) transfers automatically to these other projects. Each project, and each language version of each project, can and should be thought of as a community in its own right. Each has its own policies and variations in how processes, such as deletion debates and promotion of administrators, are handled. Watch for and learn the norms of each new project when you start to participate. But each project has some familiar features: help pages and some variation on a community portal and a village pump for discussing and coordinating the project. Just as on Wikipedia, these are good places to begin learning more. Wikimedia projects all share some key values, too. Civility and assuming good faith are always important when interacting with other editors, and copyright violations are never acceptable on any of the projects. And naturally, all projects are open for editing by anyone. Just find a task you want to work on and start editing, either anonymously or logged in with a user account.

Project Accounts and Single-User Login
In the past, it has been necessary to create a new account on each Wikimedia project you edited, which occasionally led to different people having the same name on different projects. As of mid-2008, single-user login is being implemented, making it possible to register your account "globally" across all Wikimedia accounts. Simply register your name on your home project. Then to "claim" it for other projects, go to Special:MergeAccount on your home project, or click Manage Your Global Account under your preferences when logged in. Once you merge your accounts, your chosen username will be reserved for your use on any Wikimedia project, enabling you to log in and out of all Wikimedia projects at once. To avoid naming conflict with others on other wikis, you may need to pick a distinctive username or use your full name.

In this chapter, we'll describe each of the sister projects in turn. The default license is the GFDL; however, we'll note when another license may apply. Following that, we'll describe how to link all of these projects together (and link to them from the English-language Wikipedia) and how to move content between them. Finally, we'll briefly discuss non-Wikimedia wikis.

Wikimedia CommonsEdit

  • Founded: September 7, 2004
  • Short prefix: commons
  • Scope: Free images and other media
  • Languages: Cross-language project, many languages having a welcome page
  • URL:

Figure 16.1. The English-language main page for Commons

Of all the sister projects, we highlight the Wikimedia Commons first (Figure 16.1, “The English-language main page for Commons”) because the Commons is considered an integral part of Wikipedia operations these days, as well as a worthwhile and popular site in its own right, ranking among the top 300 websites worldwide. The Commons is a repository of free media, including images (both photographs and illustrations), sound files, animations, and video clips. If you produce images for the encyclopedia, you are strongly encouraged to create an account for uploading your images directly to Commons. Like other Wikimedia content, all Commons media are both free and freely licensed, but the free license guidelines are stricter on Commons than on the English-language Wikipedia, as fair-use materials are excluded completely.

You can link directly to images and other content on Commons from any language version of any Wikimedia project, without having to upload that media separately to each project. For instance, you can easily insert a picture in a Wikipedia article that is actually hosted on Commons (rather than on the English-language Wikipedia itself). By comparison, when you upload an image to the English-language Wikipedia, you can only link to it from within the English-language Wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons was founded in 2004 in order to remove some obvious redundancy among the other Wikimedia projects, such as having multiple images of the same thing on different Wikipedias. Commons can be thought of as a kind of stock photography archive of free materials, designed for the other Wikimedia projects and for anyone searching for free media. The other advantages of using Commons are apparent when you want to sort and search for media. Commons is also useful for consolidating media efforts, such as projects to take pictures or make sound files.

Because all the language projects may use it, Commons is multilingual; image descriptions may be in any language, and the Commons main page interface and welcome page has been translated into a few dozen languages (links appear at the top of the main page). Commons has been so successful that nearly 3,000,000 files had been uploaded by mid-2008.

Searching and Browsing CommonsEdit

Searching Commons for images and media files is easier than searching Wikipedia. To begin searching on Commons, use the left sidebar search box or the search box in the upper-right corner of the main page (Figure 16.1, “The English-language main page for Commons”). This searches through filenames, file descriptions, gallery pages, and category names. As with Wikipedia's search, you can choose to search specific namespaces by checking the boxes for those namespaces at the bottom of your search results.

The main namespace on Commons, equivalent to the Article namespace on Wikipedia, is often called the Gallery namespace; use this namespace for producing galleries, or collections of images. The Gallery namespace does not have a special prefix. Galleries provide a way to group related images together, making them similar to Wikipedia's lists. If a gallery page with a name matching your search terms exists, this page will be displayed first in the search results.

From your search page results, you will also see a link to the external Mayflower search engine, a special tool developed for image searching. If you use Mayflower, your search results will be displayed as a thumbnail gallery of images, which can be helpful if you are searching for just the right picture for a Wikipedia article.

You can browse Commons in a number of ways. If you start at the Commons main page and scroll down, you'll see a wide variety of categories to browse by, including topic, location, content type, and categories of files arranged by license or source. One good way to start browsing is in the Featured images and Quality images categories, which are Common's equivalent of featured and good articles.

Using Commons Material in WikipediaEdit

To link to a file on Commons from Wikipedia, use the same image syntax as described in Chapter 9, Images, Templates, and Special Characters. The image will appear just like an image you uploaded directly to Wikipedia. For instance, in a Wikipedia article, if you want to display an image with this URL:

you can simply use this syntax in the Wikipedia article: [[Image:file123.jpg|thumb|descriptive text]] Use the filename from Commons with the image prefix, but nothing else. When a reader clicks the image to view its description, the text from Commons will be displayed.

Participating in CommonsEdit

Anyone can participate in Commons by uploading media or by helping to organize and describe existing images. You have to create an account or log in with a global Wikimedia account (see "Project Accounts and Single-User Login" on Section 1, “Wikimedia Commons”) to upload a file. If you create a new account, the procedure is similar to creating an account on Wikipedia (described in Chapter 11, Becoming a Wikipedian).

Maps are a critical part of any reference resource. One way Commons organizes maps is with the Commons Atlas,, which manages a wide variety of maps for various countries and areas of the world (scroll down to the bottom of the Atlas page to see a listing of all the places maps have been collected for). This is a tremendous resource in its own right. On the English-language Wikipedia, WikiProject Maps, at, coordinates the use of maps.

Inclusion GuidelinesEdit

All images and other media uploaded to Commons must fall within the inclusion guidelines of one of the other Wikimedia projects. Media files that are not potentially useful for any Wikimedia project are, therefore, beyond the scope of Commons. Note that the site isn't a personal image hosting service; your birthday party snaps don't belong here!

Additionally, all content on Commons must be completely freely licensed; fair-use images, such as you'll sometimes find on the English-language Wikipedia, are not acceptable. All content must be reusable by anyone for any purpose, including commercial uses. The licenses that Commons will accept include the following:

  • Public domain images, which are released without any restriction. Certain works produced by the US government and others are automatically placed in the public domain, but any individual may also release work into the public domain.
  • The Creative Commons free licenses, CC-BY and CC-BY-SA, both of which require attribution of the original author but allow commercial reuse. The Creative Commons licenses are also "copyleft" licenses, with similar features to the GFDL; find out more at Commons:Choosing a license and The Creative Commons licenses CC-NC and CC-ND are not accepted by Commons; if you're not prepared to allow commercial reuse, then Commons is not for you.
  • The GFDL, which probably discourages commercial reuse because the entire GFDL license must be reprinted with the image.

Commons will not accept a number of image types, including screenshots of copyrighted software, scans of copyrighted works (such as book or album covers), or screen captures of television programs. Of course, any other copyrighted work that is not your own is also unacceptable. Commons:Licensing gives the full story, including legal information for a number of other non-US jurisdictions.

Commons accepts a variety of file types. Preferred file types include JPEG for photography, SVG for illustrations, and Ogg for audio and video; Commons:File types gives more information. For audio and video, MP3, WAV, and so on, are not free formats and are therefore not acceptable.

Uploading ImagesEdit

Uploading an image or media file to Commons is similar to uploading files on Wikipedia (see Chapter 9, Images, Templates, and Special Characters). You can access the upload form via a link on the left-hand sidebar. A series of several steps will guide you through the process, or you can jump directly to the upload form from the first page.

  • Choose the image's origins; if you created the image, simply say so.
  • Choose the appropriate license, as discussed in the previous section.
  • Choose an appropriate descriptive filename. Do not simply use the filename from your digital camera; choose a helpful name. Images and files cannot be renamed after they've been uploaded, though you can upload new versions of the image. If you happen to choose the same name as an existing file, a warning appears, and you'll be asked to double-check that you really want to upload a new version.
  • Add an appropriate description. If you created the image, what is it a picture of? Where and when was it taken? What is your name or username? Remember that this text will help other users find your image.

For bulk uploading, see Commons:Tools, which lists a number of tools for uploading multiple files quickly, as well as other helpful tools such as experimental search engines.

If you'd like to contribute media but don't know how to get started, try Commons:Picture requests. If you are looking for that perfect picture for a Wikipedia article, you can also make a request here. Requests are often for images of particular places, so you can look to see if any requests are for images of places near you before going to shoot photos. Note

You can read profiles of a few of the talented photographers on Commons at Commons:Meet our photographers.


Once you've uploaded an image, you need to categorize it. Good categorization makes finding images easy on Commons. Anyone can help out with this sorting process; you don't have to have an account. Commons:First steps/Sorting has more information on the sorting and categorizing process.

If you have a new image, have described it specifically, and uploaded it, the next step is to place it in an appropriate category. In general, place images in the most narrow category possible. For instance, an image of a paperclip belongs under commons:Category:Paperclips, which is better than commons:Category:Fasteners or commons:Category:Office equipment. Categorize all images by topic and by other meta-level categories, for instance, by the license that applies to them.

commons:Category:Topics is the topmost category for topics on Commons; as on Wikipedia, you can drill down into subcategories from here (this process is described fully in Chapters Chapter 3, Finding Wikipedia's Content and Chapter 8, Make and Mend Wikipedia's Web). An alternative way to find the appropriate category is to check images similar to your own and see how they're categorized. For instance, try searching for your image's topic to see if Commons already has a gallery page; then study how the images on this page are categorized.

You can add images both to a category and to the appropriate gallery page (Figure 16.2, “A photo gallery”). To add your image to a gallery page, simply go to the gallery page and edit it. You'll see images placed in between <gallery> tags, like this: <gallery> Image:Mars Valles Marineris.jpeg|Valles Marineris on Mars Image:Mars Hubble.jpg|Mars seen by the Hubble Space Telescope, Realistic Colors </gallery> You can add your image between those two gallery-tags (one opening and one closing tag) in the following way:

Image:Your photo name.jpg|A brief description

After saving your edit to the gallery page, you'll see your image as a thumbnail in the gallery. Unlike incorporating a single image in a Wikipedia article, you don't use the and brackets around the image. You can also categorize sound and video files and add them to a gallery page the same way, except that media files display a sound file icon in the gallery instead of an image.

Along with categorizing images, other projects you can get involved with include identifying and describing unknown images (at commons:Category:Unidentified subject) and, for those with graphics experience, cleaning up images in the Graphics Lab (at Commons:Graphic Lab). Commons also has two projects that anyone can get involved with to review and pick out the highest-quality images: featured pictures, which chooses outstanding work (much like featured articles on Wikipedia); and quality images, which reviews and identifies images that meet certain technical criteria that are useful for Wikimedia projects. Anyone can nominate his or her own work for quality images at Commons:Quality images candidates.

Figure 16.2. A photo gallery

Further Reading

Other Sister ProjectsEdit

Besides Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia has seven additional sister projects. From a Wikipedian perspective, these projects are less close to the work of the encyclopedia. These projects serve as reference sites licensed under the GFDL, covering different types of content. The exception is Wikinews, which is a citizen journalism site now using a Creative Commons license. Six of the projects have versions in many languages, as Wikipedia does, with the exception of Wikispecies, which maintains a single site. You could think of MediaWiki software development as yet another sister project, with the obvious difference being that it exists to develop and distribute a program, not content.


  • Founded: December 12, 2002
  • Languages: As of early 2008, 9 (fr, en, vi, tr, ru, io [which is the code for ido, a constructed language], zh, el, ta) with over 100,000 entries; 23 more with over 10,000 entries; 172 languages total
  • Scope: Dictionary definitions
  • URL:
  • Short prefix: wikt
  • Figure 16.3. The English-language Wiktionary main page

If your interests are more lexicographic than encyclopedic, you should visit Wiktionary (Figure 16.3, “The English-language Wiktionary main page”), a free wiki-based dictionary. Instead of full articles about a topic, Wiktionary provides concise word definitions. Wiktionary's scope overlaps with Wikipedia: A term with an article in Wikipedia may also be defined in Wiktionary. For instance, whereas the Wikipedia fish article discusses types of fish, where they can be found, fishing methods, and so on, the Wiktionary definition will tell you that fish in English can be a noun or a verb, that a fish is a cold-blooded animal that lives in water, how to pronounce it, and so on. The English-language Wiktionary had over 878,000 entries as of mid-2008, though many of those had been imported from public-domain dictionaries by bots.

For Wikipedians, Wiktionary provides both a resource to link to for further information about terms that appear in both projects and a place to move articles that are simply short dictionary definitions and therefore unsuitable for Wikipedia articles.

Wiktionary is a multilingual dictionary (also thesaurus and phrase-book) and has distinctive content policies. Words must be attested and idiomatic (that is, words should be in use, and phrases should be commonly used idioms), and submissions should be neutral and verifiable. Although definitions and descriptions in the English-language Wiktionary are in English only, words from any and all languages can be included: Wiktionary not only defines English words but also serves as a French-English dictionary, a Spanish-English dictionary, and so on. Thus the site can be an excellent place to look up unfamiliar foreign words; as of 2008, words in 104 languages were included in the English-language Wiktionary. Additionally, when viewing an entry, the In Other Languages links on the left-hand sidebar will take you to definitions in other languages of the same English word (similarly to Wikipedia), and generally these entries will also link to the local equivalent of the word. Translations in other languages may also appear at the bottom of the entry.

Wiktionary, unlike most other dictionaries, includes supplementary data in definitions, including sound files of pronunciations, images, links to the other projects (often Wikipedia), translations, and other information such as usage notes and references (Figure 16.4, “A good Wiktionary entry for the word incunabulum” shows these elements in the entry for incunabulum). Compound words, idioms, and abbreviations are all acceptable; neologisms that have references to current use may be included (naturally, made-up words will be deleted). Featured entries are highlighted as the Word of the Day on the main page; for the English-language Wiktionary, an RSS feed of these interesting words is available.

Figure 16.4. A good Wiktionary entry for the word incunabulum

Wiktionary was proposed on the Wikipedia-L mailing list in April 2001 by Larry Sanger, just three months after Wikipedia was launched. [34] The site was brought online in English on December 12, 2002; on March 29, 2004, the first non-English Wiktionaries were initiated in French and Polish. Wiktionaries in over 200 languages now exist, and more than 100 have more than 100 definitions. An outside project called Omegawiki, started by a handful of Wiktionarians, is working on a grand combination of data from Wiktionary into a single dictionary for all languages.

Further Reading


  • Founded: December 3, 2004
  • Short prefix: n
  • Scope: News stories
  • Languages: 23 total
  • URL:

Figure 16.5. The English-language Wikinews main page

Wikinews is a wiki site devoted to news and citizen journalism (Figure 16.5, “The English-language Wikinews main page”). The project aims to report and summarize news on all subjects from a neutral point of view, providing a free-content alternative to proprietary news agencies. Anyone can contribute, either from direct experience or by summarizing from elsewhere. In terms of content policy, Neutral Point of View (NPOV) and Verifiability (V) apply to content on Wikinews, but Wikinews differs from Wikipedia in that original reporting is welcomed. The site aims to provide a stable news source, so after articles have been drafted, they are published, with the expectation that major changes will not be made to the article once they have been published for 36 hours. After a week, articles are archived and "frozen" (protected against further editing).

Also unlike Wikipedia, original articles may be signed with the reporter's byline. Wikinews has developed several features over the years to make original reporting easier, including a 1-800 number tipline and a process for accrediting reporters. To become accredited, a contributor must be established and submit to a process with a community vote; his or her identity may be verified by other trusted Wikinews reporters.

Wikinews stories may link (sparingly) to Wikipedia articles for definitions and further information; in turn, Wikipedia articles about a current topic should link to the appropriate Wikinews story, if one exists. Wikinews articles may be cited in Wikipedia articles. Breaking news is better suited to Wikinews, but you will often see stories about current events developing in both places simultaneously. Wikinews is better for some topics, however; a person may be briefly "in the news" as reported on Wikinews, without meriting a biography in Wikipedia. Also unlike Wikipedia (and the rest of the Wikimedia projects), Wikinews uses the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license, which is also a free license. This means that content from Wikipedia generally cannot be copied directly to Wikinews, however.

The idea of a Wikinews site was first proposed in 2003; after much discussion, a demonstration wiki was established in November 2004 to show how such a collaborative news site might work. In December 2004, the site was moved out of the demo stage and into the beta stage. A German-language edition was launched at the same time. Soon editions in Dutch, French, Spanish, Swedish, Bulgarian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Ukrainian, Italian, Serbian, Japanese, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic, Thai, Norwegian, and Chinese (in that chronological order) were set up; currently Wikinews has sites in 23 languages altogether.

Further Reading


  • Founded: July 10, 2003
  • Short prefix: b
  • Scope: Free textbooks
  • Languages: 121 total, with 14 (en, de, fr, pt, hu, es, it, jp, pl, sq [Albanian], nl, he, fi, and vi) having over 1,000 book modules
  • URL:

Wikibooks is a wiki for the creation of free-content textbooks and manuals (Figure 16.6, “Wikibooks logo” shows its logo). The books range from how-tos to textbooks for learning subjects such as math, computer science, or languages, to cookbooks of recipes from around the world. Wikibooks is only for instructional works such as textbooks, annotated texts, instructional guides, and manuals; fiction and many types of nonfiction are not included. Original research is also not acceptable; Wikibooks is not the place for publishing primary research or results. Out-of-copyright source texts are better placed at Wikisource, with the exception of annotated texts designed for study. Like all the projects, all Wikibooks materials should have a neutral point of view; but unlike Wikipedia, writing extensive descriptions of how to do something or the best way to learn a process is perfectly acceptable.

Figure 16.6. Wikibooks logo

Wikibooks has no fixed audience, unlike Wikipedia, which aims to appeal to a broad base. Though many books are designed for adult learners, books may be for any audience, including children. One special project hosted on Wikibooks is called Wikijunior, which is a collection of nonfiction books for children. Wikijunior projects have been created in 8 languages, with 25 Wikijunior books in English completed or underway. This project was originally started with a special grant in 2004 from the Beck Foundation to help support development of children's books. Other Wikibooks may be technical, specialist works.

Wikibooks uses modules, or short sections of the book (akin to a short chapter), as the main structure for the site. Each book has a single main page on the wiki, and each module is built as a subpage of that page. A special visual grading system with small squares (Figure 16.7, “The set of Wikibook development stages”) indicates how finished the works are; see

Figure 16.7. The set of Wikibook development stages

Extended topic discussions or instructions on how to do something may be moved to Wikibooks from Wikipedia. In turn, books on Wikibooks can link back to the relevant Wikipedia articles for background information, and images from Commons may be used for illustrating Wikibooks when needed.

Wikibooks sites exist in over 100 languages, and 47 of these sites have more than 100 modules. The project was first begun in 2003 in response to a request for a place to create textbooks; in 2006, Wikiversity (described on Section 3, “Linking Between Projects and Copying Content”) was spun off as a separate project.

Further Reading

The set of Wikibook development stages/ Wikibooks in English sorted by content


  • Founded: July 10, 2003
  • Short prefix: q
  • Scope: Quotations
  • Languages: 89 languages total, 48 of which have over 100 articles and 7 of which (en, de, it, pl, sk, pt, and ru) have over 10,000 articles
  • URL:

Wikiquote aims to compile a collection of quotations from notable people and works (Figure 16.8, “Wikiquote logo” shows its logo). Quotations can come from published works, such as books and films, but can also include proverbs, epigrams, and sayings. For instance, at q:Category:Proverbs on, you can find proverbs from many languages, both literally translated and rendered as the English equivalent. Quotes and sayings are arranged by theme or by author; for instance, Wikiquote has a page called Love, which has quotes relating to the theme of love, and a page collecting Samuel Beckett quotations.

Figure 16.8. Wikiquote logo

Quotes should be sourced to the work they originally appeared in whenever possible, and they should only come from notable people or works. As with all the Wikimedia wikis, links to the appropriate articles on Wikipedia and elsewhere should be included. Many Wikipedia articles for well-known works and authors also include a few quotes, but if many notable quotes come from one person, they should primarily be included on the Wikiquote page, with an appropriate interwiki link from the Wikipedia article.

Wikiquote was started in 2003. At the end of 2007, Wikiquotes editions had been created in 89 languages, with 46 of them having more than 100 articles. The English-language Wikiquote has over 14,000 pages. The English Wikiquote also has a Quote of the Day feature that displays a new notable quote each day; you can even receive this by email.

Further Reading


  • Founded: November 24, 2003
  • Short prefix: s
  • Scope: Primary sources
  • Languages: 55 languages total, 10 of which (en, fr, es, zh, de, it, pt, ru, pl, th) have more than 10,000 pages
  • URL:

Wikisource is a collection of source documents and primary texts that are in the public domain (and thus not covered by copyright) or released under the GFDL. (Figure 16.9, “Wikisource logo” shows its logo.) The project serves as a free library of important works. Texts may include (but are not limited to) novels, nonfiction, letters, speeches, historical documents, constitutional documents, and laws. Translations are also welcome, though texts in original languages should go to the appropriate language Wikisource. Texts must be previously published to be included here; Wikisource does not host vanity press books or documents produced by its contributors. Spoken or audio versions can be included; you can browse these at s:Category:Spoken works.

Figure 16.9. Wikisource logo

Usually texts are in the public domain in the United States because they are old enough that they are no longer covered by copyright. The texts may have also been released into the public domain in the first place, such as US government–produced materials (for instance, federal court opinions and military journalism). Many texts on Wikisource come from existing digital libraries and scanning projects, such as Project Gutenberg. Digitizing free texts from scratch is also certainly acceptable. Texts may be scanned and then converted to an editable digital format with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. Texts produced with OCR do need to be proofread.

How Do You Collaborate on Texts?

Even though Wikisource consists of previously published texts that participants do not write, plenty of work needs to be done. Tasks include proofreading uploaded texts, wikifying texts into MediaWiki format, categorizing, and uploading incomplete texts (because transcribing a long document onto the wiki can be a big job). Other possibilities include finding public domain texts, checking copyright status of submissions, and working on producing audio versions (such as audiobooks) of texts; you can find directions for creating audiobooks at s:Help:Audio and more open tasks at s:Community Portal.

Wikisource was originally conceived of as a way to store useful historical or otherwise important public domain texts, both as a supplement to Wikipedia and as an archive in its own right. For instance, the Wikipedia article on the US Constitution may link to the full text of the Constitution at Wikisource. This provides a valuable addition to the article for readers who want to learn more about the topic. Wikisource does have things in common with other free-text projects like Project Gutenberg, but the emphasis of Wikisource is on historical and culturally important material.

The project was originally begun in 2003 under the name Project Sourceberg, a play on the name Project Gutenberg (which is why the logo is a large iceberg lying in the water). Wikisources exist in 55 languages, 50 of which have over 100 source texts.

Further Reading


  • Founded: September 13, 2004
  • Short prefix: wikispecies
  • Scope: Systematic biological database of species
  • Languages: Background language is English with Latin species names, some support pages, and vernacular naming multilingual
  • URL:

Wikispecies is a collection of information about living species. (Figure 16.10, “Wikispecies logo” shows its logo.) It aims to create a comprehensive free-content catalog of all species (including animalia, plantae, fungi, bacteria, archaea, and protista) and is geared to scientists rather than the general public. Pages consist of the scientific names and classification of organisms, aligned along the Linnaean taxonomy, or standard hierarchical biological classification.

Wikispecies is not designed to compete with Wikipedia (where articles may exist about many of the species noted) but rather to complement it by providing taxonomic information. The need for a comprehensive taxonomic database that scientists and others could edit was cited as a reason for creating the site in 2004. As with the other projects, Wikipedia, Commons, and Wikispecies can link to one another in order to provide a comprehensive reference to a species with encyclopedic information, images, and a complete taxonomic listing. To contribute, editors can (among other tasks) search for pictures to add to species listings, add references, and fill in missing species.

Figure 16.10. Wikispecies logo

Only one Wikispecies site exists, but the site has several dozen portal pages for various languages. In addition, each species name is translated into the local vernacular (including English, which makes Wikispecies a useful place to look up an unfamiliar Latin name).

Further Reading


  • Founded: August 15, 2006
  • Short prefix: v
  • Scope: Educational materials
  • Languages: 9 (en, fr, de, es, it, pt, cs, el, ja), plus one multilingual site
  • URL:

Figure 16.11. The English-language Wikiversity main page

Wikiversity is a community for creating and using free learning materials and activities and is geared toward developing communities dedicated to learning, teaching, research, and service (see Figure 16.11, “The English-language Wikiversity main page”). Its primary goals are to create and host free content, multimedia learning materials, resources, and curricula for all age groups in all languages and develop collaborative learning projects and communities around these materials.

Resources on Wikiversity include teaching aids, lesson plans, curricula, links to off-site resources, and reading lists, which can all be combined to create a web of resources about a topic. Learning groups on Wikiversity discuss and do activities using these materials, and educators outside of Wikiversity can use them for their own purposes under the terms of the GFDL. Wikiversity participants can also express their individual learning goals, and the Wikiversity community collaborates to develop learning activities and projects to accommodate those goals; projects that encourage learning through editing Wikiversity pages are also welcome.

Wikiversity organizes its content with Portal and School namespaces; Portals provide a way to browse a range of related topics, whereas Schools (such as the School of Chemistry) provide lessons related to a particular topic. Connections to other projects—such as further reading on Wikipedia or Wikibooks—are welcome.

Wikiversity is the newest formal Wikimedia project. Although it was originally started at Wikibooks in 2003, a formal proposal to create Wikiversity as an independent project wasn't voted on by the Wikimedia Foundation Board until 2005. Wikiversity officially began as an independent project (in a beta phase) on August 15, 2006, with the English-language Wikiversity. As of mid-2008, 10 language Wikiversities had been created.

Further Reading

[34] See for the original proposal for a Wiktionary site.

Linking Between Projects and Copying ContentEdit

Linking between sister projects is very much encouraged where it is appropriate. For instance, if Wikipedia has an article about a term that is also defined on Wiktionary, links to the other should be included in both. Quotes from a famous figure who is also the subject of a Wikipedia article may appear on Wikiquote, or a how-to book about an article topic may be on Wikibooks. Article topics may also first appear on another project besides Wikipedia: A current event covered on Wikinews might well evolve into a Wikipedia article. Like interlanguage links, these interwiki links should only be made to existing articles on an equivalent topic.

Also, like links between different-language versions of the same project, interwiki links between projects use special codes to identify the project. These codes were given in the boxes included in the previous section describing the individual projects; they are commons, wikt, b, s, q, wikispecies, and v. These prefixes can be combined with language codes to produce a double prefix using a consistent naming scheme: For example, de:wikt: is the double prefix referring to the German-language Wiktionary.

How to LinkEdit

You can link between Wikimedia projects in two ways. The first is to use regular in-text links, with full or abbreviated names, similar to interlanguage links.

These standard links may simply take the form


where nameofproject is the name of the Wikimedia project you wish to link to (Wikipedia, Wikiversity, Commons, and so on) and nameofpage is the page title that you wish to link to on that page. This is simple and intuitive enough: Wikiquote:Lord Byron is the page for quotes relating to Lord Byron. Notice that no indicator is included about which language version of Wikiquote you are linking to; if you don't specify a language, the link will go to the equivalent project in the same language you're linking from. For instance, if you include the Lord Byron link on the English-language Wikipedia, clicking it will take you to the English-language Wikiquote page for Lord Byron. After all, most of the time that would be what you wanted to achieve.

The name of the project may also be abbreviated in a shortcut form, as mentioned previously. Because the shortcut form for Wikipedia is simply w, you can link to a page on Wikipedia from another project with a link that looks like this:


If you want to link to another language edition of another project, use the double prefix—the project code with the language code, with a colon in front of it. For instance,


will take you from any project to the Spanish-language Wiktionary entry called fish, which in this case contains a Spanish explanation of the English word and a link to the Spanish equivalent—pez. The colon convention is required for the same reasons we explained in Chapter 15, 200 Languages and Counting: No colon means a link is moved onto the sidebar as an interlanguage link.

These links may be piped as for conventional wikilinks, so for instance, you could set the link to read like this:

read more about this on Wikipedia

Defined shortcuts, which we have listed project by project, are also detailed with those for some other sites on Wikipedia:Interwikimedia links.

The second way to link to a sister project is to use one of the special templates that have been set up for this purpose. On Wikipedia, this is the preferred way to provide such links. The advantage of using a template is that the resulting link is set apart in a box with the logo of the project being linked to and some explanatory text. You will generally see these templates at the bottom of articles when they are included, in the Further reading or External links section, though they can appear anywhere throughout an article; for instance, a template linking to Wikiquote may appear in the Quotes section of a Wikipedia article.

These templates are detailed at Wikipedia:Sister projects. Except for a few special ones, they link to a search for the parameter name (usually an article name) that you type, rather than to the page with that exact title directly; that way, if no title matches are found on the sister project, full-text matches will be displayed instead.

Wikipedia has individual templates to link to all of the sister projects. A separate template for linking to all of the projects at once is also available and can be used for a very common topic that may have an article on Wikipedia, a definition on Wiktionary, media on Commons, a text referring to it on Wikibooks or Wikiversity, and so on. This template is located at Template:Sisterlinks. To use it, place it on a page with a single parameter that is the page name you want to search on (typically the same as the article name):

This results in an infobox (Figure 16.12, “Sisterlinks template”) with links to search for the term energy in Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Commons, Wikinews, Wikiquote, and Wikiversity.

Figure 16.12. Sisterlinks template Sisterlinks template

The individual templates for linking between projects are fairly intuitive. All should be used with the name of the page being linked to as a parameter. The templates are as follows: {{Wikipedia}} {{Wiktionary}} {{Wikinews}} {{Wikibooks}} {{Wikiquote}} {{Wikisource}} {{Wikispecies}} {{Wikiversity}} {{Commons}} You can use {{MediaWiki}} {{Meta}} for linking to the MediaWiki wiki and Meta-Wiki. These last two are primarily helpful for linking cross-project help pages and documentation.

Note that the Wikipedia template is not necessary (and, in fact, just won't work) when linking from one language version Wikipedia to another; using the language code is sufficient. Many variations of these templates exist for linking to categories on other projects; you can find all of the templates at w:Category:Interwiki link templates. 3.2. Moving Content Between Projects

Occasionally, a page will be added to Wikipedia that doesn't belong but would be appropriate for one of the sister projects. For instance, a dictionary definition doesn't belong on Wikipedia—but would be great at Wiktionary. These pages are candidates for being copied to another project. The jargon transwiki applies to moves of material from one wiki to another. The term is appropriate for pages from any namespace that need to be moved to another Wikimedia project; for instance, technical help pages might need to be transwikied to MediaWiki, whereas Foundation-wide pages might need to be moved to the Meta site.

Pages that need to be moved can be marked with transwiki templates; these work like other templates and can be found at w:Category:Transwiki templates. These templates mark the pages for automatic moving to other projects.

Further Reading Provides a chart of interwiki prefixes, shortcuts, and templates Detailed information on the sister project templates A list of commonly used transwiki templates, for placing on articles that would be better in other projects

Other WikisEdit

Since their original development in the mid-1990s, wikis have become commonly used for all sorts of applications, both private and public, and many interesting wiki communities that aren't affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation have been created. These wikis may explore a topic area in more depth than Wikipedia does or provide a place for reviews and commentary that would violate Wikipedia's content policies. If what you want to work on doesn't seem like a good match with Wikipedia or any of the sister projects, try looking for another non-Wikimedia wiki instead. Most of these public wiki sites encourage reader participation, and you may find a culture and style that suits you. Note

Though wiki is often used as an abbreviation to refer to Wikipedia, this is actually incorrect; wiki is simply a generic term for the particular type of website. Though Wikipedia is one of the most famous wikis, it is certainly not the only one!

For instance, many fan communities for television shows and video games have built wikis. Some wikis have a particular political orientation or are meant to document a particular project or piece of software. A large wiki exist to collect comprehensive how-to guides for every topic area (such as A movement is growing to start wikis for individual towns and communities and collect useful information about that place for residents and visitors. Some wikis even provide variations on the idea of building an encyclopedia. Many of these sites are commercial, while others may be nonprofit; many use an open content license. A directory of wiki sites can be found at Wikipedia itself comes through with the List of wikis, which is sorted by type. Other wiki sites may be very different both technically and socially from Wikimedia sites and Wikipedia, but the basic ideas we've presented in this book, of editing and interacting respectfully, should apply to every wiki.


Wikia is a commercial wiki hosting service (wiki farm) based in San Mateo, California, which hosts wikis about a wide variety of topics, including fan communities. Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and Angela Beesley, who has served on the Wikimedia Foundation Board, founded Wikia in 2004. Wikia, Inc., is independent from the Wikimedia Foundation. Wikia does share with Wikimedia a reliance on the MediaWiki software and the GFDL license (except for Memory Alpha, a Star Trek wiki, which uses a Creative Commons license). Wikia sites are generally supported with ads. See http:// for more information.

Starting Your Own WikiEdit

For many interests, a wiki community may already exist. If you have an idea for a new Wikimedia project, see the next chapter for how to make a proposal. New Wikimedia projects are started slowly, however, and for most specific wiki ideas, either finding an existing project to join or starting your own is best. Are you interested in starting a wiki for your own purposes? You should keep a few factors in mind. For instance, are you willing and able to take on the technical maintenance yourself? How much are you willing to pay for software and hosting? Most importantly, for what purpose are you building a wiki? Consider whether the wiki is intended for a few collaborators on a particular project or as a larger community site. Who are your potential audience and editors?

Building a wiki community requires more than simply installing the software. Even the simplest online community needs some structure and goals. If you have only a few editors, keeping up with spam and vandalism may present a problem. You can find much advice on how to start a viable wiki community online; the Wikibooks article at is a good place to start.

The New Project Creation Process

New language versions of the Wikipedia, Wikinews, Wikiquote, or Wiktionary projects are tested at the Wikimedia Incubator ( Here a proposed new version can be tried out and key pages can be translated before the project goes live. Anyone can help out with this initial process.

Wiki SoftwareEdit

MediaWiki is available for free download, as described in the next chapter, but other wiki software packages, as well as companies that host wikis for a fee, are available. Wikipedia has, naturally, a list of the many wiki software packages at List of wiki software. A comparison of these packages can be found at Comparison of wiki software or at the useful Wikimatrix site,

Further Reading

Finding Other Wikis A list of alternative outlets for material not appropriate for Wikipedia A list of wiki sites arranged by topic A huge index of wikis on the Web, from large to tiny, that shows the relative level of activity on each

Starting Your Own Wiki "How to start a Wiki," from Wikibooks A chart comparing various wiki software packages Provides information on and offers comparisons between dozens of wiki software packages


In this chapter, we've covered the eight Wikimedia projects besides Wikipedia that aim to produce free-content, wiki-based reference materials: Wiktionary, Wikinews, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wikisource, Wikispecies, Wikiversity, and the Wikimedia Commons. These projects offer complementary content, and you can link pages between the different projects, providing a comprehensive reference resource about a topic.

This survey of the sister projects run by Wikimedia sets the scene for our last chapter. With so much diverse activity enabled by so many editable sites, the projects need a central supporting structure, which is provided by the Wikimedia Foundation.