Wikibooks:Reading room/General

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Welcome to the General reading room. On this page, Wikibookians are free to talk about the Wikibooks project in general. For proposals for improving Wikibooks, see the Proposals reading room.

Technical Wishes: FileExporter and FileImporter become default features on all WikisEdit

Max Klemm (WMDE) 09:13, 6 August 2020 (UTC)

Important: maintenance operation on September 1stEdit

Trizek (WMF) (talk) 13:48, 26 August 2020 (UTC)


Wikibooks has, for example, Cookbook:Cucumber and Horticulture/Cucumber. The former is matched to the Wikidata item on Cucumbers, d:Q2735883, and thus to Wikipedia articles, Commons, and so on; the latter is not, as there can only be a 1:1 link. the linked Wikidata, Wikipedia and Commons pages are about all aspects of cucumbers, including horticulture, not just cooking with them.

Why match to the cookbook page, and not the horticulture page? Should there not be a higher level page, which is paired with sister projects? Pigsonthewing (discusscontribs) 08:35, 7 September 2020 (UTC)

The Cookbook is considered to be a single book, organised as a namespace due to its size. Each book is considered independent with the only higher level structure being analogous to a bookshelf or subject area. Unless someone chooses to write a book on cucumbers, encapsulating both the horticulture and cooking, there won't be a higher level page. Of course, it is also possible that even if we were to do this, someone else would write another book that happened to involve cucumbers - e.g., science projects using cucumbers - and this would then not be linked. I can't think of any structural way within the intent of Wikibooks that can solve the Wikidata problem. Frankly, that's not surprising because Wikidata was - in my opinion - predominantly developed to work with Wikipedia. QuiteUnusual (discusscontribs) 09:48, 7 September 2020 (UTC)
Wikidata was planned as if there were only one Wikipedia, actually; its rigid one-to-one-mapping arrangement loses when presented with multiple-language Wikipedias that don't analyze the world quite the same way. However, for the long run, I have hoped to solve the general problem of providing Wikibooks targets for incoming sister links —which would be a problem even without Wikidata— by introducing a whole new set of categories here for potentially-per-page topical categorization. The first problem that had to be solved was that we already had, at that point, two different kinds of categories that would get confused with each other, and this would be introducing yet a third kind of category. I'm now several years in to, and mostly but not yet entirely finished with, an overhaul of our entire existing category hierarchy, in preparation for introducing a third set of categories that would provide suitable unique targets for encyclopedia-like topical categories. Cf. Wikibooks:Reading room/Proposals#Now under construction: Wikibooks Stacks
Wikibooks Stacks/History#Stacks. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 11:31, 7 September 2020 (UTC)

It's disappointing to see Wikidata wrongly disparaged in this way; it was neither "predominantly developed to work with Wikipedia" nor "planned as if there were only one Wikipedia". Wikidata is perfectly capable of representing the concepts on Wikibooks (just as it does for other non-Wikipedia sister projects); you can have a Wikidata item corresponding to "Cookbook:Cucumber" and another corresponding to "Horticulture/Cucumber", if you wish. My question is more about whether there is, or should be, a Wikibooks page representing the general subject of "Cucumber", in the sense encompassing not only cookery and horticulture, but also biology, representations art, and any other aspect. Pigsonthewing (discusscontribs) 11:17, 9 September 2020 (UTC)

Seems to me you may be somewhat hasty in supposing that "wrongly disparaged" thing. Despite widespread good will and competence of Wikidatans (in my experience), there are some structural design flaws in Wikidata, which can be traced back to structural bias that flows from the Wikimedia Foundation through the vehicle of Conway's law. (That is, design by a top-down centralized organization will favor top-down centralization, which is often profoundly inappropriate for an inherently distributed bottom-up volunteer community.)

Notably, the function of Wikidata toward other projects is apparently based on naive assumptions that (1) information is structured in a unique, unambiguous way, and (2) interwiki links should be limited to perfect matches in this unique structure. Neither of which is true. The structure is not at all unique, consequently its organization ought not be entrusted to the POV of a single central project (a particular instance of the general damage to voluteer projects caused by wresting local control away from them); and interwikis are an important social (only partly, and flexibly, ontological) connection between projects that should be maximized and cannot be properly judged by mechanical/objective means, so here again it is inappropriate to relegate their control to the POV of a single central project. Granted a single central project can be valuable in aiding coordination of other projects, though that is not, alas, the function baked into Wikidata's technical design. Just for example: on English Wikinews, we have a category called "free speech"; and iirc there may be one or two other-language Wikinewses that have such a category; but several Wikinewses have instead a category whose name would translate as "censorship" (interesting optimism/pessimism interplay there), and I think when I delved into this a few years ago I may have found one or two Wikinewses that managed to find some yet-different approach to the subject. Freedom of speech is definitely not the same thing as censorship, and although these categories would likely apply to many of the same news articles, they might occasionally lead to different categorization decisions; nevertheless, if these categories did not have interwiki links to each other it would be a disservice both to readers/researchers and to the social well-being of the Wikinewses involved; and Wikidata's organization pretty-much guarantees they will not be linked to each other. That's a flaw in the design of Wikidata. (Yes, I see how it's possible to fix, even now, with some time and effort; but it's not easy, nor quick, to effect a large-scale fix to a problem people don't want to acknowledge.) I have occasionally see, though cannot alas readily produce an example of, some simple cases of the same phenomenon arising on Wikipedias. --Pi zero (discusscontribs) 13:29, 9 September 2020 (UTC)

Should there not be a higher level 'Cucumber' page, which is paired with sister projects? Pigsonthewing (discusscontribs) 13:47, 14 September 2020 (UTC)

The answer to this is distributed through some of the earlier remarks.
  • We wouldn't call it "Cucumber".
  • Eventually, I hope, we'll have infrastructure in place so that the page you're asking about would be called Category:<some prefix>:Cucumber. I have been moving toward a solution of this sort for several years now, but am not yet there. Not sure yet what <some prefix> would be; we have a prefix Book: for the category tracking all pages associated with a book, and Shelf: for the category tracking all the books that belong to a shelf.
--Pi zero (discusscontribs) 14:56, 14 September 2020 (UTC)

Invitation to participate in the conversationEdit