Wikibooks:Respect for authors

The present page incorporates WB:OWN but is nevertheless a radical change.

It is not an official guideline of Wikibooks. If you want it to be, you have to convince those who disagree.

The present rule is in force in the french-speaking Wikibooks community, where contributors are less numerous.


At Wikibooks editors are encouraged to be bold in their editing practices. When disagreements arise writing and editorial decisions are made collaboratively. This policy explains the limitations that apply in what you can control when doing work at Wikibooks. These limitations may not apply to works forked outside of Wikibooks and should not be confused for the licensing terms of use.

There are two kinds of wikibooks. In the first, the original kind, authors come and go. Any new author can modify the previous work. Decisions are taken through consensus. Such books can be signed, with an open list of all the authors who want to identify themselves.

In the second kind, an author, or a group of authors, decided to write the book, to be responsible for it and to complete it. In this case, the name of the responsible author, or a pseudonym, or the list of responsible authors, shall be clearly visible on the first page.

Authors have rights as workers not as ownersEdit

For wikibooks of the second kind :

If an author is clearly identified as responsible for the book, he or she has the right to refuse unwanted modifications.

This is not the right of an owner, only the right of a worker. Even if their book is completed, responsible authors still have to be present on Wikibooks, because their book is supposed to evolve with the progress of knowledge and because they know that other contributors can criticize, demand clarification and give additions. If they are more generous, authors can of course help others in many other ways. If an author abandons the book, he or she gives up the responsibility of the future of the book to the community. Wikibooks is not a text repository (but old versions of wikibooks are always conserved).

Authorship is freedom, simply because an author is free to make of his or her book what he or she wants. If wikibookians always have to justify what they publish to others, they're not free, they are under the yoke of the dictatorship of opinion.

This authorship right does not mean complete freedom. That an author is responsible for his or her book does not mean that anything can be published. The problem of inappropriate content is a separate issue. If an administrator enforces a common rule, the authorship right is null.

Authorship and the original kind of wikibooksEdit

For wikibooks of the original kind :

By contributing, you agree not to assert authority or control over books, and to allow anyone to edit, modify, delete, and fork books at Wikibooks. You may not prevent others from editing or modifying content. This is true regardless of who started the page or who has contributed "the most" to the book. If you wish to prevent others from editing or modifying content, you may fork pages or books outside of Wikibooks where you can assert whatever editorial control over the copy you use within the licensing terms of use.

Behavior that other contributors view as ownership may not mean an explicit claim to owning the book. More frequently the term is used to describe an unwillingness to discuss or compromise. One clear indicator of a problem is when one contributor repeatedly reverts or otherwise removes the work of other contributors. Because of the hard work involved in creating a book, strong opinions about the books content are natural, but if you find yourself doing this then it is time to stop and discuss. A willingness to discussion and compromise keeps everyone on equal terms in deciding what goes into books.

Wikibooks Administrators can protect pages from being edited as a deterrent to vandalism and edit warring. Page protection in this sense should not be used to exercise control over the contents of a page and any editorial control can only be enforced by community decisions, policies or guidelines.

Do not contribute your content to wikibooks of the original kind if you do not want other people using it in whatever way they want without your express permission.

Why two kinds of wikibooks ?Edit

To make a book by the spontaneous encounter between several authors who work on the same subject is a beautiful idea, but too often it does not work, unless the book responds to a collective will. The books begun with the hope that other authors will complete them remain generally unfinished.

On the other hand, other forms of cooperation work very well:

  • Make additions to existing books,
  • Criticize or request clarification (the discussion pages are for that purpose),

Correct minor mistakes (typographical, ...) when one reads,

  • Help a contributor, novice or not, who does not know all the useful techniques (wikicode, ...)

Ask for help or advice, ...

The possibility of cooperative work distinguishes Wikibooks from other free online publishing sites. It enables authors and readers to get out of their isolation and to help each other.

In Wikipedia, it would be nonsense if authors wanted to be identified as such in the encyclopedia. We don't want many articles on the same subject written by different authors, we want a collaborative work of many authors who seek consensus. In Wikibooks, the situation is different. Many different textbooks, written by different authors, are a good thing for science, for its diversity and its richness. That a textbook has an author, or a few ones, responsible for the book, is also a good thing, because there is a strong will to complete the book. Such responsibility does not prevent cooperative work. On the contrary, it might help it, because it prevents conflicts between authors, and because potential authors won't be afraid that their work could be destroyed by others.

Authorship and cooperative work fit very well together. Strict equality between authors is not the only way for authors to work on the same book. One author can be responsible for the book, or a few ones, the others criticize or give additions, or any other kind of help.

Wikipedia became the best encyclopedia in the world because it is the best way to make an encyclopedia. Leibniz imagined it more than three hundred years ago. Now in the twenty-first century, it's done. Wikibooks could become the best scientific library in the world if it is the best way to make a scientific library.

If Wikibooks respect authors, scientists will understand that Wikibooks is the best way to make a scientific library, through cooperation between authors and readers, and they will do it. If we don't, they think that they cannot work with us in such conditions.