Wikibooks:Textbook planning

Note: See also Wikiversity page for discussion of Wikiversity / WikiU.

The following areas were recently suggested in the mailing list as important to resolve in regards to the textbook project.

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Name of the project edit

The URL could also be (owned by the Foundation already). -- Toby Bartels 08:14 27 Jul 2003 (UTC)

We should avoid entering the philosophical debate between "open" and "free" in our name. -- Toby Bartels 08:14 27 Jul 2003 (UTC)

We should continue the tradition of having "wiki" in our name since that is what defines us the most - even more than the free license. --mav 19:44 28 Jul 2003 (UTC)

I agree completely with that one. Dhum Dhum 20:11 5 Aug 2003 (UTC)

We should not limit ourselves to being a textbook-only shop - all non-fiction books should be allowed. --mav 19:44 28 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Or even fiction books, that would be interesting LittleDan
If you are talking about stuff like Huck Finn with annotation and wikified words going to encyclopedia articles, then yes. But we should not be in the business of creating our own fictional worlds. That is a different project. --mav 17:24 1 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Types of content that are to be covered edit

  • Traditional textbook content -- Presumably everybody supports this!
    • Do realize that the effort may be futile, no matter the resulting quality. One would need to make a snapshot for some unusually brave (solidly tenured) professors to try, then supply an errata list and print many copies. A live wiki is too unstable to teach a class from. --AlbertCahalan 20:29, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)
    • Non traditional textbooks, there are some subjects (especially in science on post-graduate levels) for which there are no traditional textbooks. In such a book its dynamics are not a problem. --IzI 18:07, 25 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  • Possible other book content:
    • How-to directions like cookbooks -- Toby Bartels,
      • Well, the envisioned Wikibooks' Cookbook might turn out to be a general book about cooking in different cultures with historical background and some conscious consumerism threads
      • The Cookbook is doing very well. It does suffer from problems with: deletionism, case-sensitivity and the Cookbook: prefix ruining normal wiki ease-of-use (normal [[easy linking]] is unusable), lack of Special:Specialpages specific to the Cookbook, and a sidebar Main_Page link that doesn't go to the main page of the cookbook. --AlbertCahalan 20:29, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)
    • Manuals to use certain things (such as a software program)
      • Should be textbook-oriented in presentation. --Maveric149
    • A broad travel guide covering the entire world. -- Dhum Dhum
      • The people at are going to fill that role. Our focus here should be in instructing students - travel guides are informative (like an encyclopedia), not instructive (like a textbook). --mav
    • Other non-fiction works
    • Fiction books. LittleDan
      • Something like a "Cliff's Notes" possibly? --Neolux 15:28 1 Aug 2003 (UTC)
      • Absolutely not newly-created fiction (that is a different project; "Wiktion"). But we should have public domain fiction of already established works (with annotation; such as the works of Mark Twain). We can also have Cliff's Notes-type extensive summaries of works. That would be neat. --mav 17:20 1 Aug 2003 (UTC)
      • Fiction study that does not go very deeply into criticism. Major themes that are universally accepted seem to be the order in textbooks I've dealt with. --Jdl32579 12:57, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)
  • Remixes and compilations of free content (Wikipedia, ...). Sometimes all the knowledge is already freely available, all it has to be done is to organize it into a book (thought its not that simple). --IzI 18:07, 25 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  • I really favor -footnotes-, similar to those found along with biblical texts; I find myself having the need to use 'symbols' [e.g. (†), (‡), and (*)] to use for reference-like footnotes.RekonDog (talk) 10:10, 23 August 2009 (UTC)[reply]

Key policies edit

  • While a name hasn't been settled, we'll need a sort of "Wiki" policies for our developer interaction separate from any policies that affect the texts themselves:
  • A proposed outline of textbook considerations is available for Wiki development and discussion.
  • A short outline proposal for a description of processes is open for comment or update at textbook development process.

Timetable for setting things up edit

  • As it gets done
  • Schedules are for proprietary encyclopedias. LittleDan

Resources and techniques useful in creating educational content edit

GNU GPL Server Software to draw ideas from edit

  • Moodle - PHP software that aims to make quality online courses (eg distance education) easy to develop and conduct. Learning and development are guided using a social constructionist philosophy.

Implemented on thousands of sites and in 30 languages. See website and development site.

Potential changes that need to be made to the software edit

  • Compiling many pages into one large document:
    • A standard book structure (sections) could be created that could be easily translated into LaTeX and further into PDF (with a table of contents and a cover picture). --IzI 17:47, 25 August 2005 (UTC)[reply]
  • Automating navigation links within textbooks:
    • Mav's suggestion on the mailing list for modular URLs -- mav,
    • It would be nice if when one comes to the end of a textbook page which one had accessed by clicking on a table of contents entry, one could go on to the next page of the book without having to go back to the table of contents and select the next page from there. On other websites one often sees this done with NEXT buttons; or PREVIOUS for going backwards. -- rew
    • Mav's suggestion as modified by Toby -- Toby Bartels, mav (I very much like Toby's improvements)
    • WikiGroups has already been developed with another php/GPL wiki; [1] - this will allow us to have one TOC/Index per Wikibook but I think we can tweak that software to make it possible to have more than one TOC/Index per book (the trick would be to add the TOC/Index's name after a ? to every link on the TOC/Index page - then when you click on a link to a module, the WikiGroup code on that page will know which %trail% to dispaly. Those links in turn would have the TOC/Index's name after a ? but only for links in the %trail%).
    • Karl's idea to nest URLs in a way that reflects the structure of the book
    • Yet another proposal from Magnus Manske
    • In a related note an automatically generated index (cached!?) would make any textbook more useful m.linger
  • separation of books' contents from each other and from meta information (or rather a means to filter thing out)
    • This should be possible when categories are implemented for Wikipedia.
  • Wikipedia namespace moved to Wikibooks: or something like that when the name is settled

Proposal edit

The project wikibooks does not seem to be enjoying the same sort of growth that the original wikipedia did. There are probably a number of reasons for this. I shall give a few reasons I think are important and then follow up with some suggestions for the action that could be taken to remedy this.

1) Wikibooks requires a different logon to wikipedia. IMHO it would be better for the project if existing wikipedia developers could be automatically part of wikibooks. This would allow more free movement of labour from wikipedia to wikibooks. A strong motivating factor for people developing in wikipedia is the racking up of credit in the form of edited articles. Why not allow create a contributions page that gives credit to all material worked on in any wiki project?

2) Wikibooks is not interconnected in the same way that wikipedia is. There is a clear need for a different structure to the books as they are meant to be (at least eventually) printed and should therefore have a linear style. However, if links were made in such a way that they could deleted without interfering with the quality of the text then we could have the same interconnection that wikipedia has without that necessarily causing problems with the style of the books.

  • We need a way to designate sections as being developer areas (but within the actual text itself) We could produce a special heading "Developer's notes and links" which has a template (to ensure consistent usage.
  • We need a special link type that represents a temporary link for development purposes. This would allow the developer links and comments necessary to speed up development. But at the same time would allow these links to be removed with ease when the wikibook is downloaded. (Of course links just to wikipedia should be fairly easy to remove automatically although it might help if they appeared in a different colour to remind developers that that material reffered to will not be available to the readers of printed versions.

3) Also links can be made from relevent pages of wikipedia to wikibooks. This should draw in much more labour to liven up wikibooks. This is one thing that I can implement on my own. So I shall start introducing a section on some selected wikipedia pages entitled "relevent wikibooks". I may also start links to wikibooks in the main text of some articles in wikipedia. However, without 2) we may find that people learn to ignore links to wikibooks as they are deadends.

Please comment on these proposals. 11:44, 27 Aug 2004 (UTC) (Barnaby dawson)

At least one wikibook is interconnected in the same way that wikipedia is. The Cookbook is highly self-connected. If anything, some connections need to be severed. At the bottom of most recipes you will find a Categories link. This should list all the categories in the cookbook. Unfortunately, it lists all sorts of other random unrelated stuff. Cookbook info is drowned out by the noise. --AlbertCahalan 20:40, 13 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Is #2 really the case? I tend to think that Wikibooks should be created to best serve the user. If that best way is by creating a non-linear book, so be it. Let's use the medium we have and not be tied to an old communication medium. liblamb 05:28, 14 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Learning a new topic needs to be linear (at least to an extent). For example, learning about ionic bonding in chemistry before learning about the periodic table would be very difficult. Coming back to a topic you have already learnt is when non-linear content is generally more useful (which is where GOOD appendices and indices come in). m.linger 02:06, 06 Jul 2005 (UTC)

Maybe the most important thing is increasing the ability for this 'free movement of labour' from wikipedia. There is vast untapped potential for all those experts to get interested in and excited about wikibooks. The two best ways, which I think have been floated around as nebulous proposals for some time, are as mentioned above - automatic or connected logon for existing wikipedia editors, and very simply, far more links to wikibooks for the click-happy wikipediholics! Is there anywhere on Wikipedia fairly heavily trafficked by people with the technical knowhow that could support or rubbish these suggestions? Mark Lewis 22:21, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Internationalization edit

Yes, please!

Participants in textbook planning edit

You who are reading this, and anyone else.

See also: Wikibooks:Wikibookians

Reference links edit

--Karl Wick 02:15 30 Jul 2003 (UTC)