Help:FAQ/Contributing

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Contributing

Should I use Wikibooks or create my own wiki?

Wikibooks is for textbooks, annotated texts, instructional guides, and manuals. If you want to create new documentation and want people to know where to find it, such as for a new open source software program that you helped create, you may want to do it on your own wiki. Creating a book on Wikibooks may not be such a bad idea either. See Wikibooks:What is Wikibooks for what is and isn't ok to include in Wikibooks.

Who can contribute?

Anyone can contribute and edit pages at any time. You are encouraged to create an account and login, but you don't have to if you don't want to.

Why would I want to contribute?

See Why contribute to Wikibooks?

How can I contribute?

There are many ways you can contribute. You can edit pages, create new books or pages, publicize Wikibooks, or donate.

How do I donate?

To learn how to donate to Wikibooks' parent organization, Wikimedia, see Fundraising and Donations.

Do I have to use my real name?

No. You don't have to use your real name. Some people choose to use their real name, some don't. Some people may seek recognition for their contributions. Some people may seek to encourage the free exchange of knowledge and information.

How do I change my username?

You may request a name change at Wikibooks:Requests for renaming. This method will also ensure all your contributions are reassigned to your new username as well. If that doesn't matter, you can also just create a new user account.

How do I recover a password I have forgotten?

If you entered your e-mail address when you signed up, you can have a new password generated. Click on the "Log in" link in the upper-right corner. Enter your user name, and click the button near the bottom of the page called "E-mail password". You should receive an e-mail message with a new random password; you can use it to log in, then go ahead and change you password to something you'll remember in your preferences.

Can we debate or talk about subjects here?

Discussions intended to improves books, pages or Wikibooks are welcome here. Most discussions take place on a page's discussion page. You can also use the reading room to discussion things with the Wikibooks community. Any other discussions probably belong on Wikiversity.

What languages can I use?

Books and discussions should be understandable by people who know the English language. Please use one of the other Wikibooks languages projects if you wish to write books for people who don't know the English language.

Which spelling should I use?

Books may be written in British or American English. You should follow whatever the existing spelling convention is for consistency.

How do I spell-check a page?

You can use an online spell checker such as Spellonline, or paste the text into your favorite text editor or word processor first, edit and spell check there, and then paste back into your browser to preview. Additionally, some browsers include spelling correction for all text editing files. Such is the case of all Cocoa browsers for MacOS X (Safari, Camino, OmniWeb, etc) and Firefox. Please see the documentation for your particular browser/operating system to turn this option on.


I found works on the same subject, now what?

Books often have a unique scope, target audience, style, and method of teaching a subject. If two or more books are similar enough you can see what others think by suggesting a merger on the discussion page for one of the books or pages and leave a quick note with a link on the other discussion pages. If you know which book or page you would like to merge works into the discussion should be done on the discussion page for that book or page, and you should also add {{mergeto}} or {{mergefrom}} to the pages or books in question. You should use the Wikibooks:Decision making process to decide when or if you can merge them yourself.

Is there a standard convention for X?

See the Manual of Style

What file formats are supported?

SVG is preferred for diagrams, maps, and other non-photographic images. You can use JPEG for photographs, and PNG for drawings. GIF can be used instead of PNG, but it is discouraged because of patent reasons. Ogg Vorbis is preferred for sound; MP3 is tolerated but also discouraged for the same reason as GIF.

Why limit pages to 30 kilobytes in size?

Some people use dialup or use mobile devices which can drastically effect the length of time it will take to download and load a page longer than 30 kilobytes. Additionally some web browsers may have an upper limit on how much text can be placed into or edited in text boxes.

How do I undo vandalism or restore a previous version?

See Help:Editing#Reverting and Wikibooks:Dealing with vandalism

What is Recent Changes, and what do the abbreviations there mean?

Recent Changes lists all the edits that have been made over a given time period. See Help:Tracking changes for info.

Why are some links different from others?

Pages which have not yet been created or started either appear in red or include a question mark next to them depending on your preferences. Either way, you can click on that link and start a page with that name. Please search Wikibooks before starting new pages on a topic. Books may already have a page on the topic you wish to contribute to, or there may also be a book on the topic you wish to contribute to. See Wikibooks:Naming policy for information on how to name pages.

What happens when two users edit a page at the same time?

This is called an "edit conflict". The first person to click "Save page" has their changes saved. The second person will get a conflict screen that displays both versions in separate windows, along with a summary highlighting the differences (typically showing the edits of both users, except those which both have made exactly the same), and instructions on how you should proceed. It's virtually impossible to lose any data.

Can I lose my work mid-edit?

If your computer or web browser crashes mid-edit you may lose your work. Firefox can sometimes recover from this, and will not only return you to the last page you were at but include any changes you've made to text boxes. If the server is unresponsive, you can often recover your work by clicking the back button. To some extent, you may be able to guard against work loss by using a word or text editor.

Is there an easy way I can track changes?

If you are a logged-in user, on every page you will see a link that says "Watch this page". If you click on it, the page will be added to your personal watchlist. Your watchlist will show you the latest changes on your watched pages. Every page also includes a rss and atom feed that anyone (even unregistered users) can subscribe to which can be used to keep track of a page's changes.

Can I adjust the number of changes shown by default?

Yes. The number of changes shown by default can be changed in your preferences.

Can I link to other websites?

Wikibooks is not a web directory. Books should be reasonably self contained. External links should be relevant and support works, not replace works. The current convention is to place external links on dedicated page specifically for all links. However, sometimes links are placed within footnotes or in a separate section at the bottom of a page. See Help:Editing#External links for different ways to create external links.

A contributor is being unreasonable. Help!

See Wikibooks:Staying cool when the editing gets hot and Wikibooks:Problem users.

Copyrights

Can I copy works to Wikibooks that I got special permission for?

Unless you have permission to use textual works under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, a similar and compatible license, or the work is in the public domain, the work cannot be used on Wikibooks. So you may have to ask the copyright holder of the material to license it under GFDL (See Wikibooks:Boilerplate request for permission). Any other works must satisfy the requirements set out by Wikibooks:Media.

Can I copy public domain works that are reproduced in copyright works?

A copyright claim cannot be made provided the out-of-copyright work hasn't been altered. If it was in the public domain before they used it, it's still in the public domain afterward.

Does using a GIF image violate the GFDL because of its patent?

Note: the LZW patent owned by Unisys has expired on June 20, 2003 in the United States, and have also been expired in other countries since July 7, 2004. Some of the below may no longer be relevant Like all legal questions, however, there are still issues to be resolved, including other conflicting patents on the LZW algorithm, as well as data compression patents that may more generally apply. "Consult an attorney for more legal advice."
The LZW compression algorithm used with the GIF format is patented . It is nevertheless legally permissable to produce gif's and release them under the GFDL, just like it is legal to produce a CD-ROM with GFDL material even though the CD-ROM format is patented. People who write or use gif creation programs are bound by the patent. There may also be separate licensing fees for distribution of patented multimedia data formats like GIF images, which if not in fact at least in philosophy violate the principles of the GFDL, preventing you from freely using the image or picture. That is why free software generally does not support the format anymore. That being said, we encourage Wikibookians to use the technically superior and patent-free PNG format instead of GIF.

Works in Japan cannot be released into the public domain! What can I do?

Technically, there is still expiration in Japan too. So if the works exceeded expiration term, they are considered public domain. Otherwise, they cannot be public domain.

Terminology

See also Help:Glossary

What's the difference between a page and a module?

The term "page" encompasses all the material on Wikibooks, including instructional resource topics, talk pages, documentation, and special pages such as Recent Changes. "module" is a narrower term referring to a page containing an instructional resource entry. Thus, all modules are pages, but not all pages are modules. See Help:Pages#Modules for more.

What is an orphan?

An orphan is a module that no other module links to. These can still be found by searching Wikibooks, but it is preferable to find another module where a link can be added. You can find a list of orphan modules from Special:Lonelypages.

What is a stub?

A stub on Wikibooks is a very short module, generally of one paragraph or less. Most people hate stubs, even though they are probably a necessary evil. Many excellent modules started out as short stubs. Existing stubs should be expanded into proper modules: there is a hand-made list at Wikibooks:Find or fix a stub, and a generated list at special:Shortpages.

What is a minor edit? When should I use it?

When editing a page, a logged-in user has the option of flagging the edit as a "minor edit". When to use this is somewhat a matter of personal preference. The rule of thumb is that an edit of a page that is spelling corrections, formatting, and minor rearranging of text should be flagged as a "minor edit". A non minor edit is basically something that makes the entry worth relooking at for somebody who wants to watch the module rather closely, so any "real" change, even if it is a single word. If information is added to, or removed from a page then the edit should not be marked minor.
This feature is important, because users can choose to hide minor edits in their view of the Recent Changes page, to keep the volume of edits down to a manageable level.

Miscellaneous

Does Wikibooks use cookies?

HTTP cookies are not required to read or edit Wikibooks, but they are required in order to log in and link your edits to a user account.
When you log in, the wiki will set a temporary session cookie which identifies your login session; this will be expired when your browser exits (or after an inactivity timeout), and is not saved on your hard drive.
Another cookie will be saved which lists the user name you last logged in under, to make subsequent logins just a teensy bit easier. (Actually two: one with your name, and one with your account's internal ID number; they must match up.) These cookies expire after 30 days. If this worries you, clear your cookies after completing your session.
If you check the "remember my login on this computer" box on the login form, another cookie will be saved with a hash of your password (not the password itself). As long as this remains valid, you can bypass the login step on subsequent visits to the wiki. The cookie expires after 30 days, or is removed if you log out. If this worries you, don't use the option. You should probably not use it on a public terminal! See also: Help:Account management#Logging in

Where do I find more information beyond this FAQ?

You can start by reading the introduction at Wikibooks:Welcome. Help:Contents lists all the help pages that Wikibooks has. You may also find some books on Wikibooks helpful, such as Using Wikibooks or Editing Wikitext.