User:Whiteknight/New Book Guide/Accuracy

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A Page is worthless if the information it contains is wrong. Actually, that's not entirely correct. In some cases, a page can be dangerous to readers and learners if the information it contains is wrong. Think about errors in First Aid if you want an example of how a book could negatively affect a person's well-being.

Wikibooks requires that books be verifiable. This isn't technically the same as being "accurate", but the two often go hand-in-hand. A book that is sufficiently verifiable can be considered the truth (or a close approximation thereof). To reach this level of verifiability, the book must either properly cite it's information sources so the reader can see the information reproduced at a website that is verifiable, or the material must be structured in such a way that the reader can reliably reproduce the information at home. This second point is called self-verifability, and is very important at Wikibooks.

Beyond being a a policy here at Wikibooks, verifiability is also one of the page review criteria used here by the FlaggedRevs extension. For a book to be considered "featured quality", it should have very good ratings of verifiability.

Books needing accuracy help are typically in the Revised and Review stages of development.


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Books on Wikibooks should be self-contained. They should start at a basic level where all readers have a certain set of required preliminary knowledge. Then, building on this foundation (which the book can treat as axiomatic), it introduces and develops more advanced topics. Preliminary knowledge can be treated as axiomatic because it should be covered to a high degree of verifiability in a separate book here on Wikibooks, ideally. If not, links should be provided to other places where such information is presented in a verifiable manner.

Because of self-verifiability, Wikibooks tend not to need the kinds of comprehensive footnotes and citations that Wikipedia does. Wikipedia articles are typically presented as if in a vacuum, each article stands alone. In Wikibooks, each page in a book can build logically on the pages before it, introducing new material as an increased understanding of previous material.

Preliminary Knowledge

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Books should list all prerequisite knowledge that is required before reading the book. This includes, but is not limited to, links to other Wikibooks that the reader should have read first, or mentions of important subject areas that the reader should be familiar with. Frequently, this is represented as a particular grade level or reading level that the reader should possess.

External Verifiability

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Material which is not self verifiable, such as material which would put the reader in physical danger, or material which is experimentally impossible should be referenced and sourced as required.

Improving Verifiability

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Improving verifiability can be a complicated task. Here are some methods that can be used:

  1. Create a new list, or improve an existing list, of prerequisites that readers should have before attempting to read the book. Use templates like {{Reading level}} or {{Prerequisite}} on the book's TOC. Only use {{Prerequisite}} if the prior resource is located here on Wikibooks. Also, use {{Corequisite}} for material which the reader should attempt to read simultaneously.
  2. Create a page for "Resources", or "Further Reading", or "External Sources" where bibliographic data can be stored for the whole book
  3. Add notes to a page that discuss additional external reference resources, such as {{SideBox}}, {{info}} or {{warning}}.
  4. Use footnotes with the <ref></ref> syntax. Also, a template needs to be created to help automate formatting for this.
  5. Expand discussions and explanations of tough material
  6. Add more examples of tough topics.

Further reading

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