User:Whiteknight/Stubs

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Due to a severe shortage of time, I am no longer able to be an active member of the Wikibooks project. Please see my page for more details about my absense. I will continue to monitor my talk page for correspondence and will try to reply quickly when possible.

Stubs, books without meaningful content, or books that have not made progress within any reasonable amount of time are frequently listed for deletion at WB:VFD. This essay will explore that practice.

Stub Books[edit | edit source]

Stub-books are wikibooks that have little or no content. This is different from a stub-page, which is an individual page in a book that has little or no content. A book composed entirely of stub-pages, but which has a clear scope and organizational structure is not a stub-book.

I will be using the word "stub" from here on out to refer to stub-books only, and not stub-modules.

Do Stubs Belong?[edit | edit source]

Stubs have a place in wikibooks, but they also cause problems. A book is a big responsibility, and it is far preferable to contribute to an existing book then it is to create a new book. This is especially true for people who don't know how to start a new book, and who aren't aware of the work requirements to make it "good".

Book Foundations[edit | edit source]

Wikibooks grants it's contributors a certain amount of liberty, and this is most evident in the amount of freedom and latitude that wikibooks grants to the initial or primary author of a particular book. The primary author essentially gets to steer the ship, in addition to designing the ship and constructing the ship. Initial authors can decide unilateraly how the book is going to be laid out: how the book is going to be titled, how the chapters are going to be named, how the pages are going to be structured, etc. For this reason, people who start a book need to have a particular vision in mind, or the book will become sloppy at best.

Stubs on bad foundations[edit | edit source]

Unfortunately, it's this freedom that is the biggest problem with stubs: If an initial author creates a book with a specific vision (or even with a complete lack of vision, which is far worse), and abandons it, what is to become of it? Future authors may see the stub and say "This book needs more content, and I can add it!", but far more likely, a new contributor will say "I don't understand what the original author was intending, I don't know why he made these decisions, and I don't like this book at all". In such a case, the new author will either a) drop the subject entirely, and possibly leave wikibooks because of the apparent lack of quality, b) Contribute to a different book instead, or c) create their own book on the exact same topic, but with a structure that makes more sense to them (notice that it might not make more sense in general). And now, following option C, we can be left in a situation where we may have two stubs on the same subject, and this doesnt help anybody.

Stubs in the long term[edit | edit source]

A stub is a book that has little or no content, and also has little or no definate structure. If a book isn't self-explanatory in it's intentions, future editors will be confused by it, and probably abandon it entirely.

Creating a book, writing content, editing, revising, and polishing are all processes that will take a large amount of time. Stub books shouldn't just be deleted because they are stubs, but instead could be deleted for being irreparable stubs, or hopeless stubs, or even eternal stubs. A stub needs to be a stub for a long time, therefore, before it should be considered for deletion.