Using Wikibooks/Policy and Guidelines
Policy and Guidelines
The Reading room is an important discussion area, and most discussions that affect the project will happen there. However, equally important are many of the ongoing discussions about policy, many of which happen on their own pages. These discussions, when they gather enough attention, will typically be announced on the Bulletin Board, or somewhere in the Reading Room.
Wikibooks has a large number of policy and guideline pages. Each page has an associated talk page, and that is where the discussion about that policy or guideline is taking place.
What Kinds of Policies are There?
Wikibooks has a few policies that Wikibookians really need to follow in order to keep this website running smoothly. Luckily, the amount of policy we have is really kept to a bare minimum, and is constantly being modified, expanded, reduced, and rewritten to make sure it's the best we can do.
Here are a few of the most fundamental policies, some of which we will discuss in greater detail in later chapters:
- Be Bold
- ...but don't be reckless. "Be Bold" is a common phrase at Wikibooks. Because everybody has the tools available to make improvements, we expect people to just make them without asking for permission. See something you don't like? Don't complain about it, jump in and fix it! Sometimes however, being bold means not making changes, and asking for other people's opinions. Getting the community involved in a tricky discussion is much better than making controversial changes.
- Neutral Point of View
- Often abbreviated "NPOV", the neutral point of view policy means that we can't use Wikibooks as a tool for pushing a particular social, political, religious, or personal agenda. When writing a Wikibook, you need to make sure to include opposing points of view, and discuss material in a fair and unbiased way.
- Be Civil
- We know that some people are difficult to deal with, and sometimes people can get so angry that they want to say some nasty things to each other. Don't. On Wikibooks, you need to try to stay nice to each other. If you absolutely can't be nice, you need to at least keep the conversation civil. If you can't be civil take a walk, or watch some TV, or check your email. Whatever you do, calm down before you start saying things that you are going to regret.
- Be Mature and Professional
- Some things just aren't appropriate, and we aren't going to list them. You just need to use your best judgment, and try to stay mature and professional. Some people who can't follow this rule post some lousy things on Wikibooks, and we call them "Vandals". We will discuss vandalism, and how to deal with it, in a later chapter.
Those are the most important policy rules, but there are plenty of other policies that you should probably familiarize yourself with. You can find the complete list at Wikibooks Policies and Guidelines. As with any community, there are norms that are pervasive. Important ones are sometimes reflected in the proposed guidelines, policies and information pages in the Wikibooks and Help namespaces. You'll get a feel for these norms as you participate, and some of them will be pointed out to you. For example, Wikibooks has no guideline or policy that says you should add a signature to discussions, but not to content. But this makes perfect sense — so much so that it is a social norm, but is not enshrined in policy.
Who Gets To Write Policy?
Anybody can draft a new proposal, but the community needs to reach consensus on it before it can become an official policy or guideline. Notice that this doesn't mean that nobody rejects the proposal. Instead, a proposal must have overwhelming affirmative support in order to become an accepted policy or guideline.
If you write a proposal that doesn't get accepted, you shouldn't get upset. The vast majority of all proposals, both for new policies and changes to existing ones, are rejected or ignored. Sometimes a good policy author is a good salesperson too. Even the best salespeople can cross the line of harassment, however, so if nobody is interested in your proposals at all you might need to forget about it yourself. As always, a little bit of moderation and personal best judgment is the best prescription.
No policy is written in stone, anything is always open to discussion. However, without strong community support, it can be difficult to change policy. The best way to try and make a change is to start a discussion and write up a quick draft. Any user may write a draft for a new policy or a policy change at any time.
Drafts and Proposals
All new policies start as policy drafts. Ambitious editors create a draft of a proposal that they think needs to exist. Then, a discussion can start about the proposal in a public forum. Drafts are located on the wiki, of course, so they will be edited and modified as various users provide their input. The draft will grow and change over time, and may even spawn entirely separate drafts which can be compared together.
Modifying an existing policy usually requires some sort of public proposal and community discussion. Sometimes, if the proposed changes are large enough, a new unstable version of the policy will be drafted and discussed. The unstable version may lead to individual changes being agreed upon and merged into the existing policy. Sometimes, if the unstable version is different enough and has enough support, it could replace the existing policy entirely.
Once a draft or a proposal has been created, it should be well-advertised to get community involvement. An obvious place to advertise these kinds of discussion is in the Reading Room. The Wikibooks Bulletin Board is a great place to make notifications as well.
Here is a list of some of the policy and guideline pages, and the associated discussion pages. The complete list of all Wikibooks policies and guidelines are located at WB:PAG. Policies that are not open to change or discussion will not be listed here.
These are some of our most important policies that define how Wikibooks works, what kinds of materials we accept, and how our users should behave.
- Wikibooks:What is Wikibooks
- Also known as WIW, this is one of the most important policies on Wikibooks. WIW tells what kinds of books and materials can be hosted on this project, and what kinds of things need to be moved or deleted.
- Wikibooks:Annotated texts
- Similar to WIW, the annotated text policy tells how annotated texts can be hosted here at Wikibooks and how Wikibooks is related to sister project Wikisource.
- Wikibooks:Naming policy
- The naming policy tells how pages should be named, and how books should be organized.
- Wikibooks:Neutral point of view
- Also known as NPOV, this policy is a very important limitation to writing styles here on Wikibooks. Authors cannot use Wikibooks as a forum or a soapbox to push religious, political, or personal viewpoints or agendas.
- Wikibooks:Deletion policy
- The deletion policy tells what kinds of pages can be deleted here at Wikibooks, and how those deletions should be pursued to minimize project disruption.
- Wikibooks has a relatively low tolerance about profanity, but we aren't into aggressive censorship either. The profanity policy describes how we walk the fine line between these two points.
- Wikibooks:Be civil
- Wikibookians should treat each other with respect, if not politeness and kindness. This is more of a rule than a guideline.
- Administrators are held to a certain standard. This policy describes the expectations made of our administrators, and how they should perform certain duties.
Guidelines are things that should be followed, while policies are things that generally must be followed. Here is a list of some of our most important guidelines.
- Wikibooks: Decision making
- Wikibookians don't generally cast yes/no votes. Instead, we try to use discussion, compromise, and consensus to make decisions. The decision making guidelines outline how decisions can be made, and helps to ensure that the voices of all Wikibookians are heard.
- Wikibooks: Editing policy
- More of an editorial philosophy than a rule, the editing policy page talks about some best practices in making edits and interacting with other editors.
- Wikibooks: Be bold in updating pages
- Wikibooks can only grow and improve when its editors are bold in making changes. You don't need anybody's permission to edit, and you can edit most pages at any time.
- Wikibooks: Please do not bite the newcomers
- All our active contributors used to be hesitant new users at one point. We try to treat our newcomers with patience and respect, to insure that they stay to become regular and active contributors.
- Wikibooks: Manual of Style
- Wikibookians have developed a number of best practices that should probably be followed to insure books reach a high level of quality. The manual of style lays down some of these guidelines.
Wikibookians often write proposals for new policy or guidelines, many of which are never accepted by the community. Some proposals are simply forgotten. Some proposals are never formally accepted, but make so much sense that we seem to follow them anyway. The complete list of proposals can be found here: