Using Wikibooks/What Is Wikibooks
What is Wikibooks?
Wikibooks is a collaborative book authoring website, where users from all over the world work together to write textbooks and other types of instructional books on many topics. It is a Wikimedia project, operated by the same group of people who run Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation. You can edit this page, and almost all pages like it, at any time. That is the basic principle of Wikibooks: anyone can edit it.
The Wikibooks project was started in 2003, and has become one of the largest free e-book websites in the world. There is more information about Wikibooks in the information page Wikibooks:Welcome. In the early history of the project there were many high and low points, but more recently things have begun to even out. Wikibooks has a large volume of books on a variety of different subjects, and a vibrant community of volunteers who write and maintain them.
Wikibooks is a completely volunteer online collaborative community. Many members of Wikibooks are anonymous in that they have not provided much, if any, information about themselves. Wikibooks does not have a government nor any form of centralized decision-making body. Instead, all decisions are decided by the community via discussion, compromise, and consensus.
All changes are implemented by our hardworking volunteers. Let's reiterate: anybody can edit nearly any page at any time, often anonymously, and there is no central governing body to keep everything running smoothly. How does the project function at all? How do we keep things running smoothly, much less make progress?
The secret is the dedicated volunteer community, a community that we will discuss in more detail later (later in the Introduction, and again later under Contributing To An Existing Wikibook).
What is Wikimedia?
The Wikimedia Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation that oversees the operations of Wikibooks, Wikipedia, and a variety of other projects. Some of these projects are:
What is Wiki?
The word "Wiki" is derived from the Hawaiian word "WikiWiki", which means "quick" or "fast". A wiki is a program that lets users generate content quickly. On almost every page in a wiki, there will be an edit button. Clicking on the edit button allows any user anywhere in the world to modify the contents of the page, and add new content. Some wiki websites restrict who can edit pages, but Wikibooks does not.
Pages in Wikibooks are written in a special format called "Wikitext". Wikitext is very similar in many respects to HTML, and several pages are written using a combination of Wikitext, HTML, and CSS.
The advantage of Wikitext is that it's very simple and quick to write. A large amount of formatting can be accomplished with a very small amount of effort. Also, the Wikitext helps to keep features on Wikibooks, such as page section titles and other formatting, standardized. The section The Wikibooks Editor will focus on using Wikitext.
Wikibooks has specific criteria for the inclusion of new materials. The name "Wikibooks" is a bit of a misnomer in the sense that this project does not allow all books to be hosted.
On the contrary, only the small subset of instructional non-fiction books are allowed to be hosted here. Traditionally the term used was "textbook", although blurring of the definition led to the current standing that wikibooks allows "Textbooks, manuals, and other instructional texts". The final interpretation of whether or not a particular book belongs on Wikibooks is left up to the community.
It is worth noting that Wikibooks overlaps considerably with the Wikiversity sister project. Materials that are outside the scope of Wikibooks may very well be suitable at Wikiversity.
Wikibooks also puts a premium on creating material, not just hosting material. While we do allow materials to be donated by authors, we always insist that the material must be editable. Also, historical works that are no longer under copyright should not be posted to Wikibooks, but instead should go to Wikisource.