Wikibooks:Policies and guidelines/Vote/What is Wikibooks

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Please review the policy under discussion before voting.

Key Points[edit]

  • Wikibooks is for textbooks
  • Defines what textbooks are and what they contain
  • Omissions aren't a reason to keep or delete textbooks
  • Changes in practice can be more easily reflected one point at a time as they are agreed on.


  • Only registered users with at least 20 edits can vote.
  • Vote ends one week after the last posting or consensus has clearly been reached.
  • Add votes in the format #~~~~


  1. darkYin yang.svglama 22:00, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
  2. Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 22:04, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
  3. SB_Johnny | talk 22:22, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
  4. Webaware talk 03:05, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
  5. Az1568 (Talk) 03:09, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
  6. withinfocus 14:35, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
  7. Jimmyatic 14:46, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
  8. Urbane User (Talk) (Contributions) 15:07, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
  9. Tannersf 21:17, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
  10. ALTON .ıl 03:52, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
  11. Remi 03:22, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
  12. Therequiembellishere 21:16, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
  13. Celestianpower 23:26, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
  14. Mattb112885 (talk) 13:45, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
  15. Mike.lifeguard 01:37, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
  16. alexsmail 10:41, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
  17. hagindaz 00:32, 25 April 2007 (UTC)
  18. Keytotime 14:36, 29 April 2007 (UTC)


  1. Xania Flag of Italy.svgtalk 01:31, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
  2. Panic 01:42, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
  3. Rob Horning 22:15, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
    xixtas talk 01:14, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
  4. The existing policy is far better: far clearer for readers, far more comprehensive, and far more accurate. Uncle G 09:35, 19 April 2007 (UTC)
  5. Cspurrier 21:22, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
  6. Iamunknown 22:45, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
  7. This proposal is definitely a step toward a good direction: it defines textbooks, deals with computer games and omissions. But it lacks clear rules what texts should go to Wikisource (we don't need 100-years-old outdated books here), explicit prohibition of self-promotion and propaganda (it mentions products etc. but not religious beliefs and political opinions). It does not deal with self-censorship as the old one did. I also fear that after mentioning Wikiversity so many times, people will start writing "courses" there being in fact our textbooks. I'm not against the direction of changes in the policy, but I think that in current shape it's still not ready. Also, with so many votes against, there is no consensus to introduce it. --Derbeth talk 14:23, 4 May 2007 (UTC)


  1. Whatever "consensus" is we do not seem to have it about this policy in my view --Herby talk thyme 12:42, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
  2. I still think the language needs work, but I agree with the policy in spirit. xixtas talk 14:21, 16 April 2007 (UTC)


  • I have voted oppose as I believe that video game guides would be valuable to the project and help generate further interest in Wikibooks. People claim that we 'were told' to remove guides but surely such a decision rests with those who are part of the project and not from high above. Plus the list of what's OK for Wikibooks is not exclusive which may cause problems later when someone creates a new book (for example a textbook on rolling joints, or making a nuclear bomb) and finds that it's later nominated for deletion.Xania Flag of Italy.svgtalk 01:36, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I support the view that removing content without a stated limitation of space, and proper data that permits to generates an analysis of quality of the content and interest by Wikibookians, should be objected by default, more content doesn't directly relate to more users/readers but less will certainly contribute to diminishing interest.
There are other problems on this particular "vote", it should have been made more publicly known that it was running, the considerations about the limitation or restriction to the enforcement of the text hasn't been taken in account and it is present on the discussion page, from that I don't think a presumed consensus could be asserted.
As for the text proposed, it has indeed improved but there isn't a need to directly mention the GFDL (as recent posts on the staff lounge indicated) there may be a need to add more licenses in the future a simple reference to the Wikibooks:Copyrights would have sufficed and facilitate evolution on that subject in the future. --Panic 01:56, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
We never delete materials because of space concerns, we delete things that are against policy and need to be deleted.
This vote is not properly advertised, but a discussion of this magnitude will likely be open for a long time, so we dont need to worry right now that people can't find it. It will get more public as time goes on. Also, no consensus is being "asserted", that's why we are putting it to a vote.
It is unlikely that we will ever alter the license here, even if people talk about it on staff lounge. And if we do make such a major change in the future, it is likely that this and many other policy documents will need to be rewritten entirely. I don't see mention of the GFDL as being a good reason to oppose a policy. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 02:03, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I can think of a dozen good reasons why we shouldnt have videogame guides here, and none of them have to do with the fact that Jimbo said we shouldnt have them. We shouldnt make a decision based on our personal dislike of outside authority, but instead based on what is best for the project. Videogame guides technically shouldnt have been allowed under the previous version of the WIW policy, and the ambiguity on that matter has caused many problems. Fact is that most of the videogame guides have already left of their own volition, and the few new guides that are uploaded here are quickly abandoned. Fighting to keep videogame guides here is useless because there aren't many here left to keep. We might as well just cut out the ambiguity and prevent further confusion. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 01:59, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I also see no reason to include Videogame guides. Perhaps another wiki at another time, but as for now, I agree with Whiteknight.--Jimmyatic 14:51, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
People seem to have a problem with both trying to be exclusive and and not being exclusive. People who don't like the exclusive approach raise concern about potential abuse by admins to mass delete anything thats not on the list without any regard to VfD and people who want it to be exclusive point out problems with people adding things which might get deleted later. WIW is never going to be perfect or satisfy everyone. WIW states both 1) that to be on Wikibooks it needs to be able to pass consensus to remain and 2) Omissions are not a reason to justify keeping or deleting books. Surely in its current form any omissions from the policy proposal can be quickly addressed once agreed on, if passed in its current form. If people don't want something to be on Wikibooks its not going to pass VfD and this proposed policy is simply saying it can't be used to justify keeping it. Any book can be nominated for deletion, its up to the community to decide what to keep or delete. What reasons do you think this policy must be exclusive and how does that benefit anyone? --darkYin yang.svglama 02:41, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I also see no reason to include Videogame guides. Perhaps another wiki at another time, but as for now, I agree with Whiteknight and Jimmyatic. alexsmail 10:44, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Can and May[edit]

Question: Why do some of the headings under "What are Textbooks" use "can" and some use "may" is there any difference between these terms in this context? --xixtas talk 13:37, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

It's my understanding that the two words are being used for the same concept, but represent different grammatical uses. A common example of the difference is somebody asking "can i go to the bathroom", to which the common reply is "I dont know, can you?" "can" represents the ability to do something, and "may" represents having permission to do something. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 13:38, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
In which case, "can" speaks to a general state of capacity and "may" speaks to a level of permission. So the items with "can" are attempts at general descriptions of what textbooks (as rather uniquely defined by wikibooks) "are" and the two using "may" speak to what textbook authors are and are not allowed to include? --xixtas talk 14:38, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Although American (at the least) grammar has made the words interchangeable when they are not, "can" is really the ability to do things. Since anyone can edit this wiki, "can" is inappropriate by how I see it. The WIW list is for permissions. I suggest we make a quick fix to rename all the "can" to "may" and unbold the terms as well since I don't see the point. -withinfocus 14:54, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I would agree with a change of all "can" to "may". However i like that they are bolded because it draws attention to the differences. That's just a formatting issue, and it doesnt technically affect the text of the proposal, so i wont throw a fit if the formatting disappears. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 15:04, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
May should definetly remain the bold. alexsmail 10:48, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
I rather like the bold formatting, the point is to draw the readers attention to the differences. --darkYin yang.svglama 16:29, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

"Expensive Proprietary Textbooks"[edit]

I voted Support, but I don't think "We hope this provides a better alternative to expensive proprietary textbooks." in the first paragraph should be included. It just doesn't serve a real purpose... In addition, we is used nowhere else in the document. It shouldn't be included. --Jimmyatic 14:51, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

If that sentence were changed to "it is hoped that..." intead, would it be better? --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 15:11, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
"it is hoped that..." is excellent! But for me, I still believe the "expensive proprietary" in "It is hoped that this provides a better alterntive to expensive proprietary textbooks is too much. Is there any way to change it to be a bit more friendly?
I know what is trying to say, but... it might be too much. But that's just my opinion and it doesn't seem that anyone else has a problem with it so, hey. --Jimmyatic 14:45, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I certainly see your criticism, and I do agree with you that this sentence is out of place. If we can get this policy passed, we can certainly edit or modify that sentence as needed to make it perfect. We dont want to ignore anybody, no matter how few people agree with them. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 14:53, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Missing some of the old "Wikibooks is Not" - Send people to strategy Wiki?[edit]

  • I like most of the changes that have occurred, its certainly much more condensed than it was before, and I think easier to read. Noticably, some of the points about what wikibooks is not (such as, it is not the place to do development, it is not censored, and it is not a soapbox) have been removed, but I'm not sure if they were necessary based on the history of activities here. If we see someone doing the former, we can easily just point them to meta as the right place to go, I'm not sure if the latter should be in policy or not because we don't want this to become myspace once it has shown more growth in readership and contributors, but if there are adequate decision making policies in place (that's another one that'll be worked on once we come to a decision on this one) this shouldn't hopefully be a problem.
  • Other than that, I think the policies themselves as they are are make sense, maybe we should mention strategy wiki as an alternative place for VG strategy guides? The way I see it, VG guides are un-contestably allowed there, so why not encourage people to develop them where there will not be controversy over its appropriateness for the project, rather than here where there has been a significant amount of it? Mattb112885 (talk) 15:28, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
  • IMO the not censored bit I think is more appropriate for Wikibooks:General disclaimer. If you look at the key points of the soapbox section they were covering NPOV, essays and advertisements/self-promotions which are covered in this proposal as Maintain a neutral point of view, Not actively promote or advertise products, services or companies, not essays, or for planning a class curriculum or online learning course and a few other things. The development bit I think may be covered by Wikibooks focuses on textbooks text which also includes Our sister project Media-Wiki has a place for proposing new Wikimedia projects if you cannot find a wiki for what you want to do. So it already points people to Wikimedia for proposing new projects. So hopefully I've addressed your concerns.
  • I don't think suggesting StategyWiki as a place to post VG strategy guides should be a problem. I'll add it. --darkYin yang.svglama 16:29, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree, some people want to keep videogame guides here, but we really need to consider that wikibooks isn't perfect for the game guides, and that strategy wiki is perfect for them. Game guides at strategy wiki simply have more potential to succeed then a guide here. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 15:18, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
As I believe my criticisms have been addressed (or can be after the vote has closed) and the objections I have seen have mostly been either minor or refuted without counterargument, I have voted yes. Mattb112885 (talk) 13:45, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Travel guides[edit]

  • Can we get some agreement as to the use of Wikibooks for storing travel guides? Discussion here: 1 and 2 this could be a growth area. Pluke 16:43, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
    • I think that's another can of worms that we really shouldnt be opening right now. This proposal states that ommissions from it's text cannot be used as a justification to keep or delete materials. In other words, anything that isn't stated specifically is not to be implied from the text. Travel guides are not explicitly mentioned here, which means that it is up to the judgement of Wikibookians to determine whether they belong here on a case-by-case basis. Of note, Wikitravel is an excellent place for hosting travel guides, and if the controversy here surrounding them is too great, i would suggest authors could try moving them to that other site. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 16:59, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Policy vs. Guideline[edit]

I will agree into making this a guideline (the actual version, not the proposed), since the enforcement of this text is not needed (as it doesn't indeed define nothing, it provides guidelines on acceptable content), this is further reinforced with the declaration "Omissions should not be used to justify keeping or deleting pages or books.", I think no one that has opposed this as a policy will object making it a guideline.
Can anyone point out what if not to block the creation of non compliant material will be the purpose of making this a policy? --Panic 16:47, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
This page is a foundation piece for our entire project, and will have a dramatic effect on future operations here. Making this a guideline simply shouldn't be an option, and I wont agree to it at all. This policy is enforceable because it defines things that are not acceptable to be here. This policy can be used as justification to delete things as per our deletion policy, especially in discussions at VfD. The fact that omissions to the policy cannot be used as deletion justification does not mean that the policy itself cannot be invoked to justify any deletions. It only means that things that are not specifically specified are not implied. There are several things in that proposal that are specifically mentioned, however. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 16:56, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Ok "This policy can be used as justification to delete things as per our deletion policy" that is why I will not support it, what if a VfD goes against (or seems) one of the definitions on this text. VfD is a very specific analysis of a work it should be able to supersede any "static" definition. --Panic 16:59, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Reverting Copyright to GFDL is an error since the GFDL doesn't provide information about the invariant sections (the GFDL limitations we use), and in fact makes the statement incorrect. --Panic 17:07, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
As a policy this proposal would allow VfD to supersede any "static" definition given through being able to pass community consensus. It also specifically mentions the deletion policy as the process to be used for removing/deletion pages. --darkYin yang.svglama 17:17, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes the enforceable section is very disarming (txs for making it more readable), that is why I don't understand why to push it to be a policy in the first place, it really says it doesn't define anything and does nothing, it's just a bunch of guidelines on what should or not be here on Wikibooks. --Panic 17:40, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Wikibookians are not robots, they are allowed to make decisions in just about all matters. Many sections of this policy are intentionally left vague to preserve the power wikibookians have to make decisions on these kinds of matters. Furthermore, in VfD, admins may use judgement as to whether to delete or not delete a page, and that judgement is based in large part off this policy, and the arguments that wikibookians make concerning this policy. There are real tangible effects from this proposal, and making it a guideline will only encourage people to be more loose in their interpretation, and more willing to disobey it all together. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 17:49, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Guidelines aren't open to be disobeyed without a good reason, and this shouldn't be a policy that enforces personal judgments, because they are personal and may not reflect the spirit or the intention of what is written down, in this case the text has no written enforceability (teeth), it goes as far as to state that it does nothing than provide a guideline of what content is acceptable or not. --Panic 18:06, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes, without a good reason. But when it comes down to it, everybody treats the deletion of their work as a "good reason". It has written enforceability, it is enforceable through the deletion policy, which it expressly mentions. WIW discusses what to delete, the deletion policy discusses how to delete it. The two work together, and are very enforceable. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 18:17, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
That was my point if it is enforced by another policy why does it need to be a policy? What you seem to be atempting to state is that it defines or gives guidelines to the implementation of another policy, so it should be a guideline, what makes you think that by doing that we are degrading its intentions. I expect you are not assuming bad faith from users ("only encourage people to be more loose in their interpretation, and more willing to disobey it all together"), apart from that I don't see any other point on making it a policy and see benefits in making as lose as possible to permit evolution and new formats to appear and be chalanged. --Panic 18:35, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Say what you want to say, I wont try to change your mind because your mind is demonstratedly unchangable. Enough other people see a value in making this a policy and, considering your history of misunderstandings and misinterpretations, your failure to see that value is inconsequential to me. this proposal fixes a number of ambiguities that plagued the previous version, including a much-needed definition of the term "textbook" which is invaluable to this project. It is the cornerstone on which all other policies are based. We will wait until more votes are cast, and we will see what the community wants. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 19:43, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Wikibooks are released with no invariant sections. See the template at {{GFDL}}. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 17:22, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I know that, you know that, but if the text is to be made useful it should not induce in error, a work with invariant sections is GFDL but will not pass out limitation and so not be acceptable for Wikibooks, not all users click in every Wikilink, even the link is misleading it names the GFDL but links to the copyright page, geez, that was what I was stating from the start. --Panic 17:40, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Major changes without discussion prior to vote[edit]

  • The latest changes since the last comment on the talk page are so numerous and has so completely gutted the previous policy that I can't possibly support this change. This was not simplification, and I am actually shocked that not even a simple comment like "I've cleaned this up for clarity" was even put in the edit history. For such a major change from this version has not even had so much as a minor comment. I would consider the diff beteween this version I noted and the one under proposal to be huge, and certainly has not achieved any sort of concensus. I also strongly disagree with the ultra strong tone of "Wikibooks is only for textbooks" that seems to come across. --Rob Horning 22:24, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
    • Excuse me for asking for some clarification here, but are you saying that people should vote against this policy (or at least that you are voting against it) because it's a big change from a previous version of the proposal, and because the edit summary isn't satisfactory? This page represents a straw poll to gauge the level of consensus, it doesnt make sense to me that we should have to acquire consensus on the policy talk page, and then require it again here. If that is your position, then I say we should delete this page completely, and simply get consensus once on the module talk page. As to your last objection, there is certainly a strong "Wikibooks is only for textbooks", but this proposal is intentionally vague in specifying what precisely a "textbook" is. For comparison, the current version of this policy also states unambiguously "this is for textbooks", but makes no attempt to define what a "textbook" is in terms of our project. So it's my opinion that the fact that "Wikibooks is for textbooks" is not being changed with this revision, but that an effort has been made to define what a "textbook" is. Notice that under the current vague definition many different types of educational resources do qualify as being "textbooks" for inclusion here. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 15:49, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
      • To clarify here, I felt that we were making some significant progress on this policy before the major changes were made. I also don't think this is a mere straw poll to gague concensus but rather a ratification of a major policy. As with nearly any heavily edited page on any Wikimedia website or even any Wiki at all, if you make a substantial change I feel it is incumbent that the person who made the changes should offer reasons why the changes were done. I didn't see this happen here, certainly not to the degree I'm accustom to on Wikipedia or even to pages I've been involved with here on Wikibooks. And to move this to become the "official, enfoced policy of Wikibooks" when such changes occur presuming that no futher debate can occur to change the policy is where I think this has gone too far. Sure, once this vote happens it can still be changed, but it will develop its own inerta resisting any real substantive change of this order. --Rob Horning 07:08, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
    • If I understand correctly your opposed because the edit summary didn't include a simple comment on what was done. As can be seen here, its simply not true. While I did not say "I've cleaned this up for clarity", I did summarize what I had done and I disagree that the result was a huge change. The points are the same, except for the absents of a disclaimer which was replaced with a link to the content disclaimer. I agree with Whiteknight, that it doesn't make sense to have to acquire consensus twice. --darkYin yang.svglama 15:01, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
  • I may be mistaken, but I thought that the point of the unstable branch was to propose changes without reaching consensus, and without changing the currently-active policy. I agree that it is the point of this vote to secure consensus, and though the talk page can and should be used to get peoples' opinions as far as how the policy is coming along, but I do not think we should discount the vote simply because editors did not leave a message every time they changed something.
  • With that said, I will ask you: what do you think of the policy in its current state? Mattb112885 (talk) 13:51, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
    I don't mind it so much, but I did raise several objections that key points were missing from this proposed policy that were in the previous version(s) of this policy, and were IMHO important enough not to be omitted simply due to simplification. I felt that a rough compromise was made that preserved some positive language, but this current version represents a major change from that previous compromised version. I'm not objecting to discounting changes without comment, but to make these kind of changes and move this policy to enforced status immediately after those changes are made is where I am objecting. I just don't think this version has had the same level of previous review and compromise that earlier versions of this policy, even in the unstable branch, had achieved and it was premature to bring this to a vote in such a condition. --Rob Horning 07:08, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • Maybe I'm dense or unable to read between the lines, but I don't see anywhere on this page, where you previously objected to the current proposal missing key points that the previous version had. So I have no idea what key points your referring to. What key points do you think are now missing? --darkYin yang.svglama 12:19, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
  • I would also like to express that I dislike what I perceive to be a textbooks-only policy and further and, further, that I do not like the plethora of inclusion-related policies that we are now getting. If we are going to have Wikibooks:Annotated texts, then we logically have Wikibooks:Textbooks; both would entail what type of texts are permitted on Wikibooks; I, however, would like to see an inclusion policy written that includes all items of consideration in one text and is less textbooks-only. --Iamunknown 23:04, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
    • For that exact reason I started a proposal at Wikibooks:Textbooks, but it didnt gather any attention. I think it's a better idea to have many smaller policy pages then a single gigantic one, but that's a minor point really. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 23:19, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Textbook definition[edit]

Regretfully Oppose. The definition of "textbook" is too idiosyncratic and arbitrary. "Textbook - A formal manual of instruction in a specific subject, especially one for use in schools or colleges." --xixtas talk 01:30, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

To explain this a little better, there is a section entitled "What are textbooks" this is followed by a set of bullet points. These points describe wikibooks but they are not a good description of textbooks. Take the bullet point "Textbooks are not mirrors for contents on another website." If this phrase is taken out of context it is a non-sequitur of gigantic proportions, on the order of "Apples are not golf courses on the beach." Well of course they are not. But looking at it a little deeper one finds that textbooks *can be* mirrors of other web content. In fact, the purpose of the GFDL is to allow "mirrors" of our content in various forms. Take "Textbooks may be printable or have printable versions, but textbooks are not paper, limited in size, intended to remain static or be restricted in any way." In real life, textbooks can be (and most real textbooks are) restricted in many ways. Even the books we write here are heavily restricted judging by this document and the results of VfDs. Also clearly most textbooks are paper. I would like to avoid saying things that are generally not true in our policies and guidelines. --xixtas talk 14:07, 14 April 2007 (UTC)

Not to be silly, but that's something I find frustrating about the name of our project. This is Wikibooks. We write wikibooks. So it gets difficult to talk about what a wikibook is in the plural. Maybe switch to "A Wikibook is not paper", to sort of clarify what we're talking about?
In a very general sense, I've been keeping a distance from this change of WIW, because (as I've said in many places), it just seems a bit overambitious. The repeated deadlocks remind me of the way the US congress makes those odd, very large bills, rather than passing small items (we need some pork to spread around, eh?). If we're going to redo the whole thing, why not do it charter-style, where we just approve a very simple version, then add or subtract materials in a line-item fashion? This is how it's done on w:WP:NOT, and by doing it line-item style, the policy has been kept stable over time, while allowing changes to be made when the need arises. --SB_Johnny | talk 14:17, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
Every time I've seen them referred to as wikibooks, I've found it to be confusing. Its not always obvious whether its referring to name of this website or some book. For this reason I don't think wikibook is a clarification. How about "Textbooks are not limited to paper" or coming up with a different word other then textbook or wikibook to use? --darkYin yang.svglama 16:05, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
In response to Xixtas, I would like to point out that we are not attempting to repeat any previous definition of the word "textbook", but we are instead redefining that word for our personal use here. The things that we make here are obviously not traditional "textbooks", although there are several connotations of that word that we would like to adopt for our use here (while changing many of the specific points). We could use a confusing term like "Wikibooks is for wikibooks" or something equally rediculous, but that would then require a section to define what precisely a "wikibook" is. We could say that "Wikibooks is for apples", and then go on to say that "an apple is an instructional resource for learning". Wikibooks simply aren't traditional textbooks, but at the same time there is no other word that would be better adopted for our purpose. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 15:49, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
Wiki-Books? --SB_Johnny | talk 17:16, 15 April 2007 (UTC)
Any arbitrary word that we choose is going to come with problems. I really think that the word "textbook" is the best because it is a non-fiction work that is used primarily for education and instruction. Any other word, such as "wikibook" or "Wiki-Book" won't carry those connotations and additional effort will be needed for clarification (besides the effort of changing all mention of the word "textbook" in all our policy and help pages to say "Wiki-Book" instead). --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 03:09, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

I went through and changed the parts that really bothered me regarding the defining of "Textbook" but tried to stay true to the spirit and what I believe was the intended meaning of the original. (Then I restored it to avoid confusion.) My edits. --xixtas talk 20:40, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

I have read your edits and I like them. I agree with you that there is certainly some confusion stemming from semantics and that it's not entirely clear that we are redefining the word "textbook". I did not see anything in your rewording that struck me as deviating from the intent or spirit of this proposal at all. However, if we rewrote the policy now it would essentially invalidate the current vote and cause us all to start over from square one. I am in the minority here in that I have a much greater sense of urgency to pass this proposal then most people do. I feel that this proposal corrects many of the ambiguities of the previous version, and would be a great boon to our project as we try to move forward. If I may be so bold as to suggest such a thing, might I ask that we save these changes and criticisms for after this policy has been accepted? Changes to the wording and grammar of an accepted policy dont require the lengthy political discussions that the acceptance of an entirely new proposal do. Once the proposal is made official, clarifications are as easy as making the changes and hoping nobody complains. Clarifications and changes in semantics can become the first order of business after we get the hard part (community approval of the policy) out of the way. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 03:06, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
If my opinion is seen as the one that makes the difference between consensus and non-consensus then I will stand aside. I don't think that is presently the case, though. I will switch my vote to abstaining. --xixtas talk 14:18, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I would agree that some small changes that do not change the meaning or intent can happen afterwards if this policy is passed. The restriction bit I will admit may not be clear. The intent is that textbooks may not necessary share other restrictions of paper either, rather then the interpretation of not being restricted in the broader since. Eg, paper is limited in size, is static and have other restrictions that textbooks here do not necessarily share. I hope by saying this here, it will help insure that the intent of the restriction bit is kept later on, since I noticed its removal from edit xixtas made. --darkYin yang.svglama 13:03, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
How about "..or be restricted by the limitations of traditional paper books." ? --xixtas talk 14:10, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I've made some minor changes to try to address some of your issues with the wording of the proposed policy. --darkYin yang.svglama 17:45, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
Much better in my opinion. --xixtas talk 21:08, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Summary and why I at the moment will not change my vote[edit]

I was thinking on changing my vote since the ground I most object to the text now is the rational that was expressed on making it a policy, but I found that there are other points to still object to.

  1. "Textbooks are not mirrors for contents on another website.", this statement is incorrect or at least badly stated if I take the meaning as for what it intends expressing.
  2. I'm still not comfortable in why make it a policy and not a guideline the text only have 3 lines of NOTs and even those can be a bit vague for instance "other literary works", and the somewhat problematic list of musts. The reason given to make it a policy seem only based on assuming bad intention from users that will lead to directly challenge the text if it is a guideline, I take this as a working in reverse of assuming god faith, or at most an express intent to block or kill content that doesn't conform with text before it is created (in doubt don't do it), I think this shouldn't be the way we look at this text that is indeed a guideline (as it clearly has no enforcement power) or a specific definition to be used and enforced on by another policy.
  3. "Be released under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.", again the devil is on the details, this statement is incomplete (not to say in error) because Wikibooks license in not simply the GFDL but GFDL with some limitations, or put in another way not all GFDL content can be used on Wikibooks. The link is correct as it direct the user to the copyright page but the textual information induces in error (this may not be only a problem with this text but should be corrected if possible).
  4. "textbook content must"... "Be accurate, verifiable, peer reviewable and have a distinct book definition.", this will place all current books without a book definition in violation of policy, more it can even generate conflict, for instance the first "scope or book definition" created for the C++ Programming book was created by an outside (non contributor to the book) administrator, without any regard to the book editors, more it may be seen as a way to limit or shape book evolution of enforce and empower a battle over it (the reason of my fork of the C++ was also based on such divergence on the evolution of the work), I envision editors without previous contact with works start to Be Bold and with good intention engage in the activity of providing every book the missing definition. What to do when the content is against the definitions or vice versa.
  5. must "Be more than a collection of articles or list of terms, quotations, facts, images or other pieces of information.", to generic and without enforcing the need to consider a book at any stage as unfinished, this will not only invalidate a book in project but also create problems to slow editors.
  6. must "Not cover more than one subject (although limited off-topic content should be tolerated if it increases the effectiveness of the textbook).", to generic, can a book be about flowers or only a specific type of lower, can a book cover multiple CPUs, Programming languages etc... In specific can't the C++ Programming book address Programming Patters ?
  7. must "Not violate official Wikibooks policies or ignore official guidelines without a good reason.", is there any reason to the existence of this line ?

I call your attention that policies can't be broken, stating MUST is stating an unbreakable obligation, there are no good justification to break policy... --Panic 00:59, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

As is my typical style, I will try to address this in a point-by-point manner.
  1. Wikibooks is about the creation of new material, not about the collection of existing material. It is fine to move some GFDL material here, but technically that is not our goal here. Mirroring content implies holding a static copy of materials, when in fact materials on our project are open to be edited and modified. This might be vague, but is not incorrect.
  2. "Literary" has two meanings, and the meaning most commonly intended from that particular usage is "The collected stories of a nation, people group or culture". It is intended to mean works of fiction, although again there are some ambiguities. The intending meaning of it, and the spirit of it, is not incorrect. Also, it's not a matter of bad faith, it's a matter of finality. We want to be able to say, in a pinch, that X either does belong or does not belong. Opening up to say that there are possible reasons where the policy may be broken, even with good reason, will allow things to be here that dont belong.
  3. A minor omission, and one that can be easily and quickly corrected once the voting is over.
  4. It does not say that the definition needs to be explicit. But, half your book can't be written about algebra for teenagers, and the other half of your book written about dogs for senior citizens. The C++ book, for instance, is consistant, and a scope is implied.
  5. There is strong VfD precedent not to delete books that fail this criteria, so long as there is a possibility of improvement. There is a difference between a book that is temporarily a macropedia until it is finished, and a book that is intended to be a macropedia.
  6. Again, dogs and algebra. Writing a book about "flowers" is different from writing a book about "Roses and petunias", or even "Trees and Flowers".
  7. Is there any reason against it? Consider the White Heritage Security book (long since deleted), that technically didn't violate WIW, but was still a policy violation. Because it was a violation, it was deleted.
Many of the points that you bring up are matters of clarifications or rewordings. We can't change the version of the policy being voted on now, because changing it will invalidate the vote. However, making small changes in wording after the policy has been accepted will be much easier, especially if the changes represent an improvement in clarity. I would ask you to vote now on the "spirit" of the policy, and we can make fixing the particular words a primary concern after the voting is over. What we should do is make a list of small changes that need to be made, so that we can go through and make them at the end. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 01:19, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Existing policy is far better[edit]

Can you explain more what you mean? Whats unclear, incomprehensive and inaccurate about this proposed policy? --darkYin yang.svglama 13:42, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

  • The existing policy includes quite a few specific statements that are only obliquely stated, if they are even stated at all, by this poor proposed replacement. One example is "Wikibooks is not a free wiki host or webspace provider.". These clear titles are necessary. Without them, the policy is at best unclear, and indeed wholly inaccurate where it actually omits them entirely. It should be noted that most of the "What this project is not" policies of the various Wikimedia Foundation projects are phrased in the way that the existing policy is. ("X is not a news service." "X is not an encyclopaedia.", "X is not a free web space provider." and so forth.) To diverge from that common standard so acutely, as this poor replacement proposes to do, only serves to confuse people coming from other projects. Uncle G 11:11, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
Have you seen Wikinews:What Wikinews is or w:Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not? They both use lists rather then titles. I disagree that it diverges from some common standard, that there even is a common standard, that titles are necessary, and that using a list instead of titles makes the proposal unclear or wholly inaccurate. I don't believe "Wikibooks is not a free wiki host or webspace provider" is necessary in this proposal because it contains "Pages that do not aid in the creation of textbooks do not belong here". --darkYin yang.svglama 14:09, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

I disagree entirely, the old version doesnt even describe what a "textbook" is, which I consider to be a very important (critically important) omission. This version also includes more examples of things which do and do not belong. In short, this version answers all the questions that the old version ignored. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 22:28, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

  • The current policy links to w:textbook for a definition of what a textbook is, and the statement that are are more examples is simply false. (There are fewer examples, and the text is less detailed. The proposal omits mention of WikiSaurus, for example, and does not contain several of the points made in the existing policy about annotated texts.) If that is the rationale underpinning the attempted wholesale removal of entire swathes of the existing policy, as is being done here, then it is a bad one. Uncle G 11:11, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
    • Annotated texts already comprise a separate policy, and attempting to discuss that subject at length in two places gives rise to policy contradictions which should be avoided. Also, the way we are using the word "textbook" is not traditional, and is not adequately covered by the linked wikipedia article. It is in our best interest to redefine the word as we need to be more accurate, and not foster the confusion that comes from trying to combine our books and traditional printed books into the same small category. We don't mention tons of other wikis either such as wikispecies, wikinews, or wikiquote. We do say that wikibooks is not a thesaurus, so maybe we could include a link to wikisaurus if that's a big sticking point for you. the "wholesale removal of entire swathes of the existing policy" should be encouraged, where those swathes are redundant or rambling. There are many sections of the existing policy that aren't even related to the "what wikibooks is" subject. The new proposal is more concise, presents the same necessary information with less verbage and less confusion; it omits the things that were worth omitting, and includes only the things that are worth including. Furthermore, much of the information that you think we are losing is being shuffled into other policies or guideline documents instead. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 13:52, 24 April 2007 (UTC)
Annotated texts has its own enforced policy now, there is no need to repeat it here, a link to it is provided within this proposal instead. WikiSaurus is part of Wiktionary, I don't think that a specific mention of it is necessary, but I don't think its addition would a major change either. What things are omitted? I agree with Whiteknight that this proposal does a better job answering questions that the old version did not. Linking to the traditional definition of textbook is not helpful, because textbooks on Wikibooks hardly fit the tradition definition or mold of the word. By providing a definition within the proposal it provides clarification on what textbooks are to Wikibooks and helps to emphasize the mission of Wikibooks better. --darkYin yang.svglama 14:09, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Voting_is_evil and Don't_vote_on_everything[edit]

I have some problems with this vote, namely that it is a vote :). The whole format of it encourages dividedness and discourages consensus. I would strongly encourage everyone to read (or reread) the two meta pages above. --Cspurrier 21:36, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

I strongly support that view but due to the way consensus decission is defined we have to vote and numbers do matter. I would support a change to the decission process to abolish direct voting by default in decisions. :) --Panic 00:28, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure I agree with this, it seems that there's a lot less discussion around here until someone proposes a vote, then all of a sudden all of the opinions come out [or if they had come out, they were in an out of the way place such as a user talk page that perhaps not everyone would read, or deep in some archive]. Without knowing such opinions it is impossible to achieve a consensus. Perhaps the vote shouldn't be used to decide to accept or reject the policy, but simply as a gauge of how everyone thinks it is going, once the discussion has stagnated (as Rob pointed out, the discussion on this particular policy had, for whatever reason, halted despite continued changes, and it took a vote to get out peoples' criticism of the changes). I will agree though that a vote can often throw a lot at us at once rather than focusing on getting consensus of one thing at a time, but whether you want that or not depends on if you like to look at things as a whole or in parts, and I think everyone's different in that regard. Regards, Mattb112885 (talk) 12:39, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Mattb112885, for better or worse, discussion increases when a proposal is brought to a vote. Voting seems to be the only method that works right now for getting an increased idea of what the consensus is on a proposed policy. Very few people seem to want to be involved otherwise and its generally always the same people who are involved. --darkYin yang.svglama 13:00, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
That's most probably true Darklama but one reason I don't discuss these proposed policies before they are put to a vote is because I don't know they're happening. Xania Flag of Italy.svgtalk 17:14, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I agree with User:Mattb112885, if you look at this page there is significantly more discussion happening then there is voting. Read my comment below for the specifics (i would have posted it here but i read that section first). Basically, the focus is on the discussion here, and there is plenty of it. It is also worth noting that there would not be this much discussion if we hadn't started a "vote". --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 23:15, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

My objections to the proposed policy[edit]

I dislike the inclusion of the one subject rule. It is vague and/or overly inclusive. Under this rule could a book on say Criminal Justice include a chapter on US Law? If no, why not? Any other CRJ textbook would. If it can then the rule is vague enough to imply that it can not. I also found the book definition part as written to be vague and I do not see the point. --Cspurrier 21:36, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

If we're going to have a policy then we must be very clear about what the rules are. If we continue to be vague about details then there's no point in having the policy.

Interestingly although you claim to dislike this vote because it's a vote, I see that you have voted. Xania Flag of Italy.svgtalk 21:56, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

I do dislike votes, but if we are going to have them I will vote --Cspurrier 21:59, 21 April 2007 (UTC)
While the page is named "vote", I dont think that this really has anything to do with a normal democratic vote. Wikibooks:Decision making is clear that these kinds of matters are never decided by a "majority vote". That guideline also is clear that consensus can be measured with a straw poll. People who oppose the vote are heavily encouraged to discuss their objections here, and it is on the strength of those objections and following rebuttals that the matter will be finally decided. If anything, the "votes" above are little more then markers for the comments listed below.
As to the one-subject rule that you are discussing, the intent was that books that are clearly on two distinct subjects should be split into two books to better cover both subjects. A book on criminal justice is expected to have chapters about law, but also possibly other subjects such a forensics, psychology, etc. All of these subjects would be unified along a particular narrative, however. For instance, we don't want a CRJ book with a chapter on "computer and printer maintenance" because criminal investigators typically need to repair their own computers. We also don't want a book with "Criminal Justice and Dog Care", even if K-9 units are integral parts of some criminal investigations. --Whiteknight (talk) (projects) 23:12, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Step in the right direction, but lacks clear rules[edit]

This proposal is definitely a step toward a good direction: it defines textbooks, deals with computer games and omissions. But it lacks clear rules what texts should go to Wikisource (we don't need 100-years-old outdated books here), explicit prohibition of self-promotion and propaganda (it mentions products etc. but not religious beliefs and political opinions). It does not deal with self-censorship as the old one did. I also fear that after mentioning Wikiversity so many times, people will start writing "courses" there being in fact our textbooks. I'm not against the direction of changes in the policy, but I think that in current shape it's still not ready. Also, with so many votes against, there is no consensus to introduce it. --Derbeth talk 14:23, 4 May 2007 (UTC)

There is a Annotated texts policy now, which is linked to from within WIW/Unstable, which covers the issue of what texts should goto Wikisource. Religious beliefs and political opinions are covered by the neutral point of view policy, which is mentioned within WIW/Unstable as "Maintain a neutral point of view". I believe "Be considered acceptable through community consensus when there is a dispute as to its appropriateness" covers self-censorship as does the Wikibooks:Decision making policy which is linked to from within WIW/Unstable. I also believe one of the disclaimers pages, such as the General Disclaimer, is a better place to cover the issue in more detail. I disagree there is no consensus to introduce it, there are more people in favor then opposed and there has been very little in the way of rebuttals when someone has responded to the reasons for opposing the proposal. Suggesting that people's concerns may have been addressed to there satisfaction. --darklama 20:24, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Or suggesting that we're just tired about arguing about this proposal. Don't take the silence to mean that the former opposers are now in support - they are not. If we had changed our minds then we would also change our votes. Xania Flag of Italy.svgtalk 20:28, 9 May 2007 (UTC)
Well if someone remains silent there is no way to know if its due to being tired or satisfied. I don't take the silence as a sign of support, but rather abstaining from a decision. I think if people feel that the reasons for opposing have been antiquity addressed, then enough has been done to move forward in making the decision to accept it. Thats even used in the example of one method to reach community consensus in the decision making policy. I'm just disagreeing that opposed votes are necessary enough of to say that community consensus has not been reached. --darklama 20:49, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Next step?[edit]

It seems to me that this policy has failed to reach consensus. Therefore, I would like to ask what you all feel the next step should be in reaching an acceptable compromise. I know Darklama has been making some edits to the existing policy, how do you feel about them? If willing, I think at this point people should make and discuss their own edits as well, and hopefully we'll arrive at something acceptable. Mattb112885 (talk) 14:48, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

I know this might be a depressing suggestion to those who have been working so hard on this, but maybe just make a minor change to the policy by adding a single line: "This policy may be changed incrementally by the addition, subtraction, or modification of particular points, each point to be decided upon separately." Then we could just pass minor amendments when we feel the need, rather than having to rewrite it every time. I think this would be advantageous for 2 reasons: first, because it will let us move through those changes that we already agree upon anyway, and second, I strongly believe that horse trading, poison pills, and "pork" just don't belong in a consensus-driven "society" such as ours... we can leave that to the republics and the democracies. "What is Wikibooks" should contain only and all of those policies that we all consent to. It's not about compromise or trading this for that. It's about coming to agreements, or in some cases coming to see one's view as contrary to that of the community, and agreeing to disagree. Changing things a bit at a time is much better for us. --SB_Johnny | talk 17:48, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Do you mean start back at square one? Its a possibility, to do that and then pass amendments to that until it is up to snuff instead of starting with the rewrite and trying to modify that, not sure which method would be better though. If we do take your suggestion then I'm sure there are some things that the community can agree should / can be change. I have to agree with Robert's earlier point that many of the changes were done without discussing until now we have a completely different policy and never really ironed out the details, and therefore if we start again from scratch (or some pre-agreed midpoint) we'd have to make sure we remember that mistake. Mattb112885 (talk) 04:57, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
There are a few issues with the current policy, we wouldn't have attempted a complete (and controversial) rewrite if the current policy was perfect. That said, Wikibooks is at somewhat of a disadvantage compared with other wikimedia projects. Wikipedia had Jimbo, and later the WMF to help guide it. In many occasions, the correct direction for wikipedia to take was mandated from above. Other newer projects, such as wikiversity had their missions and charters determined before they were even created, so that those projects start off with no ambiguity as to their goals or the types of acceptable content. Wikibooks doesnt have either of these things, and so we are on our own to find our own path.
I only say this because i want to point out that we do have a harder time, but I also want to stress that progress isn't futile. We can't rely on external influence, so we do need to rely on each other. Numerically, if you look at the votes you can say that the majority of people are in favor of this proposal. However, because we are a community, and because we only have each other to rely on, a simple voters majority simply can't be made into policy; especially not a policy that is so important.
I do agree with Johnny, we need to take this in baby steps. However "baby steps" does not mean that progress will not be made, or that it must be made painfully slow. --Whiteknight (talk) 17:58, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Babies can get around alarmingly quickly (from a parents' point of view)! Perhaps change the "amendments amendment" to read:
  • "This policy may be changed incrementally by the addition, subtraction, or modification of particular points, each point to be decided upon separately. Such calls for consensus should be announced using Mediawiki:watchdetails (thus making it appear on all registered users' watchlists), and if there are no major disagreements these changes will be put into place 2 weeks after the call for consensus."
Baby steps can get you to the cookie jar, as long as you don't keep moving the cookie jar further away. --SB_Johnny | talk 19:04, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
I dont know necessarily that every little change needs to be announced on Mediawiki:Watchdetails. Also, non-admins can't even edit that page, so essentially non-admins wouldn't be able to propose new ammendments. I think it's a better idea for people to add Wikibooks talk:What is Wikibooks to their watchlist and propose all changes there, or we could propose all changes at the Project staff lounge page, which most people should already have on their watchlists. --Whiteknight (talk) 19:09, 10 May 2007 (UTC)
Speaking of non-admins editing, could someone un-protect the WIW page? If the version under consideration failed to reach consensus there's no point to keeping it protected.Mattb112885 (talk) 04:50, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
Proper way to go about it is the proposer to declare the proposal as closed and state the status of the discussion on the date it closed (for future reference). Why was it protected in the first place ? Proposals should point to the proposed text (history log) and should continue to evolve freely based on the discussion, am I missing something ? --Panic 02:36, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

(reset) As far as I can tell, it's only protected against pagemoves. Why would you want to move the page?--SB_Johnny | talk 08:17, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

It was previously protected against editing to maintain stability while it was being considered, it no longer is protected. I thought usually the standard procedure was someone other than the person who opened discussion declares it closed, maybe that's only for VFDs and RFAs and things like that though. Regards. Mattb112885 (talk) 19:37, 12 May 2007 (UTC)
Oops, sorry, i actually thought you were talking about WB:WIW (and wondering why it would need to be edited). --SB_Johnny | talk 23:10, 12 May 2007 (UTC)