Wikisource is an online library of free content textual sources, operated by the Wikimedia Foundation. Its aims are to harbour all forms of free text, in many languages. It also provides translation efforts to this end.
Wikisource collects and stores in digital format previously published texts, including novels, non-fiction works, letters, speeches, constitutional and historical documents, laws and a range of other documents. All texts collected are either free of copyright or released under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License. Texts in all languages are welcome, as are translations.
Wikisource does not host "vanity press" books or documents produced by its contributors.
Wikisource had an eventful early history (2003–2005) that included several changes of name and location (URL), and the move to language subdomains in 2005.
The project was originally called Project Sourceberg during its planning stages (a play on words for Project Gutenberg). It then began its activity at a mistaken location, when source texts were placed at ps.wikipedia.org. The contributors understood "PS" to mean either "primary sources" or Project Sourceberg, and they erroneously took over the subdomain of the Pashto language's Wikipedia.
Project Sourceberg started officially when it received its own temporary URL on November 24, 2003 (
sources.wikipedia.org); all texts and discussions were moved there from ps.wikipedia.org. A vote on the project's name changed it to Wikisource on December 6, 2003. Despite the change in name, the project did not move to its permanent URL (at
http://wikisource.org) until July 23, 2004.
Within two weeks of the project's official start (at sources.wikipedia.org), over 1000 pages had been created, with approximately 200 of these being designated as actual articles. On January 4, 2004, Wikisource welcomed its 100th registered user. In early July, 2004 the number of articles exceeded 2400, and more than 500 users had registered.
On April 30, 2005, there were 2667 registered users (including 18 administrators) and almost 19,000 articles. The project passed its 96,000th edit that same day.
A separate Hebrew version of Wikisource was created in August 2004. The need for a language-specific Hebrew website derived from the difficulty of typing and editing Hebrew texts in a left-to-right environment (Hebrew is written right-to-left). In the ensuing months, contributors in other languages including German requested their own wikis, but a December vote on the creation of separate language domains was inconclusive. Finally, a second vote that ended May 12, 2005, supported the adoption of separate language subdomains at Wikisource by a large margin, allowing each language to host its texts on its own wiki.
An initial wave of 14 languages was set up by Brion Vibber on August 23, 2005. The new languages did not include English, but the code en: was temporarily set to redirect to the main website (wikisource.org).
At this point the Wikisource community, through a mass project of manually sorting thousands of pages and categories by language, prepared for a second wave of page imports to local wikis. On September 11, 2005, the wikisource.org wiki was reconfigured to enable the English version], along with 8 other languages that were created early that morning and late the night before.
Three more languages were created on March 29, 2006, and then another large wave of 14 language domains was created on June 2, 2006. Currently, there are individual subdomains for Wikisources in more than 50 languages, besides the additional languages hosted at wikisource.org, which serves as an incubator or a home for languages without their own subdomains (31 languages are currently hosted locally)
During the move to language subdomains, the community requested that the main wikisource.org website remain a functioning wiki, in order to serve three purposes:
- To be a multilingual coordination site for the entire Wikisource project in all languages. In practice, use of the website for multilingual coordination has not been heavy since the conversion to language domains. Nevertheless, there is some policy activity at the Scriptorium, and multilingual updates for news and language milestones at pages such as Wikisource:2007.
- To be a home for texts in languages without their own subdomains, each with its own local main page for self-organization. As a language incubator, the wiki currently provides a home for over 30 languages that do not presently have their own language subdomains. Some of these are very active, and have built libraries with hundreds of texts, such as Esperanto and Volapuk, and one with thousands (Hindi).
- To provide direct, ongoing support by a local wiki community for a dynamic multilingual portal at its Main Page, for users who go to http://wikisource.org. The current Main Page portal was created on August 26, 2005, by ThomasV, who based it upon the Wikipedia portal.
The idea of a project-specific coordination wiki, first realized at Wikisource, also took hold in another Wikimedia project, namely at Wikiversity's Beta Wiki. Like wikisource.org, it serves Wikiversity coordination in all languages, and as a language incubator. But unlike Wikisource, its Main Page does not serve as its multilingual portal (which is not a wiki page).
Logo and slogan
Since Wikisource was initially called "Project Sourceberg", its first logo was a picture of an iceberg. Two votes conducted to choose a successor were inconclusive, and the original logo remained until 2006. Finally, for both legal and technical reasons – because the picture's license was inappropriate for a Wikimedia Foundation logo and because a photo cannot scale properly – a stylized vector iceberg inspired by the original picture was mandated to serve as the project's logo.
The first prominent use of Wikisource's slogan — The Free Library — was at the project's multilingual portal, when it was redesigned based upon the Wikipedia portal on August 27, 2005, (historical version). As in the Wikipedia portal the Wikisource slogan appears around the logo in the project's ten largest languages.
Clicking on the portal's central images (the iceberg logo in the center and the "Wikisource" heading at the top of the page) links to a list of translations for Wikisource and The Free Library in 60 languages.
On November 27, 2005, the English Wikisource]] passed 20,000 text-units in its third month of existence, already holding more texts than did the entire project in April (before the move to language subdomains).
On February 14, 2008, the English Wikisource passed 100,000 text-units.
- 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
- Easton's Bible Dictionary
- The New Student's Reference Work (proofreading of scanned texts)
- Annotated books:
All Projects will be proofread by scanned texts.
- Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie
- Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich
- Rechenbuch des Andreas Reinhard
- Zimmerische Chronik
- Server admin log for August 23, 2005; a fifteenth language (sr:) was created on August 25 (above).
- See the Server admin log for September 11, 2005, at 01:20 and below (September 10) at 22:49.
- Server admin log for March 29
- Server admin log for June 2, 2006
- See the organized lists at Wikisource's Multilingual Portal and Meta's numbered, sortable list of Wikisources by size.