Type of site
Multilingual (72 active sub-domains)
|Launched||November 24, 2003|
Wikisource is an online
The project holds works that are either in the
Some individual Wikisources, each representing a specific language, now only allow works backed up with scans. While the bulk of its collection are texts, Wikisource as a whole hosts other media, from comics to film to audio books. Some Wikisources allow user-generated annotations, subject to the specific policies of the Wikisource in question. The project has come under criticism for lack of reliability but it is also cited by organisations such as the National Archives and Records Administration.
The original concept for Wikisource was as storage for useful or important historical texts. These texts were intended to support Wikipedia articles, by providing primary evidence and original source texts, and as an archive in its own right. The collection was initially focused on important historical and cultural material, distinguishing it from other digital archives such as Project Gutenberg.
The project was originally called Project Sourceberg during its planning stages (a play on words for Project Gutenberg).
In 2001, there was a dispute on Wikipedia regarding the addition of primary-source materials, leading to
The project began its activity at ps.wikipedia.org. The contributors understood the "PS" subdomain to mean either "primary sources" or Project Sourceberg.
Project Sourceberg officially launched on November 24, 2003 when it received its own temporary URL, at sources.wikipedia.org, and all texts and discussions hosted on ps.wikipedia.org were moved to the temporary address. 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.
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.
This system assists editors in ensuring the accuracy of texts on Wikisource. The original page scans of completed works remain available to any user so that errors may be corrected later and readers may check texts against the originals. ProofreadPage also allows greater participation, since access to a physical copy of the original work is not necessary to be able to contribute to the project once images have been uploaded. Thus it enhances the project's commitment to the Wikimedia principle that anyone can contribute.
ThomasV built other tools as well: when the choice of whether publishing annotations or not was discussed, he made a gadget to offer the choice between texts alone or annotated texts. When the choice of modernizing or not the texts was discussed, he made another gadget to modernize the original text only when it was wished, so that it could be decided then that the texts themselves would be the original ones.
- ▶ Example: Old ſ (for s) and other old spellings on French Wikisource
Within two weeks of the project's official start at sources.wikipedia.org, over 1,000 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 2,400, 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.
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 with Chapter LXXIV of Six Months at the White House, a memoir by painter Francis Bicknell Carpenter. In November, 2011, 250,000 text-units milestone was passed. But counting was difficult because what constitutes a text-unit could not be clearly defined.
On May 10, 2006, thewas created.
Wikisource collects and stores in
A scanned source is preferred on many Wikisources and required on some. Most Wikisources will, however, accept works transcribed from offline sources or acquired from other digital libraries. The requirement for prior publication can also be waived in a small number of cases if the work is a source document of notable historical importance. The legal requirement for works to be licensed or free of copyright remains constant.
The only original pieces accepted by Wikisource are annotations and translations.
An initial wave of 14 languages was set up by
As of February 2023, there are Wikisource subdomains for 74 languages of which 72 are active and 2 are closed. The active sites have 5,547,799 articles and the closed sites have 13 articles. There are 4,326,937 registered users of which 2,338 are recently active.
The top ten Wikisource language projects by mainspace article count:
For a complete list with totals see Wikimedia Statistics:
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 yet have their own language subdomains. Some of these are very active, and have built libraries with hundreds of texts (such as Esperanto and Volapuk).
- 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).
Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger has criticised Wikisource, and sister project Wiktionary, because the collaborative nature and technology of these projects means there is no oversight by experts and therefore their content is not reliable.
Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has criticised the English Wikisource's project to create a user-generated translation of the Bible saying "Democratization isn't necessarily good for scholarship." Richard Elliott Friedman, an Old Testament scholar and professor of Jewish studies at the University of Georgia, identified errors in the translation of the Book of Genesis as of 2008.
In 2010, Wikimedia France signed an agreement with the Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France) to add scans from its own Gallica digital library to French Wikisource. Fourteen hundred public domain French texts were added to the Wikisource library as a result via upload to the Wikimedia Commons. The quality of the transcriptions, previously automatically generated by optical character recognition (OCR), was expected to be improved by Wikisource's human proofreaders.
In 2011, the English Wikisource received many high-quality scans of documents from the
- "Transcribe | Citizen Archivist". Retrieved 4 October 2013.
- The Cunctator (2001-10-16). "Primary sources Pedia, or Project Sourceberg". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- The Cunctator (2001-10-16). "Primary sources Pedia, or Project Sourceberg". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Sanger, Larry (2001-10-17). "Primary sources Pedia, or Project Sourceberg". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Wales, Jimmy (2001-10-17). "Primary sources Pedia, or Project Sourceberg". Wikipedia. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Starling, Tim (2004-07-23). "Scriptorium". Wikisource. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- "Wikisource.org". Wikisource.org. 2005-08-27. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- Proofread Page extension at MediaWiki. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
- ProofreadPage at Wikisource.org. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
- "100K" discussion on Scriptorium. English Wikisource. 14 February 2008. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
- "Mission statement". WikimediaFoundation.org. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
- "Wikisource". Wikimedia.org. Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
- "What is Wikisource?—What do we exclude?". Wikisource.org. Wikisource. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
- Philips, Matthew (June 14, 2008). "God's Word, According to Wikipedia". Newsweek.
- 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". Wikitech.wikimedia.org. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- "Server admin log for June 2, 2006". Wikitech.wikimedia.org. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- "Wikisource Statistics". Meta.Wikimedia.org. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- For an automatic list of local main pages, see Category:Main Pages; for a formatted list, see the wikisource.org section of the Wikisource portal.
- "Wikiversity.org". Wikiversity.org. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- "La BNF prend un virage collaboratif avec Wikisource" [BNF takes a collaborative turn with Wikisource]. ITespresso (in French). NetMediaEurope. April 8, 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
- "Wikimédia France signe un partenariat avec la BnF" [Wikimedia France sign a partnership with the BnF]. Wikimédia France (in French). April 7, 2010. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
- "French National Library to cooperate with Wikisource", Wikipedia Signpost. 2010-04-12.
- McDevitt-Parks, Dominic; Waldman, Robin (July 25, 2011). "Wikimedia and the new collaborative digital archives". The Text Message. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved 2011-09-29.
- Danny Wool on Wikisource (Wikimedia Foundation article).
- A personal perspective on the history of Wikisource by Angela Beesley
- Early discussions and plans for the project (Meta)