[Foundation-l] Wikiquote: to be, or not to be

Andrew Whitworth wknight8111 at gmail.com
Mon Sep 8 12:49:42 UTC 2008

On Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 12:59 AM, John Vandenberg <jayvdb at gmail.com> wrote:
> There is a discussion on Meta to disband Wikiquote, or at least
> consider the problems it faces and how to move forward.
> http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Metapub/On_disbanding_Wikiquote
> So far it is mostly people who have doubts about its utility, so
> broader participation is desirable.  I appreciate that this is not
> going to be a pleasant discussion for regular contributors to
> Wikiquote, but I see it as a worthwhile discussion, even if it only to
> re-affirm the community support for having a quote project now that
> the encyclopedia and library project are rapidly encroaching on its
> territory.

I know this proposal is probably offensive to some people. Nobody
wants to see "their project" closed, no matter what problems it may
have. I've seen this with projects that are much worse off then
en.wikiquote, and I would expect nothing less from the quoters (what
do their members call themselves?). However, a little introspection is
only dangerous for projects that are truly superfluous. Assuming there
is some real merit in keeping wikiquote, and I don't suggest
otherwise, then asking these types of questions will help them to
identify problems, identify areas of strength, audit their surpluses
and shortcomings, and refocus themselves on their core missions and

Some questions that I think WQ needs to ask itself, possibly with
input from other projects, are:

1) What is the boundary that differentiates a quote from a source? If
we have a transcript of length X, at what N is X > N suitable for
Wikisource and X < N suitable for wikiquote? Obviously, N is not going
to be a firm number, but having a clear answer to this question will
help silence some detractors who say WQ should be merged into WS.
2) Is the purpose of WQ to store, source, and organize quotations in
an analogous way to how Commons handles media? If so, we should be
pursuing technical means through which quotations from WQ can be
easily transcluded into works that require them, such as WP, WB, WV,
and WN.
3) If a contemporary figure makes an important statement, is that the
jurisdiction of WQ, WN, WP, or a combination thereof? That is, is WQ
trying to follow current events, or is it focusing on a more
historical perspective?
4) Is a GFDL site license really appropriate if the vast majority of
content on WQ is not released under that license? If we have quotes
that are too old for copyright (and therefore PD) or quotes that are
too new (and therefore being used as some kind of fair use), does
having a GFDL stamp on the website really make any sense?

I'm not in favor of closing wikiquote, but then again it could turn
out to be the correct decision if questions like those above don't
have clear and suitable answers. I hope people take this issue
seriously because Wikiquote could seriously benefit from some
thoughtful introspection.

--Andrew Whitworth

More information about the foundation-l mailing list