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How should public domain scientific papers be archived at Wikisource?
Hey, DML. I'm a longstanding contributor to Wikipedia's coverage of dinosaurs
and other prehistoric creatures. Recently I've begun contributing to
Wikisource, a sister project run by the same Wikimedia Foundation that started
Wikipedia. Wikisource uses the same software and philosophy of open
contribution to archive a library of published works that are either freely
licensed or in the public domain. I have been submitting public domain
scientific papers related to paleontology, like the original description of T.
Unlike Wikipedia, Wikisource has a very small community of volunteers and prior
to my own submissions we had very few scientific publications related to
vertebrate paleontology. This has led to uncertainty and controversy regarding
best practice in archiving these sorts of scientific texts. One of the
advantages of the Media Wiki software is that it enables users to easily
connect pages with hyperlinks. Since Wikisource is run on the same software by
the same foundation as Wikipedia and its other sister projects it is common for
related pages on different projects to link to each other.
Some contributors have been using this capability to add links to texts
archived at Wikisource that direct users to related content at Wikipedia and
Wiktionary (just like it sounds- a user-generated Wikipedia-style free
dictionary). In paleontology-related content this tends to mean links to the
Wikisource author pages of paleontologists, links to Wikipedia articles on
taxonomic names, stratigraphic units, and intervals of geologic time, as well
Wiktionary definitions of uncommon words. For instance, the paper describing T.
rex might link to the author page for Barnum Brown, the Wikipedia articles on
Albertosaurus, Cretaceous, Deinodon, Dryptosaurus, Dynamosaurus, Hell Creek
Formation, Montana, and Tyrannosaurus as well as the Wiktionary entries on
words like anterior, incrassate, or transverse.
Including these links is controversial. Supporters argue that the links help
clarify terms and ideas, making the archived works more accessible to a broader
audience as well as enabling readers immediate access to more up-to-date
information to help mentally bracket the text within its historical context to
avoid being mislead by outdated hypotheses. The links are also argued to add
functionality and value missing from available PDF versions of the texts
justifying the effort needed for contributors to archive them and readers
coming to Wikisource as opposed to just reading the original PDF.
Critics argue that linking involves interpretation on the part of the
contributor and the linked content may mislead the reader if it doesn't
correspond exactly with what the original author had in mind. The presence of
many links can also reduce readability with visual clutter and add unintended
emphasis on linked words given that they are more conspicuous than the
"background text". Further, Wikisource offers downloadable versions of each
archived text and some of the less common file formats are incompatible with
I've proposed a somewhat compromised vision. My proposal features internal
links to Wikisource in the standard light blue (these tend to be fairly scarce)
while the more abundant links to Wikipedia and Wiktionary are respectively dark
blue and dark grey. This renders the Wikipedia and Wiktionary links rather
subtle, solving issues of readability and unintended emphasis. An example can
be seen at Wikisource's archive of the original description of T. rex
("Tyrannosaurus and other Cretaceous Carnivorous Dinosaurs"). I'd link to it,
but don't want to get caught in your spam filter. Googling the title and
"Wikisource" should bring it up.
However, the other criticisms of the pro-linking version remain and another
problem is added. Wikisource gives members the ability to change the way links
are displayed in their personal settings, and making the Wikipedia links and
Wiktionary links dark blue and dark grey circumvent this. In defense of my
compromise proposal, however, the number of users who would notice this is
probably vanishingly small or non-existent.
The community at Wikisource has expressed interest in hearing outside expert
opinions about hyperlinking in archived texts. Since paleontologists are often
very interested in the quality and sources of information the public learn from
I decided to ask the DML for guidance regarding this debate.
Should texts archived at Wikisource contain links to related content on other
Wikimedia Foundation projects like Wikipedia and Wiktionary? If so, what kinds
of content are appropriate to link to, how many links do you feel are
appropriate in a given text, and how should these links be presented?
Thanks for any help,
Saint Abyssal/User:Abyssal at Wikipedia and Wikisource