Wikiquote talk:Aims

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Exquisite-kfind.pngThis page is a proposed Wikiquote policy, guideline, or process.
The proposal may still be in development, under discussion, or in the process of gathering consensus for adoption. References or links to this page should not describe it as "policy".

What is Wikiquote actually for?[edit]

This is an attempt to distill guidelines reflecting what readers and editors actually want from Wikiquote. The aim is to reduce the conflict caused by each person having a firm - but different - concept of the project. (Note: my personal interest is more to prevent false exclusions than false inclusions: but each to their own!) JackyR 15:55, 5 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Possible aims[edit]

Wikiquote might fulfill some of the following purposes (incomplete list - pls expand):

  1. Momentoes of films/books/people. Quotes that stick in your mind. You read the whole page: it helps you enjoy the best bits all over again, or celebrate the person. Usually one or two lines each. Eg Casablanca. JackyR 16:48, 4 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  2. "Important" stuff. Quotes which have a life or importance of their own, often used by people who don't know the origin. Usually one or two lines. Eg above: Latin proverbs: Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. JackyR 16:48, 4 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  3. Appendices to Wikipedia. Extracts from primary sources which are too long to be included in a Wikipedia article. Often three or four paragraphs, but could be much longer if a work were out of copyright. (What about a whole chapter? Too long for WP, too short for Wikisource. But format v different from one-liners.) These quotes can add enormous value to WP, but may not make interesting WQ pages on their own. Eg Jean-Jacques Rousseau:On the musicians of the Ospedale della Pieta (reference material for w:Ospedale della Pieta). JackyR 16:48, 4 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  4. Almost like an article. Quotes on a theme, selected to illustrate the theme from different points of view, times in history, etc. Suggested by not adhered to at Abortion. Could just as well apply to automobiles, football, etc. But insisting on balance could create conflict with (3). JackyR 16:48, 4 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  5. Pure theme. Every quote you've ever read/heard on the topic, particularly that supports your POV. If you can find and add more than the "competing" POV, good for you. This is what actually happens at Abortion, which now has size problems, and the likely fate of any cruft-attracting subject. JackyR 16:48, 4 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]
  6. A resource for scholars. Oft-repeated quotations tracked to a verifiable source, for the earliest use identified by the WQ community. Much of modern culture is very difficult to search; by capturing catchphrases and aphorisms close to their origin, future students of language and culture will have a much easier time tracking down the quotations of tomorrow.
  7. A true complement to Wikipedia. Many times, the best way to understand a person or literary work is through the original text—particularly when there are few independent primary sources. Someone who reads through all the quotations in Stephen Jay Gould should leave with a much better understanding of Gould's philosophy (as opposed to his scientific work) than is possible to convey in the Wikipedia article on him, since most of the independent primary sources on the subject share the same (anti-Gould) POV. Someone who reads James Nicoll should have a better understanding of what makes him notable. 121a0012 01:44, 5 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]


I am of the belief that a quotation should never be removed from WQ, unless it is:

  1. truly insufficiently notable,
  2. spurious or defamatory,
  3. substantial enough to constitute a copyright violation, or
  4. clearly not related to the subject of the page.
121a0012 01:44, 5 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]
I disagree with the the idea that quotes should stay unless they meet any of those conditions. For one, "truly insufficiently notable" seems like it could be stretched to include nearly everything, particularly in pages for TV shows and movies, where people are prone to add anything and everything (for example, the Aqua Teen Hunger Force pages was, for some episodes, almost the length of the whole (15 minute) episode. I also think that, for a person (say, an author), you could pull any quote out of one of their books, and just from that, it wouldn't be "truly insufficiently notable." This isn't to say that I think we should have roving bands of editors, stripping quote after quote from each and every page; I would much rather see a well-written guideline for what should be added in the first place, that's followed by editors. The next best thing is having that same guideline, and people occassionally checking some pages for things that "don't belong" and removing them as needed.
Now, as for just what does and does not belong, there are a few clear-cut cases for each. Certainly, the most famous quotes from people should exist in WQ; quotes that don't relate to them at all don't. When it comes to the in-between cases, I would definitely like for people to consider, before adding a quote, whether it adds anything. Does it seem like something that anyone is going to look for, or be any better off for having read? Does it convey a new idea, or an old idea in a new way, or is it just another celebrity giving their opinion on some mundane issue? For adding a quote, I think that if the editor wouldn't be able to explain why that quote matters, they shouldn't add it. For removing a quote, I feel the standard should be inverted; if the editor wouldn't be able to clearly articulate why it should be removed, it should stay. Now, I don't really believe that everyone who contributes is going to follow that, and quotes are going to be added and removed for the hell of it. There is never going to be a rule that will cover all situations, because often, a quote that means nothing to one person may be a source of inspiration to another.
As for the purposes of WQ, I agree with most of the items listed above, with two exceptions. I don't think that #3 really fits with the other listed goals, and in my opinion, it generally doesn't make it easier to find information on these pages. While there are certainly ideas and quotes that aren't a few succinct sentences, reproducing whole paragraphs or pages from books and such is likely only to create large blocks of text that may often be full of text that isn't really important to the overall idea. I would rather see Wikisource start adopting paragraphs-long but not complete texts, or another project picking them up, than to see huge chunks of text reproduced all over here. The quotes here should certainly complement the facts in a Wikipedia article, but treating a page here as a bona-fide appendix seems likely to get away from the "quote" idea that is necessarily the core of this Wiki. As for #4 ("almost like an article"). Certainly quotes in a page can be arranged to show changes in time and culture, and to present opposing or varying views, but they aren't going to tell the whole story of an issue, and I can see it being disasterous to try (because quotes can be interpreted in wildly different ways, including two or more different views, and so you could end up with editors fighting over where to put a quote based on their interpretation). I don't think that WQ should really be in the business of trying to interpret quotes, but rather to present them as they are, with suitable context to frame the quote. (Apologies for being excessively verbose; I'm prone to that sometimes.) —LrdChaos 03:51, 5 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Hello. I'm an administrator on en-Wikisource, responding to a comment by JackyR on our community discussion page. Although a new discussion might be appropriate, I think there's a very clear tendency on Wikisource to reject excerpts and incomplete texts. There are several precedents of such texts being deleted through our consensus deletion process. We welcome interwiki collaboration, so long as our own inclusion guidelines are followed. I'll be monitoring Wikiquote from this account, so feel free to respond here. // Pathoschild 23:15, 5 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]
If that's the case, then, I'm not really sure there's a place for excerpts. I still don't believe they belong here at WQ, because they really dillute the usefulness of quote pages (by filling them with really large blocks of text). It's my opinion that, in most cases, about one or two paragraphs ought to be about the upper limit for inclusion here (with exceptions, of course). Once you start including numbers of paragraphs, pages, or chapters, it makes it that much more of a pain to skip past it (or read through it) to find the quote you may actually be looking for. —LrdChaos 02:10, 6 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Just to clarify: I'm not sure exactly which examples Pathoschild was refering to, but I think excerpts would be acceptible at Wikisource (I am also an admin there) if they can be the basis for a future full text. That would be something sort of like a stub in Wikipedia. In that case, there would be a template on the page indicating that the text is as yet unfinished.

However, if the declared purpose of the page was to include only excerpts, (with the contributor subjectively deciding what parts to excerpt) then it doesn't really belong on Wikisource, and sounds very much like a WQ kind of thing. Note that a previously published collection of excerpts is, on the other hand, perfect for Wikisource. Dovi 11:24, 6 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

We wikisource admins are in danger of clogging up this talk page, just to respond to Dovi we've deleted a few excerts or incomplete works, one I remember is s:Wikisource:Proposed_deletions/Archives/2006/03#OTH_Lamo_Transcript_20040407. That said we do keep some incomplete works, such as speeches, where they are categorised as abridged so that they can be completed later, but as Dovi says we're not seeking to collect works only available in edited form or purposely edited by the contributor before being uploaded. They have no place in wikisource, whether you want to take them on wikiquote or not is up to you. AllanHainey 11:36, 6 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Long and short[edit]

If, as LrdChaos suggests, excerpts have no place at all (not in WP, not in WQ, not in WS), then we're seriously missing a trick. Books can and do use appendices to valuable effect for exactly this sort of material. I very strongly want to include longer excerpts. Looking at Talk:Main_Page/old#Speeches, I'd highlight fonzy's comment:

"Also thsi project will get rid of some of the quotes that cramp the Wikipedia artilces. Alot fo the quotes taht I ahev seen on WIkipedia dont talk about the meaning or what is meant by the quote said. But this is what Wikiquote is for."

But read what else he says, as there is discussion both ways! It's also clear that people have been using Wikiquote for extracts, as well as one-liners. Here are some, to see how they look/feel/function.

For extracts of one paragraph, check out:

For so many one-liners or very short extracts, that the page is as dense as a paragraph, see:

And for longer extracts (these all mine), see:

None of these correspond to a page of easy-read one-liners like Casablanca.

LrdChaos is helpfully clear about his/her objections to long quotes - as I understand you, LC, it's that they throw off the balance of a page, which you see as being a coherent entity which one would expect to read top to bottom? If this is right, we might be able to organize things so that some pages are for one-liners, some for extracts (or top of page vs bottom of page, etc). But only if there's significant support for longer quotes. It's my principal interest in WQ, but I ain't about to hijack anyone else's project! I shall push for them to have their own place... somewhere! :-) JackyR 22:18, 6 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

  • Sorry, that sounded like discussion over. Please: continue to discuss! Long vs short! To delete or not to delete! JackyR 16:06, 7 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]
    • Thank you for introducing interesting examples. I find Rousseau's case very interesting among those. One quote could be very significant to a certain topic (here, a musician in Italia) but at the same time it could be not so significant - at least from a certain POV - for the person whom the very quote originated.
    • "From a certain POV", said I, and it is my own opinion generally - as a metaphysic, I don't think it important. But as a aesthetician, I could imagine it would be useful for some sorts of people - Rousseau is a significant person not only in philosophy in general, but also in musicology & mugical thought. Someone would find a sort of significance in the quote in question.
    • Generally, I concur with JackyR. It would be not helpful to "keep all materials once submitted as possible as we can". Things would go differently on Wikisource, but we handle quotations, it means our materials are already cropped in its initial submission. It reflects someone's POV systematically. And we notice NPOV doesn't mean "to accept all things". We have to give an appropriate weight to our materials according to their significantly. And I think they way we treat would including rejection. It would be disputable, so I welcome input from other editors.
    • Other point. Too large page is always a pain. Like "God", "Abortion", "Religion" ... If we accept all submissions, sooner or later we will face the problem of page size. For readability, it is worthy to consider removing not notable quotes from pages. (Another entrance to dispute).
    • Of course, our "editorship" can work only if we have a thoughtful discussion which is significant and isn't. Perhaps optimistically, but I think our community has a good tradition to esteem discussion and try to fully use it. So on my part, I guess such garderning would work well among us. --Aphaia 07:13, 27 April 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Early discussions[edit]

Additional food for thought can be found at Talk:Main Page/old.