Wikisource:What Wikisource includes/rewrite

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Inclusion guidelines
Wikisource, as The Free Library, exists to archive the free artistic and intellectual works created throughout history, and to present these publications in a faithful wiki version so that anyone may contribute added value to the collection. This page outlines the guidelines used to determine whether or not particular works meet this goal and are acceptable on Wikisource.

Criteria for inclusion[edit]

In order to be included at Wikisource, a work must be free, notable, and previously published.


The Wikimedia Foundation, which hosts Wikisource, is very concerned about intellectual property rights. Not only are copyright violations prohibited, but also those works which do not allow others to freely re-use them. This means that the work must be in the public domain, or else it must be released under a free license. (Simply being widely available on the Internet is not enough.)

Free licenses[edit]

All publications at Wikisource must be licensed in a manner which allows commercial uses as well as the creation of derivative works. Texts which do not comply with Wikisource's copyright policy will be quickly removed. See Help:Copyright and Wikisource for general help finding copyright information.

All text contributions to Wikisource are released under the GFDL. Users are free to release their work under a less restrictive license, so long as it is compatible with the GFDL.

Public domain[edit]

Copyright is an international issue, and different countries deal with copyright in different ways. Because the Wikimedia Foundation is based in the United States, Wikisource generally only concerns itself with U.S. copyright law. In most cases, if a work is considered to be in the public domain in the United States, it is considered to be in the public domain on Wikisource.

Any fixed work (such as a book, image, or transcript) that was published anywhere in the world prior to 1923 is in the public domain in United States. If a work was first published after 1923, then its copyright status depends on where it was first published. In much of the world, copyright lasts for a fixed number of years (usually 70) after the death of the author. U.S. laws work differently.


Notable works include documentary sources and analytical works.

Documentary sources[edit]

Documentary sources are documents that are created in the course of events. These documents may range from constitutions and treaties to personal correspondence and diaries. More events are being recorded than ever before and this category includes material not historically available, such as historical phone calls, judicial proceedings, and transcriptions of military operations. Documentary sources must be added in their complete form unless a portion of the document is damaged, lost, or unintelligible. The source of these works should be noted in order to allow others to verify that the copy displayed at Wikisource is a faithful reproduction.

Analytical and artistic works[edit]

Analytical works are publications that compile information from other sources and analyze this information. Any non-fiction work which is written about a topic after the main events have occurred generally fits in this category. These as well as any artistic works must have been published in a medium that includes peer review or editorial controls; this excludes self-publication.

Previously published[edit]

Works created by Wikisource users or otherwise not published in a verifiable, usually peer-reviewed forum do not belong at Wikisource. Wikisource is not a method for an author to get his or her works published and make them available to other people, nor is it a site to discover "new talent". (These may have a place at other Wikimedia projects such as Wikibooks.) However it is acceptable to contribute one's own translations of a work into English, or to annotate existing works.

Special cases[edit]

Certain cases of works require a separate discussion.


The English Wikisource only collects texts written in the English language. Texts in other languages should be placed in the appropriate language subdomain, or at the general multi-language website. However, English Wikisource does collect English translations of non-English texts, as well as bilingual editions in which the target language of the translation is English.

For translations, the first priority at Wikisource is the contribution of previously published, public domain translations. However, in light of the fact that there are countless source texts published in other languages that might never be translated otherwise, plus the fact that new, complementary translations can improve on existing ones in many ways, Wikisource also allows user-created wiki translations.

For more information regarding translations, see Wikisource:Translations. Also see Wikisource:Copyright for copyright information pertaining to translated works.


Previously published versions of texts with annotations are the first priority here, but these may be unavailable for copyright reasons, out-of-date, or in need of improvement. This is often especially the case for pre-modern texts (such as ancient and classical texts, and medieval texts).

Annotations may include critical data about the source text itself, footnoted commentaries about words or passages, references, sectioning and section titles, introductions, summaries, indices, pictures, et cetera. In all cases, annotations by contributors must be added in such a way that an undisturbed, "clean" source text is available, either through a technical means or by providing a parallel copy.

For more information regarding annotations, see Wikisource:Annotations.

Note that annotations of an instructional nature designed to facilitate classroom study, especially in preparation for a test, belong at Wikibooks rather than Wikisource (see Wikibooks policy on annotated texts).


Multimedia content added to texts can greatly improve the quality and presentation. Such content includes not only published illustrations or photographs from or about the book itself which are out of copyright, but also original contributions of audio recordings, diagrams, or other content.

Note: Multimedia contributions are subject to Wikisource:Image use guidelines.


Wikisource does not collect advertisements concerning any type of work that are not publications themselves. This includes information about works that have just recently been published, or are protected by copyright, or even those that are in the public domain. Advertisements can take on a number of forms, but the most common ones are written comments or external links.

Anonymous texts[edit]

Determining copyright status generally requires knowing detailed authorship information. Most source texts have an identifiable author (individuals, groups, governments), but there are texts where this information has been lost. Historical anonymous texts are appropriate at Wikisource, and some are even quite important. However, most anonymous texts should not be added to Wikisource unless they have some historical value and have no ambiguity under the copyright policy.

Evolving works[edit]

Wikisource's mission is to collect and preserve works in their published form. In light of this, works whose content is expected to constantly change over time, for the purpose of keeping the work updated, to improve the content matter of what has already been published, or to make the text more comprehensive, are excluded from Wikisource's scope.

A few examples include

  1. Open-ended texts where the author relies upon cooperative efforts by many contributors to finish and improve the work;
  2. Compilations where there are many sources of a particular text, and/or the text is to be constantly updated as more relevant information is found and added;
  3. Lists (see also below).

Reference material[edit]

Wikisource does not collect reference material unless it is published as part of a complete source text. Such information has not been previously published, is often user-compiled and unverified, and does not fit the goals of Wikisource.

Some examples of these include

  1. Lists;
  2. Mathematical constants (such as digits of pi);
  3. Tables of data or results;
  4. Cryptographic material;
  5. Source code.

Note: Reference data that is provided as part of larger publication (tables, appendices, etc.) is perfectly acceptable.

See also[edit]