Wikiquote is an open source quote resource run by the same people who gave the world Wikipedia, Wikibooks, Wikinews and several other online open source projects. It can be accessed at http://www.wikiquote.org. Like many of the other Wiki projects, it is a spin-off of Wikipedia; its creation was the result of an excessive amount of quotes being added to encyclopedia articles on Wikipedia.

The site functions somewhat like an online version of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations or other quotation websites. It is, however, up to the user to determine which quotes are worth archiving. Users can also view quotes based on their topic, source, country of origin (for proverbs) and the order in which they were added to the site.

History and process

Wikiquote was first created in 2003 as part of Wikipedia. Its early growth was impressive, as it attracted over a hundred registered members in its first two months. Though it was always viewed as a separate part of Wikipedia (quotes could be organized neatly onto one page as opposed to cluttering up article pages), its URL was a subdomain of the encyclopedia for the first two months of its existence. Wikiquote.org was registered in August of 2003.

As was the case with most MediaWiki projects, the site’s first incarnation was in English. It has grown, however, to include dozens of other languages, including Bulgarian, German, French, Polish, Czech, Portuguese, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Mandarin, Finnish and Swedish. The English version is still the largest, though the German and French versions also have more than 1000 articles, most of which include dozens of quotations.

The site’s overall structure and layout is based on the other MediaWiki sites. Users can edit articles using the same page structure and markup language the other resources use. The majority of article layouts involve bulleted lists of quotations. Lengthy lists are often broken into smaller sections using subheadings. It is common for users to add anchor links at the top of the page for easy navigation.

Wikiquote articles are often linked to relevant Wikipedia articles, in order to discourage the overuse of quotes in the encyclopedia. Up until the creation of Wikiquotes (and even for a time after), it was not uncommon for biographical entries about public figures to include lists of quotes at the end of the article. Lists of quotes are better suited to Wikiquote, whereas integrated quotes work better as a part of Wikipedia articles.

Setup

Each page has a list of quotes from or about that particular source. This means that certain quotes appear in more than one place. For instance, Courtney Love’s coldhearted statement (which she later recanted and apologized for) that Tori Amos’ cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit was “the reason Kurt killed himself” appears on her own page, on the Tori Amos page, and on the Kurt Cobain page (erm, it used to be. Really).

Quotes proven to be misquotations or false quotations are moved to the bottom of each page under a ‘misquotation’ header. The user who moves the quote is expected to provide as much information about the misquotation as possible. This is preferred to completely removing the quote, as such an action leaves room for it to be posted again by someone who doesn’t know it’s fake.

Rules

Open source projects have often been described as a recipe for disaster. MediaWiki has, much like it has with Wikipedia and Wikinews, established some rules pertaining to appropriate content and conduct. Users are expected to be reasonable when posting quotes, particularly with regards to the identity of the speaker. Quotes from famous people and public figures are in the clear, quotes by Wiki users and their friends are not (except on user profiles, where just about anything goes).

The administration also urges caution with regards to authenticity. Unlike many quotation sites, Wikquote attempts to address the issue of misquotations by allowing for a section on each page of quotes misattributed to that page’s subject. The user must also adhere to the standard Wikiquote format, which groups sourced (with citation) and attributed quotes together.

Copyright is another huge issue; brief song lyrics (and not entire songs, same goes for poetry) are generally permitted, though the administration again stresses the importance of extreme caution. Similarly, entire public domain works are also not permitted. Such documents have a Wiki project of their own.

Organization

The site’s main page includes ‘selected links;’ these are often articles and pages that the administration recommends to users or pages that receive the most hits. They are split into categories (people, occupations, literary works, etc.) and several more specific examples are required. The user is then taken to a page where he or she can choose a specific article. Sub-categories include pages about occupations, epitaphs and famous last words, all of which are always popular quotation fodder.

The main page also features the ‘Quote of the Day,’ a quotation selected randomly from the database. The administration is developing a new system that allows users to suggest and vote on quotes for this feature. The plan, it would seem, is to increase user interaction on the site and heighten what appears to be an existing sense of community. The system would function based on which quotes are suggested, users would vote, and the highest rated quote would be set aside for a Quote of the Day. A Quote of the Day archive lists previous selections.

One of the main organizational elements of Wikiquote is its use of categorical organization. The main categories are Themes, People, Literary works, Folk proverbs, Films, Theatrical plays and musicals, Television shows, and Electronic games. Several sub-categories exist within each main category. The site’s categories and sources can also be browsed alphabetically.

Community

Wikiquote’s main page includes an entire section on the site’s community aspect. This includes a guide to formatting and creating articles, certain rules and regulations, the history of the project and a list of links to other language versions.

Some of the site’s categories, such as proverbs and quotes by world leaders, cross language barriers. These are usually provided in their original language as well as in English. It can be quite interesting to see how famous quotes translate into other languages, and how familiar proverbs are relayed in other dialects.

As is the case with other Wiki projects, each article can have its own discussion board, on which people discuss changes and additions (as well as removals) to the page. This, according to the administration, is a way of keeping quality quotes coming in and preventing people from deleting pages en masse.

It’s very, very easy to spend a ridiculous amount of time (read: hours) reading Wikiquote because of its great entertainment and educational value. Personal favourite sections include the proverbs and searches by category. Wikiquote's extensive nature and user inclusiveness makes it far superior to most other quote resources.

Resources:
Wikiquote http://www.wikiquote.org
Wikiquote – Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikiquote
Hours of endless browsing

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