"What makes this project different than any of the other zillion books online today is the format we've chosen--a wiki," explains Peter Meyers, Missing Manuals' managing editor. "Book viewers will be able to do all the same things they do on any other wiki: view the document, edit it, add to it--in short, whatever they want. The book is going to reside in the site's Help area, naturally, since the book is all about helping people edit and navigate their way around Wikipedia."
Adds Meyers: "Once it's live, our hope is that the Wikipedia community will flock to the book and 'curate' it by adding tips, tricks, and by updating the material to reflect changes to Wikipedia since we've published the original edition. Down the road, when it comes time for us to consider publishing a second edition of the print book, we'll think about whether to incorporate some of the community's changes into the new edition."
The drive to post "Wikipedia: The Missing Manual" to Wikipedia was spearheaded by author John Broughton. Broughton, a registered editor at Wikipedia since 2005 with more than 20,000 edits under his belt, says he's looking forward to seeing what changes and improvements his fellow Wikipedians will make to his book.
"Wikipedia already has thousands of pages of documentation on how to be a good editor. This 'Missing Manual' book is different--it offers systematic guidance for people who want to learn the 'core curriculum,' the critical information needed to avoid running afoul of the rules. The book is organized as a structured process for learning to edit, with numerous tips and tools for easier editing. With this book, Wikipedia now has something that charts the path from novice toward expert, with step-by-step illustrations for every topic along the way."
John Broughton plans to talk more about the migration of this book at O'Reilly's upcoming Tools of Change Conference, which will be held in New York City, Feb. 9 through 11, 2009.
"The Wikimedia Foundation is thrilled that John Broughton and O'Reilly have decided to release John's book under a free license," says Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. "For years, John has done great work creating instructional materials that offer guidance for new Wikipedia editors. Now that the Missing Manual is being released under a free license, people will be able to reuse, update, translate and customize the material in it for different purposes and different audiences, which will make it even more useful for everyone."
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