From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
This is a proposal for a new Wikimedia sister project.
Status of the proposal
Reasonno support. Pecopteris (talk) 03:34, 20 August 2023 (UTC)[reply]
Details of the proposal
Project descriptionUsers could ask questions and other users could answer them.
Potential number of languagesOne wiki per language.
Proposed taglineThe free reference desk
Technical requirements
New features to requireNot unless the question namespace is used
Interested participants
User:King jakob c 2

WikiRefdesk will be a project where a user can ask questions. These would then be answered by the project's contributors. Once one or more complete answers have been provided, the question (and the answers) would be retained. The asker's curiosity would be satisfied, and furthermore, the question and answer would be available for future viewers who are curious about the same thing. Users would be encouraged to search the archives before asking a question. Completely redundant questions could be deleted, while questions that are very similar to, but not completely identical to an existing question could be redirected.

The WikiRefdesk idea shares similarities with several other projects, but is different enough that it should have its own project. First of all, there is Wikipedia, a site that provides comprehensive general knowledge on millions of topics. But it has little to offer when a person cannot find what they want to know. There is the reference desk, of course, but it does not receive terribly high traffic, only about 700 views per day. Millions of people visit Wikipedia every day. It's hard to believe that only 700 have questions not answered by Wikipedia. On the other hand, Wikimedia projects typically get several thousand views per day (at least), and there is no reason to assume that WikiRefdesk would be different. Wikiversity and Wikibooks are sites people would suggest using instead of WikiRefdesk. Wikibooks has the same problem as Wikipedia, but does not even have a reference desk. Wikiversity is an environment for learning, but it is to be more for learning subjects than the answers to specific questions. So WikiRefdesk is best as a stand-alone project.

It would be generally required that answers are neutral and be based on reliable sources, especially when dealing with questions on living people or controversial topics. Limited speculation (except involving living people) might be permitted, if it is noted that it is speculation. Attempts to solicit opinions and/or start debates would be out of scope and should be avoided if possible. Obviously, people could add to and make corrections of answers. This would not be considered debating.

The main types of audited content would be DYKs, Good Answers, and Featured Answers. DYKs would be highly interesting recently-answered questions of reasonable quality. Good Answers would be well-written and comprehensive answers, while featured answers would be answers of exceptional quality.

Groups of related questions/answers could be grouped into categories and portals.

Plenty of people have specific questions. Hopefully this site will help answer them, if it's approved.

Possible site models[edit]

Location of the questions[edit]

  1. Questions are asked by creating a new page. This is then (possibly automatically) marked with a template like {{unanswered question}} until it is answered.
  2. Questions are asked at a central board (or one of several). After they have been sufficiently answered or are inactive, they are moved off the central board.


  1. After someone answers a question, subsequent users add their own answers below the initial answer, not editing the first answer.
  2. There is just one answer per question, which is perfected by multiple contributors.


  1. Questions are moved to an archive after they become inactive for a given amount of time. Further editing is discouraged.
  2. Questions are moved to an archive after they are completely answered. Further editing is discouraged.
  3. Questions are not archived at all, but remain forever open to contributions.

Proposed by[edit]

--Jakob (talk)

Alternative names[edit]

WikiReferenceDesk WikiQA

Related projects/proposals[edit]

Domain names[edit]



Mailing list links[edit]

None yet.


People interested[edit]

  1. As proposer. --Jakob (talk)


Comment Comment Could not this be done via some Wikipedia intern projects or similar? --Zerabat (talk) 13:23, 10 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Comment Comment It is already done inside Wikipedia and the advantage of that is that it also helps check if the relevant Wikipedia articles are in fact answering queries. I think unifying these fora is more important that starting sister projects. In fact reference desk should be more like a virtual librarian in that we should be able to examine reliable sources afresh and examine the Wikipedia articles in the light of queries. Shyamal (talk) 09:34, 16 February 2014 (UTC)[reply]