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This is a proposal for a new WMF sister project.
Status of the proposal
ReasonNo other support and can be done by 3rd party service.--GZWDer (talk) 06:20, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

Wikiabstracts - A database for abstracts.

The idea[edit]

Texts are the basis of most sciences. Within texts the knowledge is conserved. A lot of people working with texts are confronted with the problem to find texts relevant for their work. The search for proper information is a difficult and time-consuming process. Additionaly the abundance of new publications hardly anybody can survey. Wikiabstracts wants to tackle this problem in its two dimensions (the plenty of texts as well as their relevance) by providing a data base with standarized abstracts.

The aim[edit]

Wikiabstracts wants to provide a comprehensive data base, which helps to find relevant texts to certain themes. Neither is the aim to represent the texts in their whole complexity nor provide an complex interpretation, but the aim is to give an impression of the utility of the content for one's projects. Furthermore it wants to show the interconnections, in which the single texts are embedded, by documenting their reception history (e. g. through tags). Similar to the catalogue of a library or a bibliography Wikiabstracts wants to offer an orientation within the tremendous amount of texts. Wikiabstracts is the city plan that helps you manoeuvring through the winding alleys of the city of texts.

The basic principles[edit]

  • clarity - The basic idea is the clarity of the abstracts. The abstract shall neither replace the book nor retell the content, but mediate in a compressed way the idea of the book. Therefore one could imagine publishing the list of contents (if this is possible due to legal questions).
  • findability - The texts shall be easily detectable for one's needs (e. g. interest or relevance). Because of this there should be a standarized box (profile) with the basic information. In addition the text's title should be given in its original language as well as in english. The tagging should be another instrument to find the texts easier. One could imagine that each tag shows a bibliography with all tagged texts - which could be all existing related to the topic.
  • composition - All abstracts shall rely on the same construction plan. The core of its structure is the concise summary of the text. The possibility to add extensions could be reasonable. But this must be discussed as well as there should be one similar structure for each type of text or if there shall be a unique for all texts (a poem needs a different description than a cookbook).
  • variety instead of unity - The data base shall not be a pure scientific one. On the contrary the aim is to contain abstracts of all imaginable types of texts. So it is thinkable that there will be cookbooks, scientific articles, nonfiction besides fiction, just to cast a glance at the idea. Wikiabstracts does not reproduce the hierarchical difference between high and low literature.
  • limitation - Each abstract shall not trespass a maximum number of signs. The maxium number of signs has to be defined in the process of a discussion. One can imagine two models: First an absolute maximum line (e.g. 4000 signs, which is about two pages in A4 pt 12), second, a relative maximum line (e.g. not more than 10% of the original text). One can also imagine a limit for each part (instead of a global) of the abstract - if one wants to accept different parts. Easily one can imagine that the given space is not enough for the abstract (imagine an abstract for the bible). In this case there should be created an article in Wikipedia and the link should be provided in Wikipedia with a short abstract. Because the aim of Wikiabstracts is providing a tool, that helps you to survey and find texts and not giving a deep knowledge for the text.
  • tagging - The database shall enable a good orientation within the abstracts, with tags and a keyword index. This keyword index shall be similar to those of libraries, but there should also be a stemma that is organised by virtues of transparency and logic. The single tags shall be defined exactly (to avoid doublings) and be accesible via the stemma and an alphabetical index. If one opens a tag there shall be links to the tags above and below in the hierarchy of the stemma and there shall be the bibliography of all texts with this tag.

The structure of Wikiabstracts[edit]

Three basic elements constitute Wikiabstracts:

  • The abstract forms the elements that correspond to articles in Wikipedia. More about its structure can be found in the following chapter.
  • The stemma consists of the complete index of tags. See also the next chapter for further information.
  • Bibliographies are on the one hand all texts with the same tag, as well as there should be bibliographies for authors (with only their works), there should be bibliographies with secondary literature about authors or their work. One could imagine to create the two tags 'author (bibliography)' vs. 'author (secondary literature)'.

The structure of an abstract[edit]

The summary of the content - the core of the data base[edit]

The core of each abstract forms the summary of the content. It should provide concise information about the themes and problems discussed in the text. One should mention everything that is relevant, but be as succinct as possible. The aim of the summary shall be that the reader gets an impression, if the text contains relevant information for him.

The profile[edit]

The structure of the profile needs further discussion. It should at least contain all information one can find in a good bibliography: author, title, place, year and the edition. The profiles in the english Wikipedia may serve as a model.

The tagging[edit]

Each book shall be tagged and thus be embedded in the stemma. The stemma shall be similar to those of libraries. E. g. in my liberary the book Education by Hanley-Maxwell et al. is tagged with USA, pupils, disability, didactic and essay collection. If you search for the tag, the book appears. This is espacially helpful, if the title contains non of these words.

The list of contents[edit]

Especially useful for one's search and to understand the topics of the book, would be the publication of the list of contents. Through its publiation the relevance of texts for one's work could significantly be increaded.

Additonal imaginable parts[edit]

There should also be a discussion, if there shall be additional parts possible. This could be reasonable for some text types. But it could also decrease the clarity. Here are some ideas about possible additions.

  • The type of text - If the question of the genre shall be mentioned as an additional part of the abstract is questionable. Nevertheless it could be interesting. So there could be written which type it is - like poem or ode or even alcaic ode. But maybe this would better be stored in the box.
  • The impact - Another addition could be the importance of the document. One could think about texts like the bible, the declaration of independence of the United States as well as the coran, the works of Charles Darwin or the publication of Crick and Watson about the structure of DNA. All these texts had an enormous impact, which definitely would need an appreciation. Besides the history of their reception there could also be a part which lists text that highly depend on these or are a sequel.
  • Quotes - It could be appealing to provide an impression of the text through some quotes. But this could be stored in other projects and be shown via links.
  • The style - If this would be important is another question. One could discuss it further.


One of the greatest problems is the question of all encyclopedias: The issue of the boundaries. Shall there be a limitation? Or can one publish summaries of all text? There has to be a discussion if user manuals and TV programms shall be mentioned in the data base. One has to care about two points: First, if there is anybody who would summarize these texts. And second, if it should be totally free like Borge's dream of the library of Babel.