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From an educational perspective, it is very important that there is more than one way of catching fish.

Here, a fork is the splitting of a project into two different efforts.

What is a fork?[edit]

The use of the word in wiki-development originates from the programming use of the word (see w:Fork (software development)). In programming, a fork is a point at which a project splits into two. After the fork, there are two versions of the same software. Each version subsequently develops in its own direction, usually diverging increasingly from the other.

Wikipedia defines two kinds of fork:

A content fork is usually an unintentional creation of several separate articles all treating the same subject. A point of view (POV) fork is a content fork deliberately created to avoid neutral point of view guidelines, often to avoid or highlight negative or positive viewpoints or facts. Both content forks and POV forks are undesirable on Wikipedia, as they avoid consensus building and therefore violate one of our most important policies. See Wikipedia:Content forking for more information.

Forks are regarded as bad on Wikipedia. On Wikiversity, they are regarded as good. This is a key difference between the two projects, and reflects their different missions.

Types of forks which may be found on Wikiversity:

  • Unintentional forks. These may need merging.
  • Type-forks. This is where two or more pages exist on a topic and belong to a different type of resource. For example, a topic might have both a lesson and a reading group.
  • Level-forks. This is where two or more pages exist on a topic which differ in the educational level (class, age group) for which they are intended. For example, the topic "prime numbers" might be covered as a research project and as a children's lesson.
  • Subject-forks. This is where two or more pages exist on a topic, but approach the topic from within different subject specialisations. For example, educational resources on Bogotá might exist both for geography and history courses.
  • Style-forks. This is where two or more pages exist on a topic, but adopt a different educational approach. For example, one page might adopt a participatory educational approach, while the other might be directed at passive learners. Or an individual teacher might maintain several similar pages for the same course, each of which experiments with slightly different methods or caters for subtly different circumstances.
  • FOO-forks. FOO = "Field Of Observation". A FOO-fork reflects the fact that the content of a good educational resource is strongly dependent on its particular audience (FOO). An encyclopedia article, by contrast, is audience-neutral (NFOO). We can describe this as the inverse of (N)POV (NPOV = Neutral Point of View). (N)POV has to do with the point of origin, or with the contributor. (N)FOO has to do with the point of arrival, or with the audience. Wikipedia is NFOO. Wikiversity is FOO. A FOO-fork is like a level-fork, but much more subtle. Even two 8th grade classes from the same town can differ in their educational needs, and a project might have to be forked to deal with this educational reality.
  • POV-forks. This is the same concept as used on Wikipedia, where two or more versions of the same resource exist to reflect different points of view. It is essential, for example, with resources which are of the type "academic paper". A POV-fork is similar to a style-fork and FOO-fork.

The above typology of Wikiversity forks primarily serves to illustrate the many reasons why Wikiversity needs forking, and the many ways in which it can be done. In particular, the typology shows how Wikiversity's educational mission necessitates forking.

Using forks on Wikiversity[edit]

If you wish to create a fork, just go ahead. First, choose a new title for the second version of the page. MediaWiki, the software used by Wikiversity and Wikipedia (among many other projects), requires every page to have a different title. Second, once you have created the new page, copy in any content from any other Wikiversity pages which you need, and then start to modify it to suit your purposes. Remember to acknowledge previous contributors from the original page as sufficiently as GFDL requires - e.g. when you move material, add a comment such as "content moved from [name_of_page]".

See also[edit]