In idle conversation tonight we started talking about the idea of merging projects. I know it's certainly not a very popular topic, a lot of people have staked out their territories and don't like to think that their "home" project is going to get merged into a larger project and lose it's individual charm and character.
It's no secret that in the past I have strongly suggested that Simple English Wikibooks be merged into English Wikibooks. I'm still of that opinion, although recent activity levels at that project have been higher then they were when I first went on crusade.
The topic tonight was about a potential merger between Wikibooks and Wikisource. Before the knee-jerk "UR IDEAZ R TEH SUX!!" response that these kinds of suggestions tend to recive on these 'ere internets, consider what such a project would look like:
It would be a virtual library, but prepped for crowd-sourcing. We would have all sorts of static "historical" books, a la Wikisource, that are pre-published and are not editable. They would stand as the reference works in the library. Since this is a wiki, we would want an editable section too. These, the "community" books would be normal editable wiki pages, a la Wikibooks, that could evolve and improve over time.
Every "book" on this fanciful project could be composed of one or both of these parts: (1) a "base" version, which represents the pre-published static version, and (2) the "current" version, which represents the wiki editable community version of the book. At a click, you could instantly see both the original manuscript, or the updated community version as it evolves.
On WB we receive book donations on occasion, where we receive a completed manuscript, post it on the wiki, and ask our editors to update and maintain it. Unfortunately, without the use of a custom template, the original uploaded version gets lost in the sands of the history pages.
Now I know that this idea needs a lot of fleshing out. WS obviously contains lots of material that isn't "book-like", and the vast majority of WB's 3000+ books aren't derived from a pre-published base version. Plus, there's the consideration that it's nonsensical to try and update or maintain many of the books that are currently in the public domain. For instance, what will an editor today change about Principia Mathematica, or The Republic, or Beowulf? And speaking of Beowulf, what would become our policy on fictional works? Are we allowed to maintain and update them, and if so are we allowed to create new fiction works from scratch?
So the idea isn't perfect, but I think there are some gems hidden in there that are worthwhile to consider. I think it's more feasible to merge WB+WS then it would be to merge WB+WV (which is a suggestion I hear very often).
As a disclaimer, I doubt such a merger would ever happen, but it's a fun thing to think about and might lead to cool new ideas in the future.