Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction

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Question about text in this section[edit]

"Most importantly, in-universe perspective defies community consensus as to what we do not want Wikipedia to be or become."

Should this not read that the in-universe perspective "exemplifies" what we do not what Wikipedia to be? As written, in-universe perspective defies what we don't want and so exemplifies what we do want - not correct.

Given that this is a significant change/question and as this is part of MoS, and so an important guide and definition, I feel that further consensus should be considered before editing this sentence.

Pms13 (talk) 15:54, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

The grammar does seem ambiguous. I would do away with the word "defies" as it is not literally applicable to the subject. On a related note, I have found additional, seemingly contradictory word choice in the same section. In the last paragraph, "These restrictions should and do hold... The same exemptions might apply..." It is not clear that any "exemptions" are being made if the "restrictions" still hold. NotARusski (talk) 04:22, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Allowing some in-universe perspective[edit]

I would like to open a discussion about the merits of some in-universe perspective being included in articles. I am not saying we disregard the current MoS, but some editors take the no in-universe perspective far too literally and delete huge chunks of well written articles because it does not perfectly fit the MoS as currently written. I am proposing that we loosen the restriction on in-universe perspective. Wikipedia is supposed to be for the readers and most readers who come to Wikipedia for these articles about fictional topics care about what happens in the fictional universe more than they care about the real-world impact of these fictional works. (For example: [1]) By removing these sections written in in-universe perspective we are removing the point of most of these articles because that is what readers come here for. Spidey104 14:31, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

About your first part: Some in-universe perspective is already allowed or at least accepted in plot summary sections. Plot descriptions are the (necessary) basis for providing context to real-world discussion as per WP:NOT#PLOT. Now, if the in-universy plot descriptions begin to outgrow the real-world discussions, then the plot summy should be trimmed, and rightly so. This hasn't really much to do with it being in-universy but simply with proportion and due weight. About your second part: If readers care more about the plot than the real-world impact, then wikipedia may actually be the wrong place for them per WP:NOT#PLOT, just like people interested in traveling might care more about a phone number of the Eiffel tower than its construction may be wrong coming to wikipedia per WP:NOTTRAVEL. – sgeureka tc 15:06, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
Exactly - WP is not a fan guide; that's why Wikia was created by Jimmy Wales to offer a place for material that really wasn't encyclopedic but could be edited in a wiki fashion. And yes, we do allow some in-universe approaches - enough to be able to establish the world, characters, and mythos to understand the show's impact and reception. But most articles where things are tagged in-universe go into far far too much detail about trivial elements, character biographies, and the like, that aren't appropriate in an encyclopedic setting. --MASEM (t) 15:19, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
That is why we allow the fictional character biography and the powers and abilities sections. Those are there to be filled with a modest amount of in-universe content to provide clarity about the mythos. What it shouldn't allow is for someone to start piping in tons of trivia and details that have no major bearing to the subject that simultaneously overwhelm the majority of the article. So yes, we already do allow in-universe content. It then comes down to a matter of proportionality.Luminum (talk) 16:18, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
I'm not saying these sections are not appropriate, as they certainly are, but what I've seen happen is that, particularly from characters from a serial work like comics or TV shows, they want to serialize the descriptions here, and in many cases, repeating the plot of the individual serialized elements that are often a repeat of an existing article. eg: this approach is "in-universe". A better approach is to summarize these, simply converting whole discussions of how a superhero got a specific power to "Later, SuperDude gains the power to X". If the actual serial is important where this happens, that can be added, but generally, in the larger scheme of things, holistic, out-of-universe approaches to these sections are better. --MASEM (t) 16:38, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree with the responding editors, though I wish to say Spidey104 does a valuable service in bringing this up and giving us all the opportunity to once again check in and all be on the same page. We do, as sgeureka and others say, absolutely recognize that in-universe descriptions are necessary to convey the basic narrative, and that the "powers" and related sections fill in details in context. I think Spidey104's concerns provide a welcome checks-and-balances sort of reminder to help us keep from going too far in any one direction. This sort of discussion is Wikipedia at its best. --Tenebrae (talk) 17:16, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
I am the editor who Spidey104 quoted in his example and I want to state for the record that I still stand by that comment. (I am a reader first and an editor only occasionally.) I understand the responses to his comment, but I would like to ask a question: if it is supposed to be a balanced approach why are there some editors who feel like they should remove any and all in-universe content from articles? Some articles are too long and need to be trimmed, but there have been some cases (at least as I've seen in comic book articles) where editors feel it is better to delete ALL of the information instead of taking the time to trim the information. Furthermore, you say "Wikia was created by Jimmy Wales to offer a place for material that really wasn't encyclopedic", but what would be more "really wasn't encyclopedic" type of information than in-universe knowledge? I'm not arguing for Wikipedia to become a fansite, because the interlinking and the consistency (and other Wiki stuff) are what makes Wikipedia so much better than any fansite. However, I hope this discussion prevents Wikipedia from losing all of that important information. Kurt Parker (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 19:47, 3 February 2011 (UTC).
I would agree with Kurt Parker's remarks to some extent. Deleting everything not exclusively out-universe makes character pages effectively useless. I've also got a conundrum: how do you tell a history of a fictional character without staying in-universe? I'm not a fan of the "every little detail" histories, but wholesale deletion is not an answer IMO. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 19:52, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
No one is advocating deletion of all in-universe material. Those that are wiping out all fictional details of a character are not editing appropriately.
But we are an encyclopedia designed for educational purposes. Knowing the full history of a superhero character, for example, is not educational and thus while we discourage long in-universe discussions, but a summary of the in-universe fictional aspects of the character in a manner suitable for an encyclopedia is certainly within our bounds. To that end, that's why we aren't a fan guide - we're not here to id the appearance of every character, or list out every villain fought, or such, as this often leads not only to long-winded articles but to fan speculation. We're here to tell readers that may never have read/watched a work and likely will never read/watch a work to become familiar why the fictional character is important. --MASEM (t) 19:57, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
{edit conflict)Well that would be covered by nessasary basic plot info. Beyond that, the "history" includes creation and development info, promotions, etc. If you want more detailed in-universe info, find reliable sources that have signifigant commentary on those aspects. With that there is reason to add more detail because there's commentary, analysis or impact.Jinnai 20:00, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
Can anyone point me to a comics-character article where the in-universe details were removed completely? I've worked on countless, and I haven't yet run across anything that drastic. If that's happening, User:Masem is correct — it's a pendulum-swing too far to one side, and we should gently speak with the editors doing that.
To reiterate what another editor said: No one is seriously saying we can't describe a character's narrative with in-universe facts. That would mean removing every single movie plot in Wikipedia. --Tenebrae (talk) 23:40, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
Just to give a point of absolutely too much in-universe, Hiro Nakamura is a fine example. Most of what can be said in-universe about Hiro can be probably whittled to about 4-5 paragraphs. (This isn't the example you're looking for, but just want this guideline is meant to avoid). --MASEM (t) 23:49, 3 February 2011 (UTC)
I agree with User:Masem that Hiro Nakamura has way too much in-universe content and needs to be trimmed down. But the key there is that it needs to be trimmed and not deleted wholesale. Here is an example of one editor deleting in-universe information wholesale. That article was too long at the time of that deletion, but that makes it a perfect example of some editors deleting instead of trimming. (Note: That article has been trimmed to an appropriate level since that deletion.) I'm glad to see that everyone pretty much agrees with me on this. So that leaves me to ask What should be done the next time an editor claims the Manual of Style supports their wholesale deletion of in-universe content? This discussion has just proven that it does not support their claims, but I also don't want an edit war on my hands when I see this happen again. Spidey104 14:28, 5 February 2011 (UTC)
To answer your question, revert the edit, open a discussion on the talk page, mention that editors affiliated with the project all agreed that in-u was permissible to enhance understanding, link to this discussion. If it becomes a problem, and comes down to consensus, you basically have a roster of people who are probably going to agree with you based on this discussion.Luminum (talk) 04:15, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

Myths[edit]

I've noticed several pages which assume the events of ancient events actually happened. The 'best' example of this is at the Romulus article, where basically all of the mythical events are described in a tone as if they actually happened. Other articles will say something along the lines of "the Incas got a vision of the Inte, so they went to this city..." It seems reasonable to me that this 'in-universe' policy be extended to the discussion of ancient myths which are now held as fictional by the masses. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 05:05, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

RFC: restructuring of the Manual of Style[edit]

Editors may be interested in this RFC, along with the discussion of its implementation:

Should all subsidiary pages of the Manual of Style be made subpages of WP:MOS?

It's big; and it promises huge improvements. Great if everyone can be involved. NoeticaTea? 00:49, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

"Fictional character biography"[edit]

There appear to be many articles containing sections called "Fictional character biography". Imho, these are completely incompatible with Wikipedia and should be removed aggressively, especially if there is already a section detailing the character's plot appearance(s).

Before going berserk on these however, I'd like to hear opinions from others. --84.44.183.251 (talk) 01:16, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Comsidering that many articles containing such sections have reached featured status, it seems that the Wikipedia community has no problem with them. oknazevad (talk) 04:16, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
My view has always been to deconstruct them. Separate the fictional elements into separate sections like backstory, origin, or even romantic relationships, etc., that can explain how each has developed and been altered over time (such as the changes in Wolverine's origin, the relatively recent retcon of Spider-Man's parents being spies, etc.) with a separate section giving a real-world chronological publication history (and history in other media) that hits all of the major story beats. It's a big mistake to just take the current canon version of a character's history and present that as if it is definitive and comprehensive. It's recentism at best, giving undue weight to much younger story elements than ones that may be decades old; and inextricably OR at worst where it's impossible to clearly tell what does or doesn't remain canon. postdlf (talk) 05:56, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
it seems that the Wikipedia community has no problem with them -- Sorry, that's an invalid conclusion, and it would be irrelevant even if it wasn't. It only shows nobody has tried to or succeeded in removing these sections, probably due to the resistance of the same type of people who write in-universe-style (case in point, also notice the edit summary: "rvv"). Real-world perspective, proper encyclopedic writing and acknowledging valid arguments regarding both are not exactly Fan Dumb's strong suits. Sorry to be blunt here, but fiction-related articles are in greater need of some normative leadership than almost any other area of Wikipedia. (The reason for that is probably related to the incorrect but widespread assumption that e.g. having watched a film qualifies one to write about it encyclopedically. Which it does -- as much as drinking Mountain Dew qualifies you to write about the beverage.)
Postdlf is right. I'd add that even just a "birth date" for a fictional character constitutes entirely unacceptable in-universe writing, since in the real word (which we exclusively write about!) fictional characters are not born, they are created. Just adding "she/he is a fictional character" does not make real-world perspective. That's not to say that mentioning e.g. a birth date or other relevant character-related information as given in the work of fiction is bad. It is a matter of writing style though, and such info should always be accompanied by the source of that info and never be written up as though the fictional character were a real person. (e.g. "The character's birth date is given as XX-YY-ZZZZ in [volume/episode]" -- more like this and absolutely not like this). --87.79.226.75 (talk) 09:26, 31 July 2011 (UTC)


In response to 87.79.226.75's assertion that we exclusively write about the real word I would suggest he look at the above discussion to see that consensus for some in-universe language in articles to be appropriate.
There has already been a discussion of this in the Manual of Style (comics), where this is most applicable to. That discussion was originally started to discuss changing that subheading, but it had to discuss the merits of what should or should not be included in such a section for a final decision to be reached. And yes, that is a subset within this MoS, but discussions of editors focused on a particular area should be considered. There are plenty of articles that should have their "Fictional character biography" sections greatly trimmed, but there are also articles that have very well written "Fcb" sections that are a great improvement to the article. A policy to completely get rid of these sections would be a very poor decision. Trimming the oversized "Fcb" sections would be a good policy decision. Spidey104 17:20, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
Biography information does have a place, and I think those sections could just be renamed/moved. It's not bad, it's just done wrong. Try finding a comic character that is of Good Article or Featured Article status, and see how they organize their sections. You would find the general consensus there on what information goes where. Blake (Talk·Edits) 17:37, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree that "Fictional character biography" invites fictography, which is disallowed
Perhaps the Good article Spider-Man might be a model of one way to go: Following Publication history, we have a section called Comic book character which gives all his pertinent history — all 49 or so years' worth — in just 1,130 words with third-party citations and real-world grounding.
This is followed by a 400-word section, Personality, with cited commentary by cultural historians (and not our own OR observations). This subsection can be titled differently and focus on different things for different characters, depending on what's appropriate for the character.
The Featured article Superman uses this structure as well. And if Superman and Spider-Man can't guide us, well, who can? --Tenebrae (talk) 21:30, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
The thing is, most characters which are guilty of this "fictional biography" are articles which barely show notability in the first place. Thus, it is expected for some unsourced plot info/characteristics to be there until they get to a certain point in quality. Although, removing it is not a substitute for sourcing it/rewriting it, and does not increase the quality. Sometimes you have to WP:IAR for articles which are barely developed because if you removed the bad information, there wouldn't be any information left. Note: I am not saying that all articles should be left alone, but that it is presumed that when somebody takes the time to really work on the article, then this fictional biography information will be transformed into something better. Blake (Talk·Edits) 22:08, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
it is expected for some unsourced plot info/characteristics to be there until they get to a certain point in quality. -- No. It is expected that there is no mainspace page if there isn't even a stub which meets the bare minimum requirements of our core content policies.
removing it is not a substitute for sourcing it/rewriting it, and does not increase the quality. -- Yes, it does. It increases the quality of Wikipedia by not having placeholder pages posing as article substitutes. It increases the quality of Wikipedia by giving people who are interested in the topic a strong incentive to write properly or not at all.
Sometimes you have to WP:IAR for articles which are barely developed because if you removed the bad information, there wouldn't be any information left. -- This doesn't even warrant a reply, really, but here goes anyway: Mainspace pages which contain zero material that meets our core content policies should be deleted. What should be ignored are the wishes of people who think our core content policies can be ignored. --78.35.235.52 (talk) 09:07, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
I generally dislike fictional character biography sections. I've been working on Barbara Gordon forever, and one of the major problems is that recent plot lines almost always overwhelm the majority of these types of sections. The Bookkeeper (of the Occult) 03:47, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
Isn't it interesting how some people insist on the section name "Fictional character biography" even when, as in Barbara Gordon, that section isn't even written up like a fictography at all, and is instead properly written up to provide character-related plot details in chronological publication order? Why not just accurately title the section as "Character-related plot details"? --78.35.235.52 (talk) 09:54, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
I had to do a number of revisions to make it less in-universe style prose. I'd rather have it all just as a publication history section with no fictional biography at all - which is my general preference for all comic articles. The Bookkeeper (of the Occult) 23:54, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Right, good work on that article. The section is really well-written imho. Just the title doesn't do its content justice. --87.78.44.43 (talk) 10:17, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

So I stumbled onto this conversation by tracking problems and changes and whatnot at the Ethan Hunt article and discovered you guys were talking about the issue here. That article specifically is an issue as now the editor in question is removing perfectly valid in-universe tags (personal pet peeve). I see that some conversation with him on the subject has been initiated on his talk page and I've tried to start a conversation on the article's talk page (we'll see how it goes). It doesn't look like communication has been particularly effective on this one, however. SO my question is... is there a way we can make the policies and guidelines more clear? We have policies, we point people to them and explain them until the proverbial cows come home. And every time I end up in this conversation with someone I basically realize that the people editing against policy have no idea what the in-universe tag actually means and why it's a problem for the article. I just tried to explain it in different words (using specific examples) on the Ethan Hunt talk page. Is there a way that we could be more clear in the guidelines to help avoid this problem in the future? I'm cynical as hell this week so I'm guessing it wouldn't matter but I thought I'd ask. Millahnna (talk) 06:20, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

I feel your pain. The only viable avenue I see is to include a section specifically dealing with fictional character biographies, detailing exactly why it's a bad idea and giving advice on how to properly write up such material. That doesn't preclude the usual suspects from dismissing WAF as "just a guideline" though. (This, in turn, should imho be addressed e.g. in IAR, explaining that in order to ignore a guideline, people must present an overriding rationale for the specific case.) --78.35.235.52 (talk) 09:13, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Wikiproject with its own guidelines[edit]

Hello all — I was recently made aware that WikiProject Middle-earth has its own style recommendations, one of which appears to mildly contradict these guidelines. Specifically, the project recommends using past tense for in-universe material. This appears to have been established by a 2006 local consensus here, where there was no real opposition. I don't see this necessarily as a case of "local consensus trumping global consensus", since nowhere does this guideline actually prohibit using the past tense. However, I do think a wider discussion would be helpful in deciding what to do next. Essentially, the questions are:

  1. Should this guideline be read as requiring present tense? If so, should this be stated more explicitly?
  2. Should WikiProject Middle-earth be asked to change its style guide? Or should it be considered an exception?

The discussion which prompted this notice may be found here. Feezo (send a signal | watch the sky) 03:18, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

I think that is too much WP:CREEP. I think the more important issue is tense should be consistent throughout the article and any related articles (such as for a series).Jinnai 15:57, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
Using the "CREEP" "argument" automatically disqualifies you. And no, you are of course wrong. Using past tense for fictional material is unequivocally wrong and completely out of the question encyclopedically. --87.79.208.6 (talk) 03:12, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
WikiProjects should not override the guidelines. -- Magioladitis (talk) 15:38, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Interestingly enough, the one featured article for this project (The Lord of the Rings (1978 film)) doesn't actually present the plot information in past tense. The GA article for The Hobbit (the book mind you) is also written in present tense. So, whatever "exception" the project was trying to create isn't even consistenly used in their articles. Personally, I think that just because a book was written from the perspective of past tense doesn't mean it needs to be retranslated to Wikipedia in the past tense. You can summarize the events of a plot in present tense while making note that the book is written from a different perspective.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 18:30, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
"Using the "CREEP" "argument" automatically disqualifies you." Whatever. There are valid reasons for it, but if it floats your boat to say it "automatically disqualifies" me to make you feel better, that's fine. I know what I'm talking about.Jinnai 19:11, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Generally speaking, a wikiproject should never make its own rules; no WP:WALLEDGARDEN. Now, having read the few threads you provided above, I'd say there was no sufficient consensus (just three or four people), no sufficiently strong argument ("Alot of [the author's] work is written in the past tense and it is ostensibly meant to be a mythical past of our own world", which applies to a lot of fictional works and makes Tolkien's work not special in that regard), and the rules were made before the big fiction guideline debates of 2007-2009. So in answer to your questions, (2) WP:MIDDLEEARTH should not be an exception and should adhere to the normal fiction guidelines. (1) I think the current guidelines is already strong enough, leaving room to use past tense selectively where appropriate, e.g. events before the fictional work begins: The forging of the ring is best presented in past tense, but Frodo's travel should be in present tense as they happen now for the reader. If need be, a few sentence can describe that the whole book is written from the perspective of after Frodo's journey (examples: Middlesex (novel) (GA) or Waterland (novel)). – sgeureka tc 07:12, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

It really comes down to this - if I as a random editor go to a page covered by the project and they say "no you can't edit in that way because this is how our wikiproject likes to do it', then someone needs to put a boot on their neck. Wikiprojects have no special authority and are simply for organising like-minded editors, they cannot be allowed to control content in a way that goes against project wide policies and consensus. --Cameron Scott (talk) 09:53, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Well, they can, but they cannot (1) change policy or guidelines nor (2) create rules that contradict policy or guidelines.Jinnai 14:37, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree that WikiProjects should have no specific authority over their pages, but sadly I have seen this type of bullying done before. The Classical Music Wikiproject has a ban on infoboxes. Editors who haven't touched a page in forever will come by and revert an infobox on a classical composer or artist's article because of their rules, even if there is nothing wrong with the specific box. ThemFromSpace 19:51, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
You mean this lovely page, which outlines their own specific style guidelines?  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 20:41, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
That's not the kind of WikiProject guideline should be. There are a lot of things there that go against policy and wider consensus guidelines without giving clear evidence as to why. There are a few good things there though so its not all bad, but yeah, it looks like they just ignore policy/guidelines when it suits them.Jinnai 21:01, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
On behalf of WP:WikiProject Middle-earth I'd like to point out that nobody cared to inform us about this ongoing discussion and we were presented the current consensus of this discussion literally through the backdoor by Feezo changing the relevant project pages. I feel this is much like the drive-by reverts mentioned above by Themfromspace, albeit in another form.
WP Middle-earth has had this past tense guideline standing since at least 2007. Why was it even introduced back then? Please see this old discussion that quotes an old version of the project standard: "All articles that cover in-universe material must be in past tense, as decided as a consensus here. Though it states in the Guide to writing better articles that generally fictional articles should be written in present tense, Tolkien related articles are an exception, due to the fact that we are discussing more than just plots of novels, we are outlining the history of [what we now intepret as] a fictional world — the novels are written in past tense because they are memoirs meant to explain a mythical past of our Earth, much like the Greek Mythology. Also, take consideration into the fact that many of the information is taken not from the novels, but from informational texts (e.g. The History of Middle-earth)" and other arguments like "...When discussing the plot of a book, it is customary to use the present tense. However, when discussing history, albeit of a fictional world, it might make more sense to use the past tense. Here, it poses a problem, because the information comes from a book. In any case, the current mix makes for awkward reading." I suppose that is why the current project standards still write that "Tolkien-related articles are an exception, due to the fact that we are discussing more than just plots of novels, we are outlining the history of [what we now interpret as] a fictional world — the novels are written in past tense because they are memoirs meant to explain a mythical past of our Earth, much like the Greek Mythology."
It has been noted that certain FA and GA articles do not use past tense. And that is because the tense issue was found to be an obstruction to having these articles promoted and the reviewers apparently demanded a change. So to sum it up, there are reasons for having this exception and it has successfully been used for several years. I have so far reverted Feezo's changes because nobody has yet heard the "defendant". De728631 (talk) 16:54, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
The fact that Tolkien wrote from an "historical" perspective doesn't negate the fact that when summarizing events on Wikipedia those "historical events" can and should be presented from a "present tense" standpoint. When I read the articles that are GA and FA, I don't lose anything by reading them from a present tense perspective. In fact, to read a summary of a book or film from the perspective of past tense actually makes it read far more awkwardly. The difference being that we're not reading the entire book or watching the film, where context for past tense would make sense. When reading a summary, presenting something in "past tense" makes it read like it's real life and not fictional. From an outside perspective, this is not acceptable. That's all fine when you're reading the actual source because you want to believe in the fantasy, but not when you're just reading a summary. Greek Mythology is written from a "past tense" because it's based around actual history. Greek Mythology, when it was first created, was not presented as a piece of fiction, but as historical documentation of their culture. Tolkien was never trying to say that Middle Earth actually existed. It was and has always been seen a fictional. Greek Mythology on the other hand was not seen that way originally. Just because we "know" (so to speak) that there were not Cyclops monsters and demi-gods does not mean that it was not believed to be true then. You cannot compare how one writes about known fiction, and how one writes about the historical accounts of a culture (whether they be fictional or not).
Additionally, if you're using books to "outline the history of fictional worlds", then it sounds like you're going against the primary focus of this guideline which is to present things from an out-of-universe perspective. I'm not sure what articles you think might be the best example of your current use of "past tense" writing (I would like to see some so that I might better understand where you're coming from), but if you're just creating articles to make account of a fictional history then those articles probably shouldn't exist in the first place. I don't know, because I'm only going off of how you just described it, but it sounds like you have articles that are nothing more than "historical accounts" of a fictional place, kind of like a "biography" of a fictional character. Biographies on fictional characters are not allowed. So, if you have prime examples that would better help me, and the everyone else, understand how you use this past tense perspective then it would probably go a long way in possibly changing everyone's mind about whether your Project (or anyone else's) should be an exception. Granted, any "exceptions" need to be brought to this page first, as WikiProjects alone cannot create exceptions to guidelines and policies. I'm also sorry you were not notified and that the Project page was edited without this discussion officially ending, or anyone from your project being notified.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 17:06, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Here is quite a good argument from the 2007 discussion at Talk:The Lord of the Rings: "Note that the page you cite, Wikipedia:Guide to writing better articles#Check your fiction, actually indicates that history (including fictional history) is usually written in the past tense [Conversely, discussion of history is usually written in the past tense and thus 'fictional history' may be presented in that way as well]. Tolkien's work includes a mix of fictional histories and stories... which might be argued to suggest that some articles (e.g. The Lord of the Rings) should be present tense while others (e.g. The Silmarillion) should be past tense. However, that doesn't make alot of sense and would run into contradictions with subjects that appeared in multiple places - so we've adopted the standard of using past tense consistently. The 'Guide to writing better articles' is, after all, only a guideline of what often works... not a set of requirements meant to cover every situation. The 'present tense' guideline was meant for standard works of fiction covering a period of up to a few months... not millennia of fictional history." That said, it might help to read the full discussion "In universe style".
When we write about events and characters invented by Tolkien we write about a fictional history of the world as he devised it. Therefore I think the guidelines do even allow our approach. De728631 (talk) 17:35, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Most novels are written in the past tense. I don't see how that makes the project an exception. I also share Bignole's concern about the idea of an in-universe focus. I have several articles from the project on my watchlist and now find I want to double check them all for an in-universe problem. Wiki standards on in-universe are not guidelines, but policy. Millahnna (talk) 17:48, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

You're quoting a discussion on one of the Tolkien pages that took place 5 years ago (it was actually in 2006 and not 2007) as evidence as to why the Project should be an exception? This page alone has gone through numerous changes in 5 years. What was once probably accepted it not necessarily accepted now. Additionally, when it says "writing historical points in past tense", it means historical points that occur from within the present tense fiction. For example, if I'm reading a book about Robin Hood and summarizing the points on Wikipedia, then any point that discusses Robin's childhood from a historical perspective within that book should be written from that perspective because it would be impossible to write it in the present tense if it was not covered that way originally. That is not the same as reading a book written from the get go as an "historical account". The Hobbit is written from an historical account, but when you read it it's read from a present tense perspective. Even The Lord of the Rings synopsis section is written in present tense, so again it comes down to the fact that whatever exception you're wanting isn't even practiced regularly. Now, The Fellowship of the Ring seems to follow the practiced that I explained, summaries are written in present tense with historical events that are discussed from that perspective written in past tense. In this example, present tense described everything up to the part where Gandalf tells Frodo the truth about the Ring. In his statement, he is recounted a past event, and thus it makes sense for that to be written in past tense, while the subsequence info is in present tense. It does not make sense for the whole section to be written in past tense.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 17:49, 23 September 2011 (UTC)


This seems like a case of wiki bullying to me. The articles in question are not breaching consensus as they present historical facts in past tense, as the main guidelines state. This seems like a case of people coming up with their own interpretations of what the consensus is and trying to enforce it. Carl Sixsmith (talk) 18:06, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm sorry you feel that way because it's certainly not my intent. I doubt it is the intent of most editors here. I was unaware there were actual historical facts to be detailed in the plot summaries for these articles. Granted I haven't read the novels in a long time but I thought they were entirely fictional. Millahnna (talk) 18:14, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, historical fiction, which are covered by the past tense caveat. Unless you are reading some style guidelines that are unavailable to the rest of us. Carl Sixsmith (talk) 18:17, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I am quoting a discussion from 2006 because it still reflects the status quo. The phrase "Conversely, discussion of history is usually written in the past tense and thus 'fictional history' may be presented in that way as well" is still part of the current Wikipedia manual of style, it has apparently not been changed since the discussion took place on the Lord of the Rings talk page or it has been reintroduced for a certain reason. And about practicing our "exception" (which is not even an exception per the above WP:WAF), I've explained it above that peer reviewers tend to demand changes to present tense regardless of any guidelines. Maybe we should in fact be consistent in using past tense everywhere in the project's scope and have a few featured and/or good articles less if their current state is so confusing. De728631 (talk) 18:26, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
That's the thing, the way Lord of the Rings or The Fellowship of the Ring are written just fine. It make sense. If you wrote those in past tense entirely, you'd not know the difference between what the book is recounting and what the book is merely referencing.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 18:39, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I agree that using present tense for the active plot and past tense for background makes sense; this is obviously sanctioned by the WP guidelines quoted above, and the project guidelines should be changed to allow it. The problem is that the distinction is not always clear cut. In the article on The Lord of the Rings there's a reasonably clear distinction between plot and background. But for articles on characters like Sauron or Saruman, whose careers span thousands of years and who figure in tales set in different time periods yet told from wildly different temporal viewpoints, it's a bit harder. My guess is that the original project guidelines were influenced by this problem (and by a desire to present Middle-earth as an alternative world with a consistent history -- which it's not). Even experienced Tolkien project editors will occasionally slip into present tense when describing plot -- but the difficulty of presenting a long historical view of the whole still remains: using present tense for everything conveys nothing so much as temporal chaos.

On a different note: while one may disagree with them, it is not constructive to imply that project guidelines (or any guidelines) should have no force because they have been around for some time. Guidelines are guidelines until they are changed. Guidelines of long standing -- even if one disagrees with them -- at least suggest a stable working agreement.

-- Elphion (talk) 19:32, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Elphion, I think the issues with the articles on the characters comes down to how they may not be properly written. Plot information on characters shouldn't be written from the perspective of having actually taken place. They should be written as, "In book X, Sauron is revealed to have had Y done to him in his childhood." That allows for "historical" points to be present in a more appropriate manner for fictional topics than simply recounting events in a plot section as if it was a character biography (which it isn't supposed to be).  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 20:12, 23 September 2011 (UTC


If that's what is needed then that is what should be stated, not having people making flippant remarks about 'thinking Lord of the Rings is entirely fictional', unhelpful comments from people that haven't apparently read the guidelines they're so keen on enforcing. Carl Sixsmith (talk) 15:14, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
It is stated that way. It says write fiction in present tense, but present historical points in past tense. I think what you are misunderstanding is that "historical points" is referring to in this context. It's not about books that are written as "historical" accounts of fictional events. Like the Lord of the Rings. It's referring to when a book, within itself, makes a reference to something in that is not transpiring within the book, but something that happened before the books events. For example, Gandolf telling Frodo about the true history of the Ring in The Fellowship. That is an historical point within the book, because he's telling a past event within the narrative. It is not meant to cover a book that is written from a historical perspective.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 15:30, 24 September 2011 (UTC)


It doesn't say that at all, that may be the intention but that is not what it says. The rule is ambiguous. Carl Sixsmith (talk) 16:28, 24 September 2011 (UTC)


Conversely, discussion of history is usually written in the past tense and thus 'fictional history' may be presented in that way as well.

"Chroniclers claimed that Thalestris, queen of the Amazons, seduced Alexander the Great."


That says nothing about being 'historic' within the fiction, it says 'fictional history', and as The Lord of the Rings in itself written as 'fictional history' it can well be argued that it falls within this guideline. By all means argue against this, but ridiculous comments about 'not realising LOTR is fiction' really have no place in the debate. Carl Sixsmith (talk) 16:35, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Again, notice the example is not about real fiction but about Greek Mythology, which was NOT considered fiction when it was written. There is a difference between "historical fiction", and fiction written from an historical perspective. Notice how historical fiction is based on real places, real people, and the only thing fictionalized are the specific details of the story. Lord of the Rings is not historical fiction, thus it is not the same when writing about in past tense. You're trying to play the semantics card here by saying that LoTR is a "fictional history". It's not. As far as literature goes, "history" is based on some real elements. That series is not based on real elements in any way. It's pure fantasy. The fact that it's presented as "history" is irrelevant because it's not presented as "real" history, but the history of Middle-Earth. It is not presented as some alternate reality, or fictional events set during actual historical times. Thus, it needs to be in present tense.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 16:47, 24 September 2011 (UTC)


It's not semantics at all, the rule states historical fiction can be written in past tense, and the lord of the rings is historical fiction, it is in the authors intent a fictional history of our world. This is in exactly the same way as the Greek legends, the Valar and the Orcs are no more fantastical than the Minotaur and the Multi-headed hydra. If the rule is as you say, then it should be made clear and not left so vague as to be in question. Carl Sixsmith (talk) 17:03, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── He has said it was an "imaginary period", not a different take on known events like in Greek Mythology. Adding fantasy creatures is not the problem with Tolkien's work, it's how it's presented. It's not true historical fiction. Being on "Earth" doesn't make it historical. If you look at the types of works in historical fiction, they are all based on real events. But you're right, we probably need to clarify this guideline to define what exactly qualifies as "past tense" necessary.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 17:35, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

There is also the problem within Tolkien mythology of the length of times the characters live. What is recounted in the Lord of The Rings could be consider in-universe history (i.e. qualify for past tense). But in The Silmarillion it would qualify under the 'reading fiction brings it alive' rule that would mean it should be present tense. Examples I am thinking of are Beren and Luthien, the fall of Gil-Galad and the Breaking of Thangorodrim. It could get very messy. One rule to rule them all I think, even if this is changing it to present tense. I am not 100% against this, merely the way it has been implemented. Carl Sixsmith (talk) 17:47, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Pro-wrestler articles[edit]

I'm curious as to how people feel these guidelines apply to article written on pro-wrestlers. Most articles will feature some true life biographical information on the actual person, which needs to adhere to WP:BLP guidelines, of course. But then, the articles will go into a a long, drawn out, step-by-step synopsis of who they feuded with, and what character they were playing at the time. While I myself have contributed to these articles, I've recently come to the opinion that this much "in universe" information is not acceptable. I feel that, in keeping with the guidelines of a biographical article, that in addition to their background information should be listed along with notable events from their career, as opposed to week-by-week, month-by-month, year-by-year events. Example of notable items would be the companies they worked for, the characters they played, noteworthy feuds or events they participated in and the championships they acquired during their careers. A whole paragraph dedicated to each feud and the minor events that happened during them is how most of them read now. So, are there any other opinions on this and how would we go about making that wide a change if a consensus was achieved? NJZombie (talk) 21:57, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

In general I would agree. Chronicling every minor battle is giving undue weight to those less significant events. In fact, you may want to condense the minor events if there are a number and not list them individually.Jinnai 23:37, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree. Detailed versions of every event seem very unnecessary. If anybody reading this is unfamiliar with the type of thing I'm talking about, below is an example from the Triple H article.
"Although Triple H failed to win the Royal Rumble match at Royal Rumble, another championship opportunity arose for Triple H in the Road to WrestleMania Tournament. He won the tournament, granting him a match for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 22. At WrestleMania, Triple H and John Cena fought in the main event for the title, which Triple H lost via submission. Later that month at Backlash, Triple H was involved in another WWE Championship match, fighting Edge and Cena in a Triple Threat match, where he lost again. In an act of frustration, a bloodied Triple H used his sledgehammer to attack both Edge and Cena and then performed a number of DX crotch chops. Triple H unsuccessfully attempted to win the WWE title from Cena on numerous occasions, blaming his shortcomings on Vince McMahon, which eventually led to a feud between the McMahons and Triple H."
First off, do we really need to know if Triple H failed or succeeded in winning a championship at any of these particular events of should it we just note the championships that he's won and how many times? Is it truly necessary, in the greater scope of the article, to know that at one particular event that the character was frustrated and bloodied at this one event or that he performed a number of crotch chops? In articles written about actors, we don't provide a synopsis of every character they play. This is just one small sample of the writing that occurs across many articles. I agree that the articles should be titled after the character the general public is most aware of that wrestler portraying. However, it's my belief that their Wikipedia articles should portray events in the wrestlers' lives and not individual story events that happened to their characters over their entire careers. NJZombie (talk) 02:37, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

Soap operas[edit]

There is currently a discussion taking place at your sister project WP:SOAPS could do with more views. It is about fancruft and infoboxes.RaintheOne BAM 03:21, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

Discussion at WT:VN#RfC: Listing adapations released prior to the original in the lead[edit]

You are invited to join the discussion at WT:VN#RfC: Listing adapations released prior to the original in the lead. Jinnai 00:31, 26 December 2011 (UTC)

Fair use section°[edit]

I've found factual errors in this. To whit, the cases where plot summaries were found infringing are things like http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/996/996.F2d.1366.92-7985.92-7933.919.1392.html - where the detail was so great that apparently large sections were "verbatim from the script", but which was being cited in an essay with misleading quotes presented as conclusions, when they weren't. Give me a few minutes and I'll whip up a replacement that doesn't do bad amateur lawyering. 86.** IP (talk) 22:52, 4 May 2012 (UTC)

You need to discuss and reach a consensus BEFORE making changes to widely accepted guidelines like this one. Ridernyc (talk) 23:29, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
It's been pointed out there are good court cases, so fair enough, the section stands as valid. Outside of this, I've made little more than copyedits. 86.** IP (talk) 23:41, 4 May 2012 (UTC)
Those were not "copyedits" by any stretch of the imagination. I for one decidedly disagree with those edits, and I have reverted them. Please do not instate them without gathering consensus here. Thank you. --213.196.208.98 (talk) 11:58, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
We cannot say a policy says something it doesn't. 86.** IP (talk) 14:18, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
You have far passed 3RR and shouldn't be touching this page until you gain consensus for the changes. This has been a stable and readily-accepted guideline page and your changes are weakening it. --MASEM (t) 14:21, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Learn what 3RR means. Per day. It's been 2 days since the last edit. I repeat, we can't claim policy says something it doesn't. the fair-use policy does not say what the old edits say it does - it's lying to try and beat people with policy when the policy disagrees. 86.** IP (talk) 14:24, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
You clearly are determined to edit without achieving consensus. The 3RR is more then justified by your actions and attitude. Ridernyc (talk) 15:35, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
The inconsistency between this page and the fair use page - that's apparent, but you should have said you were doing this (and not in vague terms as above), which probably itself alone wouldn't have been challenged. But you're also removing text from this and including those removals when you're trying to also fix said section - that's leading to the appearance of edit warring particularly after you were reverted once or twice.
What you should do is explain, roughly, what edits you want to make here to make sure there's agreement, and then we can implement them. Inconsistencies with other policy will likely be uncontested, but there's things like the impact of the various lawsuits that you had removed at one point that are important to this page, and if its a matter of getting the impact correct, so be it, let's figure out how to write it first before removing it. --MASEM (t) 15:37, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Bad wrtiting, factual inaccuracies, and nonsense.[edit]

Problem #1[edit]

  • Reasonable, but outright removal is inappropriate. "See also" links would be fine. --21:34, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
  • Many policies feature links to essays, so that is not the issue. If the "main articles" is what throws you off, we can replace {{main}} with {{details}}. "Main article" does not somehow imply "policy" though, in case you're worried about that (just guessing from the overall trajectory of your changes). It's simply a mainspace template, not worded for project pages. So yeah, let's exchange the template. --213.196.211.143 (talk) 01:07, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Problem #2[edit]

  • Section: Plot summaries
  • Text: Plot summaries can be written from the real-world perspective by referring to specific works or parts of works ("In the first book", "In Act II") or describing things from the author or creator's perspective ("The author introduces", "The story describes"). This gives the summary a more grounded tone and makes it more accessible to those unfamiliar with the source material. This style of writing should be preferred for plot summaries that encompass multiple works, such as a series of novels. Such conventions are not as important for plot summaries of single works, such as novels that are not part of a series; nevertheless, some real-world language at the beginning of such summaries is often good style. The length of a plot summary should be carefully balanced with the length of the other sections. Strictly avoid creating pages consisting only of a plot summary.
  • Problem: This is random word salad, barely comprehensible.
  • Solution:Copyedit

At the beginning of a plot summary, it's usually best to begin with some language that makes it clear that the section is talking about fictional material, to ground the plot summary and avoid confusion. Phrases such as "The novel begins with", "The play opens upon...", and the like help with this. For more complicated works, it's particularly helpful to begin with a one-sentence summary of the work, such as "The book deals with the Langstrom family, and their slow decline over three generations", before going into detail.In order to facilitate using Wikipedia as a way to find information, it's often useful to ground the plot summary by referring to where things are found in the work, using phrases such as "In the first book", or "In Act II". This helps a user trying to find something in the work by directing them to where to look. This is especially useful in plot summaries that encompass multiple works, such as a series of novels.The length of a plot summary should be reasonable for the complexity of the work, and the analysis and criticism it's meant to support. In particular, an over-detailed plot summary in an article with little other content that would require such is to be avoided. Avoid creating pages consisting only of a plot summary; an encyclopedic article requires context.In cases where trimming down a plot summary is necessary (usually due to excessive detail), great care is required: It's necessary to make sure that later parts of the summary or other sections of the article do not refer back to parts of the plot being deleted from the summary. Unless the situation is particularly bad, it's usually best not to attempt to trim a plot summary of a work you are not familiar with.

This simplifies the statements into separate paragraphs, and actually explains them. 86.** IP (talk) 15:58, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

This might get a bit wordy into areas that we don't always follow, but we can probably work from this as a starting point. --MASEM (t) 21:34, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
While I agree that the Plot summaries section needs an overhaul, I strongly disagree both with your wording and with your general stance. If anything, the guideline needs to make it even clearer that lengthy, overdetailed and especially in-universe writing is encyclopedically unacceptable. Also, one long overdue expansion to that section should address "fictional character biographies" and clearly advocate writing those up as character-related plot details, sorted by publication history (i.e. real-world timeline). --213.196.211.143 (talk) 01:21, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I don't see how you think that my text encourages lengthy, overdetailed writing. Further, excessive use of stock phrases, just to keep hammering it into the reader's heads that something is fiction is hardly necessary in a properly-laid out article; if the fiction-elements section has a section header indicating it's fictional, every sentence doesn't need to remind the reader of that. For example:
The story of Little Red Riding Hood deals with the fictional character of Little Red Riding Hood, who meets a fictional wolf on the way to her fictional grandmother's..." I'm exaggerating, of course, but you take the point. So long as it's always clear what's fictional and what isn't, harping on the difference too much only decreases readability, unless it serves a secondary purpose, like showing where major divisions in the subject occur. If you want to try a rewrite, feel free. 86.** IP (talk) 19:53, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
I may just do that. In the meantime, I strongly oppose your version in favor of the current wording. --87.79.213.106 (talk) 22:43, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

I just noticed an issue: a paragraph of pre-edited text got pasted in. I've fixed this. We can dump the last paragraph; but god knows there's been enough times I've found incomprehensible plot summaries when trying to find out about something on Wikipedia, which usually prove to be down to an incompetent hatchet job on a plot summary that, while arguably needing trimmed, at least was functional before the edit. 86.** IP (talk) 20:29, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

Problem #3[edit]

  • Section: Summary-style approach
  • Text:The spinout article should concisely provide details of the topic or topics covered in the work – just because the spinout article is given more space to grow does not mean that excessive plot summaries or fictional character biographies are appropriate. As with other fictional works, the spinout article should be written in an "out-of-universe" style. As with all other Wikipedia articles, the spinout article needs to be verifiable, must possess no original research, and must reflect a neutral point of view.
  • Problem: Does not at all reflect practice, explicitly denies spin-out articles on characters when we have hundreds, which are generally kept at AfD. Instead, we should emphasize what's required for such articles. Poorly-written.
  • Solution: Copyedit:

Add to end of previous paragraph:

As with other fictional works, the spinout article should be written in an "out-of-universe" style. As with all other Wikipedia articles, the spinout article needs to be verifiable, must possess no original research, and must reflect a neutral point of view.

Follow with this new paragraph:

If the spinout article contains a longer plot summary, it's still necessary to put it in context, and the amount of detail given must not get so excessive that it no longer serves an encyclopedic purpose; the point is to let our users understand the work, not to substitute for reading it.

86.** IP (talk) 15:58, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

At this point, I would almost say that spinout articles are expected to be notable - at least if we are talking about singular characters or episodes or the like. If there are character articles that have no notability surviving AFD, there's an issue here, much less excess plot and the like. --MASEM (t) 21:34, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Does not at all reflect practice -- That whole "policies are merely descriptive" philosophy is overrated. WP:NOT is very much normative, and that's a good thing. It seems your issue is with WP:NOTPLOT, not with WAF.
explicitly denies spin-out articles on characters when we have hundreds -- Link us a single article on a character or other plot item which is not independently notable but which is tolerated as a spinoff article. If you find such articles, by all means, merge them into their respective main articles, or expand them into proper articles with real-world context based on reliable secondary sources. Just so we're clear: We all are well aware that bad editing practices exist. But this guideline will not be used to justify those practices or to make them out as ok when they're not. --213.196.211.143 (talk) 01:44, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Surely it's better to set guidelines for spinout articles on characters than to pretend they don't exist and that the problem will go away if we don't talk about it. 86.** IP (talk) 19:46, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
That's what was attempted at WP:FICT which you nominated for deletion. It was worked on for years and was just one massive fight that never established consensus. You are welcome to try to establish guidelines but there will never be consensus on this and it will always just end up being handled on a case by case basis. Ridernyc (talk) 19:55, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
You're distracting from the subject a bit, aren't you? The text, as it stands, implies that spinout articles on characters are forbidden. They apparently aren't, so we shouldn't say that they are, but instead make clear that all the requirements of this guideline apply to them - especially the out-of-universe and context parts. We could perhaps add in reasons to consider before making such an article - is the character individually discussed in independent, reliable sources? Is the character featured in a wide variety of media, meaning that the article can serve as a navigation page, and other stuff I could pull out of my arse as examples. But just saying articles on characters are never appropriate is patently false as Wikipedia practice stands. That said, I do think my text can be criticised here: "If the spinout article contains a longer plot summary," is far too permissive without major qualifiers, and it would be very rare that those qualifiers would actually apply. Replace with "If the spinout article contains a plot summary," 86.** IP (talk) 20:00, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
It's written the way it is because the attempts to codify all this at WP:FICT failed. I know this all looks like a mess to you but there is nearly a decades worth of debate that developed these guidelines. Ridernyc (talk) 20:16, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

How about this, then:

New proposed text

Just because the spinout article is given more space to grow does not mean that excessive plot summaries are appropriate. As with all other Wikipedia articles, the spinout article needs to be verifiable, must possess no original research, and must reflect a neutral point of view. Also, for articles primarily about plot elements, such as fictional character biographies, the elements described must be independently notable, and, and all other requirements - such as the requirement to put the subject in a real-world context, and writing it in an "out-of-universe" style, remain in place.

It's mostly as before, but simply clarifies that it's sometimes permissible to discuss a notable element of a plot. 86.** IP (talk) 20:21, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

Problem #4[edit]

  • Section: Fair-use.
  • Text: Information about copyrighted fictional worlds and plots of works of fiction can be provided only under a claim of fair use, and Wikipedia's fair-use policy holds that "the amount of copyrighted work used should be as little as possible". Many works of fiction covered by Wikipedia are protected by copyright. Some works are sufficiently old that their copyright has expired, or the rights may have been released in some way, such as under the GFDL, or into the public domain.
  • Wikipedia's fair-use policy: the amount of copyrighted work used should be as little as possible.
  • Problem: Simply false. that quote does not appear. Poorly written discussion on rights.
  • Solution: instead, explain how to deal with fair use, without appealing to non-existent policy.

Many works of fiction covered by Wikipedia are protected by copyright, although some works are sufficiently old that their copyright has expired, or may have had the rights released in some way. Information about copyrighted fictional worlds and plots of works of fiction can be provided only under a claim of fair use, as such, we should limit the amount of detail to a reasonable level that informs the reader about the subject, while not going into excessive detail or attempting to substitute for the original work. We also need to provide context and commentary to make sure that the article does not consist only of copyrighted material.

86.** IP (talk) 15:58, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

If we're going to go into copyrights and works that may be PD, we should point to appropriate places for copyright determination, as well as noting that despite works being in PD, we don't include large portions/whole parts here, but at Wikisource. It also might be worthwhile at this point to mention that some field/project-specific MOS have recommended sizes for plots that should be respected - what works at MOSFILM may not work for TV articles, for example. --MASEM (t) 21:34, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
It wouldn't be a bad idea to mention them, though we should probably link, not include the guidance. Maintenance nightmare to be quoting Wikiprojects. 86.** IP (talk) 20:31, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
that quote does not appear. -- It was changed a while back, but before that, the wording was there. The rewording of that page was aimed at leaving all of the original meaning intact. Your issue here is not with WAF but with WP:NFCC, Policy, 3.b: Minimal extent of use. Address the issue at WT:NFCC. As further above, we will not rewrite this guideline to justify, let alone explain or advocate bad editing practices. Seriously, what's next on Wikipedia: "No copyright infringement intended"? --213.196.211.143 (talk) 02:02, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
WP:FU is a bit vague on the point, but it states one rule applies to text, then says the other rule applies to other things such as images and video. It's not really clear that the text quoted applies to text-based sections at all. 86.** IP (talk) 16:45, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
The policy applies to the use of all non-free content on Wikipedia. And please don't try to wikilawyer like that, it's tiresome. --87.79.213.106 (talk) 22:41, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
It does, but not that section. Allow me to quote you the introduction: "Articles and other Wikipedia pages may, in accordance with the guideline, use brief verbatim textual excerpts from copyrighted media, properly attributed or cited to its original source or author, and specifically indicated as direct quotations via quotation marks, blockquote, or a similar method. Other non-free content—including all copyrighted images, audio and video clips, and other media files that lack a free content license—may be used on the English Wikipedia only where all 10 of the following criteria are met."
That explicitly excludes quotations from the ten-point list you're quoting. 86.** IP (talk) 00:19, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
Selective quoting is not your friend. The intro says, in full: "There is no automatic entitlement to use non-free content in an article or elsewhere on Wikipedia. Articles and other Wikipedia pages may, in accordance with the guideline, use brief verbatim textual excerpts from copyrighted media, properly attributed or cited to its original source or author, and specifically indicated as direct quotations via quotation marks, <blockquote>, or a similar method. Other non-free content—including all copyrighted images, audio and video clips, and other media files that lack a free content license—may be used on the English Wikipedia only where all 10 of the following criteria are met." -- The wording is not on your side of the argument. It's on mine. NFCC only talks about verbatim textual excerpts as being treated in a slightly different manner. That does not apply to plot summaries. These are copyrighted material most definitely falling under the ten required criteria. This discussion is over, you have thoroughly exhausted my ability to assume that you're even willing to understand the issues at hand. --87.79.106.55 (talk) 14:12, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

Problem #5[edit]

  • Section: Conclusions
  • Text: : Both primary and secondary information is necessary for a real-world perspective: maintain a balanced use of both primary and secondary sources;
  • Problem: Not ENOUGH advice.
  • Solution: Expand to "Both primary and secondary information is necessary for a real-world perspective: maintain a balanced use of both primary and secondary sources and put the fictional work into a wider context, by including information about things like reviews, reception, and reliably-sourced analysis" 86.** IP (talk) 15:58, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
That's fine. --MASEM (t) 21:34, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
put the fictional work into a wider context, by including information about things like reviews, reception, and reliably-sourced analysis -- That is already covered in the first point of Conclusions: write from a real-world perspective. Thus, oppose. --213.196.211.143 (talk) 02:17, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I don't see that as equivalent, and, hell, it doesn't hurt to emphasise this. 86.** IP (talk) 20:24, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it does, by mixing the points and thus making them less clear. What you wanted to add there is covered under write from a real-world perspective, it has simply nothing to do with the primary and secondary information. I oppose the addition. --87.79.213.106 (talk) 22:34, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

Problem #6[edit]

  • Section: Conclusions.
  • Text: Wikipedia's fair-use policy: the amount of copyrighted work used should be as little as possible.
  • Problem: as with #4, that's not what policy says.
  • Solution: Replace with "Since many plot summaries come under fair use, extra care should be taken to make sure the level of detail in the plot summary serves an encyclopedic purpose." 86.** IP (talk) 15:58, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
That's fine. --MASEM (t) 21:34, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
Nothing ever "comes as" fair use. Fair use has to be claimed under a specific rationale as an exemption from copyright restrictions. I strongly favor sticking to WP:NFCC's rationale and policy. Again, minimal extent of use. Plain and simple, and completely inline with the governing policy. If your issue is with the project's stance on non-free content, take it up at WT:NFCC. Your proposed rewording is gibberish btw. "Since many plot summaries come under fair use, extra care should be taken to make sure the level of detail in the plot summary serves an encyclopedic purpose." -- What? How does one relate to the other? You're trying to make the wording deliberately unclear. WP:NFCC advocates minimal extent of use, and that is precisely what we will do here. --213.196.211.143 (talk) 02:15, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
I don't think you understand how fair use works. One of the justifications for fair use is a legitimate purpose; by making sure things have that legitimate purpose, it's justified. Further, the text you claim from WP:NFCC appears to apply to images, video, and audio, not text; text is explicitly separated off from the discussion at the start, albeit it doesn't explicitly cover this case, though I presume that's because it was written before the knowledge of the court cases came out, since it seems to presume that no non-direct-quotation use of text can be copyrighted - which is true for factual matters, but not for fiction. 86.** IP (talk) 19:44, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Minimal extent of use is a cornerstone of all fair use claims. It means that the amount of copyrighted work used is the minimum necessary for the new publication, not gratuitous amounts. With your edit, you are trying to water down our wording, not to make it clearer. I oppose your edit because your rationale is nonsensical drivel, and because you are intentionally trying to justify bad editing practices. --87.79.213.106 (talk) 22:39, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Again, you fail to understand fair use. If we present what is needed for the purposes of education - and do not go beyond that - we are fine under fair use; there is no requirement for us to educate the reader badly, by leaving out information important to the reader's understanding, to stay within fair use. Also, are you really an IP, or just someone editing logged out? 86.** IP (talk) 00:24, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
I'll casually ignore your malicious insinuation there. You are refusing to understand fair use. Minimal extent of use means that we will use just as much as is necessary for proper encyclopedic coverage, never more than that. That is the advice we will give to writers so that they don't get the very wrong impression that it's somehow ok when "articles" consist of nothing or little more than a plot summary on one hand, or when the plot summary or other copyrighted item is used beyond encyclopedic necessity. We only ever have to safeguard ourselves against some people adding too much plot and too little of everything else. You are one of those people. This guideline is aimed at educating you. Instead, you're trying to destroy it. Quelle surprise. Ok, I'm done trying to get you to discuss honestly. You're leaving me no choice but to regard you as a malicious troll. --87.79.106.55 (talk) 14:05, 12 May 2012

Mythology[edit]

Is there an equivalent of this policy for myths and legends? (I ask as I've opened a discussion about the habitual confusion of narrative history and mythology in articles about ancient Korean history.) --Tyrannus Mundi (talk) 15:39, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

Most of the principles will apply, however, I would expect for centuries-old myths and legends there are going to be secondary sources to document the "development" of said myths and their legacy onto more contemporary times, so we're less worried about aspects like PLOT. That said, a 10,000 word fictional legend history isn't going to fly... --MASEM (t) 16:39, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
Definitely, my problem was mostly just articles that relate ostensibly incredible events as though they actually happened (see Yuhwa for an example of what I mean -- I switched the section title to "Mythological overview" as a patch, previously it was simply "Overview"). Thanks for the tip. --Tyrannus Mundi (talk) 16:58, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
Out-of-universe writing should be used for sure, and should definitely summarize more than reiterate. --MASEM (t) 17:02, 12 May 2012 (UTC)

User:86.**IP[edit]

This user has left a message on many talk pages saying they have quit Wikipedia. I agree with their sentiment that these guidelines need to be tweaked and cleaned. Hopefully we can now move on and actually do it without the drama. I encourage everyone involved to look over the guideline with fresh eyes and see what needs to be done. Ridernyc (talk) 18:57, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

How to use character names[edit]

Is there a general rule for naming characters in fictional sections? In "regular" articles about the real world, the first time a person's name is mentioned, it is first and last, and thereafter, only the last name is used. Is it the same for fictional works, or are first names used in those cases? I'm wondering because I'm working on a large article that alternates using last names, both names, and first names, and I want to normalize it all. Torchiest talkedits 16:26, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

It seems to me that there is no special guideline but you might want to read the following essay: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (characters). De728631 (talk) 17:16, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I think that essay is more for the article name than within an article.
But as to within the article, the best is to go with how the show's characters commonly refer to themselves; this may give a mix of first names and last names but it will be consistent. If the show is inconsistent and favors both, then pick one style (first or last) and stay with it. On the first appearance of a name, using first/last may be helpful if the show places emphasis on this, but if the work mentions the last name but never ever comes back to it ever, that's a good reason to avoid mentioning it in the first place. The only real good piece of advise is to stick to consistency; once you figured out how you will name a specific character in a summary, stick with that naming convention. --MASEM (t) 17:25, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the comments. I asked this elsewhere, so I'm going to link to the other conversation. Torchiest talkedits 19:55, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Real-world setting (ship) in written work of fiction[edit]

Hello. I am currently engaged in a number of debates regarding a real-world ship used in a work of fiction, more specifically, the Soviet merchant ship Yulius Fuchik in the novel Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy and Larry Bond. As this is the first time I have incorporated a section titled "In popular culture" in one of the articles I have written, I am not that familiar with the guidelines etc. for writing about fiction. I tried to read through this article, but I'm still not sure about the following issues:

  • If a real-world ship is used as a setting in a book, is it okay to say the real ship is "featured" in the book? A proposed alternative to this seems to be that the ship in the book is merely based on its real-world counterpart even though it shares the name and a number of identifying features. In this case the author is also known for his extensive use of real-world military equipment in his work (and even said to have created the techno-thriller genre). In addition to ships, the same could, in my opinion, be asked for real-world locations like cities and countries.
  • Although the ship's role was noted in a single source, I have been unable to find a reliable secondary source that explicitly states that this particular ship was featured in the novel. While I am aware of the Wikipedia policy regarding verifiability and that personal observations count as original research, is a secondary source needed in a case like this where it's just a matter of picking the ship's name from the novel (which features a great number of real-world naval ships) and making the connection? Not all ships have "...in print and on screen" books written about them, nor there are commentaries and background information available for all works of fiction. For this reason, it has been proposed that I should remove everything related to the novel from the article as unreferenced claims.
  • How much "artistic freedom" is accepted? In this case the transliteration of the ship's name in the book is slightly different from the official records as the author seems to have used the international ISO system while the official Soviet records and a number of articles use the Soviet GOST transliteration. Even though re-transliterating yields the same spelling in Cyrillic alphabet, one editor stated that this difference prevents making a connection with the ship in the book and the real vessel, and justifies the entry in the list of fictional ships despite the fact that the other details match the real-world ship.

Thanks in advance! Tupsumato (talk) 06:10, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

Plot summaries and citations[edit]

Hi, I've run into an issue where an editor is tagging a plot summary with {{cn}}s, and I believe that the current consensus on this is that they don't need citations. Has this changed without me knowing? Thanks, Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 04:04, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

Normally, yes, the work itself is presumed to be the source. However, if you are describing a point that requires intepretation that is not obvious in the work, you likely need to find a source to make that claim. --MASEM (t) 04:11, 15 January 2013 (UTC)
Yes, that's what I thought. Would you mind posting something to that effect on Talk:The Sword of Shannara? Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 05:39, 16 January 2013 (UTC)

Contradictory statements?[edit]

These two statements in the conclusion section appear to be contradictory:

  • Both primary and secondary information is necessary for a real-world perspective: maintain a balanced use of both primary and secondary sources;
  • Unpublished personal observation and interpretation of the article's subject and primary sources are not acceptable on Wikipedia: avoid original research;

--Roly (talk) 10:41, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

It’s saying that information from sources is necessary, but unsourced interpretation of that information is not allowed. —Frungi (talk) 07:47, 15 March 2013 (UTC)
It's also sayin that interpretation of primary sources is not acceptable.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:09, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

Primary sources used for content[edit]

I'd like to make an addition to the Project's MOS page.

Primary sources can be used for the purpose of sourcing the content of a work, such as its date, plot and credits. This is why plot summaries of articles books, TV shows, movies, etc., typically do not carry citations (though extensive info about the fictional universe in works may require chapter or page citations), and is explicitly indicated by the MOS pages of projects on those media, specifically WP:TVPLOT and WP:FILMPLOT (both of which quote WP:PSTS). Here's a snippet from TVPLOT:

Since TV episodes are primary sources in their articles, basic descriptions of their plots are acceptable. WP:PSTS says, "...a primary source may be used only to make descriptive claims, the accuracy of which is verifiable by a reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge... Do not make analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims about information found in a primary source."

I'd like to add a similar passage to the Primary Information section of the Writing about fiction Project page. Any objections? Nightscream (talk) 01:24, 22 March 2013 (UTC)

Referencing plot[edit]

This article should make it clear on how we should reference plot. I.e. is it ok for chunks of plot to be unreferenced? I think that it has to be referenced, although primary sources are acceptable. Why the article suggests the latter, it never stresses the former. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 00:45, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Are you refering to plot information for a film on a film's page, or on something like a character page? If it's the film (or TV show) page, then putting an in-line citation is redundant because all of the information is visible on the page (e.g., director, writer, release date., etc.). If it's a character page, or something like that, then there should be in-line citations to help identify which pieces of information belong to what film/tv show and supply the information for that on the page (e.g., director, writer, etc.).  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 01:11, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
I mean plot in articles like Sam and Diane. There is a lot of unreferenced content in that section, I presume it should be referenced somehow? --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| reply here 06:21, 28 March 2013 (UTC)
There's a template {{cite episode}} for episodes of TV series or individual broadcasts. In case of plot, primary references are ok, but if there are any secondary source relating the content of a TV series or a novel, then, by all means, feel free to use them. De728631 (talk) 12:50, 28 March 2013 (UTC)

Problems with The problem with in-universe perspective (WP:INUNIVERSE)[edit]

I just did some copyediting on this section which I hope is acceptable. But I have some questions:

Features often seen in an inappropriate, in-universe perspective include:
...
  • Using throwaway comments or jokes as a source of information
Can someone give an example of the kind of writing this is meant to warn against?
  • Captions for film stills, screenshots, or story illustrations written as if they show actual persons or events (John rescues Joan from the well); instead, captions should make it clear that the image is a depiction of fictional persons or events (Humphrey Bogart as John, and Barbra Streisand as Joan, in the well-rescue scene, or simply, The well-rescue scene).
(The above is my clarified -- I hope -- text but I think the intent is the same as what was already there, though as you'll see in a moment I'm not really sure what that intent is.) This restriction seems to require unnecessarily awkward captions. Can't captions, where space is at a premium, enjoy a little more latitude? I can imagine, for example, in the case of an out-of-copyright film there might be numerous images -- does each caption have to say, Dorothy (Judy Garland) meets The Cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr) and then, Dorothy (Judy Garland) meets The Scarecrow (Ray Bolger)? Can't it just say Dorothy meets The Scarecrow and let the reader's intelligence operate? Or am I misinterpreting the guideline?
Seconded. This rule would lead to quite overly-verbose captions. (Not that there's any reason to avoid using such captions when they aren't too long.) We don't need to cite the article's subject wherever we use it; why should we have to repeat actors names in every caption? (Assuming the same page already lists them as the actor for that character, obviously.) Unfortunately, as it happens, Wizard of Oz (1939 film) doesn't seem to show any stills from the actual movie, so I can't see what is actually done there. —SamB (talk) 21:30, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Also, I'm confused by:

These restrictions should and do hold for serious satire such as Gulliver's Travels or Candide (and many works for the stage) where the fictional elements are designed to camouflage the serious political or social criticism within the work. In such cases, it is legitimate to freely examine the fictional elements and the design of the storyline in order to attempt to decipher the author's original intent. The same exemptions might apply to other special forms of literature where the fiction/non-fiction categorization is disputed, such as the possibly historical elements of religious scripture.

First there are "restrictions", then later "The same exemptions apply..." Wait... are the restrictions and the exemptions the same thing? Huh? Also, I am tolerably conversant with the content and background of Gulliver, but I don't really understand what this last paragraph is telling me to do or not do. Help!

EEng (talk) 05:29, 10 April 2013 (UTC)

Plot Summary Max Length - Have there been proposals?[edit]

As a reader of books and Wikipedia articles about books I am often surprised by the length of plot summaries I find on some books. I have for sometime been considering offering up a suggestion to limit plot summaries by character count. I have lightly browsed around and I am not seeing in any archives where this has been seriously considered. Have there been any serious proposals? I would like to review them if anyone knows where they may be archived. Jeepday (talk) 23:18, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

We have talked about it before but recognize that plot length drastically differs by medium and importance of the work. The best guidelines we have stem from the Film project that aims for a 700 word-max plot for most movies, and the TV project generally says about 500 words for a hour-long work. These are not hard numbers, however, and only if the plot is way over (like, 1000 words for a film). Otherwise, we simply recognize that a plot is longer than it needs to be via WP:NOT#PLOT and look for people to condense it. Note that it's not a matter of reaching the hard word count, but simply avoiding extraneous plot details or being efficient on wording. --MASEM (t) 00:00, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

Surnames and middle names[edit]

I was wondering about the use of surnames and middle names in the lead sections of articles about fictional characters. I work on soap opera articles where characters get married and their names change (if they're female, as happens in real life when two people marry (at least in this country)). Editors tend to change the lead to something like "Jane Doe (previously Smith)", which is technically true, but because we write about fiction in the present tense, the old surname isn't "previously". Does anyone have any suggestions about what to do with that? In some cases, the word née is used, but fictional characters aren't born, they're created by writers and producers, so should we also do away with the née?

Also, sometimes a character's backstory reveals a maiden name or other married name but the character didn't have that name in the show, i.e. they are married in all their appearances. Should that surname be removed? An example is Rose Cotton (EastEnders) whose former married names were mentioned but she was only called Rose Cotton throughout her time in the series (other than one time her sister Dot calls her Rose Taylor because Dot denies that Rose was legally married to Mr Cotton because he was a bigamist). Another example is Carol Jackson, who has always been Carol Jackson but her father and brothers are all called Branning (I removed "née Branning" already).

And finally - often a character's middle name is mentioned at some point, such as during a wedding or funeral, but this is fictional and the middle name is unlikely to be an important part of the plot or characterisation or anything really and is possibly just inserted into the script by the writer picking a random name (Sam Mitchell (EastEnders) once says her middle name is Brenda in a throwaway comment but when she gets married her middle name has changed to Margaret Pricilla). Should middle names be included in lead sections?

Thank you! –anemoneprojectors– 17:31, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Doctor Who[edit]

There is a lengthy discussion at Talk:Doctor_Who#Doctor_Who_.27Day_of_the_doctor.27_need.27s_to_update_Doctor_status_for_John_hurt.2C_all_regenerations_status_from_9.2B that challenges issues around in/out universe perspectives, primary/secondary sources etc. You can see my views expressed there, but they're just how I feel about the situation; others feel differently. Anyway, further input from those with expertise in this area would be valuable. Bondegezou (talk) 18:08, 1 December 2013 (UTC)

Contradiction or exemption?[edit]

The general MoS guideline pertaining to the discussion of works of fiction seems to strongly favour use of the real world perspective. However, there is some language that might suggest that for certain works this is optional.

  • MOS:PLOT states: "Plot summaries can be written from the real-world perspective by referring to specific works or parts of works ('In the first book', 'In Act II') or describing things from the author or creator's perspective ('The author introduces', 'The story describes'). This gives the summary a more grounded tone and makes it more accessible to those unfamiliar with the source material. This style of writing should be preferred for plot summaries that encompass multiple works, such as a series of novels. Such conventions are not as important for plot summaries of single works, such as novels that are not part of a series; nevertheless, some real-world language at the beginning of such summaries is often good style."
  • Per MOS:PLOT: "Whenever the original fiction itself is the subject of the article, all out-of-universe information needs to be set in the context of that original fiction."
  • Per WP:INUNIVERSE: "An in-universe perspective describes the narrative from the perspective of characters within the fictional universe, treating it as if it were real and ignoring real-world context and sourced analysis. The threshold of what constitutes in-universe writing is making any effort to re-create or uphold the illusion of the original fiction by omitting real-world info.
Many fan wikis and fan websites (see below) take this approach, but it should not be used for Wikipedia articles. An in-universe perspective can be misleading, inviting unverifiable original research. Most importantly, in-universe perspective defies community consensus as to what we do not want Wikipedia to be or become.
  • Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction#Conclusions states: "When writing about fiction, keep the following in mind: The principal frame of reference is always the real world, in which both the work of fiction and its publication are embedded: write from a real-world perspective" and "Readability and comprehensibility: put all information into context with the original fiction."
  • Per WP:Real world: "Articles about fiction, like all Wikipedia articles, should adhere to the real world as their primary frame of reference. The approach is to describe the subject matter from the perspective of the real world, in which the work of fiction and its publication are embedded ... See below for a list of exemplary articles which employ a consistent real-world perspective. However, consider that real-world perspective is not an "optional" quality criterion but a general, basic requirement for all articles."

So why the language from WP:PLOT that states: "This style of writing should be preferred for plot summaries that encompass multiple works, such as a series of novels. Such conventions are not as important for plot summaries of single works, such as novels that are not part of a series; nevertheless, some real-world language at the beginning of such summaries is often good style." Is this really meant to exempt all discussion pertaining to fictional plot-lines that are not part of a series? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 00:27, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Because plot summaries do not have to be sourced (assumed to be from the primary work), the use of real-world reference in longer works becomes more important to help guide where the events occur within the work to act as a guideposts. For example, the statement "Sirius Black is revealed to be a friend of Harry Potter's father" has 7 possible books where that information could be found, and would be difficult for a reader to track down. On the other hand, "Sirius Black is introduced in the third book to be a friend of Harry Potter's father" clearly narrows this down to the third book. When talking about singular works, this is not as necessary but certainly can be helpful , particularly if the work has a non-linear structure. It is meant as a good practice and should be used to excise such out-of-universe placement in a singular work, if the out-of-world placement is useful. --MASEM (t) 00:38, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Right, but per WP:Real world: "real-world perspective is not an "optional" quality criterion but a general, basic requirement for all articles", which seems to be an important point that is stressed in numerous ways, so its hard to believe that it does not apply to any single works, including War and Peace, David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, 1984, Gone with the Wind, or Catcher in the Rye. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 00:44, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Oh definitely. And I did follow your contribution history to see what you were coming from, and the example there is a bad one - starting a plot summary "It is 1889, and..." is not so much of not establishing a real-world point of reference, but being maybe too much of a dramatic flare. Add that the novel there has a large time shift in the middle, and here's where I would say it's important to establish the physical structure of the narrative instead of the flair of storytelling. There are other ways to write an encyclopedia plot summary of a book that does not mention that it is a book (a work that takes place in a very short time frame and literary structure may not require noting the out-of-universe nature), but all plot summaries do avoid the dramatics of story telling, and that's I think what you're looking for in this case. --MASEM (t) 01:18, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I guess my point here is that, when taken as a whole, the guidelines quite strongly prefer that editors use a real world perspective when writing about fiction. Use of an in-universe perspective is strongly discouraged if not forbidden. So that bit in MOS:PLOT seems to be a direct contradiction to the general intention of the relevant guidelines; I.e., writing from a real world perspective is the general rule, and not the exception. Do we really intend that WP:INUNIVERSE and WP:Real world do not apply to any discussions of plot-lines of fictional works that are not part of a series? Stated another way, most fictional works are not part of a series, so why is so much MoS material dedicated to the prescription to avoid use of an in-universe perspective if this only applies to a very small percentage of fictional works? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 17:44, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
People that are taking all the advice given on this page as a whole and coming out "I never have to write about a singular , non-series work in an out-of-universe perspective" are basically wikilawyering. Our advice basically says "Avoid writing in-universe" and "Out of universe writing is stressed for serial works", but only if you pick what advice you read from this can that come out "You don't need out-of-universe writing for singular works." That's wrong, since we're saying, in general "In-universe writing is not good form for WP". --MASEM (t) 19:05, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I completely agree. That's why I made this edit, which SchroCat reverted. This needs to be tightened-up, IMO, because the notion that if a work is singular then none of these policies apply to it is a contradiction that should be fixed. Why is real world perspective only a good idea for works in a series, and why do we have so much policy devoted to a guideline that only applies to the smaller contingent of works? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 19:10, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Gabe, there is no need to leave a message on my talk page and ping me here. Either would have sufficed (actually neither was needed: I was on my way anyway when RL intervened). I reverted you because you removed any flexibility of approach to writing a section, and that is never a step in the right direction. To make the MOS too prescriptive leads to a killing off of style and a move towards a boilerplate and souless form of prose. I'm not convinced that "wiki-lawyering" would be the automatic result of this either: it is entirely possible to write good, solid, encyclopaedic English that fits within the existing and flexible MOS: it is also possible to keep out anything the is overly "in-universe". All plot sections will, by their very nature, contain hints of in-universe language, unless we write them referring to "the character Joe Bloggs visits a fictional interpretation of England in the novel". Plot summaries are titled as "Plot", giving an indication the contents are fictional and the rest of an article will (or certainly should) state whether the book is a piece of fiction or non-fiction, which puts the plot section very much into the real world, rather than being overly "in-universe" in nature. - SchroCat (talk) 19:34, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I pinged you because I thought its appropriate when mentioning someone (I didn't want to talk behind your back, but I won't ping you again). Do you at least see my point that the little bit in MOS:PLOT seems to exempt all singular works from the rest of the guideline? Why exempt singular works from a general rule; most works are singular. Its as if the whole purpose of this guideline vis-à-vis real world perspective is contradicted by that text-string. Per WP: Real world: "Real-world perspective is not an "optional" quality criterion but a general, basic requirement for all articles." FTR, I'm not suggesting anymore real world clues then "The story is set in XXXX", or "The author describes", or similar. Its really about setting the context with a topic sentence or two, not converting all in-universe sentences to real world. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 19:39, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't see it that all singular works are exempt: the wording provides an inherent flexibility. I think it guides against single works because it's less likely that in-universe familiarity is terribly helpful, except in rare cases. Where it's a series (Potter, LOTR, Bond etc), it's easier to presume a knowledge of character and events from the other books, and the in-universe risk is much stronger. In-universe isn't helpful for stand alone books, so there is no need to safeguard against it per se: when a single book veers into in-universe issues, it's normally because the prose needs work, rather than the in-universe problem raising its head. - SchroCat (talk) 20:16, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Don't you think: "Such conventions are not as important for plot summaries of single works, such as novels that are not part of a series; nevertheless, some real-world language at the beginning of such summaries is often good style", opens the door for the writers of articles about singular works to disregard WP:Real world and WP:INUNIVERSE? Isn't that exactly what happened at Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/Drama dari Krakatau/archive1? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 20:38, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Not necessarily. Drama is a case in point: it refers to the fact it's a work of fiction several times before we start reading the plot, so by the time we start reading the plot section, we already know it's a novel: we've been told that three times already. Further mincing up the text to flag up the fictional aspects of the book just leads readers to being bludgeoned to insensitivity by MoS-compliant prose for no real gain. - SchroCat (talk) 21:35, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Well, technically the lead is not the article; its a summary of the article. So, the first section in the article body of Drama dari Krakatau is Plot, which does not in any way acknowledge the real world, having been written entirely in-universe. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 21:43, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── So the summary of the article states twice in two sentences that it's a novel, which is supported by the big word "Plot", further telling/ suggesting to us that it's fictional. I think the mountain of in-universe should be put back into the perspective of a molehill, given the rest of the article. - SchroCat (talk) 21:47, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Mountain? All I'm saying is that we should not start the article body with: "It is 1883, and Krakatoa is stirring for the first time in 200 years". I suggested: "The story is set in 1883, as Krakatoa verges on its first eruption in more than 200 years", or similar. Am I really wrong about this? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 21:50, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
The issue with the noted FAC is that a plot summary line "It is 1883, and ..." is way too "dramatic" for encyclopedic writing. We don't have to say "The novel starts in 1883..." (though that's okay) to assure the reader its a novel - as said, that's already established - but we should say something more grounded, like "In 1883, ..." to step out of being in-universe. --MASEM (t) 21:52, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Except that the article begins not at the lead, but at the first section of the article body. We need to set the context in the real world perspective in the first paragraph of the article's first section. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 21:56, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
By default, we assume an average reader is reading the whole article, top to bottom. The lede acts as the executive summary to guide them through the article. A reader jumping to the plot section without reading the lead probably already knows this is a novel and does not need reminding there. --MASEM (t) 22:03, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
That's not the whole story; the lead cannot be relied upon to satisfy FAC requirements that the article must meet. If you linked to John Wayne in the lead of an article that also mentioned him in the first paragraph of the article body, would you link him at the first mention in the article? Why, or why not? If you introduced someone as Dr. Alan Smith in the lead, could you then refer to him as just Smith in the first section? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 22:10, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Also, the issue here is not "will the reader know its a fiction". That's not at all the point of these guidelines; its a strawman. The intent of the guidelines is to favour and encourage use of the most encyclopedic writing style. Per WP:INUNIVERSE: "Many fan wikis and fan websites take this approach, but it should not be used for Wikipedia articles. An in-universe perspective can be misleading, inviting unverifiable original research. Most importantly, in-universe perspective defies community consensus as to what we do not want Wikipedia to be or become." GabeMc (talk|contribs) 22:17, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
To stress ShrodCat's point: this is a guideline - it is hard to enforce with a hard edge. Also, "out of universe" writing does not require identification the physical work, but it is all about the point of view that is taken; that's the difference between "It is 1883, ..." and "In 1883,...". --MASEM (t) 22:29, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
When it comes to the MoS, its all just guidelines, but per WP:Real world: "Real-world perspective is not an optional quality criterion but a general, basic requirement for all articles." You are wrong to assert that "'out of universe' writing does not require identification the physical work"; that's exactly what it requires. Per WP:INUNIVERSE: "An in-universe perspective describes the narrative from the perspective of characters within the fictional universe, treating it as if it were real and ignoring real-world context and sourced analysis. The threshold of what constitutes in-universe writing is making any effort to re-create or uphold the illusion of the original fiction by omitting real-world info."(original emphasis) GabeMc (talk|contribs) 22:34, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
No it doesn't. You can write a plot summary in an out-of-universe style without mentioning the nature of the media or work that the story is in, you just have to take it from a position of not being involved in the narrative. You don't need to mention the nature of the media to avoid upholding the illusion of being in the real-world. --MASEM (t) 22:45, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Per MOS:PLOT: "Plot summaries can be written from the real-world perspective by referring to specific works or parts of works ("In the first book", "In Act II") or describing things from the author or creator's perspective ("The author introduces", "The story describes")." Per WP:Real world: "Articles about fiction, like all Wikipedia articles, should adhere to the real world as their primary frame of reference. The approach is to describe the subject matter from the perspective of the real world, in which the work of fiction and its publication are embedded." Is there an MoS guideline that supports your claim, or is this your personal opinion? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 22:52, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Nowhere does "writing out-of-universe" require one to state the physical nature of the work. It is one manner of writing out of universe, but there are also many other ways to do the same. You are reading something that is not being stated explicitly by this guideline. --MASEM (t) 23:44, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Maybe you are being too specific, IDK. You don't need to say "This is from a book". I'm talking about just a touch of reality so that it's not straight story-telling. We need to mention the author, or that its a story; any acknowledgment of the real world is better than none. If a section does not acknowledge that we are reading about a fictional story then its in-universe. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 23:55, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Gabe, you are going against essentially the whole body of featured content on works of fiction by insisting on that wording. I'm beginning to warm to Masem's suggested wording of "In 1883", but I remain staunchly opposed to having novel 3 or 4 times in the first 3 paragraphs. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 00:04, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • There is no need for strawmen here; what I suggested was one mention of the real world in the first sentence. I never said or implied that you needed to repeat it over and over. As it is, there is not one acknowledgement of the universe in which our readers exists in the section; that's text-book in-universe perspective. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 00:10, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • The h2 "Plot" or "Synopsis" header should be a clear enough sign we're talking about a work, not describing something happening in our world. (This complements what's said at WP:SPOILER, that this heading is a clear sign what's being talked about). --MASEM (t) 00:16, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • So, IYO the headers can establish facts and context so that the prose need not bother repeating what the header has already made clear? Are you saying that if a header read: Doctor John Smith's practice you could refer to him by just Smith in that section, and not have to introduce him once by his full name? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 00:48, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • If the full header said that, yes. However, that likely would never fly as a full header (if it was a biographical article, it would likely be called "Practice".) Also there's no requirement that every h2 section must refer to the the full name the first time it is used. It depends on the overall article structure. --MASEM (t) 00:53, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • I never said every section header. In this case, we are talking about the very first section of the article after the lead. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 00:55, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Per MOS:HEAD, we should not place citations in headers; therefore, the content of all headers is by nature unverifiable so it should not convey information that is not also available as sourced statements in the article body per WP:VERIFY. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 01:02, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • At some point common sense has to be used. --MASEM (t) 01:35, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • How is "see current practices in FA articles" a strawman argument, Gabe? Wikipedia is built around a consensus, and a consensus is determined by the practices and opinions of the majority of editors. If the majority of FA articles on fiction (which, as you and I both know, is reviewed by at least 3 editors during the candidacy) do not introduce plots with "the film opens with" or "the novel opens with", then that means there is an implicit consensus. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 01:44, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Per Wikipedia:Silence and consensus: "Consensus can be presumed to exist until voiced disagreement becomes evident". I meant that your comment: "but I remain staunchly opposed to having novel 3 or 4 times in the first 3 paragraphs", is a strawman, because I never said that you had to acknowledge the real world 3 or 4 times in the first 3 paragraphs. All I said was that it would be good practice to establish at the first sentence that you are writing about a fiction versus going into in-universe story-telling mode in the first section after the lead. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 18:08, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Per check your fiction: "If you add fictional information, clearly distinguish fact and fiction. As with normal articles, establish context so that a reader unfamiliar with the subject can get an idea about the article's meaning without having to check several links. Instead of writing

"Trillian is Arthur Dent's girlfriend. She was taken away from Earth by Zaphod when he met her at a party. She meets Dent while travelling with Zaphod."

write

"Trillian is a fictional character from Douglas Adams' radio, book and now film series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the first book, Trillian is introduced to the main character Arthur Dent on a spaceship. In her backstory, she was taken away from Earth when the space alien Zaphod Beeblebrox met her at a party." GabeMc (talk|contribs) 18:11, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Per WP:CREATELEAD: "There should not be anything in the lead that does not refer to specific content in the article and is not backed up by specific references found in the article ... Each word, phrase, and sentence in a lead should be covered by equivalent content in the body of the article ... the lead is only based on content and references found in the body of the article." GabeMc (talk|contribs) 18:36, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Gabe, you need to step back and realize you are wikilawyering the language of a guideline. All that needs to be done is to avoid phrasing the plot in-universe for plot sections. To do that one has to write out-of-universe, but there are many ways to do this, some which will mention the work, some which will not. Additionally, our readers are not stupid: anything listed until "plot" is going to be obviously about the fiction of the work; the avoidance of in-universe further helps to be clear we're not talking about anything that has really happened in the real world. And as pointed out, this is a guideline meant to outline best practice but with fair exceptions. While I don't think this clears the allowance of using in-universe, it does allow for all sorts of variations on out-of-universe, even those that don't mention the media. You're approaching what would be WP:DEADHORSE territory here. --MASEM (t) 18:46, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm not twisting anything here, Masem. You shouldn't try to shut-down discussion, especially when you are losing your argument. What was that you were saying that the lead and the article body need not repeat material? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 18:52, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
When one sentence of one guideline directly contradicts at least 10 other guidelines that are in agreement with each other the problem is with the contradiction, and not the material it contradicts. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 18:55, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
You are wikilawyering to try to show there's a conflict. Everyone else that writes about fictional works on WP understands the intent. --MASEM (t) 19:02, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Wikilawyering is when you use one sentence to override 25 others, which is the exact opposite of what I am doing. Tell me again how the lead can introduce context so that the article body does not need to. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 19:05, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Again, if a reader decides to skip the intro section and jump into the article proper, we automatically assume they know what the topic generally is (this is the whole reason we have sections and TOCs to help those readers that are looking for specifics). Thus, the "Plot" header is sufficient for these sections, since we're assuming the reader knows this is a work of fiction. --MASEM (t) 19:16, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Are you using the term plot as though it pertains to only fiction? Because non-fiction stories also have plots and here. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 19:27, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Non-fiction works have synopses (they are covering factual elements). And still, my point stands - a person skipping an intro is going to know if the article is about a work of fiction, a work of non-fiction, or whatever the topic is. --MASEM (t) 19:31, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
If you are saying that non-fiction stories never have plots then you are wrong. A synopsis is a summary, a plot is the sequence of events in relation to causality; they are absolutely not the same thing. "Like fiction, most works of creative non-fiction contain a plot". "In between plot developments, the creative nonfiction writer can supply other information" "(Creative non fiction writers) embrace many of the techniques of the fiction writer, including dialogue, description, (and) plot". GabeMc (talk|contribs) 19:38, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Again, you're wikilawyering left and right here, and irregardless, this isn't the point. If a reader skips the lead and goes to the "plot" "synopsis" "summary" or what ever the first section is named, we safely assume they know that they are reading about a work (fiction, non-fiction, etc.) and we don't have to introduce that point in that section. --MASEM (t) 20:09, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Again, you are missing the point. First you said that readers will know its a fiction because of the "Plot" header, but now that I've shown that non fiction stories also have plots, indeed all stories have plots, you say that the reader who doesn't read the lead will know whether the story is fiction or non fiction, but how? I showed the plot section to a friend of mine and they said that based on that section they thought it was historical non-fiction, since its written in-universe. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 21:02, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
It's a working assumption that when a reader skips the lead they are familiar with the topic to not need the lead; similar to our assumption that the average reader has high-school or equivalent mastery of the English language and the like. Without these assumptions we'd have to tame our writing to be more like the Simple English version. Our articles are designed to be read top to bottom, so it's the reader's fault for skipping over any section and missing comprehension. --MASEM (t) 21:09, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • I think that the most basic way to determine if an article is written in violation of WP:INUNIVERSE and WP:Real world is to read the section and determine if the in-line prose makes the real world distinction clear. If you read only Drama dari Krakatau#Plot you would have absolutely no indication that the work is fictional. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 21:11, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Per WP:INUNIVERSE: "Most importantly, in-universe perspective defies community consensus as to what we do not want Wikipedia to be or become." So, to say I'm Wikilawyering is ridiculous, since everything in the MoS except that one sentence in MOS:PLOT agrees with me, and even that says: "Such conventions are not as important for plot summaries of single works that are not part of a series; nevertheless, some real-world language at the beginning of summaries is often good style." So, if "some real-world language at the beginning of summaries" is "good style", and FAC requires "brilliant prose", I think its safe to assume that the section needs some real-world language at the beginning, just as I am arguing here. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 21:25, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Absolutely wrong, that's not how you determine between in-universe and out-of-universe writing. You're mixing up so many concepts now that it's impossible to follow the line of reasoning. Your "test" is a bogus test, and only would apply in considering the whole article if the article as a whole attempts to make no separation of fiction and reality. A per-section test is never appropriate. --MASEM (t) 21:28, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Have you even read WP:INUNIVERSE or WP:Real world, because, as far as I can tell, none of your points are supported by the guideline? Per WP:INUNIVERSE: "The threshold of what constitutes in-universe writing is making any effort to re-create or uphold the illusion of the original fiction by omitting real-world info."(original emphasis) So, by your logic then if the lead mentions that the work is a fiction then the rest of the article can be written in-universe? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 21:36, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Why are none of your responses based on actual guidelines? If I am as wrong as you say, then it should be able to point me to a guideline that explains whish points I am confounding. Per WP:INUNIVERSE: "Features often seen in an inappropriate, in-universe perspective include: A plot synopsis written like a historical account." Is your position that the plot synopsis of Drama dari Krakatau‎ is not written like a historical account? Why, or why not? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 21:39, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Because policy and guidelines are not prescriptive as you are trying to make them; they are descriptive. No one else on WP misunderstands these various guidelines to mean that "you must start plot sections with "The novel begins..." or similar language." so there's no need to write this out in any specifics. As to your other question, yes, it is probably possible write an article that only addresses that the work is fictional in the lede and then present the rest in plot summary written in an out-of-universe style but without re-addressing that it is work of fiction, but I would suspect such an article would be poorly sourced or only sourced to the primary work and be failing of notability/ WP:NOT#PLOT lines. --MASEM (t) 21:55, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
"Real-world perspective is not an "optional" quality criterion but a general, basic requirement for all articles" and "in-universe perspective defies community consensus as to what we do not want Wikipedia to be or become" sound prescriptive to me. Do you think that that the plot synopsis of Drama dari Krakatau‎ is written like a historical summary? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 22:03, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
Save for three specific policies, all policies and guidelines on WP are treated as descriptive even if they contain prescriptive language - this is what IAR allows. (The three specific policies that are prescriptive are BLP, NFC, and COPYVIO, all that have legal ramifications). So your continued use of these policies and guidelines as a sledgehammer is not appropriate. And to the question, it is not written like a historical summary, but (at least last I checked) has a bit of in-universe problems to be easily fixed; the rest of the article is clear it is a fictional work. --MASEM (t) 22:14, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Recent changes[edit]

There have recently been several changes undertaken on this MOS page by GabeMc, which modify the terms of writing about fiction significantly. As this MOS should apply Wiki-Wide, I'd like to ask the community if there is a consensus on these changes.

Is

Referring to the fictional events or dates which occur in the story, rather than the fictional works themselves. For example, instead of writing: "It is the year 34,500 AD, when the Trantorian Empire encompasses roughly half of the galaxy", write: "This story is set in the year 34,500 AD, when the Trantorian Empire encompasses roughly half of the galaxy", or similar.

the correct and only interpretation of

Referring to the fictional events or dates which occur in the story, rather than the fictional works themselves

And is such a criterion necessary? — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:15, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Support new wording[edit]

  1. Support not sanctioning the use of "It is the year XXXX" as the first line in the article body of an article written about a fictional work. The article starts new and independent of the lead; you cannot rely on what's been established in the lead to set the proper context for the article. Why else do we link in the lead and the first mention? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 23:23, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • "The article starts new and independent of the lead"? That's an entirely new interpretation of articles with no basis in fact at all. It also ignores the big word "Plot" in the section heading, overtly signifying that this is a fictional work. - SchroCat (talk) 09:05, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Well, why do you link in the lead and then again on the first mention in the article body? Headers cannot be relied upon to introduce information because per WP:HEAD there should be no citations in headers. Therefore, all information included in headers is unverified. Per MOS:INTRO: "The lead section should briefly summarize the most important points covered in an article in such a way that it can stand on its own as a concise version of the article." See also WP:LEADFOLLOWSBODY. Per WP:CREATELEAD: "There should not be anything in the lead that does not refer to specific content in the article and is not backed up by specific references found in the article ... Each word, phrase, and sentence in a lead should be covered by equivalent content in the body of the article." GabeMc (talk|contribs) 17:15, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Waaaaay too many strawmen and synthesised arguments to deal with there. What on earth has the linking policy got to do with it? Or the lead argument? Not so much straw men as those things you are clutching at. The lead reflects the article. In your attack on Drama, you miss the point that the lead discusses the fact the story is fictional: something the article makes very, very clear. Not just in the use of the big word "Plot" (and yes, your argument on "Head" really is nonsense), but in the rest of the article - something the "Writing" section makes clear to everything above single-cell amoeba. _ SchroCat (talk) 21:59, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • You keep going back to "everyone knows its a fiction", which I have never once denied. That's not at all the point of these guidelines, which is to favour the more encyclopedic writing style. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether the reader will know its a novel. That's a strawman. I said that the article and the lead need to be written so that they can stand-alone, which is supported by policy. Are you really saying that you can inform the reader with a header so that that information need not be repeated in the prose? As in, if I wrote a header that said: "John Lennon died in 1980", that section would not need to also mention the year? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 22:47, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Oppose new wording[edit]

  1. Oppose: It is difficult, if not impossible, to indicate the passage of time in a narrative without referring to years. Moreover, the MOS does not require RW Perspective in plot summaries of single works ("Real-world perspective is the preferred style for plot summaries that encompass multiple works, such as a series of novels. Such conventions are not as important for plot summaries of single works that are not part of a series; nevertheless, some real-world language at the beginning of summaries is often good style.") but this wording contradicts that, enforcing a single viewpoint which is (IMHO) significantly poorer in terms of opportunities for brilliant prose. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:19, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  2. Oppose We don't need to be that prescriptive. I would hope it is clear that "It is the year XXXX" is not out-of-universe style, but we don't need to spell out the "right" better way of doing it. "In the year XXXX..." is just as good as "The novel starts in the year XXXX" among potentially other ways. --MASEM (t) 23:43, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
    You're right. "It is the year XXXX" is not out-of-universe style; its in-universe style, since obviously its not the year 1883 in the universe in which we exist, right? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 23:57, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
    • That's what he's saying... — Crisco 1492 (talk) 00:02, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
    • No, I'm clear in what I said. "It is the year XXXX..." is presenting the fiction as if it is actually happening, and thus not appropriate for us (this is in-universe). "In the year XXXX" or "In XXXX" could be taken either way, but that's why we rely on the plot section header to note "hey this is the fictional stuff now!" to the reader. "The novel starts in XXXX" is clearly out of universe, but can be clunky language. --MASEM (t) 00:20, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
    • I stand corrected, but since when can headers establish facts and context so that the lead-in topic sentence can assume that the stage is set? I don't agree with that and I've never heard that position defended at FAC. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 00:22, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  3. Oppose, as per the above. Firstly, the article has to be viewed in its entirety. Secondly, with the key word "Plot" as the section heading, it tells people clearly that we're dealing with a work of fiction here, rather than anything else. Real world issues are a minor problem in single works (there is no cross-referencing to other fictional works etc) and these are lessened by the knowledge that people already know its fiction by the time they start reading the description of the plot. - SchroCat (talk) 09:13, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
    • This has nothing to do with "will the readers know its about a fiction". That's a strawman argument. This is about using the most encyclopedic writing style, which is not story-telling mode. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 17:17, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
    • No, it's not a straw man, Gabe. You are losing sight of the point here and moving into troll territory. Time to drop the stick and move on. - SchroCat (talk) 22:12, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

Discussion[edit]

It need not be the only correct interpretation to be a valid one. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 23:18, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • If you are presenting that interpretation as a prescriptive one in a manual of style, then by definition that is being treated as the only one and not leaving any room for other viewpoints. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:20, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • (ec) What is the other viewpoint? FTR, I didn't add "Referring to the fictional events or dates which occur in the story, rather than the fictional works themselves"; it was already there. I just added an example, because there were none, and it was ambiguous. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 23:28, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • That one should not refer to entirely fictional calenders, for instance. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:33, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Gabe, "the article starts new and independent of the lead"... citation, please. You seem to be the only one supporting such a view. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:25, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
    • If you wrote a lead that introduced a character as Doctor John Smith would you refer to him as just Smith when mentioned for the first time in the article? The lead and the article should be able to stand on their own, without relying on the other to establish context and background. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 23:28, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
      • That's not a citation, Gabe. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 23:33, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
        • Don't you link terms on their first mention even though you've already linked them in the lead? Why? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 00:19, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
        • Per MOS:LEAD: "The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview." So unless you are arguing that the article does not also need to stand alone you have your citation. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 00:25, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
          • That is a misreading. "The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview." simply means that: the lede should be able to stand alone (i.e. no major information should be left out). It does not imply that the rest of the article should be read without the lede. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 01:39, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
            • Per MOS:INTRO: "The lead section should briefly summarize the most important points covered in an article in such a way that it can stand on its own as a concise version of the article." See also WP:LEADFOLLOWSBODY. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 17:39, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
              • Again, that is merely saying that the lede should be able to stand on its own. It does not say, nor imply, that the body must be able to stand on its own, apart from the lede. You are misreading. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 00:14, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
                • Okay, answer this question: Would there be less information in the article if you took the lead away? Why, or why not? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 00:18, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
                  • Yes, there would. Most articles define the subject in the lede, which may or may not be in the body of the article. Gabe, you're reaching. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 00:23, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
                    • So, is it accurate to state that according to you, the lead may contain information that is not contained anywhere in the article body? Is that what you are saying? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 00:40, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
  • Per check your fiction: "If you add fictional information, clearly distinguish fact and fiction. As with normal articles, establish context so that a reader unfamiliar with the subject can get an idea about the article's meaning without having to check several links. Instead of writing
"Trillian is Arthur Dent's girlfriend. She was taken away from Earth by Zaphod when he met her at a party. She meets Dent while travelling with Zaphod."
write
"Trillian is a fictional character from Douglas Adams' radio, book and now film series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the first book, Trillian is introduced to the main character Arthur Dent on a spaceship. In her backstory, she was taken away from Earth when the space alien Zaphod Beeblebrox met her at a party." GabeMc (talk|contribs) 18:19, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • I sympathize with GabeMc that the lead and body should be independent of each other (that's my approach, anyways, regardless of whether the MoS requires it).[a] That said, I do think a "Plot", "Summary", or "Synopsis" header is a sufficient indicator that section will jump right into an in-universe style (which is also the approach I prefer). Curly Turkey (gobble) 02:04, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
  1. ^ Or rather, the lead, as summary, should depend on what's in the body, unless doing so is simply silly. I think the body should in no way depend on what's in the lead.

Clarifying things[edit]

I think we need to be clear we're actually talking 3 different styles of writing here:

  • In-universe is where the narrative of the summary is frames as to act as if the events are really happening, typically using language that draws the reader into that. This may be more expressive prose, but it is also generally non-encyclopedic because of the bias. As such, we never should write plus summaries in this style. In addition, plots in this style tend to get wordy and may be too long.
  • Out-of-universe is the opposite of in-universe, where the narrative is told from a passive, external view of the story. It may be less brilliant in prose but it is better for conveying the plot in an unbias, unemotional manner. This is preferred for all summation of fictional aspects.
  • The third aspect is the "real-world perspective", and this I would say is the specific act of mentioning that the story is taking place in a book, film, or whatever else. When we are talking about a singular work, as long as the nature of the work's medium is discussed elsewhere, then the real-world perspective is not needed in the summary; the fact it is a work of fiction is implied by the lede and section header. On the other hand, talking about the larger plot of a serial work, a fictional character that appears in many works, or similar broader concepts, the real-world summary is absolutely needed. Further, even for a singular work that is part of a series, if the work calls back to a series' running plot, then a real-world perspective to identify those past elements may be needed.

In other words, all plot summaries should avoid in-universe writing style, and use out-of-universe approaches. Real-world perspective would be nice in all summaries but its not something we can reasonably expect for all singular works, but is nearly necessary when discussing a series or elements of it. --MASEM (t) 15:11, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

  • That is a pretty good argument. I've changed the plot summary of the article that started this fiasco. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 15:18, 28 February 2014 (UTC)
  • For the sake of clarity, is this your personal take, Masem, or is this supported by external style guides? I noticed that you are changing the MoS to support this position, but I'd like to see this explained in a few reliable secondary sources first. GabeMc (talk|contribs) 22:27, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
    • This is what practice has been on WP for a long long time. There are no obvious external style guides that take this approach (outside of Wikia-type ones, but I'm disregarding those), but it is practice and common sense correct. --MASEM (t) 22:34, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
      • Fair enough, but can you give some examples of what you mean? For instance, can you please phrase a sentence in the three different perspectives so that we can see what exactly differentiates them? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 22:37, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
        • In-U: "It is 2003, and..." Out-of-U: "In 2003, ...". Real-world "The book begins in 2003, ...". --MASEM (t) 22:56, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

Forenames and surnames of characters[edit]

An editor recently took to changing some articles about P.G. Wodehouse stories to refer to Bertie Wooster as "Wooster" instead of "Bertie", where the same articles refer to his valet by his surname "Jeeves", explaining that they found the contrast grating and indicative of class prejudice. This got mixed reactions from other editors, but I couldn't find a clear line of policy clarifying whether to use surnames or forenames - all I could turn up were some lines in the Doctor Who and Eastenders wikiprojects saying to use forenames or nicknames for "protagonists and neutral characters" and surnames for "antagonists and officials". Common sense suggests that an article should reflect the names as they're used in the work of fiction (if a book spends 500 pages calling its protagonist "Pip" and only mentions his surname five times, the article calls him "Pip" rather than "Pirrip"), but I can't see this written down anywhere. Am I overlooking a line of policy? If not, should this be added somewhere? --McGeddon (talk) 09:10, 27 February 2014 (UTC)

  • Agreed; if the work has a clear preference in the short name of the character, that should be used even if it goes against the rest of the name consistency (eg if all the others are generally go by last names but one character by the first, go with that). --MASEM (t) 19:04, 27 February 2014 (UTC)
  • I agree that it makes sense to use the author's own usage, when the author is referring to the character as a narrator. In this case, however, given the widespread usage of the phrase "Jeeves and Wooster" in popular media, it does sound odd when referring to both to use "Jeeves and Bertie". I think, therefore, that a common sense approach is desirable - reflect author's usage, unless there is a common sense reason not to. Wikipeterproject (talk) 09:31, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
  • I'm not sure WP:COMMONNAME overrules authorial intent and usage. Wikipedia respects the text and refers to the protagonist of Doctor Who as "The Doctor", even though most people and many journalists would echo the series title and call him "Doctor Who". "Jeeves and Bertie" does sound odd in isolation, but we're not trying to title an article or dedicate a statue here, we're trying to write plot synopses such as "Bertie is blamed, and the guests chase both Bertie and Jeeves around the chapel in the final scene". It seems more correct to reflect the names used in the text. --McGeddon (talk) 10:59, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
  • I'd go with "Wooster", which I think is as common as Bertie - and certainly fits with the series title J&W. - SchroCat (talk) 11:09, 2 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Perhaps worth noting that "Jeeves and Wooster" is the title of the 1990s television series, not the novels. References to "the Jeeves and Wooster books" do occur before then, but I can't see that it was ever used an official name for Wodehouse's works. But this specific example is perhaps better suited to a Wodehouse-related talk page - I was just curious as to whether there was anything in the Manual of Style about how much to reflect a book's naming of its characters. --McGeddon (talk) 11:26, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

Recent changes to plot summary guidelines[edit]

Really, since when do entire sections of Wikipedia articles not need any reliable secondary sourcing? GabeMc (talk|contribs) 22:36, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

For some time. See WP:FILMPLOT: "Since films are primary sources in their articles, basic descriptions of their plots are acceptable without reference to an outside source", for example. - SchroCat (talk) 22:41, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

  • (ec) This has been standard for Wikipedia since before I started editing. The plot is assumed to be cited to the work being discussed, except where the work is no longer available (such as lost films). See pretty much any FA on an extant film, novel, comic, video game... However, direct quotes should still have footnotes, per WP:V.
Also, note that interpretation (say, the significance of the spinning top at the end of Inception, is he in a dream or not) does need reliable secondary sources. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 22:44, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
Are you sure about that, Crisco? I agree. According to WP:FILMPLOT: "As Wikipedia's policy on primary sources says, '...a primary source may be used only to make descriptive claims, the accuracy of which is verifiable by a reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge... Do not make analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims about information found in a primary source.'" Per WP:PRIMARY: "All interpretive claims, analyses, or synthetic claims about primary sources must be referenced to a secondary source, rather than to an original analysis of the primary-source material by Wikipedia editors." GabeMc (talk|contribs) 22:46, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Right. So, to continue the Inception example, "Cobb spins a top" would be fine. "Cobb spins a top, which does not fall over, meaning he is in a dream" would require a secondary source. — Crisco 1492 (talk) 22:54, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
FWIW - I just added the need to cite direct quotes, and using the Inception example as a point to avoid interpretation (since I remember there were people trying to argue either way based on a frame-by-frame analysis) --MASEM (t) 22:55, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

Regarding the recent changes to the section in question, I question two things:

There is this: "Plot summaries and similar recaps of fictional works (like a character's fictional biography) should be written in an out-of-universe style, presenting the narrative from a displaced, neutral frame of reference from the characters or setting. While an in-universe style may be more engaging for prose, it may also bias the work and be overly wordy. For example, instead of starting a plot summary with 'It is 2003,' (which puts the reader in the frame of reference of the work), start with 'In 2003,...' (which extracts the reader from that frame)."
And then there is this: "Independent secondary sources that make analysis or interpretation of a work but without any correlation with the creator should be discussed in a separate section outside of the plot summary and not confused with the presented plot summary."

Concerning the first, and where it states "Real-world perspective is the preferred style for plot summaries that encompass multiple works, such as broadly describing a series of novels, describing key events that might have happened in earlier works that impact the present work, or the biography of a fictional character over multiple works.", it's not often that Wikipedia film and television Plot sections start out describing, or primarily describe, the plot in a way that reminds the reader that it's just fiction. For example, beginning by stating "In The Dark Knight, or using phrasing such as "in a flashback," "in the scene" or "in the rolling credits."

Concerning the second, saying that we should not blend "analysis or interpretation" with the plot summary unless it concerns what the creator says seems somewhat out of step with the guideline as a whole, which emphasizes real-world context. How does something like the plot summary in the WP:Featured article Pauline Fowler factor into this? Is it fine that its plot summary is blending analysis and interpretation since it's not titled Plot...but rather Character development and impact? Flyer22 (talk) 23:13, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

On your first point, the wording is basically saying that the plot summary on the standalone page about a single-work piece of fiction does not need to identify the plot is a work of fiction as it is a safe assumption in such an article. These articles can if they find it necessary to help relate the plot should it be complex.
On your second point, I would not consider the "Character development and impact" the same as a plot summary so it should be fine.--MASEM (t) 23:23, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
Okay, thanks for clarifying. Going back to the Character development and impact section, though, it's basically the Plot section for that article; for example, it includes an Early storylines subsection. But you consider that type of setup to not contrast with the aforementioned guideline since it's not under the heading Plot or Plot summary? By that, I mean: Do you feel that way because the headings "Plot" or "Plot summary," etc. indicate that it's a typical storyline section? Or do you feel this way because a Plot section generally doesn't include such material, and generally should not...unless that material only concerns what the creator thinks (or what more than one of the creators think)? Perhaps it's both factors? Flyer22 (talk) 23:39, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

WikiProjects don't write guidelines?[edit]

WhatamIdoing, in this edit, you stated that WikiProjects don't write guidelines. But, as examples, WP:FILMMOS is a guideline written by WP:FILM, and WP:MEDMOS and WP:MEDRS are guidelines written by WP:MED. To me, it is always best to point out those guidelines as guidelines, not simply as advice. Wikipedia guidelines and policies, as you know, hold more weight than Wikipedia advice or essay pages. Flyer22 (talk) 20:53, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

They are not global guidelines and inconsistencies with global policy or guidelines will always be overridden by the latter. --MASEM (t) 21:08, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
Of course they are not "global guidelines." But they are guidelines. There is no "global" Wikipedia guideline or policy I can think of that would override them, other than WP:PLOT (a policy) with regard to WP:FILMPLOT. But WP:FILMPLOT adheres to WP:PLOT. And it's widely accepted among Wikipedia editors that the guideline for Wikipedia film articles is WP:FILMMOS. WP:FILMMOS holds far more weight than any other WikiProject simply offering advice on how to format a Wikipedia film article. And WP:MEDRS is so strictly followed on Wikipedia medical articles that it might as well be a policy. Flyer22 (talk) 21:16, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
To be clearer, wikiprojects' WP:PROJPAGEs are not WP:GUIDELINEs. Sometimes they become guidelines, usually after a {{Proposal}} process, or something less formal such as an extensive discussion about it at a top-level "parent" policy/guideline page (e.g. WT:AT for nascent naming conventions, WT:MOS for topical would-be style guidelines, or WT:N for proposed subject-specific notability guidelines). A lot of editors are confused about this because they observe that some of the older topical guidelines of this sort were simply written by one person or a handful and slapped with a {{Guideline}} tag, way back when. This was common years ago, when WP's editorship was small and WP was experimental and not well-used by the public yet. It's a major global resource for the public now, and things are consequently much less fast-and-loose. Even used-every-single-day essays like WP:AADD are not always elevated to guideline status these days, and guideline elevation to policy level is very rare now.

Many older wikiproject-authored "guidelines" should not have that {{guideline}} tag (including one I'm the principal author of; I'm not picking on any else's work), or be more formally integrated into the N, or MOS and/or NC/AT systems, as appropriate for the page in question. In some cases, key aspects of them should be integrated into the main pages and the topical ones eliminated as separate pages. Or they could be integrated into higher-level topical ones - e.g., merging all sports-and-games-related material of this sort into a unified one that covers sports and gaming; this would go a long way to ending wikiprojects' excessive levels of WP:OWNership over certain so-called guidelines that frequently violate WP:LOCALCONSENSUS policy by directly conflicting with WP:AT, WP:N and/or WP:MOS.

We must always be aware that these top-of-page labels are entirely secondary to real consensus as it operates on Wikipedia. Many "guidelines" are so disused they could be deleted and hardly anyone would notice, meanwhile something like AADD operates like a policy. The idea that "this is just an essay" or "this is just a guideline" or "this policy trumps all other concerns because it has a {{Policy}} tag on it" is a serious failure to understand how WP actually operates. What's actually important and operational is how solid the reasoning on any given page is and what buy-in it has among the editing community (aside from some top-down commandments from WP:OFFICE which are policies in a different sense, not subject to WP:IAR). People even misunderstand this, and frequently mistake WP:FAITACCOMPLI action by wikiprojects as evidence that "this is what the community does" when really it's "this is what 13 editors do and force on everyone else through tendentiousness in a topic area no one else cares about enough to push back much". If in doubt, hold an RfC, and host it at the largest appropriate venue (e.g. WT:MOS or WT:AT). "Our wikiproject has done it this way for 5 years" doesn't necessary mean anything. Finally, the principal difference between a policy and a guideline here is that policies address mission-critical matters of WP operation, while guidelines mostly address matters of efficiency, consistency, cooperation and other smooth-operation aspects of the project. Policies are how the hull, keel and rudder of the WP ship are built and maintained for it to function at all, while guidelines cover how it is rigged to sail. Essays are mostly opinions about how to work all this equipment for best results.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:32, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

SMcCandlish came to this discussion via a WP:Dummy edit summary I left at another guideline page. I appreciate SMcCandlish putting some thought into this "WikiProjects don't write guidelines?" discussion and thoroughly weighing in on it. That stated, my point, however, is that WP:FILMMOS, as just an example, is a guideline (unless it is ever demoted as one) and I therefore see no problem with referring to it as such. Other than WP:PLOT, there is no policy with regard to writing about fiction. And when it comes to writing about film plots on Wikipedia, WP:PLOT and WP:FILMPLOT are what we are usually supposed to defer to, which is why Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction directs readers to those pages; there is no guideline that overrides WP:FILMPLOT, unless we state that Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction overrides it. It is perfectly acceptable for a guideline to exist for certain fields on Wikipedia. Film articles have one, and so do medical articles. And both guidelines were written by WikiProjects, even if not originally in whichever (if any) case. One can refer to these WikiProjects as WP:LOCALCONSENSUS as much as that person wants to, but unless these guidelines are in direct conflict with Wikipedia policies or the main Wikipedia guidelines, they are what we defer to for the topics they cover. A film editor saying "Screw WP:FILMMOS. I'm going to do things my way." has no support as far as Wikipedia policies and guidelines go, unless of course it actually is a legitimate use of WP:Ignore all rules (WP:IAR). And that is my point. Flyer22 (talk) 23:02, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
Actually, I came to this discussion because the page is on my watchlist along with the rest of MOS; a post by you at the other page simply inspired me to come here a little sooner (see my edit history; I've been focusing on MOS stuff again for over a month). My own overall point here is that this "x trumps y" reasoning isn't always helpful, and often is confused by incorrect assumptions analogous to primogeniture or tenure (this guideline is older so it trumps that newer one), and so on. It's more important to see whether something very specific in a guideline (legitimate or otherwise) controlled by a single wikiproject is contradicting more general rules that reflect broader input (e.g. about fiction in general), and in turn whether those are conflicting with even broader-based guidance at MOS/AT proper. That's really how WP:LOCALCONSENSUS policy should be interpreted (and even then in light of bigger WP:CONSENSUS concerns – it often happens that projects identify changes that need to be made in broader guidelines; the problem happens when they refuse to seek consensus at the broader pages to account for the change they want, and instead declare a sovereign wikiproject rebellion against MOS (or AT or N or whatever they're campaigning against). In short, an editor working on a film article may well ignore something in FILMMOS if it does not comport with MOSFICT, if the rule about fiction generally is common sense, and the film project doesn't have a demonstrable IAR case for diverging from it, {{guideline}} tag notwithstanding. The fallacy at work here is that film (or whatever topic) articles must follow film (or whatever) wikiproject rules because they belong to that project and members of that project know best in every way how to write articles on that topic. Anyway, my goal is not picking a fight with Flyer22, it's addressing a general miasma of policy confusion in this entire discussion.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:21, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Refusing to follow a formally adopted guideline like MEDMOS has no support precisely because MEDMOS is not an WP:Advice page from WPMED. That page is a guideline that the entire community writes and supports. It happens that many WPMED people are also interested in MEDMOS, but there are many non-WPMED people who have also contributed to that guideline, and the group of editors that call themselves "a WikiProject" does not get any special say-so over that community-wide guideline.
See Category:Style guidelines of WikiProjects for some examples of WikiProject advice pages on style. You'll notice that MEDMOS is not listed there. (You'll also notice that the cat is seriously incomplete, and that a few pages are listed that might not belong there.) WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:26, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
SMcCandlish, I apologize for my sort-of mistake about why you came to this discussion. I wasn't suggesting that you came to this discussion to pick a fight with me; I very well knew that when I linked this discussion in my edit summary...that it might compel editors watching that page to weigh in on the matter (I linked it not so much to attract more comments, but more so to provide a full explanation of the mistake I made in my edit summary). Anyway, if it's not clear from above, I somewhat agree with your take on the "x trumps y" reasoning.
WhatamIdoing, WP:MEDMOS was clearly an example. Obviously, WP:MEDMOS or WP:MEDRS are not mentioned on Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction. My focus was to address your claim that WikiProjects don't write guidelines. They do. And since WP:FILMMOS is a guideline, not simply an advice page, I see no valid reason whatsoever for not referring to WP:FILMMOS as a guideline at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction#Plot summaries. Non-WP:FILM editors have also contributed to WP:FILMMOS. No matter what anyone states about guidelines not trumping whatever matter, it is commonly accepted on Wikipedia that policies and guidelines are stronger than advice or essay pages and have more validity when it comes to following them. One can disagree with that common acceptance all they want, but Wikipedia editors familiar with the differences concerning the way that policies, guidelines, advice or essay pages are applied know the deal on all of that. Flyer22 (talk) 23:46, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
Since WhatamIdoing's aforementioned edit deals with a WP:FILM matter, I am going to invite WP:FILM to this discussion; since a variety of different views are often expressed among them, I don't view alerting them to this discussion as trying to gain comments in my favor. I am truly interested in what they think about whether or not it is best to call WP:FILMPLOT a guideline in Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction, whether they don't care, or whatever else they have to state on this matter. Flyer22 (talk) 00:05, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
It's all good; I was just clarifying that I'm not actually wikistalking. :-) The wikiprojects don't write guidelines point is actually really important, because most WP:PROJPAGEs never become guidelines. An actual guideline like MOSFICT should not suggest, ever, anything that can be interpreted as "wikiproject-written pages that give advice are guidelines"; that usually is not true. In the cases where it is, it's obvious that that case is an exception because it will have {{Guideline}} on it, and not just recently, but after discussion and will be tagged that way stably. This is page about writing in fiction, not about what does or doesn't constitute a guideline and why. Our editors do, as you say, know how to deal with the differences between these types of pages already. Whatever your motivations for inviting WP:FILM to comment on this particular discussion, I'm skeptical that you could possibly not know that the main actual effect is likely to be a rush to dogpile in favor of your pro-guideline wording. In the end, I'm not sure I care, because the increasing problem of insular wikiprojects acting as if sovereign states with their own rules and imposing them on all other editors who wander into "their" articles is wider problem that needs a bigger solution, like radical changes to the wikiproject system.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:09, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
I'm obviously not suggesting that every other WikiProject commenting on film plots be seen as having a guideline about film plots; I'm stating that I see no problem whatsoever with pointing out that WP:FILMPLOT is a guideline. So, with regard to WhatamIdoing's edit making it clear that not all of these WikiProjects are pointing to guideline-based rationales, I'm okay with that. But when it comes to WP:MOSTV and WP:FILMMOS? Those are guidelines. I overlooked the WP:MOSTV factor when referring to WhatamIdoing's edit, so perhaps I should alert WP:TV to this discussion as well. Yes, I feel that the guideline aspect should be pointed out, and that's for the reasons I've already stated above. I'm not hard-pressed on WhatamIdoing's edit being changed to make the guideline factor clear; I simply wanted to address this aspect on this talk page and gauge responses to it, better development my take on whether or not WhatamIdoing's edit should be clarified with regard to guidelines. I don't think that there is anything at all wrong with letting editors reading "Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction#Plot summaries" know that "Yes, these are the ways that Wikipedia film articles are usually handled.", as opposed to giving them the implication that "Keeping WP:PLOT in mind, plot length is usually not a problem, almost any length is acceptable for film plot summaries...but WP:FILM just so happens to suggest this number of words for these plots." I'm not aware of any other WikiProject giving suggestions about film plots, unless pointing to WP:FILM's rules; if they do offer their own advice, it still stands that WP:FILMPLOT is the official guideline for such a matter, not whatever advice is offered at the other page in question. As for "Our editors do, as you say, know how to deal with the differences between these types of pages already.", I focused on familiarity. I stated, "Wikipedia editors familiar with the differences concerning the way that policies, guidelines, advice or essay pages are applied know the deal on all of that." And whether they are familiar with all of that or not, it is best to let know them when we are referring to an actual guideline. Many Wikipedia editors, the vast majority of them, don't edit film articles. WP:FILMMOS is there to guide them on that matter; and I reiterate that letting them know it is an official guideline for the way we usually do things for Wikipedia film articles is a good thing.
As for "the main actual effect is likely to be a rush to dogpile in favor of [my] pro-guideline wording"... No, I know how WP:FILM works, which is why I stated, "since a variety of different views are often expressed among them, I don't view alerting them to this discussion as trying to gain comments in my favor." Anyone familiar with that WikiProject knows that they don't just readily agree with a fellow WP:FILM editor or because something seems pro-WP:FILM. What you view as pro-WP:FILM is not necessarily what they view as pro-WP:FILM. And as you can see, not one them has yet rushed to this discussion after the note I left there about it. I doubt any of them will rush to this discussion, whether any of them choose to participate in it or not. And, finally, as for "the increasing problem of insular wikiprojects acting as if sovereign states with their own rules and imposing them on all other editors who wander into 'their' articles is wider problem that needs a bigger solution, like radical changes to the wikiproject system.", I (as is surely clear) have no problem at all with following a guideline that covers formatting, etc. for a particular field on Wikipedia, whether created by a WikiProject or not, as long as that guideline does not conflict with Wikipedia policies or the main Wikipedia guidelines, and as long as it leaves some breathing room and remembers that it is a guideline and not a policy. WP:MEDMOS and WP:MEDRS, however, are usually treated as policies, which is why I stated above, "WP:MEDRS is so strictly followed on Wikipedia medical articles that it might as well be a policy." I work in that field, and so does WhatamIdoing. I understand WP:MEDRS being taking as seriously as it is, but the strictness with regard to how WP:MEDMOS is applied is something that both WhatamIdoing and I have disagreed with. Flyer22 (talk) 03:06, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
If you want to make the point that WikiProjects sometimes have good advice, then try giving an example of something that is purely a WikiProject advice page. There are several listed in that cat.
If you want to make the point that MOS:FILM exists, then don't say that this community-wide guideline belongs to WikiProject Film. The only problem from my perspective is saying anything that could contribute to the myth that WikiProjects get to make up rules for articles that they declare are within their scope. WhatamIdoing (talk) 15:42, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
Some WikiProjects do get to make up rules for articles that they declare are within their scope; this is clear from what has been stated above. WP:FILM has had the biggest impact on MOS:FILM; they are the main ones who outlined the rules, suggest the rules and then apply those rules to MOS:FILM. WP:MED have had the biggest impact on WP:MEDMOS and WP:MEDRS; they are the main ones who continue to outline those rules, suggest those rules and then apply those rules to WP:MEDMOS and WP:MEDRS. That these rules are what can be considered community-approved since they are official guidelines does not change that fact. Additionally, let's keep in mind something you once stated at WP:MED (in 2012): "On the general question, a WikiProject is a group of editors, and we get to pick what we want to work on, just like any other group of volunteers. If we were to decide that we wanted to work on Hello Kitty, then we could declare that it was within our scope. If we decide that we don't want to work on Cancer, then we could declare that it's not within our scope. We generally prefer to have a sensible scope, but we're permitted to make whimsical decisions, and defining some types of sex-related articles (and most anatomy-related articles) as being outside of our scope is one of our occasional variations from a strictly predictable scope. None of which says that we wouldn't accept this, or that you don't need help. I hope that some people with more knowledge than I have will look into the question about whether it should be merged into a larger/related topic or not."
Sure, what you stated back then has more to do with WikiProjects deciding which topics they want to work on than "[making] up rules for articles that they declare are within their scope," but it does show that WP:MED can control what article to tag with the WP:MED banner; when a non-WP:MED editor tags an article with that banner, WP:MED supposedly gets to decide to remove that banner or not. WP:MED and WP:Anatomy are the only WikiProjects I know of that commonly do something like that. With regard to the other WikiProject banners, it's usually not so much a controlled matter. Sure, one can argue that deciding whether or not something fits with WP:MED or WP:Anatomy is more complicated than, for example, deciding whether or not something fits with WP:TV or WP:FILM, but what all WikiProjects should keep in mind is that trying to police a WikiProject banner is not how Wikipedia generally works; such banners are applied all the time by people who have created an article or by passerbys. Anyone can be become a part of a WikiProject at any time, by just participating on articles concerning that WikiProject or deciding "I'm now a member." There's no need to put themselves on an "official list."
Anyway, I can go along with "[not saying] that this community-wide guideline belongs to WikiProject Film." I do, however think it's important to link WikiProject Film, like we currently do, and that we should state that WikiProject Film suggests that we follow the WP:FILMPLOT guideline for film plots. So with regard to the current wording, the following wording would be fine: "some of the associated WikiProjects offer some advice on plot length; for example, the Film Wikiproject suggests that editors follow the WP:FILMPLOT guideline, which advises that the maximum length for a film plot generally be about 700 words." I'll add that if no one objects to it here in this discussion. Flyer22 (talk) 22:43, 9 May 2014 (UTC)
Re: "Some WikiProjects do get to make up rules for articles that they declare are within their scope; this is clear from what has been stated above. – Except they don't. They get to make WP:PROJPAGE recommendations that other editors are free to ignore if they don't agree with them. You seem to be refusing to acknowledge the distinctions that WhatamIdoing, myself and others, and WP itself, are drawing between such pages and actual {{Guideline}}s. Topic-specific guidelines obviously have the input of, and may even be dominated by the input of, people from relevant wikiprojects, but this is incidental. They may even originate as PROJPAGEs (and often do), but this too is incidental. They're not guidelines because they came from wikiprojects, they's guidelines because the WP editing community at large has accepted them as such on a case-by-case basis. Your general idea that wikiprojects can make up rules at will and call them guidelines is false.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:10, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
What I mean by "Some WikiProjects do get to make up rules for articles that they declare are within their scope" should be clear, which is why I followed that up with "this is clear from what has been stated above." You stating "Except they don't" does not make that any less true, considering that I see it all the time at WP:FILM pages and WP:MED pages. WP:MEDRS, for example, is a guideline written by WP:MED nearly 100% of the time. I'm not talking about cases of a proposed guideline. I'm talking about guidelines that already exist and are usually expanded upon by the main WikiProjects associated with them; in these cases, what you refer to as "local consensus" molds these guidelines. I am not refusing to acknowledge a thing; I like to think I am enlightening you, since simply because the entire Wikipedia community is free to help mold guidelines like WP:MEDRS, and since WP:MEDRS is generally accepted by the Wikipedia community, you seem to refuse to acknowledge that just about everything that is currently in that guideline has been primarily molded by WP:MED (except of course for stating "Topic-specific guidelines obviously have the input of, and may even be dominated by the input of, people from relevant wikiprojects, but this is incidental."). I never stated that these guidelines are guidelines because they came from WikiProjects. Flyer22 (talk) 01:18, 17 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment I am a bit confused by this. To my understanding it is a long-standing convention that project Manual of Styles are regarded as guidelines in content disputes and also from the purpose of article assessment. They are certainly more than "advice" which we equate more with essays. They often qualify and expand upon the community MOS which are regarded as guidelines. While some styles guides may have fallen into disuse that certainly isn't the case with MOSFILM: if something doesn't quite work any more or falls into disfavor it is open to review and revision. Is there an official dictum somewhere or a community consensus that project style guides are not to be regarded as guidelines? MOSFILM isn't on its own here; many projects have style guides that carry "guideline" banners, so while this is accepted and understood to be the case then I don't think we should be watering down the wording. Betty Logan (talk) 02:18, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
    • Most Wikiproject guideslines expand or otherwise do not attempt to override the global guidelines and policy, and as such , things like MOSFILMS are respected at areas like FAC and the like should there be a question. However, we do need to be clear that since Wikiproject guidelines are only vetted by project members, there may (and has been) points where the wikiproject guidelines conflict with global ones, at which point we have to respect the global ones. --MASEM (t) 02:25, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
    • I just answered the same issue, though raised by Flyer22 that time, just above, anchored at #foo.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:10, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
Betty, WhatamIdoing seems to accept that WP:MOSFILM is a guideline; it's just that, like she stated above, she doesn't want any wording suggesting that WP:MOSFILM, which she referred to above as a "community-wide guideline," belongs to WikiProject Film. She doesn't want the wording to suggest that a WikiProject can simply make up rules and that those rules are then a guideline. Flyer22 (talk) 02:35, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
The lead of WP:MOSFILM, though, does currently state: "The following is a manual of style for film-related articles under WikiProject Film." Flyer22 (talk) 02:46, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
Well if that is her stance, then I suggest just breaking the link between the MOS and the project. That sentence could be worded as: For some types of media, there are topic specific guidelines for plot length; for example, MOS:FILM sets a general maximum length for a movie plot at about 700 words. Personally I would say Wikiproject:Film accedes to MOS:FILM, not the other way around. The Film project may be the most influential group in shaping the MOS, but ultimately it is open to review from the entire community. Betty Logan (talk) 03:46, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
I'm fine with your suggestion or the suggestion I made in my "22:43, 9 May 2014 (UTC)" post above, Betty (despite having stated in that post that "I do, however think it's important to link WikiProject Film, like we currently do, and that we should state that WikiProject Film suggests that we follow the WP:FILMPLOT guideline for film plots."). The word sets, however, currently isn't used, and this recent tweak was also made. And I agree about WikiProject Film acceding to WP:FILM; seems that WhatamIdoing does as well. Flyer22 (talk) 04:37, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
I agree that the style guide is the important part, not WikiProject Film. If there's controversy over whether MOS:FILM is a legitimate, honest-to-Jimbo guideline, then that's a matter to be decided at the Village Pump. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 04:48, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
NinjaRobotPirate, I've been wondering what you meant by this. You have some objection to the way the page is designed overall? I was also wondering if I should start a separate section to address what you might have meant, but I was waiting to see if you would do that. Flyer22 (talk) 06:30, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps I should have been less jokey. It's not my intention to change the meaning; instead, "some" is occasionally a meaningless modifier. "I'm going to eat some food." is the same exact thing as "I'm going to eat food.". In order to preserve the meaning, I did slightly alter the sentence structure of one phrase, but I'm not married to these edits. Revert it if you want. I had assumed it would be uncontroversial, but maybe I was too bold – especially while a discussion over the wording was underway. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 06:54, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
Your edits there are fine. Definitely nothing controversial about them. And I understand what you mean with regard to Tony1 and grammar. Flyer22 (talk) 06:59, 10 May 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it's the guideline not the wikiproject. A wikiproject should never be cited as authoritative on anything, because it's just a page at which editors agree to collaborate topically.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:10, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
You made the change. Good. Flyer22 (talk) 01:18, 17 May 2014 (UTC)

This is turning into a problem per WP:NOT#DIRECTORY[edit]

This guideline (at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction#Alternative outlets for fictional universe articles), is turning into a Web directory of every fictional-universe wiki. Maybe we need an actual stand-alone list article on the notable ones, vetted per WP:RS as to their notability, but WP:N shouldn't be bypassed in a different namespace for fanwanky promotional purposes by hijacking this MOS page into a geeky linkfarm. (I write this as a big ol' fanboy, too; I just know to keep my F&SF obsessions in another compartment of my life.)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:56, 9 May 2014 (UTC)

Good idea. I'd support that. But inclusion criteria could be loosened to requires something like 1000 articles instead of notability. Or whatever. It's not important. That can be decided on the page itself later. NinjaRobotPirate (talk) 04:59, 10 May 2014 (UTC)

What is a "normal act of reading" for a picture book?[edit]

It seems to me that a "normal act of reading" for a picture book for kids is to read it over and over and over. Usually an adult or older sibling initially reads to a pre-literate child followed by an eventual rereading by the child when they become literate and then, perhaps that grown child to their child. We are not talking War and Peace here where only a scholar would read it more than once. "Normal reading" in this case is repetition and attention to detail. That is why these books even exist as a genre. Thoughts? HullIntegrity (talk) 15:12, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

We're talking how a normal adult would read any book irregardless of the target age - which is basically once through. The act of rote repetition for a children's picture book to the children is more educational than reading for enjoyment. --MASEM (t) 15:27, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
Thank you. That is perfectly clear. Though I cannot imagine a "normal adult" (presumably with children, since most adults seem to have them) "reading" a children's picture book straight through once in isolation. I suppose said adult does see the pictures as well, no? HullIntegrity (talk) 15:52, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
I am also unclear as to what this line means: "The act of rote repetition for a children's picture book to the children is more educational than reading for enjoyment." Do you mean either of the following? The act of the adult reading and showing a picture book to the child is more for the child's education than enjoyment --Or-- The act of the adult reading and showing a picture book to the child is more for the adult's education than enjoyment? --Or something else?-- You totally lost me there. HullIntegrity (talk) 15:58, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
I'm saying that, in real life, we repeatedly read picture books to children to help them learn the language, more than for the purpose of enjoyment of the literature.
But the larger point is this: plot summaries and details about works of fiction that are only sourced to the work itself should be provided at skin-deep level, normally by reading a book, cover to cover, once through, for example. While a children's book is typically more there to be read multiple times, we would still cover the fictional aspects in an article as if an adult read it once through, cover to cover. --MASEM (t) 16:06, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
OK. Thank you. But to clarify (and apologies if I am being annoying) "reading" includes "viewing" the images? What a "normal adult reader" would likely "see" on a first reading. HullIntegrity (talk) 16:17, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
Yes; pictures in a picture book would be part of the story, but keep in mind that again, pictures should be taken as skin-deep recapping and not detailed analysis. --MASEM (t) 16:24, 8 June 2014 (UTC)
Got it. Thanks again. HullIntegrity (talk) 17:12, 8 June 2014 (UTC)

List of The Walking Dead characters[edit]

List of The Walking Dead characters contains a single line of "Status" in each character's description. I left a comment at Talk:List_of_The_Walking_Dead_characters#Status.3F. Please share your opinion and/or help in copyediting the article. Thanks, Magioladitis (talk) 11:12, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

Yet another discussion of writing style and tables[edit]

Talk:List_of_Game_of_Thrones_characters#On_status_again.... -- Magioladitis (talk) 06:41, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

"Status" is an in-universe condition and only reflects the latest (out-universe) episode. I deleted it but some editors insist of re-adding it. Please help. -- Magioladitis (talk) 06:44, 9 July 2014 (UTC)

Added new guideline[edit]

Does my new guideline about "excessive in-universe jargon" have something to do with breaking the "in-universe" policy? Thank me if this is a good idea.

Qwertyxp2000 (talk) 00:32, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

As you likely know by now, I reverted you. Flyer22 (talk) 00:46, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

Plot sections and the WP:BLP policy; discussion about All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story[edit]

Opinions are needed on the following matter: Talk:All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story#Removed plot per WP:BLP. A WP:Permalink for the discussion is here. Flyer22 (talk) 07:55, 19 November 2014 (UTC)