Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Film

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WikiProject Manual of Style
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"generally mixed"[edit]

I've seen this formulation on many different film articles, and I don't think it's good or even proper English. Writing that a film received mixed reviews is perfectly understandable. But "received generally mixed reviews"? What meaning does the word "generally" add? What is the exact difference in meaning between received mixed reviews and received generally mixed reviews? If it doesn't add anything, and seeing how widespread this formulation is, imho the MOS page should explicitly discourage it. --84.44.156.143 (talk) 18:25, 13 January 2014 (UTC)

This comes up for discussion pretty frequently. Basically, we should avoid parsing a consensus, especially from Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, on our own. We need to attribute the consensus to a specific source. It may be worth strengthening these guidelines to indicate that there should be explicit attribution of who said what, especially in cases where the reports differ. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 18:34, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
I boldly revised the beginning of the "Critical response" guidelines to be clear-cut about attribution and to avoid weasel words. The edit can be seen here. If you disagree, feel free to revert and discuss. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 18:45, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
The thing to remember is that RT and MC do not speak for the reviewers they have not surveyed. There is no concerted effort to select a representative sample to my knowledge, so we shouldn't treat their findings as the critical consensus. Aggregators have a place because we need some objective way of saying whether a film was good or bad, but the guideline needs to explicitly state that any scores or critical summaries should be attributed directly to the aggregator without any editorializing (which is how we end up with these absurd "mixed to positive" claims). My preferred approach is what is currently in place at Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_Hallows_–_Part_2#Critical_reception, which was at the center of this debate a couple of years ago. Betty Logan (talk) 19:46, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I agree with that, and perhaps it is worth having a paragraph about review aggregators. When I reference Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, I prefer to break down their figures. For example, I think it is worth stating that RT only categorizes a review as positive or negative, and how many go into each category. With Metacritic, it's categorized by positive, mixed, and negative. There are just a lot of different ways to word it, but I would say it helps to summarize the methodology. While the methodology may be objective, the individual categorizations are subjective, just like The Los Angeles Times makes a subjective determination based on the reviews it looked at (and we don't know which ones, either). We do have the essay at WP:RTMC from which we could import some wording. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 20:01, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
IP, see Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Film/Archive 48#Ranges of Reception and Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Film/Archive 48#Mixed to positive / Mixed to negative for past recent discussions about this topic. The wording "generally mixed" doesn't make sense unless the person who added it was thinking of how every film has a mix of positive and negative reviews and, in that way, some are more mixed than others. Like I stated in the second linked discussion above: I think the "Mixed to positive" and "Mixed to negative" additions come about due to the fact that all reviews are mixed, as in there are always critics who dislike even a well-received film and hardly does a film ever get 100% acclaim on a website, but some films lean more toward positive reviews and others lean more toward negative reviews. So, because the film does not have a 50%-50% rating, what is most commonly meant by "mixed," but rather, for example, a 44% rating, you will see an editor add "Mixed to negative." By contrast, when the significant majority of reviews for a film are positive, then for the Reception section we (a lot of Wikipedia film editors) generally state "Mostly positive," "Generally positive," or simply report what Rotten Tomatoes and/or Metacritic state for the initial summary; vice versa for when the significant majority of reviews for a film are negative.
Erik, with regard to your changes, seen here and here, I am mostly fine with them. My one objection is "overall"; using that word there in the way that you did (second diff-link) makes it seem like only the overall critical reception should be supported by WP:Reliable sources. Of course all of it should be supported by WP:Reliable sources. Either way, I don't think that either this new wording or the previous wording will stop editors from adding things such as "mixed to negative," or from adding "critical acclaim" for films such as The Avengers (2012 film), when the sources don't use that wording. But then again, I don't feel that there should be any dispute with regard to such wording for clearly critically acclaimed films, such as The Avengers (2012 film); I'm also sure that WP:Reliable sources calling The Avengers (2012 film) "critically acclaimed" (or something to that effect) exist. As for Betty's view that we should not treat the Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic findings as the critical consensus, I only agree that we should not treat the Metacritic findings as such. The Rotten Tomatoes findings, like I've stated before, usually reflect the critical consensus of whatever film in question...as shown by various other WP:Reliable sources; many of those sources even rely on the Rotten Tomatoes score to come to their conclusion about the critical consensus of a film. Flyer22 (talk) 19:53, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
@Flyer22: Thanks for the feedback! I added "overall" because of the following sentences that had to do with the overview because I thought the default assumption would be individual reviews, where for the first half of that paragraph, we're talking about summaries of reviews. In addition, the opening sentence's real focus is on attribution. "Mixed to negative" does not come from anywhere, for example. As for Rotten Tomatoes, the score is not directly based on the strength of a review. For example, a film could have 100% based on a set of reviews that mostly state that the film is not perfect, but it is pretty good. That's why the language for Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic is important. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 20:09, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
With regard to Rotten Tomatoes, I'm stating that its score usually represents critical consensus (meaning how critics feel about a film in general); the only times that I've seen that it does not is when dealing with some older films that came before Rotten Tomatoes existed and when it has to do with films that were hardly reviewed or generally received few reviews; in these cases, the Rotten Tomatoes score is barely there and is useless. And our WP:FILM guideline pretty much states the same thing about Rotten Tomatoes being useless in the case of some older films. Flyer22 (talk) 20:27, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
I don't think RT can necessarily represent critical consensus. To show how different it can be from MC, let's look at The Avengers (2012 film) vs. Gravity (film). The Avengers has 92% on RT based on 277 "fresh" reviews and 24 "rotten" reviews with never anything in between. It has 69 out of 100 at MC ("generally favorable reviews") with 32 positive reviews, 10 mixed, and 1 negative. In contrast, Gravity has 97% on RT based on 286 "fresh" reviews and 8 "rotten" reviews. It has 96 out of 100 on MC ("universal acclaim") with all 49 reviews being positive. The RT difference is 5% where the MC difference is 27 points, which reflects how each aggregator's methodology yields a different kind of consensus. So I don't think RT has the final word in determining the consensus, especially in overall critical response. We can state both websites' methodologies, and include other sources as well, but I think explicit attribution is needed especially when there is potential divergence. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 20:51, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
I didn't state that Rotten Tomatoes always represents critical consensus; I stated that it usually does. And that it usually does is evident by the vast majority of Wikipedia film articles that are not about old/classic films such as It's a Wonderful Life; it's evident by the various WP:Reliable sources supporting such articles. I've got no problem with "explicit attribution is needed" when "there is potential divergence"; The Avengers (2012 film) is not one of those cases, as we've both agreed. Flyer22 (talk) 21:11, 13 January 2014 (UTC)
  • OP reporting in. Just wanted to add that while I know there's an ongoing debate with regard to the accuracy/reliability/quotability of aggregate scores, my primary concern here is with the weasel word aspect, esp. generic words like "generally" which appear to add no meaning but only some kind of generic confusion in a bid to avoid the impression of POV. It's obviously difficult to straddle the fine line between a POV value judgment and an accurate summary of the critical reception of a work without resorting to wording that could be perceived as weasel wording by anyone, but it's a challenge we should imho meet by "going for it" and trying our best to accurately summarize the critical consensus (or lack thereof, as the case may be) in our own words. Massively overused generic expressions like "generally" imho hamper this effort, regardless of the extent to which we're relying on aggregate scores. I'd rather err on the side of slight POV which can always be amended than on the side of generic descriptions which spread like wildfire because they are so easy to apply and difficult to replace with more meaningful descriptions. --89.0.230.249 (talk) 16:42, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
    What do you think of the new wording at MOS:FILM#Critical response? It starts, "The overall critical response to a film should be supported by attributions to reliable sources. Avoid weasel words. If any form of paraphrasing is disputed, quote the source directly." If a sentence says "generally mixed", it should be attributed to a source (though it's doubtful that a source would use that). Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 18:30, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
IP, use of "generally" makes sense to me and is more accurate when stating "generally positive reviews" or "generally negative reviews," which is not much different than stating "mostly positive reviews" or "mostly negative reviews." After all, it's not like any film has only gotten positive or only negative reviews. But by that same token, because it's obvious (to many people anyway) that no film is without at least a few good or bad reviews, it can be argued that such qualifiers such as "generally" are not needed. Still, like I stated above, I don't think any addition to MOS:FILM will stop the vast majority of film editors from adding such wording, especially since Metacritic does the same thing. Flyer22 (talk) 19:47, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
use of "generally" makes sense to me and is more accurate when stating "generally positive reviews" or "generally negative reviews" -- That's true, didn't occur to me. I was thinking of those cases where the reviews are polarized or mixed. I also agree that attempts to stem the tide of (what I would call) lazy editing via guidelines is never a promising approach. The term "generally mixed" has simply become one of my pet peeves and I try to replace it with clearer wording when I come across it. The problem is that widespread editing habits have a tendency to reproduce themselves; in other areas of editing I've had cases where people started to see generic wording/formatting as the "gold standard" and I've had attempted improvements blanket reverted simply on the basis of established (bad) practice.
Erik's revised wording is an improvement, although I'm not sure about the word "commentary". I hope it doesn't encourage editors to use lengthy quotes (e.g. from RT) instead of their own words to summarize the critical response.
Re-reading WP:WEASEL, I'm also not quite sure that "generally mixed" is really weasel wording. I regard it more as over-cautious, generic wording. It's almost the opposite of typical weasel wording, in the sense that it appears like an attempt to water down stronger but possibly more accurate wording. I've seen editors combatting fanboy-ish/detractor-ish editing by removing any and all wording which they deem too strong regardless of the critical consensus. E.g., there are instances where wording like "overwhelmingly positive critical response" most accurately summarizes the available sources, but some frown on that regardless of the sources simply because they deem the wording in and of itself to be too strong. Needless to say, I understand the underlying idea of fighting POV editing, but it shouldn't come at the cost of generic and ultimately inaccurate boilerplate editing. Ah well, little that can be done about that though, other than humbly editing along and hoping that better practices will catch on. --89.0.230.249 (talk) 22:16, 14 January 2014 (UTC)
Haha, I agree that it is kind of opposite of traditional weasel wording where it avoids making a claim on the positive or negative end of the spectrum. I do think that WP:WEASEL applies in the sense that "a statement is dressed with authority with no substantial basis". At the very least, if there are no sources summarizing what critics thought of the film, we should just state the RT and MC breakdown without drawing a vague conclusion from them. For what it's worth, we can track down articles that use the "generally mixed" wording by Googling for the string "generally mixed" "language films" site:en.wikipedia.org (tried to provide a link but it showed badly). Maybe we can choose an article and see how we could go about improving it from the original wording. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 14:34, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

What has not been mention yet is brevity and decisive writing. Some editors seem uncomfortable with short direct simple sentences. You mentioned "generally positive" and others mentioned "mixed to negative", for the latter Fans of unpopular films like to try soften the blow and change the wording to "mixed to negative". After an editor pointed out that this was indecisive writing and that mixed obviously includes a mix of positive and negative I have since favored stating only "negative" "mixed" or "positive" (based on Metacritic usually), and letting the numbers say the rest.
Often if I see "generally positive" I will leave it alone, as far as sloppy wording in Wikipedia it is good enough. What I will change though is the indirect passive wording, "~the film holds a score at Rotten Tomatoes~" because the film does not "hold" anything per se, Rotten Tomatoes actively interprets and quantifies reviews to turn them into numbers and gives a rating score. I will also often rephrase to avoid using site specific jargon, removing "metascore" (which simple means "score") and removing mentions of "rotten" or "fresh" (unless as some editors above had added a verbose fresh/rotten breakdown, but even then negative/positive would be preferable to the jargon). -- 109.76.240.229 (talk) 04:05, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

@109.76.240.229: In regards to "mixed to negative" or "mixed to positive" phrasing, you're assertion that fans of unpopular films are just trying to soften the blow is nothing more than an unfounded opinion. I think most of us would agree that "mixed" covers a broad range of aggregate scores, generally between 35% and 65%. While any score in this range technically qualifies as "mixed", using the phrase "mixed to positive" is more descriptive for a score in the upper part of this range as is "mixed to negative" for a score in the lower part. Take for example, two scores of 37% and 63%. Both are mixed, but calling the former "mixed to negative" and the latter "mixed to positive" is certainly more descriptive and shows a disparity between the two. There needs to be a better reason not to allow the phrasing. --GoneIn60 (talk) 14:33, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Netflix ratings[edit]

I was wondering if they can be used for Audience response. Are they to vulnerable to vote stacking and demographic skew? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.248.96.64 (talk) 17:56, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

Good question! In my opinion, we avoid user ratings because we've seen how they can be abused. The concern about demographic skew comes from moviegoers who frequent websites and their user ratings compared to most other moviegoers. We do deal with a bit of demographic skew even with CinemaScore grades, though. Films do attract certain audiences, and CinemaScore grades are best complemented with a demographic breakdown in terms of age and sex. I don't know if Netflix ratings are anything like that. I don't think that people would go out of their way to vote-stack, and the demographic skew may be more "natural", if that makes sense. Are there any reliable sources that highlight films' Netflix ratings? We can scrutinize those. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 18:02, 6 February 2014 (UTC)
http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2013/03/the-100-best-movies-on-netflix-instant.html --Ring Cinema (talk) 19:25, 6 February 2014 (UTC)

You can found the ratings of the films with this:http://dvd.netflix.com/Search?v1 or just google site:netflix.com with the title of the film.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 96.248.96.64 (talk) 03:12, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

Box office in the Reception section[edit]

The guideline currently says:

This information can be included under the Reception section, or if sufficient coverage exists, it is recommended that this information is placed in a "Box office" or "Theatrical run" section.

My perception is that especially on articles about big budget blockbusters, especially ones that have received less than stellar reviews, there's a tendency (following a plausible POV temptation) of putting even a fully fleshed out and well-sourced Box office section nonetheless inside the Reception section rather than under its own separate level 2 header. Obviously, it makes sense to sort the subsections alphabetically, and maybe it's just my POV/tendentious editing paranoia, but I can't help the impression that this is at least sometimes done to push down and distract from the reception section. I'm not entirely sure how the guideline could/should be reworded in a bid to counteract this POV temptation, I'd welcome opinions and suggestions. --85.197.30.90 (talk) 20:43, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm not really sure what you're suggesting about a POV temptation. Can you show an example? The section headings are not set in stone and can depend on the article. For example, I prefer "Release" as the main section heading instead of "Reception" because details can be broader than just reception. For that same reason, I also prefer "Theatrical run" over "Box office" as a sub-section heading. Walking with Dinosaurs (film)#Release is one such example. I'm also not sure if there's an actual effort to sort sub-sections alphabetically. By the way, you can post a notice at WT:FILM if you'd like more editors to be aware of this discussion. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 20:56, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

Reception can be broken down into different parts. Critical response is one clear part. Awards is another. Audience response is not so clear, there are very few reliable sources. In older discussion "Box office" was discussed as one of the few reliable sources we had that indicates audience response, indirectly indicating the film was popular. It is not perfect but it makes a certain amount of sense (I don't like the alternative suggestions any better) and for consistency with older articles I would continue to do things as in older article and as the guidelines recommend.

Box office sections increasingly include information about how many screens were showing the film or when it was released or when it was premiered. Some editors (such as Erik) then prefer to put Box office under the Release subsection, which also makes a certain amount of sense, so long as there is genuinely some release information included.

For me it does not make sense to put "Critical response" under any other heading besides "Reception" and so it is generally simpler for me to continue to group the "Box office" information with it too. That's the approach I take, it might make sense to you, it might not. Others have different opinions. -- 109.76.247.81 (talk) 22:54, 9 February 2014 (UTC)

I wonder how much of the change in the types of detail included has to do with some transient repetition of publicity releases that make their way into the media and then the articles. There is a certain evolution as films age and critics' responses assume more importance than opening weekend statistics. While the number of opening screens (e.g.) reflect something about a film's hopes and budget, it is a marketing decision -- one that may or may not correlate with more neutral indications of excellence or its lack. We wouldn't mistake a film's budget for its quality and the same applies to wide or narrow openings. Therefore, it is fair to be skeptical of its inclusion in Reception but not in Release. --Ring Cinema (talk) 19:58, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

New policy[edit]

I suggest that film premieres for other English-speaking countries be added. This is not the American or British Wikipedia. Wikipedia should have a global overview of the topic. The additions will be sourced. They will be in prose form. They can be fit into the "Release" section. Finealt (talk) 01:16, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

We should just stick to the first screening date and the first date in the nation it was made in.--JOJ Hutton 01:56, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
This page is not a policy page anyway, Finealt. It's a guideline page. Flyer22 (talk) 02:01, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Info should be limited to date of first screening (ie a premiere), the release in the country of production (ie a US release for a United States film), and (possibly) a general "released internationally starting on date". Pretty much how the guideline is set up now at WP:FILMRELEASE. - Favre1fan93 (talk) 02:49, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Mentioning other releases in an appropriate section in the article is fine. OTOH we do not need to bloat the film infobox with anything other than the initial release. MarnetteD | Talk 03:00, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
By the same token it's not the "English speaking countries" enyclopedia either. India for instance, probably has more English speakers than Ireland. Personally speaking I would limit it to just one date (the first public showing, effectively the publication date) but I'm ok with the guideline as it stands. We certainly don't need to add half a dozen more dates to the infobox. Betty Logan (talk) 04:29, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Concur with all of those wanting to leave the guideline as is. Beginning to look like WP:SNOWBALL.--Tenebrae (talk) 17:43, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I think the guidelines are sufficient for identifying release dates in the infobox. As for the article body, it is going to depend on the coverage available. I don't think it's fair to say that all American films need to mention their British and Australian release dates too. Unfortunately, among that set, the reverse is more likely because of how prevalent movies are in the United States. We shouldn't think in terms of traditionally English-speaking territories but more in terms of where a film has gotten the most attention, regardless of language. China is especially one country that has been highlighted depending on how it receives a given film. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 17:53, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Mentioning multiple genres in the lead[edit]

Per WP:FILMLEAD, the opening sentence for a film should include "the major genre(s) under which it is normally classified". I believe "major genre(s)" should be changed to "major genre", or even better, "primary genre". The problem with the format now, is that it often leads to editors cramming multiple genres into the description (at times as much as 4 or 5), leading to multiple links. Here's an example taken from Inception:

Inception is a 2010 British-American science fiction heist thriller film

"science fiction heist thriller film", really? Unfortunately, this is common in a lot of film articles, and often times some of the genres listed aren't even accurate. Aside from the poor accuracy and grammar doing injustice to the reader, there are multiple links crammed right next to each other, which is highly discouraged by WP:SEAOFBLUE. I briefly searched the archives, and though it has been mentioned a few times, none of the discussions seem to have reached a conclusive decision. I think it's time the MOS:FILM guideline be updated to help editors avoid accidentally running into issues with the MOS:LINK guideline. There's plenty of opportunity further down in an article to address secondary genres. --GoneIn60 (talk) 15:04, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

I think the guidelines are fine as they are. They don't give license to cram the opening sentence with multiple genres. These cases just need actual enforcement. I agree that Inception should be cut down to just "science fiction film". Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 15:11, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
"They don't give license to cram the opening sentence with multiple genres."
How is it that mentioning the plural form of genre doesn't give license exactly? I realize the guideline isn't encouraging editors to list more than one genre, but it is most certainly saying it's OK to do so. --GoneIn60 (talk) 15:47, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Sometimes the plural form is applicable. Something like Alien is best described as a "science-fiction horror film" and that's what the guideline allows for. Betty Logan (talk) 15:57, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I was involved with the writing of these guidelines, and believe me, the goal was to address this issue. That's why it states "major genre(s)", and Inception is obviously more a science fiction film than a heist film or a thriller film. However, we have to remember that there will be certain genre mashups, like having a science fiction comedy film. We could update the wording to state the primary genre and/or verifiable genre pairing. (Meaning that there shouldn't be more than two possible categorizations in the opening sentence, and to defer to the rest of the lead section to explain the film's nature further.) What do you think of that? Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 15:58, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
A "verifiable genre pairing" sounds like a good idea. Betty Logan (talk) 16:08, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I would support an update to this, like Erik said. We've been having this issue over at Guardians of the Galaxy (film), which is a sci-fi comedy, but per following this guideline, we are limiting it to science fiction. - Favre1fan93 (talk) 17:53, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
WP:UNDUE / WP:V / WP:OR we classify a film as the reliable sources classify it, providing attribution and multiple classifications if necessary to reflect how the sources present it. (a la Brazil_(1985_film))-- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 18:04, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Yes, there might be situations where the primary genre is actually a pairing of two genres, or more commonly called a "sub-genre". Science-fiction horror is an example of one. What about changing the line to read: "At minimum, the opening sentence should identify the title of the film, the year of its public release, and the primary genre (or sub-genre) under which it is normally classified."? I didn't think the term "verifiable" is really needed here, since "normally classified" implies the same thing. --GoneIn60 (talk) 18:41, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
How about "verifiably classified"? :) Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 18:45, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Sure, that works! Either that or perhaps a slightly cleaner alternative, "under which it is classified in reliable sources". I'm fine either way. --GoneIn60 (talk) 19:01, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
Like the endless debates around country, the genre issue is only really a problem on a handful of articles. They should be raised on the relevant talkpages if it becomes an issue over edit wars. Lugnuts Dick Laurent is dead 19:16, 26 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm not so sure it's only a handful of articles, but that's a moot point. Changing the guideline or at least having the discussion here gives us something to reference in debates on the relevant talk pages. --GoneIn60 (talk) 19:25, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

Millions[edit]

I've noticed editors are abbreviating Millions to "M" in the box office section. I strongly oppose unnecessary abbreviations. An encyclopedia (especially one with n shortage of space) should make clarity a priority and readability a priority. This new habit is also inconsistent with all the older film articles. It breaks or at least slows down my reading flow to have to mentally decompress this shorthand (in a way that other symbols like $ or % do not).

I don't want to waste time arguing with anyone over this so I'd like the guidelines updated to either say do not abbreviate millions to 'M', or if there is actually support for the idea to make it policy. Make the decision one way or the other.

Straw poll. The box office policy Millions/M should be ...

  1. Avoid abbreviations
  2. Always abbreviations
  3. no policy (please pick anything but this)

-- 109.79.196.86 (talk) 11:33, 4 March 2014 (UTC)

  • Avoid abbreviations. --Tenebrae (talk) 11:48, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Avoid abs And see this - "Write out "million" and "billion" on the first use. After that, unspaced "M" can be used for millions and "bn" for billions: 70M and 25bn. See MOSNUM for similar words." Lugnuts Dick Laurent is dead 11:49, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
Yep, there is already a pretty clear guideline on this, and it works well. -Fandraltastic (talk) 12:03, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
Hmm ... avoid, but you can do it after first ... seems to be a loophole you could drive a truck through.
Editors seem to have taken that advice as encouragement to go ahead and actively abbreviate all but the first instance of millions. (CAN is very different from SHOULD or MUST). -- 109.79.196.86 (talk) 13:50, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
Please could you supply some examples? Thanks. Lugnuts Dick Laurent is dead 13:52, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
Most recently I removed the abbreviations from the Box Office section of Captain America film article. -- 109.79.196.86 (talk) 14:01, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
A while back I removed the abbreviation from Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. -- 109.79.196.86 (talk) 14:09, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
Your edit on Capt' America (sorry for the ab') is incorrect. Per the MOS linked above - ""Write out "million" and "billion" on the first use. After that, unspaced "M" can be used for millions and "bn" for billions: 70M and 25bn." (my highlight of first use). As it is already written out in full in the opening paragraphs, there is no need to write it out again. Lugnuts Dick Laurent is dead 14:12, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
The guideline says you _can_ use those abbreviations but and I am saying that even though you can you _should_not_ and I think 'can' is weak emphasis but others are taking it as strong emphasis 'could' see: MoSCoW_method. That guideline is badly written and must be made clearer, because as it stands it Lugnuts is correct to say it encourages editors to do things the way he has said and that is precisely what I'm objecting to. (I could go on, although there is "no need" to write out the long version, (I don't mind editors being in a hurry) no one should revert from long form to abbreviations, after other editors have changed things to long form to improve clarity and readability.) -- 109.78.30.215 (talk) 14:55, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
I think this is a bigger issue across more than just film articles. I'd recommend you raise it on this talkpage. Thanks. Lugnuts Dick Laurent is dead 15:05, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
I might do that. I think at least I need to get the numbers section to rephrase that piece so it is clear if it is an option or if it is recommended (because the current wording reads like it is recommended). I still want to get a WP:LOCALCONSENSUS from editors interested in the Box Office section of film articles. -- 109.78.30.215 (talk) 15:35, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
In response to this quote from above: "Hmm ... avoid, but you can do it after first ... seems to be a loophole you could drive a truck through." - You aren't leaving him much choice when your straw poll only includes the choices ALWAYS or NEVER. The use of the "M", despite being abbreviated, is precise, and has one and only one meaning in this context. Abbreviating the term after first use of "million" is, as far as I'm concerned, a far better alternative to spelling out the word two or three times in every sentence in the box office section of every film article on Wikipedia. -Fandraltastic (talk) 15:41, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
Agreed. Thanks a mill. Lugnuts Dick Laurent is dead 18:51, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
This started off with agreements that abbreviations should be avoided, I'd like people to confirm they still feel that way, now that they see the particular way in which some editors want to use them.
I do think it is better to repeat the word millions throughout the Box office section and that shorting millions to M makes it clunkier and more difficult, and I believe an encyclopedia should prioritize readability over a small bit of brevity. I don't have time at the moment to follow through the Wikibeaurocracy on this (and find out what the intent behind the numbers guidelines actually is supposed to be), but equally if Lugnuts and Fandraltastic seriously believe this is a better way to do things they should not be doing it on an article by article basis, they should be making sure this style information is clearly outlined here in the film article style guide. -- 109.78.30.215 (talk) 19:54, 5 March 2014 (UTC)

Early "Reception" sections[edit]

We sometimes see anon IPs, for the most part, throwing up "Reception" sections days before a movie opens, and registered editors generally taking them down and saying it's too early, not enough reviews, not enough major-source reviews, etc.

Since the MOS doesn't address this, should we come up with a consensus on this, in order to avoid the time-consuming put-it-up-take-it-down? There are rare cases of high-profile movies where major newspapers release reviews a day or two early, but except for these once-every-year-or-two cases, is there any reason not to wait until a movie's release to put up a "Reception" section, the same as we do for the plot and the box office? I'm not sure a handful of pre-release reviews is statistically indicative of the final tally that comes on release day, and we're a not a news source that has to rush something out that's incomplete and, so, possibly inaccurate / misleading --Tenebrae (talk) 16:40, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

I agree with your viewpoint, but I'm not sure anything really needs to be added in the Film MOS. Other guidelines, policies and essays already address the issue from a broader perspective. Editors who knowingly or unknowingly do this need to be directed to WP:DUST, particularly the section "Write for history, not for the news". If a firmer backing is needed, WP:UNDUE can be referenced. Early viewpoints are not yet considered mainstream until more reviews are released. For major releases, semi-protection may reduce occurrences from inexperienced editors. --GoneIn60 (talk) 17:11, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
I think it is okay to summarize the early reviews where they exist, even before any kind of aggregation takes place. We just would not say something like, "Early reviews have been poor," without proper high-level sourcing. We would instead have each passage be distinct, and we would revise that section as more reviews come in. Maybe these first reviews will not be part of the consensus and can be relegated or removed entirely. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 17:18, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
To cite an example, I worked on The East (film) and added reviews from Variety and The Hollywood Reporter as seen here. This section changed in the next few days to what you see now. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 17:20, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
Documenting a rapidly changing event where details and viewpoints you're adding are likely to be updated in a short period of time does tend to go against WP:NOTNEWS and certainly the essay WP:DUST. Personally, I don't have a problem with it and wouldn't go out of my way to challenge it, but I could see why others might. --GoneIn60 (talk) 17:57, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
This is all good discussion. I was unaware of the essay WP:DUST and having read it, I like it. My experience, though, is that if you try to remove something based on an essay, the other editor usually says, "Well, that's just an essay so I don't have to listen to it," and then we're forced to debate the meaning of WP:UNDUE. And UPDUE doesn't necessarily carry, well, weight: There's an AfD going on at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Chlotrudis Society for Independent Film since film articles are cluttered with scores of insignificant awards like this film club's, and citing UNDUE doesn't help even though we're giving them equal weight as the Oscars, the Emmys, et al. That's why I'm thinking some nuanced consensus to address early review sections might be the most efficient thing. --Tenebrae (talk) 22:42, 12 March 2014 (UTC)
It is true that essays do not have the same status as policies and guidelines. However, some essays like WP:DUST are formed by experienced editors and are often referenced in consensus-building discussions. Heck, quite a few of Wikipedia's policies and guidelines started out as essays. So, a well-written essay shouldn't be completely discounted without a good reason explaining why. An editor who references one knows they have the support of at least one other editor (and likely more) – a position that is stronger than an opposing view which lacks substance and/or support.
WP:UNDUE is all about balance. A case can be made to exclude early reviews, since their level of acceptance is not yet known, and therefore relying on them may result in an inaccurate portrayal of a film's reception.
In the end, however, it probably isn't worth the time engaging when there are so many other issues that need attention (see the benefits of disengaging). Recent events generate a lot of activity from new users, and coming up with a consensus or guideline won't stem the tide of occurrences. In fact, reverting them may even have the undesirable effect of discouraging participation. --GoneIn60 (talk) 06:05, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
I find it tricky to apply WP:UNDUE in these cases. I find it arbitrary to say to keep out reviews until there is sourcing for a consensus because there are going to be some films that will not have many reviews, ever, much less sourcing for a consensus. One example that comes to mind is Sea Shadow (film), for which I found just two reviews from reliable sources. Obviously we cannot report a consensus, but since these reviews are authoritative ones from reliable sources, they should be used. So are we basically treating mainstream films differently in that we "know" there will be many more reviews in addition to the initial handful? I do not think WP:DUST applies here very well since it is talking about creating articles about current topics. I do understand the notion of writing for the long term and would say something like WP:PROSELINE applies better here. Wikipedia articles can afford to be dynamic. We wouldn't apply WP:DUST to say we cannot report a film's box office performance until its theatrical run is over. If we have reputable reviews early on, we can summarize each one from the get-go without indicating a consensus, and revise the article when/if more details emerge. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 16:27, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
Hi, Erik. I don't think anyone's suggesting we not have a Reception section once a movie opens, no matter how large or small a movie it is. If it's a small movie with only two reviews, we mention that rare circumstance.
The only question is, should we have a Reception section before a movie opens, or wait until the day of release, as we already do for the Plot and Box-office sections.--Tenebrae (talk) 16:39, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
I'm not clear on why we should not have one if authoritative reviews are available. Is it still a matter of undue weight? Are we talking about before a public release as opposed to a film festival screening? Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 17:24, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── A Reception section of reviews after a film-festival screening is a different topic, and one that deserves its own focus.

For the majority of films, which aren't first screened at film festivals, a handful of pre-release reviews may not be statistically indicative of the final tally that comes on release day, and we're a not a news source that has to rush something out that may be incomplete and, so, possibly inaccurate / misleading. I'm not sure there's an upside to rushing, since encyclopedias are supposed to give the final word, not the tentative word. --Tenebrae (talk) 20:58, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

I don't find it to be a big concern. If an upcoming blockbuster film looks like the "Critical reception" section at Sea Shadow (film) for a few days, I'm fine with it because there's no significant viewpoint that has coalesced to judge by. If the reviews are authoritative and we make only individual attributions, I don't think it would mislead readers. We just present two individual and reliable opinions on the film, like we would with a released film with very few reviews (and too few to source a consensus). I'm not crazy about the notion of an embargo to withhold verifiable viewpoints. To use another example, Walking with Dinosaurs (film) was reviewed a week before its release. I added a couple of early reviews, so it looked like this at first. It grew in a matter of days, obviously. This way, readers can see what has been said about the film so far, rather than think, based on the article, that nothing at all has been said yet. Wikipedia should be written for the long run, but it does not mean we cannot be dynamic. I'll let others comment on this. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 21:54, 13 March 2014 (UTC)
As will I. I think this is a good example of two editors who can disagree respectfully and agree to turn the reins to others. --Tenebrae (talk) 14:28, 14 March 2014 (UTC)

Pre-release plot synopses[edit]

I'm currently involved in a dispute over at Godzilla (2014 film) over whether or not to include the synopsis released by the production companies of the film, and that got me thinking. Nowhere in the "Plot" section are pre-release summaries mentioned at all. I feel like this would be something very useful to include in the MOS, a standard guideline for summaries before a film comes out. I suggest that we don't actually create a subsection for the plot until the film is released, but perhaps we include a brief summary in the lead, the same as we do with already-released films. Thoughts? Corvoe (speak to me) 13:11, 15 April 2014 (UTC)

My preferred approach is to mention the synopsis in both the lead section and in a stand-alone section in the article body. After all, the lead section is largely a summary of the article body. I think it helps readers to be able to look in the same place where the plot summary normally is and to at least get an answer for what the film is about. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 13:30, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
I generally include the preview summary in a "Premise" section, until such time that it can be changed to the "Plot" section, being careful to take into account WP:COPYVIO and WP:PARAPHRASE. - Favre1fan93 (talk) 14:16, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Also remember that unlike released work plot summaries - where anyone can validate the plot against the released work - unreleased works do not have that, so pre-release summaries do need to be sourced to material that has officially released; it's also one of the few places where WP:SPOILER applies - even if the film is leaked, the leak is not sufficient to write a plot summary on. --MASEM (t) 14:23, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
Maybe we don't need to update the plot summary guidelines specifically. Considering how temporary these elements are, maybe we could have a separate section dealing with upcoming films where we have a few bullets that talk about how to use the synopsis, verifying cast members, and writing in a neutral tone (especially before any independent assessment of said film). Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 15:59, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
FWIW, I'm in agreement with most everything here. "Premise" text should be both in lead and article body, since lead is a summary. (And good, subtle distinction: A premise isn't the same as a plot, though they can be similar.) Premise needs to be cited, mindful of copyvio and paraphrase. And it wouldn't hurt to specify this in the guidelines, along with the fact (given the phenomenon of casting rumors) that pre-release cast-member claims need citing and that Wikipedia disallows IMDb as a citable source. (I've found that the AllMovie.com cast lists syndicated in The New York Times also can be wildly unreliable; has anyone else noticed this?) Neutral tone should go without saying, but then, so many things that should, do. --Tenebrae (talk) 17:03, 15 April 2014 (UTC)
I'm going to loop back to Erik's idea of the "Upcoming films" section. That could be immensely helpful. Corvoe (speak to me) 16:52, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

box office gross + infobox[edit]

Can I just clarify among other editors, in a film's infobox we do not use the inflation-adjusted gross for a film. It should only include the film's real gross from its theatrical run, preferably worldwide but domestic if that's the only gross available with sources. Correct? 88.104.20.146 (talk) 12:42, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

Hello! Yes, that is correct. See Gone with the Wind (film) as a good example of this. We can use the article body to adjust for inflation, since we can explain the context (e.g., Gone with the Wind being the highest-grossing of all time when adjusted for inflation). Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 12:58, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

"Track listings for film scores are generally discouraged"[edit]

In light of a dispute about including the track listings almost six months ago[1] and a new dispute involving the same pro-inclusion editor[2] it seems worthwhile to ask whether the wording for this guideline should be strengthened, or whether the feeling is that the wording isn't the issue. The pro-inclusion editor specifically called out "discouraged" to argue in favor of inclusion. DonIago (talk) 15:33, 16 April 2014 (UTC)

I believe I included that part of the guidelines back then. To my recollection, I put "generally" because there may be cases where numerous tracks in a given soundtrack would be analyzed. In such cases, a track listing would be appropriate. Aside from that, a track listing can be considered rather indiscriminate, especially if all tracks are composed by the same person and the track names are generic scene names with no additional detail. I'm open to hearing what others have to say, though. Another approach could be to relegate "Soundtrack" sections to the end of an article (below all other sections) if the information is not quite important to the film. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 15:47, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
I think it is ok to list pre-existing music tracks used in the film but the problem with listing original "tracks" from a score is that they often don't really exist as identifible pieces of music; usually the labelling is arbitrary and sometimes later tracks can just be a reprise of an earlier track. I'm happy with the wording and am reluctant to have a rule set in stone though because I can think of plenty of counter-examples to the general rule such as musicals. Betty Logan (talk) 17:54, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
I guess my question then is, literal wording aside, is a legitimiate interpretation, "If the soundtrack's track listing is by and large a collection of arbitrarily-named non-lyrical tracks by a single composer, then it should not be included"? DonIago (talk) 18:50, 16 April 2014 (UTC)
Yes, if there is no counter-argument to consider, such as its importance or commentary about the tracks. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 21:41, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

Guidelines for upcoming films[edit]

Hello, I wanted to start a new section to put together guidelines for upcoming films. Considering how treatment of upcoming films is temporary and collective, I think it would be good to have a section in the MOS outlining some best practices. I am thinking that we could have several bullet points touching on different aspects. In the discussion above, there is interest in highlighting the best practice for coverage about a film's narrative before the film is released. So we can start with that:

  • An article about a film not yet available to the general public can have a stand-alone section briefly describing the film. This section, a precursor to a "Plot" section, should reference a reliable source. For example, a trade paper like Variety or The Hollywood Reporter can be cited in the section, which can be called "Premise". If the studio has released an official synopsis, it can be cited in the section, to be called "Synopsis". In either case, the text should be paraphrased whenever possible to convey an impartial tone to avoid appearing promotional. If the text cannot be paraphrased, provide in-text attribution in quoting directly and identifying the source.

I think we can also talk about requiring inline citations for cast members if WP:BURDEN applies. Some articles will not have much attention before release for this to matter, but in cases where an actor's involvement is questioned, inline citations should be applied. Also at WT:FILM, Favre1fan93 and Rilech like the idea of having "Development of" articles for films only in development where there is sufficient news coverage for a stand-alone article that will not be structured as a film article. Note that these should only be occasional exceptions to the notability guidelines for future films based on the level of encyclopedic detail. I'd like to hear what others think. Other bullet points to consider are present/past tense, box office forecasts, or structuring the opening sentence (e.g., to say "upcoming 2014 film" vs. "upcoming film" vs. "2014 film"). Feedback is welcome!

Thanks, Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 22:10, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

The way you wrote the new section is perfect, in my opinion. Covers all bases well.
I agree with the "Development of" conversation as well (I think my recent blunder at Ant-Man (film) is evidence of why that needs to be in play).
Finally, for the lead section. Personally, I think future films should be written in whatever tense it requires (release in future, most everything else in present), box office forecasts should be included and remain after the film releases, and "upcoming (year) film" should be the used terms. Corvoe (speak to me) 22:17, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
Here's my thoughts on everything you have presented Erik:
- For the text on "Premise", it should be linked somewhere to WP:COPYVIO and WP:PARAPHRASE and I think we should chose either "Premise" or "Synopsis". Many times, the trades are putting forth the official studio synopsis. To me, those are one in the same, and am personally partial to "Premise".
- I would like to see the inline citation bit added for the cast members. It takes any questioning out of it.
- For the "Development of" articles, I think that it can pretty much follow the structure of a normal film article to the best of its ability, because each case would be different, depending on the information released. For example, if one was created for the upcoming Batman/Superman film, it would have a "Cast", "Production", "Music", "Release" (or maybe marketing) and maybe something resembling a reception/reaction section. It is the title being "Development of" that would indicate that it is still a future film, that may or may not be made.
- Lead should be in the future tense until it is released, or in a case of a "Development of" page that it is confirmed it will no longer be going forward.
- I believe that the box office forecasts can have the option of staying on the page after it has released, as a way of comparison. Sourced commentary could be used to compare the predicted and the actual (ie it met or did not meet the predicted).
- Opening sentence should just be "upcoming film". - Favre1fan93 (talk) 01:11, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
@Favre1fan93: Thanks for the feedback! My responses:
  • I would be fine linking to WP:COPYVIO, but WP:PARAPHRASE is an essay. I think it's best to reference policies and general guidelines. Reviewing WP:COPYVIO, I actually think that WP:INTEXT covers quoting and paraphrasing: "In-text attribution should be used with direct speech (a source's words between quotation marks or as a block quotation); indirect speech (a source's words modified without quotation marks); and close paraphrasing."
  • As for "Premise" vs. "Synopsis", I think there are films where a synopsis is not available, at least not until marketing begins, so we can use early (and reliable) reports saying what the film is about. I guess I am thinking that "Synopsis" sounds official, but it does not have to be. We could commit to just "Synopsis" if others favor it.
  • I was thinking that a "Development of" article would not look like a film article. The core of a typical film article is the film itself, a tangible product (or the very likely expectation of one, if it is undergoing filming). The core of a "Development of" article is historical, meaning the consolidation of development history, without expectancy of a tangible product ever forthcoming. I would prefer such articles to be prose-based, meaning no infobox or cast list or film-related categories. This kind of article can be tricky with films in very active development, but I think it can apply well to covering the development history of something like The Dark Tower. Per WP:DUCK, if it's going to be a film article in all but name, then the prefix does not seem to make a real difference.
  • Regarding using "upcoming", the release situation may vary. Would we stop calling it "upcoming" if a film screens at a festival but won't be released commercially for a few months? If we leave out the expected release year, does it inconvenience the reader?
Thanks, Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 17:35, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Response to Erik (most examples I pull from are from pages/experiences I work on):
- Sounds good. As long as COPYVIO is in there, because much of the time the synopsis is copyright material (much like preview summaries for upcoming television episodes).
- I question you on using reliable sources for the premise (maybe because I have not seen it). For Avengers: Age of Ultron, there are many reputable sources that have given what they think is the premise, based on the bits and pieces of casting/other news that has been released. But I wouldn't consider using that. Could you maybe give me an example of a situation where it could be used, just so I could see what you mean as a valid use of the reputable sources?
- I do agree that "Development of" articles should mainly be prose based, but I don't see the harm of having an infobox on the page. (Cast list, yes I think now should not be included as with film-related categories. A casting section could cover that material with prose.)
- For your first question, I believe upcoming should be present until it is released commercially, because additions/retractions could be made since its festival/premiere screening. I always go back to The Avengers on this, as it had its world premiere and immediately after, the cast went back to shoot the second post-credit screen. While not a major amount of reshooting, it still was additional material that had to be added to the cut of the film that was seen at the premiere. As for the next question, I believe it is not necessary because a proper article will have the release date in the lead for the reader. And if no release date/year is known, it still works because all we do know is that it is "upcoming". - Favre1fan93 (talk) 19:44, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Tiger House is an example that references a non-synopsis source since its release is not for a while. I think the film infobox can be misleading because when filming has not started, none of the names are actually locked in for production. To be without it clearly emphasizes that it is a historical article (based on the compilation of development news over the years) and not a film article. As for using "upcoming", I don't really have any strong feelings on usage, and I don't know if there's been any real edit warring over that aspect, compared to others. Erik (talk | contrib) (ping me) 20:09, 18 April 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for the Tiger House example. I see what you mean. Though we do have to make it clear that that is a correct example, versus what I stated for the next Avengers, would not be a correct example. See this as an example of what I mean. I think the infobox would be a case by case basis, because I can see how, if a film is in constant flux, the names would change, but we also have the example of when Star Wars VII was at a "Development of", most of those names were locked. Could wording be added along the lines of "should a film be officially announced, at such a time the infobox can be added, while the page does not move to its proper title until filming has started."? I don't believe there has been any edit warring over "upcoming" that I am aware of, so if others chime in, we can craft it as we all see fit. - Favre1fan93 (talk) 20:23, 18 April 2014 (UTC)