Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Writing about fiction/Archive 7

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Succession boxes for fictional characters

I am petitioning that this page be alterted to remove the proibition of succession boxes on fictional characters. There is a heavy drive to use these boxes as evidenced by character pages relating to Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, James Bond Girls and Villians, 24 (TV series), Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Law & Order, Highlander (series), Dune, Eragon, Tom Clancy characters in the Jack Ryan Universe, Codename: Kids Next Door, and Commander in Chief (TV series). Here is a list of fictional charcters who have had succession boxes for quite some time now.

Bilbo Baggins

Jack Ryan (Tom Clancy)
Albus Dumbledore
Paul Atreides
Angel (Buffyverse)
The Kurgan
Auric Goldfinger
Jack Bauer
Joe Fontana (Law & Order character)
Father (Codename: Kids Next Door)
Mackenzie Allen
Arya Dröttningu
Frodo Baggins
Pussy Galore (James Bond)
Severus Snape
Samwise Gamgee
Minerva McGonagall
Willow Rosenberg
Spike (Buffyverse)
Master (Buffyverse)
Peregrin Took
Faramir Took
Remus Lupin
Alastor Moody
Barty Crouch Junior
Gilderoy Lockhart
Professor Quirrell
Dolores Umbridge
Horace Slughorn
Armando Dippet
Phineas Nigellus Black
Ruling Queens of Númenor
Robby Jackson (Tom Clancy)
Ed Kealty
Roger Durling
Riley Finn
J. Robert Fowler
President Bennett (Tom Clancy novels)
Richard Wilkins
Adam (Buffyverse)
Trio (Buffyverse)
First Evil
Warren Mears
Eärendur (Second Age)
Vardamir Nólimon
Túrin Turambar
Dior (Middle-earth)
Galdor the Tall
Magor (Middle-earth)
Leto Atreides I
Alia Atreides
Leto Atreides II
Vladimir Harkonnen
Dmitri Harkonnen
Shaddam Corrino IV
Pardot Kynes
Paulus Atreides
Dominic Vernius
General Katana
Kane (Highlander)
Jacob Kell
Mako (Highlander)
Thomas Sullivan (Highlander)
Colonel Everett Bellian
Alfred Cahill
Gabriel Piton
Christoph Kuyler
Grayson (Highlander)
Andrew Ballin
Marcus Korolus
Walter Reinhardt
Alexei Voshin
Caleb Cole
Howard Crowley
Kiem Sun
Slan Quince
Xavier St. Cloud
Carlo Sendaro
Antonius Kalas
Bartholomew (Highlander)
Damon Case
Caspian (Highlander)
Andrew Cord
Morgan D'Estaing
Kronos (Highlander)
Silas (Highlander)
Martin Hyde
Kenny (Kenneth)
Tyler King
Axel Whittaker
Liam O'Rourke
Emilio Largo
Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Rosa Klebb
Julius No
Mister Big (James Bond)
Francisco Scaramanga
Karl Stromberg
Sir Hugo Drax
Aristotle Kristatos
General Orlov
Max Zorin
Brad Whitaker
Franz Sanchez
Alec Trevelyan
Elliot Carver
Elektra King
Gustav Graves
Le Chiffre
Renard (James Bond)
General Georgi Koskov
Kamal Khan
Honeychile Rider
Tatiana Romanova
Tiffany Case
Tracy Bond
Kissy Suzuki
Domino Vitali
Mary Goodnight
Solitaire (James Bond)
Anya Amasova
Holly Goodhead
Judy Havelock
Octopussy (character)
Stacey Sutton
Kara Milovy
Pam Bouvier
Natalya Simonova
Wai Lin
Christmas Jones
Giacinta 'Jinx' Johnson
Vesper Lynd
Gala Brand
Vivienne Michel
Nathan Templeton
Teddy Bridges
Warren Keaton
Jim Gardner (Commander in Chief character)
Rod Calloway
Kelly Ludlow
Adam Schiff (Law & Order)
Alfred Wentworth
Nora Lewin
Arthur Branch
Alexandra Borgia
Serena Southerlyn
Abbie Carmichael
Jamie Ross
Claire Kincaid
Paul Robinette
Connie Rubirosa
Lennie Briscoe
Phil Cerreta
Maxwell Greevey
Ed Green
Rey Curtis
Mike Logan (Law & Order)
Nicolas Falco
Nina Cassady
Jack McCoy
Benjamin Stone
Charles Logan (24 character)
Thomas Lennox
Walt Cummings
Wayne Palmer
Hal Gardner
Jim Prescott
John Keeler
David Palmer (24 character)
Christopher Henderson
Tony Almeida
George Mason (24 character)
Erin Driscoll
Michelle Dessler
Bill Buchanan
Curtis Manning
Lynn McGill
Mike Doyle (24 character)
Karen Hayes
Joe Quimby
Sideshow Bob
Sideshow Mel
Cornelius Fudge
Rufus Scrimgeour
Havelock Vetinari
Bezu Fache
Silas (The Da Vinci Code)
Leonardo Vetra
Vittoria Vetra
Maximilian Kohler
Numbuh Five
Jimmy McGarfield
Numbuh 362
Chad Dickson
Cree Lincoln
Indbur III
Cleon I
Tony Soprano
Paulie Walnuts
Junior Soprano
Christopher Moltisanti
Vito Spatafore
Ralph Cifaretto
List of characters from The Sopranos in the DiMeo Crime Family
Ecthelion II
Turgon (Steward)
Túrin II
Belecthor II
Beren (Steward)
Ecthelion I
Orodreth (Steward)
Belecthor I
Húrin II
Denethor I
Stewards during the Watchful Peace
Mardil Voronwë
Elfwine (Middle-earth)
Brytta Léofa
Fréaláf Hildeson
Helm Hammerhand
Gram (Middle-earth)
Aldor (Middle-earth)
Eorl the Young
Fram (Middle-earth)
Arathorn II
Arathorn I
Arahad II
Arahad I
Aragorn I
Arveleg II
Argeleb II
Arveleg I
Argeleb I
Beleg of Arnor
Tarondor of Arnor
Eldacar of Arnor


Support as per above and as per my comment in further support below.--Dr who1975 18:14, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Oppose, at least based on your logic. Evidence of articles disregarding the style guidelines does not constitute justification enough to overturn the rule alone - not without other compelling arguments why this needs to be enacted. Otherwise we might as well just leave all articles as uncited stubs. I have no interest in the individual articles - tell me the principle behind your argument. Girolamo Savonarola 18:29, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Oppose I understand that it might make sense to show that Remus Lupin was the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher after Gilderoy Lockhart and before Alastor Moody, but I think you need to read the paragraph on the policy page once more and see why this isn't in accordance with two things: the in-/out-of-universe policy, and that one book supercedes another in terms of time (sure, Harry Potter books distinctly come after one another, but when one is reading Prisoner of Azkaban, Lupin is the DADA teacher at that time). I don't think I worded that too clearly, but just read the paragraph on succession boxes once more and you'll see why it just isn't working. --Fbv65edel / ☑t / ☛c || 18:34, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Comment in further Support OK, I've re-read the section and I have this to say. As a living encyclopedia, Wikipedia can be altered in the event that an author chooses to rewrite their characters story. There are also many options for multiple versions of character that are already in use in wikipedia and can be used in such a case. For instance, Peter Cushing played an alternate version of Dr. Who in two 1960s movies, it is not considered cannon so his version of the character has his own page at Dr. Who (Dalek films), which is seperate from the other incarnations of Dr Who such as the First Doctor. Such logic, if deemed necessary, can be applied to alternate versions of characters as they are rewritten by authors, the succession boxes marked accordingly. That is my rational for all of this. Since pages are sectional and links can be set up by section, you could also have a link go to a specific section of a document that may encompass alternate versions of a character or many characters (such logic iswas already in use by succession boxes that linked to Ruling Queens of Númenor). In summary.... this would improve something I've always liked about wikipedia, it's abiltiy to tackle any subject no matter how large.--Dr who1975 21:32, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Support removal. Many editors might desire them, but they look bad, they're not needed, over-lap existing article navigation (such as nav boxes, etc), and whatever is next or last might might not have an article (notability). -- Ned Scott 21:40, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

response The guidline listed has nothing to do with your point... by that logic. Alll succession boxes shuld be removed. This point is not germain to the debate.--Dr who1975 12:54, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm not following you. I did not cite any guideline or page.. There are some succession boxes that make sense, but in general there are better methods of navigation for the reader. These methods are easier to use, better organized, and make the page look better too. -- Ned Scott 00:55, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Oppose In general, points of succession are fluid for fictional characters. The use of the succession box creates a problem when a later work inserts or removes a part of the chain.

resonse You mean somebody might have to change something on wikipedia? That's unheard of.--Dr who1975 12:54, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Caveat: There are examples in fiction that are exceptional cases where the succession box can be justified: the bearer of the One Ring and the incarnations of the Doctor are two such cases. These are cases where the continuity is written in such a way that there is no room for a new "link" to slipped into the middle of the chain. These should be noted on the relevant talk pages as a point of discussion and an explanation as to why the MoS is not being applied. They are an indication that the MoS section should be rewritten or removed. - J Greb 21:56, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
Interesting point, so for instance, the succession for Robin would always be Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake. Are you say you support the proposed change or that you support just adding that caveat? If the latter, how would such a thing be worded?--Dr who1975 23:04, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
Comment Actually, "Bearer of the One Ring" is a perfect example of the kind of fan-crufty succession box that absolutely should not be placed in these articles, but inevitably is, and is a prime reason for my opposing this proposal. TCC (talk) (contribs) 19:01, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Formerly adding the caveat. The fact that this come up indicates that the convention of of exceptional cases superseding the guidelines is being missed. As for Robin, or any comic book character, they, or more specifically the "open" style of fiction the represent, are the primary reason the guideline exists. Any fiction where a later writer can come along and insert a "previously unknown" character or change character histories should not use the boxes.
Just so I'm clear, "open" fiction would include things like: the DC universe, the Marvel universe, Star Trek, and soap operas. "Closed" would be things like: Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter (as currently constituted), and stand alone films. There are some things that straddle the line, like Doctor Who and Star Wars, where only certain aspects are generally not open to change. - J Greb 23:23, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Oppose as they are redundant and encourage the proliferation of unneeded articles about minor fictional characters. NeoFreak 22:01, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

response I think this policy has little affect on the proliferation of uneeded artcles. If you look at the list I provided. There are pages for dozens middle earth kings that should be consolidated into one list. That happened even with this guidline in place.--Dr who1975 13:52, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Support - improve organisation of article. Michael Sanders 22:02, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Only if the article is poorly organized to begin with. Often the "succession boxes" just lead to loop backs, central list articles and redlinks, making the articles worse. NeoFreak 22:11, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
By that logic, it's pointless to have succession boxes in any article. Certainly, the succession boxes I have encountered in fictional articles are useful: just as with articles on historic subjects, they act as a quick and simple means of allowing the reader to refer to the previous holder of the office, or to go to that article, particularly if they do not know who the person is and don't want to dig it out of the text. Michael Sanders 22:14, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
Don't get me wrong, they're are some out there that are helpful, they're just the exception. Most fictional characters do not have a predecessor or successor that is notable enough for their own article. A well ordered box would also have a link to the office or position in question, another very rare thing in fiction. Any article on a fictional character that is well written has no need for a succession box. NeoFreak 22:19, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
But if a non-notable article was created, it would be deleted. And so, if it was written into any change that succession boxes could only link predecessors and successors to characters with their own articles/article sections, then that would prevent confusion with central lists, and the law of notability would take care of the rest. As for political offices, it could be written up that they are either linked to a relevant article (which, if non-notable, will end up being swept up), or left blank. A well-written article shouldn't need a succession box, but they are used in non-fiction articles, along with various other features, simply for the convenience to the reader: a reader can read a long and well written article for ten minutes to find out who did or didn't follow on in office, or they can skip straight to the bottom of the page and look at the succession box. That's the logic on which they are used in non-fiction articles; otherwise, where's the logic in using them there? Michael Sanders 22:31, 7 April 2007 (UTC)
Notability should take care of alot of things it doesn't. A well written article should mention a fictional characters predecessor and successor in the first three paragraphs if they are notable enough to have an entry. NeoFreak 22:36, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

I think you underestimate project behaviour. As a contributor to Wikipedia:Wikiproject Harry Potter, I can tell you that we have very few, if any, articles that we don't consider notable (i.e. we don't have very many articles comprising a few lines on a character who had a bit-part in a single chapter, or whatever); most of those end up merged into collective articles, or removed. It is important for an article to be well-written, and to be reader-friendly: it makes it easier for the reader to look up who succeeded who in what, simply by clicking the buttons. That's why we use them in the historical articles, for example (and simply don't write articles for anyone on whom there isn't much to say beyond "He lived, he was such and such, he died, <succession box>") - in order to ensure that the reader's convenience is paramount. Even if it is a superbly written featured article. They are used there so that the reader can be just that little bit lazier, essentially. I don't see why the same can't hold true here: if the subject is notable enough to have an article, s/he should be treated to the same standards of article set-up as a similarly positioned non-fiction figure. Michael Sanders 22:46, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

Question Did I propose this in the right place?. Is there a forum for proposed changes to the Manual of Style that I should've used instead. If so, let me know and I will move the dicsussion accordingliy.--Dr who1975 22:44, 7 April 2007 (UTC)

No, this was and is the right place. DCB4W 01:42, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Oppose Not only is it treating fiction as if it were real, but many fans insert succession boxes for absolutely trivial "offices", sometimes having only two "occupants". It's absurd. TCC (talk) (contribs) 00:15, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Support If used correctly they can be very effective in providing information at a casual glance. I say that if the office is trivial, or if the continuity is loose, leave them out, but otherwise they would be a valuable addition to Wikipedia. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Pyreforge (talkcontribs) 00:53, 8 April 2007 (UTC).

Support It should be allowed if there is actually a good reason for it. Possibly something like the Avengers women (Emma Peel preceeded by Cathy Gale, etc). But it should be clear they shouldn't be added just for fun. The box Dr who1975 recently removed from the Willow Rosenberg page is a good example of one that should never have been there. Hobson 01:14, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Support For important characters and story lines, it should be included. If they're just there as fancruft, delete 'em. Disinclination 02:51, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Unfortunately that may cause more problems than it would solve. It is infinitely easier to show that something is an exception to a "Don't use" than to arguing the POV position of importance against justicfication of "The MoS says I can, so I will." - J Greb 03:09, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Support - showing an exception as J Greb mentions doesn't work. People who think fictional infoboxes are bad will just cite the guideline and ignore any arguments to the contrary. The only way people will judge a succession box on its individual merits is if they're allowed. That's just the way wikipedia works. We allow articles to be created, so some bad articles are created. We allow fair use images to be uploaded, so bad fair use images are uploaded. You either take the bad with the good, or you take neither. - Peregrine Fisher 03:18, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Comment Except that the people who really want the silly things there almost never are willing to discuss them on their individual merits. I've removed some of the more nonsensical ones several times only to have them reappear a few days later, usually without so much as an edit summary. What will happen if they're allowed is that they'll be placed willy-nilly, just as they are now. TCC (talk) (contribs) 03:54, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't disagree. I don't know why people feel so strongly about these things, but they do. The argument against them seems to be like saying "Delete because article is a target for cruft in an AfD." Being a cruft target is not a good reason for deletion, so maybe it shouldn't guide our MOS. - Peregrine Fisher 04:12, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Noise to Information ratio. The "bells" that are added onto article pages (templates, 'boxes, and categories) shouldn't be a hindrance to the article being informative or navigable. Succession boxes can be detrimental to both so should be looked at closely for inclusion. The "cruft only"/"encyclopedic" arguments in an AfD is a slightly different thing. True both are MoS driven, but the effective N:I of a wholly cruft article is going to be much lower than bells added for cruft's sake. - J Greb 04:26, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Is there some we can write this guideline so it backs up people removing the bad succession boxes, while allowing the good? - Peregrine Fisher 05:02, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
I was going to agree with you in a qualified way, but as I wrote I realized that there are no good succession boxes in fiction. We use them in, for example, articles on members of RL royal dynasties, as a navigation aid, because a RL monarch is almost always going to be worth at least a brief article. In fiction, even in those rare cases where an author has worked out an entire dynastic line, most nearly all of the names will not have enough of a story attached to them to be worth an article. So what will there be to link the boxes to? And where there are only a handful of names in the succession, so that they all have stories worth an article? No real reason for a navigation aid in those cases. TCC (talk) (contribs) 19:12, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Support Succession boxes are always helpful for maintaining continiuty between articles, never detrimental or trivial. Their removal only makes it tougher for our readers and/or ourselves to locate information. I don't see the point in stating they are subject to revision. So our are succession boxes on historical figures as our understanding and covering changes over time. User:Dimadick

  • Neutral. I think they're largely superfluous and slightly crufty, but I don't see what harm they ultimately do. Much more troublesome is the use of real-world infoboxes on articles about fictional topics. — Brian (talk) 09:40, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Qualified Oppose While I can see the use for succession boxes in limited cases (e.g. Harry Potter, LOTR), I think that the use of such boxes should be largely avoided for the reasons already stated in the Manual of Style (MoS). It is worth noting that this page is a guideline and not a policy - the MoS can be violated if suitable reasons can be given on a case-by-case basis. However, I think it is equally important as a MoS that this page continues to highlight the problems that are routinely associated with succession boxes and to push for their limitation. Dr Aaron 10:14, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

  • Response The people I've been dealing with have been acting like it's a policy. Using it as a bat to stifle anything I added even when it was apropriate.--Dr who1975 12:05, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Qualified support. In some cases they have their uses - for example, being able to navigate through all the actors who have played James Bond is quite useful. Being able to do the same with the James Bond villains is maybe more debatable, but I'm not sure what harm it does either. It's all very well to talk about "cruft", but in this context the distinction between crufty and useful isn't all that clear to me. The pages we're discussing are about entertainment, not world politics. It's not actually a disaster if policy allows enough flexibility for a consensus of editors in a particular area to decide whether such a feature is useful - and it does seem preferable to people who have no interest in the subject trying to enforce an iron centralised discipline for the sake of conformity. --Stephen Burnett 18:59, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

All six of them? If you look at the James Bond article you will notice that that information (Bond actors) is given within the first page in an easy to read and understand format. Why? Because it's a well written article. NeoFreak 19:04, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
If you'll notice, I said girls and villians above.There were 45 James Bond character Articles with succession boxes. Auric Goldfinger Pussy Galore (James Bond) Emilio Largo Ernst Stavro Blofeld Rosa Klebb Julius No Mister Big (James Bond) Francisco Scaramanga Karl Stromberg Sir Hugo Drax Aristotle Kristatos General Orlov Max Zorin Brad Whitaker Franz Sanchez Alec Trevelyan Elliot Carver Elektra King Gustav Graves Le Chiffre Renard (James Bond) General Georgi Koskov Kamal Khan Honeychile Rider Tatiana Romanova Tiffany Case Tracy Bond Kissy Suzuki Domino Vitali Mary Goodnight Solitaire (James Bond) Anya Amasova Holly Goodhead Judy Havelock Octopussy (character) Stacey Sutton Kara Milovy Pam Bouvier Natalya Simonova Wai Lin Christmas Jones Giacinta 'Jinx' Johnson Vesper Lynd Gala Brand Vivienne Michel
You're talking about actor articles which isn't under debate here.--Dr who1975 19:18, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
It was actors that played Bond that Stephen Burnett brought up and that's what I was responding to. I'm not sure the use that a SB would play in the 45 articles you've listed. As a chronological tool? NeoFreak 19:22, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
No, Burnett was not talking about james bond actors either.. to qoute from his comments 4 inches above me "Being able to do the same with the James Bond villains is maybe more debatable, but I'm not sure what harm it does either".--Dr who1975 19:25, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
There needs to be some clarification made, both in Burnett's comment and in what we're talking about. Burnett's comment is partially clear "...actors who have played James Bond..." the followup "Being able to do the same with the James Bond villains..." is a bit grey. It looks like NeoFreak read it the same way I did: succession boxes for the actors, not the characters. Dr. who1975 is assuming that the intended reference was for the characters.
As for what we're talking about... There is a fundamental difference between sequencing the actors to play Bond and which characters have been Captain America. In one case we are talking about reality the other is fiction. Succession boxes work for things like actors, films by release date, writers, story arcs by publication date, and the like. - J Greb 21:30, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
So you're saying you think Burnette was confused. As you know, this is a debate about the boxes for fictional characters. I think Burnette is clearly showing of support for changing the policy in question. He was comparing the use of succession boxes for real figures to their use for fictional ones. I can't even imagine where you would get that he was talking about real life actors from his comments (maybe if you read the first senetence and skimmed over the rest really quickly?). In any event, I'll go ask him to clarify.--Dr who1975 21:53, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Comment I'm sorry I wasn't clear. I was just making a comparison - probably not a helpful one in view of the confusion I caused. I'm fully aware that the debate is within the context of articles about fictional characters, and I'll just restate my previous point - I can see that Bond enthusiasts, for instance, might want to trace a chronology of girls, villains, or whatever, and I don't think it does any great harm to the individual articles if there is a SB there which allows them to do that. --Stephen Burnett 22:19, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
Comment Why has Dr who1975 decided to remove all the James Bond Girl succession boxes? Was their a consensus made, cause I don't see one yet? And shouldn't the removal of succession boxes be made after a consensus has been made and not before? El Greco 19:34, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
response The current guideline is the current concensus. Did you read it? If you'll notice... I initiated this discussion to change the guideline. Poeple use this guideline as a bat to summarily remove succession boxes without any debate. Technically, I'm simply enforcing the guideline. Do you really want someone else to come along and remove them on a whim? Because that's what will happen. This is an ernest attempt to get the guideline changed. I take it from your response that you support removing the rule?--Dr who1975 19:36, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

SUPPORT Granted a succession box doesn't contribute much to the overall article, but it does serve some purpose. How would you like it if you had to try to go through each Bond Girl article beginning with the first to the most recent? It might be difficult if you don't know who the Bond Girls are, and it might still be difficult if you do know who they are. That's where a succession box comes in. It helps bring some sort of continuity, some sort of connection from one character to another, that otherwise might not exist. Of course a succession box only works for stories or movies with lots and lots of characters (i.e. James Bond, LOTR, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.). Which is where most succession boxes are anyway. El Greco 19:59, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

We do have a wonderful over-view article called Bond girl that does a far better job than a succession box, as well as a nav template on each article (that nav template could use some tweaking though.. it's a monster right now). It's a bit primitive to only be able to do "next/prev" when you want to find a specific Bond girl. These other options make more sense than a succession box. -- Ned Scott 05:46, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
I don't disagree with any of that. But, are they really so bad that we need a rule forbidding them? It seems like we only need one example where they are legit to make a rule prohibiting them wrong. - Peregrine Fisher 05:55, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
2 things:
  1. It's been pointed out afew time here that, and I'm going to be blunt and paraphrase, without the guideline it will be all but impossible to remove the crap uses of the 'boxes. Better to fight the few battles to keep the rightious uses than the massive war to limit the use to those.
  2. "i before e" - Rules have exceptions, guidelines more so.
- J Greb 06:24, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Can't we just write down when they're acceptable and when their not. Imagine that someone is having trouble over a righteous one. Where are they going to go try and find help, probably right here. If they can't get any justice here, then "i before e" isn't working. Anyone have any ideas what the difference between acceptable uses an non-acceptable uses it? - Peregrine Fisher 06:43, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
A good point. I was thinking that maybe we could write this so it's not "forbidden", but still gets results, is by presenting ideas for better article navigation. One way to get people not to do something is to show them a better way. -- Ned Scott 06:52, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Maybe technology can help. How about optional prev/next fields for the media templates (or whatever they're called) that go at the bottom of the page. That would put them in one spot for discussion and removal. Anyways, that's one idea. - Peregrine Fisher 07:08, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Support. Succession boxes are a specific application of this rule, and specific applications should be left to interpretation, not micromanaged with little difficult-to-remember hard rules. The important thing is that people understand the difference between in-universe and out-of-universe and how to apply it to creating balanced articles that place the subject in a real-world context. Whether these boxes go towards that end or not is a small point that need not be ordained as part of this guideline. Dcoetzee 07:03, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

They should be removed from everything but James Bond actors, Superman actors, Doctor Who actors etc. With fictional characters, it is all in the body of the article. Especially with "Buffy", definitions of "Big Bads" and "Buffy Summers' love interest" are not concrete and are to an extent, too trivial to be tacked on randomly at the end.~ZytheTalk to me! 15:29, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Firstly, Superman and Dr. Who actors are not in contention here. Those are real people. Secondly, the fact that you think there is an exception to this rule for James Bond Characters just goes to show how the rule is contetious. I'm certain there's somebody out there who probably wouldn;t want the Bond boxes there but thinks the Buffy boxes are of utmost importance. These boxes should be handled on a case by case level using the existing rules for succession boxes. There are already rules in place for just abour every point that's been brought up in this discussion so far... and if you think they're ugly, you should lobby for their complete removal from all of wikipedia.--Dr who1975 16:02, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
No! I was saying that it belongs for REAL PEOPLE to reiterate that I don't believe they belong for fictional characters. It's too fancrufty. Where is the notability of two boxes for "Buffy Summers' love interest" on the Angel article, when you could just look under the character history section for Buffy Summers. It's just meaningless, clunky, and imprecise.~ZytheTalk to me! 19:04, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Support Oppose. This is not an argument about succession boxes, but rather what is considered "fancruft". Getting rid of succession boxes does not eliminate fancruft, but just makes some articles more difficult to navigate. I would have also appreciated some warning before the boxes were removed from so many articles. (WikiProject Middle-earth is in the process of combining many articles, and the succession boxes help us figure out what goes where.) I do not accept the blanket argument that succession boxes clutter up articles. (Edited to change to support--gees, I can't figure out this debate. Whatever.. I just think the boxes should stay for now.) --Fang Aili talk 16:06, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

I think he meant to say that he supports getting rid of the rule. I left a note on his user pager too.--Dr who1975 16:22, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Support. Right now, my primary contribution to Wikipedia is the standardization of succession boxes, and I came here when I checked to see if I had finished standardizing (the fictional character) Arthur Branch's. The arguments present on the manual of style and in this opposition are not very valid.

Succession boxes assume continuity, which may not exist.

Succession boxes obviously should only be used in situations where there is continuity.

Even if it does exist, the fiction's creators may choose to rewrite it later, invalidating any previous canon.

Wikipedia has this brilliant "edit this page" button at the top of almost every page, allowing succession boxes to change as needed.

Furthermore, the story that each work of fiction depicts does not change despite the continuation of stories across serial works or sequels, and as a consequence, the events within one work of fiction are always in the present whenever it is read, watched, or listened to.

This is nonsensical and irrelevant. During the course of the fictional story, things change and different people take the title that is relevant to the succession box. This is what the succession box records. The fact that, while reading a specific page of a book or watching a specific episode of a television series and so forth, the events observed are taking place at a specific time. When flipped to a page 100 pages further in the narrative or to an episode three seasons later, these events have changed because of the progression of time in the universe. In general, the universe has a dating system which is used to denote that time that has passed, though this isn't necessary.

The in/out of universe rule

I can accept this justification, but I don't think it means there shouldn't be succession boxes. While editing the Law & Order pages, I added a {{s-legal}} template, but I think it would be reasonable to have an {{s-fiction}} template or something that would say Fictional continuity or something of that nature.

Succession boxes are ugly or redundant or superfluous

Not relevant, because you aren't talking about getting rid of all succession boxes.

Leads to fancrufty non-notable successions

If something is non-notable, it should be removed, of course. That doesn't mean perfectly notable positions, like being District Attorney in Law & Order shouldn't be allowed in. This, of course, does not apply only to fictional characters.

It's included in the infobox.

Also irrelevant. Real people have the information in their infoboxes too.

I think the only justification being used against this is that it may lead to fancruft. This is a slippery slope position, which is not a very good one to take. By the same reasoning, articles on fictional characters could lead to fancruft. We need to delete Harry Potter because people keep adding information about their fanfic where he makes out with Draco Malfoy! Atropos 18:06, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

You misstate the case. No one is saying that succession boxes could lead to fancruft. We are saying they have and do lead to fancruft. There's nothing "slippery slope" or hypothetical about it; we've seen it time and time again. Removing them does no permanent good, because they just get replaced, with the result that good editors simply get weary of dealing with it. People are arguing for fancruft in this very discussion. TCC (talk) (contribs) 03:42, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Comment WIkipedia is not an experiment in democracy so stating vote in the edit summaries strikes as hypocrisy. There should not be a vote but debate to reach a conclusion.--Lucy-marie 20:37, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes... this is debate. That's why "try to make a point" was written after it. Don't take the word vote so literally.--Dr who1975 21:05, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Support I think people can be responsible enough not to let this devolve into fancruft. So long as we restrict them to occupations such as President in the 24 universe and not silly ones like Jack Bauer's love interest.--T smitts 04:46, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Eh? It's because people have not been responsible enough that we have such a guideline in the first place. And using a succession box for the President in 24 is a horrible idea. -- Ned Scott 04:53, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Funny how everyone who says this can't possibly lead to fancruft both ignores that fancruft is already mostly what they are, and immediately offers fancruft as a counterexample. This just proves that a great many "Support" arguments here lack any perspective whatsoever. TCC (talk) (contribs) 20:17, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Support I believe that succession boxes can certainly be useful for fictional articles. Sometimes a person may wish to check a quick fact about what positions a character what have held, and while a well written article can certainly provide this information, a succession box makes this information more accessible when not wishing to scan through an article. Also, in books which are part of an entire universe, such as The Lord of the Rings in Middle Earth, a succession box organizes the information well as there is continuity within the universe. While they might not be appropriate for everything, such as books without continuity, I don't believe an all out "no" to using succession boxes for any fictional articles is the thing to do. Nazgul533 21:02, 18 April 2007 (UTC)

The set of Middle-earth articles is a place where succession boxes have been badly misused. Many articles on non-notable figures -- you can't even call them characters; most of them are just names -- have been added just to fill out the succession so that links exist for the boxes. "Offices" that aren't successions in any meaningful sense of the word have been concocted in order to use them. Succession boxes with only a single occupant have been added to some articles. Middle-earth is a prime example showing why they should not be allowed in articles on fiction. TCC (talk) (contribs) 23:24, 18 April 2007 (UTC)
You raise a valid point about succession boxes being misused. I do agree that succession boxes are in no way appropriate for obscure people that are essentially names, but there are characters notable enough to warrant a succession box. Nazgul533 talk 20:01, 19 April 2007 (UTC)

Clarifying what a succession box is

I had a look at some of the many links to pages with "succession boxes" and they are not really what I would consider succession boxes in the classical sense (see Template:Succession box.

Succession boxes involve fitting a character or event into a link in a chain - as in a list of succession (something coming before and something coming after). An example would be Edward the Elder as King of England - he has a succession box (see the Wiki-code) listing the monarchs coming immediately before and after and a general template listing all the monarchs.

Along those lines, the Template:Lotr isn't really a succession box - it is a template summary of material falling under the "lord of the rings" fictional area.

I think this confusion means that many people who are supporting removing a ban on succession boxes are actually just ratifying the exiting support for the use of templates.

Dr Aaron 11:14, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Check the histories. They've by and large been removed now. Nifboy 15:46, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
I have not touched any custom made Project tamplates, if I did, it would be ones that specifically involved a succession.--Dr who1975 16:24, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Since you're the one arguing to keep certain succession boxes, your making a WP:POINT by removing them. Drawing attention to the issue this way isn't right. You should put them back. - Peregrine Fisher 16:30, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
I'm on your side in this debate, it's just that you shouldn't apply a guideline to show that it's broken. Per POINT, "This means that an individual who opposes the state of a current rule or policy should not attempt to create proof that the rule does not work in Wikipedia itself." - Peregrine Fisher 17:14, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Why should the boxes be put back right now? Even if I was breaking a rule (which I'm not), what does that have to do with the issues being brought up? Why shoulod the boxes be put back, so that somebody can quietly remove them a few at a time later on. Putting the boxes back would be breaking the guideline. I think people use WP:POINT in this way to game the system so that the issue isn't brought to the attention of people who care about it. This thing needs to be discussed and hashed out. Wikipedia should not be solely controlled by the computer nerds who are savy enough to artfuly navigate its rules.--Dr who1975 17:00, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Let me also state that it is not my intention to disrput wikipedia. I plan on giving this a few more hours (or a bit longer, depending on how many people feel the need to chime in) to germinate on its own and then I will start talking about compromises.--Dr who1975 17:21, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Template:Lotr was never a succession box. It is a footer navigation template, giving an overview of a subject area. Kind of like a list of contents. I prefer the slimmer sidebar navboxes myself (arranged vertically at top right of an article), but many people seem to prefer the bloated big "contents" footer templates at the end of an article - performing the same function as a "See also" section. As for true succession boxes? When writing about fiction, burn most of them. Some succession boxes are useful, but only a very few. They simply repeat information that should be presented as prose in the main body of the article. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia with articles that people should read, not a database that presents information in neatly packaged infoboxes for people with short attention spans to skim. Carcharoth 16:53, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes, Template:Lotr is not a succession box. I don't even know why it has come up.--Dr who1975 17:01, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Why do we even have succession boxes in the first place?

Given that:

  • Any member of a sufficiently large/notable series has a navbox, and
  • Several articles have succession info in their infobox,
  • Any article worth its bytes in salt will discuss appropriate predecessors and antedecessors,
  • The main article/list on the series does a better job of establishing where a given X is in that series,

I'm not sure what the benefit yet another box will bring to the table. Nifboy 19:20, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

By that logic, there's no point having succession boxes anywhere in wikipedia, since your points would also cover Kings of France, Princes of Wales, American Presidents, etc. Yet we still use them in the case of real people, because they assist the reader, and the editors, in small but useful ways. That would hold equally true for articles on people in fiction. Michael Sanders 19:42, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
I get the impression that by pointing out "By that logic, there's no point having succession boxes anywhere in wikipedia" you're not making much of an impact on Nifboy... considering the sub-header he created for this section is ""Why do we even have succession boxes in the first place?". Nifboy... I understand your concerns, but succession boxes have become an established thing in wikipedia. This particular debate is about their use in fctional character pages... not their existence... if you feel so strongly... you should try to take taht cause up elsewhere. You probably may get an argument on what the definition of a "sufficiently large/notable series" is... it's subjective.--Dr who1975 20:19, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

Preceded by
Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions
Talk page debates
Succeeded by
My guess is that people didn't think of better alternatives when they first started using succession boxes. For the majority of uses, I could see succession boxes being phased out of Wikipedia, fictional or non-fictional. We have far better methods of navigation now. -- Ned Scott 20:54, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
What are these better ways? These monster nav templates are not cutting it. Neither is Template:Infobox character. - Peregrine Fisher 21:07, 9 April 2007 (UTC)
I hate monster nav templates more than I hate succession boxes, but that still does not make succession boxes acceptable. The majority of the time we can provide far better navigation in the form of list articles and categories. And that's hardly all of the options, it's just the most obvious ones. -- Ned Scott 05:02, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Because this is much more convenient than including it in an infobox:

Manual of Style/Writing about fiction/Archive 7
Born: June 19 1566 Died: March 27 1625
Preceded by
Mary I
King of Scots
July 29, 1567March 27, 1625
Succeeded by
Charles I
Lord of the Isles
July 29, 1567March 27, 1625
Preceded by
Elizabeth I
King of England
July 25, 1603March 27, 1625
King of Ireland
July 25, 1603March 27, 1625
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Lord Darnley
Duke of Albany
June 19, 1566July 29, 1567
Title next held by
Charles I
Preceded by
James Stewart
Duke of Rothesay
June 19, 1566July 29, 1567
Title next held by
Henry Stuart
(From James I of England)

And you should really be using {{s-start}}. Atropos 01:05, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Post-Script: I think the right course of action would be to remove succession information from the infobox. Atropos 01:07, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
My opinion (and it's not a vigorous one) ... info boxes are all the way at the top of the page and succession boxes are at the bottom. Why not have it in both for ease of movement.--Dr who1975 02:23, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Taking the James I of England example, though it is off-topic for this page, why not use a well-constructed paragraph to transmit the same information, in a similar style to the lead section? Something like:

James I, King of Great Britain, of the House of Stuart was born Duke of Albany and Duke of Rothesay in 1566, a year before being crowned King of Scots and Lord of the Isles in 1567. Thirty-six years later, in 1603, he was crowned King of England and King of Ireland, uniting all three countries in a personal union. In Scotland, he succeeded his mother Mary, Queen of Scots, and in England he succeeded his mother's half-sister Elizabeth I. The personal union as King of Great Britain was continued by his second son and successor, Charles I. Both James and his father Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley and King-consort of Scotland, were Dukes of Albany, James from birth until he became King of Scotland a year later, and his father from when he married James's mother, Mary, in 1565 until his murder two years later in 1567 at the age of 21, less than a year after the birth of their son James. The next Duke of Albany after James was James's second son, Charles. James was Duke of Rothesay from birth as the heir apparent to the Scottish throne, until he became King of Scotland. The previous heir apparent and Duke of Rothesay had been James Stewart, the eldest legitimate son of James V of Scotland (1512-1542), who died in 1541 just before his first birthday. The next Duke of Rothesay after James was Henry Stuart, James's eldest son who died of typhoid fever at the age of eighteen.

Though I haven't fleshed this out fully with dates, that paragraph tells us a lot more than the succession boxes, and reveals some of the interesting stories behind the bald facts. Incidentially, the James I of England article is an old featured article (from 2004) and is badly organised and flabby. I'm going to drop it off at WP:FAR. Carcharoth 02:26, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Which is why we have articles instead of just boxes. The boxes are useful, however, because the information is more accessible if I just want it quickly, which is why we have boxes. You might want to check out Mary, Queen of Scots, by the way, I think she might be a brilliant prose FA too. Atropos 02:48, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the heads up about his mother. I don't have time to nominate it tonight, but I'll mention it over at her son's FAR. As for the boxes versus prose thing, I agree boxes are good when done well. The trouble is that most people (will the best of intentions) do the boxes badly, partly, I have to say, because some people that do boxes don't really write prose that well (sorry, but I feel it is important to make that point). The succession boxes above, for example, don't give the dates of the predecession and succession for the Scottish peerage titles, and it was only by researching it that I discovered the relationships between the predecessors/successors and James, and the relevant dates. Sometimes different boxes are better as well. See Duke of Albany#Dukes of Albany, fourth Creation (1565) and Duke of Rothesay#Title Holders for examples of how the information is better organised and placed in context. The reader will learn more if directed to those articles, than from clicking around succession boxes and getting very confused. (There is also inconsistency in the dates - the Duke of Albany article shows James holding the title until he died, whereas the succession box implies he was no longer Duke of Albany after becoming King of Scotland - a classic case of what happens if you try and duplicate information without ensuring consistency - it seems that the Dukedom was only merged with the Kingship later). Carcharoth 03:01, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
I know: my function right now is to convert succession boxes to the {{s-box}} standard, and information is incredibly inconsistent, especially about peerage. In fact, I found this discussion because I wanted to standardize some simple succession boxes for a change, which is why I was doing the Law & Order ones: they're simply the position of the role they played for the years they were on the show. Atropos 03:43, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

The example article given has such bloated article navigation... It hurts to look at it. Talk about totally missing the point of nav boxes. A lot of editors get detached from how readers actually find articles and how most people navigate. -- Ned Scott 04:57, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

You mean Template:James Bond characters? I hadn't thought to really look at it. It is huge! And very, very silly. For good examples of short, to-the-point navboxes, contrast the simple navbox at top right at The History of Middle-earth with the bloated footer templates. See also the simple navbox at top right at Adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, which pulls together three articles on the topic of "After Tolkien" in a way that categories and lists can't really do. Carcharoth 05:45, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
I was talking about James I of England, but the Bond template is another example of nav-gone-wrong. -- Ned Scott 07:34, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
Could you explain why there's something wrong with that succession box? It's exactly what succession boxes are supposed to look like right now. Atropos 19:55, 10 April 2007 (UTC)
The way succession boxes are supposed to look is bulky and not always efficient or the best way. We're talking about a very simple method of navigation that can easily be done in many different ways, there's no reason to have a big ass bulky box like that. Categories, lists, and in-article links usually take care of needed navigation for such cases. Even using the succession box, the layout we use is needlessly bulky and wastes space. We could do something like:
Prev: Link Some Dude
Next: Link Next Dude
Just as an example of what I threw together right now. Hybrid succession boxes with infoboxes or nav boxes, or totally new concepts we haven't considered yet, we have a lot of nav options many people haven't considered yet. -- Ned Scott 00:39, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Hybrid succession boxes that go inside infoboxes would be good. That's probably better than in the nav boxes, although it may depend on the situation. - Peregrine Fisher 00:46, 11 April 2007 (UTC)
Nonetheless, that would be a story for another day. It would first be more helpful to simply get the navigational aids of fictional articles in line with those of factual articles: i.e. succession boxes for relevant positions. Michael Sanders 00:49, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Oppose Apart from the above arguments (no in-universe use and not for fictional characters), most of the Highlander pages that had succession boxes are about minor characters and should not exist in the first place. Maybe that's the real problem. Thanks. Rosenknospe 12:27, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Qualified Support - They can be useful for navigation and as info summaries, the MOS doesn't have to be all yes or all no, something like 'should only be used where a real life equivalent would also be used, and others linked only where there more than one incumbent is notable. --Nate 23:37, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Support for retaining succession boxes. I have read the above, in fact undecided what to say. I have seen some succession boxes which I considered nonsensical, and others which just do not fit the nature of the information, for example where the same character yo-yos with someone else in that position, or where there is no real 'position' at all. However the argument above which most convinced me they should be kept is the suggestion that they lead to fancruft. I'm sorry, but that is what all these articles are. The whole *** encyclopedia is written by fans of one thing or another, and using this perjoratively about a particular subject is unacceptable. Particularly on a page proposing policies about fiction where it is particularly the case that everything is written by fans of the particular subject. People have argued that not having a firm ban will allow people to create unreasonable boxes. I am certain that the reverse will be true. People will argue for the deletion of all such boxes on the basis of the weakest phrased rule. As to the suggestion that they lead to in-universe writing, well thats fine. Phrasing a box 'the author wrote Frodo as ring bearer', instead of 'Ringbearer: Frodo' is just using 7 words instead of two to say the same thing and is just plain bad style of writing. Sandpiper 08:18, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Fans or not, we're not here to create a fan reference but a reptuable and well-written encyclopedia. Over-enthusiastic fancruft does not lead us to that goal. And without a firm ban people have already written such unreasonable boxes. That's why we're having this discussion in the first place.
And no, it's not fine to have in-universe style. The Ringbearer succession box is an example of a particularly unreasonable box. The fact that Frodo was one is sure to be mentioned in the article. When he reads that, a reasonable reader is not going to think, "Hmm, I wonder who the Ringbearer before him was?" TCC (talk) (contribs) 20:13, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
If a box is nonsense, then I don't see why editors can't be trusted to remove it. If they havn't, then I presume they do not consider it to be nonsense. Wiki is written by consensus. What you are saying is that you know better how to create fiction articles than do the people actually writing those articles. If people were not creating lots of boxes, presumably because they think they benefit an article, we would not be having this debate. This is unnecessary instruction creep. I would also remind you that all articles are written by fans. Are you saying wiki editing should be banned? Sandpiper 21:10, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I have to say that what is written on the project page right now is nonsense. 'fiction editors may choose to rewrite cannon'? Yes, of course they may, but this is true of absolutely any article. 'Known' facts change in every topic. Then editors change the articles to match. A nonsensical debate about fiction being written in the continuous present? That really has more to do with a style choice of how to present it in wiki articles, than about the works themselves. Real life is lived in the continuous present, but we all seem to get by and understand that some 'present' is 'past', and other is 'future'. It is frankly absurd to say that a story does not have a chronology which every reader easily understands and would have absolutely no difficulty placing certain events as earlier, and others later. If there is no 'continuity' (whatever that means?) then presumably sensible editors will notice that, and consider a succession box inappropriate. Sandpiper 21:22, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
The only reasonable objection to SBs I've seen so far is that they lead to cruft. Maybe we should just add a note saying that items in the SBs should not be redlinked? - Peregrine Fisher 21:25, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Despite having read the article on fancruft quite recently, I'm not sure I understand what the phrase 'that they lead to cruft' means. Do you mean, that they encourgae people to create articles which no one would think to start except that the topic appears redlinked in a succession box? Sandpiper 22:02, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Yes, that certainly happens. Extremely minor characters who do not on their own merit an article wind up with one just in order to complete a line of succession for the boxes. But the boxes themselves are often fancruft, with fans designating "successions" that are not that at all in the ordinary sense of the word. I've even seen a box for an "office" that had only a single occupant. TCC (talk) (contribs) 22:19, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
I understand your point, but its rather like banning knives. Would save a lot of stabbing, but difficult to eat lunch. It also doesn't change the fact that what is writen in the project to justify a ban right now is a load of nonsense, and doesn't remotely explain the reasoning which you are presenting to me here. Sandpiper 22:43, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Ah, but this is exactly where you are wrong (no offense). This is a guideline; advice for most of the time, if not the vast majority of the time. All guidelines are subject to reasonable exemption. There is no ban, but we are going to advise most of the people most of the time to not use succession boxes, because most of the time they don't help navigation, they lead to crufty articles, and the succession is usually insignificant. Not a ban, just advice for most of the time. -- Ned Scott 06:18, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
I was answering your question, not arguing in favor of the current wording of the guideline. If it needs to be changed to reflect better reasons than the rather weak ones already present, then I'm all for it. TCC (talk) (contribs) 00:06, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
The case for banning succession boxes seems to me much better than the case for banning knives. But I have absolutely no truck fo the creation of anything on wiki which is as inaccurate and POV as this guideline is currently. I noticed that my comments on the existing text were echoed by others further up the page. If people want something supported then it needs to be supportable. Whatever happened to 'cite sources' NPOV, Verifiability? They seem to have gone wholly out the window in the 'article' based upon the primary source of this talk page. The reason the guideline as it stands is widely flouted is because, as it is worded, it does not make sense. It reads entirely as though it was written by someone intent to propagandise the removal of 'fancruft'. Since it is supposed to be helpfull to, and reflect the views of, 'fans' writing 'cruft' about fiction, it fails miserably. Which probably shows I hate inaccuracy a lot more than I do banning things. This is becoming a rant, but my conclusion from the debate is that excising the whole section discouraging succession boxes would be better than what is there now. If people want something else as a compromise then it needs to set out clearly in what circumstances such boxes are ridiculous, and in what circumstances they make sense. Sandpiper 06:41, 14 April 2007 (UTC)
A good point. Sometimes frustration from dealing with such issues comes across in the text of a guideline, which gives the text an aggressive and sometimes offending feeling to it. While NPOV doesn't directly apply to Project pages, it could help us to say the same thing, but with some different words. -- Ned Scott 03:48, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Strongly Support: I am one of the leaders of Wikipedia:WikiProject Succession Box Standardization and I wholeheartedly believe that all pages that represent a succession should merit a succession box at the footer of the page. Why do only "real" pages deserve this right? The logic of this entire argument makes no sense to me, much less does the fact that something that is not in OUR universe does not deserve a succession box. Now I understand the problem of using OUR dating terminology to designate fictional dates, but ultimately, the point of the succession box is to represent a continuation. Now I have been shot down twice in trying to add the religious title "Sith" to the Template:s-rel due to the guidelines and rules of this style, but I disagree with it completely. If an individual, real or fantasy, deserves a succession box, then why deprive the page and the reader from having that helpful continuous thread? I don't know if this discussion is even alive still, but from what I was reading, I counted much more supports than oppose in this discussion and fully believe that succession boxes should not be restricted to those pages that represent in-universe references.
Whaleyland ( TalkContributions ) 22:49, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

Strong support: I believe this guideline should have been long changed to reflect the progress of this debate (I shall not say "outcome", since the debate seems to have been abandoned without anyone bothering drawing a conclusion). I shall analyse my reasoning below, and I hope you will be kind enough to spare a few minutes to read it.

First of all, I do not understand the thinking behind this: "For articles about works of fiction themselves, the story that each work of fiction depicts does not change despite the continuation of stories across serial works or sequels, and as a consequence, the events within one work of fiction are always in the present whenever it is read, watched, or listened to."

I find this to be at least ridiculous. If we were to say the same thing for the real world, it would practically mean that, as long as one is reading a book about the history of the colonisation of Australia, Sydney is still a convict colony! And before anyone says that the real world is completely different from a fictional world, I ask you all to think of the differences between a well-written fictional universe like the one in The Lord of the Rings and the real world. As far as I know, the LotR universe is internally consistent and there is a clear continuity within it, showing plainly and unambiguously the precise order in which things have happened. This is exactly what we should care about about if we are to consider the implications of the use of succession boxes, and the fact that it is fictional has little to do with it, both because Wikipedia does have articles about fiction, and because it is, indeed, notable. For crying out loud, even the accepted history of our world has sometimes been proven to be different than what people had known from centuries, or just too ambiguous for something to be said with certainty. When history itself cannot be said to be finished (and it will never be) or certain (we all know history is written by winners), I find no reason why any doubt should be cast on the legitimacy of histories that have been written by authors who it is only common sense to say that had definitely had in mind the need to make them understood by the people that would read them?

And it is not just LotR. There are many examples of fictional universes in which there is continuity, and in these cases it is perfectly reasonable to assume that events have followed a certain order. It is not like the author is still revising a novel or a film is still in the cutting room. And even if a change does happen, we can always adjust not just the relevant articles or templates, but everything that is affected. This is one of the great powers of Wikipedia: adjustability—I find no reason to ignore it for the sake of the argument.

Something which, by the way, does not only happen with this concept of Wikipedia. The spectre of vandalism has been consistently used as a scarecrow for the dismissal of propositions due to their purported vulnerability against it. I thought every Wikipedian that is not a vandal and is a part of this conversation has enough experience to acknowledge that vandalism is a constant threat against everything that has to do with this Project. Things are taken for granted when they must not; have you already forgotten that administrator accounts have been hijacked and used to delete the Main Page itself? Unless we protect every article and template, vandalism is a continuous threat, and since we cannot possibly do that, we must adjust ourselves. One would think that we would have already adjusted. We just need to keep moving on, and take some precautions, but we must also accept, finally, that we are going to live with vandalism for as long as we are here, and when it happens, we will be ready to revert it at once. The infrastructure is there, and I find no reason to make vandals an obstacle in the progress of this, or any other part of Wikipedia—it will be like helping vandals stop us.

And, of course, the same thing can be said for innocent editing ignorance, which I do not believe can be any more destructive than deliberate vandalism. If we know how to clean up after vandals, there should be no problem with contributors who act in good faith. All we need to do is instruct them properly. And I assure you all that there is this infrastructure as well. WikiProject Succession Box Standardization (SBS) has put full, clear, detailed guidelines in place (the page can be found here) and simply referring succession box editors to this page can produce a slowly but steadily expanding wave of knowledge and responsibility. The very purpose of our project is to make sure that succession boxes look as they ought to and are used as and when they are supposed to, and we are there to solve any problems that might come up. Since there are people who know enough and care enough to help, I find no reason why you should not trust those people to regulate what they are supposed to be experts in.

There are, of course, those people who do not believe that succession boxes are of any use whatsoever. They seem to consider them redundant, useless, an unnecessary burden. I say to them that succession boxes are one of the few templates to have so many different uses. In the draft of the new main page for SBS, I write that:

"Succession boxes are templates that serve as navigational aids in a wide variety of articles, mostly biographies. Placed at the bottom of their respective articles, they show three people (or, in some cases, other entities, such as states, organisations, subway stations etc.) that are part of a well-defined chain of succession, namely (from left to right) the subject of the article in question, their predecessor and their successor.

"Succession boxes can visibly improve an article in several ways. Firstly, they offer an overview of a person's career through the titles said person has held throughout their life. Secondly, they gather and categorise all of the person's official titles in a form easy to understand. Thirdly, they offer dynastic information about monarchs (and sometimes family information as well), information which is usually not given in their articles.

"There are also several advantages of succession boxes that are not limited to the individual articles: they offer the ability to a person to follow a chain of succession, clicking their way from incumbent to incumbent, or to go straight to the article of the title, where they should be able to find a list of all of the title's holders; also, they can better illustrate cases of a change in a title's name, joined offices having passed down from/to the same person, and cases where a person has held an office multiple times."

I am pretty certain that no other template can perform all these functions at the same time and in such a simple to create, modify, and understand format. And if so many people seem to value succession boxes enough to add them to thousands of articles, both about real-world people and entities, and in fictional ones, I find no reason to believe that they should be removed just because a few people fail to see their benefits.

And, even if some people do recognise the usefulness of succession boxes, they insist that they must not be used for fictional characters, not necessarily because they support the other views already mentioned, but because they claim that a succession box will confuse people into believing that the person in question is, actually, real. As if there are no succession chains in fictional universes (and I do not mean them in the Wikipedia sense). As if the most important fictional characters, which would be the ones with the most prominent succession boxes, would not already be known by many of our readers? As if the links in succession boxes do not lead people to the top of any article, where it clearly says that the character examined in that article is fictional. As if any succession box for fictional characters has not been accessed by an article about a fictional character, which has probably already been read, or at least been given a look long enough to tell the reader that the character has never walked amongst us? I find no reason to believe that we have built this whole encyclopaedia on idiots, and a person who believes such a thing does not, in my opinion, deserve to be a member of our community.

Shall I continue? It seems to me that I have already started becoming tiring. What I want to say is this: do you really believe this guideline is important, well-reasoned, and necessary enough to warrant its stifling some of the very concepts that brought Wikipedia where it now stands, namely the importance of consensus, the absence of bureaucracy, and the relevance and adjustability of its rules? I ask this question to all that are interested in the matter, and here I rest my case. Waltham, The Duke of 09:49, 26 July 2007 (UTC)

Support: I'm geeky / wonky enough to like that sort of meticulously organized stuff, whether it's about fact or fiction. *Dan T.* 22:35, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

Oppose: Often the succession boxes will not contain enough information to make it worthwhile, I have seen many cases where they have been used for only two people, and hence will only clutter up the articles, something I am firmly against. Also, even though I am aware this is only being considered for specific cases, if you give die-hard fiction fans an inch, they will take a mile; once they see that succession boxes can be used in fiction, we will end up with no end of ridiculous succession boxes. Succession boxes are not for fiction. Period. asyndeton 00:34, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

An afterthought, as I may have been unclear; even if the succession boxes have more than two occupants, that does not make it alright to keep them. Also I think they are ugly. asyndeton 00:36, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose By its very nature, almost all fiction is limited in the amount of information provided that could possibly be relevant to succession boxes. While this may not be the case with, say, Star Wars (which has a very rich and extensive universe), it is with most series, for instance Harry Potter. For instance there are rarely more than two or three people known to have held a specific position, job, etc. Including a SB in these articles in unnecessary and hurts aesthetics. Faithlessthewonderboy 01:18, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose - for the reasons descibed above by Asyndeton and Faithlessthewonderboy. I don't oppose succession boxes; I simply oppose them being used where they aren't appropriate. There just isn't enough information or noteworthiness in the stories to justify succession boxes for the Harry Potter articles. We have family trees, and I think that's enough. You add a succession box, and people are going to balk at the empty spaces and add OR and cruft and small fuzzy bunnies named Bertram if given the remotest of opportunities. - Arcayne (cast a spell) 01:29, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Spoilers: Academic Culture vs. Internet Culture

Hi, I briefly got into the debate concerning spoiler warnings and have been referred here. It's a thorny problem because, on the one hand, (a) full plot synopses do have a place on wikipedia (b) the disclaimer page states that wikipedia contains spoilers. However, on the other hand, the wikipedia page often shows up as one of the first hits on a search for e.g. a movie, and those who are not indoctrinated into wikipedia culture will have works spoiled for them. They may be googling for reviews to judge whether to spend their money, for instance. These people cannot be expected to first click the disclaimers link at the bottom of the page, then read the article.

This clearly requires some sensitivity if wikipedia is to deliver on its goal of being a comprehensive, academic-quality reference work whilst at the same time being a responsible 'netizen'.

I have a couple of suggestions:

  1. When the plot of a fictional work is explained including spoilers, the section should be called "Plot" or "Synopsis", not "Plot summary". The inclusion of "summary" allows for the possiblity that spoilers have been removed from the summary, whereas "Plot" is stronger, and sounds very final. Here is the plot, period.
  2. There is a place for a "Plot Outline" in the IMDB style, i.e. that recite the setup but do not spoil the conflict-resolution plot points.
  3. If such a section is included it should appear before the Plot section.
  4. Spoilers should be kept out of the article lead.
  5. It is usually unnecessary to recite the entire plot of a work without adding information.

I believe these will allow wikipedia to combine the functions of (a) an imdb-style resource for those considering whether or not they would be interested in a particular work, (b) a more complete academic-style reference work (c) a responsible netizen.

I would like to see something in the guidelines that encourage editors to be sensitive to the casual visitor regarding spoilers, given that the Spoiler Warning debate seems to be settling down on the answer that spoiler warnings are usually not appropriate. Opinions? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Sweavo (talkcontribs).

You make an excellent point. Dr Aaron 14:37, 1 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, and sorry about not signing. What's the protocol here? I feel too shy to go ahead and update the policy, though I might feel braver another day. I'd like to see some dialog here first. Any other takers? Sweavo 13:35, 3 August 2007 (UTC)
I don't think it's a good idea for this guideline to take a position one way or the other regarding spoilers until the main debate has been settled. Then, we should simply reflect what the outcome was there. For example, spoilers being kept out of the lead is a contentious issue, especially with works of fiction whose notoriety or fame rests on such spoilers (such as The Sixth Sense or The Crying Game). Has the spoiler debate settled down yet? I've been away on vacation and haven't checked it since I got back. — Brian (talk) 00:47, 4 August 2007 (UTC)
The debate seems to be about spoiler warnings rather than spoilers per se. I don't see the debate settling down anytime soon, and certainly don't have the time or energy to work with the parties to resolve their issues. However, this suggestion is not about spoiler warnings, but about codifying in the writers' guidelines a sensitivity to the gamut of readers. You raise interesting cases with those two movies and can see that works like that would have to be accommodated in any policy. Sweavo 12:36, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
I don't see there is any way you can write a guideline which excludes spoiler information from articles. The best solution might be to place the plot synopsis last in an article, rather than first (after the introduction) as it frequently is. This still means that people may read a very important plot point being discussed in the text, but it might make it easier for them to simply read the introduction and bail out. I don't think what you describe as an imdb write up, more a taster to get people interested, would do for a plot description. Wiki is here to pass on information, not hide it. I have always thought that spoiler warnings are a bit redundant. No one should be seeking internet information randomly if they don't want to find the answers, and people ought to learn this as a fact of life. That is not to say I think editors should be heedless of unsuspecting readers, but in the end the article should contain information thought relevant. Sandpiper 16:09, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Fictional article tenses

This is simply a question and request since I can't find the answer in this guideline. I was just wondering if we could elaborate more on fictional article tenses. I see how we could use present tense for fictional articles where the story (or whatever) is still in production, but what about series that are over (aside from yet to be released film adaptations)? I just think that using present tense for stories that are over with somewhat makes the article sound like your not writing from OOU, so it contradicts everything that you stand for on writing in OOU. Just a thought. Actually the reason I'm here is because I'm having an minor edit war on a fictional character article where the series is over, and the person that I'm warring with keeps reverting to a present tense and directing me to this guideline. --VorangorTheDemon 21:47, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

This particular question of tenses seems to be coming up in other fiction articles as well; see, for instance, Talk:Arrested Development (TV series)#Tense?. Maybe the MoS needs to be explicit about this issue. As for the issue itself, my comment here has some examples that seem to support using the present tense (two "exemplary articles" that are not-currently-in-production series: The Adventures of Tintin and Red vs. Blue, and current FAs about not-currently-in-production television series: Cheers and Firefly (TV series)). Iknowyourider (t c) 22:05, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
I think that it already does address this. See WP:WAF#Contextual presentation: "By convention, [plot] synopses should be written in the present tense, as this is the way that the story is experienced as it is read or viewed. At any particular point in the story there is a 'past' and a 'future', but whether something is 'past' or 'future' changes as the story progresses. It is simplest to recount the entire description as continuous 'present'." Tense doesn't have to do with whether a series is still current, but rather where the action is occurring relative to the current point in the story. — TKD::Talk 22:25, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
TDK is right. Writing plot synopses (which is essentially what character writeups are as well) is done in present tense; that's just the scholarly convention. If you look hard enough, you can find exceptions here and there, but the perpetual present is much more common in such contexts. Where this gets hairy is with serialized fiction such as comic books and soap operas, but even these can be handled deftly with a few real-world references here and there to establish when in the real-world timeline of the series something was shown. For example, "Federia is a strong fighter and loyal friend. In the first season of the series, she is unsure of her powers and abilities; in fact, she accidentally kills her friend Blanne in combat. As the series progresses, however, she gains confidence and strength. Blah blah blah . . . " That's just a made-up, on-the-fly example, so you can no doubt do better; the point is that even for long-running characters, real-world references can help keep the perpetual present tense from sounding stilted. — Brian (talk) 22:44, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

I don't believe VorangorTheDemon was talking about writing plot summaries or writing the in-universe action. My read was that the issue in contention is how to describe the series itself, e.g. "Arrested Development is a character-driven comedy" versus "Arrested Development was a character-driven comedy", or, to apply this to Brian's on-the-fly example, "As the series progresses" versus "As the series progressed" (see, for instance, this diff, or this diff). I wholeheartedly agree that the MoS well-addresses the issue of the tense used for in-universe material. Cheers, Iknowyourider (t c) 04:21, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

I think it applies across the board. Arrested Development is still in existence; my friend owns it on DVD. You wouldn't say that the Mona Lisa was a painting; it is a painting and will remain one until such time as it is completely destroyed (at which point it will still exist in copies and digital media). So, if you're talking about the fundamental qualities of the series or action on screen, use present tense. However, if you are referring to things that happened in the real world, you might need to use past tense: "As the series gained popularity, Fox moved it to a better timeslot," or "Episode 34 was directed by Ellen DeGeneres." I admit that this gets quite hairy, especially when talking about actors portaying characters (since their portayal is preserved with the series itself) . . . . — Brian (talk) 05:54, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree. Thanks, you expressed those thoughts better than I could. Iknowyourider (t c) 06:20, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
There is a place for past tense, however. It is sometimes necessary to make a distinction between the 'present' events on page 123 and the past events referred to on page 123 which are supposed to have happened previously. I tend to think of it as bumping up the tense one place. 'had gone to' becomes 'went to', 'went to' becomes 'goes to'. Sandpiper 16:17, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

Template:s-fic test for rules, guidelines, and policy change

The following pages have had a succession box using Template:s-fic and Template:s-ref included to indicate in-universe relationships. These pages are using the succession box as a test for these templates and for the reimplementation of succession boxes within fictional articles as expressed in the discussion above. While the proposal has passed, its implementation still awaits votes, guidelines, and the official policy change. Please reply with what you think of the succession boxes, what could change, and what guidelines should be created to track and monitor the succession boxes in fictional articles thus to insure they are following the proper guidelines. The pages currently undergoing testing are:

Please review and comment. I am aware that the current policy is that succession boxes are not allowed for in-universe references and this proposal is attempting to bring that issue to light and present a solution. While voting alone does not produce policy, I would like this proposal and these examples to act as a springboard for discussion, with the hope that the policy can be modified to allow for succession boxes for at least some in-universe titles. Thank you and I look forward to your comments and this discussion!
Whaleyland ( TalkContributions ) 21:19, 20 August 2007 (UTC)

I've asked that the editor revert the succession boxes fromthe above articles, so as to avoid the impression that (s)he want to slip them in and claim them as a fait accompli policy change. Give Kuatof a chance to explain why the policy should allow for this, whithout shooting down the policy proposal immediately. - Arcayne (cast a spell) 01:05, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

New Policy Proposal Concerning Succession Boxes

Ladies and gentlemen of the WAF community, it has come to my attention that efforts to implement the agreed upon proposal above have come to naught. Discussions with multiple members within a growing number of projects have reverted my attempts to begin this policy reversal due to the simple policy of WAF that states it is not allowed. I have reviewed the vast majority of arguments both for and against in-universe succession boxes above and would like to decide once and for all if this policy can and will change. I have created (and survived a deletion attempt) Template:s-fic as a way to ensure the in-universeness of the template. I have also appended a s-ref template to the bottom of the succession box with a disclaimer for the dates. The template I hadfor Severus Snape appeared as thus:

{{s-bef|before= [[Horace Slughorn]]}}
{{s-ttl|title= [[Potions]] [[Professor]] at [[Hogwarts]]|years=1981 – 1996}}
{{s-aft|after=[[Horace Slughorn]]}}
{{s-bef|before= [[Dolores Umbridge]]}}
{{s-ttl|title= [[Defense Against the Dark Arts]]<br />[[Professor]] at [[Hogwarts]]|years=1996 – 1997}}
{{s-aft|after=[[Amycus Carrow]]}}
{{s-bef|before=[[Minerva McGonagall]] (Acting)}}
{{s-ttl|title=[[Headmaster]] of [[Hogwarts]]|years=1997 – 1998}}
{{s-aft|after=[[Minerva McGonagall]]}}
{{s-ref|All dates are within the [[Harry Potter series]] and have no direct correlation with real world dates.}}

Now despite the color, this succession box presents a list of three facts directly related to Snape that are in no place obvious on the page easy to find. In addition, it points out that he in fact held three titles, that of Potions professor, Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, and Headmaster at Hogwarts. Finally, it points out who came before and after him, something the page may or may not make clear. The other four successive headmasters had similar succession boxes, all arranged in such a way to make the titles and succession easy to follow.

Hundreds of articles on Wikipedia currently use succession boxes. I should know, I have organized them for the past two and a half years, converting them from an old HTML style to a more modern and flexible wiki-favoured code. Fictional pages never used to be an issue and I liked those days. I miss being able to go to Albus Dumbledore and see a list of titles he once held and those who followed and proceeded him. In the same way, I would miss the loss of a succession list from any of the Kings and Queens of England for the same reason. They provide continuity between the pages. One user told me that the fact that Count Dooku succeeded Darth Maul is irrelevant to the Darth Maul article, and I disagree. Any continuity is good to note, especially when something like a title is at stake. Succession boxes provide that in a simple little box that you can press the "end" button for and be guaranteed to see on most articles on titled people. I am well aware that there are other ways to put succession on pages, but does anyone really want the mess of infoboxes on Louis XVIII of France's page. As an example, it has a full chronology of all French monarchs (found linked at the title King of France in the succession box), a list of all pretenders to the French throne (unneccessary as he was part of a series of two, both found in his succession box), and a list of Legitimist pretenders to the French throne (of which, he was not in fact because he was the only legitimate pretender unlike today). The redundancy is obvious and the disorganization is clear.

I propose that succession boxes be allowed for in-universe titles as long as some guidelines are established:

  1. Titles must have at least five known people in the succession (and they MUST BE successive)
  2. The succession box must have the fictional header at the top (even above s-hou) and a s-ref below disclaiming dates
  3. Succession box must appear on all pages that fit within the succession
  4. Out of universe succession boxes (perhaps outlining the chronology of a series) are to remain disconnected physically from an in-universe succession box.
  5. No dates, whether in-universe or without, will be wikilinked (as per WP:SBS guidelines)

Thus in my example above for Snape, the title of potions professor would be removed because there are only three known people in the succession.

With these rules (and perhaps others proposed), I feel that succession boxes will avoid infobox sprawl and dominance, but at the same time allow editors and users to navigate more fluidly throughout the mainspace. This is only a proposal, but it is an issue that has been left unresolved too long and I want to finally resolve it. Please discuss. Thank you!
Whaleyland ( TalkContributions ) 02:13, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

In my mind, the problem is that the succession boxes, as a prominent navigation aid, put undue emphasis on in-universe relationships and (possibly) on minor characters whose purpose is mostly backstory filler. Remember, it's just another way of re-organizing fictional material. Succession boxes give no indication of whether the predecessor or successor is a major or minor character, or whether the line of succession being depicted is important to the plot or not. Ideally, we should be focusing on the development and impact of the fiction in the real world, not different ways to present pieces of the plot (especially with as little context as succession boxes give).
Now if you actually have to explain a hierarchy as complex as that surrounding Louis XVIII in order to present anything remotely digestable to the reader in terms of basic plot summary, you have a case for some sort of diagramming. But my experience is that this would be a rare exception. — TKD::Talk 03:15, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
We must try and keep in mind that the succession box is a navigational aid, and does not substitute the article content; I do not believe that even a moderately well-written article will deceive its readers into misinterpreting any fictional character's actual notability within the fictional universe. And one ought to not forget that the succession box is at the bottom of the article, not at the top—and even when one clicks on a link inside a succession box, the top of the page appears rather than the bottom.
In addition, a succession box does not emphasise as much on the importance of the character rather than on the importance of the title; the importance of the character is more accurately shown by the size of the succession box, and if there are proper rules put in place then it can be ensured that only the really important titles shall be given right to exist in (any) succession boxes.
Now, the raison d'être of succession boxes is not to include as much information as possible, neither is it to force the reader to draw any conclusions. It is to give a certain amount of basic and useful information that is concentrated and easily read and understood; some of the things that succession boxes are most adept in are cases of title name changes, multiple/joint predecessors/successors in offices, and multiple tenures in specific offices. They not only allow the readers to easily navigate from article to article but they also give a general image of continuity and help them put the article's subject in its proper place within the (in this case fictional) universe's place. Succession boxes do not describe the plot as much as being the cohesive glue of its elements. And I do not understand why such small (in case of insignificant characters) or larger (in important characters, where they are more acceptable anyway) boxes that are placed, I repeat, at the end of articles, should be considered to draw elsewhere essential resources from the community (and there is a dedicated project to take care of them anyway) or to detract from the articles' value.
Or to place undue importance on the in-universe perspective. After all, fictional characters are connected to other fictional characters, not to any real ones. I mean, there is so much one can say about a fictional character's "real world implications". Maybe this is the point of view that has been overly emphasised? Waltham, The Duke of 07:58, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
As a very large, comprehensive, yet general-interest encyclopedia, Wikipedia has tried to take the stance that we should be describing characters clearly as fictional artifacts that are the creations of real-world people. Plot summary is important and necessary, but it should be subservient to other information; WP:NOT#PLOT makes this explicit. In-universe relationships are really a form of non-linear plot summary, because they re-tell the fiction, just not necessarily in the order that they appear in the original work. Succession boxes are a visual substitute for describing these relationships with prose. They are prone to placing undue importance on the relationship because they tell the reader that the line of succession is important, that he/she should care to navigate along that line of succession, without explaining why or adding any real-world context (in a fictional universe that spans multiple works, which ones are involved?, etc.). This is inconsistent with this guideline's goal of maintaining an overall real-world perspective. Remember, we're not supposed to treat fiction as a pseudo-historical account, but in-universe succession boxes validate the latter. Again, the fact that they're detached from the rest of the article obscures the meaning and importance of the relationship, at least to the casual reader. — TKD::Talk 00:17, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Query: What if one or more of the known people in the succession are non-notable? For example, names exist in the Star Wars fiction for the emperors who succeeded Palpatine and the monarchs and senators who preceeded and suceeded Padmé Amidala, but in my opinion few of them are notable enough for their own article. This may be the case for a rather large number of characters in other fictional works as well. Dmoon1 03:21, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
In this case there can be lists of minor characters just like in the Harry Potter universe; succession boxes can then be placed at the end of the relevant sections. If these are indeed minor characters, the boxes shall rarely have more than one or two lines and shall thus be discrete enough not to annoy with their presence. Waltham, The Duke of 07:58, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
Mind you there is no rule against adding a succession list within an article that is subdivided between many minor characters. The succession of Sith titles may not have passed to anyone notable for a while, but the predecessors of Palpatine and Vader are notable and the late successors, Jacen Solo and Lumiya, are both notable now in the expanded universe. Regarding Padme, that is why I proposed the five successive titles rule: because titles that have at least five known successors are probably more prominent even if one individual is not. I am not against at all allowing some individuals in a succession chain to be minor characters, as long as at least some of the individuals are major.
Whaleyland ( TalkContributions ) 04:15, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

I agree very much with what TKD said. The argument that factoids regarding successions etc are not easy to find in the content body of the article doesn't hold insofar as they should be just as prominently represented as they are of import within the respective work of fiction. If in some case the succession itself is a notable feature of the plot and has been specifically covered in reliable, published secondary sources, it may warrant a section or maybe even an article of its own. If not, then it shouldn't be over-produced by placing succession boxes. Please understand that in that respect, WP:UNDUE speaks largely against the use of succession boxes in almost all cases, since succession boxes place undue emphasis on a more or less minor detail. It's not about the boxes being an "annoyance", but of them giving undue weight to minor details — i.e., compared to other aspects within the story, but particularly compared to real world aspects of the work of fiction, like e.g. its writing style etc. In articles about works of fiction —in contrast to the fictional universe in which they are taking place— succession is practically never an important feature, not to say one of the least important.
(As kind of an aside, please don't forget that we generally must not write about the fictional universe itself unless there are specific references for that (see WP:NOR and esp. WP:PSTS). That's why I am opposed to articles about individual characters in the first place, unless there are reliable, published secondary sources that specifically discuss this particular character or that particular homeworld/starship/gadget. In the case of Darth Vader this is not a hindrance, but in many other cases it definitely is. This alone goes against policy, and the attempt to "validate" this de jure (and in in my opinion de facto) malpractice by establishing the use of succession boxes is a bad idea.)
Also, seeing as the petitioner, User:KuatofKDY/Whaleyland has been arguing for and trying to implement this change several times already, I'd like to ask him in turn, whether he is ready to accept either outcome of this discussion, which includes e.g. honestly trying to understand the multifaceted validity of reservations other editors have with regard to succession boxes in fiction articles. In my opinion, the idea of succession boxes as proposed here goes so much against the grain that it'd take several major changes to policy and possibly even the general philosophy of Wikipedia before I could accept them. Maybe a proposal at the village pump with regard to writing about fictional universes and aspects thereof could help to further clarify the course of action to be taken here.
KuatofKDY, please don't take this the wrong way: you are obviously a huge Star Wars fan, with an in-universe inspired username (Kuat Drive Yards), but maybe some of your input would be more appropriate and better appreciated at Wookieepedia (i.e. if you're not yet active there). —AldeBaer 12:34, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose I appreciate your position much more since you've laid out the "ground rules" for when SB would be used. However, per #1, you've pretty much proved my point that in most cases there simply isn't enough known to justify using them. I can't think of a single instance in the Harry Potter universe where we know of five successive holders of the same office (with the exception of DADA professor). If SB are included in fictional character articles, there will undoubtedly be a huge increase in cruft and speculation. For instance, with your Snape boxes, do we know that Slughorn immediately preceded Snape as Potions prof? It's a reasonable assumption, but it's just that: an assumption. Therefore, I Strongly Oppose using succession boxes in articles on fictional characters. Faithlessthewonderboy 22:40, 21 August 2007 (UTC)
  • 'Strong Oppose - Aldebaer and Faithless pretty much decided the matte for me. The succession boxes aren't needed here. - Arcayne (cast a spell) 03:01, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
    • "They" being Faithless and me, or succession boxes in fiction articles? —AldeBaer 13:48, 22 August 2007 (UTC) Nevermind. —AldeBaer 13:52, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Oops, I meant the succession boxes (and altered my comment accordingly). You and Faithless are essential. :) - Arcayne (cast a spell) 17:22, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
It's always nice to be appreciated. :) Faithlessthewonderboy 10:34, 23 August 2007 (UTC)

Info boxes

When you make a list of something, such as family members, in an infobox, should the individual items be delimited by commas or should a <br> be inserted to separate out two entries, such as here. Also, again using the Jack Bauer example, should the status and relation of family members be given? asyndeton 17:08, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

I'm not really sure it should be in the infobox. Infoboxes are really just for quick, at a glance info. -- Ned Scott 03:54, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
That's very interesting. Well if someone else agrees with you, I will take that as consensus and remove them. asyndeton 14:28, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm inclined to agree, but please wait for others to weigh in. My opinion on the issue may be biased since I'm generally opposed to substituting text with boxes or tables where it can be avoided. —AldeBaer 17:10, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
OK, I'll wait for a few more views on the matter. asyndeton 17:15, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
I like the look of the infobox, and can see the validity of keeping it, especially for the complex subject, like Jack Bauer, where his majorly-dysfunctional family has served as the crucible for an entire season. I think that if it isn't meant to replace but supplement info in the article, then it should be kept. - Arcayne (cast a spell) 17:35, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Though this isn't related to my original post, a good reason for removing lists like family from the infobox can be found at the Claire Bennet article. It's quite hard to deny that this one has spiralled out of control, and is no loner succinct. asyndeton 20:42, 22 August 2007 (UTC)
Also, while Arcayne is right that Jack Bauer's family has basicaly carried the plot of at least two or three series, and been important to the others, this is not true for most other characters. We could make a family tree, like for the Weasley family, and replace it with that; but character's whose family is not important, can have that section purged from the infobox. :) asyndeton 13:57, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. - Arcayne (cast a spell) 18:34, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
I'm glad we are in agreement. I'm taking this as consensus and am going to evict 'Family' from the 24 infobox. asyndeton 23:00, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
Done and done. But on going through all those many pages, my original question popped up again, thought in a different form; taking Audrey Raines as the example this time, her spouse is listed as 'Paul Raines (Separated) (Deceased)'. Should his medical and marital, with relation to Audrey, status be mentioned afterwards? Personally I say no; they make the infobox look untidy and for most characters you can find out by looking at the respective spouse's article. asyndeton
Turns out there was already a family tree - makes my life a bit easier! asyndeton 19:22, 25 August 2007 (UTC)


Hate to bring all my 24 problems here, but the 24 community is fairly inactive right now. A while back, we had a big discussion here about character allegiances for the Harry Potter world. Eventually, we decided to get rid of them, mainly on the basis of them being subjective. I would like to know if the same argument applies to character affiliations in the 24 world. If so, please confirm and I shall get to work on them. ;) asyndeton 21:19, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Can you summarize that debate so we know what the consensus was over there? I'm unclear on what you're asking about specifically. Do you mean to ask whether we should include an entry called "Affiliations" in a character's infobox? I would say no, since such an entry only makes sense in a fictional world with strict us-vs-them dichotomy. It might work in Star Wars, for example, but falls apart in 24 where Jack Bauer is chased by CTU as often as he works for them. — Brian (talk) 22:50, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
You're right, I am asking if we should include 'Affiliations' in the infobox. It was a while a go, so I'm a tad sketchy on the details. The main argument against was that they were subjective and many were quite ridiculous - in HP, as well as 24, infoboxes people were allied to/affiliated with their spouses, boy/girlfriends, friends, places of employment (disregarding their feelings towards it) etc. I don't recall a particular argument for keeping them - I think it was mainly that they were already there and people felt that they were necessary to show whether a character is a 'goodie' or a 'badie' - for this one WP:WAF was cited, saying it would be allowed as HP contained warring factions.
I wasn't around for the final decision, but I believe it was just because they were felt to be OR. asyndeton 23:43, 26 August 2007 (UTC)


I'd like to get some more opinions on some character articles that I have proposed a merger for. You can find the discussion at Talk: Smallville (TV series)#Merge characters.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 22:58, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

If the fictional universe is the subject of the article...

...and the article has little or no real-world context (i.e. a fantasy work), is section 3 meant to grant exemption? If you are writing about fictional material and the only way to put it in real-world context is by prefacing each sentence with "In the book". In particular, does Orcs & Goblins need to be written from real-world perspective, and if so, how would you do this without arbitrarily making references to the source book (i.e. "in the book", "according to the book") from which the material is derived? Ham Pastrami 22:38, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Basically, section 3 deals with the context of plot summary, but it's not meant to imply that an entire article can be entirely plot summary (this is expressly disallowed by WP:NOT#PLOT), or lacking in real-world context. Parts that describe what the universe actually consists of are covered by section 3, but there should also be some real-world information about influences, creation process, reception, and impact. I don't think that there are any featured articles about fictional universes, but World of Final Fantasy VIII, a good article, does a decent job, given the apparent level of information available. — TKD::Talk 23:10, 27 August 2007 (UTC)


How, exactly, is the author of a work of fiction only known from secondary sources? Seems to me that it's generally known from the cover of the primary source. john k 22:58, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

I'm lost, is someone demanding a secondary source to verify the author of a work of fiction?  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 23:11, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Nevermind, I see on the page here where you are talking about it. I don't get that either, or that part about design and development. You can easily get that information from primary sources. Interviews are primary sources, and you can get all kinds of basic information like that from interviews.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 23:13, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
How did that get there? I moved it to the primary sources section. —AldeBaer 23:32, 29 August 2007 (UTC)


I noticed this in a recent featured article candidacy:

"Since articles on fiction are to be written from a real-world perspective, not an in-universe perspective, images of the actors out of character are preferable to images of them in character, for encyclopedic reasons in addition to free-content reasons."

Um, I don't think this is a correct interpretation of this guideline. It certainly was never a concern of mine when the original version was drafted. It seems perfectly clear to me that images from the media are and will be necessary to properly illustrate an article on fiction or elements of fiction. How can you illustrate Darth Vader without showing an image of David Prowse in his Darth Vader gear? Is it more desirable to have a picture of J. K. Rowling writing in a notbeook than to show the cover of the latest Harry Potter book in the article on that book?

So, my question is this: Is this a one-off misinterpretation of WAF, or should we add something explicit to the guideline stating that images from works of fiction are desirable and even necessary?

This isn't meant as an attack on the author of the above comment, just as some damage control and to avoid giving the fair-use cops more firepower to delete more "non-free" media. — Brian (talk) 01:10, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

My thoughts, it often depends on if there is a significant difference in appearance between "in-character" and just the actor alone. So, Darth Vader would definitely require an image of the actor in-character, but Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) looks pretty much the same out of or in-character (and indeed, the two articles share the same idea). -- Ned Scott 01:19, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
I agree. If you are talking about a cast section, and you have an image of the entire cast at say a premiere, and it's free, I would use that one to illustrate the cast. But, when you are talking about a film that old, it becomes increasinly hard to attain such a thing. Maybe at a convention you could, but then again, that's only if they all attend. We wouldn't want 12 free actor images cluttering up the section either.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 01:22, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Those are sensible suggestions. What do y'all think about adding a section to the guideline on proper image usage? We could summarize the relevant content from various other policies or guidelines with a specific eye toward articles on fiction. It might help clear up some muddy waters. For example, if a fan takes a picture of Anthony Daniels holding C-3PO mask (and there is one of those under a free license on Wikipedia), is it GFDL if the fan releases it as such? Or is it a derivative work because of the copyrighted design of the C-3PO mask? I honestly don't know.
Then again, would this be too sticky a territory to venture into? — Brian (talk) 04:52, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
There wouldn't be a copyright on that if it's released into the PD. It would be like taking a picture of all those SW fans that wear Chewbacca and Darth Vader gear.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 11:13, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
So how come all these free images of Transformers toys keep getting deleted? Alientraveller 11:20, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Which ones?  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 11:30, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
That's not my understanding. The C-3PO mask and general look (the whole character) is property of LucasFilm. Any image of that character is thus a derivative work of copyrighted property belonging to LucasFilm. It's the same reason we had such a hubbub when Scooby-doo was the main page featured article of the day and people kept yanking pictures of Scooby balloons and fan-made Mystery Machines as "derivative works" and "not free". — Brian (talk) 12:09, 31 August 2007 (UTC)

Interesting. I would have though in those cases, so long as you didn't publish their trademarks (the Scooby Doo logo in that case) that it would be ok in the end. Very interesting.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:11, 31 August 2007 (UTC)


I've been wondering for quite some time how wrestling articles should be written? I'm talking professional wrestling where it's scripted here. Do those articles have to follow this guideline? Because many I have seen do not. Are there clear guidelines on this somewhere I can read? Any help would be appreciated, thanks. - Shudde talk 03:12, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Pro wrestling doesn't really occupy a fictional world, which is the focus of this style guide. Their plots are fictional dramas set in a (more or less) real-world context. Most articles I've seen on the subject are very clear about what characteristics of a given wrestler are fictional. TCC (talk) (contribs) 03:55, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Quite a few I have seen do not make it clear it's fictional. So this guideline doesn't apply because it's not based in a fictional universe? Seems confusing to me. - Shudde talk 04:27, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Shudde, I know what you are talking about and am very much inclined to agree that many articles on professional wrestling pose a problem in that they are not consistently written from a real world perspective, which is a general necessity for all articles. To that particular effect, I believe that the name of this guideline should not be interpreted too discriminatingly: Although pro wresting may be seen as a borderline case, fictional narration is a very fundamental aspect of pro wrestling, and therefore the careful distinction between real-world perspective and the plot must be made. There is no logic in saying "pro wrestling doesn't strictly qualify as traditional fiction and therefore this guideline doesn't apply". This guideline primarily deals with spelling out general style issues as pertaining specifically to writing about fiction. It is perfectly applicable for fictional aspects of any topic.
TCC provides the perfect explanation: Pro wrestling doesn't occupy a fictional world. It occupies our real world, while employing creative narration for the purpose of entertainment. Which is an accurate description of what fiction is, and also of what this guideline really is about. —AldeBaer 12:14, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Isn't it real? Dr Aaron 12:27, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
It's going to break your heart, but not all of it. I know this is hard to swallow, I couldn't believe it myself at first. Its true value is the entertainment though, and if that's not enough for those self-appointed #1 fans, they're certainly welcome here. —AldeBaer 12:33, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Writing as a fan

Maybe there should be a guideline on "writing as a fan", regardless of the topic someone is writing about. Sorta like WP:COI, but with emphasis on stylistic aspects. I'm seriously considering to compose a draft in my userspace. Any opinions? —AldeBaer 13:20, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

I think that would be helpful, in that it could summarize and emphasize, especially for newer editors, the most relevant issues (WP:WAF, WP:FICT, WP:OR, WP:RS), without needing to find all of the individual pages on their own. I think that a few WikiProjects try to set up a centralized guideline page for their relevant scope, but having a Wikipedia-wide page is probably beneficial, given the number of editors who get started with Wikipedia out of fandom. — TKD::Talk 13:36, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks, my opinion precisely. Meanwhile, I decided to make the larger round, and posted at WT:MOS and WP:VPP. —AldeBaer 14:04, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
I think I like the "Writing as a fan" title better than the "neutralized" PRECON moniker. I think the opposite of fandom on Wikipedia usually boils down to a simpler case of WP:NPOV or WP:IDONTLIKEIT with a touch of WP:OR — or sometimes just fandom for a competing product. Over-proliferation of unencyclopedic fansite material is, I think, by far, the more widespread problem. — TKD::Talk 14:31, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. You see, the idea was to widen the scope, but that may not be such a viable option after all. I hope others share our opinion on this. —AldeBaer 14:37, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Part of the problem is that the existing fiction guidelines are applied patchily, if there are block-voters or admins protecting the article. For example, Spoo is a spectacularly non-notable fictional food, but gets a featured article. We've had a load of admins and experienced Wikipedians wanting it kept featured, yet it's probably less important than Malibu Stacy or Butterbeer, which don't even get articles.--Nydas(Talk) 19:49, 28 August 2007 (UTC)
Basic notability appears to exist, and from there on out it's just a matter of how good the article is referenced and written. It's not the most convincing example of an FA, but it is a good article. The proposed guideline would entail other things, e.g. when a Pete Sampras fan insists on calling him "The greatest tennis player of all time" without any reference. I plan on explaining how things like that are not good ideas and prohibited by several policies, including WP:OR, WP:V and WP:NPOV. Of course, anyone could point fan-writers to those policies, but I'd like one central place where all the good and bad aspects of writing as a fan are combined in one readable guideline. —AldeBaer 20:51, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Ok, nevermind. Judging from the input I collected here, community consensus appears to be against such a guideline page. A shame, in my opinion, but so what. —AldeBaer 14:12, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Why not draft something in your user space as an essay and see what happens? I'd like to see it anyway. — Brian (talk) 22:22, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, so would I. Some "essays", such as WP:DENY and WP:ATA, are very widely cited even though they technically don't carry the stamp of an official guideline. — TKD::Talk 22:36, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the encouragement, (edit conflict) both of you. Despite my unjustified feeling hurt by an ignorant community that doesn't value or appreciate extraordinary ideas like many most of mine are, I acknowledge that I'm already in the planning stages. Now that I've boasted about how this would be a great thing, I'll have to write my ass off accordingly. I.e. as soon as I'm done licking my wounds. I'll drop a note here when I've come up with something halfway debatable. —AldeBaer 22:44, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
Maybe I should explain my being obsessed with that "official guideline" seal: I'm German. —AldeBaer 22:46, 29 August 2007 (UTC)
This idea should definitely be explored. It could be the "glue" that could tie all our fictional guidelines together. -- Ned Scott 05:09, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Ok, I'm making progress, rather slowly but steadily. I welcome anyone to be bold and edit ahead or drop by my talk page for notes, suggestions, criticism, encouragement, or any opinion you may have. —AldeBaer 22:25, 4 September 2007 (UTC)

Naming of certain fictional characters

There is currently a renaming debate going on at Talk:Malcolm Wilkerson, regarding the title of the articles of the family members of Malcolm in the Middle. Posting this here since this is related to writing about fiction. Any input welcome. —AldeBaer 19:36, 3 September 2007 (UTC)

Section on #Notability and undue weight

I reworded the section on Notability and undue weight [1]. Ned Scott reverted (I assume he meant to revert only my last edit [2]). On reviewing my changes and as I saw nothing had been posted here, I decided to revert excluding my last edit and to come here and ask for opinions.

My rationale for the rewording was that I think the malpractice example employed in the Notability section was barely recognisable as such and didn't seem to be of much help to anyone who doesn't already know the relevant aspects of WP:PG. Please provide any input. —AldeBaer 08:59, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Remind me to get my eyes checked. I'm not sure what I thought I saw last night, but I can't seem to remember what reason I had to revert you. It is indeed an improvement. Sorry about that. -- Ned Scott 18:47, 5 September 2007 (UTC)
Phew. Totally no prob. Any input by others still welcome, of course. —AldeBaer 19:02, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

A silly matter, but guidance would be appreciated

There's currently a dispute going on at Celebrity Jeopardy (Saturday Night Live). It's a really picayune thing, but, hey, we want to get the little things right, too. I requested a third opinion, but they seem to be really backed up, so I figured I would come here. Basically, there is a section at the article that lists individual episodes of the sketch by air date and the "celebrity contestant" characters who appear. In one episode, there is a joke where the Burt Reynolds character momentarily insist on being referred to as "Turd Ferguson". He goes as far as to change the name on his podium. All in all, I count five lines from the transcript that make reference to this joke in any way. Another editor believes that, in the section identifying episodes of the sketch, the name "Turd Ferguson" should be referred to. I hold that it should not. I'll lay out my logic and reasoning rather than force you to read a long and silly argument.

1. "Turd Ferguson" is a joke name. It's effect is for one joke and then a callback to that joke.

1a. Because the section is otherwise a dead serious section, written from an out-of-universe perspective, listing a joke name alongside actual character names breaches the formal tone expected of the section.

1b. Mentioning this one joke in an otherwise serious section gives it undue weight relative to every other joke.

2. Within the section, the episode in question is already identified uniquely. No more information is necessary to do that.

3. The joke is already acknowledged in a section of the article that seeks to explain and contextualize the the humor.

There has been a considerable back-and-forth. I don't think it will be possible to resolve this with just me and the other editor involved. He has pledged to edit war and has kept his promise. If I'm wrong, I accept that, but we need other editors involved because left two our own devices, we will never agree. Croctotheface 05:11, 11 September 2007 (UTC)


Consider merging the "Conclusion" section into "This page in a nutshell". G.A.S 06:10, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

eh, that would make for a very bloated nutshell. I might be better to just move the section up, maybe? -- Ned Scott 06:12, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Good solution, sort of a compromise between "in a nutshell" and leaving it where it is. These pages should generally be inverted pyramid style, starting with general concepts and getting specific. In this case, you start with details and then restate in a "conclusions" section. I think it would serve almost just as well, in its current form, as an introduction. Croctotheface 06:15, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Then it might be needed to merge it into the lead paragraph. ("The lead should be capable of standing alone as a concise overview of the article, establishing context, summarizing the most important points" — WP:LEAD) G.A.S 06:18, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
I mean, yeah, that's one way to go, though there's also merit in a bulleted list. But I suppose that the logic would go something like: if the conclusion doesn't restate the basic points, it's not serving any function. If the lead isn't stating the basic points, it's not doing a very good job. If there is a section redundant with the lead, it should be merged and deleted. So, yeah, merge it up. Croctotheface 06:24, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia covers numerous subjects, including works of fiction: Articles range from ancient mythological epics such as Beowulf and The Ramayana, to literary classics like Les Misérables, to recently published phenomena such as Harry Potter and The Simpsons. Information about fiction falls into two broad categories: facts about the work of fiction itself, such as its authorship, publication, critical reception, and influence are termed out-of-universe information while information about the plot and concepts that are described within the work is often referred to as in-universe information.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia of information about subjects notable within the real world, and is not a collection of plot summaries or an encyclopedia of fictional universes. However, since understanding an article on a work of fiction requires the reader know what the work is about, articles on works of fiction can and should include information about the elements within the work — All information should be provided in the context of the original fictional work. Articles should discuss fictional subjects such as characters, objects, events, or locations, from the real world's perspective and maintain a balanced use of both primary and secondary sources: Both primary and secondary information are necessary for a real world perspective.

The verifiability of in universe information is generally easy to ensure, as it comes from a reliable source, the series itself. This information should be supplemented by out-of-universe sources. Care should be taken to avoid original research or synthesis to advance a position. Information need to be attributable to reliable sources, and all sources (including the primary sources) need to be appropriately cited in the article. Articles about fiction should give due weight in all elements of the article page, including text, images, elements of layout and even the article title. Editors should note that according to Wikipedia's fair-use policy the amount of copyrighted work should be used as little as possible.

I have added an example (above) for the lead paragraph. Comment please? G.A.S 14:52, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Eh, I still favor the bulleted list. -- Ned Scott 20:30, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
The most important points should be in the nutshell; the rest in the lead. G.A.S 22:12, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

I don't think this has consensus. A nutshell should not distract from the respective sections, it should succinctly summarise the spirit of the page. I'm not hellbent on keeping the bulleted Conclusions list, but the current version doesn't have my support. Won'r revert for now, but I ask others to provide their input so as to determine consensus. — [ aldebaer⁠] 23:20, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

I have to agree with AldeBaer, on the issue about consensus. I haven't reviewed the differences between the original version and G.A.S.'s new version, but it's clear from this talk page that there wasn't consensus to change anything, at least not in a 2 day period (when there hasn't be constant support from numerous editors).  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 23:37, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Thirded. While I agree that the page should follow an inverted pyrmaid scheme, I'm not happy with the current lead. Let's go back to the old one for now and compare the two, garner consensus, etc., before we make changes. — Brian (talk) 04:56, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
I re-instated the prior version for now. As a preliminary compromise of sorts, I included a link to the #Conclusions section in the nutshell box.[3] — [ aldebaer⁠] 05:51, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Indeed. GAS, no offense, but your changes look like crap. The "most important points" do not go in the nutshell, the nutshell is a brief explanation, and that's it. -- Ned Scott 07:06, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
No problem about the revert, but we should really work on having a proper lead that embodies the content of the guideline, as I believe the conclusions section is not necessary -- this is not an audit workIng paper.
I have, for the purpose of the rewrite of WP:FICT, recommended that we should see and edit the two guidelines (WP:FICT and WP:WAF) as one: This will help to synchronize the two and help reduce redundancy (As the case is currently, we have proposals that are more applicable to WP:WAF and vica versa; but we cannot see the results). If the result is too long, we can always split off the notability part per WP:SS and WP:LENGTH. Such a merge should not necessarily be seen as permanent. G.A.S 10:27, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
The rewritten intro was too long, and poorly worded. There was some new stuff in there, for example, needing to cite the fiction itself, even though many featured articles don't do it. Some Final Fantasy articles use dialogue fragments to source plot info, but that practice pads out the references with trivial stuff and invites selective quoting.--Nydas(Talk) 18:48, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Concept of undue weight

"Moreover, it is important that articles give due weight to all aspects of the subject, and to avoid placing undue emphasis on minor points. This concerns all elements of the article page, including infoboxes and succession boxes as well as images and of course all of the text." — WP:WAF.

I recommend that this be reworded from WP:UNDUE — something like:

"An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject, but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject. Editors should note that undue weight can be given in several ways, including, but not limited to, depth of detail, quantity of text, prominence of placement, and juxtaposition of statements."

G.A.S 14:47, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

The original wording is much better. -- Ned Scott 20:31, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
Which one do you mean by original? If you are referring to the top one, why do you think it is better? G.A.S 23:44, 14 September 2007 (UTC)
For me, the first one is easier to understand. It says the same thing, but is simple, to the point. -- Ned Scott 02:15, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
I do not agree: The first one is very difficult to read and make sense of it. How about:
"An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject, but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject. Editors should avoid emphasizing on minor facts in articles, articles' infoboxes and images."
G.A.S 15:03, 15 September 2007 (UTC)
"avoid placing undue emphasis on minor points" is probably the most important part of the whole thing. You're basically repeating yourself in your version, since giving appropriate weight is the same thing as not giving undue weight. The wording "treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject" could be interpreted by editors as we should have a full article on some villain if that villain destroyed the world, even if their only appearance is a single sentence that said "Bad Bob blew up the world". From the perspective of the fiction, it could be the most important thing, setting up a story, etc, but it's still just a small thing from the perspective of the real world. -- Ned Scott 05:29, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
I understand your concern.
I still do not like the current wording; the concept is fine though. Would "appropriate to its significance to the subject in the real world" help? G.A.S 06:41, 16 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, not in my opinion. It's a rather complicated matter, covered at length in WP:NPOV. One issue that comes to mind as far as RL relevance goes is the distinction between "actual" relevance and relevance by measure of mention in reliable sources. Such things cannot and should not be discussed in WAF. The basic reason to have this section here is to make prominent mention of NPOV both as a basic principle and as policy, and I tried to convey the spirit of NPOV as succinctly as possible, but it's not (nor trying to be) a substitute for reading and following the policy. A wording like "appropriate to its significance to the subject in the real world" would unnecessarily complicate matters and confuse new users. — [ aldebaer⁠] 23:09, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

Importance of in-universe information not otherwise connected to an article

I just came across a mention of wikipedia in an article in the The Times magazine. The writer made a comment which I think illustrates what people in the real world actually use an encyclopedia for. Loved the brothers, surely the best early evening road haulage based TV ever produced. I can still name all three siblings: Edward, Brian and David. And the surname? Hammond. I can't remember where it was set. Dudley, at a guess. Wikipedia doen't say.

Clearly the article has failed the journalist who wanted in-universe information about the plot. Now, this may have nothing to do with any existing policy, simply that the series is too old for anyone to remember enough details to have included this information. However it illustrates a point which no-one seems much interested in. One of the most important aspects of any fiction is the storyline. Not for purposes of illustrating a point being made in the article, but as an intrinsically noteable piece of information worth including. Sandpiper 08:20, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

I'd say the failure is because there just are not any active editors who know about the show to fully flesh out that article, and not because of this guideline. The guideline doesn't say "don't mention things important to the fictional universe," or "don't mention the storyline at all." The only thing this article does is tell editors not to put undue weight on minor information, and don't write the article in a primarily in-universe tone. I think you just came across an article that shows how young we truly are. With 2 million articles, and something like 0.22% featured or good article status, so we're obviously behind in a lot of articles.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:04, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Fictional Places

I'm not sure if this is the right place to write this but I'm trying to find an infobox for a fictional place e.g. an infobox for a fictional, city, lake, river, forest, temple. if anyone can help --> --Savre 22:59, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

We generally avoid such infoboxes, because they assert that the place is real. It's unlikely that the kind of facts that are used for real places are actually relevant for fictional ones. Say like, population won't really tell you much about a fictional place, since many fictional places can have different populations and still have the same effect in the story. -- Ned Scott 08:00, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Just who, realistically, believes an article which claims in the introduction to be about fiction, is about a real event? This is the same argument as that about spoilers: no one reads an rticle about anything unless they want to know something. Similarly, no one reads an article about fiction unless they want to be told some fiction. Sandpiper 21:40, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
No one said anyone would confuse a fictional thing for a real one. The point is that it's wrong to write about a fictional place as if it's real. The population of Smallville is irrelevant in its own right; only if it's a salient plot point in one of the stories in which Smallville has featured does the information need to be presented. — Brian (talk) 22:36, 17 September 2007 (UTC)
Sandpiper, it's getting old. It's one thing to make your opinion known, and another to insult a view that has widespread support. -- Ned Scott 06:13, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

Forgotten Realms have fictional place infoboxes...--Savre 13:23, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

flawed analysis

I removed the following biased, POv and unsourced claim from the article:

The in-universe perspective describes the fiction from the perspective of characters within the fictional universe, treating it as if it were real. Many fan wikis and fan websites (see below) take this approach, but it should not be used for Wikipedia articles. An in-universe perspective is inaccurate and misleading, gives undue weight to unimportant information and invites unverifiable original research. See also the sections on fair use, notability and undue weight, and templates.

Problems associated with an in-universe perspective include:

  • Disregarding all or most aspects of a work of fiction as a creative endeavour.
  • A plot synopsis written like an historical account.
  • A fictional character article or section written like a biography.
  • Description of fictional places written like a geographical account.
  • Using infoboxes intended for real world topics.
  • Discussing a fictional topic's appearances in major works and obscure spin-off material in equal detail.
  • Using throwaway comments or jokes as a source of information.
  • Trying to reconcile contradictions or fill gaps in a fictional continuity, rather than reporting them as such.
  • Placing spiritual successors in the same continuity as the works that inspired them.

Where to start? Is anyone here willing to justify this rather ridiculous set of claims about in-universe writing? It would never be allowed to remain in an article for one second.

An in-universe perspective is inaccurate and misleading:really, how? it might be inaccurate if it is wrong, but that is exactly the same with any other form of writing. Misleading? Come off it! in what way? Do you imagine even one reader of a wikipedia page has ever been misled into thinking a fictional biography from any page which starts '***is a fictional character in the ***books by ***'? If, so you are very unfamiliar with people and their general level of reading ability and comprehension. In what other way might such a description be misleading?

Gives undue weight to unimportant information. How? Why? any kind of writing might give undue weight to some aspect, and frequently does. How is in-universe writing different. An exactly similar issue might arise with a biography of a real individual which goes on endlessly about his schooldays. A summary should correctly summarise, giving greatest emphasis to the important issues.

Invites original research. Er, what? If it summarises a piece of prose then it summarises a piece of prose. This is absolutely within the remit of wiki editors to collate and report sources of all descriptions, including the specific primary source which is a novel (etc). If wiki editors can not be trusted to make such a summary, then you had better delete every single article.

As to the problems, disregarding aspects of a work: what? no one is arguing a wiki article should be entirely in-universe, that is as bad a sin as making it entirley out-universe. In fact, rather worse, yes, but omissions from an article do not cast any fault on things which have been included. Just show that something needs adding.

historical account...biography. Er, what is wrong with writing up a character story as a biography? This has two real advantages. First, It is a natural writing style readily comprehensible and it is probably the briefest way to write. As I mentioned above, does anyone really believe any reader has ever been misled by a section of an article written in in-universe style? Second, it allows the original story by an author to be re-told in a different style: this is significantly more informative to a reader interested in a work of fiction than re-telling a history simply as it appeared in the original work. The information is extracted and collated, just as any good reference work ought to do. I do not favour simply re-telling a book and presenting that as an article. The information should say something different to what a book does. It should present a story clearly, when an original work frequently goes out of its way to be misleading.

Using infoboxes etc Again, seriously, how many readers are so thick they don't understand when the into to an article says it is about a work of fiction, that in fact it meant what it said, and is about a work of fiction.

Major and equal detail I mentioned that, this is about proper article balance, and nothing whatever to do with in-universe writing.

Using throwaway comments as information ye what? If character A is famous for making a joke, then say so. If it is a highlight of his career, then mention it. If not, if it's trivial, then leave it out. Repetition of last alleged point.

Trying to fill gaps ??? Ditto, it is bad style to invent article content, what has this to do with in-universe writing.

Spiritual successors, I just plain don't understand.

Sandpiper 21:26, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

I think you make a lot of good points (though you could tone down some of your rhetoric so as not to antagonize other editors . . . :)). A lot of the problems we're ascribing to fictional perspective exist in other types of Wikipedia articles too. And the page could probably do with a revision. I think when folks view this guideline with an eye to changing it, they should keep this guiding principle in mind: Write an article about a fictional subject from the perspective of the real world" but understand that that does not mean that all of the prose must be from the perspective of the real world and that this does not preclude the inclusion of character biographies, plot summaries, and other "in-universe" sections as long as they do not overwhelm the rest of the article.
I wrote the original draft of this page after spending some time on Wookieepedia. I liked Wookieepedia; I wrote articles for it; I got one of those articles featured. But I was a bit confused why so many of Wikipedia's articles looked exactly like their Wookieepedia counterparts and little or nothing like their equivalents in more serious scholarship. That's what the guideline was intended to address, and if it doesn't, it needs to be changed.
In short, perhaps it's time to reframe the whole page as a standard Manual of Style page (using the other MoS's as our guide) and to stop trying to be persuasive. The idea that Wikipedia articles should look scholarly and not fannish has broad approval and consensus. Why are we continually trying to argue and "prove" this point? This guideline's persuasive phase is over. Let's change things to better explain how to write an article on fiction. — Brian (talk) 00:01, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
So let be get this straight, because some of this isn't style advice, you want us to trash those parts? I'm not sure if I like that idea very much. -- Ned Scott 06:11, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
No, as I understand, it was removed because it was not verifiable (Or WP:OR). G.A.S 06:24, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not talking about the change made to the intro, but more about his further comments: "Ditto, it is bad style to invent article content, what has this to do with in-universe writing. " or "Major and equal detail- I mentioned that, this is about proper article balance, and nothing whatever to do with in-universe writing.".
And for guidelines, WP:NOR doesn't apply at all. WP:V, in context to the views held by the community, is generally documented on the talk page of said guideline. Sandpiper also seems to be thinking we live in a perfect world, where the majority of our editors working on fiction don't need things explained in a way they'll understand. That being said, I disagree with the majority of his comment. -- Ned Scott 07:00, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
As far as guideline content exist for the purpose of giving guidance, WP:OR is not applicable. (As the editors do not always need to know why things are done a certain way — If they want to know that, they can ask on the talk page.) Yes, I know this contradicts the current rewrite of WP:FICT due to the amount of explaining why something should be done.
As far as the guideline makes statements to support said view, I believe WP:V and WP:OR is applicable. It is nice to give such reasons, but its truth may be (and has been) challenged.
A possible compromise may be to include such content in the footnotes, so it does not have too much emphasis, but is available if someone wants to look it up. (But even then, it should be appropriately cited)
G.A.S 08:15, 18 September 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, you're mixing up to things here: Grounding guidelines in and mentioning applicable policies like WP:OR, WP:V, WP:NPOV is indeed very important to educate editors about our editorial standards.
Applying WP:OR to the writing of guidelines is what is not applicable. You can't just say, I challenge this or that statement of a policy, so I remove it unless it can be verified with reliable sources. Policy and guidelines are based on community consensus. — aldebaer⁠ ] 10:34, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
I would rather that it is a bit more complicated than that:
  • If someone go and make a statement such as According to Jimmy Wales, NPOV is "absolute and non-negotiable.", (as is done on WP:NPOV), they better be able to cite it.
  • If we merely explain why a guideline is the way it is, yes, you are absolutely correct, WP:OR does not apply.
  • If the explanation makes wild claims about why it is like it is; again, I rather it be cited.
Would there be a better way to say "Problems associated with an in-universe perspective include:"? Such as "The following problems arise when editors write from an in-universe perspective"? (With the appropriate rewording of the statements?)
G.A.S 16:08, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
Technically speaking you are describing a WP:V problem, not a WP:NOR problem. Getting back on topic, normally guidelines "cite" their talk pages, and statements like those are made from the impression that users get while editing on Wikipedia. If those impressions are considered inaccurate, the guideline will normally lose consensus (or not obtain it in the first place). Still, it is good to find better ways to explain this so that it's easier for editors to understand how a guideline got developed. Maybe what we need is a "history of guideline" summary box on the talk page, that would act like a log. -- Ned Scott 18:53, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

There is one problem with the list though: it mixes the problem with IU articles with the symptoms of IU articles. Would it be possible to split the list accordingly? G.A.S 17:16, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Possible, yes of course. Useful, no. — aldebaer⁠ ] 17:38, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

I contributed to this section. The main reason was to replace the claim that in-universe writing is unencyclopedic with something meaningful. I disagree with Sandpiper's view that in-universe writing is neither better or worse than out-of-universe writing. If you're going to have in-universe 'sections', then real world info may have to be discarded to maintain the in-universe illusion. For example avoiding mentioning episode names in a section about a TV character's development. For standalone works, this is not so serious.--Nydas(Talk) 15:21, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Indeed, in-universe perspective is never acceptable in Wikipedia articles. And even if they are written from the real world perspective, overlong plot summaries are strongly discouraged. — aldebaer⁠ ] 13:03, 21 September 2007 (UTC)
This seems to have stirred up a little debate. First, I made comments similar to the above previously. Absolutely nothing happened to remove the offending nonsense from this guideline. Thus, a little hyperbole is appropriate. I repeat, the claims being made about in-universe writing are nonsense, and while there may technically be no policy to say that guidelines or policy are not permitted to be nonsense, it is rather stupid that they be so. It is absurd to make a list of things which might be wrong with a piece of in-universe writing without admitting that exactly the same things might be wrong with out-universe writing.
To another point, I find a policy of permitting solely in-universe prose as equally absurd to one requiring all out-universe prose. However no one here is attempting to ban out-universe writing. Thus the faults with the guideline are in the way it attempts to justify a ban on in-universe information using spurious and unsubstantiated reasoning. I again repeat that when I did exams in english literature, we were expected to use in-universe information and write about fiction as though the characters were real. If it is good enough for school exams, why is it not good enough for wiki? Having now conducted a straw poll of others currently at school, this hasn't changed. Why does this guideline seek to take an approach different to the real world when writing about fiction?
Nydas (et al): Yes, I agree with any attempt to substantiate claims made in a guideline and explain why they exist. My difficulty here is that the reasons explaining why in-universe writing is discourged frankly do not support discouraging it. I imagine reasons have been produced because people feel such a guideline needs explaining, but if no one can in fact produce any good reason for having it...well, maybe it shouldn't exist. No one above seems to have disproven any of my objections regarding the inaccuracy of the guideline. People have argued whether it needs to be accurate, being merely a guideline, but no one has disputed my points. Do I take that as consensus that the sections I object to should be deleted? Sandpiper 09:09, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
No, and I reverted. You should give consensus a bit more than 47 minutes [4]. — aldebaer 23:31, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
In case you're actually interested in hearing reasons why in-universe writing is a bad thing in WP articles:
An in-universe perspective is inaccurate and misleading, gives undue weight to unimportant information and invites unverifiable original research. In other words: It goes against all our core content policies. It also ignores community consensus as to what we do not want Wikipedia to be or become, which states that "Wikipedia articles on published works (such as fictional stories) should cover their real-world context and sourced analysis, offering detail on a work's development, impact or historical significance, not solely a detailed summary of that work's plot." But most importantly, in-universe writing defies the sheer idea of when a project can conceivably be regarded encyclopedic in nature.
Sandpiper, you ought to realise that in-universe perspective diminishes article quality, and as long as you do not understand or accept that, you may want to abstain from editing encyclopedia articles on fiction-related subjects, let alone our guideline on the topic of writing about such subjects. WAF is your friendly guideline to help you improve the articles you're working on. You don't seem to grasp that, and I regard your recent activity here as somewhat disruptive attempts at weakening the guideline, so please cut it out. — aldebaer 09:33, 29 September 2007 (UTC)
Aldebaer, you are not giving any reason to substantiate this policy. You are simply re-quoting it. Why is it inaccurate and misleading~? What is specifically inaccurate about it, and how does such an article mislead? In what way does it give undue weight? I'm not sure there is even one single article still on wiki which is wholly in-universe, which seems to me the only situation in which any misleading is possible. I have no problem with covering real world aspects, what does this have to do with having no in-universe prose in an article? Then you re-state your claim again without substantiation: How does it diminish article quality? I do not see that it does, and have never yet seen any good explanation of why anyone thinks it does. You have not provided one here. Sandpiper 08:07, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
I've already given an example of real-world information being sidelined in order to maintain an in-universe point-of-view, TV show characters. You can either describe the character's development with reference to key episodes, or you can do it in-universe. You could have a double section with an in-universe 'fictional biography' and an out-of-universe 'character development', but that's probably unnecessary duplication. Real people don't have episodes, so there is no counterpart to this in the real world.
Many fictional things have their backstory changed, or have an incoherent continuity. If a fictional character's father is stated to be a soldier in one instance and a scientist in another, there's no good way to handle this from an in-universe perspective. You can choose one for the character biography, and then mention the other job in a continuity section, but why should Wikipedia privilege one over the other? Another option is to say the father was a soldier turned scientist, but this is original research, glossing over continuity errors instead of reporting them. This situation could happen for a real person as well, and there you'd mention both jobs, and the sources, and leave it up to reader. It should be same for the fictional character, rather than trying to in-universify it.--Nydas(Talk) 10:01, 29 September 2007 (UTC)
It is perfectly possible to present inconsistent information using an in-universe approach. This would be done 'one source suggests that his father was a soldier, but it has also been reported he was a scientist', (with references, even!). It is not unknown for sources to disagree and for this to be included in articles. However, I do not insist on a slavish attachment to an in-universe approach and in the context of fiction in this situation I would break the in-universe narrative by explaining the contradiction. Perhaps a purist would argue that I am therefore no supporter of in-universe writing at all. What I am, is a supporter of clear writing and presenting facts in articles. This is frequently best done using in-universe passages, which is what people naturally do when talking about fiction. Sandpiper 08:07, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
I've replaced the list with a paragraph loosely based on my response above. Thoughts?--Nydas(Talk) 22:10, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
I think examples could make up an explanatory sub-page. But replacing generally applicable guideline content with a rather specific example, I don't think it's a good idea. — aldebaer 22:18, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Secondary Sources

The section explaining secondary sources is misleading. I think that two concepts are being confused. Secondary information about a work might in fact come from primary sources, for example the author writes a piece explaining how he came up with the ideas, why he lived in paris and what effect it had on his work. This would not be a secondary source, but a primary one. It would be secondary information bout the main subject of the article which ought to be included, but still a primary source, unverified by others. Another secondary source might, for example, claim the author had never ever visited Paris and was lying. Sandpiper 21:38, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

I tentatively agree and tried to clarify on the difference in meaning between information vs. source in a non-confusing way.[5] Please note that information provided in the required secondary sources as well as with the work of fiction itself should be considered secondary, or external, information. E.g. the name of the author on the cover of a book can safely be treated as secondary information, since it's meta-information provided by the publishing house, it's usually not part of the fiction (although there are counter-examples). — [ aldebaer⁠] 01:41, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

More templates

I found the following templates for fiction related problems; would there be use in adding them here, or listing them? Or, alternatively, would it be possible to merge them into a more generic template that uses parameters to achieve the same result?

G.A.S 11:47, 18 September 2007 (UTC)

{{Plot}} and {{Fiction}} would be useful additions, provided helpful explanations are given as to their usage. {{Nonfiction}} is irrelevant here. And the lot of in-universe derivates should be redirected to {{in-universe}}, but that's another story. — [ aldebaer⁠] 01:49, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
There was a TfD on the multiple in-universe templates, and the result was to just merge them (in a way that would allow a trigger to give a custom category), but I guess no one got around to it. I'll take a crack at it tonight. -- Ned Scott 02:36, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
Hmm, it might be already like that.. but not.. -- Ned Scott 02:40, 19 September 2007 (UTC)


I know this is useless to say, and i hope i will not be banned, as this is not vandalism, but i am not fond of this rule. The fact of the matter is, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia written for the people, by the people. If you want to know how a certain character was developed, look in Encyclopedia Brittanica. If you want more information about a character than you can get from a person who never read the story. Look where the fans write. Look on wikipedia. We are supposed to give our own introspective on the subject. Well......thats what i thought when i first came here. --Gen. S.T. Shrink *Get to the bunker* 00:29, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Then I must say, you thought incorrectly. First, the Encyclopedia Brittanica doesn't really cover fictional topics all that much. If you want to know more about a character, watch the show/film. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not YouTube or iTunes, or some other place that would provide you with a free substitution for watching a film or television show. We are not here to broadcast our personal opinions, that's why Wikipedia is a laughing stock already, because people don't understand that. If you want to broadcast your opinions, you can start your own website, or join a forum. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, and not the place for original thoughts.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 00:39, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Opinions, no. Information, perhaps. Still, i believe in all earnasty (misspelled) that wikipedia is a wonderful thing. And to understand it at its heart, its soul, is not what i said, i just happen to be the kind of person who wont rest until they know the color of the characters great-great-grandfather's toenail. I think wikipedia is written by the people who know the subject matter the best, the fans. Which is why i get irritated by people who say something is wrong, or bad, before knowing it, and knowing it, can be shown through wikipedia. I am, at heart, a fan, at soul, a human. but at fingers, and computer, an editor, which is why you will never see me blank this page, or any other, because i dont agree with it nessicrily (also misspelled). I will maintain a professiaonal attitude, and not edit things with my own opinions, and if you assume by my previous comment, i have been doing so. No. I am but a humble fan, who enjoys literature, and thinks it should recieve all the attention, it deserves. --Gen. S.T. Shrink *Get to the bunker* 02:51, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

The color of a character's GGGF's toenail is irrelevant, unless there was actually some significance to it. You are incorrect again. Wiki is written by the people, and that usually happens to be "the fans," but it is not written for the fans, nor is one to say that you can only write an article if you know the material. It generally happens to flow that way, but there is a reason we are an encyclopedia, and not a fansite. If someone wants to know some ridiculous theory about why some character does what they do, they can go to a fansite, as that isn't what Wikipedia is for. There is a big difference between the quality of articles that look like this (something I gather you would prefer), and ones that look like this (something that follows all of the guidelines and policies and basic principle of what Wikipedia is.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 03:04, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, you gather correctly, my personal preferance is the first, because when i read something, I get caught in the details, as many do. For that reason i have refrained from editing something and including GGGF's toenail information. However, i wish you would stop refering to me as incorrect, as i am merely stating my opinion, not including in an article information about Dorian Gray's toenail, as opposed to his portrait. --Gen. S.T. Shrink *Get to the bunker* 03:28, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

What I stated you were "incorrect" about was what Wikipedia is about. You can assume what Wiki is about, but it's clear for all the policies and guidelines that this isn't the place to write up fictional biographies.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 03:36, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Indeed, i agree with that, although, when i began many articles, had enourmous articles, on gggf's toenail, and in recent times have been completely reduced to a shadow of their former selves. Also, i like fictional biographies. They bring life to the people, and perhaps wikipedia isn't a place for it. But, it is a place for learning about dissacharides, Charlemange, and Napoleon. So, why not have an article that refers ever so slightly to a characters role, especially a large one, as opposed to putting them in one scrunched up article. --Gen. S.T. Shrink *Get to the bunker* 03:42, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

It's called summary style and undue weight to the unimportant things. If you'd like expanded fictional biographies, you can create one over at Wikia, which isn't an encyclopedia. I'm sure a lot of people like fictional biographies, but that isn't what Wikipedia is for (or about). There are other venues that can provide you the opportunity to create, expand, or read such things.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 03:47, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

In that case, we have reached a crossroads. Wikipedia is wonderful, though it may not apply to my *ahem* "special interests". Be that as it may, I still think that it is unfair to do so with certain articles, and leave the rest, in universe. Not that that article is completely in universe, not by a long shot. But, it is far more in universe than this one. --Gen. S.T. Shrink *Get to the bunker* 21:18, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Funny, because Batman and Superman don't follow that train of thought. Wikipedia isn't here to rehash every plot that ever happened, especially not in comics where they run twenty different universes in parallel with each other. The important moments get mentioned.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 21:22, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

It is funny. Thats why I chose Apocalypse as opposed to Batman and Superman. --Gen. S.T. Shrink *Get to the bunker* 21:35, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

LOL, well I can choose a ton of articles that fail every single guideline and policy, not just this one, but that doesn't mean we should leave them be just because some editors like them that way. Wikipedia may be written by the people, for the people, but those "people" encompass everyone, not just fans. It's about quality.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 21:38, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
  • gasp* Was this an LOL from out the keyboard of he whom hasth had perfect grammer? I never took you for the leet type. Oh, and occasionally, opinions on quality differ. The problem is....if it differs too much, nobody likes it. --Gen. S.T. Shrink *Get to the bunker* 21:43, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, consensus was reached a long time ago on what consistitutes "good quality", we even have a guide to write better articles. The reason we have notability guidelines is because we have to discriminate, otherwise we'd have far more than 2 million articles on Wikipedia; most of those articles would be utter trash (i.e. You and me creating articles on ourselves, turning Wikipedia into MySpace). We also created guidelines for different types of articles; because this is an encyclopedia, we need for articles to have consistent quality and style. A normal encyclopedia is grounded in reality, and since we have a notability guideline that says we have to show why a topic needs mentioning, fictional articles are thus grounded in reality.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 21:47, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, I enjoy fiction, but random articles of pure vanity is utter nonsense. But..... I suppose, it is possible that it could happen, and god knows we need another MySpace. But, it still seems like details are better than many articles give them credit for, especially if they are a major plotline in the story. --Gen. S.T. Shrink *Get to the bunker* 21:54, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Yes, but it filters back to the guideline on summary style. Something can be important, and be summarized into a nice sentence or two, maybe a couple more depending on that the event is. You don't need panel for panel description of a comic just to say that a character had a confrontation with another character. You have to remember, those companies (Marvel, Dark Horse, DC, etc etc) make their money on telling stories, and I don't think they'd appreciate Wikipedia simply laying out scene for scene what happens in their works.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 21:58, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Once again, money is the root of all evil. Well, this seems to clear up everything nicely. --Gen. S.T. Shrink *Get to the bunker* 22:03, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Then forgive my evilness, because I'm about to give a quick 2¢ . . . Col. S.T. Shrink seems to prefer that encyclopedia articles on fictional characters take the form of fictional biographies, while Bignole supports the ideas of this guideline page. Well, I just wanted to add that there's no reason the two can't coexist. In other words, there's no reason a character article can't include a section titled "Biography" that relates the character's fictional biography as related in the original work. Where I tend to dislike such biographies is when they are written by the fans taking disparate primary sources and trying to weave them all into a whole. However, there should be no problem when appropriate sources exist that do this work for them. For example, The Essential Guide to Characters is a Star Wars book that gives character biographies or several personalities by weaving together the events of hundreds of films, novels, comic books, video games, etc. I would have no problem using it as a source in a Star Wars article to give a brief (three- or four-paragraph) overview of the character's life in the fictional universe. I disagree with the good General with regard to the color of the g.g.grandfather's toenails, though; that's just beyond trivial. :) — Brian (talk) 22:40, 19 September 2007 (UTC)
This is the approach that we're finding to be reasonable over at discussion on WP:FICT. For a character that is notable out-of-universe by secondary sources (such as Superman) providing sufficient but brief highlights of the fictional character as to allow any reader to understand the notability of that character in outside sources (eg: you need to say that Superman can fly if a secondary source talks about how they chromakeyed C. Reeve to make him appear as if he was flying). But these need to be brief as noted. Key highlights, not day-by-day biography. --Masem 23:15, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

Number 1. Thank you for your 2 pennies. Number 2. Am i a Colonel, or a General. Number 3. GGGF's toenail in green. (that was taken from JK rowling. Number 4. You are right of course, that the two can coexist and do, very some articles. Ill give a direct example. WikiProject Harry Potter, goes in our dear Bignoles direction, while some others, go in mine. There are a good amount of your idea-ed articles, though far more are either Jason #1, or Jason #2. Therein lies the problem, as anyone can edit, anything can happen. Which (i realize now) is why this page exists. --Gen. S.T. Shrink *Get to the bunker* 23:02, 19 September 2007 (UTC)

In many ways a worse problem is that a few people will come along here, write up a policy, then go off and start slashing swathes of fiction articles which had happily existed for some time, on the basis of the policy they just invented. There is something to be said for letting people get on with it without all this instruction creep. Tose arguing above that wikipedia is not for fans are badly missing the point. Te reality is that the word 'fan' is most often use pejoratively, not as a neutral term meaning someone who supports something. I imagine a very large proportion of hits on wikipedia are from fans of one subject or another, because people will naturally want to look up information about what interests them. I do not see why wikipedia should restrict itself to information that people have no interest in in, but merely need to know for one reason or another. There is a very big overlap between these two reasons for using an encyclopedia and I see no reason why wiki should not cater for both. As the cited guideline above says, wiki should cater for all levels of interest in a subject, both shallow and deep. This ought to mean including considerable detail about fiction. Maybe the colous of someone's toenails is going to far, but their eye or hair colour might not. Britanica might not cover this, but I dare to suggest this is because they do not have the resources to write such articles. We do. Sandpiper 09:27, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree "fan" and "editor" are not separate groups and likely have a huge overlap; I consider myself one. However, I would suggest (for purposes of discussion) a typical "fan" is less like those us here and likely has a strong interest in only one or two main areas, and sees WP as a way he or she can write all about the fictional work they love. Which we definitely don't want to stop, but we do want such "fans" to become aware of what WP is aiming to be, and not what it appears to be at the present.
And I don't mean to speak for all other editors , but I don't think everyone is pitching for a "change-and-burn" approach to works of fiction. We want other editors to take on the action for themselves, and provide good examples of what works.
But the last point: WP needs to be verifiable. To be verifiable, it needs to have no original research, support from secondary sources, and written neutrally. Fictional elements that we are looking to try to improve generally are written by summarizing the fictional work its from; short summarizes usually can't elaborate enough to add this, but lengths of some fictional works extend for proverbial pages, and one must consider how much speculation there is. These usually lack the secondary sources needed for being verifiable. And most importantly, for neutrality, there must not be undue weight placed on any one aspect of a topic. It should be obvious for many fictional works, there is a lot of excess weight placed on the fictional elements of the work and very little on the real-world aspects.
And its not that this will cut down fictional works to pieces. While it may not be a perfect example, Final Fantasy VIII and its sub articles is generally seen as an excellent way to approach writing fictional elements. There's at least 4 sub-pages from the main work (world, characters, and two specific characters), but each is combining fictional in-universe info with a roughly equal amount of secondary sources. I do understand that most fictional works will likely never see this because of the lack of secondary sources, but that falls back to the notability guideline and thus should be used to consider how reasonable the elements of the fictional work should be described. --Masem 13:46, 27 September 2007 (UTC)
I wholeheartedly agree. Why is it that some folks are able to ignore the difference between an in-universe plot summary unsupported by reliable sources and neglecting all real-world aspects, when there is quite a number of excellent counter-examples of good or featured articles on fiction-related subjects that demonstrate how much the article benefits from proper encyclopedic treatment? — aldebaer 09:56, 29 September 2007 (UTC)
I think the comment above about 'undue weight' implies an entirely different understanding of the issue to mine. No article on wiki is 'finished'. Every single one of them can be improved. Some modestly, some vastly. I do not regard an article that merely contains a plot summary as presenting 'undue weight' at all. The implication of such a statement is that the summary should be slashed so that it was of comparable size to the sections on other elements of a work...which in this example don't exist. So the logical conclusion of following that line would be deletion of the article. Entirely the wrong result. The absence of coverage on other aspects of a work means that the article is incomplete, and additional sections need to be added. None of this says very much about the usefulness of in-universe writing to tell a story accurately and briefly. The summary might be too long, or not, and it might internally place undue weight on some element of the story, or not. This is an issue of judgement depending on what is being written about.
I also do not see why secondary sources are required to simply write a plot summary. This is well within the abilities of most readers as a trivial issue of summarisation. If wiki editors are unable to do this for a fictional book, they are equally unable to do it for a book about a fictional work. The kind of summarisation bias you are describing is equally possible in any case where something is being rewritten for presentation on wikipedia (on all topics), and does not justify exclusion of material simply extracted from the primary source. Reporting of primary source material is normally an important and necessary element of proper coverage of anything. It is the very first thing an encyclopedia ought to do: to define what is being talked about. I don't see it as at all surprising if many articles about fiction spring up as a simple plot description with nothing else. This is entirely appropriate both as the necessary first step for creating any meaningfull article, and represents a useful reference work in its own right, whether anything else ever gets added, or not. Sandpiper 19:10, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
Where does it say "secondary sources are required to write a plot"? A plot is its own source, primary, because it can be easily verified by watching the movie. That doesn't mean you can't use secondary sources, but I don't believe there is a requirement that says one must use them for plots. That said, the "undue weight" is in reference to an article about a character that gives priority to the fictional information over the real world information, like who created the character, etc etc. If an article is just a plot, then that means it's got a whole mess of problems other than style.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 19:15, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

WP:ANIME/MANGA's character guideline

We're putting together a draft for a basic layout guideline on Wikipedia:Manual of Style (anime- and manga-related articles). Thought it might interest some other people here as well. See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (anime- and manga-related articles)#Start of drafting character guideline. -- Ned Scott 06:31, 27 September 2007 (UTC)

Proposal for a careful revision

In a lengthy exchange that began somewhat "sub-collaboratively" and slowly developed into something much more useful, we decided to jointly work on a proposal for revising the intro. We kicked several ideas around on G.A.S' talk page, and finally settled on the below. Please note that depending on consensus, this may be the first in a series of careful changes, but we think it's better to proceed step by step. We therefore prepared a wording that could also stand as a useful change on its own (in our opinion). But first things first, so please provide your opinions and thoughts on the following. — aldebaer 20:05, 29 September 2007 (UTC), G.A.S 21:21, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

Proposal for revising the intro
Wikipedia contains numerous articles on fiction-related subjects, fictional worlds and elements from them.
When an article is created, the subject's real-world notability should be established according to the general notability guideline and the more specific notability guideline for fiction-related subjects by including independent reliable secondary sources — this will also ensure that there is enough source material for the article to be comprehensive and factually accurate.
Next, if the subject warrants inclusion in Wikipedia, editors should consider what to write about a subject, and how to best present that information. Because these questions are complementary, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should address both these questions simultaneously in order to create a well written article.
Please note that this page is a guideline, not policy, and it should be approached with common sense and the occasional exception. However, following the basic notions laid out in this guideline is generally a good way to improve articles on fictional topics.


It seems to be a more detailed, better explained introduction to this page. It doesn't appear to contradict what it later states in the body. Seems like a good idea to include it to me.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 22:12, 29 September 2007 (UTC)

  • Seems good to me for the most part. I don't like the "this page is not policy" thing, though; maybe reword to "This page is a guideline, not policy" would be better so as to avoid giving the impression that this page has no force behind it. I would also suggest a few copy editing-type changes, but they're minor. — Brian (talk) 05:00, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
  • I don't like it. It's too long and complicated. The 'not policy' paragraph is redundant with the guideline box. The 'what and how' paragraph has nothing to do with fiction in particular and leaves the reader scratching their head about what exactly it means. You don't need a paragraph to describe the notability issue. Finally, it doesn't mention the basic thrust of the guideline; avoid an in-universe perspective.--Nydas(Talk) 09:57, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
    • The notability part makes FICT and WAF flow more seemlessly into one another, in my opinion. What and how: The idea is to further explain the existing —but unclear to some— distinction between WP:NOT#PLOT ("what") and in-universe writing ("how"). Since in-universe perspective is really unique to this guideline, it may be better to introduce it in steps of top-bottom categorisation. Also, the intro should be carefully worded so as not to immediately alienate users consulting it in good faith. — aldebaer 10:49, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
  • Reworded the last paragraph per Brian's suggestion. Here's the original for reference:
To avoid any confusion: This page is not policy, it merely summarizes aspects of policy with particular regard to writing about fiction and should be approached with common sense and the occasional exception. However, following the basic notions laid out in this guideline is in the best interest of the article you're writing or editing.
—Preceding unsigned comment added by AldeBaer (talkcontribs)
  • Last paragraph might still need a tweak, but looks good so far. -- Ned Scott 07:26, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Looks good - support its inclusion. I propose a very minor stylistic change: "editors should consider what to write and how to write about the subject" → "editors should consider what to write about a subject, and how best to present that information.". I also instinctively dislike the use of second person in the lead, so I suggest "is in the best interest of the article you're writing or editing" → "is generally a good way to improve articles on fictional topics". I maintain my personal opinion that "topic" is preferable to "subject", which might be interpreted to exclude ephemeral concepts and include only characters, locations, events, etc; and also preferable to "concepts", which might in reverse be construed to exclude characters, locations, etc in favour of aforementioned ephemeral topics. However, that is a stylistic matter with minimal importance - it can easily be changed at a later date. In general I support this rewrite, with or without the ammendments I propose —Preceding unsigned comment added by Happy-melon (talkcontribs) 18:36, 4 October 2007
    • I agree with the all the tweaks you proposed. — Dorf, was: AldeBaer 20:10, 4 October 2007 (UTC)
    • I prefer "subject" due to the fact that I believe artices are written about subjects, whether those subjects are ephemeral or not within the fiction (in real life fiction is fiction is fiction). I also believe "topic" is too broad. Is there maybe a better word? G.A.S 22:19, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
      • I think I see both your points, but although the words are not completely synonymous, both do convey the same essential and necessary meaning. They're just apporaching the same from slightly different angles. Imo, the change from "fictional topic/subject" to "fiction-related subject/topic" is more important. How about leaving it alone for now, since it can be changed at any later time if necessary? — Dorf, was: AldeBaer 23:06, 5 October 2007 (UTC)
        • Agreed. G.A.S 08:36, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
    • I implemented the rewordings Happy-Melon suggested. If there are further general or specific reservations regarding the proposal, please state them. I, for one, think it's ready to be instated as is. — dorf, was: aldebaer 11:19, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
      • Agreed. G.A.S 12:25, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Proposed revision of the revision

A version of the intro with unnecessary words removed:

Wikipedia contains numerous articles on fiction-related subjects, fictional worlds and elements from them.

When an article is created, the subject's real-world notability should be established according to the general notability guideline and the more specific notability guideline for fiction-related subjects by including independent reliable secondary sources — this will also ensure that there is enough source material for the article to be comprehensive and factually accurate.

Next, if the subject warrants inclusion in Wikipedia, editors should consider what to write about a subject, and how to best present that information. Because these questions are complementary, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another, and editors should address both these questions simultaneously in order to create a well written article.

Please note that this page is a guideline, not policy, and it should be approached with common sense and the occasional exception. However, following the basic notions laid out in this guideline is generally a good way to improve articles on fictional topics.

I would prefer the initial sentence avoided mentioning 'fictional worlds', as this is a concept which is more prominent in sci-fi and fantasy, not so much in other fiction.--Nydas(Talk) 18:18, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

I know that you have a (mostly admirable) preference for as-tight-as-possible wording, but I think "nicety" is a quality that should also come into play, and to that effect omitting those words as unnecessary wouldn't be my personal preference. With regard to 'fictional worlds': I see your point, and I considered to exchange it myself. But I couldn't think of a better description that would retain the message that the guideline deals with articles on works of fiction as well as elements from them. — dorf, was: aldebaer 18:29, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
We're not fully reading from the same song sheet here if you feel this guideline must encompass works of fiction as well as fictional topics. I thought it had been agreed somewhere, sometime, that WP:NOT#PLOT, WP:BK, WP:FILM, MOS:FILM, etc etc etc, covered these issues. Surely the purpose of this guideline is to cover how to integrate information about fictional topics into an encyclopaedic coverage of the work as a whole?
I like some of Nydas' suggested ommissions, but disagree strongly with others. In particular, "generally" is a crucial weasel word which stops the wording being prescriptive (non-descriptive policy guidelines being a pet hate of mine). I approve of the removal of "next" and "numerous", but none of the other ommissions. Happymelon 19:22, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
The paragraph already explains that it is a guideline, and 'a good way' does not equate with 'the only way'.--Nydas(Talk) 19:38, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Happy-melon: One of the basic aims of the guideline is to explain the very point that there is no such thing as "fictional" topics. Topics are always real-world topics, and that should be carefully considered, particularly when writing about fiction-related subjects.
To you and Nydas: Ok, since you both are against the word "general", why not leave it out. — dorf, was: aldebaer 19:47, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
This guideline is about fiction - but not the specific media it appears in - and as such includes works of fiction and fiction related topics - and yes - to cover how to integrate information about fictional topics into an encyclopaedic coverage of the work as a whole. As for the suggested changes; The purpose of this part is not to provide tight wording, but to invite the editor into reading the rest of the guideline by providing a quick overview thereof. And in this case, some colouring in does help. Regards, G.A.S 20:00, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) That's not the problem, Nydas. The problem is that removing "generally" leaves the guideline saying that adherence is always beneficial. Of course, in our experience, it is always beneficial, but it doesn't leave any room for legitimate exceptions. The problem with the current wording of WP:FICT is that it works only when applied to the articles its authors were thinking of when they wrote it - namely, all the fancruft that litters wikipedia and really ought to be burnt. By making it too specific, they made it inappropriate for the majority of fictional articles which have some real merit. We shouldn't fall into the same trap: keep it loose, keep it general, and more editors will willingly fight their AfDs inside the box rather than simply ignoring the guideline when it doesn't go their way (which is what is happening with FICT).
Dorf, that's a really good way of putting it, and you're abolutely right. However again that's not quite my point. What I mean is that we're not directly telling editors how to lay out an article on a novel, or a film - we have other guidelines for that. What we're saying is how to write about the fictional topics within the article - how the "characters" section of a film article is laid out would be within the scope of the guideline. But that's actually got nothing to do with the work of fiction itself. When and where to create a sub-article for a major character is for WP:WAF, but again that's not actually about the work of fiction. Do you see what I'm getting at, or am I just rambling incoherently??  :D Happymelon 20:22, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
You're not rambling incoherently. Apparently, I misread your prior comment as agreeing with the removal of "general", but the reason you gave to keep it has my full agreement. Generally conveys the message that we obviously can't take into consideration each and every special case. That's also why it says "following the basic notions" as opposed to just "following this guideline".
When and where to create a sub-article for a major character is not for WP:WAF, it's for WP:FICT. WAF is a how-to page. It is supposed to address frequent problems in articles on fiction-related subjects, be it an article about a novel, a video game, a manga character, or even e.g. that entertainment branch which labels itself "professional wrestling" (since it also employs narrative devices). The most pressing issue to that regard was and is in-universe perspective, with the question of what at all to write (WP:NOT#PLOT) a close second. — dorf, was: aldebaer 20:50, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Nydas, in fact all of these words were carefully chosen:
  • numerous-Without it; it could be seen as WP including only articles on fiction-related subjects.
  • more specific-it is, isn't it?
  • related subjects-WP:FICT only covers fiction related subjects, not works of fiction themselves.
  • Next-the editor must first establish notability.
  • from one another-crucial to clarify that the questions are two sides of the same coin.
  • simultaneously in order-Emphasize the two questions are equally important
Regards, G.A.S 20:18, 6 October 2007 (UTC).
Fully agree, although that's probably redundant to say :D — dorf, was: aldebaer 20:50, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
  • Even with numerous, the sentence could still be read in that way.
  • The specificity of the guideline is implied by its name.
  • The intro already establishs that it is about fictional topics.
  • You could start every sentence with 'next'. It's never necessary.
  • That the questions are two sides of the same coin is already implied by 'complementary'.
  • See above.
Anyone coming in via the {{in-universe}} template is going to be baffled by the lack of explanation of 'in-universe'.--Nydas(Talk) 07:06, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
  • "Numerous" — this is already in the current version.
  • The intro already establish that it is about fictional topics.-Yes, but we need to clarify it here since the name is not so clear. Editors may assume that it is equivalent to WP:FILM or another notability guideline that is about the media and work itself.
  • "they should not be interpreted in isolation" (without " from one another,")-it is unnecessary vague: in isolation from what?
  • "simultaneously in order" - these last two has been adapted from WP:NPOV's lead. It may be unnecessary; but it softens the wording while emphasizing it.
  • "next"-almost never necessary. It is not crucial here, but helps.
{{in-universe}}-the template can redirect to that specific section.
Regards, G.A.S 09:24, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
{{in-universe}}-Comment: The revision will replace this part:
Wikipedia contains numerous articles on fictional worlds and elements from them. Like with all Wikipedia articles, a fictional topic's notability has to be established by and including reliable secondary sources. Once this is done, the approach to writing about these subjects is the most important consideration to make. Articles dealing with fictional subjects, characters, objects, events, or locations should discuss their authorship and their significance outside the narrative.
And that part does not really say anything about an out of universe perspective (except for one sentence — that sentence can be moved to "Real world perspective", and the template can redirect to that section. G.A.S 09:23, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
Good idea. I've also been considering to create a section redirect for real-world perspective (e.g. WP:FICTIONISREAL). Nydas, could that solve at least that problem? — Dorftrottel, was: aldebaer 15:15, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Nydas, since most of your concerns are rather stylistic in nature (although I'd rather stick to the current wording for quite the same reasons G.A.S laid out above) and since some of them concern the current version just as much (e.g. not literally mentioning in-universe), would you basically agree to the rewording? It would be nice to get this over with, since all others have given their basic agreement, minor tweaks (which can be applied at any later time) notwithstanding. — Dorftrottel, was: aldebaer 15:19, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

I don't have a veto or anything, go ahead with the change.--Nydas(Talk) 15:45, 7 October 2007 (UTC)
I hope I wasn't implying anything like that. But your comments are of course welcome, and G.A.S and me wouldn't want to ignore any serious concerns. At any rate, thanks, and as you know the wording isn't final of course. — Dorftrottel, was: aldebaer 16:16, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Consensus found through editing

If you disagree with a change, do not revert, edit. If you do not disagree with a change, or have no opinion either way: Do not revert OR edit.

Your editing action is your opinion on the topic. You must provide your reasons for an edit, undo, or revert. "Does not have consensus" is not a reason. I mean, well duh, we know you disagree, because you reverted. but please explain why! --Kim Bruning 04:08, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm a bit perplexed. What exactly are you referring to, Kim? — Brian (talk) 04:17, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Checking recent history, several folks have been reverting out changes without a proper rationale. [6] [7] [8]
--Kim Bruning 04:32, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Maybe not one written down on the talk page, but many of us already understood the rationale. Still, I understand your point, although your 3rd example was discussed on the talk page. Regarding Sandpiper's changes, he tried to make very big changes that changed much of the meaning behind this guideline, to a viewpoint that most of us disagreed with (which is also discussed in general on the talk page with Sandpiper, we just didn't discuss the exact edits). -- Ned Scott 05:02, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

"Does not have consensus" means that I trusted that several people wouldn't agree with the edits in question. Turns out, I was right with that, and so my reverts made sense. Regarding G.A.S' rewording of the intro: As you can see above, his edit and my subsequent revert sparked a fruitful collaboration in which we decided to jointly propose a rewording. You may want to comment on that proposal, or on the specific edits in question. What is your opinion about the edits that were reverted? Were they useful, do you agree with them? — aldebaer 18:56, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

While trying not to appear too defensive, I'd like to point out that regarding my revert of SandPiper's edit, I commented on this talk page afterwards. An edit summary simply isn't the place for that, it's there to summarise what is being done in the edit. The talk page is for presenting rationales. Also, I figured that reverting on the basis of "no consensus" is appropriate when it concerns an edit with this summary. — aldebaer 19:12, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
I thought the comment entirely appropriate: I think I gave it a week for anyone to explain how the current guideline was plain non-factually correct, which is pretty good going around here. To date, still no one has explained why they believe the guideline is factually correct rather than someone's erroneous and unsubstantiated opinion.Sandpiper
Ahhhhh... well, I can see where you're coming from, but surely, you're the better (wo)man, and can rise above that? :-)
That and note that typically, it's not a good idea to revert if you think that others don't agree. It's happened more than once that on some page, everyone thinks that while they themselves are unsure, everyone else won't agree. - So they all edit war over the page, and after a week or more, it turns out they actually were all in agreement to start with! :-P So the rule of thumb is: Only edit or make reverts that you personally agree with and want done. Makes sense? --Kim Bruning 20:37, 2 October 2007 (UTC) (No big harm done so no foul here, of course, but could have been done nicer :-) )
It is good to be mindful of these things. A self-check every so often isn't so bad :) -- Ned Scott 20:56, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Ok, I checked myself and I'm male. Better, I don't know. I won't sheepishly stand by when someone with the declared interest of weakening this guideline instates a clearly controversial edit. I know it's not the kind of thing that will get me love and hugs, but I'm not here to be loved. — aldebaer 22:09, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
It's ok to do things, but then make that your edit summary, so we all can respond to you appropriately. And yes, yes you are here for love and hugs. Otherwise wikipedia isn't fun for yourself and others, and why else would people volunteer? --Kim Bruning 22:14, 2 October 2007 (UTC) <3 *kerhug* O:-)
Some professional enthusiasm, wild curiosity in social matters, PC addiction? Attention whoring, power games, POV pushing? —— I just despise mindless "fan enthusiasm" that pervades not only Wikipedia but seemingly every non-discriminating volunteer community I've ever come across IRL. That's why I also despise userboxen, and wikilove, and barnstars, and "sign here!!!" pages which are the warning signs of the unwashed masses. Those (granted: mostly innocuous) "systemic POV pushers" are worse than the worst ideological POV pushers, trolls, and vandals combined. I'm here to see if I can make a difference. Trying kind words where I feel they are appropriate, roundly reverting where I feel it is appropriate. — aldebaer 22:30, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Every wiki writer is an obsessive, most people do not get paid for writing here, and those that do are not being paid to write an unbiased encyclopedia. Try to separate your dislike for the style from the merits of the content and accomodate those who feel a good modern encyclopdeia ought to include such and such. Sandpiper 08:36, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Dude, you can run from Eternal September but you just can't hide. In the mean time, it's usually a good idea to be nice to people, because what happens if for instance that moron you just met who's trolling about there being no gene for blue eyes (truely a sad commentary on failing high school systems everywhere, the unwashed masses expand by the month) turns out to be a molecular geneticist? O:-) --Kim Bruning 02:36, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
I am trying to be polite as far and as often I can, occasional slip-ups notwithstanding. I do consider it polite to tell another user if I don't approve of a specific edit or comment s/he made. And I believe I could tell the geneticist from the crank. Cranks usually betray themselves early on if you really listen to them for only short while. Also: Nice phrase, Eternal September, didn't know that one. Does that mean the only way to another spring is through winter? Where do I sign up to push for Winter then? :-P — aldebaer 08:59, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Ah, I should probably have posted the paragraph here before dropping it in. But the sheer listiness of this guideline was bugging me. Restore the list if you disagree.--Nydas(Talk) 22:20, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Done. :P Listiness is par for the course in Manuals of style on Wikipedia, and this one is actually less listy than most. But I really think the list is important and that the example paragraph, while useful, doesn't convey the same information. — Brian (talk) 22:29, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
You're probably right, although this guideline is so long, it feels like it's chasing its tail with regard to the in-universe issue, whilst not offering any other guidance. There's no information on how to write about continuity, when to fork a fictional character, what images to use, how much 'fan reaction' or 'fan controversy' to include, etc.--Nydas(Talk) 07:02, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Which is exactly why me and AldeBaer would like to revise it (There are more planning details on my talk page, i.e. longer term goal, etc; but the above needs to be passed first). G.A.S 08:26, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Any reason this revision planning is going on on personal talk pages and not here? It's not like you're exactly hiding anything, but it seems a bit "behind closed doors"-ish. (Not intended as a slight; just a question! :) — Brian (talk) 08:37, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
The idea was to prepare something half-way debatable for further discussion here. We certainly intended to wait for input and suggestions from others, which is why I notified all the "recent regulars" ([9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14], [15]). To speak only for myself: I didn't know how others would welcome the proposal. And, like G.A.S said, the kind of step-by-step rejuvenation we had in mind requires going through the guideline top to bottom, starting with the intro. You may think of the joint proposal we made as really just a slightly more thought-out proposal by one user. — aldebaer 09:08, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) We can move it, but the reason was that the discussion originally started as from related discussions. And as AldeBaer said, we wanted to come up with something presentable first. G.A.S 09:11, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
I've sat here for an hour reading and commenting and despite your circular letter comment on my user page (the template didn't work?), still don't know where this major re-write is happening. Sandpiper 08:54, 19 October 2007 (UTC)


Does this guideline apply to mythological topics? (My feeling is that it should not – fiction and mythology are not the same, although there can be some overlap. Wikipedia should probably have a different MoS guideline for writing about mythology and religion.) Q·L·1968 21:51, 14 October 2007 (UTC)

Well, religion isn't considered "fiction" I'm sure you can understand what that's so. If by mythology you are referring to things like Roman Gods and Greek Gods and the like, that wouldn't be fiction either. I would go over to Wikipedia:WikiProject Religion and Wikipedia:WikiProject Mythology and see if they have an manual of style for religious and mythological articles.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 22:02, 14 October 2007 (UTC)
In some ways, yes, but we allow a lot more in-universe information. For something to be considered a part of mythology, or say, a classic, usually means it's had a very big impact on the real world, and has done so for a very long time. It's enough to justify a lot more "plot" than the average article on fiction. The real world-relevance is justified in tons of other articles that are linking to the main article for context. Or something like that, for a lack of better words. But yeah, what Bignole said, I'd see what those other WikiProjects have since there are so many other things to consider. -- Ned Scott 07:52, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Interesting point

These edits refers:

  • Diff per WP:WAF and removed defaultsort, it would be necessary if the page was titled "Usagi Tsukino"
  • Diff fixing redundace by rm fictional character, as protagonist already includes that meaning
  • Diff Welllll, protagonists can be real people, too. I think we're supposed to be pretty explicit about the fictionalness. You're right to remove 'character', though
  • Diff rm Tautology: Even though a real person can be a protagonist, the context of the first sentence clarifies this as fictional (e.g. metaseries, character)
  • Diff The point is to provide the most fictional-related information as possible, read WP:WAF and take a look at this exemplar, WP:CMC/X
  • Diff Undid revision 165082009 by Sesshomaru (talk) (none of those examples have redundant wording; "title character" is enough
  • Diff Read what the Manual of Style says about making fiction clear. You must identify a fictional character as fictional. Not all protagonists are fictional.

This might not have been the point of this guideline. So for the purpose of the guideline, when is the wording that shows someone/something is fictional getting out of hand? In the above the word "Protagonist" already makes it clear that the character is fictional, but some editors insists on adding "Fictional" or "Fictional character".

*Extract from article: "A protagonist is a term used to refer to a figure or figures in literature whose intentions are the primary focus of a story"; Encarta dictionary: "main character: the most important character in a novel, play, story, or other literary work".

Regards, G.A.S 08:01, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

I would argue that you could have a non-fictional protagonist in the case of a historical or semi-historical work. I think it's completely fair to say a character is a protagonist and the work they are in is of a certain fictional type ("fictional", "historical fiction", etc.). Some cases may make it very obvious (Sailor Moon is no way a historical fiction) but I really see no reason to state the word "fictional" when describing a fictional work, and probably even more so would want to see it on sub-articles about fictional elements. --MASEM 12:32, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I side with whomever it is who is arguing that "protagonist" implies fictional. I would argue the same for "the main character" or even "a superhero in the anime series blah blah blah". As long as it's strongly implied that the subject under scrutiny is fictional, there's no need to spell it out with "fictional character". There is no way someone is going to stumble on this article and think, "Oh, this person is real!" The "fictional character" bit is not necessary. — Brian (talk) 12:44, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Maybe not necessary, but certainly accurate. I thought the point of the opening line was to describe the subject in the basic sense. Also, you shouldn't assume that a reader does or does not know that "protagonist" or "main character" or whatever is equivalent to "fictional". Main character could be used in non-fiction, if you are reading a book that is an auto-biography, or even a regular biography. Technically, the main character is the one the book is about. "Protagonist" and "Antagonist" implies a specific role in the series, so what if a character is ambiguous?  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 12:48, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
(Edit conflict - Reply to Masem) What you say is in some way true, but Protagonist and Antagonist is (almost—except for the incorrect use of these words) exclusive to fiction, or works of fiction. For instance, in Braveheart, the protagonist is William Wallace. However, the real William Wallace is not the protagonist of the similar events in history, just as Adolf Hitler was not the antagonist in WWII. Does these two words not establish, per definition, that the person is a character in a work of fiction (Based on real events or not)? G.A.S 12:52, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
According to some definitions there are uses of the word "protagonist" to apply to real people in real situations; it would be a stretch but not inaccurate to call the real William Wallace a protagonist for Scottish Independence. But by saying "William Wallace is the protagonist in the fictional film "Braveheart", you've established the more known and generally more accepted definition of protagonist. But I think this only applies to historical fiction when there's a possibility of confusing real world events and fictional retellings. No one (we hope) is going to mistake Sailor Moon as an accurate account of a real world event, and thus once "protagonist" is used, it establishes the work as fictional in that case. I understand the need to be terse with words, but I see nothing really wrong with saying "a fictional character in a fictional work" as to strongly establish the fictional nature of the article in question.--MASEM 13:06, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I see your point but (1) the use of protagonist as proponent is an unusual usage of the word, and (2) "fictional character in a fictional work" has the potential to mean a character in a (fictional) work of fiction within a work of fiction. G.A.S 14:51, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Re Bignole: Should, in such a case the sentence rather say "the protagonist in the fictional work xxx" instead of "the fictional character, protagonist in work xxx"? G.A.S 12:52, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
When I look at the way I wrote Jason Voorhees, I didn't get into his "role" in the film till the second paragraph, because I trying to give all the basic info on the character in the first paragraph. Though, that's just my example and I'm sure it could be written anyway. I would assume it could easily be the editor's choice, and if it's something that is causing controversy at an article--two or more editors reverting back and forth--then a simple discussion on the talk page could solve that problem.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:00, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
The point I am getting at, is if we decide "protagonist" sufficiently shows a character is fictional, it could be added as an example (As WAF has been quoted quite a few times in the example). But what you say is true.
On that point: A few more examples might be useful. G.A.S 13:07, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
WAF has been quoted as a reason to use "protagonist"? The word doesn't show up on the page. To me, the term "fiction" is describing the basic element of the topic, that it falls into "fiction" and not "non-fiction", as those are the two division of the literary world. What about characters like Pauline Fowler? Soap characters and their shows could easily be confused as "real". Their shows are based on present times, so they are born, age and die throughout the show.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:13, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
No, in this case it was quoted to use "Fictional protagonist" and "Fictional character, protagonist" as opposed to just "protagonist". But your point is clear. Thanks — G.A.S 13:21, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Pauline Fowler could just be called "a character on the soap opera Blah Blah Blah", and I think we'd be fine. The insistence on the word fictional is redundant, I think. — Brian (talk) 13:43, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Redundant to what though? To character or to Soap opera? We have Non-fictional characters. William Wallace would be more accurately called a "non-fiction" character, than a "fictional character".  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:47, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Non-fictional character: "A nonfictional character (sometimes called a historical character) is a fictional character..." Talk about a contradiction! But on that topic: William Wallace is a person in history, or a character (based on a real person) in the film (Except where it is a historical film).
Maybe the guideline should rather read character in a fictional work (et. al) as opposed to fictional character. This would be a lot less ambiguous. G.A.S 14:00, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
It seems to give preference to the idea that "character" is inherently "fictional" by definition. As for William Wallace, Braveheart was based on true events, but not everything that happened in the movie happened in real-life--that's why it's a fictional retelling. It's pretty accurate, but not entirely. Like 300 for another example. That's a big divergent to the fictional realm, based on a real world event. The "characters" in that movie were technically "real" and thus "non-fiction" characters...but not all their actions or the elements that surrounded them, like monsters and such, were.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 14:16, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
In that case the wording should be "William Wallace is a historical character in the film Braveheart" where the use of "Historical" establishes that the character is based on a real person. The assumption, I believe, is that once "character in film/soap/novel/cartoon", etc. is used, the reader knows that we are talking not talking about a real person, as most films are not historical in nature. Even if we need to clarify when we are talking about a person in fiction, we should be careful not to make the sentence long-winded. G.A.S 14:51, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
How often do we have character forks for historical characters and fictional versions of them? This guideline could probably use some pointers on such things. As an aside, almost every aspect of Braveheart is historically inaccurate.--Nydas(Talk) 15:19, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
It just seems to give preference to the fictional aspect. To me, when describing that character in the first line, the point should be to state what division of the literary world, or film world, they reside in. That's either fiction or non-fiction. It may seem redundant to some, but that's under the assumption that everyone thinks the word "character" denotes fictional status. I certainly don't think it's something that needs to be mandated either way, as far as this page is concerned.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 17:00, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Out of universe vs. Real world

It seems to me that the wording "out-of-universe" is unnecessarily complicated. Would there be, in principle, problems if this were to be replaced with "real world"? G.A.S 09:08, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

None from me. OoU has a lot of currency on Wikipedia, though, so it might be worth including it at least once somewhere as an alternate. — Brian (talk) 12:43, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Unfortunately — yes. But it seems the term "Out of universe" is used almost exclusively on Wikis. G.A.S 13:57, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Do you mean just on this page? I think the first instance of either you could go: "...must have real world content (also known as out-of-universe)..." --or something to that effect. This way, you can say, "here's another name for what we're looking for," but just the more simplified name throughout the page.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:12, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Yes, within this guideline. I think it could work if "...real world content (also known as out-of-universe)..." is used the first time and thereafter only "real world content" is used. G.A.S 13:57, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
I only ever met 'in-universe' when some people here started pushing against it. Before then I naturally used in-universe description when appropriate, and out-universe description similarly as appropriate. As I was taught, in school, for answering literature exams. This war is a very wiki thing which has to do with the faction who do not believe fictional accounts belong on wiki, not with the real merits of the writing style. I still have yet to see any justification for disliking in-universe writing other than 'because I think its bad'. It seems to have been invented here for the reason of banning it, which seems in itself thoroughly bad. Sandpiper 08:43, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Wow! You figured it out, Sandpiper. You've shot to the heart of the real reason this guideline was ever written in the first place. Amazing! (It must get tiring.) At any rate, you continue to misread the guideline as banning all fictional perspective in articles when it, in fact, does not. — Brian (talk) 08:48, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Also, I think the front page of this article provides examples of why a primarily IU style is not encyclopedic.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 12:11, 19 October 2007 (UTC)
Unless it has changed since I last looked, no it doesn't. It makes claims about why such an approach might be bad, generally without pointing out that exactly the same, or 'mirror' problems apply with ou-universe approaches. If it even handedly argued both ways, then I wouldn't have a problem with it. It is inaccuracy I dislike in anything written on wiki, including policies and guidelines. As to misreading the article, no, it is clearly written to bias the argument against the inclusion of any in-universe approach. That is not reasonable. Sandpiper 18:34, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
So, you're saying that everything under "The problem with in-universe perspective" isn't an example of what's wrong with the perspective? So, are you saying that we should rewrite WP:V to talk about why it's ok to NOT put sources in an article? I mean, because you are basically saying that any policy or guideline page that does not say what the "other side" isn't just as good would be bias, correct? It's built on consensus. Consensus is this is an encyclopedia and ALL articles, whether they are fiction related or not, must be written from a real world perspective. We live in the real world, not fictionland. Wikipedia wasn't created to cater to fanboys and their original research.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 18:39, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
I have already gone through the list item by item at least twice on this talk page explaining why just about every comment applies also to out-univeres writing, or to any wiki article on a non-fiction topic. No one has justified the points yet or explained how my arguments are wrong. Yes, if there are valid reasons for not putting sources in an article then we certainly should say so, because if we do not, anyone reading the alleged justification will see that it is false and simply ignore it. But I do not recall ever arguing that sources should not be used wherever possible. If you can make a valid list which does not attempt to 'make a case' by piling up possible problems with one approach without explaining that they can also apply to the alternate approach, then please do so. My continuing objection is to people claiming that difficulties uniquely apply to one approach when they also apply to others. The fact that a difficulty exists whatever way an article is written is absolutely no argument for singling out one of those approaches for derision and favouring another. Moreover, it brings the whole policy into disrepute as obvious nonsense. Sandpiper 10:43, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, that's your opinion, and not one shared by everyone....actually, not one shared by the majority, since consensus hasn't changed this page yet. Sorry, but we're an encyclopedia and we're written for the real world. This isn't a fansite, or a place for substiting watching or reading some fiction. IU writing is relevant in places, but not as the primary tone for the article.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:31, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
How many people have actually contributed to this page, compared to the numbers merrily editing away in total ignorance of this debate? The fact that it is a guideline, not a policy, inherently means that there is not consensus to make it a hard rule, merely a general guideline. It recognises the fact that while some may consider it an aspiration, many don't. Sandpiper
Actually, it's not a policy because policies are generally things that are not based on a case-by-case basis. In other words, you will always verify information. You will never create original though. Don't confuse being a guideline and being a policy with the fact that there just isn't enough people saying "make it a policy". Consensus is consensus no matter how you slice it.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 12:06, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
A key difference (there is probably more) between writing about a real-world topic and a fictional topic is the fact that at some point, the fictional topic is going to rely on primary sources (the show/work itself). That itself is not a significant problem, but if you look after that link, it's the aftermath of using primary sources: "To the extent that an article or particular part of an article relies on a primary source, that part of the article should (1) only make descriptive claims about the information found in the primary source, the accuracy of which is easily verifiable by any reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge, and (2) make no analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims, unless such claims are verifiable either from the primary source itself or from another source. Contributors drawing on primary sources should be careful to comply with both conditions.". In-universe articles often far exceed requirement #2. Real world/out-of-universe articles typically fall into the secondary source, which WP editors are allowed then to include comments and ideas that would fail requirement #2 above as long as we are sourcing them correctly.
I am not saying that one cannot write an in-universe article relying solely on in-universe information that meets the requirements above, but that is a very very difficult proposition. It is the fact that it is very very hard to do so means that we need to discourage people from taking that approach and to use summaries only of plot, characters, and the like.
I'm afraid I am a little bemused by this. Exactly what sort of claims do you feel people are making based upon a primary work which are not straightforwardly verifiable simply by reading/watching that work? I don't see exactly what you feel is 'very difficult'. Sandpiper 08:27, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
I've done it myself and its very difficult to avoid: describing the unstated emotional attitude a character has when doing something, or impressing a speed or rate of how something occurs when no such indication is given, or other such situations: filling in "color" words that are not present in the original material even if it suggests it. If Homer says "I'm angry!" and then shakes Bart, we can write without synthesis "Homer angrily shook Bart", but if Homer never states his emotion before doing that, "angrily" is synthesizing the situation, even if Homer looks angry. Writing even brief plot descriptions without color can be rather difficult because the resulting work is rather bland and usually you likely are to have some interest to make the plot sound exciting or great because of your appreciation/knowledge of the work. I will say that likely no plot description on WP is synthesis-free, but the better ones keep it to a minimum and focus more on reporting exactly what happens. Sticking to a synthesis-free description is very difficult, and if you let it go, usually what happens is that newer editors jump on and start adding analysis and evaluation and a lot more OR and speculation and what-ifs to the plot. At least three articles, I've seen the plot section build up to beyond acceptable, had to cut it down to the basics, and still watch as people wanted to color it up with details that aren't spelled out exactly in the work itself or supporting material. --MASEM 13:42, 30 October 2007 (UTC)
Also, do note that WP:NOT#IINFO applies both to real-world and to fictional articles. WP is not meant to supply a dissertation on a topic, but to give the general reader enough information to understand the topic at hand as, if needed, to conduct further research armed with a better understanding of that topic. We're not trying to teach people, but instead we're trying to inform them. For a scientific article, that means hitting enough high-level details to be able understand how its used and to seek out other references to read more, if needed; for a fictional work, that means giving the basics of plot and characters to understand why they have made a cultural impact and to seek out other references to read more. --MASEM 13:48, 29 October 2007 (UTC)
I don't really see how wp:not affects how something is writtten, as opposed to whether it is written at all. The general consensus amongst editors seems to be that a quite lengthy description of fiction is appropriate. As bignole mentions, very few of those editors seem to have been consulted about wording of this guideline. Sandpiper

Perhaps we should proceed by someone producing an example of an article which falls foul of these guidelines. It seems to me that this guideline is over prescriptive and therefore needs softening to reduce its excessive claims. But maybe there are no existing articles which people here believe fall foul of it?Sandpiper 08:27, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

There's Category:Articles that need to differentiate between fact and fiction. Is that what you had in mind? —Preceding unsigned comment added by BrianSmithson (talkcontribs)

need for infinite imaginary universes

No, the intro won't do. in which the work of fiction and its publication are embedded sounds as though the 'real' world being talked about is the imaginary world invented by the author. Sadly, I havn't time for a further critique just at the moment. Sandpiper 08:58, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Note Intro refers to the paragraph in the Real-world perspective section and not the lead paragraph. — G.A.S 10:04, 19 October 2007 (UTC)

Spoo as an example article

Can we scrap Spoo as an exemplary fiction article? I make no secret of my dislike for it, although I am not the only one: see Wikipedia:Featured article removal candidates/Spoo, Wikipedia:Featured article review/Spoo/archive1, Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Spoo.--Nydas(Talk) 09:54, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Nobody has complained, so I've removed it.--Nydas(Talk) 19:59, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Harry Potter lawsuit This should be something to keep track of. It could provide a little bit more information on where the line is when it comes to copyrighted fictional material in encyclopedia's. --TheDJ (talkcontribs) 11:51, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

"Generally accepted standard"

Evidences?Geni 00:55, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Given the facts that this has been established well over a year, that it is used as a standard in thing like AfDs, GAs, FAC, and a general standard across the various projects, and the fact that your argument against it is based off of a very small community of editors, it is you that has to prove that this is not generally accepted. TTN 01:03, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
FAC standards are not guidlines. Argumentum ad Antiquitam is a logical faclly and ah links to back up your claims?Geni 01:26, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
The featured articles represent various views of the community, and they are fine with it, which is the opposite of what you're trying to assert. If something is broken around here, it is usually fixed. You'll see that the only challenges to this are from people like yourself, which would mean that the rest of the community feels that this is fine. Please do not try to use the "Oh, only a few people deal with this." argument, as I just gave four different mediums that this is referenced in. Then there is the fact that even without this, the standards are already set in WP:V, WP:RS, and WP:N, so you have your true answer right there. TTN 01:35, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
People like me? Your meaning? Oh and the silent majority stuff convinces no one. You claim AFDs so links? FAC requirments basicaly include haveing an image. Should we start redirecting every article that does not have an image?.01:52, 13 November 2007 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Geni (talkcontribs)
OK, there is no point in this. Either prove that this is limited, or you can go do something else. TTN 01:58, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
Please read the FAC criteria carefully. It says, "It has images and other media where they are appropriate to the subject, with succinct captions and acceptable copyright status. Non-free images or media must meet the criteria for the inclusion of non-free content and be labeled accordingly." That means there may be articles were it is not appropriate to have images. FAC criteria does not say you must have images, it says that they should be present when appropriate.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 02:26, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
How many cases can you think of where an FA has passed without an image?Geni 09:34, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
How many cases have you seen where an FAC has failed because there were no images?  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:23, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
There was a lengthy discussion and consensus to make this a guideline. -- ReyBrujo 14:22, 13 November 2007 (UTC)
Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (writing about fiction)/straw poll was the straw poll to review consensus. -- ReyBrujo 14:27, 13 November 2007 (UTC)

Plot summaries & sources

Do plot summaries and character descriptions require 3rd-party sources, or are the works themselves sufficient? So far as I can tell the standard practice across tens of thousands of articles on novels, plays, movies, video games, and the like is that 3rd-party sources are not used or required. Is there a significant difference of opinion among engaged editors about this? Are there any guidelines or policies that address this directly? The question has come up at Talk:Pedophilia and child sexual abuse in fiction (boys)#Deletion of Plot Summaries. ·:· Will Beback ·:· 01:28, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

This has been discussed before, recently at WP:FILMS. For the most part, if the source is easily accessable (i.e. I can go rent the movie, read the book, etc etc) then the source is primary and it's the work in question. But, this only applies to facts taken directly from the source, and not interpretive opinions. You cannot say "John felt discouraged" and cite some episode of Television Show X, if you are simply making a personal observation based on John's reaction. That would require a third-party source, or in the least a primary source interview with the writer, director, actor discussing such an emotion.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 01:36, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
I concur. Similarly problematic would be attributing character traits to characters in fiction when such is never spelled out. For example, you may have a piece of fiction where a character drowns puppies for fun, but you can't call that character evil unless the author does or a third-party source does. You can, however, say "Character X drowns puppies" and source it to the primary source material. — Brian (talk) 05:39, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
i think there is a problem with, or at least the potential for a problem with editors interpreting plots differently. I can see how plot summaries are useful but my concern is that they are original research. I definetely think it needs a strict guideline on how to write them and avoid personal interpretations and following the WP:SYN policy. --Neon white 17:41, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Only original research if you include your personal opinion--which would only be the case of interpreting motivations that are not explicitely stated. Primary sourcing is still sourcing, and there is no policy or guideline that states you have to have third-part sourcing for everything.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 17:55, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
The issue of third party sources do however play a role in whether an article should be created or not, refer to WP:FICT for more detail. G.A.S 18:14, 14 November 2007 (UTC)


I feel that a recent rewording of WP:FICT now directly contradicts this guideline (among others) - I have brought up the issue here - if anyone would like to comment. [[Guest9999 12:59, 15 November 2007 (UTC)]]

Fan magazines 'mostly' unreliable

The guideline currently says: "Publications affiliated with a particular work of fiction (e.g. fan magazines), are mostly not considered suitable secondary sources about the primary works..."

Fan magazines are often not affiliated with the work, and 'mostly' sounds like a recipe for 'special exceptions' for favoured franchises. We should have something more discrete, or just leave out the sentence altogether.--Nydas(Talk) 23:04, 6 December 2007 (UTC)