Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Middle-earth/Standards

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A recent change to List of Middle-earth Men brings up a question about how to handle long lists. That page had anchor tags ('<div id=') for each name, but these have been changed into titles ('===') for several of them. I think we should use one method consistently and would like to discuss which that should be. I originally used titles on List of Hobbits, but then changed that to the anchor points for cleaner formatting. Also, what's the difference between this 'Standards' page and the new Middle-earth_Style_Guide link on the main project page? Should these be combined? --CBDunkerson 13:31, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, I was not aware of the this page. Well, just have the /Standards be the Middle-earth Style Guide page so we can delete the latter. I like the idea of using titles because then we are still able to link the minor characters' descriptions as where else we use the Hobbits format, then we're not. —Mirlen 13:34, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean. Anchor tags provide the same linking capability as titles. For instance List_of_Hobbits#Gorbadoc goes directly to Gorbadoc Brandybuck on that page. The titles format would add links in the 'table of contents', but with a long list of names I'm not sure we want that - an 'alphabet' TOC can take users to specific sections without listing everything in a long box at the top. The only other difference between the two methods which I can think of is that titles forces the name to be a separate header while the anchor tags can be anywhere, allowing the names to be shown as headers or inline with the rest of the text. --CBDunkerson 13:40, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Eh, never mind then. I wasn't aware of that linking process. *feels stupid* Well, I guess using the alphabet would be cleaner. Alright, then, let's have the lists follow the alphabet format, like the Hobbits page. Also concerning this, could you respond to the splitting proposal concerning the Middle-earth Men list here?
Also, I was hoping to set up this page like Wikipedia's Manual of Style page, so is it alright if this talk is archived after we've decided the standards for articles/list so we can set it up like the Manual of Style page, like a Guide after the discussion. What do you think? —Mirlen 13:45, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Sounds good to me. BTW, there are links to prior discussions for the items already on the standards page. If we want to change any of those discussion can go on the basic talk page as you suggest. --CBDunkerson 13:52, 5 March 2006 (UTC)
Yeah, cool. So now that the list standards is discussed, how about the...? (Make sure to respond to the splitting proposal. I just want some feedback before I start ahead.) —Mirlen 14:01, 5 March 2006 (UTC)


Standards for articles. How do we want the sections to go and everything? —Mirlen 14:00, 5 March 2006 (UTC)

Well, for the most part I think we can follow the primary manual of style on that. The only layout issues I can think of would be whether and where we want to use 'spoiler' warnings (I don't think we need them - story is fifty years old) and how we want to handle situations where there are different versions of the story. Prior discussion of the latter resulted in the {{Mecanon}} template to specify that the main article assumes one version and other variants are explained at the bottom of the article. However, that has recently been disputed by some at Talk:Middle-earth canon with a suggestion that all variations be given equal weight and be discussed together. So, instead of the lead saying 'Gil-Galad was the son of Orodreth' with a link to explanations at the bottom of the page we'd have several paragraphs towards the top tracing the dozen or so different parentages Tolkien considered for Gil-galad, why Christopher chose Fingon as his father in The Silmarillion, and how Christopher later concluded that this was an error and it should have been Orodreth instead. Note that currently the article only covers the two 'most common' versions rather than giving equal weight to other ideas Tolkien had at some point... such as that Gil-galad was Feanor's grandson. I can't think of any other 'layout' issues offhand. --CBDunkerson 12:10, 6 March 2006 (UTC)
Well there are some variations concerning headings in character articles. In some articles, they have a seperate appearance section and names/titles section. Couldn't the appearance section somehow be merged within the character's history and the names/titles in a trivia section? Also, what do you think of placing leadoff quotes on the beginning of the page to spice up the articles a bit :)? —Mirlen 02:09, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Also, concerning tenses. Should the articles be in past or present tense. There seems to be a variation between that. —Mirlen 23:28, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Never mind, found the discussion and so we are doing it in past tense. —Mirlen 21:49, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Family Tree Templates[edit]

There also seems to be inconsistency in family line/trees templates.

Examples of different styles:

Which style shall we settle on? I like the Elendil-style, but the Tookclan is more Tolkien-format and easier, so yeah...And also, instead of attaching the famiy tree to each character's article (which takes up space), I think, what would be better and is more commonly done, is to have a 'See also' section and put the link of article describing their family line/house. —Mirlen 23:42, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Overall I like the 'Tookclan' style best. The 'graphical' format recently implemented on Elendil and some other trees is interesting, but seems to generally take up more space and allow for less flexibility in notes and commentary. --CBDunkerson 01:42, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. I experimented with the graphical you've said, it takes way too much space—and there were some family members I had to cut down when I experimented to get it to a suitable size. —Mirlen 04:17, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I think the 'Elendil' style is similar or identical to the style seen at here at Ñoldor. It doesn't seem to take up a lot of space there, so maybe it is usable? Carcharoth 06:36, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

It is the same template, but they've just reduced the font-size... and consequently the box/overall size. Some variation on this would probably be workable. It does rely on smaller text than the 'ASCII' trees, but some reasonable middle ground between 'readable fonts' and 'compact trees' could probably be found. Substituting the templates for the underlying markup is also still a possibility. --CBDunkerson 19:59, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Character disambiguation[edit]

If there is one or two more other characters in Middle-earth with the same name, should we have a disambiguation page? —Mirlen 04:33, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Hmmm. Probably depends on the situation. If there are multiple minor characters with the same name, 'Galdor' for instance, then I think they could all be included on the same page together. However, in cases where one character is more prominent than the others, such as 'Boromir', I think it makes sense to have the main page on that character with a disambiguation line at the top to the pages of other characters with the name. --CBDunkerson 12:02, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Here's an example I was thinking needs to be disambiguated. Finduilas of Dol Amroth and Finduilas. IMHO both are somewhat minor chrarecters. Would this fall into articles that should be disambiguated? Ted87 23:40, 4 May 2006 (UTC)
If there are only two things to be disambiguated, the usual procedure is to use a hatnote at the top of both articles, telling the reader that there is another article with a similar name, and giving a link. Carcharoth 16:47, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Referencing Middle-earth[edit]

At least we should change all references to Middle-earth as a fictional universe, since it's part of Tolkien's version of our ancient Earth, which would be Arda. -- Uthanc 06:46, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

I've seen this changed back and forth between 'universe', 'world', 'stories', 'legendarium', 'mythology', et cetera. Middle-earth was originally the name of a land mass and then used more generally for the whole Earth. However, Tolkien's stories also incorporated explanations of the whole universe (Ea) and the 'Timeless Halls' beyond. I don't have a particular preference, but agree we should try to keep the articles consistent. --CBDunkerson 11:52, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. Either Fictional universe or fantasy universe. —Mirlen 22:59, 22 March 2006 (UTC)Mirlen 21:33, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
I was thinking, perhaps saying legendarium would be better. —Mirlen 21:52, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
I agree, "legendarium" would be best. But I think we need an article explaining Tolkien's legendarium before we start changing stuff. At the moment, an explanation resides at Legendarium. If Tolkien was the only person to use this term, we can expand that article, but I think they should be separate articles. Carcharoth 10:05, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Legendarium is an old term for a written collection of legends, such as the 'Anjou Legendarium'. There is a Middle-earth Cycle article, which is sort of a non-standard term for the same thing, that might be cleaned up and moved to 'Tolkien Legendarium' or 'Middle-earth Legendarium'. --CBDunkerson 13:16, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

Referencing the books[edit]

Is there a standard for how to reference the books? Is this applied uniformly across the articles? As there are only a limited number of books by Tolkien that are likely to be referred to, could these be listed somewhere in a standard format so that people know how to reference them? As for page numbers being different across different editions, probably the best way to deal with that is to leave blank spaces for people to fill in the publisher/publication date/page numbers for the particular book they are referring to. Carcharoth 23:58, 1 April 2006 (UTC)

Well, once you take out the Publisher name, location, publication year, ISBN, and page range there isn't really much left except the book title and author. Some example book citations are;
A list like this might be useful for cases where the printing/page number don't matter. CBDunkerson 00:55, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Do you know which ones have the same page numbers in different editions and printings? And what should we do with the other ones where the page numbers can vary? At the very least, all references in a single article, to the same source, should use the same edition and page numbers. And this should be made clear in any standard. All my references will be to books published by HarperCollins in the UK. Shall I just start adding some and see how it goes, or shall I wait until a standard has been thrashed out? It might also help to see what the standard of referencing is so far. You and others will probably have a better idea of that than me. Carcharoth 01:23, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
PS. Shouldn't the History of Middle-earth references mention Christopher Tolkien as well as JRRT? Carcharoth 01:24, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, there is a separate parameter for 'editor' (as used on Letters). Oversight. As to your question about page numbering; All printings/editions of Letters thus far have the same page numbering, but it is that 'thus far' which is the problem. There was a time when there were only two different numbering schemes for LotR... now there are dozens. The HoME texts used to have only one numbering scheme, but a couple of years ago they came out with the 'omnibus' editions that combined several HoME volumes together (and sometimes left out chunks of material). Thus, it is usual practice to cite the version of the text being referred to. The MoS actually suggests use of references to multiple different versions, but I agree that we should standardize wherever possible. However, the only way to do that is to have someone go through and adjust to a single version. In most cases I'd suggest a first edition hardcover from Allen & Unwin / HarperCollins or Houghton Mifflin... as those printings always used the same page numbering as each other. For LotR I'm tempted to instead suggest the 50th anniversary edition due to the meticulous corrections. Still, that volume isn't widely used so it likely makes sense to stay with the old A&U/HMCO three volume hardbacks that are much more common. --CBDunkerson 01:43, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
So I think it sounds like the guidelines should be: (1) Reference the text you have in front of you (simplest); (2) Use the standard reference if possible - if not, someone will eventually fix the reference; (3) Refer to <this list> for examples of citation style and books that are commonly referenced.
I have a copy of the 50th edition of LotR. I only have one complete three-volume set of LotR (though a few single volumes from different publishers and dates knocking around). I have a complete set of the History of Middle-earth volumes, and Letters and Biography. That should be enough to get by for now.
Two things I am confused about are: (a) the order of the Notes/References/External Links/See Also sections - I looked at the Manual of Style, but they seem to give a different order to what many articles use (including the Tolkien article). Which order is correct? (b) Whether to use the Footnote3 method (used at Timeline of Arda) or another template method or the php cite method given at Wikipedia:Footnotes (used in Tolkien)? I think the last one is the recommended one. Carcharoth 02:39, 2 April 2006 (UTC)
I too, was confused on the other of the whole References/See also/Trivia. This is the order I see often:
  1. Trivia
  2. See also
  3. References - A lot of articles have Notes/References merged due to a new format, which I like better than the old one.
  4. External links
For footnotes, this style (the example I'm showing has Good Article status) seems to be the most recent and adapted one.
 After sentence that needs referencing, 
 insert this code: <ref name="subject">Insert reference here.</ref>

 In References, insert this code: 
 <div style="font-size: 90%">
 <references />
Mirlen 21:59, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
Note that <ref> is good enough in most cases. The <ref name="whatever"> format creates a 'whatever' anchorpoint which can be linked to using wikimarkup such as [[#whatever]]. Only really useful if you want to be able to 'jump' to that reference from other parts of the article (or other articles entirely) rather than just from the 'references' list itself. --CBDunkerson 22:56, 5 April 2006 (UTC)
True, but if you have lots of references, it might be useful. :)Mirlen 00:34, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Left aligning. The standard order of sections is 'See also - References - External links' per WP:GTL. I suppose 'Trivia' could go above that or at the bottom like 'Quotations'. --CBDunkerson 14:26, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Thanks CBD, fixed the order above. I would say to list Trivia before References section in the very least, since misc. information sometimes require sources. —Mirlen 11:17, 8 April 2006 (UTC)


Please see {{ME-lang}}, {{ME-date}}, and {{ME-ref}} and let me know what you think. The third one for references is incomplete, but you should be able to get an idea of how it will work from the example shown. The general idea with all three is to provide a standardized format for commonly used items (languages, dates, and book references) which is also shorter than typing the full wiki-markup. For instance,

  1. {{ME-ref|10}}
  2. [[J. R. R. Tolkien]] (1993). [[Christopher Tolkien]] (ed.) ''[[Morgoth's Ring]]'', Boston & New York: [[Houghton Mifflin]]. ISBN 0-395-68092-1.
  3. {{cite book|author=J. R. R. Tolkien|authorlink=J. R. R. Tolkien|editor=[[Christopher Tolkien]] (ed.)|year=1993|title=[[Morgoth's Ring]]|location=Boston & New York|publisher=[[Houghton Mifflin]]|id=ISBN 0-395-68092-1}}

Each of those three forms produces identical text, but the first is obviously the easiest to use. The '10' is because Morgoth's Ring is the 10th book in the History of Middle-earth series. When completed the template will also accept 'MR', 'Morgoth's Ring', and likely other options to display the same result. Examples of this sort of 'abbreviation list' can be seen on the two completed templates. --CBDunkerson 16:25, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Wow! Just what I was looking for. Thanks for this. Looks great. When will they be ready to use... :-) Carcharoth 21:03, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

I can never remember, are these templates meant to be used as active templates or substituted templates? Also, will it be possible to use "what links here" to get a list of all articles using that reference - ie. not just the template, but generating a list of all articles that reference volume 10 of HoME?

And the date template - is it possible to get the date to link to a page that lists everything we know happened in ME that year - much like the way clicking on a Wikipedia date gets a page showing what happened that year? Or is that difficult to maintain?

And the language template - I was wondering if it could be incorporated into the character infoboxes somehow, so that instead of Sam's Westron name appearing under the heading "other names", it appears under a heading "Westron". Carcharoth 21:12, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Heh. Ok, let's see. These templates should be transcluded rather than substituted (substitution doesn't work well with conditional templates like these and if something is substituted you can't track it on 'What links here' or make universal format updates). The way the references template is currently set up you would not be able to get 'What links here' for each book. That could be done by changing it into multiple templates; 'ME-ref/10', 'ME-ref/The Hobbit', et cetera which could then each be checked with 'What links here' for just that book. That'd be alot of different templates (especially if we want to allow users to select '10' / 'MR' / 'Morgoth's Ring' for one book - the extras could be redirects, but still alot of pages).
For the dates, yes it could be changed to jump to a 'Middle-earth <age> <year>' page when the year is clicked. Since we don't have such pages currently and many years would have very sparse contents I might suggest jumping to the appropriate section of Timeline of Arda for now. Would require 'id' links to be added to that article.
Finally, on the languages - the 'ME-lang' template could currently be called within the 'other names' parameter of the Infobox. Making it show 'Westron', 'Quenya', et cetera would require changes to the infobox template itself and might be complicated since some characters have multiple names in the same language (e.g. Artanis / Alatariel / Nerwen... aka Galadriel). --CBDunkerson 21:41, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
To quote Carcharoth, "Wow! Just what I was looking for." Again, I love the idea. Thanks for making them, this will help with making Tolkien articles uniform. Also, on the ME-lang box, was that to be placed on top of the article for name translations, or is that a different thing? —Mirlen 00:00, 12 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, the language template grew out of this discussion. Basically just suggesting that rather than putting {{ME-lang}} after every use of a Tolkien language word we only do it once, for the article subject at the top of the article. This can be seen in practice on the Nunduinë article. --CBDunkerson 00:18, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Just an update - These templates are now ready to go 'live'. The ME-ref template has a good sized list of books and I'll expand it with more in the next few days. I'm interested in feedback on the versions of each book currently listed and options that could/should be used instead. The talk page there might be good for discussion of what the standard versions should be. Also there may be different ideas for the abbreviation list - I think the ones I've got in there currently make sense, but there is plenty of room to add more. --CBDunkerson 01:33, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

I've added comments over on that talk page. One template I discovered recently is Template:fact, which I am considering slapping all over Tolkien articles to try and point out the stuff that is obscure enough to need references (or should we try and reference everything). Might it be a bit rude to use this template, though? [citation needed] Carcharoth 08:46, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
Wonderful templates, CBD! Not rude, Carcharoth, so don't worry. It's just saying that the statement needs referencing. —Mirlen 11:50, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
In reference to the 'fact' template - I'd suggest using it sequentially. That is, don't just put in a 'citation needed' note every time you see a fact in need of references. Doing so could wind up with dozens of such notes in many articles which then sit around for months before being cleaned up. Instead, we could have an open list somewhere here on the project page of 'articles needing citations'... limit it to ten or so articles and don't add 'fact' templates to new pages until some of the ones on the current list have been cleaned up. As to what to reference - I'd say that general information can be covered by listing 'The Hobbit', 'The Lord of the Rings' and/or 'The Silmarillion' at the top of the references section and then only having specific reference links for facts from other texts or those which are often over-looked in the primary texts. --CBDunkerson 13:04, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
Ditto to CBD's words. Things that'd need referencing are probably anything from the HoME books, I'd have to say (i.e. information on earlier drafts of the legendariam, etc.) — which would, most of time, should be in the Trivia section. —Mirlen 15:14, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
OK, I'll use it on a few articles, and then add them to the 'articles needing citations' list, and then see what happens... One more thought, is that we could russtle up some "fact" templates specifically for Tolkien articles. The convenience of that is that the template automatically assigns the articles to a category that we create (say, Tolkien articles needing citations), and we then have a list automatically! The inconvenience is that when the template is removed (when the citation has been added), the article is removed from the list. I guess one way to add in a step is to replace the "Tolkien fact" template with a "citations need checking" template" if you are uncertain, and then someone else removes that if they are happy with the citation. Though that might be too much red tape... Carcharoth 10:10, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Hmm. The citations list is a bit hidden away, here. But I'll start the list going. I would prefer to use a Tolkien citations template though. I'll see what I can come up with. Carcharoth 10:13, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
Very good, but shouldn't we standardise on the original publisher? A&U, HarperCollins etc rather than the US publisher?. Thu 07:52, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
See Template talk:ME-ref. There is some dispute as to which references we should list or listing them all. The primary problem I have with listing first editions is that I don't HAVE the first editions and thus don't know the ISBN... though first editions of The Hobbit and LotR actually pre-date the ISBN system. Other than that I agree with the 'first editions' view in most cases - and most of the current references are US first editions, which were released around the same time and with identical page numbering as the UK first editions. There is also the issue that the first edition of The Hobbit is in places different than the story most people are familiar with because it was significantly rewritten after publication... for example it would be impossible to reference page numbers for Bilbo's invisible escape from Gollum against the first edition because it didn't happen in that version. As to allowing references to all different versions, I think that would be extremely complicated to maintain and use and at that point we aren't using consistent referencing at all anyway. --CBDunkerson 11:32, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
No, I don't see any value in listing the same reference to multiple editions (except in extreme circumstances). I'm just coming at it from the opposite end to you owning UK editions almost exclusively.
The Hobbit is, of course, a special case. I would recommend that most references are to the Third Edition except when discussing the plot changes. Thu 12:56, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
Is there a good reason why The Hobbit refers to the annotated version? Messes up page references for one thing. Thu 13:59, 11 June 2007 (UTC)

Referencing the Encyclopedia of Arda[edit]

I've seen quite a few references to "The Encyclopedia of Arda" (EoA) in various articles, and I feel quite strongly that all references should be to Tolkien's original books and writings, which will be where the EoA got their references from (if they have them).

Can we make it a standard that it is OK to check stuff at EoA, and to put external links to them, but to encourage the use of primary sources (Tolkien's books), instead of other encyclopedias? Carcharoth 08:43, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

I 100% agree. —Mirlen 11:49, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
Ditto. At some point we should make a concerted effort to check EoA info and pull out references to it. Note that some of those references are because text was actually copied from EoA. While it is generally a good resource it does contain errors and in any case I think we should be using original wording for our articles. --CBDunkerson 12:57, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
Which reminds me, we should have some sort of compilation of a list (not a literal one created) on the 'Things to do' page on articles that list the Encyclopedia of Arda as a reference. —Mirlen 15:17, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
Not quite sure I understand what you mean by "not a literal one created"? Carcharoth 20:17, 15 April 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I meant that not a seperate heading or page of making a list. It's nothing really — I was just proposing to make a list on the Things to do page. —Mirlen 19:12, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

Body sections[edit]

I was rather unsure of how to type up this section as since this hasn't been discussed too much. I think there should be a skeleton layout for major articles like books, characters, locations, military conflicts, races, etc. I drew a blank of books and races (I don't think subsections are needed for military conflicts), so any suggestions are welcome. --Mirlen 18:44, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

Standards update[edit]

Great work on the expanded list of standards / Manual of Style. A few comments;

  1. 1.4.2 - Suggest rewording this slightly. In the example 'Middle-earth Dunedain' is the parent category of 'Dunedain of the North' thus only the latter should be used. However, if two categories from different sub-branches both applied it would be proper to use both... for instance List of Hobbits should be in both 'Middle-earth lists' and 'Middle-earth races'.
  2. 2.2.1 - I think this is generally true, but obviously articles about Tolkien and his family should not lead off with, "In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium...". Also, do we want to use that lead in for non Middle-earth texts like 'Farmer Giles'?
  3. 6.3 - We might just want to add a general note that there should not be translations of every name in the article, only those particularly relevant to the article... translations of other names mentioned in the article can then be found on the main page for that topic. Just to discourage tons of unrelated translations being given.

--CBDunkerson 22:41, 18 April 2006 (UTC)

  1. 1.4.2 - Done.
  2. 2.2.1 - Fixed it, totally forgot about that. About non Middle-earth texts, are there any suggestions?
  3. 6.3 - Right. Done.

Thanks for the suggestions CBD. :)Mirlen 17:10, 19 April 2006 (UTC)

For non-ME texts, I'd suggest people are left to their own devices. The standard sort of thing used elsewhere is something like: "Foo is a work of fiction by J. R. R. Tolkien. It is set <blah>. It was written <blah>. It was published <blah>. <Short details> etc."
Generally, looking at other articles will give good ideas for how to phrase things. Carcharoth 08:46, 1 May 2006 (UTC)


In addition to the standardisation on British English spellings shouldn't there also be a note of certain words that alternate spellings?

e.g. Ñoldor is preferred to Noldor, Númenórean etc. Thu 14:16, 21 April 2006 (UTC)

Added. :)Mirlen 16:22, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
Hold on a sec. Why on earth should Ñoldor be preferred to Noldor? Does the former ever appear in, say, LotR? Yes, Tolkien tended to use the tilde in many of his later writings, but there is something to be said for conforming here to the usage in the books that are familiar to the general public. (There's also the fact that our canon policy has pretty firmly been to give preference to published texts like LotR over unpublished writings.) Also, at Talk:Noldor, JulianBradfield argued some time ago that by the Third Age, Ñoldor had in fact evolved into Noldor story-internally (and that this is consistent with most of Tolkien's usage: the late writings that use Ñoldor are almost all about the First Age). At this point, I'm strongly opposed to the use of the Ñoldor form as Wikipedia's standard.--Steuard 05:04, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't care too much either way since there is a redirect that gets people to the right page with either version. However, I agree that 'N' was Tolkien's more usual spelling... though the 'Ñ' version was 'later'. Like I said, doesn't bother me much either way. --CBDunkerson 21:33, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
My concern with the 'Ñ' spelling is largely that it looks a bit pretentious to me. Maybe that's unfair, but when I see "Ñoldor" a part of me reads "We had a choice, so we picked the more obscure spelling that makes us look smarter than you." That certainly wasn't the intent behind this choice, but it can have that feel nonetheless. I'm a big fan of getting things right even when doing so is inconvenient, but when there are valid arguments for multiple approaches there's something to be said for going with the one that makes articles as clear and accessible as possible. (And as for "Ñoldor" being 'later', we don't necessarily prioritize later texts (particularly over published works), and there remains the argument mentioned above that the Ñ->N change was intentional story-internally.)--Steuard 22:18, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

Can we agree which variant of British English spelling we use? Specifically -ize/-ise. The OED uses -ize but that by no means reflects common usage here, the BBC web site uses both (but the -ise form seems more prevalent) Thu 12:46, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

I think wiki-standard is '-ize' as the more formal spelling. I hadn't realised that '-ise' was becoming common in British English spelling and would probably have used '-ize' if I were trying to 'Britify' a page. The '-ise' form is American standard. Might be worth trying that if it is common British usage also, but I'd expect some random passerby to revert it to '-ize' from time to time. --CBDunkerson 21:33, 15 May 2006 (UTC)
Scanning the UK edition of Letters it appears JRRT used '-ize', I'll try and tweak my spelling checker... Thu 08:06, 16 May 2006 (UTC)


I noticed that is says that Middle-earth articles should start with "In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium..." Was there a consensus for this? Because most articles start of with "In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth" which is also my personal prefrence. Just thought this should be addressed. Ted87 01:42, 23 April 2006 (UTC)

This was discussed further up the page and has been talked about previously as well. It is generally agreed that we should use the same wording consistently to avoid it being repeatedly switched back and forth by different people, but there are different thoughts on what that wording should be. Some like 'fictional world' or 'fictional universe', but others object that it was supposed to be 'our own real world in a fictional time'. The 'legendarium' form was Tolkien's own usage, but is not a commonly known term. Personally I can live with any of them but do think we should have one standard. --CBDunkerson 16:59, 23 April 2006 (UTC)
Well, not only because some object because such phrase would criticize it as if it was, to quote CBD, "supposed to be 'our own real world in a fictional time'", but also, you have to take consideration into the fact that not all characters/places/items/etc. belong in Middle-earth (e.g. Finarfin, Nerdanel, Aman, Two Trees of Valinor, and so on). True, you could just have 'fictional universe', but people will be tempted to put in 'Middle-earth', and would want us to be more specific and a vague 'fictional universe' — since there are many fictional universes. (BTW Ted, it says, "Only articles related to Tolkien's legendarium", not Middle-earth articles. There is more to his universe than just Middle-earth, after all. And despite the rather slightly misleading name, our scopes and goals focus on all Tolkien related articles, not just Middle-earth). —Mirlen 00:18, 26 April 2006 (UTC)
I would suggest that the lead-in sentence says "legendarium" in some form (though someone really needs to write the article that references what Tolkien and others mean by this phrase, so we can link to it - and in more detail than the current legendarium article). I would also suggest that somewhere in the next few sentences the precise context within what is, after all, a large legendarium, is made clear. ie. Middle-earth, early writings, late writings, LotR, Silmarillion, other writings, etc. This would be more helpful than the sometimes vague term "legendarium". Incidentially, while on the subject of context, can I ask if something could be added to the Standards page to say that it is important to be aware of dates in Tolkien's writings, by which I mean the dates when he wrote things. His writings (published, unpublished, drafts, letters, poems) cover almost all his long life, and it is important to give (where known) dates when something was written. So, for example, a book article should mention composition dates (if known), and the publication dates. Posthumous writings should have composition date and when it was published. All these statements obviously need sources as well. References to a particular 'Letter' need a date, and whether they were drafts and who they were sent to. Maybe all this kind of thing could be summarised in a timeline in the Tolkien's legendarium article? Carcharoth 08:57, 1 May 2006 (UTC)


Since the 'other versions of the legendarium' goes under the 'Trivia' section as stated in ME:S, I am going to tweak the Canon template for the readers to see the 'Trivia' section instead of 'Other versions of the legendarium'. Any objections? (There weren't before about the merging of the sections, but just in case). —Mirlen 21:37, 30 April 2006 (UTC)

Ooh. Thanks for asking, as I've been meaning to ask about this for some time. My problem is that, to my mind, "Trivia" sounds, well, trivial.... :-) "Other versions..." sounds more formal and professional and encyclopedic. And in some cases, variant versions within the legendarium are far from trivial! My gut feeling is that this is something that should be left for a case-by-case basis. Sometimes the mention of other versions is important enough to be woven into the main article, sometimes it is insignificant enough to be listed at the end (but under a nicer name than "Trivia"), but we shouldn't impose a standard if it maybe isn't needed. Anyway, I thought "Trivia" sections were more like a section for interesting tidbits that don't fit anywhere else - my feeling is if they don't fit in the main article, they should be left out. If there is a need for such a section, I would prefer to see it called "Other", "Textual history", or something of the sort. Carcharoth 09:03, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
*Nods* I see where you're getting at. Hm, I do like the idea of 'Textual history', but perhaps we should just stay with 'Other versions of the legendarium'. —Mirlen 23:28, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
This actually goes beyond just "sounding encyclopedic", I think, and on to "being encyclopedic". As one of the folks who originally hammered out the canon template (and for that matter the canon article), I had a fairly specific vision for what it was for. Long-term, I would like to see each article where that template is used have a reasonably well-developed "other versions" section, not as any sort of "trivia" but as a story-external discussion of the development of the topic at hand. That sort of discussion may well be more encyclopedic than our typical canon-based approach (as argued by some folks at Talk:Middle-earth canon around the time of the recent massive rewrite of that article), and even though I prefer a "canon first" approach here I still feel that eventually this sort of story-external discussion should be an important part of most major Middle-earth articles. Burying it under "Trivia" would seem to undermine that goal.--Steuard 05:21, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

Proposed text tweak ME:S 2.4.5[edit]

The current text for ME:S 2.4.5 (References) says:

"Do not cite sources such as the Encyclopedia of Arda. Instead use reliable sources such as the texts by Tolkien or The History of Middle-earth books."

I propose the following changes:

"Where possible, concerning details of Tolkien's fiction, do not cite secondary sources or tertiary sources, but use the primary sources of published texts by Tolkien or the secondary source of The History of Middle-earth books published by Christopher Tolkien. Examples of secondary/tertiary sources are the Encyclopedia of Arda, Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, and David Day's A Tolkien Bestiary. Such secondary/tertiary sources can vary in quality and reliability. See also reliable sources."

And on a similar topic;

"Sometimes it is desirable to reference a book by others about Tolkien (eg. Carpenter's Biography, Garth's Tolkien and the Great War, Shippey's The Road to Middle-earth), or to quote and reference other people's views in general (eg. Christopher Tolkien's commentary in the History of Middle-earth series, the commentary in Anderson's The Annotated Hobbit or in Hammond and Scull's The Reader's Companion). In such cases, the editor must cite their sources and make clear that someone's commentary, or original publication of a primary source material, is being quoted."

This might be a bit long-winded, but does something like this sound reasonable? Carcharoth 09:36, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

Primary/secondary/tertiary sources[edit]

I managed to get myself very confused with the above. Could we just go the whole hog and define what are considered primary/secondary/tertiary sources in Tolkien scholarship? I would say that published writings by Tolkien are a primary source. Something edited and published by someone else, using primary sources and with commentary, is a secondary source (eg. Silmarillion, HoME, Biography, Letters) - but that some are in a first-rank of secondary sources (such as the ones mentioned). A lower-rank of secondary sources is academic articles and books with commentary on Tolkien and his works (eg. Road to Middle-earth, Tolkien and the Great War). I'm not sure where to put things like the previously unpublished material published in Vingar Tengwar and books like the Annotated Hobbit and the Reader's Companion. I would definitely place Encyclopedia of Arda, Tolkien Bestiary, and Wikipedia itself, in the tertiary level of sources that are, effectively, summarising primary/secondary sources.

This seems to relate to the ME-canon issues, but maybe it is slightly different? Carcharoth 09:53, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

I'd written a couple of paragraphs on 'primary vs secondary' sources (I hadn't even gotten to tertiary yet) and it's just too much so I tossed it. I think it would be better to avoid those labels and use something like: 'Where possible citations about the details of Tolkien's legendarium should be from texts published during JRRT's lifetime. If none are available for the topic or point being referenced then other materials written or stated by JRRT should be used, but it may then often be neccessary to note the existence of variants Tolkien considered. Speculation or assertions of Tolkien's intent by others should be avoided in almost all cases, and if absolutely neccessary restricted to such views by CJRT and others with first-hand knowledge. Citations about Tolkien himself or 'analysis' of his work may, of course, be drawn from third parties.' --CBDunkerson 22:53, 1 May 2006 (UTC)
I agree with the primary source being published writings, secondary sources edited and published using primary sources, and tetiary sources Encyclopedia of Arda, but it's too complicated because there're many other works that'd need to be considered carefully. So I'd agree with CBD about the labels, and judge such problems with citations in articles with a case-by-case basis for the sources that we're aren't sure where to categorise. —Mirlen 23:34, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

More clarification of references[edit]

To get back to basics, maybe it would be even clearer to emphasise, in any "references" bit on the standards page, that the key point of references is to guide the reader to the original text. A reference to another encyclopedia, or book about Tolkien, doesn't do that. When writing something, consider where you first read about this and how you know that what you are writing is correct, for instance, "Brego was the second King of Rohan". That is fairly easy. From the same article is: "Brego had a third son named Éofor. Éofor was an ancestor of Éomund of East-fold father of Éomer." The source for this is a bit harder to recall - it could be in Appendix A like the other one, or it could be somehting published later in HoME.

It would also be nice to say where to draw the line, and how to refer to general references (though I think "general references" is already covered on the Standards page). For example, would you give the main reference early on and then assume the reader knows that everything else in the article comes from that reference, or do you make it more explicit? For example, some of the character articles draw lots of material together from all over the books, but what style is preferred? A flowing biographical style with only a few footnotes for obscure points (call this a "narrative" style - one that summarises the story of the character), or an article that traces in great detail, with many references, where the character appears in the books and what happens at those points (a "textual" style)? The former is more readable, the latter is more accessible and transparent, IMO (it shows where the editor gets the information from for each bit of the article).

I'll try and do one of these "textual" style articles to show what I mean. Carcharoth 11:18, 2 May 2006 (UTC)

Hobbits or hobbits?[edit]

Rule 1.3.2 currently says:

Use capital letters when addressing the Middle-earth races in plural form (e.g. Elves, Dwarves, Men, Hobbits).

This seems a bit too simplistic. At Talk:The_Lord_of_the_Rings#Hobbit_or_hobbit?, CBDunkerson said:

Tolkien used 'hobbits' to speak of a group and 'Hobbits' to speak of the type. Thus, 'seven hobbits' but 'Hobbits had furry feet'. Ditto for 'elves', 'dwarves', 'men', et cetera.

This sounds right to me. I suggest the rule is expanded to read:

Use capital letters when addressing each of the Middle-earth races as a whole (e.g. Elves, Dwarves, Men, Hobbits). Do not use capital letters when referring to a specific individual or group (e.g. the three hobbits).

-- Avenue 13:10, 4 June 2006 (UTC)

As a rule of thumb, I look at the sentence, and if I can replace "elves" or "hobbits" or "men" with "the Elven race" or "the race of Hobbits", etc, then I capitalise. Similarly for adjectives, thus "Elven-lord" is a "lord of the race of Elves", but "the three elves ran out of the door" does not get capitalised. I agree, the current guideline is too simplistic, and I'll update it. Carcharoth 09:16, 13 July 2006 (UTC)


There seems to be a wide variation in the formatting of quotations in articles: some are indented, some are not, some are italic, some are bold etc.

Can we have a standard for formatting them? Thu 08:46, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

Sorry for delay in replying. I think the "block quote" thing should be used, and maybe italics, but definitely not bold. Let's see what others think. Carcharoth 09:17, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

{{Tolkienchar}} or {{Infobox LOTR}}? [edit]

Point #1 of the character section instructs us to use {{Tolkienchar}} for characters, but I notice that a lot of articles use {{Infobox LOTR} instead (e.g. Faramir). Should we be converting these? JordanSamuels 03:59, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

Yup. {{Tolkienchar}} was created to replace {{Infobox Tolkien}}, which we felt was to RPG-gaming as opposed to being encyclopedic. —Mirlen 04:05, 11 September 2006 (UTC)

Balancing OOU/IU, past tense, and verbosity[edit]

Following a very fruitful user-talk exchange about OOU vs IU between Mirlen and me, I thought I would bring the discussion here. The discussion was originally about my tagging The Lord of the Rings with {{in-universe}}, but it seems to me that the issue of how to resolve WAF issues is somewhat central to a lot of what we'll be doing in refactoring pages for the Middle-earth project. I wonder if we can take some simple examples and try to strike a balance between OOU and IU, and between pithy and verbose, while preserving the past tense all the while (and even replacing some present tense with past -- I'm guessing Mirlen won't object :-) ). I'll start with this snippet at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings#Back_story, and in my first attempt I'll apply a somewhat aggressive level of transformation just to "get something on paper", while still trying to preserve the spirit of the original spirit if not the entire content.

Original (latest version as of this writing)

The back story begins thousands of years before the action in the book, with the rise of the eponymous Lord of the Rings, the Dark Lord Sauron, a malevolent incarnated immortal spiritual being who possessed great supernatural powers and who later becomes the ruler of the dreaded realm of Mordor. At the end of the First Age of Middle-earth, Sauron survived the catastrophic defeat and exile of his master, the ultimate evil figure, Morgoth (who was formerly counted one of the Valar, the angelic Powers of the world). During the Second Age, Sauron schemed to gain dominion over Middle-earth. In disguise as "Annatar" or Lord of Gifts, he aided Celebrimbor and the other Elven-smiths of Eregion in the forging of magical rings which confer various powers and effects on their wearers. The most important of these were nineteen, called the Rings of Power or Great Rings.

My first attempt:

Tolkien created a rich back story for his novel, one which began several thousands of years before the action in The Lord of the Rings. In this larger saga, the eponymous Lord of the Rings, who appears in the novel as the Dark Lord Sauron, survived the catastrophic defeat and exile of his master, the ultimate evil figure, Morgoth. Sauron was a malevolent incarnated immortal spiritual being who possessed great supernatural powers and later became the ruler of the dreaded realm of Mordor, while Morgoth was even more powerful, and was formerly counted as one of the Valar, the angelic Powers of the world. During the Second Age (which ended roughly 3000 before the beginning of The Lord of the Rings), Sauron schemed to gain dominion over Middle-earth. In disguise as "Annatar" or Lord of Gifts, he aided Celebrimbor and the other Elven-smiths of Eregion in the forging of magical rings which conferred various powers and effects on their wearers. The most important of these were nineteen, called the Rings of Power or Great Rings.

The main point for me is to try to increase the OOU-to-IU ratio by adding (hopefully interesting and informative) asides rather than converting the existing text to OOU by brute force. But the above is just one attempt by one guy, and I'd be delighted to see others approach this snippet or other similar ones. I'm hoping that by looking at several different attempts we might create a useful consensus on how to attack this difficult yet oddly satisfying challenge. —Preceding unsigned comment added by JordanSamuels (talkcontribs)

For those who might be interested in our fruitful exchange, you can find it on our respective talk pages under the heading, The Lord of the Rings. Anyway, I am full agreement with JordanSamuels that an OOU-IU ratio is needed to balance the wording of the article. I do stand that I object to a full out OOU-perspective presented in WP:WAF for the same reason why Tolkien articles are in past tense (which you can read on the Standards page), however. In this aspect, JordanSamuels and I are also in agreement.
Reading your rendering of the first paragraph of history sections in The Lord of the Rings article, I think it's vastly improved and I like it a lot (in fact, I would say to go ahead and replace the text). What I am concerned with, is the overall writing of the history sections (Back story and synopsis) in the article. —Mirlen 04:04, 11 September 2006 (UTC)
WP:WAF is there to maintain standards across Wikipedia, and there is no reason why articles on Tolkien should obey a different set of rules from Dickens. I'd suggest the brute-force method, delete any article that is more than 40% IU, and let someone recreate the article in a correct, scholarly OOU manner, if such can be achieved whilst also referencing secondary sources, and not only the works of fiction themselves. I was horrified to read many of the Tolkien articles which just seem to regurgitate his works out of the context of the narrative, and add little (if any) information more than fancruft and vague POV ascertions. --Davémon 14:36, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
See Talk:The Lord of the Rings/archive 03#In universe style... Uthanc 08:36, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
Unless I've missed something, it only really debates past/present tense issue. The problem I see is that an article such as Dwarf (Middle Earth) (for example) reads more like an entry from a fictional encyclopedia (the Encyclopedia of Arda) or a role-playing guidebook than a real, scholarly encyclopedia (Britannica) - which would rightly contain a lot more about Tolkiens influences, references and the development of his ideas from an OOU perspective, with reference to secondary sources. --Davémon 21:51, 13 February 2007 (UTC)
I don't think I've made my point clearer, so I'm going to answer this. Davémon, it is not so much the issue of writing in OOU that I was against, it was the issue of changing everything to present tense. I do agree that in a general encyclopedia like Wikipedia, writing in IU is not acceptable, and there IS a need of Tolkien influences, references, and the concept and creation of his ideas from OOU perspective - and hence, the need for secondary sources that allows the subject establish independent notability. —Mirlen 14:30, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Mirlen, Wikipedia:WikiProject_Middle-earth/Standards#Tenses says 'All articles that cover in-universe material must be in past tense...' - if we agree that no article should be purely in-universe, then it follows there is no need to use past tense. The problem stems from the articles being written in-universe style and subsequently only relying on primary sources, when that is fixed, the tense problem should disappear. Likewise the section Wikipedia:WikiProject_Middle-earth/Standards#Introduction 'Articles on in-universe material need to...' again encourages editors to replicate the in-universe / prime-source problem. I've just re-written the Elf (Middle-earth)#Development section to be present tense when discussing fiction, (biography is past tense!) it reads OK to me.--Davémon 17:34, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

External links and WP:SPAM[edit]

The standards currently have:

The following sites should be linked: Official sites (that majorly relate to the topic), articles about the subject of article on other encyclopedias or vast resources (e.g. Encyclopedia of Arda, The Thain's Book, Annals of Arda, The TolkienWiki), and sites that contain neutral and accurate information that has not been mentioned in the article.

However, this may contradict WP:SPAM, as shown by recent developments. Perhaps some updating is in order, or do our standards overrule the general guidelines (as they do with past and present tense)?

To quote User:DeLarge:

From WP:SPAM: "Adding external links to an article or user page for the purpose of promoting a website or a product is not allowed, and is considered to be spam." The link [ ] is being added [and re-added after multiple reverts, to multiple articles] to benefit the external site, not Wikipedia. The only way WP readers can benefit from the link is by visiting the site (ergo benefiting the linked URLs). Blatantly going around adding the same link to twenty different articles is spam regardless of whether it's promoting a LOTR fansite or an online Viagra store. Can you imagine what these articles would look like if every LOTR nutjob [ >:-[ ]started promoting their site?

Uthanc 03:07, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

There used to be alot of gaps in our coverage compared to that on other sites. We still have gaps (especially on the lists of humans and elves) in comparison to a very few other sites and I think those would be the only places that external links might still be encouraged. If the other site doesn't provide any substantially greater information about the subject of the page then I think it makes sense not to include it anymore. --CBD 14:37, 8 January 2007 (UTC)


I'm not sure the advice given here (WP:Mes 2.4 6) is 100% compatible with the aims or guidelines of the wikipedia project. Surely discouraging people from using secondary and teritiary sources will / has lead to Tolkien related articles which appear to be largely WP:OR / WP:SYN and majoritavely in-universe. Perhaps it just needs to be reworded to emphasise the importance of using good, reliable, third and secondary sources, and that editors should only rely on primary sources for deciding issues of 'textural accuracy' if and when they are arrise (and obviously, in 'plot outlines' sections). --Davémon 11:32, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

I agree. I'm going to really try and work on these articles a lot more, and balance the in universe stuff with scholarly stuff. I think it is possible to combine both in an article. Carcharoth 12:10, 26 October 2007 (UTC)
Reference citations are required both to verify information and establish notability. Often these two purposes can both be accomplished with the same reference, but in this case I'd really be against citing 'The Complete Guide to Middle-earth' as verification for the meaning of the name 'Maeglin' rather than going directly to The Silmarillion as primary source. However, if we cite the primary sources for all the facts and don't include alot of interpretation/commentary/real world influences for a particular item then we aren't supplying 'independent notability'. As such, I'd suggest a structure something like;
  • Verification of details about the stories/setting - Inline references to primary sources
  • Verification of interpretations and commentary - Inline references to secondary/tertiary sources
  • Establishing notability - Page footer references to texts providing significant coverage of the subject
I'm going to add a bunch of references to Lothlorien under this structure as an example. Let me know what you think. --CBD 13:57, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
You bring a good point I hadn't thought about, Davémon - thank you. Discouraging people from using secondary or teritiary sources was founded based on the fact that people have constantly cited sources like the "Encyclopedia of Arda", as well as relying on books like "The Complete Guide to Middle-earth" when the same fact can be found in the primary source, "The Silmarillion" or "The Lord of the Rings." In addition, there were times when people were citing secondary or teritiary sources that directly contradicted the primary sources. But you have an extremely good point that the articles needs more interpretation/commentary/real world influeneces, as CBD puts it, to establaish independent notability. In the face of what is going on with the AfDs, I think finding outside sources to establish independent notability has become more crucial than ever. As for the structure, I like it. I'd like to establish some exceptions to the system, but that can wait until we've actually have a system officially chosen. —Mirlen 14:10, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I also like the structure CBD has suggested. See also Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Middle-earth#A list of potential sources?. Carcharoth 07:31, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
As the person who raised this issue, I agree that that CBD's proposed structure looks good. I'm sure that if something like this is incorporated into the project guidelines, it will be very helpful to the project's editors and will also help avoid further angst about the notability of articles and/or the project's focus on notability. Just one point; may I suggest that the revised guidelines do stress the independent and non-trivial nature of the refs required for notability? --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) —Preceding comment was added at 12:40, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
I think the guidelines concerning references seems good now. We just need to confirm if CBD's proposal will be officially adopted, and perhaps we could put our energies into making Lothlorien a model example for articles in the future... —Mirlen 15:05, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
What proposal of CBD's? The one above? --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 17:58, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

In case anyone interested missed it, a discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Middle-earth led to a redraft at Wikipedia:WikiProject Middle-earth/Standards/References (which involved an initial reworking by Carcharoth, a restructuring by me, and further tweaks by Carcharoth). --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 17:58, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

Mirlen has already indicated support; anybody else have any thoughts? --BrownHairedGirl (talk) • (contribs) 17:58, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

I think most of CBD's suggestions have been incorporated apart from "Page footer references to texts providing significant coverage of the subject". I think this is like a Bibliography or Further reading section. It is meant to establish notability, but does the way it is done at Lothlorien work for everyone? Carcharoth 21:55, 4 November 2007 (UTC)
Just confirming that was my intent and I tried to implement it that way at Lothlorien. A further comment; while information about Lothlorien in the article is mostly referenced to primary sources, much of the same information can be found in the secondary sources listed at the bottom. That's why they are relevant for inclusion, they provide 'independent coverage' of the material - establishing its notability. That's why I think of them more as 'References' than 'Further Reading'. See Wikipedia:Citing_sources#Further_reading.2FExternal_links for a discussion of the intended meanings of the section titles 'Notes', 'References', 'Further reading', et cetera. --CBD 13:41, 5 November 2007 (UTC)
Not really working for me. Inline citations really shouldt be made to tertiary sources in order to firmly establish notability and provide real-world context for the reader in a specific way, this would help verify what's being said in the article and encourage out of universe perspective (rather than them being just 'further reading'). The guidelines are certainly better now but I feel more emphasis on using tertiary sources is required to be fully compatible with the spirit of WP:WAF WP:FICT. The Lothlorien example is a good one - it's almost entirely "In Universe". 'Complete Guide to Middle Earth' / 'Atlas of middle Earth' are not good sources for individual entries notability as they provide no real-world analysis or criticism in themselves (we might as well be citing MERP sourcebooks). I suggest a "secondary source blacklist" for anything that just regurgitates rather than provides analysis might be required. I'll add some tertiaries to the Lothlorien article to see how it fits... --Davémon 11:10, 6 November 2007 (UTC)
I've done this. Not sure that the primary sources sit comfortably next to the tertiary ones. Perhaps all primary source references should be moved into the body of the article to give more textural context and out-of-universe perspective? --Davémon 13:18, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

Standard sections[edit]

I've been planning to raise this discussion for a long time, and was finally prompted by the GA nomination of Faramir. (Malachirality has left exceptionally valuable comments on the talk page, and I've decided to split the discussion. Also revised some parts of the standards.) I propose to change the recommended layout of subheadings; taking character articles as an example:

Currently Proposed
  1. Appearances
    1. Literature
    2. Adaptations
  2. Characteristics
  3. Names and titles
  4. Concept and creation
  1. Literature
    1. Appearances
    2. Characteristics
    3. Names and titles
  2. Concept and creation
  3. Adaptations
  4. Influence

The main point is that both "Characteristics" and "Names" usually treat only material from books, and any derivations in adaptations are described in the respective section. I'm not sure about the title of the first subsection of "Literature": for characters, "Appearances" sounds more "out-of-universe", although "History" or "Biography" would be more clear to a reader. For locations and other stuff, I suppose "History", "Names and etymology", "Geography" and similar would be appropriate subsections.

Malachirality has proposed that "Concept and creation" comes first, after the lead; I would tend to disagree, since for many topics this section can be quite extensive, and often describes earlier versions of the information presented under "History". An average reader should first read the "Literature" section to get the idea of what the topic is, and then plunge into the intricacies of textual history. (Good examples are Aragorn#Concept and creation and Eagle (Middle-earth)#Concept and creation – imagine reading these before "Literature"!) That said, we should of course include a summary of the "Concept and creation" section into the lead section: how the character/event/place was first introduced, whether there were any further shifts or not (without going into detail). I think this would cast enough real-world perspective.

Similarly, in my opinion "Names and etymology" should come after "History". This is a piece of information that is usually only valuable for those with considerable knowledge of Tolkien's writings; average readers would likely skip it overall, so it would be better to place it after the essential "History" – but still separately from "Concept and creation". Etymology of final names is usually stable, even if sometimes unclear, in contrast to the ever-shifting textual history. (That said, I do not think of "Names" as unworthy of inclusion; for readers with a substantial knowledge of the topic, it is often the most useful section.)

With Mirlen's permission, I will experiment with this layout in her sandbox version of the Faramir article, so that we can compare it with the current version. (BTW, any ideas on conflict & races subsections? I think they're quite apparent, so maybe we should just remove the placeholders?) Súrendil (talk) 14:19, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Batman, Superman, Captain Marvel are all FA's on characters, they put Concept and Creation information first - and I would expect this to set precedent, for good reason. It fits with the idea of articles a providing real-world context for a creative work, which is what somebody reading an encyclopedia will be looking for, rather than just trying to retell the story or establish some kind of "cannonical" version of it by rewriting what Tolkien wrote. --Davémon (talk) 14:11, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
I would say that the situation is somewhat different with the articles you listed. These comics characters are a production of a group of people and have appeared in several works of fiction that are not necessarily connected to each other. Thus the articles tend to decribe not the evolution of characters and textual history, but rather "Publication history", "Copyright issues" and so on. As you have prominently noted below, in our case "it really is all the work of one man", and thus all similar out-of-text (sc. not out-of-universe) information would result in a couple of sentences. I agree that it is better to be dealt with before in-universe material, but in most cases it can be included into the lead (BTW, notice the size of the lead section in the same Batman & co. articles), leaving textual history towards the end. I just find it, um, inconvenient to describe precursors to some conceptions before setting out these conceptions. Súrendil (talk) 17:21, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
In order to tell a real-world story, the articles need to be structured from a real-world reference point. Discussing a fictional characters characteristics before discussing how those characteristics were developed is putting the cart before the horse, and disregards the characters real existance as a work of a creative endevour. Further, the "plot summary" type information should be making reference to secondary sources, which means that in the proposed ordering critical reaction to the published work will come in to the article before the story of how that work came to be, which is backwards. The reason the Batman, Superman, Pauline Fowler articles are all FA's is that they are using a real-world framework to give a real-world account of a character. Of course, the lead sections (missing from the proposal) need to very briefly summarise "what the character is like" and their history in order to help the average reader grasp the subject. --Davémon (talk) 09:16, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
I think the reorganisation that Súrendil has proposed is workable and an improvement. I think having the literature stuff first is OK, as long as it is kept short and succint. Only including enough to provide context for what follows. Any more would be excessive. What we want to avoid is the situation that developed at The Lord of the Rings where the "plot summary" section was bloating out of control (it is probably still too long). See Middle-earth#History for another bloated plot summary section. Carcharoth (talk) 23:51, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
I like the new proposal, particularly the addition of the "Influence" section. It would be a good section to discuss and prominently establish independent notability. —Mirlen 01:51, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Capitalization (or capitalisation)[edit]

The section on capital letters says (boldface added):

Use capital letters when writing about the races of Middle-earth, but lower-case when writing about individuals or groups of individuals i.e. Elves, Dwarves, Men, Hobbits, Orcs, Istari, Valar, etc. (e.g. "the hobbits walked down the road", "Hobbits have hairy feet", "the hobbit jumped over the fence", "the Elf lord bowed before them", "the orcs were running over the plain").

Unless I'm missing the point, that should be lowercase.

Thnidu (talk) 18:55, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, I suppose the editor implied that the lord rules over the Elves as a people, not as a group of individuals ("Elf" in this case is an adjective that describes not the lord but his associatives). In any case, I prefer the spelling used by CJRT, and he universally capitalised the names of peoples and individuals when editing his father's works. Súrendil (talk) 20:20, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
I think it would technically be Elf-lord (a lord of Elves), and elf lord (a lord who is an elf). But JRRT and CJRT are not always consistent, and they use capitals enough times to indicate that we should as well. Just play it by ear I think. And definitely quote exactly as found in the books. Carcharoth (talk) 23:53, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Naming (Tolkien)[edit]

As per Wikipedia:Naming_conventions#Books_-_literary_works I think that the (Middle-earth) Tolkien articles should really be renamed, i.e. Elf (Tolkien), Orc (Tolkien). This establishes a real-world context for the article. I can see where there are 'shared worlds' or 'extended universes' like many TV, Film, and Comic book franchises, that using a fictional identifier, like the title of the series, would prove useful, because there are so many writers and artists building those concepts but in Middle-earths case, it really is all the work of one man. --Davémon (talk) 14:24, 14 January 2008 (UTC)

Hmm. Possibly. This reminds me of the debate about whether the WikiProject should use the name "Middle-earth" or the name "Tolkien". In the end, I don't think it matters tremendously. I'd favour sticking with "Middle-earth" because, well, there seems to be little point in changing. I can see the point you are making, though. Carcharoth (talk) 23:46, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
I think the subjects deserve to be treated in an encyclopedic manner. The point is really that:
  • "Middle-earth" denotes a non-real, imaginary, fictional referent.
  • "Middle-earth" is itself a shifting-signifier: from Midgard, through Tolkien, to MERP - the phrase 'Middle Earth' refers to different ideas, has minor ambiguity problems.
  • "Middle-earth" is but one aspect of Tolkiens work.
I would expect an encyclopedia article called Goblin (Middle-earth) to talk about... Goblins in Middle-earth (i.e. a fictional subject given a fictional treatment) whereas Goblin (Tolkien) to talk about Goblins as Tolkien wrote them.
  • "Tolkien" denotes a real thing - the author in question, so positions the article as having a real-world framework, not a fictional one.
  • "Tolkien Studies" is identifiable as a field of scholarly enquiry ("Middle-earth studies" is not).
  • "Tolkien" is reasonably unambiguous - JRR being the only really famous author.
I suppose whether it matters depends largely on whome is doing the mattering, whether it matters that Tolkien articles have an encyclopedic treatment, whether this wikiproject matters, whether wikipedias standards matter, and ultimately whether wikipedia matters at all. Davémon (talk) 10:55, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Sure, but merely putting "(Middle-earth)" after a title in no way implies that the article is limited to, or focused on, Middle-earth. The article should, and must, treat it as as aspect of Tolkien's work. The article name really has little impact on that. It is more important that the article is properly balanced and out-of-universe, rather than worrying about the title. So time would be better spent on improving articles than switching from ME to T - that won't in itself magically fix articles. What might help is a list of articles using the ME disambiguation bit in their titles. Carcharoth (talk) 11:46, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
The reason anything at all needs to be appended to the title is to disambiguate it from other versions of things with the same name. Ie:
The implication drawn from this set is precisely that the articles subject is limited to (or by) the subject that appears in parenthesis. One wouldn't expect Elf (Dungeons and Dragons) to include information on an elf in a short story by Gary Gygax, or elves in a d20 sourcebook for Elfquest. I do agree the effect is a subtle one, and it certainly isn't intended to be a magic-bullet, or even an application of Athelas, to all the ills of the Tolkien articles. What it does do is set the frame and the tone to one more conducive to curing those ills. As for the effort involved, there is no deadline. --Davémon (talk) 09:31, 17 January 2008 (UTC)


Are images allowed in the "litrature" section of character articles? LOTRrules (talk) 15:23, 24 March 2008 (UTC)

Yes, but they have to be non-film specific. Confining adaptation-derivative images to certain sections will help justify their fair use. They have to be used to illustrate how characters or concepts are depicted in particular versions, otherwise they're just being used to illustrate the article and that's not acceptable. Using Jackson images, for instance, connotes a pro-Jackson trilogy bias (as if it's the One True Version). We try to be fair to all the different versions. More images from different versions are always welcome. (This was originally about images in infoboxes. See here for the beginnings of this guideline.) Uthanc (talk) 13:07, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Past tense[edit]

Consensus at WAF seems pretty firmly against past tense, so this page and {{WikiProject Middle-earth}} should be changed accordingly. I will do it in a few days if it hasn't been, and there are no serious objections. Feezo (send a signal | watch the sky) 18:01, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

I do object. This exception has not been introduced in the past for no reason and changing it would have a major impact. And let us continue the discussion on the main project talk page Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Middle-earth which gets more visitors than this subpage. De728631 (talk) 16:12, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Oxford spelling[edit]

We have a de facto standard of using Oxford spelling in the Tolkien Project pages, as Tolkien did in his books. (Oxford's chief difference from the usual British spelling is the use of 'z' for 's' in places where it is etymologically appropriate.) But the Standards page does not say this; it calls simply for "British spelling". Should we amend the Standards to reflect this, or just continue the usual smack-downs when someone in Good Faith corrects 'z' to 's'? -- Elphion (talk) 14:45, 29 December 2012 (UTC)

Yes, amend the Standards to reflect the fact that we use Oxford spelling, following the spelling practice is Tolkien's works. BabelStone (talk) 21:31, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
It's worth noting that there is a template for this, {{Use British (Oxford) English}}, that should be uniformly applied to articles so that you can later point to it and say "I told you so" instead of engaging in pointless edit wars. Elizium23 (talk) 00:20, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
If anyone's not aware the discussion at Talk:Gollum that preceded this seems to have reached a conclusion. GimliDotNet (Speak to me,Stuff I've done) 21:43, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Among other things, the discussion at talk:Gollum points to Wikipedia:Manual of Style#National varieties of English, which says (as user:GimliDotNet and user:De728631 point out): "for articles about modern writers or their works, it is sometimes decided to use the variety of English in which the subject wrote (especially if the writings are quoted). For example, the articles on J. R. R. Tolkien's works, such as The Lord of the Rings, use British English with Oxford spelling". The history there indicates that this is a convention of long standing. -- Elphion (talk) 20:10, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
I've made the chages to the style guide, recommending use of the template {{British English Oxford spelling}} (instead of {{Use British (Oxford) English}}). -- Elphion (talk) 19:57, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The two templates do different things, and I've updated the style manual to include both:

-- Elphion (talk) 17:00, 10 January 2013 (UTC)