Wikipedia talk:Notability (fiction)/Archive 44

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What about single-appearance characters?

I hate to throw this in while discussions seem to be winding down, but this is something that's been irking me for a long time: do characters who only significantly appear in a single work actually merit independent articles? For example, George Bailey is the main character of a well-known film, but there's nothing about him, fictionally or in the real-world, which is relevant and non-trivial that cannot be adequately covered within the It's a Wonderful Life article. It makes sense to create a character article (or character listing) when significant quantities of information are no longer directly correlated with a single source material and cannot be otherwise collected at a single article. Thoughts? Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 05:23, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

For the most part, there does not seem to be consensus for articles on characters in individual films that do not satisfy WP:N independently (which Bailey, to be fair, clearly does). Phil Sandifer (talk) 05:28, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
For the non-notable ones, you can always cover them in the main article. But George Bailey is most certainly notable, even by WP:N's standards. I think it's easier for a recurring character to be notable. But anything with reliable third-party sources will be notable too. Randomran (talk) 05:39, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Yes, but the question is should we allow a clearly deficient and merge-worthy article simply because we can continue to find notability in smaller discrete parts? I don't see why we need the Bailey article, and if anything, it has the potential to dilute the strength of both itself and the film's article by splitting off, leading to redundancy and potential inequitable article development. This would be avoided if the editors were working together on the same article. Since we are discussing a SNG, why are we defining a character's notability solely by GNG? My proposal is that character articles need to be justifiably unable to be acceptably merged into a source article before they can meet notability. Another good example is the bevy of Monty Python and the Holy Grail character sub-articles - is it really better for the development of the film's article that these articles have been split off? Why can't their information be merged into the film article, and if so, why would one then need to keep these sub-articles? My point is that endless splitting simply because notability can be said to exist is not necessarily in the best interest of either article if we are aiming towards long-term article development. Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 05:45, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree with you in principle that sometimes it's better to have one great article than several small bad ones. But that's an editorial decision. This guideline explicitly says:
  • "No part of this guideline is meant to preempt the editorial decision of content selection and presentation; for example, a topic may meet all three prongs above, but may be decided by consensus to be better covered in the article on the work of fiction itself instead of a separate article if there is limited information available."
I think it's important that we say exactly that. No more, no less. Randomran (talk) 05:54, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Yea, the situation described is exactly something to avoid in this guideline beyond the caution above, but worth detailed consideration in WP:WAF. Mind you, I agree with what Girolamo states, but I'd rather err on allowing more articles and then coming back as editorial corrections to merge, than to limit articles to start. --MASEM 06:02, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
I guess we're coming from different perspectives. I feel that the atomization of articles has already hurt Wikipedia and editing quality immeasurably, and is only more likely to create further problems of maintenance and down the line, especially as we start to hit scalability limits (which may have already happened, based on some project-level data). I feel that sub-articles need to be that which had to be split - mitosis, if you will - instead of sui generis. However, I appreciate that not everyone may agree. Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 06:22, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
I think you might have a point. But then the cat is already out of the bag due to other guidelines. If you ever put together a proposal that offers a guideline of when to summarize and merge (sort of a balancing guideline to WP:SPINOUT), let me know. Randomran (talk) 06:30, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
A similar question came up when one-off Doctor Who companion Good article Astrid Peth (who only appeared in Good article "Voyage of the Damned") was first AfDed and then proposed to be merged. Consensus was no, her article should remain. (I'd only !vote to get rid of her article if it was poorly written and structured. But it isn't, so I don't care either way.) – sgeureka tc 11:20, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • In answer to Girolamo Savonarola, the article George Bailey does not cite an sources that provide evidence of notability, and I agree if plot summary is the only coverage, then the article should be merged into It's a Wonderful Life. Phil Sandifer and Randomran may be correct in their assertion that this character is notable if sources can be found to back up this claim. However, they might be mistaken, in the sense that critics and commentators may haved focused their attention on the performance of James Stewart (actor) and ignore the fictional character altogether, in which case the character might be non-notable. I don't think that we should automatically allow a clearly deficient and merge-worthy article in the absense of reliable secondary, as this is a matter of personal judgement not fact.--Gavin Collins (talk) 12:42, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Girolamo, I have had similar thoughts, but I think that, in a case like George Bailey's, though devoid of it now, there's enough notability that attempts at cleanup could be made first, then, failing that, a merge, in the hopes it'll gestate back to a full mitosis split. In the case of others, like Holy Grail, it's probably better to merge them all back, and then hope for a mitosis.
I've seen references to George Bailey as an 'everyman', in the context of both Stewart's acting and Christmas movies, and discussion about what his character means, so I 'know' evidence of his notability and real world content's out there. Not so much with the MP characters. Though I've seen a few pop culture joke references to the film, using the characters, I haven't seen much particular discussion of the characters themselves not attached to a write-up of one of the actors, and usually more along the lines of 'and he played the cowardly Sir Robin' or some such. Such sources should be used to support the brief character description in the main article. It does have to be a case by case basis, and I think you found great contrasting examples. ThuranX (talk) 12:53, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
It depends. I'm generally against having articles for film characters that appear in one film — unless... an actor is quite well-known for the role, the character is fairly iconic, or if the film is based on a previous literary work. Speaking of AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains: --Pixelface (talk) 21:20, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

100 Heroes and Villains

Heroes Villains
1 Atticus Finch (present) Hannibal Lecter (present)
2 Indiana Jones (present) Norman Bates (present)
3 James Bond (present) Darth Vader (present)
4 Rick Blaine (redirect to Casablanca film article) Wicked Witch of the West (present)
5 Will Kane (redirect to High Noon film article) Nurse Ratched (present)
6 Clarice Starling (present) Mister Potter (present)
7 Rocky Balboa (present) Alex Forrest (redirect to actual person Alexander Forrest)
8 Ellen Ripley (present) Phyllis Dietrichson (present)
9 George Bailey (present), kept after AFD Regan MacNeil (present)
10 T. E. Lawrence (actual person) The Queen in Snow White (present)
11 Jefferson Smith (redlink) Michael Corleone (present)
12 Tom Joad (redirect to The Grapes of Wrath novel article) Alex DeLarge (redirect to A Clockwork Orange novel article)
13 Oskar Schindler (actual person) HAL 9000 (present)
14 Han Solo (present) the xenomorph in Alien (present)
15 Norma Rae Webster (redirect to Norma Rae film article) Amon Göth (actual person)
16 Shane (redlink) Noah Cross (redirect to Chinatown film article)
17 "Dirty Harry" Callahan (present) Annie Wilkes (present)
18 Robin Hood (present) Great white shark in Jaws
19 Virgil Tibbs (present) William Bligh (actual person)
20 Butch & Sundance (actual people) Man in Bambi
21 Mahatma Gandhi (actual person) Eleanor Iselin (present)
22 Spartacus (actual person) the Terminator (present)
23 Terry Malloy (redirect to On the Waterfront film article) Eve Harrington (redirect to All About Eve film article)
24 Thelma & Louise (both redlinks) Gordon Gekko (present)
25 Lou Gehrig (actual person) Jack Torrance (present)
26 Superman (present) Cody Jarrett (different actual person, but mentions the film White Heat)
27 Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein (actual people) Martians (present)
28 Juror Number 8 (redlink) Max Cady (present)
29 George S. Patton (actual person) Reverend Harry Powell (persent)
30 Luke Jackson (redlink) Travis Bickle, kept at (AFD)
31 Erin Brockovich (actual person) Mrs. Danvers (redlink)
32 Philip Marlowe (present) Bonnie and Clyde (actual people)
33 Marge Gunderson (redirect to Fargo film article) Count Dracula (present)
34 Tarzan (present) Dr. Christian Szell (redirect to Marathon Man novel article)
35 Alvin York (actual person) J.J. Hunsecker (redlink)
36 Rooster Cogburn (redlink) Frank Booth (present)
37 Obi-Wan Kenobi (present) Harry Lime (redirect to the The Third Man article)
38 The Tramp (present) Caesar Enrico Bandello (redlink)
39 Lassie (present) Cruella de Vil (present)
40 Frank Serpico (actual person) Freddy Krueger (present)
41 Arthur Chipping (redirect to the Goodbye, Mr. Chips novel article) Joan Crawford (actual person)
42 Edward J. Flanagan (actual person) Tom Powers (different actual person but links to The Public Enemy film article)
43 Moses (Biblical figure) Regina Giddens (redlink)
44 Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle (present) Baby Jane Hudson (present)
45 Zorro (present) The Joker (present)
46 Batman (present) Hans Gruber, deleted at (AFD) although consensus was merge
47 Karen Silkwood (actual person) Tony Camonte (present)
48 the Terminator Verbal Kint (redirect to The Usual Suspects film article)
49 Andrew Beckett (redlink) Auric Goldfinger (present)
50 Maximus Decimus Meridius, deleted by Nihonjoe at (AFD) "per FICT" Alonzo Harris (redirect to Training Day film article

(That table could be out of date, I made it January 8.) George Bailey was kept at AFD, Travis Bickle was kept at AFD, Hans Gruber was deleted at AFD (although it appears to me the consensus was to merge), and Maximus Decimus Meridius was deleted at AFD "per FICT." FICT shouldn't override editor views at AFD though. --Pixelface (talk) 21:20, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Good table (might be good to color-code those that are true single-shot verses recurring or based on a real person). I think when I spot check the one-shots that have articles (such as Jack Torrance) is that there is a lot of duplication of plot from the original work. Even if notability is assured by GNG or this FICT, I would think that editorially, I would consider the size of the current film article and how one can reduce repetition of information between a movie plot and the character's bio. On the Maximus article, this version of FICT would allow it (the inclusion on this list meets the 3rd prong and 1st and 2nd are clearly met) so there's an expectation of further discussion, but again, editorially, Gladitor (2000 film) isn't terribly long to include more discussion that may come from Maximus. --MASEM 21:33, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
I took the table from the article AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains and modified it. I suppose I could add colors to it. All articles about characters are going to duplicate material from the fictional work article to some extent. There's nothing wrong with that. Jack Torrance is a major character that appears in multiple works. On the other hand, Travis Bickle only appears in Taxi Driver, but the American Film Institute named the character the 30th best film villain. The AFI also said a quote by the character was the 10th best movie quote. The article was kept at AFD — but was redirected 5 weeks later by Otto4711.
Frank Booth only appears in the film Blue Velvet. But it's a memorable role of Dennis Hopper, and it (supposedly) revived his acting career. The AFI named the character the 36th best film villain. And Premiere magazine named one of his quotes one of the 100 greatest quotes in cinema.
Gordon Gekko only appears in the film Wall Street. But Michael Douglas won an Oscar for Best Actor for the performance. And the AFI named the character the 24th best film villain. Gordon Gekko was an icon of the '80s in the United States. And other fictional works have referenced the character.
You can organize information in several ways. It's possible to find what film critics have written about Maximus Decimus Meridius and include that in the Gladiator (2000 film) article; or you can include it in an article about the character; or you can include it in both. The character is a well-known fictional general. I don't see a big problem with repetition of information between articles. Hard drives only get cheaper. With that character, I may have argued to redirect, but the AFI list could sway me. That's third-party coverage. --Pixelface (talk) 22:36, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Sure, that's what I tried to implied: every character (excluding the ones based on real life persons) qualifies under the new FICT for an article, the third prong being easily met by the existence of this list, and no questions on meeting the other two. A separate discussion (appropriate to WP:WAF) can be made as to when it may be better (not at all due to notability, but strictly for trying to improve article quality) to keep such characters to the movie's article, when they could be separate, or some other means.
On the plot duplication, its moreso a matter of a character that's in a single work (or a work and its adaption in other media) - the character's bio is bounded by that work, thus the plot of the work will give you the bio of the character. On the other hand, when the character appears across several works, a bio can be made that hilights key points of the various works that contribute to it, but does not duplicate to the point of redundancy. (for example, I've noticed the various "Heroes" character articles, such as Hiro Nakamura, do not attempt to summarize but instead just chronologically list out what happens to the character. This can be improved, but again, this is unrelated to its notability (I'm pretty damn sure they meet the guidelines with some work), but instead a WP:WAF issue to be addressed later. --MASEM 22:48, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

No 'trousers rolled' for me, thank you

This issue got some significant real-world coverage today. No, not this proposed guideline; Garrison Keillor's column today was about tastes in fiction. On one hand there's the sort of fiction that he places under the umbrella 'art' and the other he sums up as 'BLAM BLAM BLAM'.

"She looked out the window and saw the reflection of her own pale face against the drifted snow."

"Read my book, buttface," said the novelist standing in the dim doorway of Brad's garage. "Pick it up and read it." "I ain't gonna read your book, it's got a lot of weird words like 'languid' and 'luminous' in it," said Brad.

He wondered if that was a real gun in the novelist's hand. It was. BLAM BLAM BLAM. Blood spattered all over the garage and his workbench. Blood glittered on the gunstock that Brad had been sanding for his shotgun. He wouldn't be sanding it no more. No sir.

"Read my book," the novelist said. "Are there breasts in it?" asked Brad. "Oh just grow up," the man sneered.

He didn't notice Brad's left hand reaching under the workbench for the .357 Magnum he kept taped there for just this eventuality. "I'm a serious novelist," the man said quietly, "and I've won many awards." But those awards weren't going to save his skin from some serious perforation now. No, sir. BLAM BLAM BLAM.

"You got a problem with that?" said the poet. The columnist turned. He saw a beautiful woman with a gun in her right hand. Her long auburn hair hung down over her pert breasts.

"You wrote this?" he said. "The part about looking out the window and seeing your pale reflection against the snow?"

She nodded. He was going to say that hers was a reflection he wouldn't mind seeing himself. But he never got that chance.

The issue, of course, is that not all fiction is the same. People are all het up about the 'importance' of a piece of fiction. Well, ya, some fiction is more important than other fiction. Macbeth is an important piece of fiction; episode 117 of Buffy the Phallus Slayer is not.

Is this the class of 'importance' being discussed here? No, but, yeah, but, no, but...

I see the core dispute as being one of undue weight; sure, some unimportant stuff warrants some coverage, but the important stuff is more important.

This current proposal is an attempt to make the wiki safe for the unimportant stuff; things like the importance of push-up bras in the Buffy franchise. I'm all for covering important fiction in depth; less important fiction should get less coverage and unimportant material should get little or none. The view that everything should be covered in fawning detail is a threat to the project; the mass-produced pop-culture material is, in effect, endless. Mebbe 10,000,000,000 non-notable articles was a bit of hyperbole; Wikipedia is not finished, but if you open the floodgates to endless non-notable fancruft, it will be.

Cheers, Jack Merridew 10:36, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

Jack asserts above that Macbeth is important while Buffy is not. This view is incorrect for at least three reasons:
  1. Shakespeare's plays were the popular entertainment of the day. Age has given them some lustre but they still come across as comparable with current works. For example, I saw Hamlet the other day. I had not seen a full production before and so was a little surprised to find it quite similar to an episode of Blackadder - full of bawdy and sarcastic humour with much "antic" behaviour. The stars included David Tennant and Patrick Stewart and I found their performances to be less convincing than their roles as The Doctor and Jean Luc Picard. I expect that outstanding shows like Doctor Who and Star Trek will endure and Buffy seems to be in the same award-winning class.
  2. The objective importance of these entertainments seems comparable, as measured by audience size and economic value. Artistic quality is not an objective measure per the dictum, de gustibus non est disputandum.
  3. Wikipedia is the encylopedia that anyone can edit. This core principle mandates a catholic and tolerant approach to content. Self-appointed arbiters of taste wishing to impose their own variety of intellectual snobbery and censorship should find another project which is more constrained.
Colonel Warden (talk) 11:20, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
As I've said before, I've seen the future and is in it;
Find and collaborate with people who love what you love.
Jack Merridew 11:36, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
There is a Shakespeare Wiki at Wikia but it seems a sorry thing. Your proposition that we should transwiki articles such as Macbeth there and then delete them from Wikipedia seems to be either pointless busywork or worse. One of the main functional benefits of Wikipedia is the easy interlinking of topics so that above I am easily able to refer to multiple topics within the same sentence. The more topics that it contains, the greater the power of this effect. Colonel Warden (talk) 12:15, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
I made no such suggestion and you know it. Wikia's for fancruft. Jack Merridew 12:23, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Wikia seems to be for anything and everything: for example, one of the biggest Wikias covers Psychology at a professional level, regarding itself as superior to Wikipedia in its standards. But, by their nature, Wikia wikis are insular and divisive - the very opposite of encylopaedic. I shall continue to work here since one Wiki is more than enough and I prefer a wide-ranging selection of topics. Colonel Warden (talk) 13:03, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Glad you see that you are familiarizing yourself with Wikia's range of sub-domains; I'm sure it will prove useful to you in your future. Cheers, Jack Merridew 15:36, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't think we should get into a debate about relative importance of specific fictional elements, as this is a matter of personal opinion, and we could discuss this for all eternity and not form any agreement. In response to Jack Merridew's fear that this guideline will "open the floodgates" to fancruft, my current view is that it does not permit the type of coverage common on fansites such as Wikia. The requirement for substantial real-world coverage is the quality check that will ensure only topics that can support an encyclopedic article should be included, as fancruft is mainly made up of trivial and in universe plot summary.
More interesting, the question now arises, how will ths guideline influence AfD debtates? Although the notability requirements have been relaxed, I think this guideline offers a lot more clarity. I estimate that 95-99% of all articles on fictonal elements fail WP:N due to lack of sourcing, so the three prongs will have a big influence on these debates. --Gavin Collins (talk) 11:38, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Gavin Collins is absolutely right - WP:N rules, and editors' opinions about whether something is "art" are irrelevant. --Philcha (talk) 11:53, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
That's what independent sources are for. Jack Merridew 11:57, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
The current requirement for significant real-world coverage from reliable sources should be enough to filter out the most blatant promotional material, as I have explained before. I think we can agree on this point, then the road to compromise is open before us. --Gavin Collins (talk) 12:03, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Independent sources are necessary. You're missing the inherently promotional nature of everything that originates with the creators of mass-market pop-culture. They spend more on promotion than on content. Jack Merridew 12:33, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Jack, this has seriously been argued ad nauseam, and bringing it up repeatedly in different sections is not furthering the discussion. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs (talk) 12:54, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

(EC with outdent)Buffy episode 117 is worthy of inclusion if, and only if, it's notable, as established by independent sources. Same for Macbeth, which passed that test probably a couple hundred years ago, if not even further back. I was thinking about this last night. Independent sources matters, because it debunks assumptions about things we might not find notable. Consider how often a band is notable, and why. Sonic Youth is a great example: Here's a band never played on the radio, except occasional college radio shows, which reach a limited audience. Their album sales aren't stellar. Critically, however, they are highly respected and well regarded. And more importantly, the list of bands who cite them as influences is huge. That's the measure of importance, the effect on others in the real world, documented neutrally. It's why I can't let go of Independent sourcing. ThuranX (talk) 12:57, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

In answer to Jack and ThuranX, I accept your points made earlier at WT:FICT#An observation about tightening standards. However, I still think you can get good encyclopedic coverage from sources that are not independent (although Kww also dispute this - see above). If coverage passes the "significant real-world" prong of the test, then I don't think you have anything to worry about, as this prong is a suprisingly good "quality-control" test. As the great bulk of promotional material about fictional elements is in universe (e.g. Plant creatures)), I think this prong will be weed out the topics that are souced from inherently promotional coverage. Perhaps we can find some more examples were there is compromise. One example (from Hamelet) that would benefit from commentary to establish importance would be The Gravediggers. It is not well sourced as it stands, but many editions of the play contain a commentary which would not ordinarily be classed as independent for this reason. Unlike flap copy, which tends to be trivial, most classic texts are accompanied with an introduction or a commentary from the publishers. I would invite you to compromise on independents sourcing because it opens some interesting possibilities. --Gavin Collins (talk) 13:09, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Gavin Collins, I think you're mixing meanings of "independent" here. I took Jack Merridew's (12:33, 15 January 2009) and ThuranX's (12:57, 15 January 200) comments to mean effectively "objective", having no axe to grind - and I agree 100% on that. Commentaries in editions of Shakespeare are a different matter as they have no motivation to promote Shakespeare (he's long dead, his works are long out of copyright). The real "product" there is the commentary, but that's no different from e.g. a book by an expert on Cambrian fossils. --Philcha (talk) 13:24, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
@Phil: That was my meaning.
@Gavin: That way madness lies. You can get details from non-independent sources; the horse's mouth, if you will. But that's only appropriate once there's some, independent taking-of-note. Everything the horse says is promotional; there are billions of dollars at stake. Cheers, Jack Merridew 13:56, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
That's not entirely true. On a number of levels. J. Michael Straczynski is undoubtedly the horse's mouth for Babylon 5, but he makes very little money off of it, as it's corporate owned and under a bizarre Hollywood accounting mechanism. So when he writes about production details, or does a DVD commentary, it's not because he makes big money off of the DVDs. He doesn't have any residuals payments on DVDs.
This is not an unusual situation. Much of the non-independent material - I would say virtually all of it that provides any significant real-world perspective - is not promotional as such - it's add-on. That is to say, for instance, the Grey's Anatomy Writers Blog does not seem to me to exist to get people to watch Grey's Anatomy. Nobody who is interested in reading that blog does not already watch the show. It's about providing something to the already existent audience.
Now, there's still something commercial there, I'll readily grant. But that's true elsewhere as well. Publication is always a commercial act. But it does not seem to me to always, or even usually, be promotional. Which is a key difference. We could specify non-promotional in the non-independent sources section if this would help. Phil Sandifer (talk) 16:23, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Wait a moment, it already requires that the sources be non-promotional. Where is the actual issue here? Phil Sandifer (talk) 16:48, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Normal Again

When I started this thread, I picked on Buffy randomly; I picked #117 merely as a number.

So I looked. It has one source, the creator and head writer; Macbeth has 30. The article has no iwlinks, while Macbeth has 36. Any question here? Jack Merridew 13:40, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

  • A quick search on Google Scholar turns up 48 hits for the Buffy episode. What I noticed is that the Shakespeare project has few featured articles and Macbeth isn't one of them - it doesn't even seem to be a GA. All this policy wonking isn't helping - huge amounts of talk and edits to no useful purpose. Last I heard, 25% of Wikipedia is now policy cruft and climbing... Colonel Warden (talk) 14:26, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
In answer to Philcha, commentaries in classic works are not inherently promotional but they are provided as a means of promoting a particular edition, and I am not sure they can always be classed as being independent or secondary. I think a similar quality of coverage may be obtained from substantial real-world coverage that is not independent, like an author's commentary. Looking at the example given by Jack, the article Normal Again attempts to establish the episode as being central to understanding the work, but I don't think this claim is substantiated sufficiently to pass either the "Role within the fictional work" or "Real-world coverage" tests. Although it is claimed that this episode is the "ultimate postmodern look at the concept of a writer writing a show", is a bald assertion that is not supported by substantial arguement or commentary. It would be interesting to hear what other editors think about whether this article meets the three pronged test. --Gavin Collins (talk) 14:32, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I find arguments that A) this proposal opens the floodgates to fancruft in a way that the current battleground approach to AfD doesn't, and B) coverage of fictional subjects will spell the end of Wikipedia too silly to take even remotely seriously. Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:26, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I am not sure you being fair, Phil, the main problem is that 95% of all articles on elements of fiction fail WP:N at the moment, so I think in a way, the floodgates have been opened and the current coverage of fictional topics is relatively poor comapared with arts based subjects. The concerns of Jack, ThuranX and others are highly relevant to this discussion and your comment is ignoring the tendancy by the majority contributors to treat fiction in a non-encyclopedic fashion. This guideline does address these issues, which is why I invite everybody to consider this draft as a workable compromise. If there are now any sticking points, I think we need to work through them with the use of examples, so we don't get stuck on abstractions and generalisations, and to propose workable solutions if something is lacking. --Gavin Collins (talk) 16:01, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
  • And I am all for improving the fictional content. Aggressively. In fact, once we get this passed, my next project is going to be to try to formulate a way to get fiction articles improved. However, it's ridiculous to suggest that this guideline exacerbates the problem, and preposterous to suggest that the end of Wikipedia is nigh. Hysteria is not a legitimate response here. Phil Sandifer (talk) 16:04, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Gavin, until you've got some verifiable stats, your constant use of the phrase "90/95 percent of fiction articles fail WP:N" statements are just more abstractions and generalizations, as you yourself put it. Hooper (talk) 16:06, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
I've been misrepresented above, so I'll correct: I've never argued that no encyclopedic content can be derived from non-independent sources, just that you needed at least one independent source to confirm notability.
To address Phil's argument that that an objective test for the second prong isn't necessary, I submit that he is ignoring the role of the closing admin and the amount of discretion he feels comfortable exercising. When an admin is faced with clear-cut denial of an existing guideline (i.e. I don't care if the guideline says you need at least one mention in an independent source, I think that Grooming of Bert and Ernie's Eyebrows is critical to understanding Sesame Street ), an admin feels reasonably comfortable ignoring that !vote. The fewer objective standards a !vote violates, the less comfortable an admin is discounting it. When there are no objective standards, a large percentage of admins will fall back on simply counting !votes. That's inexcusable, and a clear violation of WP:NOT#DEMOCRACY, but we all know it's true.—Kww(talk) 16:05, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
In answer to Kww, the whole point of this compromise draft is that the three pronged test widens the inclusion criteria for elements of fiction to bridge the differences between inclusionist and deletionists (in simple terms) by not relying soley on the GNG alone. You have hit the nail on the head regarding the need for evidence that a fictional element is important enough to pass the second prong, but I don't think that source has to be independent if it provides substantial real-world coverage, as the difference between the two in practise not much in terms of quality. But if you insist that the source has to be independent, then we are virtually back to where only reliable secondary sources are acceptable, which Masem and Phil have always opposed as being too restrictive, and no compromise can be reached. --Gavin Collins (talk) 16:23, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
I think a good way of looking at this compromise is that it breaks WP:N apart into a few little pieces. WP:N does a few things by requiring reliable third-party sources. One, it prevents articles written solely from primary sources; two, it makes sure that topics have real-world context; and three, it makes sure articles are basically important. This new proposal breaks that apart so we're not trying to accomplish all of those things through reliable third-party sources. Real-world context can come from arms length sources such as DVD commentary and developer blogs, which also happen to be secondary sources (although they're not independent). But the stuff that's covered in DVD commentary also has to be basically important (e.g.: "it's an episode of a critically/culturally/commercially important series" and not "it's a polygon that developers agonized over in a critically/culturally/commercially important video game"). Measuring notability through three different "prongs" does make it a bit messy, but it achieves the same spirit of WP:N without the same limits. That's the compromise. Randomran (talk) 16:35, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Media coverage of wikipedia's deletion policy and notability guidelines is unanimously, universally negative.
In a scathing editorial which reflects this universal distain, New York Review of Books journalist Nicholson Baker writes:
"...a lot of good work—verifiable, informative, brain-leapingly strange—is being cast out of this paperless, infinitely expandable accordion folder by people who have a narrow, almost grade-schoolish notion of what sort of curiosity an online encyclopedia will be able to satisfy in the years to come."
I strongly agree with Nicholson Baker, and think that the exclusion of so much is extremely harmful to the future of wikipedia.
The fact is this Wikipedia:Notability (fiction) is going to be used by "bullies"[1][2] to delete newer editors contributions. The vast majority of deletions are new editor contibutions, whose very first edits are the article which is being deleted. The Economist theorizes the reason why users' activity on the site has been falling since October 2007 is because of the "self-appointed deletionist guardians"[3], many which post here.travb (talk) 20:35, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
It’s certainly an opinion worth consideration.
Wikipedia’s policies (WP:NOR in particular), the emphasis on secondary sources, and these difficult notability criteria are all important. Wikipedia must not allow itself to become a workshop for the development of fandom or even the pseudo scholastic creation of fictional, in-universe compendia, which in the end amount to derivative works or the original fiction, which even if not strictly illegal, is a bad idea.
However, just because original research, including the synthesis of commentary derived solely from the fiction itself is not the goal, it doesn’t mean that deletion is the answer. Articles begin in poor form and get improved. Newcomer contributions begin with what the newcomers “know”, and with time, these newcomers contributions develop. Even if the early contributions are destined to not survive in the article that reaches “good article status”, they are steps, they should be welcomed, and to delete them is to insult and label unwelcome the potential future experienced editor. I have watched Harry Potter articles turn from fan forums into good articles – this happens, if you are patient. Most of those articles could have been deleted in there early days
Deletion is not a good answer to early contributions, AfD is a poor method of editorial review, and “notability” anything is and will remain as a matter of policy. Questions of fictional content should be directed to the improvement oriented WP:WAF. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 22:08, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
(Later, edit conflict) RE: Gavin Collins is absolutely right - WP:N rules, and editors' opinions about whether something is "art" are irrelevant. --Philcha (talk)
This is so ridiculous. Who decides what is notable? "people who have a narrow, almost grade-schoolish notion of what sort of curiosity an online encyclopedia will be able to satisfy in the years to come." "Notability" is decided the same way as "art" is.
RE: I'm sorry, I find arguments that A) this proposal opens the floodgates to fancruft in a way that the current battleground approach to AfD doesn't, and B) coverage of fictional subjects will spell the end of Wikipedia too silly to take even remotely seriously. Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:26, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Phil Sandifer, A) is a falacious slippery slope argument and B) the opposite is actually true, I agree with The Economist: that draconian rules actually make the future of wikipedia less certain. travb (talk) 22:17, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Articles need to prove that there's a real reason to read them, a real reason for others to read them, to exist in the first place. Independent sourcing establishes notability. that a few writers look at wikipedia and see that it SHOULD become an indiscriminate pile of possible information is irrelevant; by one of those cited's own admission, he's in love with the text of his own mind, and thus, can be summarily discarded as a neutral voice on the operations of WP. Further, he's a rampant inclusionist, so of course he'll editorialize that those of us who can actually write serious papers and do research are just draconian snobs and bullies, with no real purpose here. Nice of you to link in a multipage ad hom against an entire vein of WP thought. NO point in arguing anymore if that's the level the inclusionsts have to sink to - linking in Ad Hominem screeds against their entire percieved opposition. ThuranX (talk) 23:14, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
Cutting in, I'd just like to say I laughed pretty hard at the senseless elitism displayed here. This really should be looked down upon. A good summary of this would be "If thousands of people want information regarding something from this project, they can be damned if that something's importance is argued by a few dozen guys on the internet circlejerking to what their own shared ideal of what an unscholarly enyclopedia website should be." The really humorous part is how apparently anyone with the view that this website isn't paper and should ideally strive to reach its full potential, including published columnists, is a filthy, pathetic "inclusionist". Way to use that scathing wikilexicon with tact. - Norse Am Legend (talk) 01:32, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
So we should have an article on anything at all, regardless of quality, veracity, or importance to anyone, just because we aren't paper? ThuranX (talk) 03:35, 16 January 2009 (UTC)
Of course not, that'd be dumb and Wikipedia would be like Urban Dictionary, filled with billions of unmanageable articles about that one kid in your math class you hate and lists of hair care products used by that one co-star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The issue here is that a lot of well written, objective, verifiable and popular articles are being rampantly deleted just because they lack "independent sources". In reality, someone looking up details on a major aspect of a fictional work here doesn't care if an editor on some website thinks "it looks cool"(such sources have been the sole grounds for keeping articles put up for AfD or merger, in the face of dozens of sources considered to be "too primary", like published magazines specific to the subject), nor does such a source even establish a sense of notability; it's nothing more than trivia to a person interested in the article's actual content. In my ideal little fantasy world, fiction article inclusion would be based solely on prongs #1 and #2 here with higher standards for writing and sourcing. The only real opposition argument to this is seems to be that thing where people are slapping an "undue weight" label on all of fiction, which is bullshit. You can find useless three-sentence articles on this site about the five thousand different kinds of rain forest insects and Eastern European provinces with <4000 residents no one's ever heard of, but throw on the alarms if someone finds an un-tertiary sourced 15kb article about a major fictional character that happens to attain ~60,000 hits a month. - Norse Am Legend (talk) 01:53, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
Notability isn't just about excluding unimportant stuff. It's actually a pretty low threshold in terms of importance: Wikipedia is about anything that a reliable, independent source has written about. If someone independent and reliable hasn't written about it, then we don't cover it. Really, notability is just meant to prevent the kind of subjective articles that had begun to plague Wikipedia as it rose in popularity. Articles became subjective in that they were original research, full of opinions and original theories, and with a lot of detail that was unreadable and even harder to verify. This was a problem across the whole encyclopedia. Maybe you don't care when it's fiction, but you should care when we're talking about Christianity and Islam, or Fascism and Democracy, or Genocide and Human Rights. This isn't a playground. I remember it used to be that a featured article was merely well-written. But now, sourcing is required. Why? Because Wikipedia became popular enough that people would contaminate it with self-serving crap. WP:N is just a natural extension of our basic sourcing requirements. If we didn't call it "notability", we'd still have a "minimum sourcing requirement" to prevent people from abusing Wikipedia. It's the price to pay if you want to have an encyclopedia that anyone can edit, but that is also worth any modicum of respect. The proposal being championed by Phil Sandifer is very reasonable. It still requires sources at every step of the way, and still prevents people from using Wikipedia as a vehicle for original research and analysis. But if people take the position that we need to go back to the way things were in 2006, a compromise is going to be impossible. We can't have an encyclopedia without a reliable research policy. Randomran (talk) 23:18, 15 January 2009 (UTC)

I'll bite

Okay Jack Merridew, I'll bite. So Wikipedia should only cover your tastes in fiction? Shakespeare and William Golding yes, Doom and Oh My Goddess no?

Thanks for linking to that column by Garrison Keillor. But I disagree with your interpretation of it. Keillor starts off by saying "more Americans than before are reading novels and short stories." Some of that can probably be traced to Harry Potter. And yet when books like Harry Potter become wildly popular, and get people interested in reading novels, there's a backlash. Some of that backlash is from "guys who like to play video games in which you shoot people and spatter their blood on the wall." Half of US adults are gamers. Keillor said "A deep-down aversion to a-r-t is one big reason half of America stays away from fiction." So yeah, there'll be people who stay away from Jane Austen thinking it's artsy fartsy. But also, 1 out of 7 adults in the US have low literacy skills.[4] But Wikipedia can have articles about Jane Austen characters *and* Harry Potter characters *and* videogame characters. If Niko Bellic is a well-known character, why shouldn't there be an article about him? If readers want articles for characters in Pride and Prejudice, why shouldn't there be articles about them?

Keillor said "Fiction is my cash crop." He makes fun of film noir all the time, just like he did in his article. Does that mean we should gut Wikipedia's coverage of film noir? Does that mean we should redirect Guy Noir to another article or a list? No. It means we should educate people and answer the question "Who is Guy Noir", or, "What is film noir?" (although the second question is a little trickier). I listen to Garrison Keillor when I want to fall asleep. I've never really cared for A Prairie Home Companion, but that doesn't matter.

I was never forced to read "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", but even if you don't like a creative work, you can still find parts of it you do like (or could even apply to Wikipedia itself):

Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

So how should I presume?

And how should I presume?

And should I then presume?

And how should I begin?

When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin

Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"—

It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:

Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous
Almost, at times, the Fool.

Garrison Keillor called The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock a "small dark mopefest of a poem" and said "Poems are easy...But nobody reads poetry, thanks to T.S. Eliot" because students were forced to read it in school. Keillor wrote "old Tom led a million writers down the path to writing reams of stuff that nobody wants to read" saying, "And we got the idea that Literature is a Downer." You could even cite those quotes and add them to the article. But not all fiction is literature.

You're right, not all fiction is the same. That's what this is about more than anything — people holding up their noses at some fictional work or area: Star Trek? Doctor Who? Star Wars? Halo? Lost? Heroes? South Park? Family Guy? Babylon 5? Coronation Street? EastEnders? Neighbours? Home and Away? D&D? Bionicle? Pokemon? Television? Comic books? Movies based on comic books? "My taste is fiction is better than yours." People are entitled to their opinions, but whether a person doesn't like a particular area of fiction is irrelevant when it comes to having an article about it. Now, I hesitate to bring any articles up since the last time I brought up an article (about a character that happens to appear in Kingdom Hearts, a game I have no interest in whatsoever), you went around removing Category:Kingdom Hearts characters from articles. But here I go.

The core of the dispute is fan wars. Fans of cycling vs fans of Bionicle. Fans of Halo vs fans of Half-Life. People without television vs people with television. Fans of Naruto vs fans of Warcraft. Fans of Haydn vs fans of Friends. Fans of Dragonball Z vs fans of everything else. Fans of cricket vs fans of D&D. Fans of Meerkat Manor vs fans of Xena: The Warrior Princess. Fans of V for Vendetta vs fans of Babylon 5. Fans of imageboards started by teenagers vs fans of Pokemon. Fans of USENET vs fans of L. Ron Hubbard. Fans of Oryx and Crake and A Confederacy of Dunces and The Library of Babel vs fans of Die Unendliche Geschichte and Fahrenheit 451 and 1984. As if a person couldn't like them all.

Some people may even say "What's so great about Shakespeare"? Keillor wrote "People naturally want to be seen as sensitive persons of exquisite taste...", and that also applies to what you just wrote. Do you think Shakespearean plays were not the pop culture of its day?

People do have different tastes in fiction. But we're not here to decide if Lady Macbeth is more important than Darth Vader. We're here to provide information in a neutral way for people wanting to learn about various topics. If someone wants to know who Lady Macbeth is, we can tell them. If someone wants to know who Darth Vader is, we can tell them. If someone wants to learn about The Hero with a Thousand Faces, we can tell them. If someone wants to learn about Understanding Comics, we can tell them. If someone wants to learn about Amusing Ourselves to Death, we can tell them. If someone wants to learn about The Society of the Spectacle, we can tell them. If someone wants to learn about The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture, we can tell them. If someone wants to learn about Against Civilization, we can tell them.

Wikipedia does have alot of articles about "modern commercial properties", but so what? Wikipedia is not Encarta, Wikipedia is not World Book, Wikipedia is not Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia is not a paper encyclopedia. Every Wikipedia is a reflection of the interests of its volunteer editors. But just because there's an article about something on Wikipedia doesn't mean it's actually important. We're not here to decide if Godzilla is more important than King Kong. We can cover both, and be neutral about it. If Bulbasaur is more well-known than some 19th century paleontologist, why shouldn't Bulbasaur have an article? Because it's a cartoon character? Because of some belief that cartoons are for kids? You might as well say Wikipedia shouldn't have an article for all the Oz books because they were written for children. You could say "But it's just Pokemon." But the mature, adult thing to do would be to describe it in a neutral, detached way. Every group of people has their myths and legends and stories.

By the year 2130, everyone here will be dead. The Babylonians are dead, but Marduk is immortal. The Sumerians are dead, but Enki and Gilgamesh are immortal. Arjuna is immortal. The ancient Egyptians are dead, but Osiris is immortal. The ancient Romans are dead, but Hercules is immortal. Homer is dead, but Odysseus is immortal. Aesop is dead, but the boy who cried wolf is immortal. King Arthur is immortal. Beowulf is immortal. Izanagi is immortal. Coyote and Raven are immortal. Miguel de Cervantes is dead, but Don Quixote is immortal. Cinderella is immortal. Shakespeare is dead, but Othello is immortal. Victor Hugo is dead, but Jean Valjean is immortal. Charles Dickens is dead, but Oliver Twist is immortal. Mary Shelley is dead, but Frankenstein's monster is immortal. Mark Twain is dead, but Tom Sawyer is immortal. Jules Verne is dead, but Captain Nemo is immortal. Bram Stoker is dead, but Dracula is immortal. Leo Tolstoy is dead, but Pierre Bezukhov is immortal. H. G. Wells is dead, but Martians are immortal. L. Frank Baum is dead, but the Wicked Witch Witch of the West is immortal. Robert Louis Stevenson is dead, but Long John Silver is immortal. Rudyard Kipling is dead, but Mowgli is immortal. J. M. Barrie is dead, but Peter Pan is immortal. James Joyce is dead, but Leopold Bloom is immortal. George Orwell is dead, but Winston Smith is immortal. Alexandre Dumas is dead, but Edmond Dantès is immortal. Herman Melville is dead, but Ishmael is immortal. Oscar Wilde is dead, but Dorian Gray is immortal. Charlie Chaplin is dead, but the Tramp is immortal. Johnston McCulley is dead, but Zorro is immortal. Ub Iwerks is dead, but Mickey Mouse is immortal. Ayn Rand is dead, but John Galt is immortal. H. P. Lovecraft is dead, but Cthulhu is immortal. Gregory Peck is dead, but Atticus Finch is immortal. Alex Raymond is dead, but Flash Gordon is immortal. Jimmy Stewart is dead, but George Bailey is immortal. Jack Kirby is dead, but Captain America is immortal. Ian Fleming and Barry Nelson are dead, but James Bond is immortal. Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris are dead, but Aquaman is immortal. Alec Guinness is dead, but Obi-Wan Kenobi is immortal. William Hartnell and Richard Hurndall are dead, but the First Doctor is immortal. Lucille Ball is dead, but Lucy Ricardo is immortal. Fred Gwynne is dead, but Herman Munster is immortal. Charles Addams and Raul Julia are dead, but Gomez Addams is immortal. Phil Hartman is dead, but Troy McClure is immortal. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and Christopher Reeve are dead, but Superman is immortal. Will Eisner is dead, but The Spirit is immortal. Arthur C. Clarke is dead, but HAL 9000 is immortal. Those characters will outlive us all. Yes, probably even Pikachu and Bulbasaur and Nemu Kurotsuchi. So let's put things in perspective. People die, but their stories live on. The artifacts they create, remain — at least for a while anyway.

I grow old… I grow old…
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

The person known as Shakespeare is dead, but the plays remain. Garrison Keillor will be dead one day too, but A Prairie Home Companion and Guy Noir will remain. Everyone likes a good story. And not everyone likes the same stories.

You're not going to win any friends by calling someone else's topic of interest "cruft" — which is codergeek jargon anyway. You're only going to paint a big target on your interests. That doesn't do anything to counter "systemic bias." You don't counter systemic bias by removing articles — you counter it by adding omitted things to Wikipedia. Over one in four articles on the English Wikipedia falls under Category:Fiction. Are television shows, videogames, and comic books mass produced? Yes. Is that a bad thing? No — they're mass produced because they're in-demand, they're popular. But when something becomes popular, it also becomes popular to dismiss it. Does it improve Wikipedia to remove things that are popular? No. Can it be maddening when people argue to keep an article about some pop culture thing you think is inane, yet people argue to delete an article about a topic you think is important? Yeah. But there's no accounting for taste.

If you want to complain about article after article for episodes (or spells or fictional islands), you can blame Jimmy Wales for saying over seven years ago "I agree with this one completely" when someone wrote "There is no reason why there shouldn't be a page for every Simpsons character, and even a table listing every episode, all neatly cross-linked and introduced by a shorter central page" It snowballed from there. Whether Wikipedia should have an article for every character in the D&D Monster Manual is debatable, but if a character is well-known, why not? Should Wikipedia have an article for every character in Satan Burger or Electric Jesus Corpse? In my opinion no, we don't even have articles for those books; but we can always take a survey.

I'm one of the editors who thinks it's fine that we have an article for Imaginationland Episode I (and 2, and 3) and I think it's fine if editors want to include a list of all the fictional characters that appear in the episode, and I think it's fine if all those fictional characters each have articles. Then there are some editors who want to re-enact the story, and walk into Imaginationland wearing a suicide vest.

Getting rid of articles about fictional topics does not bring respectability to Wikipedia. Isn't Wikipedia the website where teenagers upload pictures of their own ejaculate for the Semen article? Isn't Wikipedia the website that made a woman who shot her husband the COO and in charge of their finances? Isn't Wikipedia the website where the founder used to run a porn search engine and used Wikipedia donations for massages and steak dinners? Isn't Wikipedia the encyclopedia that lets anyone edit? There's a reason that libraries don't let people write in their encyclopedias. The floodgates have always been open. "Anyone can edit."

You said you've seen the future and Wikia is it? If a certain topic can be forced off Wikipedia to Wikia (say, World of Warcraft), there's nothing stopping people from forcing any topic to Wikia.

  • Step 1. Create a wiki with banner ads, call it a "free webhost", suggest a Wikipedia editor make a Star Wars wiki there, rename the webhost "Wikia" (like "trivia")
  • Step 2. Start dismissing every fictional topic on Wikipedia as the work of "fans" — call it "fancruft" or "fanwank" or doubleplusungood, whatever chaps your guy
  • Step 3. Profit

Whether Wikipedia will remain or be swallowed up by Wikia is unclear. What if someone told you "Take it to, Jack. Wikipedia is not a travel guide." You would say "No. This belongs on Wikipedia, not Wikia." You would say "237 million people live there. It's a real place. The country has the fourth largest population in the world. It's infinitely more important than Buffy Summers or Sunnydale." But we're not here to judge importance. An average episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was watched by 4 to 6 million when it first aired. So it's understandable if someone is familiar with Normal Again, but has never heard of the novel Command Decision. Over ten million people play World of Warcraft. If anyone wants to learn what an Ogoh-ogoh is, Wikipedia can tell them. If anyone wants to learn about who Buffy Summers is, we can tell them. The reader can decide for themselves which they think is more important.

Whether the Fourth Doctor is more "important" than Vicky Pollard or Ali G is the actual "fanwank." Tom Baker is notable for playing the Fourth Doctor, Matt Lucas is notable for playing Vicky Pollard, and Sacha Baron Cohen is notable for playing Ali G. Those fictional characters are a large part of why those real people are notable to begin with.

If something becomes popular, it later becomes just as popular to make fun of that popular thing. It's just a backlash against popular culture or geek culture. But as if anyone but geeks give a crap about all the different "flavors" of Linux. But that's okay, we won't discriminate against Linux distros just because geeks are interested in them. Geek self-hatred or geek guilt is not going to improve Wikipedia.

In April 2006 Lore Sjoberg wrote in WIRED "Wikipedia is the largest and most comprehensive collection of arguments in human history" — and that was over 2 1/2 years ago. He wrote "As an unexpected side effect of being the perfect argument space, it's also a pretty good place to find information about all the characters from Battlestar: Galactica." People can make fun of the show all they want; I've never seen it. Maybe Lore Sjoberg actually likes Battlestar: Galactica, I don't know. He said "An article about me is up for deletion! What can I do to keep this from happening?" and said "honestly your best bet is to get a role on Battlestar: Galactica." Now someone could read that and think "We need to get rid of all the character articles for Battlestar: Galactica." Or they could read it and laugh — because it's funny.

Wikipedia has over 15.7 million pages. Around 2.6 million of those are articles. Over 80% of Wikipedia is non-articles. If you picked up a volume of Encyclopedia Britannica and only 1 out of every 5 pages was an entry, could it really be called an "encyclopedia"?

Your userpage has a link to Wikipedia:Wikipedia is an MMORPG. Why should anyone take you seriously if you think Wikipedia is an MMORPG and you've created at least 9 roles to that end? — like rolling a new D&D character every time (which you don't seem to care for). Yeah, "Wikipedia is an MMORPG" is one metaphor you can choose from. The Library of Babel is another. Try some other models. I would say you'd make a great Guy Montag, but then someone would respond "That article fails chapter WP verse ALPHABETSOUP in the Epistle of Jimbo" — without realizing that they've joined a cult. Or you could entertain the possibility that the Ministry of Truth may have begun as a volunteer project. And "mebbe" realize (oh, I'm sorry, "realise") that one day you'll be dead too. There's a certain sense of satisfaction that comes after rescuing an article from deletion.

Some people are here to play games, some people are here to work. Some people do both. One person may be taking Wikipedia seriously at the time, and another person may not, and when they cross each others paths, they're bound to irk each other. Some people act with professionalism at all times, some people have a little fun, some people make serious points and jokes in the same breath.

I think Keillor's column went right over your head. This is the key part: He wrote "But what readers really want is the same as what Shakespeare's audience wanted - dastardly deeds by dark despicable men, and/or some generous blood-spattering and/or saucy wenches with pert breasts cinched up to display them like fresh fruit on a platter. It isn't rocket science, people." And if Wikipedia readers want that (take a look at the top 1,000 viewed articles), Wikipedia can provide that information — for free, without advertising. That applies to Macbeth as much as it does to episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Wikipedia is about free information. We're here to share information. Complaining that the English Wikipedia has articles that reflect the interests of its volunteers is like complaining that you're seasick from being on a ship in the ocean. It comes with the territory. What are people who speak English, have Internet access, have enough free time, and who aren't bored to death by HTML markup and wikicode interested in? And people should start calling them "entries" anyway, instead of articles. When you say "Macbeth is an important piece of fiction; episode 117 of Buffy the Phallus Slayer is not", I can only think of Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television. And I've never liked Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But you merely traded one glowing screen for another, Jack.

I would say that your current username is the most apt of all the ones you've chosen (besides shadow puppet), but then someone might wonder "Who is Jack Merridew?" — and the article is just a redirect. Why shouldn't we have an article about Jack Merridew? You could say that if someone wants to know who Jack Merridew is, they should read the novel, or watch one of the two films based on the novel. But we don't say "read it yourself." You could say, look at the article for the novel or films. But what if someone wants to know specifically who Jack Merridew is and what he does? (and see why "Jack Merridew" is such an strikingly appropriate username for you). William Golding is dead, but every time a new reader picks up Lord of the Flies, Ralph, Piggy, Simon, Sam and Eric, Jack, and Roger are reborn. You could say that The Coral Island is the "vision" of Wikipedia, but Lord of the Flies is the actuality — this talk page included.

I know you think Americans ruined Bali when they came in their planes, but on Wikipedia, NPOV is expected of all editors when it comes to articles. Leave your bias at the door. But whatever. Keep trying to force your TV-lacking POV across Wikipedia. If an article you write gets deleted and "meanwhile endless articles on popular culture are extant", why be mad at those articles? "Why did people create articles about popular things?" Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? That's like me going to the Bahasa Wikipedia and complaining that "endless articles on Indonesian popular culture are extant." I went there and clicked on Random article a bunch of times and almost every article had zero references. But that's okay, since Wikipedia is not finished. Nobody gets paid to edit here. We're all volunteers. We're all making it up as we go.

No, be mad at the people who wrote NOTMEMORIAL and the people who misinterpret it. It's asinine that someone can nominate an article for deletion umpteen times, yet none of Wikipedia's 300+ policies and guidelines can be nominated for deletion once. So people have created a situation where rulecruft can grow and grow and grow, like "kudzu" (to quote a gamer "who like to play video games in which you shoot people and spatter their blood on the wall"). Deleting an article doesn't free up any space on Wikipedia's hard drives. It only makes it so non-admins can't read the article and learn about the topic.

But this is TL;DR right? Like War and Peace? Maybe a friendly editor from the UK using Tiscali can summarize (oh, there I go again, "summarise") it for you. Or maybe a Green Lantern/Smallville/Freddy/Jason/Dark Knight fan can cut it down and remove all the wikilinks, like he removed them from the War and Peace article. A person can like War and Peace *and* The Dark Knight — you know, "dastardly deeds by dark despicable men, and/or some generous blood-spattering" and all that. Tell me Jack, is Les Miserables an important fictional work? What's more important, there being no consensus to delete Plot of Les Misérables or some strict dogma about FICTNWAFPLOT? NOTPAPER came first. And that doesn't even need to be written down; it's a plain truth.

So now who's going to redirect the Fiction article for "failing FICT"? — meanwhile, this page generates archive after archive after archive... ("most comprehensive collection of arguments in human history..."). You could just redirect this talkpage to The Forever War.

Wikipedia can answer the question "What is an orange?" But reading Orange (fruit) and eating an actual orange are two vastly different experiences. You can't really know what an orange tastes like from reading Wikipedia.

To lead you to an overwhelming question…
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.

Everything on Wikipedia is a description. Three blind men describing an elephant. There is the ideal of "neutral point of view" and then there is the Rashomon effect.

"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."

Wikipedia is like a map. But a map is not the territory. When you go to a restaurant, the menu is not the meal. People can enjoy a meal without reading a menu; people can still read the play Macbeth if Wikipedia had no article about it. That doesn't mean we should throw away the menu. Maybe someone wants to read the menu, even if you don't want to.

TL;DR? I just turned into a big fish. If someone asks me to remove this comment, I will gladly remove it. --Pixelface (talk) 13:25, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

I've restored the full post in the box Cheers, Jack Merridew 06:26, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
I've removed the collapsible box. --Pixelface (talk) 12:09, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

I think Keillor's column went right over your head. This is the key part: He wrote "But what readers really want is the same as what Shakespeare's audience wanted - dastardly deeds by dark despicable men, and/or some generous blood-spattering and/or saucy wenches with pert breasts cinched up to display them like fresh fruit on a platter. It isn't rocket science, people." And if Wikipedia readers want that (take a look at the top 1,000 viewed articles), Wikipedia can provide that information — for free, without advertising. That applies to Macbeth as much as it does to episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

(I've removed my extremely long reply (diff), but the oldid is here if anyone wants to read all 4000+ words of it. I've left in the paragraph I think is most relevant.) --Pixelface (talk) 16:54, 17 January 2009 (UTC)

Pixel it is only a matter of time before the banhammer comes back Jack's way. Please don't do things like this or it swings your way too. Hooper (talk) 13:34, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
I know you? Cheers, Jack Merridew 06:21, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
Oh I'm sure someone will mention that diff at my user RFC.
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
--Pixelface (talk) 17:00, 17 January 2009 (UTC)
Wow. Ya, too long; but I just read it. You know, I'd probably enjoy meeting you and having some discussion. If you ever come to Bali, I'd agree to meet-up. Half the US adults are gamers? No wonder the sky is falling.
So, where to begin? You seem to think that I think this is about my opinion about what should be included; nope. Not my view, not yours, and not that of the legions of fans either. See my comments about independent sources; it's up to them. If someone without a dog in the fight, who is writing as a 'reliable source', in a non-trivial way that can be verified (yada, yada; we need an inline template for the boilerplate) then we should have non-trivial coverage about it. And no, that doesn't necessarily mean a stand-along article; I don't think that every character in War and Peace and Pride and Prejudice should have an article. Now there is likely enough good (yada) sourcing to do it and if enough editors are interested in first building the main articles up to the point where solid stand-alone should be split off, then fine. But more articles does not equate to better coverage.
The argument recurs that the 'readers' want the pop-culture stuff; so what? Is the goal simply to offer what the masses want? Or are we here to offer what's "encyclopaedic", what's "important", the stuff that they should (according to the Indy-yada-Sources) know; there is a difference between knowledge and information. Not every bit of information is important, even if it's popular; if we were to focus on that, we would be a project a lot more closely related to Jimmy's first site.
"It isn't rocket science, people."
Cheers, Jack Merridew 06:21, 18 January 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for reading it. But I think the chances of us meeting are zero. And it's not an arch-inclusionist manifesto, whatever that is. Reading it may make you think I support articles for any and every fictional topic, but that's not true. Do we need separate articles for Chicken Licken, Henny Penny, Goosey Loosey, and Foxy Loxy? No. Do we need a separate article for Max in Where the Wild Things Are? No.
You said some fiction is more important than other fiction. But that is all subjective. When you wrote "Macbeth is an important piece of fiction; episode 117 of Buffy the Phallus Slayer is not", you were showing your taste in fiction. Someone doesn't have to write about an episode in order for the episode to be notable. Someone doesn't even have to write about Macbeth for Macbeth to be notable. The play is still performed after hundreds of years. How many people are aware of it? Maybe there shouldn't be a article for every character in War and Peace or Pride and Prejudice, but what about the main characters? What about characters that notable actors are well-known for portraying?
At one point, Tolstoy told Chekhov that he couldn't stand Shakespeare's plays. At one point, Anton Chekhov wrote "I divide works into two categories: those I like and those I don't. I have no other criterion. And if you were to ask me why I like Shakespeare and do not like Zlatovratsky, I would be unable to answer. Maybe with time, when I grow wiser, I'll acquire a criterion, but in the meanwhile all discussions on what is and is not artistic wear me out." Personally, I know more about Chekhov than Chekhov. That's pop culture for you. If popular culture stuff is popular with readers of Wikipedia, why take that away? We can offer what the masses want in addition to what's "important." If you want to only provide what you consider "encyclopaedic", then I have some good news for you Jack:
On January 22, Claire Sweeney of Sydney wrote[5] on Times Online that Encyclopaedia Britannica launched a "new online version where users can contribute and edit content", saying the move "takes it head to head with Wikipedia", but "catering to a different type of crowd." Sweeney wrote "all submissions will undergo a strict vetting process and may or may not make the cut." Britannica's president Jorge Cauz compared people using Wikipedia as their only source of reference to people who eat McDonalds every day. That's one analogy.
But will Britannica 2.0 have an article about the fictional character Ronald McDonald? How about Morgan Spurlock? (a guy who really did eat McDonalds every day — and filmed it, and then spun off a reality show from it)
Will Wikipedia have an article about Ronald McDonald after this proposal? How about Hamburglar? At Talk:McDonaldland, three people supported a merge: Petaholmes, Pd THOR, and Jerem43. The Hamburglar article was redirected, but other editors unredirected it. Then RJC redirected it again. Is Hamburglar "important"? No, not really. I suppose the character is important to McDonald's Corporation. It's important when speaking of McDonald's advertising and McDonaldland. Hamburglar is a notable advertising character — like the Trix Rabbit. Are you familiar with the Trix Rabbit, Jack?
The Trix Rabbit is notable. So is Bugs Bunny. And Tweety Bird. And Wile E. Coyote. One began as an advertising character, and the others began as cartoon characters, later used for advertising. But are they "important"? Trix Rabbit is important to General Mills and Nestlé. Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, and Wile E. Coyote are important to Warner Bros. Is knowing who those fictional characters are, actual knowledge? Is it important to know? Is it stuff people should know? That's a matter of opinion.
You're right, not every bit of information is important — but isn't that up to the reader to decide for themselves? Wikipedia can't teach people to survive in the wild or drill wells in Africa for clean water — you know, actual important stuff, because of policies like WP:NOT#HOWTO. So you end up with alot of trivia.
Articles for Wikia? How about Articles for Britannica 2.0? How many of Wikipedia's featured articles do you think would make the cut at a real encyclopedia that's been around for more than a decade? --Pixelface (talk) 00:02, 25 January 2009 (UTC)


I've made an attempt at guideline-tagging this. My hope is that, given that nobody has pointed to an article they think this would lead to the wrong result on, we can all accept this as a compromise that works in practice and not worry excessively about the sausage making process.

I'd encourage people not to revert simply because they prefer a different way of tagging it as a guideline. That's the point of being bold. If we're all sufficiently OK with the outcome of this being a guideline to not revert, well, it's a guideline.

Of course, if there are serious objections and people want a more formal process to see if those objections are sufficient to constitute a lack of consensus, OK. Remove the tag, and we'll go from there.

But I'm optimistic, given that we all seem to at least be OK with what articles this keeps and deletes, that this will work.

And, of course, as I have said, if anyone starts finding cases where this is used to produce bad AfD results, by all means, let's get them fixed. Guideline tagging is not the end of the process - just the end of the part of the process that can be accomplished without trying the guideline out and seeing what it does in the field. If there are parts that don't work, I, at least, want to fix them. And I think, given how successful we've been at finding common ground up to this point, we're more than capable of doing so. Phil Sandifer (talk) 17:41, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

I will say, I am surprised by the swift reversion, without further comment, from someone who has essentially abandoned the discussion for the past 48 hours. Especially from someone who was also largely absent from the discussions that formed this guideline.
I had hoped to see a swift explanation of why he thinks this lacks consensus, what articles it would wrongly keep or delete, and/or what process he would prefer to tag it as a guideline. But half an hour after his revert, it seems that no explanation or re-engagement with the discussion is forthcoming. How disappointing. Perhaps he is working on a lengthy, thought out response, and has been for half an hour. In which case, by all means, delete this comment, and accept my apologies for the edit conflict. Phil Sandifer (talk) 18:18, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm sorry that a 48-hour break from sheer frustration appears to be abandoning the discussion. I've made it clear why this guideline is unacceptable. I've provided two different versions of the language. Insert one or the other, and I'm fine. Don't, and I'm not. WP:RS is explicit: "Articles should rely on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy" I'm willing to go along with a guideline that attempts minimal compliance with that guideline. I'm not willing to go along with a guideline that ignores it.—Kww(talk) 18:32, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Your proposals were widely rejected, and not just by me. And you've yet to point to a single article that you think should be deleted that this guideline would keep. A lone example would go a very, very long way here. Phil Sandifer (talk) 18:36, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
For extremely small values of "widely", you might be right. This guideline is in violation of WP:RS. You need to fix that. You may have problems with my efforts at compromise, but that doesn't eliminate that problem. WP:RS is a well established guideline, and a subguideline can't just ignore it.—Kww(talk) 18:40, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • Phil, if you try to rush this through, it won't work. This proposal has to go to RFC first in any case. --Gavin Collins (talk) 18:34, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
  • I strongly disagree with that statement - I can find no precedent for it in notability guideline formation past. This has been very widely advertised and discussed. I do not think yet another round of comment requesting is needed. Those of us who are involved in the discussion can finish the matter. Phil Sandifer (talk) 18:36, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

I find Phil's attitude combative, and for me to think that is saying something. Phil, people here have real lives, and you know many editors are quite interested in this discussion. To assert that people have left it after 48 hours of NOT replying is absurd bad faith, and you know it. For you to premise an attempt to push this forward based on one of your opponents shutting up for 48 hours is equally bad behavior. In the USA, we've had a Monday holiday, making it a three day weekend for many people, and additionally, the Inauguration of a new president, which for some made it a four day weekend. To leverage peoples' real lives and weekends into an excuse to push your version forward is really just saying 'I don't care about other opinions at all, I want to get MY way!!!' and it makes me inclined to oppose you because it's you, and find reasons to oppose you later, just to throw a wrench into the works. For you to further say 'we don't need no sticking comments' is equally preposterous. I suggest you seriously take yourself a 48 hour breather. We'll be here when you get back, we're not going to run off to Jimbo with it. Go cool out, think a bit about how many of your research papers would stand up without independent sources, and then come back to us. ThuranX (talk) 00:35, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

/eyeroll. Phil Sandifer (talk) 00:38, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
That's the best response you can give, Phil? You're treating anyone who doesn't agree with incredible disrespect, and when this is pointed out, you 'eyeroll'? Are you a 13 year old on your myspace page, or someone actually try to accomplish something, as an adult, with other adults? ThuranX (talk) 00:51, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
No, I'm treating someone who swears at me and makes personal attacks with mild disrespect. There's a difference. And I'm treating someone who abandons a discussion while continuing to edit, then reverts and doesn't explain the reversion or rejoin the discussion for half an hour, and indeed makes edits elsewhere before dropping by with... I wouldn't even call it disrespect. Mild admonishment? At best? Phil Sandifer (talk) 01:34, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
No, you're being widely disrespectful and manipulative. ThuranX (talk) 03:49, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
You lost the moral high ground a while ago. Try going a thread without personal attacks and you might at least get a foothold back. Phil Sandifer (talk) 05:58, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
  • To be frank Phil, you have do this sort of thing all the time. No wonder other editors get annoyed at you.--Gavin Collins (talk) 09:12, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I think we're done here. If you'd like to berate Phil Sandifer further, I suggest User talk:Phil Sandifer or WP:RFC. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 09:21, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Compromise wording

Repling to Kww and others that have this concern: Let me offer a suggested added wording to the top of this policy that may help (which is along the lines of what the other SNGs imply (though not explicitly stated)

The following guideline provided a first-pass evaluation of the notability of fictional elements, allowing editors to determine if there is likelihood for an article on a fictional topic to be developed further. It is expected that such articles ultimately should meet Wikipedia's other policies, include verifyability and the use of reliable, third-party sources. Articles on fictional elements that may meet this guideline but cannot be shown, through long-term good faith effort to meet other policies may be better incorporated into a larger topic.

That is, like the other SNGs that allow you to prove notability by a single source, it is expected that they should be expanded further. In the same vein here, and to acknowledge that there is a lot of pre-existing fiction articles that a hard edge rule would likely wipe out, we want this to be a sniff test and make sure that if there's a chance that it can be improved, let's not be too harsh right now (that's one of those supporting fiction have been harshly against, the rush to delete it). We do have to acknowledge that we hope fiction editors recognize if you can only say one real-world aspect on a fictional element that merging to a larger subject will help out. --MASEM 18:55, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Strengthen it, and I might bite. As a starter, how about Readers of this guideline are specifically cautioned that WP:RS states that "Articles should rely on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy". Any article, including those on fiction, that do not include third-party sourcing may be deleted as a result of that guideline.Kww(talk) 19:04, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
I oppose such wording as overly and needlessly restrictive as the reputation of sources is debatable. Do we consider The New York Times reliable even though we know of the Jayson Blair scandal? Sometimes sources that allegedly have a sound reputation for reliable can be wrong where a source with arguably a weaker reputation winds up being correct. Where do we draw the line with the reputation for fact-checking and accuracy? How can we prove that for every source? The last part is also problematic in that one can argue to delete such articles when the sources actually do exist and are easily found and thus improvement rather than deletion is the path to be taken. My concern is improveable articles being deleted. Potential matters as much as current state. Many of our good and featured articles were in poor shape for months or even years before someone or someones dedicated actually referenced them. Even the most notable of fictional character articles had humble beginnings, see for example this and this (as a side note, it is interesting that Sonic had an article in 2001 versus Mario whom I would contend is more notable only in 2002...). And a year later in 2003 the article on Mario still wasn't even referenced. No here we have two of the most recognizable fictional characters of video game history that have branched off into comics, films, etc. that went many months before being referenced in a manner that meets those guidelines. I would have hate to have seen the articles deleted rather than improved. It takes time to build an encyclopedia and so long as we have evidence that an article can be improved we should either improve it or leave it open for someone to come along and improve it as happened in these examples rather than just jump on deleting it. Best, --A NobodyMy talk 19:10, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Presuming you are talking about Kww's suggestion, I have to agree - we're balancing DEADLINE with 6 years of accumulated fiction articles. We don't want a version of FICT to cause an army of TTN's to wipe out numerous fiction articles. I'd rather imply that in the long term they may not be kept, but in the short term we want to keep but encourage their growth to avoid the possible long-term fate. --MASEM 19:18, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't think either is good. If all the references here are from say developers blogs, dvd commentaries we undermine the use of them by that statement to show notability. We already have a statement saying that even if they met all 3 prongs, it may still be best to merge them. We are talking about stuff here that may never have more than passing trivial real-world citations that may none-the-less be essentiall to the understanding of the work as a whole and if merged or deleted with violate wikipeida's goal by diluting it's encyclopedic value on a topic.じんない 19:24, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, part of my thinking is that presenting FICT now is only half (or less) of the larger picture of dealing with fiction on WP. We still need to come back and determine if non-notable lists are appropriate, how to update WAF, and the like. Right now (say, at least for the next year or so) we should aim to help retain fiction elements that may have a chance of going beyond the basics of FICT and meeting the GNG in whole, being more forgiving. Once we've come to a satisfactory conclusion on how non-notable lists could be handled or the like, and let all this filter through for a while (again, the year or more) we can come back and start impressing on editorial decisions to make better articles by merging topics that have weak notability on their own but may be better as grouped, or similar choices. We don't want to revoke the notability that this FICT grants, but we need to be aware that while meeting FICT does merit an article, it doesn't always require one (the same caution on MUSIC and BK). --MASEM 19:34, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Indeed. One of the things I most want out of these inclusion debates is to prevent the already excessive flood of damage brought on by TTN from becoming so widespread that efforts to improve fiction articles are completely derailed. I would like to be able to work on processes and approaches to improving articles without the threat of imminent deletion hanging over the bulk of the subject area. Phil Sandifer (talk) 19:43, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
I am unconvinced that anyone who wrote RS had fiction even slightly in mind when they wrote it, so I'm not completely convinced the issue is germaine. I think you'd be very, very hard-pressed to garner a consensus even that fiction articles that meet WP:N need to constrain plot information and information based on secondary but first-party sources based on the amount of coverage in independent sources. I see far more evidence, looking at what articles are allowed to survive and what expansions to articles are allowed to take place, that WP:RS needs to be changed to accommodate fiction than the reverse.
I remember, in a past iteration of this debate, pointing to featured articles that were more than 50% plot summary, and finding good articles with an even higher percentage. So on the face of it, any attempt to implement these standards on fiction is absurd. And I think we need to resist the temptation to use this guideline to try to move the goalpost on what fiction articles should be. I think giving up on that approach, in fact, is what led to the compromise as it stands - the fact that the vast majority of us were willing to set aside our own preferences on what fiction articles should be in favor of a description of current practices. The proposed addition feels to me like an attempt to bludgeon practice into a desired shape rather than an attempt to describe consensus.
I am forced to feel, once again, like what is needed more than anything is an example of the sort of article that this guideline would undesirably keep. Absent such an example, I am inclined to think that this is an attempt not so much to veto the guideline but to veto the community's current practices on fiction articles. Phil Sandifer (talk) 19:43, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Well I do not know if it is understiable, but List of One Piece characters has a massive merge around the time this policy really began to start taking shape, before it looks anything like it is now. All of the protagonists, with the exception of the principle character, Luffy were merged (and he was kept largely on the basis of sheer world iconification). While some of those merges would clearly have failed even this guideline, a number based their real-world notability on creative mention of characters by the author himself or polls about the characters, or their attacks from the manga itself. The sources came from the books in a seperate section like responses to letters he got from fans or sometimes from other books. Those sources were deemed to not be WP:RS material and thus without any "signifigant" independant source of real-world notability, they were merged.じんない 20:07, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
The one I just looked at - Tony Tony Chopper - looked to me a poor but likely salvageable article. Some real-world information, though I'm skeptical that it passes the "significant" benchmark. It was borderline - as it stood, merging doesn't seem to me to have been unwise from a quality perspective, but on the other hand, spinning back out may also not be unwise. This gets to the importance of having a merge/lists guideline as well, but that is, as they say, another fight. Phil Sandifer (talk) 20:18, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Chopper was probably one of the worst ones. Nami as well (no refs for her). I'm thinking more of Zoro, who also had a lot of controversy over his name change in the US (and as a sidenote Wikipedia as well) that was noted, and to a lesser extent, Franky.じんない 20:25, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Yeah. I mean, for the most part, it looks to me like decent articles on the subjects can be written. The question of what we do with non-decent articles that are sitting where decent articles could be is a messy one that requires a list/merge proposal. But I don't feel like I have a good handle on a way forward there yet. Phil Sandifer (talk) 20:36, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
But it addresses the very issue I am talking about: characters that were not sourceable to third-party sources were deemed insufficiently notable for an article. That's a fairly standard practice, pretty much directly traceable to WP:RS. Creating a new list guideline will address the next hurdle: what on earth do we do with lists that don't contain any third-party sources. In the meantime, articles with no available third-party sources are frequently/usually (I'm not going to run an exhaustive search today) merged on the basis that without independent sources, there isn't sufficient evidence of notability.—Kww(talk) 20:43, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
I agree with the part that they are merged/deleted. My point is that some of them clearly had evidence from semi-independent sources that would have qualified as the guideline stands now. Not all of course, but some. One of those, Zoro, had real-world impact, but nothing that could meet WP:RS though.じんない 23:03, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
I usually don't bother replying to User:A Nobody, but I will this time: how on earth can pointing to an existing guideline be restrictive? Do you believe that the existence of this guideline somehow makes WP:RS disappear as if by magic? That this guideline supercedes WP:RS?—Kww(talk) 20:22, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Pointing to an existing guideline in a manner not normal for notability guidelines has effects that ought be taken seriously. I, at least, am troubled by it, in no small part because it suggests to me an expansion of WP:N to the deletion of articles that are not good enough *yet*, which is a troubling change. I am not sure what a restatement of WP:RS in a notability guideline does beyond that. Phil Sandifer (talk) 20:36, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
It makes it clear that this guideline does not exist in a vacuum: it can make whatever statements it cares to about sources, but it cannot override existing, established guidelines. You don't believe that this guideline is capable of overriding or supplanting WP:RS, do you?—Kww(talk) 20:43, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, as I said, I am skeptical that there is a consensus for the application of RS you're advocating on fiction articles. But my larger issue is that more directly relevant guidelines like WP:WAF are linked at the bottom, not restated verbatim. If you want to add RS to the links at the bottom, I'm fine with that. Phil Sandifer (talk) 21:02, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Reading it over, I can see that it can be read as encouraging deletion. How about Readers of this guideline are specifically cautioned that WP:RS states that "Articles should rely on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy". Any article, including those on fiction, that do not include third-party sourcing are at risk of deletion on that basis." The other guidelines may be more directly related, but I don't think there is particular tension between this guideline and those guidelines. This guideline and its supporting discussion comes so close to attempting repudiate WP:RS with respect to fiction that the tension deserves highlighting. Additionally, I'd like to point out that I'm tacitly agreeing to accept the wording of the prongs intact, so long as you are willing to insert such a notice.—Kww(talk) 21:08, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Can you point to an example of an article that meets the three prongs but has been deleted on the basis you describe? Phil Sandifer (talk) 21:13, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Can you explain why you never address my points directly, and instead ask me to perform a search of AFDs and perform a theoretical analysis of how they might have gone had this guideline been in existence when the AFD was active? I don't don't see how any particular AFD is relevant to the question of whether you think this guideline can override or supplant WP:RS, nor do I think you can reasonably deny that articles are frequently deleted due to a lack of third-party sourcing.—Kww(talk) 21:29, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Because I don't, at this point, find the theoretical discussions of policy interactions useful or interesting. And I do not see the benefit of noting that there is a risk of deletion on the basis of lack of third-party sources unless there is, well, a risk of an article that would otherwise be kept by this guideline facing deletion on the basis of lack of third party sources. Phil Sandifer (talk) 21:54, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
It's called "compromise", Phil. Something I'm desperately attempting to accomplish.—Kww(talk) 22:02, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Phil has a point. He has only asked for 1 such article, not a whole list, which is not much to ask. We don't write guidelines or policy based upon theory, but consensus and realistic outcomes.じんない 23:08, 21 January 2009 (UTC)
Yeah. I mean, I'm looking for some sense that this guideline has serious shortcomings in accurately identifying what will and won't be kept. I'm racking my brain to try to imagine a circumstance where an article on an episode or significant character of a high-profile work of fiction that has significant real world perspectives would be deleted. And I honestly cannot imagine such a case. Phil Sandifer (talk) 23:13, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

I actually like Masem's proposal. The reality is that an article that passes FICT by the skin of its teeth will either be exposed as an item of limited content or be properly expanded as it tries to move up the assessment chart (to WP:GAN for instance). Regardless of how much provisions GA makes for short articles, reviewers won't pass an article on a fictional subject through GAN with developer commentary as its sole source of real world context. At that point, it's better to merge the article somewhere. By doing this, we're acknowledging the need for independent sourcing that provides real world context, as the article will ultimately need it as it goes down the road, but we're still setting the bar low with the developer commentary to allow fictional subjects that might have a chance at moving up the assessment chart to stay. — sephiroth bcr (converse) 23:23, 21 January 2009 (UTC)

Perhaps a compromise can be reached on the requirement for independent sourcing by saying that it is prefereable rather than mandatory, e.g.
Other essential elements of the work are appropriate too, but only if their significance is verified in commentary from reliable sources, ideally from reliable sources that are independent of their subject matter.
I don't think Kww and ThuranX are right to insist on independent sourcing every instance, as such sources may only provide trivial coverage in some instances. Therefore, should independent sourcing be mandatory in all cases? I think this phrasing is useful, because it sets the high standard required by WP:GNG in the event of an editorial dispute, but still cuts some slack to editors to want create a standalone article using substantial real-world coverage but without independent sourcing in the first instance. --Gavin Collins (talk) 00:01, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, I think what Kww and ThuranX are pointing to is that independent sourcing will ultimately be necessary as the article moves up the assessment chart. No GAN reviewer will pass your article if the only real world context is developer commentary. The whole point of FICT is to ensure that articles that ultimately have the potential to expand and move up the assessment chart are kept. As I pointed out above, those who cannot (or in other words, items that barely pass FICT and are exposed as items of very limited content outside an in-universe context) will be applicable merge targets. This is why I like Masem's proposal, as it's a practical guideline that illustrates what the article ultimately will need as it goes forward. — sephiroth bcr (converse) 00:23, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Sephiroth, that's a part of it, but I really do believe that things are only worth writing about here, if they've been shown to be worth talking about in the arena of the public discourse, which can only be demonstrated by someone who doesn't stand to profit from the subject writing about the subject and presenting it to a wider audience. That's only demonstrable to us by the citation of independent sources. I've already stated that I'm willing to be flexible on the 'list of characters who cannot sustain a page' pages, because I understand that some amount of context matters, and that trying to give all that context with dependent clauses (I. E. - Jimmy, a one legged quadruped sailor ninja zoning boy, is the younger brother of VebbleBetty, the object of the main character's affections, and who happens to be a two legged quadruped firefighting pyromaniac flea.) is hard to do. I'm not willing to give up independent sourcing. I've stated this plainly many times ,but it keeps coming under attack, or restated with the other side confused as to what that could possibly mean. It means no acceptance of a compromise which lacks an RS clause. How much more clear can I be? ThuranX (talk) 00:48, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I concur that we shouldn't have articles on things that don't have independent sourcing, but I think lowering the bar here in regards to inclusion and putting Masem's proposal above noting that independent sourcing will be required allows more articles with a chance of moving up the assessment chart to stay. If you have a decent paragraph on developer commentary, one is inclined to believe that the article can be expanded in the future. If say three or four months after an AfD in which an article with developer commentary is kept due to the current FICT shows no signs of improvement, then people can point to FICT and say, hey, now it's time for a merge because there's no hope of further expansion that shows more real world context and allows the article to move up the assessment chart. In this case, a merge to a list – a concept I fully agree with; current consensus is pretty clear on keeping character lists regardless of notability and focusing only on whether it's necessary for understanding of the series or not – becomes a desirable option to better present the material. On the other hand, that same article could be expanded to adequately meet NOTE and have the potential to move up the assessment chart and beyond. As such, the guideline acknowledges that articles have the potential to be notable based on a loser criteria, but accepts that when that potential fails to manifest itself, we look for better ways to present the material. — sephiroth bcr (converse) 00:58, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
But those merges are often fought, tooth and nail, by the fan-editors. Then we have to 'compromise' which only occurs if we reset the grace period, then they insist on AfD again, 4 month grace, merge, revert, 'compromise', and so on. If instead we make the bar for those articles higher 'provide reliable independent sources now or it's merged', either the article is immediately fixed, or it's merged. without argument. It's not an insurmountable bar for an article to pass, and if it can't then up-merge it immediately. What' so hard about that? 01:05, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Fan editors are going to fight hard against any merge effort no matter what guideline is present. They don't care about whatever is placed here. Requiring reliable, independent sources is not going to deter them in the slightest. Trying to argue otherwise is plain silly. And in any case, these merges are much more compelling (to a sane, logical editor, which this – and all guidelines – are predicated towards) when you can say that the article had the chance to expand and demonstrate its potential in three months than in the five days mandated for an AfD. — sephiroth bcr (converse) 01:32, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Having a different viewpoint or vision of our project does not mean someone is "insane" or even illogical. Sincerely, --A NobodyMy talk 01:40, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that's not what he said. Either respond to the point of the entire paragraph, not any one individual statement which you extrapolated meant something which could be completely different, or don't respond at all. Otherwise, "Sincerely" won't be taken sincerely, to be honest. --Izno (talk) 01:47, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Then read it again, because "to a sane, logical editor" clearly implies that someone thinking otherwise is thus an insane, illogical editor and given that the paragraph starts out with "Fan editors," the implication is that the "Fan editors or not sane or logical because they purportedly "don't care about whatever is placed here", which is debatable as different people have many different motivations. Sincerely, --A NobodyMy talk 01:51, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Take your bad faith crap elsewhere. If you have nothing to contribute to the discussion of the content of this guideline, then don't bother to post. You're not helping the current discussion in any fashion at all. — sephiroth bcr (converse) 01:54, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I encourage you to maintain civility as suggesting those who disagee with you are somehow mentally deficient is not conducive to a constructive or mature discourse. Sincerely, --A NobodyMy talk 01:56, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
And I encourage you to either say something relevant towards this guideline or don't bother to post. If all you have to contribute is to squabble about word choice, then you don't have anything constructive to post. — sephiroth bcr (converse) 02:01, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Making implications about those you disagree with is not constructively constributing. Do not bother to post incivility and respond to requests to avoid incivility with more incivility. That's the bottom line, now let's get back to actually discussing the content of the proposed guideline and please in the future avoid subtle digs at opponents. Sincerely, --A NobodyMy talk 02:08, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Yeah, I was freely discussing the proposed guideline until you decided to start an irrelevant tangent. Thanks for telling me you're going to stop this meaningless crap. — sephiroth bcr (converse) 02:11, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Again, you can discuss the guideline without suggesting that only those who agree with your viewpoint are sane and logical and continuing responding as such doesn't bring us back to discuss the guideline, which I guess I'll be the one to do as that's what we're trying to get at a compromise, and there's no need to needlessly add to the hostility by making any digs at all. Anyway, time to watch Lost. Take care! --A NobodyMy talk 02:14, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
There is much to comment on here - perhaps most obviously the slippage between what is worth writing about here and what is worth talking about elsewhere. This is, after all, the heart of the problem. Nobody here is actually naive enough to believe that a major character in a long-running and popular television show is not significant in a general sense. Nobody seriously doubts that every credit level character in a television show that lasts more than a full season has been talked about in the arena of public discourse.
The problem is that the link you play as so obvious - that this talking is demonstrated by writing - is far from obvious. This is where the central problem with fiction articles and inclusion comes from - nearly everybody on Wikipedia has, in their gut, a basic sense that the deletion of a character known to millions of people as "non-notable" is a decision that can only be made on the wrong side of the rabbit hole. The test you cite - that it is talked about in the arena of public discourse - is exactly the sniff test that your entire argument fails so abjectly.
Kww, in an earlier comment, alluded to the fact that there is some philosophical language in notability guidelines about deletion being a last resort, and about judging the potential of an article rather than its current state, but that actual practice falls somewhat short. I would respectfully suggest that the statement in WP:RS that "articles should rely on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy" is a similar piece of language. It's miles from actual practice, and with good reason - reliable, third party, published sources, while invaluable, do not translate at all neatly into anything resembling encyclopedic coverage of a topic.
Which is obvious once one thinks about it. After all, no legitimate school in the world simply hands students a stack of textbooks and says "There you go, then." Knowledge is, in fact, communicated through a combination of secondary sources, primary sources, and oral tradition. The statement in WP:RS you harp upon is a fantasy. Simple as that.
Which isn't to discount the importance of third party sources. They matter. But look, you're not going to find, on Wikipedia, consensus to delete an article on a major character of a highly notable fictional work that has significant real-world perspectives. You're not. And you and Kww both know that, I suspect, which is why you constantly fail to produce a single example of an article that passes this guideline and shouldn't.
I mean, come on. This massive problem with the guideline that you're willing to hold the line on, and you can't actually find a single article it affects in a way that is contrary to community consensus? We're supposed to take that seriously? Phil Sandifer (talk) 01:05, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Your response to every comment we make is this call to distracting busy-work. 'Go read all of Wikipedia, and get back to me. I'll be here shoving this through against consensus while you're gone, cause, it'll take more than 48 hours to read it all, and that's my official cut-off for who is involved, so we'll be done when you get back, now go!' Why don't you just think about how any good wikipedia article is like a research paper. How many of those can you pass without reliable sources? NONE. ThuranX (talk) 01:21, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I've done plenty of research papers where little to no useful independent commentary existed on the popular culture works in question. So your statement is more than a bit baffling to me. I'd also suggest that if you have to read the whole of Wikipedia to find an article that is actually a problem under this guideline, it's not a problem. I mean, come on - if this matter is worth the fuss you're making, I'd assume you had something in mind. Are you really saying you're raising this fuss even though you're completely unaware of any articles it affects? Phil Sandifer (talk) 01:31, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm well aware of the way these requirement impact debates. You are trying to pass a guideline that contradicts the basics of good article writing. Good articles have independent sources. It really is that simple. If there isn't an independent source, it isn't a good article, and should not be kept. You are implicitly trying to remove that requirement, and refusing to acknowledge that it is a requirement. You are attempting to ignore one of the prime levers used to delete substandard articles. You had a point that my first pass at compromise didn't really work acceptably, so I'm not too torqued about that. You haven't presented a single reason not to acknowledge the impact of WP:RS that doesn't rely on your personal distaste for applying it to fictional articles. We've had a few other people object to mentioning it not based on denial of its impact, but out of personal disagreement with it. If you want to remove the requirement for independent sourcing, go try to modify WP:RS in that direction and just watch the shitstorm that occurs. WP:RS is a major guideline. Its impact cannot be evaded or ignored. If encoding it in the prongs of this test is so offensive to you, then acknowledge its impact in the text. If you think supporters of mandatory independent sourcing represent some tiny little subset of Wikipedia, then go ahead and take this through an RFC or similar process. Without acknowledging the requirement for independent sourcing, you will lose, and, if you just try to stamp this thing as having consensus, I'll start the RFC process myself.
Remember that the reason that this has been lingering for so long as that many people look at at statements of yours like already excessive flood of damage brought on by TTN and cringe, because we believe that he did something that was absolutely necessary and desirable. What you need to figure out is the way to get the significant section of Wikipedia that thinks that independent sources are necessary on board without alienating the ones that view WP:RS and WP:N as evil. Otherwise, you are never going to hit the support percentages necessary to pass a widespread vote, and stalemate will remain the order of the day. Stop worrying so much about trying to convince me that independent sources are unnecessary: it's a given that they are. Don't try to paint me as participating in bad faith again: I'm not, and you really pissed me off the last time you did that. Worry about how to acknowledge that need for independent sourcing without alienating your fan base. I proposed two variations of two different solutions. If you think they all suck, fine ... suggest an alternative. But don't try the argument that no change is needed ... that's a non-starter. WP:RS isn't gone, you can't erase it, and it will still be brought up in AFDs.—Kww(talk) 03:04, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Enough of this. If this guideline is so far from community consensus, find me an article it would keep against community consensus. If you can't find one, don't claim community consensus backs you. It obviously doesn't. Phil Sandifer (talk) 06:21, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
And you wonder why I need the occasional break and you make ThuranX foam at the mouth. Stop ordering me around, and read what I say instead of acting like I am your servant. I'm not saying that I represent consensus. You probably represent more of the community that I do, and I'm not attempting to deny that. What I am saying is that you aren't at the 80% or 90% support you need, because there is a significant chunk of Wikipedia that views reliance on independent sources as mandatory. You want a big tent? Fine ... figure out how to expand it. You aren't there yet.—Kww(talk) 11:53, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
No shit. Thanks, Kww. ThuranX (talk) 22:23, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Deletion decisions are made at well under 80/90%. For a descriptive guideline, it seems to me the standard is not personal agreement (hell, I personally disagree with this guideline), but accurate description of the functional consensus. If you don't have any case that this does not accurately describe accepted practice - and it is increasingly clear that you do not - to my mind you have no case of significance here and are stonewalling. The tent needs to expand exactly as far as needed to accurately describe what goes on. Any further and expansion is, frankly, impossible, because you'll start losing people on one end as you gain on the other. You've seen the reaction your proposals have gotten - even if I were to stand aside in my objection, the guideline would, on the whole, lose support rather than gain it. Phil Sandifer (talk) 22:41, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Research papers aren't really a good comparison, because research papers imply original research and use of primary sources as a research paper typically advances a thesis, whereas encyclopedia articles generally do not advance a thesis, although traditionally, there have been numerous instances in which encyclopedia articles actually were based entirely on primary sources, especially the oldest ones from the Enlightenment where they went with whatever was available even factually inaccurate claims about "the new world" and such. Sincerely, --A NobodyMy talk 01:40, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I originally jumped in to help push this guideline forward because I felt that the GNG failed as a tool--the GNG should allow us a neutral method to ensure we cover subjects without UNDUE/NOR/NOT problems. While by and large the GNG works (Even for fiction), it results in spotty coverage of fictional elements regardless of their importance to the fictional works. As such, I'm not sure that a compromise which retains a requirement that a subject see significant coverage from an outside source is one that I can accept. I implore those of you who oppose this proposal on the basis of expected outcomes--more articles on cruft, less depth in the main articles, endless wikilawyering in AfDs--to separate the outcome from the mechanism. To explain, I like (somewhat) the result of the GNG being applied to many subjects. We eliminate hundreds of spammy permastubs from something like Super Robot Wars--this outcome is ok with me. But the means to get there runs against my interpretation of how we should be moving toward an outcome. Rather than determining which content was relevant to the subject and appropriate for inclusion we applied a blunt object to the issue, WP:N. For Super Robot Wars, the outcome would have been the same (probably), most of the "characters" were stand-ins for toys and most of the episodes were without any lasting significance. But for something like Lost, Space Battleship Yamato, or DikuMUD (to name a few), we would probably lose some content important to the encyclopedic presentation of the whole were we to scrub the sub-articles with the GNG. More importantly, the mechanism for determining their retention would be utterly disconnected to the internal (to the work of fiction) structure of importance. So...what's my point? Don't sweat the outcomes, because we won't have too much impact on them. Second, consider that each subject requires some subject specific determination of importance or relevance--ignoring this is partially what makes wikipedia so frustrating to outsiders brought into our deletion debates. Protonk (talk) 01:59, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree with Protonk, and it's why I'm not really happy with any compromise wording. It doesn't solve the problem: fiction articles are badly organized. Inclusion/exclusion is just one part of organization, and as long as we're quibbling about which sub-subject needs its own URL we're missing the point. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 02:15, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Let's be honest. "Reliable independent secondary sources" is WP:N. If you're promoting that as a requirement, then you're not here to compromise. You're here to enforce WP:N. Randomran (talk) 04:54, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Would Kww be willing to drop the requirement for independent sourcing if the second prong were to say "significance is verified in commentary from reliable sources whose purpose and tone is not inherently promotional"? --Gavin Collins (talk) 10:11, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
*sigh* To an extent, "reliable independent secondary sources" goes beyond WP:N simply because as we attempt to improve the article and move it up the assessment scale, you ultimately will need independent sources to make a comprehensive article. As I've repeated myself frequently, no article on a fictional subject whose only real world context is developer commentary is going to pass WP:GAN. The sole goal of FICT in regards to keeping stuff that is less-than-notable under the GNG that has the potential to show notability per the GNG, which all SNGs inherently imply when they create different criteria. At some point, that potential is either vindicated or the article is exposed as having limited content, and as such, a merge is an applicable solution. Masem reflects this quite well in his proposal, so I'm surprised it isn't getting more traction. To Phil, Protonk, and Randomran, acknowledging that you do need independent sourcing down the road is part of compromising with the GNG, and with Masem's proposal, you won't end up with a TTN-esque rampage across fictional subjects and instead you can allow a good-faith effort to improve the article to demonstrate its potential (or lack thereof). — sephiroth bcr (converse) 12:28, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Gavin, as I've said (buried above and below), I'll accept the text of the prongs as is as long as the guideline contains an explicit statement that it doesn't override the requirement for independent sources contained in WP:RS, and that editors need to take it into account. I'd accept a pointer to WP:V and its text If no reliable, third-party sources can be found for an article topic, Wikipedia should not have an article on it as well. There is a very real tension between what you are trying to do here and existing global policies and guidelines. GA and FA aren't going to happen without independent sources, and the "there will be sources someday" argument is really only good for the first AFD. I think Masem's version is a bit weak, and have proposed a stronger warning. Others are welcome to try to shoot the middle.—Kww(talk) 12:43, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
In answer to Sephiroth BCR, I think that an topic that is the subject of significant real-world coverage, then the article content is likely to be almost as good as if the topic met all the requirements of WP:GNG, with the exception of independent/third-party sourcing. However, WP:V makes it clear that independent sourcing is not something that is needed down the road: if a topic is not the subject of independent sourcing, then it seems to me fails WP:N.
So in answer to Kww, perhaps some concession towards your standpoint is appropriate. I liked the approach to this version of WP:FICT from the begining because Phil Sandifer was honest and upfront about his desire to widen the inclusion criteria, rather than subvert them. Perhaps if we ammend the opening paragraph to say that "Topics covering elements within a fictional work are more likely to meet the requirements of notability guideline if their coverage meets these three conditions:". --Gavin Collins (talk) 13:09, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Radical compromise proposal

One of the problems with this attempt at a guideline is that it seems more subjective than the general notability guideline. Such a subjective guideline will likely result in more confusion and battlelines being drawn in the realm of editing fictional topics. While the the other subject-specific notability guidelines have appeared to been drafted in order to make it easier to determine if something is notable, this guideline actually seems to make it harder. Subjective tests like "importance of the fictional work" and "role within the fictinoal work" gives relatively little guidance to help people come to an agreement on what actually meets those tests and what doesn't. Even the "real-world coverage" test has some subjectivity—for example, is extensive commentary and analysis of a specific plot element by multiple independent scholarly sources considered "real-world coverage"? Or will an article based solely on such sources end up deleted for failing the "real-world coverage" test?

In my opinion, the fictional element notability guideline should fall along the format of the other subject-specific guidelines: it should provide provide clear, relatively bright-line tests which are more objective than those in WP:N (while still allowing general notability per WP:N to be shown where the bright-line tests fail).

It seems that, besides the subjectivity of the prongs, there are two big objections to this current proposal: One, that it imposes a "real-world" coverage requirement, which would tend to reject things that are clearly notable but lack substantial "real-world" coverage; and two, that it lacks an "independent" coverage test, which might allow articles about things that lack general notability but have a lot of promotional material published about it. A reasonable compromise might be to loosen the "real-world" coverage requirement, while imposing a minimum "independent" coverage requirement.

Here is my proposal:

A fictional element of a notable work of fiction is notable if it meets any one of the following tests:
  • It is the subject of significant real-world coverage from multiple independent reliable sources.
  • It is the subject of significant commentary or analysis from multiple independent reliable sources.
  • It is the subject of significant commentary, analysis, or real-world coverage from its creators, developers, producers, or owners, and, it has been mentioned in at least one independent, reliable, and notable source.
  • It signficantly appears in multiple notable works, and, it has been mentioned in at least one independent, reliable, and notable source.

This would reject elements which might have a lot of non-independent published material but hasn't been at least noticed by at least one reliable and notable source (this is in essence Kww's compromise); while allowing elements which do have significant independent coverage but all of it is about the plot itself rather than its real-world impact (which is what I think DGG and Colonel Warden have trying to get at); and allows that ever-subjective "importance" to be shown by the existance of either significant coverage from the developers or significant appearance in multiple notable works, along with at least one mention in an independent reliable and notable source (this keeps out elements from non-notable fan-fiction, etc.).

While "significance" is still subject to subjective debates, I believe it is less subjective than "importance" and is simply the same test we have in the general notability guideline; we can use the same precedence and consensus to determine significance in this guideline as we do in that guideline.

The important thing about my proposal is that it ensures there is significant coverage somewhere (i.e., enough to write a reasonable article) while ensuring that there is some independent coverage in a notable source (even if it is trivial). If The New York Times mentions a plot element, even trivially, it is clearly that it has been "noticed", and if we can find enough material to write a verifiable article (whether that is from independent sources or sources affiliated with the work), it seems that we ought to be able to have an article. DHowell (talk) 00:12, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I mostly like this, but I'm not sure what you mean by "real-world" coverage. In the context of WP:WAF, what it means is that you should deal with fictional objects as part of the real world, and thus focus on their conception, creation, critical/popular reception, and impact on other works, not on things like the intricacies of fictional canon or their place in a fictional universe. There's no such thing as non-real-world reception in an independent reliable source; no source that doesn't exist could possibly be reliable. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 00:18, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm using "real-world" in the sense that people seem to use it in AfD; I don't really like this term in a notability guideline but its ubiquitousness seems to require that it be explained somewhere. I'd have no problem with eliminating the "real-world" language and combining the first and second test into one (which would then simply be a restatement of WP:N), but there seems to be a common, but in my opinion mistaken, belief that independent sources which analyze a fictional element from an in-universe perspective are unacceptable to establish notability, as opposed to those sources which analyze it from an out-of-universe perspective and discuss conception, creation, impact, etc. However, in my opinion how the sources analyze the subject is irrelevant, the test should be how significantly they analyze it. If several scholarly sources analyze Cosette as a character within Les Miserables, that should be enough to show that the subject is notable. In such a case the existence of "out-of-universe" information about Cosette should be a non-issue (whether or not it could be found in this particular instance). DHowell (talk) 04:38, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Sources need not be notable, only reliable and secondary, as with the fourth of the options... Other than that, and I could be wrong, but this sums up Fict pretty well. Others may disagree of course. --Izno (talk) 00:23, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm only requiring sources to be notable where a mere "mention" is required as opposed to significant coverage (which may be from non-notable independent reliable sources). DHowell (talk) 04:38, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I like this. I like how the fourth condition establishes a good notability for items like the One Ring, Excalibur, and Camelot. As for the 'real World Coverage' question, I read that as 'coverage of the technical/production/promotional efforts of the cast/crew/team/writer, as opposed to recapping the plot in a simple book review, or some speculation on the in-universe plot happenings.', Which is acceptable to me. Notable sources just means the "independent" 'pokemon fan review' isn't notable because it's turned out 500 copies quarterly on a xerox machine at the gas n go.ThuranX (talk) 00:26, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Reliable primary sources are also acceptable for encyclopedias. Best, --A NobodyMy talk 01:53, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I think this manages an unfortunate feat of being the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, it is far too numbers-crunchy, using sourcing of the article as a hard metric. Though it is clearly the case that sourcing matters a lot on AfD, I think the drive towards objectivity in notability guidelines is a mistaken one - yes, AfD is messy process sometimes. That is not necessarily undesirable.
On the other hand, it seems to me blind to article content. By reducing an article to its sources list, it ignores the state of the article and its potential for improvement. And I am, in the end, unconvinced that this is actually a metric many editors use on AfD.
I also continue to think that the "mention" criterion is a complete trainwreck of a criterion. At best it is so gameable as to be meaningless, and at worst it is an open incentive towards bad writing.
In the end, I don't see it as an improvement. Phil Sandifer (talk) 00:30, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Alright, then let's toughen that up. Change 'mentioned' to 'discussed', where 'discussed' means ' was the topic of one or more paragraphs'. That should make 'mentioned' much harder to game. ThuranX (talk) 01:17, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Then it seems to me not to accurately describe existing practices in this area. Phil Sandifer (talk) 01:31, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Be specific, Phil. Why is it bad to make criteria which are more objective? How does this ignore the article's potential for improvement? It should ignore the article's present state, because notability is how we determine whether a topic is suitable for an article, not whether an article's content is suitable. The latter is the purpose of WP:WAF. As far as metrics used on AfD, in my experience, when sources are found (as no sources would generally lead to deletion), they discussion revolves about how "non-trivial" (significant) they are, how "out-of-universe" ("real-world"), and how "independent" they are. All are addressed in my proposal. The "mention" requirement is of course insufficient by itself, which is why it must be accompanied by significant coverage, either by the creator/developers of the fictional work itself, or by other fictional works which significantly use the element being discussed. DHowell (talk) 04:38, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Eh, I dislike this. Your first two points are basically the GNG, which the present guideline already acknowledges. Point three is basically the current guideline with the "one trivial mention in independent source" comment, which has basically been discounted because it doesn't add anything significant to the article itself. The fourth is arguably the worst, as being present in multiple media isn't necessarily an indication of notability (take for instance your typical anime character, which can be present in a manga, anime, video game, TCG, OVA, light novel, film, and so on and such forth) and the "one trivial mention" thing again. — sephiroth bcr (converse) 01:39, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Of course the first two points are the GNG, but in fewer words than the present guideline and (in my opinion) better explained in the context of fictional elements. And the trivial mention in an independent notable source isn't there to necessarily add content to the article, but to add an extra test to establish notability by acknowledging that an independent notable source has taken notice of the topic. It is an extra test to establish whether the significant coverage that does exist, in non-independent sources or sources with in-universe coverage should be used to create an article. It is also meant to replace the highly subjective three-pronged test that the current proposal is creating. DHowell (talk) 04:38, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Ok, here's a challenge for all who object to this proposal. Find a specific fictional element that you think should not have an article, but passes one of these tests; or find a specific fictional element you think should have an article, but fails all of these tests. Then lets compare whether they fail or pass the current WP:FICT proposal, and whether they fail or pass WP:N, and whether there is a consensus about whether they should or should not have an article. DHowell (talk) 04:48, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
John Galt. Unquestionably notable, has no business being its own article as it's not a topic that is in any sense extricable from Atlas Shrugged. It's the main reason I'd say notability is a red herring. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 04:51, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
And home to such earthshaking information as "whoisjohngalt" can be entered as a cheat code in the video game Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. It accelerates research speed on unit improvements. Does that count as "real world information"?—Kww(talk) 04:58, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
The article is awful, but doubtless it could be made to show notability, and arguably it does now. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 05:05, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
So you'd want to delete an article that is "unquestionably notable" because it is supposedly not "extricable" from the fictional work? I'm not sure how this example helps when there seems to be a pretty strong consensus for notability as a general inclusion standard. Would you propose throwing out WP:SS as well as WP:N, or do we throw out WP:SIZE, or would you suggest that topics which are not "extricable" from some parent topic shouldn't be covered at all, or should only get a small mention, if anything more would make the article too long? DHowell (talk) 05:38, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Inclusion/exclusion is only part of the larger issue of organization, and the obsession with inclusion/exclusion has snowed any hope of making progress in the area of organization. I wouldn't suggest deleting it, I'd suggest not having an article on it. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 05:47, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Ok, I actually agree with you in a sense, that we are overly obsessed with inclusion/exclusion and could do a lot better job of organization (though I disagree with you in that I think there should be an article on John Galt, though we could certainly do better than the existing article). Personally, if I had my druthers I'd eliminate WP:AFD as a solution to that problem—if we limited deletions to WP:PROD and WP:CSD and forced editors to come up with solutions other than deletion for problems of non-notability, original research, unverifiability, "fancruft", etc., we probably would come a long way towards better organization of content. But given that AfD does exist, what can we do to make the discussions more meaningful and likely to come to a consensus, and less of a battleground of inclusion vs. exclusion? DHowell (talk) 06:00, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
AFD's main purpose right now, as far as I can tell, is the only place where organization is handled that isn't completely run by the inmates. I can't remember the last time a merge happened over the objection of a handful of determined enthusiasts, for example. It's just a shame that AFD aggravates the obsession with inclusion/deletion, by having no other forum for discussion of organization. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 06:05, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
"Run by the inmates"? That sounds a bit divisive and not quite conducive to working a collaborative editing environment. One could easily see other editors saying that that AfD is "run by the inmates" and that deletions and merges are railroaded through by "a handful of determined deletion enthusiasts". Didn't we have a whole Arbcom case about things like this? By the way, I'm sure you are aware we have plenty of other forums for discussion of organization of fictional material: there are whole WikiProjects dedicated to it. Of course if you are going in with the attitude that they are all "run by the inmates" then I wish you good luck in trying to form any kind of consensus. You could always start your own WikiProject—perhaps "WikiProject Encyclopedic Organization"? DHowell (talk) 03:55, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Gundam Mk-II would likely be kept under such wording as it appears in multiple works, but isn't all that notable.じんない 05:12, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
So why, exactly, isn't Gundam Mk-II "all that notable"? DHowell (talk) 05:38, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
It is just another in a list of Gundam. Unlike the original or even MS-06 Zaku II (from the same series) it was not really used for the basis of any other Gundamm, atleast anymore than those that are a list or main article page. Nor is it's real-world connections outside the Gundam series any more notable than the others (in fact some on lists probably have higher notability).じんない 07:06, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Bear with me, because I'm actually rather unfamiliar with the whole Gundam series, so tell me, do all the Gundam suits appear in 6 or more separate works? Have all of them made appearances on late night talk shows? Is there really no information in that article that notably distinguishes this Gundam suit from any other Gundam suit? DHowell (talk) 04:14, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
In answer to DHowell, I think your proposal would work very much like a scatter gun, which suggests to me that it would lead to lots of editorial disputes if we were to adopt it. The reason I say this is that articles of marginal notability will probably succeed in passing parts of each one of the tests, so it won't be clear cut whether a particular topic wholly passes or wholly fails the tests as a group. Although some editors like Masem may suggest that this is a good idea because a test which is based on multiple incluision criteria reflects the process of consensus building, I don't think this approach can be applied in practise. Where there are a wide range of tests, it will make it more difficult to identify content forks that duplicate the coverage provided by genuinely notable topics, because any variation in test results could be used to hide the fact that the content fork is not a distinct topic. --Gavin Collins (talk) 09:52, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
"Scatter gun" is about how I'd describe the current approach to dealing with fictional elements, with many articles getting merged, deleted, or kept pretty much at random depending on things like who shows up at AfD and who happens to be around editing the articles, and editorial disputes galore. I don't see that changing much with the current proposal, and I'd think my proposal would go along way to making the disputes based more on objective criteria and less on random opinions. Content forks can always be dealt with without even needing to refer to a notability guideline; no one is saying that because a topic is notable there must be a separate article, but editors wishing to merge notable topics need to persuade a consensus that the topics should be merged, rather than trying to use guidelines to wikilawyer articles into complete nonexistence. DHowell (talk) 04:14, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

suggesting a straw poll

Further upthread, I suggested we go with a straw poll. Not as a tool to reach consensus, but as a tool to see where everyone stands, so we can further develop the guideline. To repeat what I said upthread:

If this is going to get rejected, we need to know *why*. The poll should be simple, with four options: "Too strict, reject", "Somewhat strict, but accept", "Somewhat loose, but accept", "Too loose, reject". The worst thing that can happen is not that this guideline gets rejected, but that you have two different sides claiming it was rejected for two contradictory reasons, leading us towards the same old no consensus discussions.

We can iron out the details. But does anyone see this as harmful to the process? If nothing else, I'm hoping it can give us more information. Randomran (talk) 05:03, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

What about "Misses the point, reject" or "Doesn't address underlying problems, reject" or "Seeks to mirror current practice without addressing current practice's underlying reasoning, reject"? Polls suck. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 05:05, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
We could throw in a fifth option, and we probably should. But then again, if this guideline misses the point, maybe you're at the wrong guideline. I don't walk over to WP:CIVILITY and complain that it doesn't address the underlying problem of good research. Why are you expecting this guideline to give editorial guidance about when or when not to merge? This is just a baseline, and explicitly says that other content policies have to do some of the work too. This isn't a magic bullet. Randomran (talk) 05:09, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Not really interested in arguing the reasoning behind my stance here. My point is simply that too strict/too loose/just right doesn't cover a number of stated problems with this, including my own. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 05:51, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Fair enough. A fifth option of opposition for other reasons should be incorporated into the poll then. Randomran (talk) 05:52, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Woo. Miscellaneous. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 06:06, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I am not sure that "too strict/too loose/just right" is the best way to judge this. This is not a guideline based on ideology - it's one based on an attempt to actually read the consensus of AfDs. I mean, if I'm answering that straw poll, the guideline is too strict. I wanted a looser one. Gavin's answer is probably too loose.

But I think we both agree that the guideline does accurately describe how AfD actually works.

I'd do the straw poll as follows:

Does this proposal accurately reflect the community's general tendencies in including and deleting fiction articles?

If not, is it because it is too inclusive, or too exclusive?

Either way, please provide an example of an article where this guideline suggests an outcome incompatible with what the community would decide.

This, I think, has the useful function of ruling out "No, because I don't like the community's habits" decisions on the extremes of both camps (And I am not just targeting the deletionists here - I know of at least one inclusionist whose opposition to this guideline is, I think, untethered from considerations of community practice). Policy formation should not be about editors deciding "fuck the community, I'm right." Opposition requires more than a vote to be taken seriously - it requires evidence. Phil Sandifer (talk) 06:19, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I think that's a fair way of doing it too. That said, even people who "accept" this guideline should indicate whether they fall on the more inclusive/exclusive side. Just because you live with it, it doesn't mean we shouldn't account for your real preference. Although this guideline is not based on ideology, I think a lot of opposition is. The only way to bring them around is if we show them that they're not going to win a purity test. They're going to have to move to the middle in order to find a consensus. Randomran (talk) 06:28, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I feel like the "too inclusive/too exclusive" question is a rehash of the RFC. We have a sense of where the community is on that - it's a more or less dead-even split.
But perhaps this as a staw poll?
  1. Does this guideline reflect community practice on inclusion of fictional subjects?
  2. If not, is it too inclusive or too exclusive? Provide an example of an article it decides wrongly on.
  3. Would you personally prefer this guideline be more inclusive or more exclusive?
Three questions. One to call the question, and two to be used if #1 does not indicate consensus. With, of course, an introduction stressing that #1 is not an up/down vote on the guideline, and that all three questions need to be answered. Phil Sandifer (talk) 06:33, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't think we have a sense of the split at all. Or at least, if you and I do, then most other people don't. That's how we end up with people coming in here and saying, without grounds, that "my views are consistent with most of the community". I think the strawpoll helps us pin that down, so the people at the extremes have to admit that we won't get anything close to a consensus without reaching for the middle. A survey-style open-ended questionaire is tedious and cumbersome. A simple multiple choice question is the only way to go. Too inclusive versus too exclusive. Even the "accept" votes should be divided into exclusive/inclusive camps to say "yeah, I can live with it, even though I would prefer it go another way." Randomran (talk) 06:57, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Alright I'll be the one to break the ice and start the poll.
  1. Yes, as close as possible. The arguments made here are what AfD usually happens because firctional elements cannot, for the most part, be neatly objectively met. Sometimes, such as minor or cameo characters, the consensus is almost always to delete, or sometimes merge, while major characters in notable works are always kept, even if they lack independant RS at the time because of sheer recognizability.
  2. NA
  3. Neither, I classify myself as a Precisionist.じんない 07:17, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

A straw poll is a good idea, AMiB has a valid point about the breadth of possible responses, but we don't want to bewilder people with choices. Something like: Approve generally, disapprove generally, Approve/Disapprove with caveats, and Misc. (which can include responses like "huh?") should be fine. That's only four options (but it sticks both the approve partially and disapprove partially in the same category. That may be a feature, not a bug, if we want to look for compromise ideas from that column. Protonk (talk) 10:02, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

  • As an addendum, I think we will be much better off with an up/down vote or "put your name in this column if you feel this way" poll. I understand the reasoning behind asking people their stances and motivations but if we are looking for wider particpation we need to make it easy to comment. This will result in some drive-by voting, but that's a drawback I'm willing to suffer. Protonk (talk) 10:06, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
    • I think it's important to know generally which direction people would rather pull this guideline (e.g.: towards tighter quality controls, versus more articles on more topics), even if they approve. Like I said above: the worst thing that happens isn't that this gets rejected, but that this gets rejected and people can't even agree upon why. I'm tired of two completely opposite sides saying "we don't have a guideline because you failed to represent us". Randomran (talk) 16:58, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
      • I think a poll is a sound idea and wonder if we should set up something like Wikipedia talk:Flagged revisions/Trial/Votes for this guideline? This way, the community won't feel as if this guideline is being imposed upon them by only a handful of editors and moreover it will allow for a far greater gauge of consensus, i.e. because way more editors contribute to the fiction articles affected by this guideline than have actually commented in these discussions. Best, --A NobodyMy talk 19:57, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
      • Ok, so... No, too strict / No, too permissive / Yes / No for other reasons, unsure, neutral, misc How about those four options? Protonk (talk) 20:53, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
        • I think we need "Yes, but it's a little strict", "Yes, but it's a little loose". Why? Because I think people will abuse the straw poll in bad faith otherwise. If deletionists plug their nose and say "yes", then inclusionists can game the poll by swarming the "no, too strict". (Or vice versa.) Without having two "yes" options, we actively discourage a compromise. There's every incentive to say "no no no, more like how I want it!" Randomran (talk) 08:15, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

It remains my conviction that this guideline should be passed on the grounds it was presented - its description of practice, not its allignment with preference. In the straw poll proposed, I would oppose this guideline - if I am judging based on my preferences, it is exceedingly restrictive, and deletes articles that could be improved. If this is a preferences based decision, in the face of others who I know will hold the guideline hostage to their preferences, it seems to me the rational choice to counterbalance that.

On the other hand, this shouldn't be a vote. It should be about consensus and describing practice. A straw poll based on whether this accurately describes practice, where one must make a case for that claim one way or another, seems to me a fundamentally more useful device. Phil Sandifer (talk) 22:17, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

  • Well, as the main said, you can wish in one hand and...well, let's not finish that, we know where it goes. ;) I think that referring this back to "practice" doesn't help us. I can see that the logic behind some positions (or some meta logic behind priors in debate) roughly mirrors this guideline. But I don't think that we can gain consensus that way. We are left saying "This guideline matches community practice so well that we can't think of an AfD which would be closed differently were it in force" or "This guideline matches community practice, except where it doesn't" We can't (functionally) poll and review past AfDs to determine where consensus actually lies. And if we did, my strong suspicion would be that it lies with the GNG except where a vocal minority protects a fictional element or where heterogeneity in closes gives us "no consensus", "keep" and "delete" outcomes for functionally identical subjects (see the various WH:40K deletion debates for good examples).
  • Also, in asking for an affirmative change, we need to convince people that the current system suffers for a lack of clarity in fictional notability.
  • Finally, we don't want to be too confusing. Asking uninvolved wikipedians to slog through the minutia of this debate in order to determine if the guideline matches practice is too much. We should have a simple presentation and a simple question. Flagged Revisions is (IMO) a bad example because it was confusing as hell and the "trial" provision seemed unnecessary or vague. This should be simple. "Does this work for you? Yes/No" Protonk (talk) 23:12, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Overriding guidelines

My reaction to Phil probably got lost up there, so I am going to try one more time. Despite accusations to the contrary, I am not saying "fuck the community", nor am I claiming that my views represent the community. What I am saying is that my views represent a significant sized group that views independent sourcing as mandatory. Are we 80% of Wikipedia? No. But are we more than 20-25% of Wikipedia? Absolutely. I've offered compromise after compromise, and have even said that I will agree with the text of the prongs, as is, so long as an explicit statement is made that this guideline does not override or negate WP:RS. The opposition to that one astounds me, because I don't think that most of you think that this guideline is capable of overriding WP:RS. Take your straw poll, but don't take it in a little corner. You'll get a majority, I have no doubt of that, but it will be a simple majority, not enough to point at and claim consensus.—Kww(talk) 12:04, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

You have a valid point. If no reliable, third-party sources can be found for an article topic, Wikipedia should not have an article on it. Although this guidleline does not explicitly provide an exemption from this requirement, it is silent on the requirement for independent or third party sourcing.
However, since we are dealing with article inclusion criteria, which is based on the presumption of notability, can you come to a compromise by presuming a topic is notable if it is the subject of significant real-world coverage from reliable sources, on the basis that such coverage prepares the way to independent coverage in the future?
If this propostion does not meet your requirements, is there any compromise proposal that could? --Gavin Collins (talk) 12:37, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I think the disclaimer approach is probably the best compromise. I don't like to call out the presumption issues explicitly, because I've never been comfortable with the "well, we'll keep it for now because there must be a source out there somewhere". If that's where you are aiming, then be very explicit that the thing being sought is the independent sourcing, and, if the independent sourcing is never found, the article will eventually have to be merged or deleted, per WP:V and WP:RS.—Kww(talk) 13:01, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
In which case the doors to compromise solution are still open. If we can proivde some sort of disclaimer to the three pronged test, then it will be explicit that this SNG is not trying to subvert or gain exemption from any other Wikipedia policy or guideline, and we can perhaps keep you, ThuranX, Bignole and Jack Merridew as supporters of this proposed guideline. I added a suggested disclaimer[6] in the hope that it will stick. If anyone has an objection, could they replace it with a better soluiton rather than just revert? --Gavin Collins (talk) 13:45, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I've taken it to an even more basically descriptive level - articles meeting the three-prong test are generally kept. This much seems true. Phil Sandifer (talk) 14:06, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Care to explain how that change had anything to do with inserting a disclaimer that this guideline does not grant any kind of exemption to WP:RS?—Kww(talk) 15:02, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm not sure why anyone would think it did. Is RS in the department of serving as an inclusion guideline now? Phil Sandifer (talk) 00:30, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

The problem is that if we try to please your 20% of Wikipedians, we probably lose another 20% of Wikipedians who actively hate WP:N. And requiring reliable independent secondary sources is straight out of WP:N. Requiring coverage in reliable, independent sources brings this guideline back to what we already have. A compromise isn't going to be something that makes one side happy and pisses the other side off. It's going to be something that both sides begrudgingly live with. Randomran (talk) 16:47, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I'm conscious of that problem, which is why I have been trying to find the minimal nod to WP:RS and WP:V that I can, and have been leaving WP:N conspicuously out of the discussion. Remember that my personal stance is that in each article, the amount of material derived from independent sources should greatly exceed that derived from dependent sources in order to fulfill the "rely on" clause of WP:RS. I'm not asking for anything that even approaches that. I'm bending as far over backwards as I can.—Kww(talk) 17:06, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't understand. Bringing reliable third-party sources into this guideline isn't a minimal nod. It's full penetration. It's WP:N. Randomran (talk) 17:58, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I think what we're trying to ask to be understood here is that the inclusionist side for fiction have been harshly critical of efforts to clean up fiction using the present status of articles -- which 2 or 3 years ago may have been more acceptable but as WP has matured, is no longer considered a good baseline -- given that usually a merge will target a large number of articles at once, thus what eventually prompted ARbCom to their fait accompli comment from Ep&Char2. Thus, how fiction should be approached is in a major state of flux, not just due to the lack of a working FICT but to other issues. Because there's a significant large percentage of fiction articles on WP, asking for immediate cleanup to meet more general guidelines like WP:RS or WP:N is asking for a nice little civil war. We'd like to corral fiction editors to consider the wider guidelines so they can still discuss their favorite topics in a manner appropriate for WP and making their work appear to be just as good as those articles as in any other field where WP:RS and others have little difficulty in being met. To get there is a series of little steps; this FICT is the first. I fully acknowledge it fails WP:RS for the most part, but key to keep in mind is that WP:RS is a guideline, not a policy - there is more flexibility here. That doesn't mean fan sites and forums become standards for sourcing, as we're still restricting real world information to either creator information (who should be considered reliable in talking about the work they created) and any normal independent third-party source. That's the right step, and will give time for fiction editors to establish the likelihood that their articles can be improved, and thus getting to our goal of improving how fiction is covered and helping to get it to the same quality of information deliverance as any other topic. That's all I think this guideline is asking for those on the deletionist side - to realize that fiction clean as they would like it is a long long road, and providing useful milestones like this FICT will encourage fiction editors to move with it instead of resisting it. --MASEM 18:05, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm way short of WP:N. My last suggestion was Readers of this guideline are specifically cautioned that WP:RS states that "Articles should rely on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy". Any article, including those on fiction, that does not include third-party sourcing is at risk of deletion on that basis." Hack down and replace from there, bearing in mind I'm not advocating changing your prongs.—Kww(talk) 18:20, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Explain to me how you're way short of WP:N? Randomran (talk) 18:23, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Roughly, "an article that doesn't manage to incorporate third-party sources for at least part of the information presented is at risk of deletion" vs. "the main thesis of an article must be supported in multiple independent sources, and those sources must address that main thesis directly and in detail." That's a big difference.—Kww(talk) 18:29, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Er. Anyone who detests WP:N so much they'd leave the project is long gone. WP:N has been around for quite a while now. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 18:02, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I wasn't talking about the people who detest WP:N enough to leave the project. I'm talking about the people who are openly ignorant towards it, leading to lot of tense AFDs, and a handfull of AFDs that will never result in anything other than keep, despite a lack of reliable third-party sources. Randomran (talk) 18:23, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure how this guideline overrides RS. For one, RS describes sources which may be used in an article, not articles which may be included. And, forgive me if I am wrong, but independence from a subject is not a RS criteria. All this guideline is saying is that creator commentary may be treated along the lines of SPS and used to determine importance of a fictional subject and verify factual claims about real world information. There was a plank in Phil's original guideline that overrode RS (it argued that some notable review sites should have reviews of fictional subjects included). that was the subject of some bitter debate, but it isn't in the proposal now. I pushed for it to be left out on the specific grounds that we were not to rewrite RS. So I'm not sure where this particular point of contention springs from. Protonk (talk) 18:09, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

WP:RS states "Articles should rely on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy". WP:V, a policy, is stronger: "If no reliable, third-party sources can be found for an article topic, Wikipedia should not have an article on it."—Kww(talk) 18:20, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
How about we just add "If no reliable, third-party sources can be found for an article topic, Wikipedia should not have an article on it." That's easy to meet, instead of whatever percentage "rely" implies. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 18:26, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Son of a gun. How did I miss the big, bolded third party in there all this time. :) Ok. But now we get back into the Ouroboros of the "sub-page" debate. All fictional elements are putative daughters of a notable work. Presumable, SIZE and topical considerations keep the sub-articles from being merged into the main article. How far to we stretch the devolution of notability in this case? The WP:N RfC clearly shows us that the community rejects "all spinouts are notable" and "no spinouts are notable" while favoring some flavor of "some spinouts are notable". Can't we accept this guideline as some clarification of when those spinouts may be notable? Protonk (talk) 18:30, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm actually surprised to hear Peregrine Fisher volunteer to add something about reliable third-party sources, since I thought he identified as an inclusionist. But if inclusionists and deletionists can both live with that, then we're making progress. I'd encourage Peregrine Fisher to add something about this, either as a fourth prong, or as part of an existing prong. Randomran (talk) 18:34, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't know how you missed it either, Protonk. Isn't that kind of where some variation of my suggestions take us? These prongs are basically insisting that the main body of work is considered to be important, and I don't think anyone is denying that WP:N applies to the main body of work. That's why we at least consider articles on Captain Kirk and HAL-9000, because the main work is notable. I'm essentially restricting spinouts to articles that get some third-party discussion, even if they don't meet WP:N. Phil had a point that my "mere mention" rule was pretty abusable. Pointing over at WP:RS and its demand for third-party sourcing should get over that problem, and phrasing it as "at risk" keeps the demand level low.—Kww(talk) 18:47, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Be WP:BOLD then. Add a new prong, or tighten up the second prong with reliable third party sources for everything. See if it sticks. Randomran (talk) 18:53, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
WP:BOLD is for non-controversial changes. This talk page is evidence that no good-faith editor could consider the change to be non-controversial. I included my suggestion above ... do you have specific comments on it?—Kww(talk) 18:57, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I don't personally care at this point, as I'm more interested in reaching some kind of compromise than pushing my own preference. Obviously, I've lived with WP:N long enough that requiring third-party sources is something I can live with. Can other people live with it? I don't know. But it looks like you have the support of Peregrine Fisher on the inclusionist side. You also have the backing of everyone who likes WP:N. You should give it a shot and see if it sticks. Really. Randomran (talk) 19:07, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
V is a policy, and we're not going to get past it too well. Not totally consistent guidelines? Welcome to wikipedia. We have enough work here without trying to unify everything. Phil is right that small mentions probably wont improve the article a lot, but I think it would help us to set the bar close to real AfDs. Has Bulbasaur been mentioned? Yes. Has every Pokemon ever been mentioned? No, but some of them have. Maybe Pokemon 345 has a lot of production info, but has never been mentioned in a third party source. Well, then this guideline might be on the exclusionary side, but these will be very rare occurences. If we say an article must "rely" on third party sources, that just sounds like NOTE to me. And I think others could read it that way. Or at least, it won't discourage editors from nominating articles that will be kept, which is what I'd like to see. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 19:11, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
WP:SPS, which is a part of WP:V that "For example, material may sometimes be cited which is self-published by an established expert on the topic of the article, whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications." which is exactly what a developers blog is. As long as that person is considered an expert having been published by another third-party publication. That's why I don't think that any other information is needed, so long as that member can be shown that. Yes it does say that if it "is really worth reporting, someone else is likely to have done so[,]" but it doesn't say it has to have been.じんない 21:26, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I disagree. While this proposal suggests that developers are suitable as experts per SPS on their games (and treats their expertise as a sufficient hedge against their incentive to promote their work), that isn't immediately clear from a reading of SPS itself. This is the primary functional change proposed by the guideline. I just want to make sure that distinction is clear. Protonk (talk) 21:32, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
  • FWIW, I'm ok with Kww's disclaimer. Protonk (talk) 21:42, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm not, it makes it sound that this guideline is somehow, unlike every other guideline out there, subordinate to another guideline. It should be subordinate to policy, not other guidelines.じんない 21:44, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Well, the phrasing is taken literally out of WP:V. I would think that it is subordinate in that sense. We clearly treat it as subordinate to the GNG (in some sense). Protonk (talk) 21:47, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
My problem is that it is conspicuously out of place. It is, essentially, inserting a sentence that amounts to "feel free to ignore this guideline and impose a higher standard." Again, absent a shred of evidence that this higher standard has consensus, I do not think it is appropriate. I remain of the opinion that the lack of a single example of an article that this guideline would come to a result contrary to community practice effectively renders this line of argument pointless. Phil Sandifer (talk) 22:07, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
You are arguing that WP:V and WP:RS aren't backed by consensus? Feel free to start a discussion to modify them.—Kww(talk) 00:22, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I'm arguing that the claim that articles that otherwise would pass this guideline would be deleted false, and asking you to provide evidence for it. Phil Sandifer (talk) 00:29, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I will not engage in the game of searching for AFDs in order to differ in opinion with you about the correctness of the outcome and what impact different changes might have. I've said so many times, and say so again ... the demand you keep making is completely irrelevant and inappropriate. Please stop making it. On the other hand, do you really feel that articles that violate policy will evade deletion indefinitely if they follow this guideline instead? Or why do you think the word "immediate" was so inappropriate?—Kww(talk) 00:50, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I do not think that an article about a major recurring character in a prominent work of fiction that has substantial real-world coverage will be deleted. I have seen no evidence that this statement is untrue. And so I think that the claim that such articles risk deletion is untrue. They don't. The word "immediate" is problematic to me because it seems meaningless. In what future do they face deletion? What is this displaced scene in which, by implication, such articles may be deleted? What guidelines govern this mediate deletion? What community is party to it? Are you? Am I? Who here (if anyone) engages in this deletion? And where does this mediate future's claim to an immediate existence spring from? Is it a historical inevitability? Such unbounded, displaced prolepsis seems impossibly muddy to me. If we must dabble in the future, let us at least inform ourselves about it from the present. Phil Sandifer (talk) 01:03, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
First, I hope that you aren't saying that the purpose of this guideline was to devise a technique for articles that violate fundamental policies to indefinitely resist deletion attempts. That would border on intentional disruption. As for the notion that policy-violating articles eventually have their policy violations catch up with them, that's easy to demonstrate. I'm not about to do the analysis of hypothetical AFDs being rerun against articles I can't see with editors that I can't talk to using guidelines that did not exist at any of the multiple AFDs. These should suffice for the underlying concept that policy-violating articles frequently meet a bad end despite being rescued a time or two by the promise of improvement:
Kww(talk) 02:06, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
With the exception of one example, none of those are fictional. And as for that example, I cannot imagine The Colt, at this point, being deleted. User:Banazir/The Colt (Supernatural) seems, at a glance, to meet WP:N outright, never mind this guideline. (I don't know the state when the article was deleted) So, basically, you continue to fail to show that consensus exists to delete articles that satisfy this guideline now, in the future, or at any point. Unless you can show that articles that satisfy this guideline - this specific one - are actually at risk to deletion, then it is inappropriate to declare in a guideline that such articles are at risk of deletion. I don't think this is a terribly controversial statement. In fact, it seems almost tautologically true - we do not delete articles that we do not delete. Do you think that we do delete articles that meet this guideline? If so, what articles are these?
I mean, I really think this is a completely reasonable question to ask. You believe that some articles of a certain type - ones that meet this guideline - are at risk of deletion. I am asking you to show me one such article before inserting a claim to this effect into the proposal. I do not think this terribly burdensome. Phil Sandifer (talk) 04:06, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Actually, The Colt looks like a really unfortunate case as I look at it. Significant improvement, including several added sources, took place after the last comment in the AfD. And I'm sure there's more - Television Without Pity recaps the show, and I'm sure has commented on The Colt. So there's another source. Ugh. What an unfortunate situation. Phil Sandifer (talk) 04:17, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Your failure to imagine deleting The Colt (Supernatural) isn't particularly compelling. It certainly was deleted, only three months ago. Primary arguments for deletion? "This article does not display notability through independent sources" and "Anything sourced should be in the series article, but the sources are all trivial mentions of the weapon, not enough to show independant[sic] notability". The first AFD closed as "no consensus", second AFD closed with a need to "improve citations", and, when the third AFD rolled around, it was killed because no one had found independent sources that examined the item in question directly and in detail. They don't quote the "directly and in detail" language, but they denigrate the mentions as trivial. Now, did it meet this guideline? Prong 1, certainly. Prong 2, I'd say "yes" ... key item in the operation of the show. Prong 3? Not so much, but that could be repaired via DVD commentary detailing what gun they copied, why a Colt .45, etc. Clearly repairable. Now, had they repaired prong 3, would this article be kept? I'll bet not: "This article does not display notability through independent sources" would still apply.—Kww(talk) 05:01, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I disagree. If there was a bunch of OOU info from DVD commentaries and the like, I'm pretty sure it would have been kept. Look how hard it was to delete with nothing. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 05:53, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Which is the reason that I resist these trips to "go find an AFD that meets that condition." We disagree, and there's no way to determine who's right and who's wrong. I think it may have survived AFD 3, but AFD 4 would have been inevitable, and, eventually, with no good outside sources, it would have been merged or deleted.—Kww(talk) 12:51, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Certainly in the last state, I think the Colt fails this guideline - it does not meet the second prong. On the basis of this guideline, I would say delete the article. Phil Sandifer (talk) 14:42, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
That said, upon looking at the section on "independence," a reminder about RS does seem appropriate there. That said, I continue to oppose a claim that articles without independent sources might get deleted. Until some evidence that this description of deletion process is accurate - that an article that satisfies this guideline but lacks independent sources would find consensus to delete - that statement seems to me factually wrong. Phil Sandifer (talk) 22:49, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I think that is fine as FICT is being used a minimum threshold, beyond allowing commentary from authors as "experts" for spinout articles to meet WP:V.じんない 00:45, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Why shouldn't that standard apply to all elements?じんない 06:28, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
This guideline does not provide any guarantee that articles will be deleted or not, as this is an outcome decided at AFD by local consensus, so I don't think we should treat this guideline as if it directly affects these outcomes - that would be an example of tail wagging the dog. We still have to devise wording that will satisfy most interested parties, and I feel we are very close. Please consider once again the following lead to the section Three-pronged test for notability that might be acceptable to everyone:
"Per the general notability guideline, a topic is presumed notable for a standalone article if it is the subject of non-trivial coverage by reliable and independent sources. Topics covering elements within a fictional work are more likely to meet the requirements of notability guideline if their coverage meets these three conditions..."
I don't think Phil's revert brought us anywhere nearer compromise, because it did not bring us any closer to resolving the issue that a guideline as it stands does not meet the basic inclusiion criteria of WP:V. If we admit that by passing the three pronged a fictional work are more likely to meet the requirements WP:N, then we have got this issue covered, and everybody can support this guideline. Do I have any supporters this disclaimer? If not, what is the wording that will bring this together? --Gavin Collins (talk) 08:28, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Will this ever actually become a guideline?

This has been proposed for well over three years, and at this point conversation seems to just be going around in circles. Most of the changes recently have been relatively minor... the "role within the fictional work" prong was renamed and rewritten, but seems to mean essentially the same thing as "importance within the fictional work" did. Additionally, I see this being referred to as if it were a guideline in various AFD discussions and talk pages. Why don't we just make it official? If something isn't quite right after the guideline is made, it can be discussed here and changed if there is consensus.

I think that general consensus is that the current version is acceptable. Does anyone think that it is the best it could be? No. But it seems like both inclusionists and deletionists can compromise on the current version, and most of the current discussion is about minor changes or major rewrites... the former of which can be discussed later if needed, and the latter of which I doubt will gain any traction.

Just my 2 cents. -Drilnoth (talk) 15:21, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

For what it's worth, there have been years of attempts at compromises. But this one is relatively recent, from the past 3 months. Will this ever become a guideline? It depends on whether we can find a tent big enough to include inclusionists and deletionists. Unfortunately, expanding the tent in one direction tends to shrink it in the other. I don't think both sides have realized they need each other yet. Randomran (talk) 16:51, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I'd like to see it sorted out as well, Drilnoth. As you can see from the half-gig of discussion though, it's uphill all the way. ThuranX (talk) 22:15, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Recurring element vs. character

After this revert, I thought that the second prong's wording needs to be discussed more. The way I see it, major non-character elements of the world (such as a major continent or the item that is important in a similar way to the One Ring) should have their suitability determined the same way as characters; the current wording would seem to indicate the characters are generally more important or worthy of inclusion than other things. In other words, why would (theroretically) the One Ring need reliable sources and Frodo Baggins not? -Drilnoth (talk) 16:42, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Because "shotgun from Resident Evil series" would probably need reliable sources, and Frodo Baggins wouldn't. Something like the One Ring would be covered in reliable third-party sources easily, like most exceptional inanimate objects would be. Randomran (talk) 16:49, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
I have subscriptions to various video game magazines and I have found that a number of reviews, previews, and interviews, actually do cover the weapons in out of universe detail with comparisons to real world weapons and their influences from other games. A few times, Electronic Gaming Monthly and others have even had whole sections on just weapons including top ten style of lists or I recall one with an interview with an actual weapons expert who talks about the historic origins of various video game weapons. One thing I have noticed in this regard is that in some instances, I have seen a game character or weapon referenced in multiple articles in multiple paragraphs (i.e. not just in one sentence) in say the previews in Electronic Gaming Monthly and Game Informer and then yet again months later in the actual reviews or even in side features, which means we might have say four references in reliable published sources that are not necessarily also online and what concerns me is if we were to delete the article by just doing a Google source when someone like me is able to find the published sources. I am of course always willing to help in that regards, as I did for example, at User_talk:A_Nobody/Archive_2#Request. As I read my magazines as they come, I actually keep a note book in which I jot down the page numbers of all the out of universe mentions of fictional characters and weapons and then add the sources here whenever I get the chances. I have pages and pages in my notebook still to do, which means there are a tremendous amount of published reliable sources for at least video game characters and weapons not necessarily found on Google, but that would meet our guidelines. Sincerely, --A NobodyMy talk 17:28, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Are you suggesting that WP:N is adequate, due to the tremendous amount of reliable third-party coverage on these topics? Randomran (talk) 17:56, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

"elements" is preferable. Wikipedians have the bad habit of chunking descriptions of fictional works into rigid categories: episodes, characters, setting, etc. In most cases, the thematic hierarchy of the work itself will not match ours. Protonk (talk) 18:32, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

And almost always the article written based on these sources is a really tenuous web spun from offhand mentions in articles about other things, with one brief semi-promotional source at its heart. Almost always this info, when useful at all, would be better off included in the main article, since any description of "the shotgun from Resident Evil 4" is less about that shotgun itself and more about RE4 anyway. Going out of the way to protect these articles (which pass WP:N anyway) isn't necessary or useful or even needed. - A Man In Bl♟ck (conspire - past ops) 18:42, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
The guideline already says "Other essential elements of the work are appropriate too, but only if their significance is verified in commentary from reliable sources". Randomran (talk) 18:36, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
(ec) Yes, but that would seem to imply that a main character (such as J.D. (Scrubs)) does not necessarily need any reliable sources because he is a major character in an important work; common sense then determines that that is true, although it is essential to add reliable sources as soon as possible. On the other hand, any item or location seems to need reliable sources to pass this guideline, even if it is obviously a major part of the work the way a character is. -Drilnoth (talk) 22:14, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

I suggested the same thing a few days ago, and thought we'd settled the use of elements with reasonable agreement. anyways, I definitely feel that Elements is the appropriate term for the guideline, so support there. (at least we're getting some agreement.) ThuranX (talk) 22:12, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

It has always been my opinion that characters or episodes are no more worthy of inclusion that other items just because they are characters or episodes. That statement seems to indicate the opposite. Gundam would likely have, if anything the mecha being more notable, in general, than most characters. I do think in this case we should tell the reader to refer to the approrpriate Wikiproject for ideas what elements are generally considered acceptable spinoffs and what are not.じんない 22:38, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
The are (on the whole) more worthy of inclusion because more can be written about them. 90% (totally made up percentage, but it's in the right ballpark) of the non-character (and non-theme) elements of fiction can be dispensed with in an encyclopedic summary of the fictional work. Most of the time, a giant stomping robot is just a giant stomping robot. A [[:File:GunbladeopeningFFVIII.jpg|gun/sword/housing development] is just a gun/sword/housing development, regardless of how "cool" it looks. Characters drive works of fiction. Their actions imbue the story with life. Without them (or, alternately, with characters which are merely stand-ins or cliches), there isn't much to tell about the story. And, if you want to refer people to projects, note that VGSCOPE argues against spinning out items and such. Protonk (talk) 23:02, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
True, but there are times when a non-character drives the plot more than a character. The One Ring is a good example. More than that though, some non-character elements have ramifications beyond that, like Gundam (mobile suit) which has spawned numerous copies and parodies and become iconic for those mecha you refer to and is more notable in for it's real world impact that the hero Amuro Ray, which is what the story, as you say, is suppose to revolve around. Therefore I do not think making characters be acceptable to WP:FICT. Those elements that should be notable should be left to the various wikiprojects.
I would oppose anything that tries to allows character more of a "free pass" simply because they are characters, which is what it is currently. If they can't stand on their own as just an element of the fictional work like a cool weapon, let them be merged or deleted.じんない 02:41, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Yes, the guideline is biased towards characters. On the other hand, so is AfD, so I don't find this bias troubling. Phil Sandifer (talk) 22:42, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

Maybe AFD wouldn't be as biased towards characters if this, once it is a guideline, isn't. -Drilnoth (talk) 22:53, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps. But I don't think that trying to use this guideline to reshape community practice is going to gain consensus, really by definition. Phil Sandifer (talk) 23:01, 22 January 2009 (UTC)
So, to be clear: Phil, you oppose use of 'element' instead of 'character'? How do you propose we measure the things currently being discussed for characters for other parts of a fictional story, then? Do we create another guideline? ThuranX (talk) 03:57, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
That question didn't entirely parse for me. I think you're asking how I propose we measure non-characters or episodes in terms of the second prong? If so, I would suggest you read the sentence after the one under discussion. It says "Other essential elements of the work are appropriate too, but only if their significance is verified in commentary from reliable sources." Phil Sandifer (talk) 04:11, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
And why shouldn't characters be held to the same standards?じんない 07:47, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
If I had to guess how Phil would respond, I think he'd say "because they aren't held to the same standards". And he'd be right. In practice, a well-written character article can escape WP:N at AFD... a well-written article about inanimate objects, or special moves from a game, or weapon lists -- WP:N is enforced pretty strictly. As for my personal reason, I just think we have to throw *some* kind of bone to inclusionists, without opening the floodgates to piss off the deletionists. This is what a compromise looks like: recurring characters are held to a lower standard. Randomran (talk) 08:10, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Seems to arbitrary when their are series where the inanimate object is more central to the plot than the characters.じんない 12:13, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

(undent) Just to clarify my position, I'm not asking for this just so that there can be more articles about less-notable fictional elements; rather, I just want everything to be treated equally. There are surely plenty of stories, like Lord of the Rings, which focus more on an object or location than on a character; in that case, I'd think that the object or location would be "main" and not necessarily need as good a sourcing to be kept, but maybe the characters would need the better sourcing right away. I'm just trying to balance things out; the main topics of a book/game/show/film should all be treated equally, regardless of what they are, and the more minor topics should also be treated equally, just in a different way. A secondary main character, with the current proposal, may be easier to include than an article about the world in which the story takes place, even if the story is designed more to explore the world than to focus on a specific characters actions. -Drilnoth (talk) 14:50, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

I would disagree that Lord of the Rings focuses more on the One Ring or on Middle Earth, for one thing. But the logic, as I see it, is this - traditionally, in narrative literature, characters are viewed as more important. This goes back to Aristotle, who prioritizes character only after plot in his hierarchy of elements of drama. To make a case that this is upended - that an object or setting is central in the same way that a major character is - one needs a more exceptional level of sourcing. Because basic understandings of literature suggest that characters are usually central, it requires less to persuade people that they are. Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:11, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
With all due respect to Aristotle, I don't think there is any such heirarchy exists in the real-world as whether characters are more important than other elements is a matter of opinion, not fact. Sometimes non-characters do take center stage in a plot and can be more notable than any character, e.g The Monkey's Paw. I think "Elements of Fiction" is the best terminology to use in this guideline, as it is a relatively neutral term. --Gavin Collins (talk) 16:16, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I think this is a case where we really ought defer to normal practice. Characters are kept more often than other articles. There are reasons for this. This guideline should not be used to try to change AfD practice. Characters are held to a lower standard of proof in this guideline because, well, characters are held to a lower standard of proof. m:Descriptivism is key. Phil Sandifer (talk) 16:19, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I have to agree with Phil here. In 99% of cases, it's the characters that are central. In 1% of cases, another element such as an inanimate object will be central, but the only way to prove that will be commentary from reliable third-party sources. Randomran (talk) 16:41, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
I continue to disagree, and see no reason to differentiate between characters and other elements, since it's all fictional parts of the fictional story, it should be treated equally. The Ring or the Sword are both central to the plot of their tales, and both have some amount of real world coverage. and no one's argued that, but suggest that a minor Character from LOTR NOT get a page because he's less notable and less covered in RS than the ring, and we have a problem? that's a hypocritical double standard, and doing things wrong because wiki's been doing wrong makes no sense. Id that were really the responsible ethic, we'd still have slavery. If it's wrong, don't do it. ThuranX (talk) 02:25, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
I actually agree with Gavin and ThuranX here; even if it is true that in 99% of cases the characters are central, that is not a reason to distinguish them from central non-character elements. Also, why are we talking about episodes in this guideline when we already have an episode guideline that covers them? Episodes are not elements of fiction, they are seperate fictional works which are part of a series of fictional works. DHowell (talk) 05:05, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
That's a distinction that is becoming increasingly unhelpful. Are each of the "webisodes" in Lost: Missing Pieces a work of fiction to be considered independently? Is each episode in a serial drama a distinct work of fiction? A non-serial drama? A sitcom? Where they meet the GNG it doesn't matter but if they don't, would it be unreasonable to judge them based on this guideline? Also I think FICT is just mirroring VGSCOPE in the "episodes/characters" decision--though I am happy to soften it if it will make people happier. Protonk (talk) 05:12, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
Would changing the current prong to read, "The subject should be an episode, recurring character, or other major element that is central to understanding the fictional work. Other elements of the work are appropriate too, but only if their significance is verified in commentary from reliable sources. Notability requires evidence, and bald assertions of significance are insufficient." be a good compromise? It would still have more weight in regards to characters, but more easily make provisions for other elements. -Drilnoth (talk) 13:57, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
With so many people worrying about articles without reliable third-party sources, I think you'd be just as likely to have people removing the exemption altogether. "An article on an episode, character, or major element is appropriate only if its significance is verified in commentary from reliable sources." With people pulling in both directions, I think it's best to stay exactly where we are now. Randomran (talk) 14:05, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
Okay; just thought I'd mention it as an idea. -Drilnoth (talk) 14:09, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

advice on "list of xxxx characters" page

Can someone provide guidance on what information should be included (or excluded) for an individual character's entry on a "list of xxxxx characters" page? Many that I have run across seem to merely reiterate the plot from that character's point of view. Where is the line drawn between "characters from a film/book" and "characters in the story's universe" that may have been introduced in other medium outside of the primary story? What should the articles really contain? (I see from above that this may be an extension of earlier discussions, so feel free to repoint me to those as necessary) Thx! SpikeJones (talk) 23:20, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

A list of characters is going to contain plot summaries. There's no avoiding that because they're fictional characters. What the list should contain is a matter for the article talk page. --Pixelface (talk) 23:24, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
We're not deciding on that now. We're trying to get some other things ironed out first. For some of the best character lists, look at Characters of Carnivàle or List of characters in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow, which are both featured. - Peregrine Fisher (talk) (contribs) 23:28, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
Will do, thx for the prompt replies. SpikeJones (talk) 23:38, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
You can get some ideas on how to make a list "featurable" by looking at those. But keep in mind that not all lists will make it to the Main Page, and it's perfectly fine if they don't. --Pixelface (talk) 23:53, 25 January 2009 (UTC)
The guideline is pretty silent on lists as of yet. But all the other content policies apply to lists, including WP:NOT. Randomran (talk) 00:45, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
The basic question is how much information there should be--I see two different sorts of lists. First, the type which is a combined article for less than fully notable characters, or for notable characters where it was decided as a matter of style and convenience to combine a number of otherwise very short articles. in which there would typically be the asme mount of material as in a short article, with similar guidelines, with the added proviso that some effort should be made to avoid duplication of material between adjacent sections. The other type is one that lists all the characters, including those with separate articles--or which lists only the truly minor characters for whom one could never justify separate articles. This should give a sentence or two of identifying information. DGG (talk) 02:51, 26 January 2009 (UTC)
Per above, we're not going to dwell on lists yet to not add another controversial item to this guideline. IMO, a character list is generally warranted so long as the character cast is large enough and the plot character-intensive/large/deep/whatever enough that understanding of the series is impaired without an explanation of the characters. To use a video game analogy, the majority of first-person shooters probably don't warrant character lists while a good chunk of role-playing games probably do. The more involved the characters are in the game, the more likely they are to be mentioned in third party sourcing in any case, although most AfDs has a relative consensus that most character lists are appropriate when necessary for understanding of the plot. Any other list of fictional elements is generally inappropriate; the necessity of independent coverage rises with more tertiary plot items, as they stretch what WP:NOT#PLOT allows and the whole list becomes a form of undue weight. A list of fictional locations is generally not acceptable for instance. Anyhow, this is a discussion for another time and place. — sephiroth bcr (converse) 03:12, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

(outdent) Thank you all for your insights. I agree that it may be premature or unnecessary to have a formal guideline on this particular question. I was hoping to trim a ton of fat from the List of Cars characters article (and then move from there to other articles using similar philosophies). The Cars universe has dozens of cars, some caught briefly on film but not named until toy/game products came out. The primary question, in this case, is whether the article should be limited to those characters identified in the film's credits, or would any/all characters in the entire universe qualify for inclusion? SpikeJones (talk) 04:33, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

Interesting you bring up List of Cars characters SpikeJones. That was the list that brought TTN to comment here in the first place — back in April 2007.[7][8] --Pixelface (talk) 12:03, 28 January 2009 (UTC)
That is interesting, thank you for pointing out that history. I read GoodRaise's policy proposal, and I think that most of the fancruft can be addressed as failing "Notable via appearances in Non-promotional sources", that is - deleting all those that are only named in toy packaging or one-off video games as opposed to appearing as a plot-advancing character in the film itself. SpikeJones (talk) 05:10, 30 January 2009 (UTC)