Wikipedia talk:Television episodes/Archive 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Archive 1 Archive 2

Note: a year-old discussion of this very topic can be found here. The situation has changed a bit since then; certianly we probably have a few thousand more episodes than we did then, but much of it is still relevent. I guess if anyone wants to reiterate or address points from that discussion here, cutting and pasting parts might be the way to go. Also note several people involved in that discussion are no longer active wikipedians. -R. fiend 17:44, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

Arguments for a generally exclusionist stance towards television episodes

It's ridiculous to include every episode no matter how popular the show. An encyclopedia is meant to be a compendium of all human knowledge. The detailed plot lines of individual episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer et al do not constitute human knowledge. It's like discussing each paragraph of a book in detail. The best way is probably to have a summary for each season. More than 5 - 10 lines per episode and you're going to end up with non-encyclopedic information. The most pivotal episodes in big series should be given a write up, the ones people watch again and again, the ones that introduce a big "issue" for the first time on national tv. Bandraoi 20:46, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

The detailed plot lines of individual episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer et al do not constitute human knowledge. Kurt Weber 00:11, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
There may be an argument for starting a "wikitelevision" project to document all this information but it really genuinely doesn't belong in an encyclopedia. Bandraoi 20:46, 23 October 2005 (UTC)
If people ever want to start such a project, it will be much easier if all the content that has been written for Wikipedia can simply be moved over. If we start systematically deleting articles, anyone who wants to start this project will have to rewrite all the material deleted from Wikipedia just because it did not “belong in an encyclopedia.” — Daniel Brockman 11:30, 13 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Limiting individual articles to only extraordinary episodes keeps our signal-to-noise ratio at an acceptable level and is the only way to implement principles like GOOPTI. (unsigned comment from 21:52, 23 October 2005 by The Literate Engineer)
  • I'd like to respond to what Andrew Lenahan wrote below:
    • 1. Huge Audence: Just because something has been seen by millions doesn't mean it's noteworthy enough for a Wikipedia article. A particular fountain in Paris or Florence may have been seen by many millions of people over the years, but does every single such fountain merit an article? I say, not unless there is something particularly historically or culturally noteworthy about that one. Likewise, there are many websites that have attained millions of page views over the course of a few years, but only a small percentage of those sites are notable enough for a Wikipedia article.
    • 2. Movie precedent: The standards for what constitutes a widely seen TV episode and a widely seen movie are very different. A Hollywood movie that draws an audience of four million people on the first day of its U.S. theatrical release is usually regarded by the industry as a big hit (which will probably gross over $150 million domestically, by the time it is through playing in theaters); an episode of a prime-time American TV show that draws four million viewers (estimated as two to three million households) on the day that it first airs will finish last in the ratings, and if it's on one of the Big Four networks, will likely be canceled after a few more episodes. Furthermore, the movie with an initial audience of 4 million will be played in multiplexes for a few more weeks, then in discount theaters, airline flights, etc. for a couple months more, then be released to DVD, then aired hundreds of times on television over the next few years, and all of this will happen in dozens of countries worldwide. The TV episode with an initial audience of 4 million will not be rerun more than once or twice, as the show will be canceled soon, and will not make it to syndication or (and except in rare cases, probably not to DVD or overseas markets either). You can't hold television shows and movies to the same standards of raw viewership.
Though, they do show some TV episodes on airline flights these days, and there are often box-set DVD releases eventually. Your point still holds, though, since this distribution still isn't nearly as great as that of movies. *Dan T.* 13:25, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
    • 3. Extension of show: I think the best way to deal with this is to split it off into pages by season. I go into more detail about this below on this page: You'd have The Simpsons (season 1), The Simpsons (season 2), etc.
    • 4. Information value: Isn't this more of an argument for a new Wiki project separate from the encyclopedia (i.e. what Bandraoi proposed)? There is so much contention over whether TV episodes should be included or not that I cannot see how it would not be better to have a huge overarching project called "WikiTV" or something, with subdivisions like "WikiTV The Simpsons" and "WikiTV Star Trek: The Original Series" where such episode guides can blossom? You could supplement the episode guides with detailed pages on characters who are not notable enough for their own encyclopedia articles. All the existing info could be copied-and-pasted right from the current Wikipedia articles before they are deleted or pared down under the new policy. It could even be part of Wikibooks instead of a new project. The point is that there is much information in the world which is useful to have, but which consensus has decided should be removed from the encyclopedia and installed as separate WikiProjects: recipes, dictionary definitions, travel guides. Why not do this for Television Episodes? Andrew Levine 17:47, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • This is an encyclopedia, and it is simply unencyclopedic to include every single episode of a television series, even notable ones. Much like it is unencyclopedic to include every stray album track and B-side of even the most notable bands. I've noticed that some quotes & trivia bits are ripped straight from episode guides online. Isn't that what external links are for? Just include a link to the page for the series on the main page. Brandon39 has set some strong filtering criteria below; this could eliminate 95% of the pages. Either way, a consensus should be reached and policies should be made, and soon, lest another year go by and we start getting thousands of episode pages for Who's The Boss?, Full House, and Diff'rent Strokes. StarryEyes 00:34, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
  • I strongly agree with StarryEyes' sentiment above: this is an encyclopedia and as such should provide more of a bird's-eye view of cultural topics. A good article should discuss a notable work's history, cultural context, general plot outline and premise, cultural impact and reception, etc. It should not delve into the minutiae of individual parts of the work. That's essentially creating a thin gloss over primary source material. An encyclopedia is not in the business of retelling primary sources; it should provide a general overview and stepping-off point for in-depth research. flowersofnight 20:46, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
The only reason that traditional encyclopedia provide a mere bird's eye view of everything is that they are made of paper, which is expensive. We have a radical and exciting experiment here, and chosing to limit it to what traditional encyclopedia do seem just odd. Nobody has to read an article they are not looking for. If you really want to, re-code the random article button not to bring these up - you'll never know they are there! Trollderella 16:16, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
But can't the "Nobody has to read an article they are not looking for" argument be logically extended to allow ANY content? Why not allow patent nonsense, hoaxes, etc. too by the same reasoning? Those who don't want to read hoaxes can just recode the random button too. Anyway, about the "bird's-eye view": I don't mean to say that we necessarily have to give as perfunctory treatments to subjects as traditional encyclopedias do. But I do think that we need to present works in context, not the works themselves. Pages on individual episodes of shows, barring the most notable ones, fall too close to the latter category for me. flowersofnight (talk) 16:59, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, no. I think that it is clear that an encyclopedia needs to make an effort to present things that are verifiably factual, or else report people's opinions as their opinions. I'm not sure why you would suggest otherwise. There is no logical connection between saying "We should present everything that is verifiably factual" and saying "We should present everything, regardless of whether it is true.". Of course, we do present hoaxes, but we label them as hoaxes. See Moon hoax for an example. Presenting verifiable, factual material on a TV show seems perfectly acceptable to me, and not to get in the way of anything else. Trollderella 17:30, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
(This is also in direct response to flowersofnight... I didn't type fast enough) -- I don't think the "Why not allow patent nonsense, hoaxes, etc. too by the same reasoning" argument flies because that stuff would never be allowed since they are, after all, patent nonsense and hoaxes and this is an encyclopedia of sorts. And I submit that there is context to individual episodes, even if that context is only within the show itself. (Though there is often very much to say about an episode of television that speaks to other contexts.) Ideally, the best-written episode articles would illustrate this context. If entire books of scholarly literature can be written about a television series with references to what some would consider "non-notable" episodes, then there must be some value in individual episode information on a forum such as Wikipedia. --NymphadoraTonks 17:39, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
My point with the "patent nonsense" bit was that it's not enough to just say "Don't look at the articles you feel are inappropriate", or "If it doesn't hurt to include it, go ahead". As both you and Trollderella rightly point out, the real issue here is "what belongs in an encyclopedia?", and we should be directing our arguments toward that. Presenting true information is one basic minimum encyclopedic standard I think we can all agree on, so I chose it as an example. If something doesn't belong here, it doesn't belong -- even if it's not hurting anyone. So that's all, I just wanted to disagree with that particular line of argument, by means of a little reductio ad absurdum. flowersofnight (talk) 19:07, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't think agree with your logic. Presenting true information is the purpose of an encyclopedia. Removing information that is true, or adding information that is not true are both counter to the purpose of creating an encyclopedia. Adding information that is not true is hurting someone, as is removing information that is true. Caveat - I don't think an encyclopedia is the place for source material, although, if someone wanted to add it, and merge Wikipedia with Wikisource, I don't think there would be any real harm in it. Trollderella 23:00, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
I disagree with you. "Removing information that is true" is not harmful if the information doesn't belong. What's harmful is failing to be properly selective about the information included in an encyclopedia. The distinction between having no content and having everything as content is non-existent. Only by limiting it to what's most important does an encyclopedia's content become meaningful, relevant, and worth compiling. The Literate Engineer 04:40, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Well, now we have some common ground to work from - we both agree that primary sources don't belong in Wikipedia under the current state of affairs. (as far as the larger question of what an encyclopedia should be - that may be a bit of a tangent; want to continue the discussion on talk pages?) I've been taking a look through some episode articles lately since I joined this discussion, and they seem to be merely very thorough synopses. In my view, they add nothing to the primary source, and are essentially a paraphrase and slight condensation of the original material. In effect, they are a slightly modified version of the primary source (in the case of a TV episode, the screenplay) This information might be appropriate for Wikisource or a hypothetical WikiTV, but episode summaries don't seem appropriate for Wikipedia in my opinion. However, I'm willing to keep an open mind about this - maybe I've just been looking in the wrong place. Would anyone care to link me to some of the best episode articles out there? Are there episode articles that achieve a higher standard? If so, is it reasonable for all episode articles to aspire to this standard? flowersofnight (talk) 01:13, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
It's a sad fact that most of the episode articles out there are pretty poor; that's part of the problem. And that's why 15,000 Guiding Light articles would be a problem, because there is absolutely no way it would be done well. Or done at all. Anyone who thinks otherwise is living in Cloudcuckooland. With an encyclopedia as much as anything, if you can't do something right, you shouldn't do it at all. Therefore trying to have an article on every TV show ever aired is a really bad idea. And I hope no one tries it. As it is there should be some policy or guidlines on the inclusion of TV episodes. Saying that any verifiable fact (and verifiable by wikipedia stabdards is a pretty low level of verifability) should be in an encyclopedia merely because wikipedia is not paper is basically just lunacy. -R. fiend 02:42, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
Agreed - we should only have articles that we can expect to eventually do to some reasonable standard of quality, and obviously many (most) episodes of television, such as soap operas, won't be able to meet that standard. What I'm interested in now is seeing if any existing episode articles meet a high standard. I think that's an important factor in deciding whatever policy we come up with. flowersofnight (talk) 14:46, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Hey, flowersofnight. I did some looking around for episode articles that I thought were fairly well done, though I'm at work, so this was a limited search:

  • The Body (Buffy episode) - This one's pretty good. "The Body" is one of the better episodes of the series.
  • Prophecy Girl (Buffy episode) - This is one for a more generic episode.
  • Rose (Doctor Who) - I don't know the first thing about this show, so I'm not sure how "Rose" ranks in terms of relative importance to the series... but the article's got a lot in it. It's all in a 'Notes' section, which is pretty cumbersome, but it's mostly a formatting issue.
  • Living Doll (The Twilight Zone) - As far as I know, this is a well-known episode of The Twilight Zone. The article itself is pretty short, but I think the structure of it is nice and shows the direction in which it can grow.

So there's that. And I agree that we should only have articles that have or have the potential to reach a standard of quality. I think the difference here is that I'm pretty convinced that in a lot of cases, an episode article can reach that. That said, while looking for these articles I referenced above, I had to sift through a whole hell of a lot of substandard articles. I understand where you're coming from when you voice your concerns over quality. I'm not advocating the inclusion of poor articles. What I guess my stance is based on is the fact that it's the Wikipedia standards of quality that I hope will eventually sift the good from the bad and not some separate policy or general agreement that covers episode articles. A thousand plot synopses of Star Trek episodes may seem inappropriate to some (though I'm still not clear on the harm they do), but that's not to say they won't get better one day. R.Fiend - Please don't refer to other people's opinions as 'lunacy'. It's fairly rude and not very constructive, especially when the argument isn't supported. In response to "there is absolutely no way it could be done well": There are already zillions of topics that Wikipedia does and could potentially cover. Technically, there's no way the whole project could be universally done well from the nihilist perspective. But we only get closer with time. --NymphadoraTonks 17:30, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Exactly - we get better by improving, not removing! Trollderella 17:53, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Isn't this really a larger question, "What is the Wikipedia?" Is the Wikipedia a compendium of every bit of trivia and ephemera humans have ever produced? Or is there some value judgment to be made about content? In short, I think television, in general, is not worthy of such exhaustive coverage in the Wikipedia. Seriously, this may sound a bit grandiose. But shouldn't the Wikipedia have some dignity? Is anything beneath the Wikipedia? Danlovejoy 03:57, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

And I think television, in general, is worthy of such exhaustive coverage. So who's right? And if there's enough information to fill a decent article about some random episode of Small Wonder, then why not have it? Media studies is a huge field these days. What's silly to one person is thesis material for the next. --NymphadoraTonks 04:26, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
First off - thanks for taking the time to look up some examples for me! :) I've looked them over. But I'm concerned that even in these articles there's really not enough encyclopedic content. They seem to contain at most: (A) a detailed summary, (B) a description of how the episode fits into the larger story, (C) notes on the popularity/reception of the episode, and (D) trivia. The summaries, I've already mentioned my problems with them. The bits about the story arcs would do better merged into higher-level content, such as arc-level coverage or adding brief arc summaries to the main TV show article. The popularity/reception information is only really relevant for episodes that made a splash in some way; the average episode won't have anything to mention here. And finally, the trivia is just that - trivia. That's more suited for a fansite or specialist work than an encyclopedia. So in short, I'm not convinced that detailed, full-article coverage is appropriate even for moderately notable episodes. Also, as to your mention of "media studies": you make a valid point that television can be the subject of serious study. But the coverage we currently provide doesn't make the grade as research material. Someone doing academic research is probably going to want to either go directly to the primary sources, or read a well-thought-out analysis of that material. Our current offerings on TV episodes don't really work in either role. flowersofnight (talk) 14:41, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
I tend to generally agree with flowerso here. I actually haven't looked at the examples provided, but I know from having read articles on TV episodes, as well as movies, and even books, that most are by and large plot synopses. A Cliff's Notes, if you will. A bit of that is all right, but that's really not the purpose of an encyclopedia. What purpose does that really serve? A substitute for watching the episode? An encyclopedia article sahould be more than"and this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened too...". Some trivia I welcome, if it can add something interesting (of course some trivia is too trivial; it's a fine line). Are we covering anything in these Simpsons articles than can't be done as well or better by external links to episode guides? -R. fiend 14:57, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Exactly. Most of these articles are just a plot synopsis, cast/crew list, and other production figures like airdate; unless the episode became a widely observed cultural phenomenon, how much more information can you really add to an article on a TV episode, without stepping into the realm of original research? Andrew Levine 16:17, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Quite a bit, potentially, if the series involved is a manifestation of a historical event or greater social trend. An individual episode of Law & Order might be a pastiche of a notable crime which would benefit from a comparison with the circumstances of that crime, while an individual episode of Amos & Andy might contain a valuable discussion on changing racial attitudes and how they influence the perception of that episode. -Colin Kimbrell 18:54, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
We can provide at least one thing that an external link to an episode guide can't provide: A guarantee that the content will be there when a user looks for it. We are the gatekeepers for information located within our site, but if the operator of an outside site decides to shut down his site because he's tired of being in the episode guide biz, there's really nothing we can do about it. The day we start delegating coverage of significant subjects to outside sources is the day that we become a portal instead of an encyclopedia. -Colin Kimbrell 18:41, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
On the contrary, we should delegate coverage that falls beyond the scope of an encyclopedia. Otherwise we become the proverbial "indiscriminate collection of information". flowersofnight (talk) 21:30, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
None of the information we are describing is beyond the scope of an encyclopedia, though. If it's not worth incorporating into an article, it shouldn't be worth a link, either (unless it's a primary source that's not eligible for inclusion in the project as a whole, for copyright reasons and such). -Colin Kimbrell 22:01, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
I believe that plot synopses, for starters, are beyond the scope of an encyclopedia. Cast & crew information likewise, with a possible exception that I need to think more about for if it's noteworthy for being extremely irregular ("This episode of Friends was written by Rod Serling"). As for "a valuable discussion of changing racial attitudes" in reference to an Amos & Andy episode, that discussion 1) Belongs in an appropriate article like racial attitudes, not an article about an episode of a television show, and 2) needs to be limited to a description of an presentation of facts about changes in racial attitudes and not any sort of analytical essay (original research or otherwise). The Literate Engineer 20:40, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
I agree that the information that we are talking about is well inside the scope of an encyclopedia. What worries me is that we are making value judgments about subjects, saying 'this subject is more important than this one'. We're not talking about indiscriminate collections of information, we are talking about deliberately removing factual and structured information about a topic simply because we don't think the topic is important. Very clearly others do, and get degrees in it. That may annoy us, but we should hold back on our judgements. Trollderella 01:30, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
I'm going to take the position for now that Wikipedia does not need any articles on individual episodes of television series. The scene-by-scene plot descriptions we tend to see in these episode articles are written with an excessive level of detail for an encyclopedia. Note, for example, that the synopsis of Bonfire of the Manatees (a recent episode of The Simpsons) is more than twice as long as the synopsis of William Shakespeare's Othello. (And I don't see anyone arguing at Talk:Othello that the play's synopsis is too short.) Other specifically television-oriented web sites, such as, are more appropriate outlets for episode-by-episode coverage. Anything that is important enough in an episode of a television series to warrant encyclopedic coverage should be merged into the main article for the series (or another article related to the series which is acceptable under WP:FICT, such as Homer Simpson). In the past I have voted to keep Simpsons episode articles based on precedent, but for now I'm inclined not to do so. See alsoflowersofnight and R. fiend's comments above. --Metropolitan90 05:18, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
  • We discuss books and other works of literature according to their themes, their main characters and their influence on external events. I think television episodes should be treated the same way. Bandraoi 10:27, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia has decided that primary schools are not suitable for inclusion, why? There is much verifiable "knowledge" available about them. The reason is because it's too much pointless trivia for an encylopedia. The same applies to television episodes, while there may be verifiable knowledge and facts you can write about, it's not significant information.
Actually, there is usually very little verifiable knowledge about them in the sense that it is meant in the wp policy. Trollderella 20:24, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
  • Discussions like these baffle me. Common sense should dictate that we don't need encyclopedia articles on each and every episode of a TV show, nor do we need them on each and every Looney Tunes short, each and every 50 Cent single, or each and every bit of ANYthing. An episode of a TV show doesn't need an article unless it was an unprecedented ratings success, the subject of significant widespread controversy or media coverage, or it was nominated for a major industry award. Only honestly notable subjects (meaning those of importance to people as a whole, and not to a niche group of fans).

It simply comes off as fannish gush. There's an article for EVERY Simpsons episode. However, there's not a single article for any episode of Moesha, Family Matters, The Cosby Show, and several other shows that I know were popular. This sort of excess just contributes to the Wikipedia's already controversial and problematic systemic bias towards subjects of interest to white American young males. And, no, this is not a call for someone to start writing articles on Steve Urkel episodes. I'm pointing out that people are using Wikipedia as a free fansite hosting service, and not trying to contribute to making the Wikipedia a more reliable scholarly reference. Wikipedia would be better-served if editors wrote articles for TV shows that don't yet have articles, rather than writing 300 articles about those who do.

Someone created a TV Wiki ( Take the individual episode articles over there and keep the Wikipedia encyclopedia as the general-purpose encyclopedia it was meant to be (meaning it presents concise, yet complete general overviews, and is not a primary source in itself). TV shows only generally need two articles: one for the show itself, and another for an episode guide (only if it will make the main article too long). TV characters whose popularity is equal or above that of the show deserve their own articles, but minor characters on TV shows should be covered in a list. --FuriousFreddy 15:03, 13 December 2005 (UTC)

  • For the record, there is not an article for every episode of The Simpsons. Just most of them :). To be fair, The Simpsons is far more popular than those other shows you mentioned. It's actually one of the longest running television shows ever, and has had a huge impact on popular culture. Responses like yours baffle me. What harm are the episode listings doing? Do you truly believe they make Wikipedia a worse place somehow? There are hundreds of thousands of articles about every topic under the sun. I'm sure that the articles about ships from the 1800s never bothered you with their existence, or the ones listing every hamlet from New York to California, so why would an episode of a television show?

    I'm pointing out that people are using Wikipedia as a free fansite hosting service, and not trying to contribute to making the Wikipedia a more reliable scholarly reference. Wikipedia would be better-served if editors wrote articles for TV shows that don't yet have articles, rather than writing 300 articles about those who do.

    You're falling into the common fallacy that all editing is equal. Someone who found that an episode article they were editing was deleted is not necessarily going to turn around and create an article on a show they are not familiar with, or start helping out on string theory and quantum physics. I'd even put forth an opposite theory: that having these articles helps Wikipedia, as it draws in people who come for the Simpsons article, start to learn about Wikipedia, and start editing many other pages. Finally, I strongly doubt that anyone is "using Wikipedia as a free fansite hosting service." For one thing, you lose control of your content by placing it on Wikipedia. For another, it immediately comes under strong pressure to be NPOV, something you rarely see on fan pages. Turnstep 00:28, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
    • Comparing the episode article to the ship article is an invalid comparison. The article about the series as a whole is equivalent to the article about a ship. Having articles about individual episodes, though, is aking to having an article about the ship's rudder, an article about the ship's port propeller, an article about the third link from the bottom on the anchor chain, etc. Each episode is a component of the show, and except in extreme cases such as a record-setting rating, doesn't qualify as a topic except as a part of that whole, the show. The Literate Engineer 02:58, 14 December 2005 (UTC)
      • And that is all I'm saying. --FuriousFreddy 18:05, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
    • People are indeed using Wikipedia as a fan site. 80 KB articles, gushing with detail, and hundreds of articles dedicated to covering one cartoon show (no matter how popular), is excessive. As the popularity of Wikipedia grows, the quality of the project is decreasing very, very quickly; at this point, I don't see Wikipedia as anything but a glorified message board. The only times I edit are when I see glaring mistakes; there are hundreds of new articles that need to be written (and none of them about episodes of The Simpsons), but I don't see the point anymore. --FuriousFreddy 18:05, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
In my own opinion I find the exclusionist arguments above to be culturally elitist. Wikipedia is a 'free encyclopdia', and therefore should be able to have any information that might be of any use (as long as it is not fabriacted). Nobody would complain if there was an article for indexing every one of William Shakespeare's sonnets, and individual articles that gave (1) Information such as where it was written, when it was written (2) Background: why it was written, what else is known from it (3) the sonnet itself (although I'm guessing that wouldn't be allowed due to copyright).. yet some people criticise TV episode articles just because they SUBJECTIVELY see them as inferior. This breaks Wikipedia's policy of 'Neutral point of view'. In fact episodes of television in these times I would guess have a stronger impact on more indivduals than Shakespeare.
It's a shame so many wikipedians spend so much time above trying to delete things they view as inferior when they could be spending that time creating articles instead. 'FuriousFreddy' above seems unimpressed that wikipedia is used as a 'fan site'. i don't think he need be so concerned. As long as articles on fan subjects are not including untruths, then they do not need to be banished. In fact my experience so far when looking at fan subjects is that they tend to be well written, and to a high standard of quality simply because the writers care enough about the subject to properly write the article. Furthermore if they bring fans to wikipedia, then those fans will potentially expand into wider areas of wikipedia and maybe even atart writing articles.
I must point out some uses of the TV episode articles: (a) Someone who missed episodes but wants to know what happened in previous articles (b) someone doing research for an essay [1] (c) someone whoi is interested in the show and wishes to get expanded knowledge on its trivia, making, actors, writers, directors... People shold have the right to access this information on wikipedia (the 'free encyclopedia) without having to crawl the web for web sites full of adverts, furthermore those web sites have potentially limited life expectancies if the fans can no longer afford to keep up their sites, which is increasingly likely after the end of those shows.
Wikipedia is not short of space and is now open to all. Therefore there is no longer need for cultural superiority complexes. if people are not impressed, or not interested in articles about individual TV episode articles, that's ok because they will not be forced to read them. Some however wikll be interested, and those people deserve the right to. -- Paxomen 16:13, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
Most shows make do with a general plot synposis or build the plot into character biographies. This seems an eminently more logical and therefore uncontentious way to balance the two sides of the argument. -- Stevecov 14:37, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Arguments for a generally inclusionist stance towards television episodes

My default inclusion criteria is and always has been "If a full-length article could reasonably be written about a topic without resorting to trivial, unverifiable, or unencyclopedic information, then it should have an article." I have never written an article on a TV episode, but I do consider them to be encyclopedic. Things to consider:

    • 1 Huge audience TV episodes are often watched by millions of people and, like 'em or not, are a part of our culture.
    • 2 Movie precedent We generally keep all but the most obscure theatrical movies. Why should we allow a movie that's been seen by, say, 500,000 people but not a TV episode seen by 5 million?
    • 3 Natural extension of show main articles Obviously, when writing a quality article about a TV series, episode-guide information is very likely to be included. However, unless a show has just a few episodes, keeping this in the main article is space-prohibitive. If we have 400 articles on Star Trek episides, can you imagine what it would look like if all those episodes had even just a paragraph each in the Star Trek article? It would be like a book!
    • 4 Information value Unlike an article on a garage band or forum member, TV episode articles appeal to readers and are a source of information which is actually useful to a sizeable number of people. Imagine missing a favourite TV show and being able to find a synopsis almost instantly on WP, with nary a popup or Flash advert getting in the way. Also, this information makes WP accessable to a broader readership base, who might not otherwise think of looking at an online encyclopedia. Articles, ultimately, are for readers.

That sums up my feelings in the matter. Please note that I'm generally discussing fictional TV here. I don't necessarily think that game shows, newscasts, magazine shows, sportscasts, or shows like Trading Spaces should have per-episode articles. I welcome any and all feedback whether you agree or disagree with me. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 11:48, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

  • Andrew pretty much hits the points I agree on. Individual episodes of notable TV series are in and of themselves notable, and if edited by those with knowledge of the series in question can contain a wealth of interesting information -- for examples, check out some of the better-developed Trek or most Doctor Who episode articles. There is also a project now underway to write articles on each episode of the controversial series The Prisoner. I do think common sense needs to be followed however: it is impractical to do articles on every episode of a serial/soap opera, for example, simply because of the sheer volume of episodes. 23skidoo 04:58, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • I agree with both. Some television, like the Simpsons or Seinfeld, is so important to pop culture that we'd be crazy not to include it. Wikipedia is not paper. On the other hand, episode stubs that have no maintainer and no potential for expansion should probably be merged into the corresponding show article (or show's season article), as we already do. In other words, Wikipedia is working fine wrt television episodes, in my opinion. — brighterorange (talk) 17:20, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • It is a fact that in "Hanky-Panky" (an episode from the fifth season of M*A*S*H), B.J. fucked Carrie Donovan. It wasn't actually shown, of course, but it happened. This makes it (as well as everything else in every episode of every television series ever created) human knowledge--which can be easily verified by watching the episode--and thus makes it appropriate for inclusion in Wikipedia. The question then becomes, should it be placed in the main series article or should it get its own article? That's really a judgment call--a case can be maid for including short summaries either in the main series article or in a separate "List of Foo Episodes", and then as more information is added keep the basic summary and link it to a more in-depth article. Kurt Weber 00:16, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Another important point is that any rules excluding episodes will reinforce our sytemic bias. Because of Wikipedia demographics no matter what rules we set up episodes of something like Firefly will never get through AfD. That show is about as minor as it gets, but it has a large following among the young male and tech savvy, which happens to also be the demographic that dominates AfD. You will thus never get an episode of Firefly, much less any episode of a Star Trek series or Babylon 5, even close to being deleted on AfD. By contrast a show like Frasier had vastly higher ratings. and considerably greater impact. However, it appealed to an older and more female demographic, so its episodes barely survive AfD. - SimonP 15:16, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
    • The systemic bias here is indeed regrettable, but why would rules reinforce it? As far as I understand, your argument is as follows - if we institute rules calling for the deletion of episodes, we will delete only the ones that we don't have systemic bias toward, which will make our coverage look even more lopsided. Now, I'm still rather new here so I don't know how things like this have gone in the past. Does our systemic bias indeed extend as far as to override consensus policy on issues like this? Or am I misunderstanding your argument? flowersofnight (talk) 16:05, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
      • The trick is that no matter how rigid the standard, you still need consensus on AfD for each individual page. Even with a general rule barring most television episodes, you still need consensus for to delete each one. An example of this is that while WP:WEB is intended to be a general rule applied to all websites, we have a much lower level of inclusion for wikis. Even if a website clearly falls below the WP:WEB guidelines, there will generally not be consensus to delete it if it is a wiki. It's not that wikis tend to be more important, but for obvious reasons Wikipedia editors have an affinity to other wikis. - SimonP 16:30, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
    • SimonP makes a pretty good point here, there is a direct relation between the geektitude of a series and the likeliness of it having dozens of episode articles. This illustrates why we need some sort of policy or guidelines so shows can receive some sort of equitable treatment, rather than a series of pissing contests between fans and others. If we look at Frasier, for example, we see that the few epsiode articles it has are generally either pointless, boring plot synopses or generally awful. Looking at many other shows (particularly non-sci-fi ones that were cancelled prior to 2000 or so) we see no episodes at all, and often pretty substandard articles on the series altogether. This just illustrates that wikipedia doesn't seem to be able to do episode articles very well, overall. Some people will argue that eventually wikipedia will have a good article on every TV episode ever aired. And many of us would argue that that would not be such a good thing, and it could never happen in any case. We should try to be realistic. If we really can't do something well, we shouldn't try to do it at all. I'm not convinced wikipedia can be a good episode guide for every show. -R. fiend 16:19, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
      • By this argument we shouldn't have an article on Mansa Musa. While our coverage on non-geeky television may be poor, our coverage of African history is atrocious. Beyond a shadow of a doubt we Wikipedia isn't currently doing a good job with African history. - SimonP 16:30, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
        • Well, no, that's not the point I was making at all. While Wikpedia might currently be pretty poor in the African History area, it does not have to be this way. We can cover it well; we have the potential. What we cannot do is, say, cover every politician on the continent of Africa. That is more the equivalent of trying to have articles on every episode of every TV show. Attemptig to write articles on hundreds of thousands of episodes is not practical; providing good coverage of African history is. -R. fiend 16:49, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
        • I actually lamented the state of the Musa article somewhere else on this page. The whole point of the systemic bias discussion is that we should work to make the encyclopedia less geek-oriented (by expanding our coverage of less-geeky subjects like African history, at the expense of TV shows). However, articles on history are the sort of things that people look for in an encyclopedia, and we have many featured articles in that general field of study (including, yes, a few on African culture and history). But what can you put into an article on a typical, not abnormal in any way episode of a TV show to expand it? A plot synopsis, production credits, and not much else. Mansa Musa could be a featured article if some effort was put into it. And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon (Part I) could not. Andrew Levine 16:48, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
        • It's also worth pointing out that the glut of articles on television episodes for shows with huge fan bases, when there are hundreds of species of plants and animals with no articles at all, is itself a gross example of systemic bias. Following your example, I don't think there is any episode of Firefly that should have its own article, and I feel the same way with Frasier (and the latter would ideally have more pages on it than Firefly, under the tentative plan that's been proposed having lasted for more seasons, thus helping correct the coverage bias). Andrew Levine 16:46, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
          • While we're at it, should we delete articles about animals within popular families and genera to reach parity with those in less popular ones, or delete articles about US leaders until the volume is equivalent to that of the least-represented foreign power? Of course not. You'll have a lot more luck curing sytemic bias by devoting extra effort to soliciting contributions in areas of need than you will by deleting articles in an unrelated field, purely out of pique. -Colin Kimbrell 19:13, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
            • The difference in your example is that the US is a very important topic. Imagine if, say, the small republic of Inner Wikisylvania was popular in the geek crowd, and every government functionary from the president down to the dogcatcher had long vanity articles, while the USA just had a couple perfunctory stubs about Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. Wouldn't you agree that the proper course of action in that case would be not only to increase the USA coverage but to cut down on Inner Wikisylvania? Systemic bias cuts both ways. Every topic needs the appropriate amount of coverage - not too much or too little. flowersofnight (talk) 19:33, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
              • That's so far from a fair comparison that I hardly know where to start disagreeing with it. First, vanity articles are prima facie unsuitable for inclusion here, so the well is poisoned right from the get-go. Second, the scale of your comparison is grossly distorted. The actual situation is much more akin to a wiki that has lots of articles on political figures from Belgium, but almost none on political figures from Poland. Third, any concern someone might hold about "drowning" Wikipedia in articles about TV shows should be magnified a hundredfold with regard to articles about species. There are more than a million distinct species of insects on Earth, and potentially an equal number that have not yet been classified. To say nothing of plants, or bacteria, or fungi...
              • Even if we go with the substance of the strawman that you've constructed (losing only the part about "vanity"), I still wouldn't be willing to delete all the articles about Inner Wikisylvania. That approach reminds me of the much-quoted story of the Russian peasant who, when granted a wish shortly after the death of his own cow, wished for the death of his neighbor's animal. If an article is valuable, that value is an inherent quality, and its fitness for inclusion has nothing to do with the status of any other article in the encyclopedia. Aricles need to stand or fall on their own merits. -Colin Kimbrell 22:17, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
                  • If a vanity article can be presented factually, would it still be unsuitable? If so that would run counter to the "as long as it's true, it's here" argument I seem to be hearing so much. Now about species, I agree with you. Species are not always the best way to deal with animals in a project like this. Gorilla is a species, and so is the Tulip Tree Leaf Miner Beetle. An article on the former is essential; an article on the latter, well, not so much. Clearly we're not going to have an article on every species, and that's okay. On other matters, it seems we're arguing pretty different things. I don't think people are discussing out and out deletion of articles, so much as a lot of merging and smerging. Now to bring in another not terribly good analogy, instead of Inner Wikisylvania, imagine someone had the brilliant idea of writing an article on every single resident of Andorra (using public records, phone books, newspapers, etc for sources). Meanwhile, nearby Spain had a total of 3 articles. Would writing an article on every resident of Spain be the best option, or adding to one while trimming from the other? There is such a thing as too much detail. Far above, you mentioned Law & Order and Amos & Andy as shows that may deal with a "manifestation of a historical event or greater social trend". That is certainly a point worth considering, but let's face it, that's not what 99% of these episode articles are dealing with. They're mostly plot summaries, with poorly presented jokes if the show is a comedy. I think we seriously need to discuss limits, or else we may start seeing individual epidoes of Tic Tac Dough or Channel 6 News at 5, which really wouldn't benefit the project. -R. fiend 15:58, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
      • Side note while we're on the topic: are there any wikiprojects out there about countering systemic geek bias? (I think I don't have enough WP:BOLD in me to try it alone, you see ;) ) The stuff I've seen is mostly about countering undercoverage of international topics and unpopular academic disciplines. flowersofnight (talk) 16:41, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
      • I think that issues of "geek bias" will tend to fade with the passage of time, as the general population base becomes more web- and wiki-savvy. -Colin Kimbrell 19:17, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

Although I am not involved with editting any of them (other than maybe a typo now and again) I find that the comprehensiveness of Wikipedia, including and especially the Simpson's episode guide, is one of the things that makes me proud to be part of the Wikipedia project. When I tell people about Wikipedia, I almost always mention the Simpson's episodes and their eyes light up. Simpsons is an important part of culture and thoroughness is necessary. The presence of editors working on Simpson's episode guides does not mean that other editors are somehow prevented from working on more "serious" articles about academic, scientific, philosophical, and other "serious" topics. Kit 19:27, 10 November 2005 (UTC)

  • Well, people may enjoy those articles, but the question of whether they belong here is a valid one. Some people might also enjoy finding a well-written, thorough biography of George Washington when they look him up in a dictionary, but that doesn't make the dictionary the right place to put it. flowersofnight (talk) 20:50, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
Of course, on-line, they'll only find it if they look for it. Better to have a biography of George Washington that no-one has to read if they don't want to, than not to have one that people might look for... Trollderella 20:57, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
  • I very much agree with the points user:Starblind (Andrew) makes, particuarly about the movie comparison. In the digital age, the line between TV and cinema is becoming a lot more blurred. More and more movies are shot on HD video, TV episodes are availible on DVD, etc. And there are some episodes of TV dramas that seem to indicate a level of production on a par with many films and many films with production quality worse than many TV episodes. So if mass-distributed movies are automatically considered worthy of inclusion, even if they're not very popular at all, then why shouldn't episodes of TV shows be if more copies of them are sold and rented on DVD. And like another poster said here, the inclusion of so much contemporary and pop-culture stuff is part of what makes Wikpedia so great. WP:WINP, so I think there's not good reason to exclude articles on episodes that are reasonably noteworthy. Blackcats 10:24, 24 December 2005 (UTC)

Hybrid arguments

Does it have to be all or nothing? My thought would be that for many programs it would be sufficient to have one article for each season, with a one paragraph or so summary of each episode within that season. So we would have, for example, Law and Order: Season One, Law and Order: Season Two, etc. If there is a particular episode of a particular series that is so notable that it would be included even if the rest of the series didn't exist, it might qualify for its own article. An example might be the "Who Shot J.R.?" season finale of Dallas. Brandon39 14:41, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

I don't think it has to be "all or nothing"; in fact, I'm a little leery of developing "generally inclusionist" or "generally exclusionist" policies in absence of information on which programs we're talking about. I'm a believer of "granularity in proportion to influence" and also possibly "granularity in proportion to size", so to ask me whether I believe an article on a TV show episode should be kept without telling me if this is a) the latest episode of a soap opera that's aired every weekday for the past 15 years or b) one episode of The Prisoner, which had only 17 episodes but is a significant cultural reference even 35 years later is not giving me the information that, to me, should make the decision.
I would like to propose one policy, however, to combat the tendency towards recentism: that individual episode articles for a series not be accepted until a set period of time after the season finishes airing. If, six months or a year after Season One of The O.C. has aired, people still think it makes sense to describe the season in a series of episode articles rather than in one article on the season, the decision can be made then. -- Antaeus Feldspar 17:34, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
The problem with "granularity in proportion to influence" is that influence is very difficult to define, and thus usually subjective. We tend to associate influence with quality, which is sometimes but not always the case. Shows like One Man's Family and Captain Video were enormously influential, but probably less than a tenth of a percent of people are familiar with them today. I also find the part about waiting a year after an episode aired to write about it illogical. Clearly, it's at its highest level of interest around its air date (not to mention that media sources will be much easier to find if one strikes when the iron is hot). Why stifle an article when its at the very peak of its value as information? Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 23:25, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, if you look again, a waiting period was not suggested as the determiner of when people would first be able to write about the episode -- only when individual articles for every episode of the season would be considered as more appropriate than an article for each season. The reason for "stifling" the article at "the very peak of its value as information" is that, well, quite frankly, not all information is meaningful. Sure, it may be more difficult to determine a year from now that Greg Fulton-Puller was a key grip on episode 1.6, but is that a level of detail that Wikipedia exists to go into? That's the kind of detail we'll get if we say "Sure! Create an article for this episode! No one knows whether anyone will care a year from now, but now when it's still vivid in people's minds everyone will think everything connected to it is worth preserving!" The selectivity about information that will result from having to start in a combined-season article will be beneficial, I believe. -- Antaeus Feldspar 17:25, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

Seems to me, Antaeus, that this isn't really a hybrid approach at all, but a generally exclusionary one (and the one I'm currently in support of, at that). After all, a "generally exclusionary" policy doesn't say "No articles about individual episodes," but says instead "Articles about extraordinary episodes only"', using criteria such as those listed below to establish extraordinarity. The Literate Engineer 17:59, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm sick to death of people trying to classify my judgements into an artificial mold of "inclusionist"/"deletionist", "generally inclusionary"/"generally exclusionary", etc. It leads people to infer things in my arguments that were never in them. I never said that only extraordinary episodes would end up being worth noting individually. My view is that some series will deserve just one article for themselves; some series will deserve an article for the series and one or more articles for individual extraordinary episodes; some series will deserve an article for the series and articles for each season; some series will deserve an article for the series and an article for each episode. Which series is which? I'm not going to even try to make judgements with no knowledge of what series we're discussing. What I am saying is that there is a tendency for people to incorrectly guess which series will be of lasting impact and lasting interest and that setting a policy of not being able to assign it the highest possible level of coverage immediately will in some degree counteract this tendency. -- Antaeus Feldspar 16:18, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
I think one reasonable guideline as for whether or not all individual episodes of a television show should have individual articles is the continuity of the show. By this I mean do the event's of one episode generally have an impact on what happens on later episodes. By and large, what happens in one episode of many shows has no effect on what happens on other episodes of the same show, and one could watch the episodes in pretty much any order one wanted without impairing one's enjoyment. The exception for such shows would generally be for episodes that come at the beginning and end of seasons that serve to retire old characters and introduce new ones.
On the other hand, there are shows like Babylon 5 that have a definite progress of events such that watching the episodes in order provides both maximum comprehension and maximum enjoyment. Also, continuity causes people to want to refer to other episodes when writing about the events of an episode, thereby also greatly increasing the amount of text likely to result.
Hence my preference would be that shows that do not exhibit continuity should have an article about each season, with articles about the few articles that have a significant impact, while shows that have continuity should generally be encouraged to have people write articles for every episode, with the season articles being a summary of what happens with the major plotlines of the season. Of course, there will be exceptions that prove the rule. The large fan base and the resulting movies and sequel series is what justifies giving Star Trek the every episode treatment despite the general lack of continuity. Caerwine 03:32, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
I'd argue that the opposite should be the case: Shows based around plot progression from one episode to another would be best served with mostly just having season-overview articles (and possibly a small number of individual episode articles, only for the really major ones), while shows in which the events of one episode rarely effect those of others should be accorded individual episode articles (but ONLY for very notable ones, like some Twilight Zone episodes, the final episode of M*A*S*H, etc). My reasoning is that if you have a story arc that spans an entire season, or even longer, the component episodes aren't nearly as important as the story taken as a whole. Thus an article just for each season can sum up the progression of the story arc; and once you've done that, can do away with the plot synopsis for individual episodes, for which things like airdate and writer can be easily added to the series article. Basically, if the series as a whole (or just its individual seasons, as with 24 or The Wire) can be viewed as a single overarching story, like a novel or a film, then we should give the plot synopsis in an easy-to-follow way, in one place, the same way as we do with novels or films. Andrew Levine 04:22, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
This argument makes a lot of sense to me. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 05:06, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
This argument falls down in practice, however. Do you realize how large a combined "season" article for Babylon 5 would be if all the individual episodes was merged? Although such shows *can* be viewed as a "single overarching story", each episode (of B5 and other continuity shows) tends to also be a complete, self-contained story that also moves the larger story along to a small or large degree (and sometimes not at all!) Turnstep 17:09, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
I think summaries along the lines of what you would find in TV Guide, with maybe more spoliers, are what's appropriate for an encyclopedia. If someone is looking for more than that, I doubt they would come to Wikipedia. They would go to a fan site, or the show site, or a coffee table commerative book, or even the DVDs.

Notability Criteria

Okay, I'll start this one. SoCriteria to determine which episodes are notable enough for inclusionNme reasons that I would consider as indications that a single episode might be notable enough for its own article (most or all of these are subjective, and would depend on consensus of editors):

  • People who do not regularly follow the series are aware of the episode. (e.g., "Who Shot J.R.?"
  • The episode remains highly controversial among fans of the show after an extended period (years, probably) (e.g. Never Again on The X-files).
  • The episode is controversial outside the show's fan base for some reason (e.g. Murphy Brown vs. Dan Quayle).
  • The episode is widely remembered as an exemplar of the show, or as a particular high point or low point, years after it first aired, and preferably including people who are not part of the show's regular fan base (e.g., the death of Chuckles the Clown on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
  • The series had a very limited run (probably less than one year), but continues to have a significant cult following long after it left the air. (On the other hand, in that situation it might be reasonable simply to include episode summaries within the main series article.)

Those are off the top of my head. Brandon39 00:18, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

  • I'd like to throw in a redundancy avoidance factor - if all of the material on episodes from a particular season are currently in separate articles, but could be combined into a single article of reasonable length (with repeated material reduced to one instance), then this should be done. As with articles on many other topics, subarticles should not be broken out until the length of the main article requires it.  BD2412 talk 22:04, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Absolutely on the reduncancy - no one in their right mind would advocate separating out first tier articles until it gets big enough, but that's the same with all articles. Trollderella 00:22, 30 October 2005 (UTC)
  • I like Brandon39's proposal. Basically I think it should be roughly the same as individual songs: if it's a massively influential phenonmenon (Who Shot JR?, My Name Is Alex, those episodes of All in the Family where Edith almost gets raped and Sammy Davis Jr. kisses Archie), or if the specific episode won an Emmy or a foreign equivalent, yes, if it's just another episode--even from a notable series, no. Keeping every episode is unencyclopedic. I agree that it becomes a judgment call, but what isn't? StarryEyes 00:23, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
  • I agree completely with each of Brandon39's first four criteria. I think that for short-lived shows with a cult following (The Prisoner, Firefly, etc), the episode information would be best included in the main article, or on a single separate page entitled "Episodes of XXXXXX". It's not enough to just have a discussion on this issue; a policy needs to be implemented, as has been done with websites, musical groups, and schools. Andrew Levine 01:23, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
    • Yes, because our school policy is so non-controversial and universally agreed upon. :) :) - Turnstep 17:13, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
  • I'm all about Brandon39's ideas, too. I think something being an "exemplar of the show" is a bit subjective, but notability very often is. I guess that is best determined by fans of the particular show. So, Andrew Levine suggests a policy... how does this process begin? There's a conversation about merging going on below. Do you think we should reconcile this one with that one, reach some sort of agreement, and get something more solid before a policy is proposed? --NymphadoraTonks 22:23, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
Notability is always subjective - that's the problem. I don't entirely see why a policy is needed, especially as the "guidelines" on the others did not have enough support to make it policy. Trollderella 00:19, 30 October 2005 (UTC)
  • These are horrible criteria. Every episode of every television series ever is notable enough for its own article by virtue of the fact that it was created. Kurt Weber 22:47, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
Yes, like everything else, TV programs are notable to some people, not to others. Trollderella 23:30, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
  • That's ridiculous. There's a better case for no TV episodes are worthy of articles than every episode. Bear Sturgeon's Revelation in mind. At most 10% of all TV episodes ever are worthy of articles; the actual number's probably three or four orders of magnitude lower. The Literate Engineer 05:14, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
Is every primary school that was ever built worthy of inclusion by virtue of the fact that it was created? Is every person that was ever born worthy of inclusion by virtue of the fact that they lived? Where do you stop with an argument like that? Bandraoi 10:38, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
Precisely. Anything that exists or has existed deserves an article. Trollderella's comment below is correct, except for the comment about original research--there is nothing wrong with including original research if it is indeed true, policy to the contrary notwithstanding. Kurt Weber 13:31, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
You stop when you run out of verifiable, factual information that is not original research. For most people there is actually very little of that type of information. Trollderella 20:26, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
As pointed out elsewhere, we have for years been removing verifiable and factual information from the encyclopedia, by deleting articles on non-notable subjects and trimming text out of articles for the sake of readability and conciseness. What you are proposing is a radical overhaul of the Wikipedia project. Since our content is licensed under GFDL, you are free to start your own fork-wiki if you think Wikipedia's basic practices need a major revamp. Andrew Levine 02:00, 14 November 2005 (UTC)
Actually, I cannot find anything in the project policies to support your contention. It is true that people do delete articles for a range of reasons not supported by policy. That is a shame. I'm not proposing a radical overhaul, simply that we follow our own policies. Take a read - they're quite clear! Trollderella 04:40, 14 November 2005 (UTC)
While Sturgeon's Revelation is a universal truth, I'm not sure whether we can use it as a basis for developing criteria of worthiness. After all, the same principle could be applied to novels, or albums, or any other artistic endeavor. I don't see anyone saying that only 10% of works produced in those media are worthy of articles. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 05:22, 5 November 2005 (UTC)
  • I'm going to throw my hat into the ring by jumping off from the comments of Brandon39. The vast majority of his suggestions favor episodes that have a strong cultural impact, extra-ordinary impact within the fanbase, or more impact than would seem typical (like the cult shows). I think these are all wonderful criteria, and I mostly agree with his proposals, but since they are all incredibly subjective, I'm just picturing the afd/talk page battles now. So an additional issue is how this could be objectified some. I would propose that each show that made it to wikipedia at all could have an episodes page, either for the run of the show, or one page for each season. Then, notable episodes could have their own pages, with a link to that page. Notability of an episode would be much like the policy for whether or not an idividual song from an album can have it's own page. The criteria for notability would have to include several of the following: award winning episodes (Emmy's, Golden Globe's, BAFTA's), episodes with high Neilson's ratings (say, a share of at least 20), episodes that were sold as individual DVDs (the pilot to "ER", the finale to Friends), episodes that had some widespread indisputalbe impact on society (like the Edward R Murrow versus Senator Joseph McCarthy or the Murphy Brown episode mentioned earlier), and iconic episodes (I know subjective, but much easier to spot, like "Who Shot JR?", and these ususally also have one of the other criteria). Also, some preference would be given to episodes that have been noted by highly-reputed sources that are considered industry leaders (TV Guide,, People Magazine maybe).--Esprit15d 14:23, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

Series-level guidelines

I would think that regardless of where one stands on the merits of individual episode articles in general--disregarding those who feel that there should be no episode summaries at all, I suppose--it should be possible to develop broad guidelines that can be used to help determine which series are more or less worthy of being developed down to the level of individual episode summaries. Some quick ideas that I had:

  • Hour-long shows are more worthy of individual episode summaries than half-hour shows. Not the most intuitive idea for a guideline, perhaps, but episode length serves as a stand-in for many other qualities. Half-hour shows are usually comedies, which by nature are more ephemeral than dramas and depend a lot less on the details of the plot to make them what they are. No episode summary article will ever truly communicate the Chinese restaurant episode of Seinfeld, because the more descriptive you try to be, the more you just end up sucking the life out of it. Lastly, half-hour shows contain 22 minutes of content at most--there's just a lot less there to justify an entire article.
  • Shows with stand-alone episodes are more worthy of individual episode summaries than shows that use story arcs. An episode of CSI is easy to summarize: a story is set up, developed, and resolved in one hour. By contrast, what do you do with an episode of ER that ties up a couple of loose ends from last season, drives this season's main dramatic arc forward slightly, tosses out a couple of inconsequential subplots, and introduces a minor character who will be crucial in setting up a major late-season storyline but whose significance won't be understood for another five weeks? These series are easier to handle by developing one article for each season, where plot summaries can be organized around the individual storylines rather than around the (almost arbitrary) time-based episode breaks.

Like most things on Wikipedia, these shouldn't be thought of as hard-and-fast rules but would be used to create a presumption that determines where the burden of proof, so to speak, lies in individual cases. Discussions about the merits of individual series and episodes would continue, of course, but guidelines would make it possible to say that, for example, fans of a particular half-hour comedy would have to shoot for a higher bar in demonstrating that their show is important/notable/popular/good/whatever enough to merit being broken down to the episode level, or that an individual episode is notable enough for its own article.--PHenry 14:10, 31 October 2005 (UTC)

  • I don't that legnth of an episode or how concise it is is so important, but the impact in the greater world. The reason any article of any sort gets into wikipedia is purely notability. After it becomes an article, then such factors come into play. But in deciding whether it is deserving enough to have an article at all (which I believe this discussion is about), impact and significance are the determining factor.--Esprit15d 15:01, 10 January 2006 (UTC)

The Problem with merging

Merging has already come up as an option. And I have seen merge articles work better than seperate articles in the past. However, I experimented merging all articles from Season Two of The Simpsons into one article, and this was the result:

User:Sonic Mew/The Simpsons Season Two

It is probably safe to ignore the positioning of the infoboxes, as some of the episodes need additions to them to be made. However, the fact is that that is just too long for an article. When you have a lot of episodes for each season, it can be too much to handle in the one article. Sonic Mew | talk to me 23:09, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

Of course they're too long if every single detail is left in the article. The problem with so many TV show articles is they lose their sense of proportion so easily. The Simpsons is a case in point. It seems these articles are trying to serve as a replacement for watching the show. That never works, particularly for comedies. You know how whenever someone explains something to you that was funny on whatever show they watched, they invariably don't do it justice, and it actually ruins the joke for when you do actually see it? There's alot of that going on at wikipedia. -R. fiend 23:15, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
So what sections do you propose we lose then? Sonic Mew | talk to me 20:08, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
If merging is he way to go (and it's an option, but not the only one; I did try to addrses this at a time when the number of episode articles for any TV show was more managable, to no avail), then the plot synopses could be made more brief and succinct, and most of the quotes could go, as well as most images (we're probably pushing the limits of fair use on many things here at WP). We can use judgment. I mean, compare our coverage of something like the Simpsons or Alias (the latter, in particular, is not the cultural phenomenon the former is) to our single weak-ass article on Taxi (TV series), which was a pretty significant show at the time (winning many awards, launching 7 or 8 careers, etc.). That's just my thought. Read the link at the top of the page (if you have an hour to spare) on other thoughts by me and a bunch of other users. -R. fiend 21:13, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
I would agree with R. fiend. If merger is decided on, taking that Simpsons season two example given above, I would lose the trivia section and quotes from each episode, and boil the plot synopsis down to a single paragraph per episode. Possibly a trivia and quotes section for the season could be included. Brandon39 03:45, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm with R. fiend (and Brandon39). I think the way to go with The Simpsons, Family Guy, and many other shows is to merge into a single article for each season, with a synopsis of about 100 words, along with basic info like writer/director, airdate, and guest stars, along with a little note if the episode happened to do something like win an Emmy, pass a major milestone ("100th episode", "longest-running sitcom ever"), or introduce a major character.
An approach that better suits shows like Buffy, Alias, or Lost that center around long-running story arcs rather than independent episode-by-episode stories would be to have a few paragraphs in each season's article to encapsulate the plot development over the course of that season, followed by summaries of about 50-75 words for each of the episodes. Andrew Levine 16:07, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
The above suggestions have considerable merit, in my view. A single article per series is still too much in my estimation, but represents a reasonable compromoise between documenting and contextualising cultural influences and a straight "just the facts, Ma'am" approach. - Just zis Guy, you know? 12:37, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

I find it dificult to understand what you can mean by 'too much'. Too much for what? For you? Then don't read them. Simpsons fans, people researchig the Simpsons, or pop culture in general, people without a tv and dvd / collection of the sympsons who want to check something obviously may want it. Don't toss it out simply because you don't want it. `Trollderella 03:11, 27 October 2005 (UTC)

The problem as I see it is the signal-to-noise ratio. If an article gets too long and involved, the reader looking for information becomes lost in all the details. Wiki is supposed to be a source of basic information about "notable" subjects; it's not supposed to be a fan site where every possible issue of interest to people who are experts on a particular TV series can catalogue trivia. IMHO, anyway. Brandon39 04:24, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
But that's the problem, what's trivia to you is important to others, and vice versa. That's why a criteria like verifiable that is objective is better than one like notable that is subjective. Trollderella 17:00, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
"That's why a criteria like verifiable that is objective is better than one like notable that is subjective." --That's entirely beside the point. We already delete without prejudice all articles about clearly non-notable garage bands/high school students/websites, etc. Even if all the information contained therein is verifiable and true, notability is also necessary for inclusion. Andrew Levine 18:50, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, stating it is not enough to make it true. The fact that people sometimes delete things unnecessarily doesn't make it right. Notability is neither necesary nor helpful. Most of the garage bands are not really verifiable in any meaningful sense, if that makes you feel any better. If a garage band is real, and we can independently verify some factual information about it, then I for one would sleep more soundly knowing that those for whom garage bands are notable will be able to read about them when the want / need to. Trollderella 23:21, 27 October 2005 (UTC)
We have guidelines that mandate notability for garage bands. We have guidelines that mandate notability for people. We have guidelines that mandate notability for websites. Although these are not strictly speaking "policies" (though "Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information" is policy), they are compromises resulting from discussions in which it seemed everyone had agreed that notability was to some extent essential, and disagreed largely on what constitutes it. Your view does not represent longstanding consensus, and this is an issue that requires a consensus. Notability matters on Wikipedia. Andrew Levine 04:09, 28 October 2005 (UTC)
The problem is that every piece of information is important to someone. That's why it's called "information". The fact that something is known at all means that someone was interested enough to research, discover, or create it. Given that, how can you reconcile including every piece of information that may be "important to others" with the policy Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information? flowersofnight 20:35, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
The same way that Justice Stewart recognized pornography when he saw it: By making reasoned subjective judgments as to whether the community of potentially interested parties is large enough to merit an article or group of articles serving their interests. -Colin Kimbrell 21:36, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Again, as if repeatedly stating it made it true. Those 'guidelines' are not policy. They are not policy because not everyone agrees, indeed there is not concensus. That is the reason they are not policy. A pleurality of people are in favour of them. Some people want notability (whatever that means) to matter. That's not the same thing. Trollderella 04:15, 28 October 2005 (UTC) BTW, only the first of the pages you mention even mentions the word 'notability'. That, to me, is not notable. Delete it!

  • The problem with merging programmes like The Simpsons into series articles is that the individual articles are not necessarily known by their series. I know many Simpsons episodes, which I can quite easily imagine myself looking up on Wikipedia, but if all the episodes, instead of being given their own articles, were grouped by series, then I wouldn't have the first clue where to look (particularly if the articles remained as long as in Sonic Mew's example). I think that when a programme has had as profound an effect on popular culture as The Simpsons has, every episode is notable enough. Although clearly the same does not apply to a great many of the shows that are split into articles. Jdcooper 12:40, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
That's what redirects are for. Trollderella 21:01, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

The redirect mentioned above raises a good point: what advantage is there to merging? So instead of 20 articles of 5k each, we have 20 redirects going to a 100k article? What's the advantage in that? Turnstep 17:22, 24 November 2005 (UTC)

I'm certain the point is that instead of 20 articles at 5k each, we have 20 redirects going to one 20k article. The point's not to do a cut-and-paste merge, the point's to merge only the highlights and prune the rest. The Literate Engineer 18:12, 24 November 2005 (UTC)
That would mean throwing away well over 75% of the content of each page. Looking through some popular television show pages, I'm not seeing a whole lot of overlap between them. And good luck getting that idea past some of the more active fan bases here, such as Star Trek and Babylon 5. :) Turnstep 21:13, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes, somehow my comment above got detached. I'm only advocating redirecting and merging sub-stubs. A five k article should stay. I don't want you to decide for me what the 'highlights' of the topic I'm interested in are. Trollderella 21:22, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

The Consensus

Reading through the discussion I think there is a consensus that every episode is not worthy of inclusion. The disagreement is over where the barrier for inclusion is set. Bandraoi 07:10, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

I'd like to make a pedantic clarification here: the consensus is that not every episode is worthy of inclusion, not that every episode is not worthy of inclusion. A subtle but key distinction. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 20:56, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
What this means is that most people are not interested in any one piece of information. That's what's so insidious about the concept of notability. Most people aren't interested in obscure African languages, Japanese movie tie-in toys, obscure empty regions of space, or US pop culture, but for a minority of people, all of these things are notable. The fact that they are only notable for a small number of people shouldn't mean that we remove useful articles because most of the people in the room (computer literate Americans) are not interested in them, or have some kind of snobish aversion to them. Trollderella 18:42, 28 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, speaking for myself, I don't have any sort of snobbish feelings. I could cheerfully contribute to writing episode summaries for every episodes of The X-files, Star Trek and other shows. My issue, as I indicated in another section of this discussion, is signal-to-noise. My feeling is that one of the purposes of an encyclopedia article is to give a basic overview on the subject to someone who knows little or nothing about it. If you want the basics of the life of Queen Elizabeth I, you go to an encylopedia. If you want greater, in-depth information, you go to full-length biographies or scholarly journals. My worry is that the person who comes here looking for basic information might find themselves so overwhelmed in detail that they decide to look elsewhere.
I also don't think anyone is suggesting that television programs should not be covered by Wikipedia; there's no snob appeal there. The discussion is over how much is enough vs. too much. Just out of curiousity, is there any amount of information that you would consider "too much"? I don't mean to be argumentative here, but if someone wants to do it, and somehow obtains permission from the copyright holders, would you support posting complete transcripts of every episode of any television show ever made? Or is there a line, somewhere, that you would be unwilling to cross? Brandon39 18:56, 28 October 2005 (UTC)
I think that issues of information granularity can largely be overcome by a sensible article heirarchy and standard format for articles of the type. For the Queen Elizabeth example, provide a short summary pargraph or two at the article's top for casual readers, and increase the level of detail as the article continues down the page. That way, the information is there if you need it, but it's not in the way if you don't. -Colin Kimbrell 18:00, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
To an extent, that's true, and that's generally how it's done now. Most articles state right away what the subject is most well known for and then go into details further down. However, that doesn't mean "as long as it's a fact, it goes in the article". Thousands of pages have been written about certain people, so there's that amount of verifibale information out there. If all such info on someone like Queen Elizabeth (or a better example might be Margaret Thatcher; there's more of a surviving historical record there) were to be included in the article, merely because it is verifable, we would not have an article, but a full length biography (large enough to be several volumes, if paper). That runs counter to the fact that "Wikipedia is an encyclopedia". Any Presidential library will have hundreds of thousands of pages of verifaible information on that President, that doesn't mean it belongs in an encyclopedia. -R. fiend 18:12, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
I was referring not only to the article itself, but also subsections of the article. As this applies to the example at hand, a subsection for a plot summary could feature an intro paragraph giving a general outline of the plot (Buffy and her friends fight an intergalactic space termite), with subsequent paragraphs covering the subject in greater detail (The episode opens on a wide shot of town, with Buffy and her friends walking back to school...). To work with your example of Margaret Thatcher, as sections of her basic biography expand to unworkable lengths, they could be spun off into separate articles (i.e. Civil Rights Policies of Margaret Thatcher, Ethical Values Articulated by Margaret Thatcher, etc.), with the initial summary remaining for casual users and a wikilink pointing to the satellite article for those seeking more detailed information. These separate articles would only exist if there's been sufficient development to make them interesting and useful, so it wouldn't cause -Colin Kimbrell 18:33, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
If we were to include every fact known about Thatcher, we'd have to go much farther than that. We'd have articles on Margaret Thatcher: June 13 - June 19, 1983, for example. Does that serve any real purpose? You say that these articles "would only exist if there's been sufficient development to make them interesting and useful". Well, isn't "interesting and useful" about as subjective as "notable"? Anything is useful to somebody. That doesn't mean it should be in wikipedia. To use an example I used in a discussion a while ago, I may be curious to know what happened to the desk I sat at in the fifth grade, if it's still in use, and if the scribblings I added to it are still visible. I wouldn't expect, or want, to find such information available in wikipedia. -R. fiend 20:46, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
We do currently have 49 articles in Category:George W. Bush, and by the time he leaves office I'm sure it will be considerably larger. - SimonP 21:01, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Well 49 (48 now, I merged a substub) is not 2,000, which is what we theoretically could have. Nor are they all about Bush. Most are sort of loosely connected with him: books partially about him (Against All Enemies), random silly stuff (Internets (colloquialism)), and yes, some righfully broken out articles on various aspects of his presidency. But nothing like Bush's meetings and photo ops on February 17, 2002, which could be a verifable, factual article. But I hope never will be. -R. fiend 21:23, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
I agree that we shouldn't have a Margaret Thatcher: June 13 - June 19, 1983 article, but my agreement hinges largely on the lack of utility in such a classification scheme. If Civil Rights Policies of Margaret Thatcher grows to an unmanageable length, then it should be broken not into dated segments, but into subtopics related to civil rights, such as Gender Rights Policies of Margaret Thatcher, Religious Rights Policies of Margaret Thatcher, and the like. All things can be reduced in a sensible fashion, if you're so inclined. As to your desk example, the difference between the policies of a governmental head, which affect millions of people, and the status of a desk that's been used by perhaps a few dozen children should be manifestly obvious. -Colin Kimbrell 22:38, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
I think a lot of people here are taking too short a view of Wikipedia. After we've written three-page articles on all suitably encyclopedic individual topics, are we all going to close up shop and go home, or pounce like tigers on any newly-encyclopedic subject and fight to the death? Of course not. The pressure toward increasing granularity of information will ultimately be inescapable; it's just a question of whether we want to implement a solution from the top down in the present, or kludge together some jury-rigged solution in the ambiguously distant future. Better to settle the structural issues right now while they're more managable, in my opinion. -Colin Kimbrell 22:38, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Sure, I never meant to compare a desk at a school with a week in the life of a Prime Minister. That example was more to counter the argument I've seen too frequently that basically states "wikipedia should be a resource for anything anyone might possibly want to know anything about, ever." Which in my mind is just a little broad. Still, such detail about any person as I mentioned in the Thatcher example would go beyond the bounds of "interesting and useful". As for worrying about what will happen "after we've written three-page articles on all suitably encyclopedic individual topics", well, I don't think we're anywhere near in danger of doing that any time soon, or probably ever. There's several lists of encyclopedia topics not covered here floating around in the WP namespace. I started my own, from a single volume Encyclopedia of the 20th century, and not even through with the B's I've listed about a hundred articles we don't have (and this is from a pretty basic, non-specialized, single volume work which we really should have covered entirely); check it out here if you like. Anyway, I think settling structural issues is why we're having this discussion. There seems to be soem support for a fair amount of merging. If, how, or when it may happen is very much undecided still. -R. fiend 04:36, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

Well, here's the thing. Let's take the Queen Elizabeth example. The reason why traditional encyclopedias limit their coverage, is because paper costs money, and there is a limit to how much people will pay for them. I agree, the top level article on QE needs to be a summary, but can point to articles about her public life, opinions, controversies, etc etc, until we run out of verifiable information, that way, people can choose the level of detail they want. We do this already. On the transcripts question, on a personal level, I think that source material does not belong here, there is WikiSource for that, having said that, there's no shortage of space, and if someone wanted to do that, in a way that was organized and did not get in the way of the more mainstream use, I don't really see what the problem would be. It may be that if this happened, you'd need a more sophisticated search engine, or some way to categorise these things so that they didn't make searchig impossible. Trollderella 19:06, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

"The reason why traditional encyclopedias limit their coverage, is because paper costs money". Where do you get these ideas? Do you understand that there's a difference between an encyclopedia and a library? -R. fiend 02:30, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
Just out of curiosity, what is the fundamental distinction between an exhaustive encyclopedia and a well-rounded nonfiction reference library? The fact that the books have differently colored bindings in the library? -Colin Kimbrell 21:32, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I actually don't believe there would be a firm line between a comprehensive encyclopedia and a good reference library. I don't see any reason why we would have to give up on covering in both breadth and depth. Trollderella 22:05, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
I believe that the difference is that a good encyclopedia has breadth but no depth and good reference library has both breadth and depth. Good depth but no breadth is a scholarly journal. The Literate Engineer 04:42, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

Personally, my own suggestion on the matter would be to create "season" articles for all shows which do not currently have them, merge articles below a certain character length into individual sections within these articles, leave articles above that length as standalones, and spin out individual articles from the master season list once they have grown beyond the size boundary. This approach would avoid cluttering Wikipedia with substandard stubs, but also permit unlimited development and expansion of articles that prove to be of sufficient interest to the community of readers as a whole. -Colin Kimbrell 21:41, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Absolutely - that makes a whole lot of sense Colin! Trollderella 22:04, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
No way. Wikipedia is not an indiscrminate collection of information. This is policy. It's already bad enough that systemic bias has left us at the point where a king who ruled one of the most prosperous empires on earth at its height for a quarter-century gets less than 1% of the attention accorded to a TV cartoon about giant fighting robots in the future (this, by the way, is a perfect illustration of the failure of the philosophy of championing that which is verifiable but trivial rather than that which is relevant but incompletely researched). I can't see how having articles on every single television episode ever made is philosophically different from having articles on every Boy Scout troop leader in America, every LiveJournal blog on the Internet, or every Starbucks in the world. Andrew Levine 04:25, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
I don't know why you think that anyone is proposing an indiscriminate collection of information. Every time what is actually being proposed is articulated, we jump immediately to "Well, you must mean an indisciminate collection of information", or "You must want an article on my laundromat". It's hard to have a discussion with this constant strawman building. Trollderella 19:34, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
The philosophical difference arises from the differing cultural impact of one episode of a TV series and one Starbucks or Boy Scout troop. Several thousand people might be familiar with either of the latter, but at a minimum several million will watch the former. Television is a tremendously significant cultural force and engine for social change in the world, and as such, it deserves a substantial degree of coverage in a reasonably authoritative work (such as we all hope Wikipedia will ultimately become).
As to the issue of proportional coverage, I agree it's a pity that articles relating to some foreign historical figures don't receive much attention. However, I don't think that most of the people who are curently editing the Gundam article would be editing the Mansa Musa article if the Gundam article didn't exist. They'd be writing about Gundam somewhere else, or watching Gundam on TV. Constraining editors' access to articles like Gundam will not improve the quality of articles in neglected sections of the site; it'll only use an elitist stick to drive away potential editors, while depriving the encyclopedia of popular and significant content.
The approach I am suggesting does not call for an "indiscriminate collection of information". Rather, it would establish an orderly structure for information that is already present on the site, while also enabling a simple method for discriminating among those television-related subjects which are of broad interest to the user base and those which are not.
In conclusion, I also must articulate the belief that a preference for the verifiable over the relevant is a good thing. "Verifiable" is a fixed and objective criterion, while "relevant" is a subjective and protean one, and for this reason it makes sense to devote more attention to the former than the latter. I don't think that it's realistically possible for an article to contain too much information on a subject; in the majority of the articles where this might initially appear to be the case, it's really more an issue of presentation and structural editing than of data flood, and those kinds of issues are both surmountable and worth surmounting. -Colin Kimbrell 17:47, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
To clarify a point from my last paragraph: An absent article on a noteworthy subject inconveniences only users looking for information on that particular subject. An unverifiable article inconveniences all users, in that it stains the credibility of the entire encyclopedia if discovered to be incorrect (as many unverifiable articles no doubt will be). -Colin Kimbrell 18:07, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
One more clarification: It's not possible for an article to contain too much detail, provided that the subject of the article in and of itself merits inclusion in the encyclopedia. -Colin Kimbrell 18:22, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
I think that's not true. Would it be acceptable for our article on Hamlet to contain a scene-by-scene, line-by-line breakdown of everything said and done in the play, for example? How about the text of the play itself? flowersofnight (talk) 18:48, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
A deep thematic breakdown of the text would be a potentially valuable addition, if it were well written, organized, and footnoted, and did not violate the guidelines on Original Research. Some articles, such as Ulysses (novel) already contain the beginnings of such things. The text of a play itself, of course, would belong on Wikisource, not Wikipedia. -Colin Kimbrell 19:05, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
We do have a couple hundred articles in my current, and controversial, Bible verses project, which is somewhat similar. - SimonP 21:01, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
I think we should pull that analysis from the Ulysses article, as it's abandoning all pretense of being an encyclopedia article, and turning into a Cliff's Notes. There is such a thing as too much information, there is such a thing as too many articles, and there is such a thing as something that does not deserve coverage in encyclopedia. Indeed, I wonder why individual episodes deserve anything more than their name listed in the article about the series, unless they are particularly significant episodes in relation to every episode of every show, ever. The Literate Engineer 00:00, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes, there are going to be practical limits to this though because of the original research thing. I think it would be pretty difficult to write a line by line for Hamlet, although if it was sourced and verifiable, and a separate article from the more mainstream overview, I don't think there would be a problem with it. Trollderella 19:23, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Do you feel that it's possible to add much thematic analysis of TV episodes (or any works) without falling under original research though? In Colin Kimbrell's example of the "Ulysses" article, they stick close to established forms of analysis of "Ulysses" - e.g. the parallels to the Odyssey. I assume the same is true for the Bible verse articles. Can we do that with TV episodes and other works that currently have no scholarly attention devoted to them? An encyclopedia should sum up current academic thoughts and controversies on cultural works, not spin them out of whole cloth. flowersofnight (talk) 21:30, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Well, yes. As Colin says above, thematic analysis is worth including if it's "well written, organized, and footnoted, and [does] not violate the guidelines on Original Research." I think there's material for that out there: Buffy has an entire peer-reviewed scholarly journal, Slayage, dedicated to it. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 22:18, 2 November 2005 (UTC)
Josiah is right. Individual items of popular culture are often the subject of scholarly analysis, not only in expected places like Film and Video departments, but also in disciplines like Cultural Anthropology. There is a lot of source material out there, if people choose to mine it. -Colin Kimbrell 22:48, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

I'm coming in late here, but I'd like to add a vote of general support for Colin's position. (I should probably declare my bias at the outset: I'm a member of WikiProject Doctor Who, and therefore prejudiced towards the inclusionist position here.) Just as a thematic breakdown of Hamlet would be worthy of inclusion, I'd argue that a properly sourced summary of, say, the thematic breakdown of the Doctor Who story Kinda as provided by John Tulloch and Michael Alvarado in their media studies volume Doctor Who: The Unfolding Text would as well. The fact that the "Kinda" page doesn't include such an analysis, but only a brief synopsis and a few notes, is immaterial. The point is that it should — you might say that in the Platonic ideal of Wikipedia, towards which we all are striving, it does. :) —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 20:56, 2 November 2005 (UTC)

I would have no objection to an episode list, which would include the title, a brief plot description and the original airdate (if we can locate that), such as is present at Moonlighting. But I don't -- and can't -- personally support individual articles for each episode of a TV series. No, not even Buffy or Star Trek. There's already a separate Star Trek wiki which covers the desire for detailed episode guides, and the Buffy fans can just start their own Buffywiki if it's that important. Bearcat 07:21, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

Would you make the same argument to African linguists, who deal with languages with only a few hundred speakers? Astronomers who deal with objects that virtually no one will ever see or care about? Of course not, we are simply applying our own predjudices about pop-culture when we treat these things differently. Reference, verify, source and include. Trollderella 20:17, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
The difference is that all those things are real. As such I think they deserve a higher level of coverage than the details of fiction. Example: every real town is automatically eligible for Wikipedia (cf. the existence of Rambot). We don't, and shouldn't, extend that same level of coverage to locations in even the most popular fictional universes. By extension, I don't think our comprehensive coverage of the real world puts us under any obligation to treat fiction exactly the same. flowersofnight (talk) 01:55, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
I don't know why you think that real places deserve a higher level of coverage than fictional ones do. A geographer might agree with you, a literature professor would not. Trollderella 01:39, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
So you're speaking for all literature professors now? Anyway, the precedent that has been established is that in many cases, fictional places can, should be, and are covered to a lesser degree than real-world analogs. The same goes for fictional people and things. Would you suggest that Josiah Bartlet be accorded an amount of attention equal to that of George W. Bush? Obviously the real thing deserves more coverage than the fictional. Andrew Levine 05:31, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
I don't need to speak for them. The fact that they devote their lives to it's study is sufficient to demonstrate the importance of fiction to them. I would suggest that we write the best and most complete articles we can for Josiah Barlet and George Bush. Their relative lengths is utterly irrelevant. Trollderella 20:47, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
True, George W. Bush deserves more thorough coverage than Josiah Bartlet. But that's not to say that Bartlet doesn't deserve a page at all. The information — based on fiction, yes — contained in that page is consistent with Wikipedia's standards, and it would be silly to demand that it be merged into a hypothetical Characters of The West Wing page. By the same token, if there is enough verifiable, well written information on an episode of a television series to have a page, why not let it? If there isn't, consolidate it into a season article. I'm just wary of establishing a policy that would eliminate a perfectly good article like this just because it doesn't meet an arbitrary standard of notability, or for some other bureaucratic reason. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 05:53, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
I'm not aware of any proposal here that would call for the deletion of an article about a major world civilization that actually existed. And the issue here isn't whether there is enough "verifiable, well written information" to fill an article - the articles about geek TV prove that there is, at least in some cases. The issue is whether this information is, or can be made to be, encyclopedic. Anyway, the general point in this branch of conversation is that there's a pretty strong consensus that real things deserve more coverage than fictional things, and so we're not obligated to cover fiction in the same detail as real subjects. That's all. flowersofnight (talk) 07:28, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, I meant to link to The Aztecs (Doctor Who) instead of The Aztecs, which is a redirect to Aztec. That's embarrassing. I do recognize that real things deserve more coverage than fictional ones; I'm just balking at the suggestion from some quarters that this means that a rule should be established banning individual articles on individual television episodes unless they meet an arguable standard of notability. I chose The Aztecs (Doctor Who) as a random example of a TV episode that's not particularly notable except to fans of that programme, but which might be considered either encyclopedic or having the potential to be so. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 15:35, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
I think that your last post is instructive in looking at the motivations for this. You think that, given two things, both with substantial verifiable, neutral and well sourced material, one should have material removed simply because you think it 'deserves' more coverage (presumably because it is more important to you, or to a group you identify with. I fundamentally oppose this view. Each article (or series of articles, if one becomes too big) should be as detailed as we can make it without becoming a repository for source material. The fact that something is fictional, or not important to you or your culture, should not matter. Trollderella 20:42, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Trying to get inside the heads of people who want this

I'm honestly trying to understand what people are afraid of. I think it is that they are worried that if you allow WP to develop a lot of detail on everything that's verifiable, then they either won't be able to find what they want, or they will loose control over what goes in. Frankly, I don't think either of them are realistic fears. Trollderella 19:13, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

I was kind of middle of the road on this issue, but the more I read over this page and think about not only how wikipedia defines itself, but how different types of users define it, I'm coming closer to your way of thinking. Considering that we're talking about episode information that will presumably be spread across seperate episode pages, there might be a lot that people would consider "noise", but it's not something that would be thrown in one's face like threads on a message board where seeing all the topics is unavoidable. Main articles would link to season or episode articles... so you're right... what's the harm? Though when considering this, one potential issue did spring to mind, which is searching. Wikipedia's search mechanism is pretty pathetic right now. Doing a search for something like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" brings the user to the Buffy article, but if anything goes wrong, that ridiculous list of close matches appears, and those are usually pretty lame. If a user doesn't really know what they are searching for, having 144 episode articles, 50 character articles, and 7 season articles to sort through might be an arduous task. A more robust search interface might remedy that a little (and I ask Santa every night for him to develop one), but yeah... it's just a suggestion for one possible drawback to such an inclusionist point-of-view. But that doesn't mean I don't still agree with you. --NymphadoraTonks 20:36, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

Yeah, the search tool is lame, but presumably every article on every episode of BtVS has the first sentence saying 'xxx is an episode of the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so it shouldn't be too bad. User R. fiend put in a recent edit comment "added "guiding Light" a show with 15,000 episodes makes the point pretty well of what we may be dealing with", but I'm not quite sure that it does make the point. Suppose that I and the TV article gnomes add 15,000 articles on all of these episodes tonight, and suppose, for the sake of argument, that all of the articles are verifiable, and that any that are going to be permanent stubs get merged into season or other combined articles. What negative consequences would there be? I can't really think of any. If you like, I'll tag them as TV show episodes, and we can tell the random page generator not to pull them up. Even if only a few people ever read them, that's a few people who got what they were looking for, without any negative consequences for anyone. Trollderella 04:50, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree with most of what has been said above. What makes wikipedia great is that everyone is contributing knowledge about everything. It seems silly to destroy an entire category of articles just because it tends to be made up of stubs. It doesn't effect me whether there are tons of articles on TV episodes. If anything, it could come in handy down the road; who knows? -Haon 00:05, 5 November 2005 (UTC)

A wiki-television

Just a quick guage of support, would those supporting a generally inclusionist stance be satisfied with a limit of one article per season and the development of a wiki-sister project for all television shows? Bandraoi 17:17, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

No! No more than people would be satisfied with a limit of one article per major scientific theory and a separate sister project for all scientific theories - there is no reason why we should not offer broad and deep coverage of all sectors of knowledge, regardless of our own predjudices! Trollderella 17:56, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
I would also be unsatisfied with this approach, as I think it removes a lot of potentially useful content to no good purpose. -Colin Kimbrell 21:30, 1 November 2005 (UTC)
  • What's wrong with that approach? Plenty! For one thing, moving our episode articles to a seperate project creates a whole mess of problems, not the least of which is ruining the centrality that WP largely depends on. One of the reasons people come to WP is so they can look up (almost) anything at one site, using one search form. If we start creating seperate wikis for various types of articles (tv episodes, songs, books, movies, species, world leaders, whatever) we lose that centrality, and it becomes much harder to search, organise, edit, manage, and interlink the same information. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 22:12, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

Agreed. There are a ton of potential sister projects, but ones that work best are the dictionary and the primary source resource and those others which serve separate purposes to an encyclopedia. To split Wikipedia into multiple encyclopedias is a different beast entirely. --NymphadoraTonks 23:07, 1 November 2005 (UTC)

I've edited the WP, mostly, to improve its coverage of the "hard sciences" and various topics in "serious" literature, because that's the sort of information I often find myself looking for. Theoretical physics, for example, is a subject I love and to which I am happily devoting a career. However, I'm also a Mary Prankster fan, and I've seen every episode of Futurama. If I have time to kill, I might idly wander from Nambu-Goto action and D-brane over to, say, Ghost in the Shell and do a little copy-editing. If I have more time than that, I can put real effort into a "trivial" topic, a TV show or a rock song, just because it helps me relax (and it may benefit somebody, somewhere down the line). Having all our articles "under one roof" means that all the articles can benefit. Anville 20:28, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

A different categorisation scheme

How about instead of each epsiode getting a different article, different themes in the show can be given different articles, for example, in Friends the development of Ross and Rachels relationship could have an article rather than it being separately covered in each episode. So we say that television shows can have a summary story line by series and a deep in depth analysis of specific developed plot lines rather than an episode by episode guide. The idea is basically to cover the series in the same way that the life of a person is covered - ie instead of a diary type format, a theme/opinion/policy type format. Bandraoi 01:34, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

How about instead of each scientific theory getting its own article, different themes in science can be given different articles? No? Of course not! We should not make the decision about what is important for people, let them make it themselves! Trollderella 16:09, 3 November 2005 (UTC)
Evolution is more important a topic for an encyclopedia to cover in detail than The One Where Rachel Eats A Hot Fudge Sundae. To suggest that importance is in every case "subjective" and therefore does not matter at all is a recipe for anarchy. For the encyclopedia's sake, I'm glad your views on Wikipedia are on the extreme fringe. Andrew Levine 01:22, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
I liked the season-by-season article idea better. Andrew Levine 01:22, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
Well, the comparrison is a little unfair - I agree, that, to me, Evolution is a more interesting topic than Sitcoms, but to a student of media or pop-culture looking for details on US sitcoms, that would not be the case. There are 49 articles just in the category evolution, and many other related categories and articles. We cannot make the decision for our current and future readership about what they will be interested in and find useful and important. It's not a recipe for anarchy, it's a recipe for systematic, sourced and researched coverage of a broad range of topics. Trollderella 18:03, 4 November 2005 (UTC)
You keep belaboring this point that we should not "decide for our readers what is important." Well, we have been doing exactly that for three years. It's the reason we have Articles for deletion; the reason why articles on hundreds of TV episodes, hundreds of bands, and hundreds of real people have been removed; the reason we trim factual but trivial details from overlong articles to be more concise. Deciding what is important and what isn't is a fundamental part of maintaining Wikipedia. Andrew Levine 20:23, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
Yes, and I think AFD is broadly damaging. The Pure Wiki System of deletion reform is much more to my liking, but the point is that there is a difference in scope and scale of damage done between chipping away individual article, and making a policy that basically says 'Only things I am interested in, or believe others should be interested in can stay in'. Trollderella 16:32, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
The "season by season" idea is good, where someone can get the general overview that they want. But, once that season by season page has been created, I see no problem in allowing links to indicdual episode articles with more detail, especially if the synopsis is reasonably brief, and the episode article contains useful information such as actors, writer, director, trivia...

Discretion is needed

Wikipedia is steadily headed towards a hell of excessive pop-culture cruft. Between articles on every episode of tv shoes and articles on every single your pop-music-flavor-of-the-week puts out, I doubt many grown persons are going to take Wikipeida seriously as a factual and reliable reference (very few do as it stands now). There has to be discresion. We don't have articles on every band that ever existed for a reason (and we have W:MUSIC to assist with that), and we shouldn't have articles for every song or for every TV episode. Something like W:MUSIC should be drawn up for television shows. I'd personally suggest that the only TV episodes that deserve articles are those of high historical importance; ones that attracted a significat mount of press and print coverage. For all others, is available, or a TVEpisodesWiki could be started. --FuriousFreddy 02:11, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

I'm not sure why you feel that way. I think we have excessive coverage of nuclear physics, but it doesn't bother me, I just never type that into the search page. I agree with you that all articles, including those on pop-culture, need to be factual and reliable. Edit them mercilessly! Attracting significant press coverage is not important for inclusion, and is not a free content site. Trollderella 16:38, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
Not sure if it's of any importance to your discussion here, but since no one mentioned it I'd like to add: There is, in fact, a free content wiki dedicated solely to TV series, the TV IV. Just so you know... – Jondor 18:20, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
"I doubt many grown persons are going to take Wikipeida seriously as a factual and reliable reference" - I don't understand how having an article on a Star Trek episode or a Family Guy episode makes a lick of difference as to whether someone takes Wikipedia's article on Issac Newton seriously. If anything, the issue of anonymous IP users posting nonsense and vandalism is a far bigger issue. I don't think Jimbo ever intended this site to be just a storehouse of "academia" otherwise he would have banned pop-culture articles on Day 1. And I personally take offense at the inference that just because one is interested in a pop culture article, he or she isn't a "grown person". What on earth are you getting at with that remark? 23skidoo 18:25, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
I don't mean to offend anyone, and of course grown persons are interested in pop culture. I never inferred that, if a person is interested in pop culture, they aren't grown. All I am saying is there should be some sort of boundary set, because this is supposed to be an encyclopedia. Encylclopedias aren't in-depth and exhaustive references on subjects--they provide succinct overviews on notable subjects, and are used as starting points for deeper research (unless an overview is all that was needed). I don't see how your average episode of, say, Scooby-Doo or Family Matters, is deserving of an article just because it exists. --FuriousFreddy 23:47, 16 November 2005 (UTC)
I have to say, I do see your point. But in the end it comes down to the fact that you're not comfortable with these articles "being around". Like I said, that's understandable. However, this does not imply that discretion is actually needed. Discretion would be needed if the average reader, an "outsider" (unlike any Wikipedia editor), was aware of these articles in the first place, and, on top of that, would disapprove of their sole existence in what he expects to be an encyclopedia (and nothing but an encyclopedia). I'm not sure that's the case. – Jondor 00:35, 17 November 2005 (UTC)
I'm not sure I see why the predjudices of a group about the academic credentials of pop-culture should mean that we institute sysyematic biases against those topics. We should cover verifiable, factual material in all fields, with breadth and depth. Trollderella 16:17, 18 November 2005 (UTC)
There are many things that different groups in the general population may or may not disaprove of. Coverage of sex, religious cults, evolution, tv sit coms, we get opposition to all of them. We should absolutely not cave to removing coverage of a topic because covering it might make members of some groups less likely to read WP. Trollderella 20:56, 28 November 2005 (UTC)
  • I think that people won't take Wikipedia any less seriously if it has articles on subjects most encyclopedias don't, such as TV episodes. People can always not read them if they think they're boring. What is far more important to being taken seriously is having good articles on those TV episodes. If for a TV show, nobody can be bothered to write useful articles on the episodes (e.g. all we have is a list of stubs) then merging them to a list of Foo episodes, 3rd season would be useful. They can be broken out if/when someone wants to expand them. In practice, this probably boils down to hugely popular shows (e.g. Star Trek, Buffy) having articles on each episode, and relatively obscure shows having lists by season. Reasonable, no? Radiant_>|< 01:00, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
That sounds quite reasonable to me. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 01:14, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
Astonishingly, I find myself agreeing with Radiant. Must remember to check with my brain-care specialist in the morning. Trollderella 01:17, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
The first qualm I have about this is that I don't think "good" and "long" can or should be equated to one another regarding articles, and the way you've presented this seems to imply that they are. The Literate Engineer 01:53, 30 November 2005 (UTC)
This is pretty fundamentally similar to my earlier proposal, and it's certainly in line with policy. As such, it works for me. -Colin Kimbrell 22:15, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
There are plenty of people, such as myself who will only respect wikipedia more having the tolerance and enough of a neutral point of view to include less prejudicices on race, religion, morals, nationality, and culture than any other encyclopedia I have yet to come across. Banishing articles on TV episodes is essentially a form of cultural prejudice, no one is threatening to delete the Spanish opera Zarzuela. That's because opera is still viewed by some as culturally superior. These kind of prejudices should no longer operating wikipedia. Let people create and read what they want as long as it conforms to rules. -- Paxomen 16:43, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

All Original Research? Hold episode articles to the same standard of having sources and verifibility

Most things that can actually be sourced from newspapers, books or especially peer reviewed journals are valid enough for wikipedia. The big difference between television and movies is that a movie that has controversy and an impact will have plenty of real, hard sources on those impacts. With a television show, the impact of an episode, and the significance of that episode will probably not reach a newspaper, and the amount of episodes that do get into hard sources will probably be small enough for a footnote on the main series page. There are exceptions. Tons of episodes of Seinfeld, for some reason, are central in in-depth scholarly peer reveiwed cultural critiques. But most TV episodes significance amounts to original research. Wikipedia: No original research

Sources are a necessity for verifiability, but also for significance. If you can get a real source saying interesting things about a given episode, meaning not a short episode description in TV listings (which are frequently inaccurate to start with) then it is notable enough for me.

Certainly many episodes are very influential and important, like Twilight Zone episodes that set out plot types that are frequently re-hashed in new movies and episodes of other shows. But if anyone wants to point out that significance, they should find a real article on the topic, or write a real article and submit it to a publisher, because just because something is cool and significant according to one person, doesn't mean that wikipedia should become a lazy persons' publisher.

This strategy excludes fanon (fan canon) opinions except where the fanon opinion has been written about by a reputable source. This may be slightly uncool to some, but it's a logical extension of other wikipedia rules, I think.

In conclusion, the idea is: If you can source a newspaper or magazine article or a peer reviewed source or cultural critique books that say something significant about an episode, then the episode can have it's article. This cuts down most television episode articles, but ignores the idea that many readers like comprehensive TV episode lists with plot descriptions. I'm not sure if I consider a fan-promotional book about a TV-series to be a valid source or not. Lotusduck 23:38, 29 December 2005 (UTC)

The episodes themselves are sources, primary sources. Wikipedia:No original research specifically encourages basing articles on primary sources. It states that "research that consists of collecting and organizing information from existing primary and/or secondary sources is strongly encouraged." Pretty much all of our content on culture and media is based on primary sources because there is little secondary literature. Banning primary sources as valid references would force the elimination of much of the encyclopedia. - SimonP 00:03, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Verifiability for TV shows is not as difficult as it may seem. Glance around at your supermarket checkout, or any newsstand, and you'll find not just one but several publications dedicated to following the plots of all the various soap operas and commenting on them. In my opinion, basic plot summaries, as well as cast and crew info, do not need to appear in a newspaper or book to be put on Wikipedia. For basic, common-sense info, the show itself is the source. Behind-the-scenes info can also be gleaned from DVD documentaries and commentary tracks. There are also many website sources: websites can be acceptable sources as long as they are fairly established and well-known. Not that we need to rule out print publications though: there are many choices for quality TV info in print, such as Starlog in the US, and Radio Times, Cult Times, and TV Zone in the UK. There are also any number of trade and specialty publications covering television, such as Variety. In short, there is no dearth of reputable print or media sources discussing television. Andrew Lenahan - Starblind 00:17, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Andrew: there's no reason why professional publications aimed at television fans should be less valid than, say, publications about a sports team or a celebrity. Also, although I understand the point about using secondary sources as a measure of significance, for plot summaries and many other observations about a film or television episode, the best source is going to be the film or episode itself, which, as Simon says, is the primary source. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 00:36, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Yes, the significance can be measured by secondary sources, and they can settle the importance of opinions or controversies. Lotusduck 05:15, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Go for it.

Compiling all human knowledge includes compiling cultural knowledge. We must not make the mistake of elitism. Macbeth may be greater than Seinfeld on an artistic level, but in terms of cultural notability, both are above the bar. — Phil Welch Katefan's ridiculous poll 07:06, 3 January 2006 (UTC)

  • This is kind of missing the point. Covering every episode of Seinfeld with a separate article is like covering every scene in Macbeth with a separate article. The Seinfeld episodes (and just about every other series) would be better served with season-by-season articles. Andrew Levine 21:41, 6 January 2006 (UTC)
    • That analogy does not actually hold up - covering every episode of Seinfeld with a separate article is more akin to covering each Shakespeare play with a separate article. Even that is not quite a correct analogy, but the point is that each episode is meant to be watched in one sitting, and is a self-contained item. A closer analogy may be something like the Harry Potter books - they are linked together, but they are meant to be read one book at a time (and like television shows, this is often the only choice if you want to watch/read them as they come out). And each Harry Potter book certainly has its own page. Turnstep 00:30, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
      • Your argument seems to be that if a body of work is notable, then every subdivision of that body of work deserves an article. That not only is impossible, but unneccesary. To contine the HP analogy, each book represents a season of a TV show. All the books are part of one huge story, like all the seasons tell one huge story. Just like a season of a show, each book takes Harry through a new series of adventures that are loosely tied together, and each book (each season) basically tells one story. But should be have an article for each chapter just because chapters are designed to be read in one sitting? No. Season summuries are a much more practible solution that has a better chance of widespread application.--Esprit15d 15:11, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
        • My argument is not that every subdivision deserves an article, but that every type of item has a natural subdivision. For Harry Potter, it's books. For television shows, it's an episode. People don't gather around the water cooler and say "Hey - did you see that season of Lost yesterday?" or "Which season of Superfriends was your favorite?" Instead, it's "Did you watch that episode of Lost last night? Remember that episode where Superman went to jail? Have you read the new Harry Potter book? Have you seen the Men in Black 3 movie?" Turnstep 17:55, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
  • One season's article could contain one topic and perhaps four or five paragraphs per episode (cast, summary, quotes, air dates, trivia). Shows with many episodes per season could become a bit of a nuisance but with the contents table it shouldn't be too hard to navigate. - MB Flag of the Netherlands.svg (Talk) 22:38, 8 January 2006 (UTC)

An idea from WP:SCH

Wikipedia:Schools#Method for creating school articles suggests to start creating school articles by:

  • First, mention the school dictricts in a municipality in the article on the municipality.
  • Once there's enough information to do so, create an article on the school district, and write up about individual schools there.
  • Once there's enough information included about individual schools, spin it out into its own article.

So, I could imagine suggesting something similar for television shows:

  • First, create an article on the television show.
  • Once there's enough information to do so, create articles on each season (or some other logical division) of the show.
  • Once there's enough information included about individual episodes, spin the information from episodes out into its own article.

Of course, not everyone follows this method with schools, and I'd imagine not everyone's going to follow it for television shows. But that's okay, because one of the ideas here is to have valid merge targets. If someone creates an article about an episode when the article about the television show or the article about the specific season is still pretty skimpy, just merge the information and redirect.

Assuming that information about an episode is verifiable etc., I think that it makes sense to keep around, just it doesn't always need to be in its own article. JYolkowski // talk 02:38, 9 January 2006 (UTC)

This sounds like a reasonable model to follow. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 05:35, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
But everyone knows the people over at WP:SCH at a bunch of inclusionsist losers Sounds like a solid proposal by me. I for one feel that Wikipedia is becoming overburned with the "noise" and "fancruft." Perhaps a model like this one to only include articles on the notable episodes is the best way to go. --^demon 18:44, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
I like this a lot, too. I'd like to see this taken one step further, as well, though, and have a guideline that the person creating such stublike articles leave a message in the main article's talk page. So when I make an article for, say, the first episode of Love Monkey, but can't expand on it, I make a note of it in the main Love Monkey talk page. --badlydrawnjeff 14:28, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
I don't like this idea, since the issue here isn't about quantity of information. It's about verifiablity, notability and whether its encyclopedic. We assume that most learning institutions are notable. Why? Because that's WP's current stance. Not so for TV episodes. So just cuz jobbloeeditor852 can write 20 kbs about a random episode of Homeboys from Outerspace doesn't mean it deserves an article. Even if everything in the article is verifiable.--Esprit15d 15:22, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Well, we're trying to bring it to the point that the assumption is that most TV episodes are. This section, as I read it, would apply if we came to that conclusion. So, assuming the conclusion is "TV shows = notable," what do you think of this? --badlydrawnjeff 16:33, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Also remember that you can write a verifiable and encyclopedic article, but it may be very short. That's the point I'm at least trying to why have a 1 paragraph article for all 200 episodes of a show, even if it's fully correct and proper by all other standards. This way, only notable episodes will be included, as a sign of notability would be plenty of quality material about an episode (quotes and trivia nonwithstanding). --^demon 17:30, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. I think that we're all aiming for higher article quality in one way or another, and I feel that, for example, one long article about a show is of higher quality than 50 two-sentence stubs about each episode. If someone can write a substantial, high-quality article about an individual episode, then I feel it should stand on its own.
Of course, content policies such as Wikipedia:Verifiability would trump guidelines such as my suggestion above. If someone can write a lot of text about an episode, but none of it can be verified, then the article (or at least the unverifiable text) needs to be deleted. JYolkowski // talk 23:51, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
But there's no reason that the guideline standard can't be "episodes get articles" and then the individual shows can be made into articles by season or merged completely into the main article if consensus rolls that way. If 12 episodes of Greg the Bunny get 24 lines of text, then I'd imagine most editors who care would be okay with merging into the main article. --badlydrawnjeff 01:07, 11 January 2006 (UTC)
One reason I find JYolkowsi's suggestion appealing is that it follows the pattern set at Wikipedia:Notability (fiction). The "default setting" is for the larger work, unless the smaller unit is exceptionally notable. However, if the "parent article" becomes too unwieldy (and all of its content is in accordance with Wikipedia standards, of course), then it's acceptable to spin out "daughter articles". —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 01:56, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

From the source of an episode, there can be a lot of information that is verifiable. In fact, the fanon speculation that is not verifiable from the source is less common than information that is directly verifiable from the primary source of the episode.Lotusduck 00:07, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

JYolkowski's proposal sounds like a reasonable model to follow. feydey 07:33, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

kelvSYC's opinion

I think that an individual episode article for the large part is too fine-grained for an encyclopedia, on the basis that individual episodes are not by itself notable. Season-by-season is a bit of a stretch, but will serve as a good compromise for the large part, especially when an episode synopsis is no more than a few paragraphs. Indeed, I believe that episode synopses should only be several paragraphs, and 13 of these sections (assuming there are on average 13 episodes in a season) isn't too lengthy. Even a 52-paragraph page on a 52-episode season would sound reasonable.

Individual episode articles, or articles representing story arcs (or other logical divisions of a series), should be filtered based on similar criteris regarding, say, singles and their relation to albums. Among the criteria should be how the episode stands out in the series. For example, if it had notable "mainstream" recognition, if it is the point in which the fan community believes the show to have jumped the shark (hold that thought: that's POV), and so on.

Then we ask ourselves article naming conventions: Season X in series Y, Episode Name (Series), Series Y season X, etc...

The problem is how we define cruft: A lot of editors are fans of a certain show, and may only be Wikipedians as they edit articles about the show, and believes that Wikipedia should be comprehensive with regards to a certain show. It's a problem that extends not only to television shows, but to, say, List of professional wrestling match types, where we go into so much detail that there is a decision amongst the show's Wikipedian fans to split the article, much to the dismay of the Greater Wikipedia.

It's interesting to note that some subcommunities of the Wikipedian TV community will generally restrain themselves: the Pokémon community, for example, will have a page on every Pokémon, but will generally avoid having any more detail about episodes of the anime beyond a simple list. And Pokémon certainly had lots more episodes to speak of compared to other shorter and less notable series which have individual episode articles. It's sometimes a matter of "pushing your luck" in a subject... kelvSYC 03:34, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

A relevant quote from Jimbo

I was doing a little digging and came across the following, from the earliest incarnation of Wikipedia:Importance:

"Why shouldn't there be a page for every Simpsons character, and even a table listing every episode, all neatly crosslinked and introduced by a shorter central page like the above? Why shouldn't every episode name in the list link to a separate page for each of those episodes, with links to reviews and trivia? Why shouldn't each of the 100+ poker games I describe have its own page with rules, strategy, and opinions? Hard disks are cheap.
I agree with this one completely. --Jimbo Wales"

Now, I know that Wikipedia is more than Jimbo, and his view may have changed since then, but I thought the perspective might be relevant to our discussion. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 05:28, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

Hehe, I love that on this whole page, the most relevent piece of information received the least attention. God, wouldn't want any power taken away from the behind-the-scene Wiki-bureaucrats now, would we? Wouldn't want to consider the fact that... uh oh... maybe... Wikipedia isn't like other encyclopedias? Good work Josiah Rowe, sorry that the voice of reason is so hard to get heard. Conor 10:42, 3 June 2007 (UTC)


Most of our discussions here have danced around the question of notability. Specifically, is an individual episode of a television series notable? Looking over the discussion, it seems clear to me that there is no real consensus on what "notable" means in this context. Furthermore, I'm increasingly of the opinion that "notable" is inherently a POV criterion, and one that will always lend itself to argument and rancor. What is notable to one editor is not notable to another, and although it may be possible to come to a majoritarian view on what's notable and what isn't, a true consensus seems out of reach.

So we should ask whether we want to include "notability" as a criterion in this context at all. After all, Wikipedia:Notability has not been accepted as policy or a guideline, even though it's been under discussion since May 2005 (or since August 2004, if you include its prior incarnation at Wikipedia:Importance.)

There are two related questions that fall under the shadow of "notability": does information about an individual television episode belong in Wikipedia, and if it does, does it belong in its own article? Let's take them in turn, and see what happens if we take notability out of the question.

It seems to me that the burden of proof lies on the deletionists to show that inclusion of information about television episodes does active harm to Wikipedia. Their arguments seem to me to boil down to "(detailed discussion of) television just doesn't belong on Wikipedia". Why not? "Because it doesn't." There are a few who admit that their arguments are based on a judgment of television's inferiority to other media, which seems to me to be contrary to the spirit of Wikipedia but at least has the benefit of honesty. But I've not seen any responses to Trollderella's #Trying to get inside the heads of people who want this above. Remember, Wikipedia is not paper, and the quality of the article on the Iliad is not harmed by the existence of one on City of Death. If you take out the chimera "notability", the deletionist argument collapses entirely.

The question of whether television episodes belong in their own article, on the other hand, can survive the removal of "notability". It's essentially an aesthetic judgment about how best to present information. And that's why I think JYolkowski's proposal above has the best hope of achieving consensus: it accepts that (verifiable, NPOV, non-original research) information about all topics can, will, and should be added to Wikipedia, and the role of policy-making is to determine how best to present it.

Finally, a personal note. I became an active Wikipedian by working on Doctor Who-related articles, and most of my work is still related to that WikiProject. However, I also think that I've made some worthwhile contributions to more academic articles (and those are just from today), as well as creating an article or two that I feel adds to the sum total of Wikipedia. I say this not to brag or justify myself, but because I think I'm a fairly typical Wikipedian. Many — perhaps even most — Wikipedians join the project to contribute about something they love, which is not always going to be a subject of traditional academic interest. But that doesn't mean that they have nothing of academic interest to offer. If the Doctor Who content were not present on Wikipedia, I doubt that I would have contributed to the articles on Ancient Greek culture and other "academic" topics. By the same token, if the encyclopedia were to adopt a strict policy against so-called "fancruft", I wager that many contributors who would otherwise have valuable contributions to make will simply never join the project. I think that allowing articles on fannish subjects — including television episodes — is a small price to pay for making people with diverse interests feel welcome. —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 06:36, 11 January 2006 (UTC)

  • Name calling does not improve discussion. Uncle G 19:05, 24 September 2006 (UTC)
  • I agree that notability isn't the primary question, but rather whether or not an episode constitutes an actual topic. The way I see things, an episode isn't an actual topic (unless something extraordinary makes it so, which is where the issue of notability comes in) because it's only a component to an actual topic, which is the show. I believe that a show is entitled to an article for the same reason that a novel or play is: it's a complete work. So, the way I see it, Hamlet and The Simpsons both unquestionably deserve articles, but Hamlet, Act III Scene ii and Treehouse of Horror XI they've been subdivided below the level of being a topic. What notability does is provide a measure of when the sub-unit transcends its whole and becomes a topic in and of itself. The prime example is Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen since its quantity of viewers (objective measurement) made it notable - but in that instance the article still needs to focus on what made the episode transcend being an episode of a show (more than just a part of something else) and not the episode itself (plot synopsis, etc.) The Literate Engineer 17:17, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Which I guess comes back down to the same issue- perhaps if a complete, nuanced article can be written about an episode it is notable enough? Television episodes are often complete works. Take for example Aeon Fluxx, where the main character dies most episodes and there is no continuity between episodes. Other shows are to some extent like this. Most sit-coms are made to be watched independently of other episdoes, while saga-like shows often have enough topic matter to require a detailed description. Frequently events in a show can be cross referenced with real phenomena for a good section on the scientific topics in a show- all of course if the science and the show are notable. Once again, it comes down to- if someone can write it to wikipedia standards, it's probably notable and wiki enough. Lotusduck 20:35, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Actually, Wikipedia:No original research does nicely here, when one remembers that it applies to syntheses of data. The synthesis of data on a television series by Wikipedia should match the existing syntheses of those data in the world outside of Wikipedia. If a television series has not been documented down to the level of individual episodes outside of Wikipedia, it should not be documented down to that level within Wikipedia. Here are some examples of what that gets us:
    • There are plenty of people who have documented individual The Simpsons episodes on the World Wide Web. Therefore it is acceptable for Wikipedia to document The Simpsons episodes individually.
    • People have published books containing guides to individual Babylon 5 episodes (e.g. ISBN 1590920376 and ISBN 1590920392). Therefore it is acceptable for Wikipedia to document Babylon 5 episodes individually.
    • People have documented individual episodes of Naruto here, here, here, here, here, and many other places. Therefore it is acceptable for Wikipedia to document those episodes individually.
    • Most long-running daytime soap operas and current affairs series are not documented down to the level of individual episodes. (In the case of long-running daytime soap operas, it is a largely pointless activity, because there is little benefit to such a detailed historical record of the plot.) Therefore it is not acceptable for Wikipedia to document those episodes individually.
  • Uncle G 19:05, 24 September 2006 (UTC)

To reiterate,

More important than having many articles on TV episodes is having good articles on those TV episodes. If for a TV show, nobody can be bothered to write useful articles on the episodes (e.g. all we have is a list of stubs) then merging them to a list of Foo episodes, 3rd season would be useful. They can be broken out if/when someone wants to expand them. In practice, this probably boils down to hugely popular shows (e.g. Star Trek, Buffy) having articles on each episode, and relatively obscure shows having lists by season. Reasonable, no? Radiant_>|< 14:43, 14 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes, that's quite reasonable. It may be my imagination, but I think I'm seeing a light at the end of this particular tunnel. Things have been pretty quiet since I posted that Jimbo quote. Is it fair to say that we now have a consensus that information about individual television episodes is not, by its nature, unworthy of inclusion in Wikipedia? If we can get rough agreement on that, then we can focus on how that information should best be presented, probably starting with JYolkowski's and Radiant!'s similar notions. Anyone disagree strongly? —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 18:09, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
  • That sounds good to me. Consensus on our deletion process underlines the idea. In deciding how the information should be presented, we can draw upon an extensive list of existing pages on episodes for e.g. The Simpsons, Buffy and Star Trek. In the spirit of being an encyclopedia, we should avoid excessive trivia, excessive quotes (put those in Wikiquote) and excessive episode summaries, instead mainly focusing on describing the episode and its relevance in the story arc (if any). As a side note, entire transcripts may not be put on Wikipedia, but I assume most people knew that. Radiant_>|< 18:57, 14 January 2006 (UTC)
  • Works for me. Can we put this to a process though? Perhaps what was mentioned above with the idea from WP:SCH? -^demon 06:38, 15 January 2006 (UTC)


Okay, it looks like everyone's more or less in agreement about the basics. So, I've tried to summarize some of the points people have made at Wikipedia:Centralized discussion/Television episodes#Proposal. Please take a look and edit to make it better. Thanks, JYolkowski // talk 03:43, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

It's an excellent start, JYolkowski, and you deserve credit for finding a relevant and applicable parallel guideline. One question we should consider is whether we should define "enough information" more tightly — perhaps we should say "enough verifiable, non-original research information"? (It's covered in the "content" section, but it's better to be redundant than to be unclear. We don't want to encourage the addition of reams of trivia merely in order to justify article splitting.) —Josiah Rowe (talkcontribs) 06:27, 20 January 2006 (UTC)
Good idea... I updated it to state "independently verifiable" (in the interest of reading better), hope that's close enough to what you had in mind. JYolkowski // talk 00:54, 22 January 2006 (UTC)
Since no-one else's complained, I've updated the project page to include just the proposal. If anyone objects, please edit it. Thanks, JYolkowski // talk 21:44, 5 February 2006 (UTC)

Poltergiest on SonicMew's page


On page Poltergeist is listed with a link to Poltergeist movie series. That is just a redirect page. The actual page is Poltergeist (film series). It would be a good idea to change it.

Lady Aleena | Talk 13:00, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Existing Wiki TV Projects or websites

I notice there is already an existing wiki on TV shows at . This may satisfy opponents of TV shows inclusion in an encyclopedia and supporters of TV shows inclusion in a wiki. Are there any other sites? Links to any such sites could be included in this article.--Darrelljon 12:15, 16 April 2006 (UTC)

The content contained in other sites shouldn't affect the content contained in our site. Another wiki containing information on television episodes doesn't remove from the need for Wikipedia to have information on television episodes. --Oldak Quill 14:44, 10 July 2006 (UTC)

change proposals

1. Since developing season articles isn't always parctical or handy, change Once there's enough independently verifiable information to do so, create articles on each season, or some other logical division, of the show. To:

  • Once there's enough independently verifiable information to do so, create articles on the episode list, each season, or some other logical division, of the show.

2. Define what's "enough independently verifiable information". Maybe with a parenthesis or something. Also I think that even if the plot summary is short, if there is a nice amount of cast, credits, trivia, quotes or "see also" info, pictures and a good infobox, the episode is ready to be an article.

--T-man, the wise 09:21, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Problem pages

From the project page:

Dealing with problem articles * Generally, articles on episodes of television should not be listed for AfD (unless they are completely unverifiable, original research, etc.). * If the articles are very short, consider merging them into another article (e.g. an article about the show itself, an article that is a list of episodes of the show, or an article that summarizes the plot for one season of the show). * If the same person appears to have created a large number of problematic articles, please refer them to this page.

This page is considered a guideline which has consensus, but only looking at the last few weeks, it seems that that is debatable. We've had in October: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/List of Hollyoaks: Let loose episodes (delete), Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Sex before 16 (merge), Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Will You Tolerate This? (keep), Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/The Best Day Ever (delete, since recreated), Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Who is the better boxer? (delete), Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/The New and Improved Carl Morrissey (The 4400 episode) (a nomination for some 25 articles with a keep decision but rather a lot of people supporting a merge as well), Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/I Think I Canada (not finished, 11 deletes versus 4 keeps)), Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Here Comes the Squirtle Squad (some 30 articles, no consensus, most will be merged anyway), Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Mile High - Series One - Episode One (not closed, but already a redirect anyway), and Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Acmegeddon (not closed, currently 9 deletes and 4 keeps). As can be seen, there have been quite a few AfD's, despite this guideline, and the result of these AfD's has not been an overwhelming keep. This seems to indicate that the first point of this section (do not list them on AfD's) does not have a consensus any more. My main problem is with the second point though: what to do when the article is not "very short", but it still only has the cast, air date, and a looong summary? The best thing to do, following WP:NOT (not a summary) and WP:V as there is often very little verifiable info apart from the cast and the plot, would be to merge the article into a season article, but that would go against this guideline (whichonly proposes this for very short articles). Take e.g. this recently AfD'ed White Light (The 4400 episode): what should be done according to this guideline? Just let it be? Or merge anyway, even though it isn't "very short"? Fram 15:45, 30 October 2006 (UTC)

You raise a good point. My feeling is that if there appear to be multiple protests about any section of this guideline, we should consider rewording the guideline to reflect actual practice, rather than trying to force outside articles to adhere to a guideline that no longer has consensus. Guidelines on Wikipedia are meant to reflect consensus, not to override it. See Wikipedia:Guidelines. --Elonka 20:09, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not a democracy, and these guidelines are still very much consensus.
From what I've observed is that episode articles are going to be discouraged even more so on in the Wikipedia future, as well as other general cruft cutting. Just look at the great success we've had with WP:WAF. For an example of such cruft cutting, WikiProject Digimon is merging all those crufty little monster articles and isn't going to have the whole "one monster per article" thing like Pokemon. WikiProject South Park is in the process of merging most of their minor character articles. Pokemon's WikiProject is merging all their episode articles. Several article series are opting for season articles instead of episode articles (many editors don't even know that is an acceptable option before they create episode articles).
This isn't a bad thing, it's a very very good thing. -- Ned Scott 02:39, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
Um, if a majority of interested users is against them (democracy), then by definition you don't have a consensus anymore. I think your first comment could do with some more explanation. I agree with the rest, I would just prefer if that was clearer from the guideline. Fram 06:08, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
Explanation for my first comment: WP:NOT#Wikipedia is not a Democracy. It's hard to even make the claim that a majority is against them in the first place. Even if it were true, like I pointed out before, many editors seem to "prefer" episode articles because they're unaware of our policy on plot summaries, might not know of other acceptable alternatives (series episodes, etc. many editors believe it's a "goal" to eventually have episode articles), and so on. Consensus is not determined by majority (Wikipedia:Consensus, m:Don't vote on everything), although it can play a part in the process. -- Ned Scott 07:12, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
Right, got it now! Fram 08:17, 31 October 2006 (UTC)
Compared with the thousands of articles on individual television episodes we have and thousands of users we have, ten AFDs isn't really a lot of people deciding to disregard this guideline. So far, very few of these articles have been deleted anyway, so the advice to boldly merge instead of having a protracted AFD discussion that won't end in delete still appears to be valid. JYolkowski // talk 23:30, 30 October 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the swift replies. I am all for merging episode articles into season articles if possible (and with the exception of widely discussed or analyzed episodes of course (in reliable sources, not on fan fora)). I just felt that the way this guideline is currently written can be used by anyone wanting to keep a long summary article as an argument against such merging, since it would "go against consensus". Fram 06:08, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

Cultural references sections

I was wondering about this policy in regards to "Cultural references" sections in TV episode articles – ie. sections that relate the references the episode makes to other aspects of culture (other shows, music, etc.). As far as I understand, the "impact on popular culture" as referred to in the guideline is not equivalent to the cultural references the episode makes, and are not to be treated the same – in fact, I do not see anything in this guideline against discussing these references in an episode article (verifiability notwithstanding, but that is beyond the scope of this discussion).

This question also applies to "Notes" sections, which, while perhaps being perceived as "trivia", is in general facts that pertain to the continuity, production, "goofs" and/or response to the episode (again, verifiability notwithstanding).

If I am wrong in my interpretation, what would the correct response be? (My question is in response to an ongoing edit war that I am not a participant in, but am attempting to resolve).

Thanks! –Dvandersluis 17:38, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

Family Guy is one television shows page that should include all these cultural references and notes as some of the material used on the show is so abstract not everyone understands it ,so the episode page can be a point of reference and explanation. It is not a retelling of the joke, but more information the the reference in the joke. Since Family Guy is weak on plot, these cultural references are necessary. So basically the note and cultural references should remain. Although sometimes the notes are unnecessary bits of info, if thats the case, then just the cultural references should be used. Notes should only be used in explaining news stories, like exceptional ratings or media reaction 18:31, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
So how are we going to get this resolved. L0b0t seems to be reverting any additions or changes to the notes/cultural references sections so its counter productive to attempt to add any new material as he is over aggresive in his edits. So hopefully we can get this resolved in some way sooner rather than later, because its basically stalled all family guy edits 20:09, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
Not just Family Guy. L0b0t has applied his over-agressive (a perfect description) editing method to South Park episodes as well--another series where cultural reference plays a significant role. Consider other shows that rely on such references...The Simpsons for one, though neither it nor South Park have such an integral relationship with references as Family Guy. Consider also Futurama, which occupies something of a middle ground as far as reliance on cultural references. And The Venture Bros.--remove all the references from the average VB episode, and it all but falls apart. If L0b0t's narrow definitions of WP policies are applied to all of these shows, many of the articles, main, episode, and character-related, pertaining to them will be severely effected to the point where it's not worth having them at all. How, for example, does one write about anything pertaining to The Venture Bros. without mentioning the connections to what the series and characters reference/parody?
Permit me to be blunt. Egotistical spitheads like L0b0t are poison to the cooperative nature of wikipedia. What's his credentials to say everyone else is wrong? Does he own Wikipedia? He should be able to recommend that we take out the section, and not just, singlehandedly, instantly take a knife to it and tell us that its not relevant information, to reinforce his own fragile ego. - Johnny Frines, FG Trivia contributor— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
If this is going to be such a major issue where the episodes are concerned, I'd say dump individual episode descriptions completely. For episodes that have a significant effect on the course of the series, move the pertinent information to a series overview on the show's main page, and for episodes that affect a specific character, move the basics to the character page. Say, for Family Guy, the episodes where Peter changes jobs, one of the few permanent changes in the series; describe the events that made him change jobs on the Peter Griffin page, citing the episodes where those events took place. An extreme measure, but no less than the measures being taken by this representative of the Trivia Cleanup WikiProject. It's the first solution that comes to my mind, and it's not a solution I particularly like. But if L0b0t's view of how policies should be implemented are what we are to go by, it looks like an expedient answer to the problem; if the episode articles for these reference-heavy shows are not to be edited in the manner that fans of the show believe they should be, then perhaps there should not be episode articles at all.
I think the question really boils down to this: are L0b0t's definitions of policy valid, considering the nature of the show(s) involved? I say "no", but as always, this and all of the above are one man's humble opinion. -- Pennyforth 21:17, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Pennyforth, what you are doing now is known as a personal attack and being flat out rude. Your even using name calling. This is completely unacceptable for discussion. Also, read m:Don't be a dick. -- Ned Scott 02:19, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
Ned — How are Pennyforth's comments a "personal attack?" I don't see anything in her contribution which implies an attack. Perhaps they apply to the comment above by Johnny Frines, which did involve an attack on L0B0t. Thanks. [[Briguy52748 13:47, 17 November 2006 (UTC)]]
Please check the edit history of this page, Ned, and compare versions; everything from "Permit me to be blunt" to "Johnny Frines, FG Trivia contributor" was added by the aforementioned Mr. Frines ([2]) in the middle (more or less) of my own comments. An understandable error. Actually, I had some concern that I might appear to be singling out L0b0t in my comments--all I can say there is that the instances of Cultural Reference deletion that I have observed and taken issue with thus far have all involved edits done by L0b0t, and that is the reason I cited him (assuming him from use of "his" on L0b0t's User page) specifically. I have a beef with L0b0t's actions and views on this issue, but none with L0b0t personally, and nothing I said was meant as an attack on him.
And while I'm noting assumptions about user gender--just to clarify, Briguy, that would be "his contribution" where I'm concerned (I know, the "Penny" throws people off). But thanks for defending me. -- Pennyforth 15:52, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
Ah, my mistake. Sorry about that. -- Ned Scott 01:52, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
First, don't sweat it, Ned; you're fine. Second, my apologies to Pennyforth. [[Briguy52748 15:47, 18 November 2006 (UTC)]]
I realize this argument fits this topic much better....While family guy does need to be cleaned up quite a bit, I also believe that some sort of cultural reference section is needed so people have an easy and quick place to go to check upon a joke they that calls upon something they know nothing or little about. So while the note category should probably be fixed, the cultural references are a well used tool for deciphering some of the randomness of the show Grande13 22:29, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
Also, verification shouldn't be such a hard pressed issue for the cultural references in family guy as they jokes themselves basically tell you what they are referencing, so you dont need an article telling you such an episode referenced something, this section should just allow the user to fill in details on one of the reference that helps bring the whole situation to light. So basically the verification for that added information would be just from watching the episode Grande13 22:29, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
My understanding of a cultural reference is "parody of pop culture, a social phenomenon or current news/historical event." A list of the most notable or apparent parodies should be included in each article, as it is a part of the episode (not always the most important part, but often very interesting nonetheless). An argument had been made by another editor that inserting said information helps "slow-witted" viewers, but I think this is an insult to those who are capable of grasping the joke. As Grande said, these sections — if properly formatted and containing the right amount and type of information — can help people track jokes and recurring gags, and helps them grasp its context. That said, I think they all should follow a particular style (will be discussed later pending the outcome of this discussion), and should be brief and to the point. Of course, we all want to avoid cruft, so in adding trivia, referneces and related notes, editors should keep this in mind; that said, I think our contributors should be trusted to use good judgement in making contributions. Briguy52748 23:22, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. For a show like Family Guy, which is the topic of this specific edit war, the "flashbacks" and cutaways are integral parts of the show, if not the most important – from the Family Guy article, "...based largely on pop culture references and non sequiturs." The episode article would be sorely missing without this information. Also, I think the point should be made that these "cultural references", as they tend to be referred to, are not trivia items. Format change is perfectly fine; outright removal is not. –Dvandersluis 23:45, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
Well said, and nothing should be completely removed as that doesnt make it feasible to attempt to reformat the information in a more form fitting manner, it just makes it hard for everyone and causes conflicts to arise Grande13 23:51, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

I think some of you are missing the point. It isn't bad to list some of these references as examples of what happened in the episode, but that is not what this guideline is talking about. "Impact on popular culture" is how the show effects the real world, not how the real word effects the show. Also, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (writing about fiction). -- Ned Scott 04:54, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

  • The way I have seen it, impact on popular culture is different from cultural references, which are similar to allusions (e.g., parodies or references to real-life events, spoofs of TV shows, etc.). Cultural references are what we speak of here. To that end, I see that the guideline does not speak of cultural references, and perhaps it is time we as Wikipedians discuss a guideline for this, since many other episode guides no doubt have/will have these allusions (e.g., The Simpsons, Seinfeld). [[Briguy52748 13:58, 16 November 2006 (UTC)]]
  • I'd agree the 'Cultural references' sections could be very useful for certain television show episode articles. Buffy and Angel also feature frequent references that are sometimes obscure or only understood by American viewers (but the DVDs are popular worldwide). - Paxomen 15:20, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
Culturual references/pop culture references need to be cleaned, that's for sure. Many pages have huge lists of them: in my opinion, Wikipedia shouldn't be the place to list each and every reference. The important ones should be listed, that's it... otherwise the article gets filled with clutter and many unsourced references by people that just saw the show and so on. Family Guy and South Park episode articles are two problem areas, where this is going on. Encyclopedia, not a fan's guide to every culture reference or little note in the episode. RobJ1981 19:45, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
The sections definitely have to be cleaned up, I just dont believe in gutting them. While some observations/notes/cultural references are just people typing what they see, there are other references that are obscure or have a hidden meaning or joke to the situation, especially in family guy, that a cultural references section could be deemed beneficial. While Im not sure how exactly to cite this info, it usually can easily be verified from just watching an episode, so maybe the rules need to be changed/expanded to cover cultural references, especially in tv and more specifically in television comedies Grande13 22:54, 16 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree the sections need cleanup in many articles but I definitely think cultural references have their place in wikipedia. For instance Futurama bases much of its humor on knowledge of Star Trek, Star Wars and various other sometimes obscure items of science fiction. Not discussing how these shows influenced Futurama would be missing a huge piece of information. Obviously Star Trek and Star Wars articles don't have room for every time they were referenced elsewhere, that would be completely ridiculous. However in this case they fit very nicely into a section where they bring a better understanding of the source for Futurama for those who haven't seen every episode of Star Trek a million times. Just my $0.02 I suppose. Stardust8212 23:32, 16 November 2006 (UTC)

It's understandable that you guys think there's a place for this on Wikipedia, but there's not, at least not to this degree. I'm sorry if you feel things are being "gutted", but the fact of the matter is that there shouldn't even be episode articles for most of these episodes in the first place. Regardless of what is exactly defined in a guideline, articles about fiction should be from a real world perspective, and be notable not for how they apply to the show but how they apply to the real world. What you are seeing here, in this "gutting" is happening in a lot of places right now. It's cleaning out the fan-cruft that has been allowed to go on way too long. -- Ned Scott 02:25, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

"but there's not" is IMHO for contributors to decide, bot to be given as an ex cathedra statement. Nobody knows what Wikipedia will become; to shackle it too much now may be to kill it in the long run. Clearly, there is dissent on this matter. Dysmorodrepanis 14:23, 22 November 2006 (UTC)
I agree that episode atricles should not be filled with cruft. But 'Cultural references' in episode articles can easily be written in a real world perspective. E.g. in an episode of Buffy, the title character makes a joke about The Watchtower. Why not have a 'Cultural references' section in that episode article that includes the several cultural erferences in that episode, each outlined like the following:
& I don't understand why there is so much objection to the idea of using a brief section to be used only if ncecessary, that explains obscure references to help viewers who would otherwise not understand the reference. Keeping the 'Cultural references' to episode articles in this section will IMO actually help reduce excessive cruft since it will reduce the desire to try and make huge lists of trivia on the television series articles. -- Paxomen 14:22, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
There should be a limit to what extent we do this. Referencing culture does not make something more notable. Effecting culture does. It's important that we see and know the difference there. Like I said, we can have cultural references to some extent, but explaining jokes to the reader is not something we should strive to do. -- Ned Scott 01:50, 18 November 2006 (UTC)
To a point, I agree with Ned's above comments. There always has to be limits to these lists. I think several of us on here agree that nobody wants a cruft-laden article. Myself, I've seen lots of poorly written trivia/cultural references sections. I think the style that Paxomen suggests for cultural references (and one I've used in compiling these lists) is an excellent suggestion; briefly explain the joke to which it is referring to, state the real-life reference, and be done with it. As for trivia, I agree that it should be limited to such things as core plot developments, ratings and other observations that might be of interest not already included in the plot summary (e.g., if a recurring gag includes firing a secretary, and it's her 100th one and she makes mention of it, this would be worthy (yeah, I realize I'm using Murphy Brown, and I'm not for certain how many secretaries she did fire, but you get the idea). Anyhow, some of these lists will invariably be longer because there is simply more that meets Wikipedia's guidelines, and sometimes in the process you just have to explain the joke; that's just hte way it is. In any case, I am interested in knowing to what extent should we have cultural references and what format they should follow. (my apologies if you've explained this before in this discussion). [[Briguy52748 15:47, 18 November 2006 (UTC)]]
What I do not understand is this: there was a consensus among those who contributed to Family Guy that cultural references which are usually fairly oblique and easily understood only by US Americans who follow che celebrity circus make up much of the show's appeal. Thus, these were included. While the one or other item is indeed cruft, the present state of affairs - i.e. one vigilante sort of kicking in the door and killing dead information without asking anybody first, violating a long-standing SOP which evolved as consensus of those who really care about the articles in question (I am talking about Family Guy and Family Guy only, and all this does not apply to other TV shows, at least not to such extent) and refusing discussion, citing guidelines as if they were some Codex instead, is not an appropriate way to settle any grievances about page content.
The removed information is still missing, and the pages in question are essentially crippled and useless for anybody who does not have a cultural background maybe 10% of those who would use these articles as a reference have (FG is a globally syndicated show). An episode summary indeed only contains what everybody sees and recognizes when watching, as opposed to some 80s sitcom or human-interest story reference. On reading the old FG episodes articles which had full-blown trivia/reference sections, I noticed about twice as many gags as before when I re-watched the episodes.
What has happened here is akin to a campaign to track down each and every pulp fiction novel ever printed and burn them. I am not at all at ease with this. In a long article, trivia should be removed, ideally placed in the main text's context. But here? Compare PTV (Family Guy) (an "uncut" article) to Whistle While Your Wife Works (which was what kicked off the present debate). Assuming that many readers do neither know what the FCC is nor have watched Get Smart (which seems reasonable since FG has a cult following outside the US and episodes are regularly distributed via file-sharing networks, and most FG fans weren't even born in 1970) - which article is informative, and which is so banal that it may indeed be argued whether it is worthy to be included in an encyclopedia?
I think to place more emphasis on generalized rules - let alone guidelines - without a single thought about the actual content we're dealing with here and less emphasis on what people who are knowledgeable on the subject in question is highly dangerous for WP as a whole. The content already contained in WP is too diverse to be cut apart according to some quick-n-dirty guidelines, and as long as the day-to-day operation of WP is not jeopardized, this should be decided on an individual basis, not according to some least common denominator.
As to the "original research" claim of the initial debate, it is wellnigh impossible to write an article about e.g. a movie and not commit either copyvio or OR. And since copyvio is a serious issue with potential legal repercussions whereas the OR ban's primary function is to avoid unreferencable scientific claims, I'd go with "violating" OR rather than not having the articles at all. Dysmorodrepanis 14:23, 22 November 2006 (UTC)

If I may, I would like to direct everyones attention to Wikipedia_talk:Trivia, where the consensus is to delete the trivia/cultural reference/misc./notes/cruft sections on sight. Cheers. L0b0t 15:11, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

I have objection with that. First of all, WP:TRIVIA is neither a policy or a guideline, but something that is proposed. Therefore, the consensuses, if any, are irrelevant until it becomes policy/guideline. Secondly, on the talk page, the only discussion that mentions cultural references is Trivia Sections in Film Articles?, which does not come to a consensus at all. Cultural references are not mentioned in the main article at all. –Dvandersluis 15:17, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Um, I dont see that consensus anywhere on there, and that page hasnt been updated in a few weeks...Grande13 15:18, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
I just wanted to point out another relevant discussion, I did not mean to cite that as a rule. Sorry for not being clear. Cheers. L0b0t 15:28, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Ah, ok no problem Grande13 15:34, 21 November 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the confirmation. –Dvandersluis 15:36, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Request for comment - naming of episode articles

There is currently an active debate at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (television) about the naming of episode articles, such as when is it appropriate to use a suffix such as (<series name> episode), and whether or not WikiProjects should have the right to set guidelines for their particular shows. Any interested editors are invited to comment, at Wikipedia_talk:Naming conventions (television)#Request for comment. Thanks. --Elonka 08:51, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

  • In fact this debate has been going on for several weeks now, and a consensus has been reached on retaining the existing guideline at WP:D. Elonka is about the sole dissenter to this consensus. (Radiant) 09:01, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
That is absolutely untrue. See Wikipedia_talk:Naming conventions (television)#Summary of discussion. Further, multiple people have called for a fresh poll, as I have supplied diffs of many times. --Elonka 09:41, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
  • That is in fact false. You are misrepresenting people's views in those diffs, stating that they support your position when it is clear that they do not. And the summary is a clear indication of consensus, especially if you count the several people disagreeing with you that you left out of the summary. (Radiant) 09:46, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Radiant speaks the truth. -- Ned Scott 09:44, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
Radiant does not speak the truth. Elonka is certainly not the "sole dissenter" to the (FYI) invisible consensus. MatthewFenton (talk  contribs  count  email) 10:15, 19 November 2006 (UTC)
"Elonka is about the sole dissenter to this consensus." -- Ned Scott 10:26, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

This "we have a problem" "no we don't" "yes we do" has popped up on so many talk pages i'm beginning to think it's funny. Elonka's own summary on WT:TV-NC shows the consensus quite well. I'm wondering how long the two of you plan to go around claiming there is no consensus, just to create the illusion that there is a dispute. Where in reality, there's one or two editors whose actions boarderline trolling at this point.

Give it up. There was a poll. There was a discussion. Issue got resolved. People are working to fix the problem. Deal with it. Stop trying to stir up a debate when none exists. --`/aksha 13:16, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Spinning off individual episodes

What's the correct way of handling the page histories when you move text from, say an LOE to an individual page. - Peregrine Fisher 22:47, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Right now it would be just to note where the original document was in the edit summary, but there will soon be a new feature in Wikipedia allowing edit histories to be duplicated. -- Ned Scott 23:45, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Episode - Quotes Deletion

Hello Administrators. WP:EPISODE provides guidance on quotations in television episode articles. A wikipedian is using this to justify deleting the quotes sections out of Simpsons episode articles. However, the wikipedian is not copying the content to wikiquote or providing a link. Would someone please tell me if I'm off-base by thinking this is inappropropriate? --Zegoma beach 19:36, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

Yes, it is very inapprpriate to have television quotes in articles. Since this is not quoting a person but rather reprinting copyrighted material from a television show, the fair-use provision generally does not provide protection in cases such as this. If you want to move the quotes over to Wikiquote, you are more than welcome to do so. You will find however, that most of the episodes for The Simpsons already have extensive quotes collections. Cheers. L0b0t 19:50, 8 January 2007 (UTC)