Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Film/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3

Plot before production?

I notice that of all the featured film articles, about half have the plot section before the production section, such as Sunset Boulevard, and the other half have the production section first (the Star Wars films). These style guidelines seem rather vague as to which order the sections should go in, but I think it should be consistent for all film articles. Personally, I prefer the plot section first for a more logical flow, but what does anyone else think? Green451 23:23, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

I used to be ambivalent about this issue, but I think people generally prefer for it to be at the beginning of an article. Since plot summaries are supposed to assist real-world context, the Plot section at the beginning sets the stage for the real-world information that follows -- Production, Reception, et cetera. I don't think it needs to be mentioned in the guideline, though... the guideline should be flexible enough that a different order may be necessary (though I can't think of any immediate examples). It's a more inherent trend to follow, I believe. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 23:37, 8 September 2007 (UTC)
Yeah, you need the plot section first because it's often difficult to describe the production without referring to the plot. Also that's how people experience films: most people watch them for the story before they want to learn about how it was made. Cop 663 00:36, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I also agree that Plot should come before the other sections. It additionally benefits any possible spoiler complaints that may occur by users reading details about the plot that are mentioned before the Plot section. Girolamo Savonarola 00:44, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

What does everyone think about implementing this rough layout in the guideline, then? It could be as simple as saying after the first sentence of WP:MOSFILMS#Article body, "The Plot section should generally proceed other sections of the film article." Saying something like "generally" would give it some ambiguity in case the order needs to be changed for whatever reason. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 00:58, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

That works for me. It keeps it flexible for special situations.
Jim Dunning | talk 14:06, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I agree with this as well, although I think we should use a stronger term than "generally", to emphasize that the order should only change in exceptional circumstances. Green451 17:39, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
How about "customarily"? Or too broad still? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 18:31, 11 September 2007 (UTC)
Works for me! Green451 02:33, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

I tend to think that the production section should go first - it helps establish that the article is in an out-of-universe perspective, whereas the plot section going first foregrounds the aspects of the article that are most-often irritating fanservice. Phil Sandifer 17:18, 20 October 2007 (UTC)


I expanded the instructions for images somewhat to help explain some of the fair use requirements and have included several example non-free images (in links of course) that editors can reference to. I've also seen other projects reducing their images to be 300px or below in one of the dimensions, and have included that as well. Over the last few weeks I've been reducing oversized images as I come across them, so hopefully some information here will help prevent other large images from being uploaded in the future. Feel free to edit the things I added if you think it can be better worded or add other example images that meet the criteria. --Nehrams2020 23:05, 1 October 2007 (UTC)

I think that the purpose of Image:Evanark.jpg needs to be explained in the image description better, something like the text at Image:Sunshine spacesuit.jpg. Thoughts? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 23:16, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
Good idea, I'll modify it now. I'll also include that image under example images. Is the 300px or below requirement reasonable to you? --Nehrams2020 23:25, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
Works for me. I've re-uploaded the Sunshine spacesuit image to be 300px at its longest dimension. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 23:30, 1 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm thinking we should organize a drive or just develop a subpage within the project that lists all of the oversized images and/or ones that have already been reduced that need the old oversized image to be deleted. Normally, you would have to reduce the image, add the reduced tag to it, wait seven days for an administrator to delete the old version, and then they have to remove the reduced tag. With our own page within the project, once we have educated the members, they can fix their own images or images they run across and then list the images on the subpage for one of the project's administrators to delete the old versions. I think it would be easier and less time consuming, and help ensure that the images that come through have proper sources, copyrights, licenses, and FURs. Do you think this is something feasible down the line? --Nehrams2020 00:00, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Citing critics who use spoiler warnings at the beginning of Plot sections

In the Plot section of the this guideline, it says:

Now provide a more comprehensive plot summary. As this is an encyclopedia, not an advertisement, you should include plot twists and a description of the ending. For guidelines on using (and not using) spoiler tags, see WP:SPOILER.

The events of the film do not have to be described in the order in which they appear on screen, however; see Pulp Fiction for an example of this. Spoilers should not under any circumstances be deleted, as it directly contradicts the Wikipedia-wide content disclaimer. There are also other unacceptable alternatives which have been proposed in the past. In short, Wikipedia contains spoilers; please respect this policy.

The {{spoiler}} template was deleted recently so any mention of spoiler tags should perhaps be removed from this guideline. After Template:Spoiler was deleted, the spoiler guideline was rewritten and I wondered about some wording in this guideline.

The Plot section of the style guide also says "Plot summaries do not normally require citations; the film itself is the source, as the accuracy of the plot description can be verified by watching the film. An exception to this rule may be films containing plot details that are unclear or open to interpretation, in which case the different interpretations should be sourced to be reliable sources."

I am wondering if it is considered acceptable to cite film critics who use spoiler warnings in their reviews and mention these critics at the beginning of plot summaries. The idea that certain information may spoil a film for people who haven't seen it yet is open to interpretation and this guideline says "different interpretations should be sourced to be reliable sources." (I think the "be" in that sentence seems out of place by the way). I admit that placing such an interpretation before others in a plot summary may be biased, but I think such an interpretation could really only be placed before in-depth plot details.

For an example, I can point to the article on the film Million Dollar Baby (this revision specifically). I propose that the following be added to the Plot section of this guideline:

If one or more film critics (whose reviews are published in reliable sources) have included a spoiler warning in their review of a film, it is acceptable to mention this interpretation at the beginning of a plot summary and attribute it.

I would appreciate some input about this from editors involved with WikiProject Films. Thank you. --Pixelface (talk) 07:55, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

I agree that the MOS should be updated to remove the line "For guidelines on using (and not using) spoiler tags, see WP:SPOILER." However, I disagree with the suggestion that critics reviews be used to get around the deletion of the tag, or to try to apply it to spoilers. Wikipedia is not a spoiler free zone and there is no need to mention that a plot section will contain spoilers. AnmaFinotera (talk) 08:00, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Citations from critics are not to "get around" the deletion of the tag. Spoiler tags had no citations 99.9% of the time. I realize that Wikipedia contains spoilers, but interpretations of films should cite secondary sources. --Pixelface (talk) 09:56, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm not seeing how a critic using a spoiler warning in their review has anything to do with different interpretations of a film. They could simply be being curtious to readers who may not have seen the film. As for critic interpretations in general, I think that needs to come in its own section, later. I think that section in the MOS is a little off to begin with. You generally cannot "interpret" the plot to a film in many ways. You can interprete themes, symbolisms, and other subjective topics, but a plot is basically the objective information about the film. When you start drifting into interpretations, you're straying from basic plot information.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 08:04, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
The policy on no original research says "Interpretations and syntheses must be attributed to reliable sources that make these interpretations and syntheses" and this guideline says "Plot summaries do not normally require citations; the film itself is the source, as the accuracy of the plot description can be verified by watching the film. An exception to this rule may be films containing plot details that are unclear or open to interpretation, in which case the different interpretations should be sourced to reliable sources." A film critic who uses a spoiler warning in their review of a film has made the interpretation that foreknowledge of certain plot details will affect the first viewing of a film. I know that many film critics use spoiler warnings as a courtesy, but it stems from the interpretation that the viewer should be supervised by the film, not the critic. Many other critics do not share that interpretation. I think critics can and do interpret the plots of films differently. WP:NOT#INFO says articles on fictional works should offer sourced analysis. I suppose the interpretation that a plot description should be preceded by a spoiler warning could go in a Critical reception section, but I think such an interpretation is directly related to the plot and is more appropriate when placed before a plot summary. --Pixelface (talk) 09:56, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Good point about updating the MOS for the deletion of the spoiler tag. But I can't go with you for the second part of your proposal. I know that some people wish we could have some spoiler protection, but that's at odds with WP's purpose. Film critics specifically write for audiences who haven't seen films, in order to give recommendations on what to see or not to see. Our goal as an encyclopedia is completely different. Spoilers are desirable here, and new readers learn that quickly. You might just as well propose that if reliable publications publish reviews that don't include details about the ending of films, neither should the plot sections of those articles here. I'm sorry, but your logic just doesn't make much sense to me. --Melty girl (talk) 08:11, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Citing published sources that use spoiler warnings is not about "spoiler protection", it's about fairly representing verifiable interpretations of films. Does our goal as an encyclopedia include citing reliable sources? I personally feel that plot summaries should cite secondary sources to avoid original research issues and to follow our policy on verifiability, but that is another topic I suppose. I think articles should be written from sources. If one or more reliable sources makes the interpretation that plot details should be preceded by a spoiler warning, we should cite them and attribute those interpretations to them and place it before the plot summary. --Pixelface (talk) 09:56, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
I agree with the three comments above not from Pixelface. Now, as a matter of courtesy only I attempt to keep any spoiler information within the plot section of an article (except where it might inform critical commentary elsewhere), and perhaps editors can be encouraged to adhere to that where possible, but anything else is going against the aims of this place, which is after all an encyclopedia and not a film website à la IGN and the excellent AV Club. Shall we nevertheless reword the guideline in accordance with the changes to WP:SPOILER? Best regards, Steve TC 08:55, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
I do not think citing reliable sources goes against the aims of Wikipedia. Do you agree that Wikipedia articles that contain interpretive claims should attribute those claims to a reliable source? --Pixelface (talk) 09:56, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
A spoiler is not part of the plot. If a critic finds something in a movie funny or it reminds them of their childhood that doesn't mean it belongs in the plot. If they think something might spoil the movie that's still their opinion and it doesn't belong in the plot section. I don't see your logic, Pixelface.
As long as the spoiler tag mention here is being cleaned up, Pulp Fiction's plot has been revamped so that it follows the film's structure, meaning it no longer works as an example of writing an linear plot form an non-linear movie. Also, there's nothing wrong with referring to reviews when writing a plot—in fact, I think it should be encouraged—but if there are multiple reviews that all relay the same information as in the film no one review needs to be cited. The same way we don't cite the distance of the earth from the sun in the sun article, because it can be easily confirmed by anybody. Still, there are many abstract movies where citations may be in order. This would be rare in the grand scheme of things and almost non-existent in terms of Hollywood movies but I'd like to keep that part for more surreal and sometimes just badly made films where it might require an expert just to spell out the bare facts. Doctor Sunshine talk 11:00, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Pixel, what film has a plot that requires various interpretations? Interpretation requires subjective material, anything subjective is probably not plot information but "underlying themes". We'd put that in a "themes" section.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 14:12, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Plot summaries do not forbid subjective material. Any subjective material must be attributed to a reliable source. And I don't think plot summaries are as objective as you think. Unless something is explicitly stated in the dialog, some degree of subjectivity is involved when describing the plot. Million Dollar Baby is one film with different interpretations. Michael Medved interpreted the film one way and "spoiled" the film. Roger Ebert interpreted the film in another way and gave an explicit spoiler warning. A spoiler warning is not a theme. Any reliable source that uses a spoiler warning before describing the plot should be cited before the plot summary in an article to keep it in context. --Pixelface (talk) 05:32, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

My issue with this is more with the decontextualized nature of the spoiler information than anything else. A single hanging sentence about critics who used spoiler warnings just doesn't add to the plot section in any real sense. Now if the plot section were to be re-written to weave in out-of-universe information regularly (as with, say The Daleks) I could see spoiler warnings having some place in the section. But putting them at the start of the section is arbitrary and artificial. Phil Sandifer (talk) 15:54, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

If a reliable source uses a spoiler warning before describing the plot, any reference to that spoiler warning should precede the plot summary in the article. Placing it anywhere else in the article takes it out of context. --Pixelface (talk) 05:33, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
See, I don't even think you need a tag there, because by nature any fictional topic article will have spoilers in just about every section. If you're talking about the writing of a film, you'll spoil something most likely when writers talk about key scenes that had intended symbolisms. Spoilers are a part of the page, and pages would be cluttered with "don't read this if you haven't seen the film" tags all over the place. If someone's coming to read a film article and they haven't watched the movie yet, I feel that's their tough luck if they get spoiled. I was recently spoiled over at Smallville (season 7), because I missed the most recent episode, but was still trying to maintain the page from vandalism. It comes with the territory whether you're editing, or simply reading. If you know an article is going to have plot information in, and you haven't watched,read, listened to that topic yet, then do yourself a favor and go do that before you read the Wiki article. At least, that's how I see it.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 16:07, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
The {{spoiler}} tag was deleted so you don't have to worry about "tags all over the place." If a reliable source uses a spoiler warning, your personal opinion about spoiler warnings is irrelevant. If you think it's tough luck if a reader gets spoiled, that's fine. You're entitled to your opinion. But you cannot say a reliable source ceases to be reliable because they use a spoiler warning. This is about citations. Not opinions. Readers who have already seen a film really don't even need to read the plot summary. I already know to avoid Plot sections if I don't want to read plot summaries. But I am not the only reader of Wikipedia. --Pixelface (talk) 05:36, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
A reliable source using a "spoiler warning" makes no difference on Wikipedia though. They are doing that for the benefit of their readers, we do not. Simple as that. Their spoiler warning is not what we are after, it's their interpretation of the film. How they decide to write up their reviews is solely up to them, and has no bearing on how we write up our plot sections.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 05:42, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Do we cite secondary sources for the benefit of our readers? Do we cite interpretations in film articles? Are secondary sources forbidden from plot sections? --Pixelface (talk) 05:49, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
You are missing the part about us not reporting the fact that a review has spoilers or that the review is shielding the reader from spoilers. For every reviewer you find that has a spoiler warning, I bet I can find one that doesn't. It's a courtesy the reviewer chooses to give, which has nothing to do with the film itself. Plain and simple. If you want to cite a plot, be my guest. But you cannot justify a spoiler warning for a plot section by saying "well he warned the reader". That's his/her style of writing, which has no bearing on Wiki articles.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 05:54, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
A spoiler warning is an interpretation of a film. You said "For every reviewer you find that has a spoiler warning, I bet I can find one that doesn't." Fine. This guideline should state that. We shouldn't give undue weight to one particular interpretation, we should represent views as fairly as we can. It should be decided on an article-by-article basis. I'll find reliable secondary sources that use spoiler warnings and you find reliable secondary sources that reveal spoilers. If a reliable source presents one interpretation of a film, that doesn't make a reliable source that presents another interpretation of a film invalid. If a reliable source publishes a spoiler warning, a statement in an article that mentions that interpretation and cites that reliable source is valid. Citations in reliable sources has everything to do with Wikipedia articles. We wouldn't be warning readers. We'd be mentioning a verifiable interpretation of a film. --Pixelface (talk) 08:39, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Oh, I agree wholeheartedly about tags. What I meant was that the statement "many critics found X to be significant enough that they used a spoiler warning for it" could conceivably be of value somewhere in a plot section. But not if it is serving as a coded spoiler warning - only if it is serving as contextualized information. A good test for this is whether the information could go in the article with either "Many critics found X to be significant enough that they used a spoiler warning for it" and "Many critics used spoiler warnings before discussing X." If the latter formulation is necessary, it's probably not serving as contextual information. Phil Sandifer (talk) 16:13, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Any reliable sources that use spoiler warnings before a plot description should be cited before the plot summary in an article. To mention it elsewhere would be to take that interpretation out of context. It's not a "coded spoiler warning", this is about citations and context. --Pixelface (talk) 05:38, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
I can't say that I favor spoiler alerts just because a reviewer says, "Skip the following paragraph, it has spoilers!" What if we come across a reviewer who is just too nice and doesn't want to spoil Romeo & Juliet for readers? Who would be considered authoritative in declaring a part of the film to be spoiler-ish? What if a person considers oneself spoiled when details of the film's first act are revealed? It seems to me to be an all-or-none decision, and considering the constant subjective nature of what constitutes a spoiler for the readership and what doesn't, Wikipedia is better off without making that call to judgment. Additionally, I'm not sure if reliable sources are applicable in this manner: WP:RS#Why reliable sources? says nothing about assisting in the implementation of non-content material like spoiler coding. I understand that Wikipedia has had spoilers for so long, and quite frankly, it shouldn't have started out that way. There's too many ways in which spoiler alerts may or may not be applicable. Some readers may want to read a certain portion of the plot summary, perhaps past the point where the alert is provided, perhaps before that point. Wikipedia isn't meant to reflect what future or recently released films would be good for the readers to watch; these are encyclopedic articles about the films that are intended to provide knowledge about the film for the long run. Plot summaries are only supposed to exist to complement such sections, so they should not be treated as primary aspects of film articles. Wikipedia has too long been the source of what-the-film's-about and cool-film-trivia instead of real, long-lasting encyclopedic materials about films. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 16:28, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
"Who would be considered authoritative in declaring a part of the film to be spoiler-ish?" This is already covered by the guideline on reliable sources. Basically, a blog that uses a spoiler warning is not valid because blogs are not considered reliable sources. Self-published sources are also not generally considered reliable sources. If a professional critic uses a spoiler warning, that is citable. I realize the subjective nature of what constitutes a spoiler, that is why editors opinions should not come into play. Any interpretations should be attributed to reliable sources that make those interpretations. Spoiler warnings are interpretations of films. And "spoiler coding" is irrelevant because the {{spoiler}} tag was deleted. If the articles are meant to provide information about the film for the long run, any spoiler warnings that appear in reliable sources should be mentioned before the plot summary. You said, "Wikipedia isn't meant to reflect what future or recently released films would be good for the readers to watch; these are encyclopedic articles about the films that are intended to provide knowledge about the film for the long run." Then perhaps no film articles should contain plot summaries if the film is currently in theaters or on DVD. And spoiler warnings that appear in reliable sources, being interpretations of films, are "long-lasting encyclopedic materials about films." --Pixelface (talk) 05:42, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Wiki is not censored, so removing a plot summary for a film in theaters is not an option. It's part of the article one way or another. If the film isn't in theaters then it's on DVD. Just because someone didn't see it when it first came out doesn't mean they will see it on DVD right away either. Readers take that risk when they come here to read film articles. They should be clued in to the big "Plot" that is in plain sight when reading the article. If they haven't seen the film, it's quite easy to skip over it, as you said you do yourself.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 05:48, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
In that case, why not move the plot section down so that more important sections get more prominence? Starting film articles with plot does suggest that they are the most important section. Phil Sandifer (talk) 16:49, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Moving the plot section is irrelevant to this discussion. If you want to move the Plot section, fine. But my question was about citing secondary sources in the Plot section. --Pixelface (talk) 05:43, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
I would be completely receptive to that. It does seem to declare a certain sense of importance to put the plot on top of everything else. Of course, the argument can be made, "This is the topic of the article, it should go first." Not to mention that a lot of film articles will have a hefty plot summary and very little production information to precede it. However, this approach can be more in line with WP:PLOT, treating such sections as more complementary. Perhaps a separate discussion on such matters is warranted? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 16:54, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
I am very interested in the possibility of moving the plot section down in our MOS. It would be a lot of work to implement, but I think it's a good idea on many levels. --Melty girl (talk) 19:01, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
I dislike the idea of moving the plot done: it is the fictional context for the rest of the article. Alientraveller (talk) 19:05, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Another item to add: Some reviewers mention upcoming spoilers because they are interweaving their take of the film with the story of the film itself. (Some do a good job, some don't.) Here on Wikipedia, we make a very clear distinction between plot details and critical reaction, so this should not be a concern. Perhaps more useful discussion could be had about how to discuss spoiler-ish elements outside of the Plot section? I've generally done my best to be implicitly vague, especially with an article like Fight Club (film). —Erik (talkcontrib) - 16:45, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Secondary sources are not forbidden from plot summaries. Any interpretations should be attributed to reliable sources that make those interpretations. If a reliable source uses a spoiler warning before a certain plot detail, it should appear in the article before that plot detail to keep that interpretation in context. --Pixelface (talk) 05:46, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
That makes no sense. You're saying we should have plots that go: "John comes into the office--USA Today's Mike Smith put a spoiler warning up here--and revealed himself to be Mary's long lost brother"?? Why would you write like that.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 05:56, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
I wouldn't write like that. I would write like this. --Pixelface (talk) 08:39, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Not to mention that it's still an interpretation. For example, I recall reading Roger Ebert saying, "You should go into this film cold" for Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, but other reviews give plenty of information up front. Should we be liberal or conservative in our approach? Why is it not acceptable to treat the premise of a film, either in the lead section or in a section preceding the full Plot section? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 18:37, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
So attribute that remark to Roger Ebert and cite him. And I think a Premise section is fine too. --Pixelface (talk) 08:30, 19 November 2007 (UTC)


If I'm reading this correctly (and it took far too much time to do that), the proposal is to include spoiler warnings before plot details if some reputable media (pop) critic has done the same? A number of contributors have already pointed out that the media critic is writing for a different audience and purpose than is the WP film article editor. The media critic is participating in the marketing of the film, WP is not. WP is more akin to the writer of film (or literary) criticism, minus the original research. Can anyone imagine a writer of film criticism constantly warning readers that a crucial plot element is about to be revealed? Media film critics rarely reveal plot elements that may injure the viewing experience; this most often occurs when the critic believes the film is fatally flawed and feels she/he must include a plot detail to justify her/his opinion/analysis. If that's the case, then mention of the critic's unusual action may be suitable to the article's Response section, certainly not the Plot section.

I guess I'm struggling with understanding the rationale behind the suggestion.
Jim Dunning | talk 20:26, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

The policy on verifiability says nothing about a source's purpose or a source's audience. And neither does the guideline on reliable sources. The intended audience is irrelevant. You said "The media critic is participating in the marketing of the film, WP is not." Really? When a film critic gives a film "1 star" they are "participating in the marketing of a film"? When a Wikipedia article includes a promotional poster, it is not participating in the marketing of a film? Any concerns you have about marketing is already covered by what Wikipedia is not, specifically, Wikipedia is not a vehicle for advertising. An interpretation of a film that holds that certain information is best discovered on your own has nothing to do with marketing, it has to do with this found at no original research policy page: "Interpretations and syntheses must be attributed to reliable sources that make these interpretations and syntheses", and it has to do with this found at the policy of what Wikipedia is not: "Plot summaries. Wikipedia articles on published works (such as fictional stories) should cover their real-world context and sourced analysis, offering detail on a work's development, impact or historical significance, not solely a detailed summary of that work's plot." This guideline MOS:FILM#Reception says "you should analyse how the film was received by critics, meaning professional or well-known film reviewers." Indeed, a plot summary without critical commentary would likely not qualify as fair use. My suggestion is that interpretations are perfectly acceptable in Plot sections if those interpretations are attributed to reliable sources. If you want to cite a writer of film criticism, go ahead. I won't stop you. But don't stop me if I want to cite a reliable source with a different interpretation. The interpretation that a film is best discovered on your own is not really suitable to a Response or Reception section. --Pixelface (talk) 08:30, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
My feeling is that the proposal is illogical and unworkable, and it seems that most editors here don't agree with it. Still, I think we also aren't sure precisely how the proposer envisions it working in practice. I would suggest that the last chance for this proposal is to post an example plot section here. --Melty girl (talk) 20:39, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Citing reliable sources for interpretation is illogical? Here is an example of what I am talking about. --Pixelface (talk) 08:30, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
What Pixelface has tried for No Country for Old Men: this and this. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 20:47, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Wow, that is completely and utterly absurd. I'm not even opposed to spoiler warnings myself. But this is not the way to do it. Roger Ebert's decisions about what is and is not a spoiler count as indiscriminate information. This makes the article look like it was written by a 9 year old. For shame. Cop 663 (talk) 21:14, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
No, if you'll kindly read WP:NOT#INFO it says "Plot summaries. Wikipedia articles on published works (such as fictional stories) should cover their real-world context and sourced analysis, offering detail on a work's development, impact or historical significance, not solely a detailed summary of that work's plot." An interpretation of a film by Roger Ebert is sourced analysis. Citing interpretations by reliable sources is absurd? This guideline MOS:FILM#Reception says "you should analyse how the film was received by critics, meaning professional or well-known film reviewers." And what if I was 9 years old? Wikipedia lets anyone edit. --Pixelface (talk) 08:39, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I wouldn't be so harsh... while I oppose his goal, such examples are probably not final. I imagine if there had been consensus regarding this, there'd be more collaboration in terms of presenting such spoiler alerts to make it look fitting in Wikipedia articles. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 21:24, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Agree with Erik: we shouldn't be harsh. Many excellent ideas are initially unpopular. Who knows: in three years spoiler tags may be back in vogue in WP.
Jim Dunning | talk 21:51, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
I looked and it just appears to be an end-around to insert spoiler warnings into Plot. I'm guessing that Pixelface is arguing that spoiler tags should be used in WP if a critic did same. Sorry: no way! (Have to chuckle, though: I found myself reading the Plot section to see what Pixelface has done and suddenly realized I was about to read the ending and I'm not seeing the movie till next weekend! lol)
Jim Dunning | talk 21:26, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Just an "end-around"? Mentioning that a notable film critic gave a spoiler warning is not a spoiler warning, it's citing an interpretation of a film that has been published in a reliable source. I am not arguing that spoiler tags should be used in Wikipedia if a critic did. There is no spoiler tag. I'm saying that plot summaries should offer sourced analysis per WP:NOT#PLOT and that's what this is — sourced analysis. --Pixelface (talk) 08:39, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Ha! That's funny, so did I! And, sorry, didn't mean to be quite so harsh, but ... that is what I think. :S Cop 663 (talk) 22:19, 18 November 2007 (UTC)
Erik, thank you for the concrete example. Unequivocably, I must say no to adding a critic's admonishment to a plot section in the way that was done with Ebert for No Country. This methodology makes far less sense than a general spoiler warning, though that's what it seems to be serving as. You could similarly add "Richard Roeper gave away the ending to this movie in his review, when he said..." and it wouldn't be any more relevant to the plot section, which merely needs to relate the plot and should eschew critical response and interpretations. The film itself is the media source for the plot section, and we don't need critics to babysit us there. Telling the reader that a critic used a spoiler warning is not analysis. --Melty girl (talk) 09:01, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
I'm coming into this discussion late and having been offline for way too long, but without having read most of the above comments (...getting headaches reminiscent of old spoiler policy discussions...), the newly-resolved encyclopedia-wide spoiler policy is clear, simple, and unambiguous. This does not deserve so much discussion, and especially not here at the project level, which has no superseding "jurisdiction" with regards to the matter. If we wish to discuss section ordering or use of primary vs. secondary sources for particular matters, there are other sections above for precisely those topics. Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 04:52, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
It's not a policy and it's not resolved. --Pixelface 23:03, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

Descriptive plot summaries and primary sources

There has been a debate on Talk:Million Dollar Baby about whether the film can be used as a primary source in writing a descriptive plot summery of the film so long as the summery does not make any analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims. One editor is suggesting that because there are no reliable secondary sources cited in the plot summery, it is entirely original research, and we cannot trust that the editor who wrote the summery actually saw the film. He even went so far as to remove the citation to the movie that I placed from the plot summery because I didn't write the summery. Your comments are welcomed. --Farix (Talk) 21:44, 24 November 2007 (UTC)

Citation is not needed for plot summaries, which are inherently cited as the topic itself. All editors have a certain way of writing any source, primary or secondary, and reviews by other editors need to ensure that the presentation of the information is neutral. It's not original research to write about the plot of a film in a descriptive manner. It'd be original research to make assumptions about any details that are not clearly identified. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 22:28, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
"Citation is not needed for plot summaries, which are inherently cited as the topic itself." That contradicts the guideline on reliable sources which says "Articles should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy." If the description of the film has not been previously published, it's original research. It's doesn't matter if the description is accurate, the criteria for inclusion in articles is verifiability, not truth. A reader has to be able to see that the description has been previously published. --Pixelface 21:54, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Agreed. This has been brought up a lot recently, I'm going to assume by the same few editors, just on different pages. If I paraphrase a review by Roger Ebert, the paraphrase itself could contain original research. The only way to know if by viewing the source. In the case of films, the source would be the film itself. I've read plenty of reviews from critics who gotten things wrong in the film they were reviewing. That's most likely because they are writing these reviews hours, sometimes days after they've viewed the film, and have probably forgotten specifics. Original research can be created from any time of source when you are paraphrasing. You cannot say, "well, the review would have a url to view", because there are plenty of sources out there that come from books. We don't outlaw book sources, which would require having a physical copy to verify the information. This is just the issue with public editing, we have to assume good faith with their edits. If you find descrepencies then you should correct them. If something seems off, but you cannot verify it yourself, then I would bring it up on the talk page of the article.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 22:33, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
With books, you can cite an ISBN and page numbers so readers can easily find the information that supports the material in an article. Films don't have page numbers or a international identification scheme. On Wikipedia, "verifiable" does not mean "a reader could rent the DVD and watch the film and verify the article if they want to." It means "any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source." A reliable third-party source. --Pixelface 22:02, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Um, psst, but if you don't have a book then you have to go check it out or buy it in order to "verify" it. Secondly, there is a "minutes" section in the cite video template, in case you didn't know. If you wanted to, if you were that anal, you could theoretically cite the exact time any given even occurs in a film with that template. It's a little over board, but possible. Please show me the rule that says primary sources are not allowed. I don't think you will, because it doesn't exist. So long as the source is reliable, and what's more reliable than the film itself? I can think of plenty of reviews I've read where they actually got details of the film wrong. Secondly, unless you copy word for word what a reviewer stated, there's the possibility of "original research" when you paraphrase his/her plot description. Another thing, the verifiability page reads:"This page in a nutshell: Material challenged or likely to be challenged, and all quotations, must be attributed to a reliable, published source." - To pull specifically, "reliable, published source". The general overview of verifiability does not say they have to be third-party. What it says later is that the article should rely more on third-party sources, but is not restricted to those. Please read WP:NOR, specifically that part on primary sources. I won't quote the whole section for you, because I'm sure you're Wiki-savy enough to find it. But I will pull one thing for you: "only make descriptive claims about the information found in the primary source, the accuracy and applicability of which is easily verifiable by any reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge." -- If you find a plot summary making "analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims," then obviously it is not complying with WP:NOR. But if the plot IS following the requirements of using a primary source, then there's nothing to be said.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 22:23, 1 December 2007 (UTC) and Google Books let people search inside books for free. But even if a book itself is cited, articles need to be written from third-party sources per the guideline on reliable sources. Even if I accept that the film is a reliable source, the person writing the plot summary is not. That is why we must cite previously published information. If it's unpublished, it's original research. There is talk to merge the guideline on reliable sources into the policy on verifiability. And the primary/secondary/tertiary sources section of the policy on no original research is currently disputed. Original research does refer to "analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims" but it also refers to "unpublished facts." Films are not published. Films are not reliable sources in and of themselves. If they were, no film article would ever need references. --Pixelface 22:47, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
No, they let you search selected pages. If someone used the actual book, you're less likely to be able to view the pages they used on Google Books. Where exactly does it say "no primary sources"? Please show me. Just because something is contested does not mean you ignore it for the time being. People have contested many of our policies, but we follow them until consensus changes them. Regardless, a film IS a published source. Do not confuse that fact, films ARE indeed published information. What do they do with films when they are finished making them? They copy them and release them to the public. What do they do with books when they are done writing them? Wait...that's right, they copy them and release them to the public. Read publishing - "Publishing includes the stages of the development, acquisition, copyediting, graphic design, production – printing (and its electronic equivalents), and marketing and distribution of newspapers, magazines, books, literary works, musical works, software and other works dealing with information, including the electronic media." War and Peace is a published source, just like War and Peace (film) is a published source. Also, there is only so much you can get from a film before you have to find secondary sources. DVD commentary IS a reliable source, and is used for citing production information about a film. Just because you don't like the idea that you have to go watch the film to make sure the plot summary is correct doesn't change the fact that the film verifies itself, so long as there are no subjective claims made about the events that take place. I think you are misunderstanding what WP:V, WP:RS, and WP:NOR are saying.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 23:03, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
This has been discussed quite a few times, I believe. The movie is the primarily source and it is a reliable source. Any editor can watch the movie and see if something is incorrect. Unfortunately, that particularly editor is well know for her fighting virulently against movie articles having spoilers (latest discussion attempt), who refuses to listen to the entire rest of the Film project or any other editors. With the deletion of spoiler template all together and being told in that discussion that no, she can't go around saying "Ebert called this a spoiler", I guess this is her new method of trying to get rid of spoilers, by trying to proclaim the whole section is OR and get rid of the plot section all together. *sigh* Unfortunately, I don't know that, other than being unwilling to yield to consensus, I don't know if she's done anything bannable. Either way you are correct that the film is an appropriate primary source, same as tv episodes are the primarily source for the episode lists.
The only thing I do agree with is there is no need for a citation, per the MOS, because the film itself is the implicit and explicit source. :) AnmaFinotera (talk) 22:37, 24 November 2007 (UTC)
If the film was a reliable source, trivia sections would not get called original research. I would like input from WikiProject Films, but the style guide for films appears to contradict the the guideline on reliable sources that says "Articles should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy." You talk about television episodes being the primary source, but TTN is redirecting them en-masse when they lack reliable sources. I don't think there's such a thing as an implicit citation. We have to cite who said it and where it was previously published. --Pixelface 22:14, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
Um, please do not confuse the requirements for notability with the requirements of sourcing. TTN is redirecting articles because they do not assert their notability. Reciting a plot, even with 12 secondary sources, is not asserting notability. Also, trivia sections are simply unencyclopedic. They aren't removed because of not having reliable sources (even though some make some outlandish claims), they are mainly removed because Wiki isn't a trivia house. If the information is citable, then it should be incorporated as prose, into a legitimate section of the article.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 22:29, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
What Bignole said. Individual character and episode articles do NOT meet notability requirements and should not be created unless real world notability can be asserted. Hence the redirect, to either the main article or to an appropriate list of article that is a subsection of the main. (which I'm also part of the massive effort to clean up). The lists of frequently do get tagged for lacking cites, which is easily done using the film or show (most people just don't make the effort). The list of episodes, being a subsection of the article, are generally considered appropriate, and can include some real world info (like DVD releases, availability online, etc. Individual episode articles are what is not notable and no appropriate. But that argument is already well covered in the TV project and is completely unrelated here. No one is saying Plots should be broken out into their own articles (which would swiftly get merged back or AfDed).
There is a difference between being uncitable (no source), and no one wanting to take the time to source the entire thing (using the primary source: the film). We could go through through and put a citation tag on every last sentence pointing to the minutes, or even just put a single citation on the plot header for the movie. However, consensus is that in the case of film plots, the citation itself IS implicit and that adding a citation tag to say "this plot comes from the movie this article is about" is NOT required (and frankly, would look just plain silly). By your reasoning, the very first line of every film article would have to include a citation to prove the film even exists, because the primary source of its existance is...the film!
As for your argument that the plot is OR, not according to the WP:NOR. Specifically, from WP:PSTS, "to the extent that an article or particular part of an article relies on a primary source, that part of the article should: only make descriptive claims about the information found in the primary source." Film = primary source, plot summary = descriptive claim about the information (content) of the film. So no, giving a plot summary that describes what happens in the film is not OR.
FYI: You ARE getting input from WikiProject Films, but it seems like you don't like what we're telling you. AnmaFinotera 23:04, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
In response to Bignole, Television episodes are not reliable sources in and of themselves. And neither are films. Why should an editor have to cite trivia if the fictional work is the implicit primary source? --Pixelface 22:55, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
WP:IINFO: "Merely being true, or even verifiable, does not automatically make something suitable for inclusion in the encyclopedia." There are many, many observations one could make about any topic, fictional or not, but that does not mean it should be included. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 22:57, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
You are lumping all trivia together, don't do that. Saying, "John Doe said, Friday the 13th is the best horror movie ever." is citable by the television show, because you can watch the show and find out if he said it or not. What you cannot do is cite the show when you write, "John Doe's expression of F13 as the best horror film ever made it clear that the director of that show loved F13". --That's not basic information, it's an interpretation of the event, and interpretations require secondary sources. Sorry, but you cannot lump everything in together and say "that's wrong".  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 23:03, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
It seems very disruptive for Pixelface to have started this strange policy argument at the talk page for a single film article. S/he should be encouraged to discuss it here or on a broader WP policy talk page rather than being allowed to disrupt a single article. But the bottom line: film is media, and of course it is a valid source, just like a novel would be a valid source for its WP article. --Melty girl (talk) 00:36, 25 November 2007 (UTC)
The talk page for a film article is for discussing how to improve the article. I don't think I was being disruptive and I don't think I've made a "strange" argument. I've read Wikipedia's three core policies. The policy on verifiability says "any reader should be able to check that material added to Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source. Editors should provide a reliable source for quotations and for any material that is challenged or is likely to be challenged, or it may be removed." The policy on no original research] says the term original research refers to "unpublished facts." and "Facts must be backed by citations to reliable sources that contain these facts." The policy on no original research] also says "Compliance with our Verifiability Policy and our cite sources guideline is the best way to ensure that you do not violate our NOR policy. In short, the only way to demonstrate that you are not presenting original research is to cite reliable sources that provide information directly related to the topic of the article; the only way to demonstrate that you are not inserting your own POV is to represent these sources and the views they reflect accurately." The policy on neutral point of view says "All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly and, as much as possible, without bias all significant views (that have been published by reliable sources)." All three core policies mention reliable sources. The guideline on reliable sources says "Articles should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy." A film is not a third-party source. --Pixelface 22:23, 1 December 2007 (UTC)
After reviewing the sources cited in "support" of the so-called "spoiler debate" in the film article, I think that there is no debate, and it's not really about spoilers. Whether to reveal a plot twist (or that there even a twist) in a review is an issue that certainly occurs. At first blush this film could be grouped with other works like The Sixth Sense and The Crying Game where giving away the ending could ruin the viewing experience. Million Dollar Baby, however, gets into this issue not so much about the ending being a surprise or twist (it wasn't for many), but because the mercy killing is a hot-button and carries a lot of emotional/ethical weight with it. More specifically, many who felt strongly about this element of the story had difficulty discussing the issue without giving away the ending (okay: they found it impossible). Focusing on a "spoiler debate" in the article, however, distracts and detracts from the more notable issue of the euthanasia theme and the accompanying discussion.
Consequently, the issue shouldn't be about when reviewers use spoilers, but how the euthanasia theme was addressed by reviewers and other writers. There isn't much of a spoiler use "debate" in this instance. Instead, the material should be rolled into a themes treatment.
Jim Dunning | talk 15:22, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

I think there's a misunderstanding of the phrase Articles should be based on reliable, third-party, published sources with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy. It doesn't mean that articles cannot have any primary or tertiary sources whatsoever (as policy makes clear) - it states that on the whole, articles need grounding from neutral and trusted sources. Well-developed articles, such as our FAs, have a minority of content within the Plot section - the vast majority which discusses the subject is secondary sources. That does not preclude the usage of primary sources where appropriate, which is no different than how one would summarize a novel, a play, or an opera. I would be concerned if articles were generally void of third-party sources, but there's a difference between the entirety of a developed article, and a particular section. It is also worth bearing in mind that the needs of articles on fictional subjects differ from those of non-fictional ones; were it not the case, there would be considerably less guidelines, policies, and MOS pages, including this one. Girolamo Savonarola 12:37, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

Even more so, the use of secondary sources is more important when a potentially "controversial" claim is made (for films, this can be even statements such as "Film such-and-such was the highest grossing film in the summer of 2006"), a primary source can be used to help support, but cannot solely support the statement. But for "non-controversial" aspects of films such as plots, as long as one is not introducing original research, primary sources are fine, if even necessary at all. --MASEM 14:49, 2 December 2007 (UTC)


Pixelface earns an A+ for stubornness and forum-shopping, having pushed the identical idea on multiple talk pages, always with staunch opposition. All through it, Pixelface has been unwilling to acknowledge the obvious flaws in the proposal or to respond to the objections of many other editors.

Wikipedia likely has tens of thousands—perhaps hundreds of thousands—of articles on fictional works. Most contain a plot summary, in nearly all cases "sourced" from the works themselves. If Pixelface is correct, then virtually all of those plot summaries violate WP:V, WP:RS and WP:NOR. In many cases, I suspect that this "problem" cannot be rectified — that is, one would struggle to find a secondary source meeting that describes the entire plot and is "reliable" as Pixelface defines the term.

Several questions immediately arise:

  • If these plot summaries do indeed violate WP:V, WP:RS and WP:NOR, why hasn't it been noticed before now? The practice is rampant and widespread; no regular participant can fail to notice the it. How have these violations endured for so long?
  • What about the authors of WP:V, WP:RS and WP:NOR? These are bedrock policies, and their history can easily be researched. Did anyone say, "Aha! Finally we can get those atrocious unsourced plot summaries out of Wikipedia." Some of the early contributors to those policies must still be with the project. Why aren't they speaking up when policies they help to write are so blatantly violated in all of our fiction articles?
  • What about the Wikipedia readers (which includes all of us)? Is there anyone saying, "You know, the problem with this encyclopedia is that it contains plot summaries that were written by — gosh, almighty! — reading the book or watching the film, and know, summarizing it!!! How awful!"

In summary, if Pixelface's interpretation is correct, the consequences are absurd. And an absurd interpretation is surely the wrong interpretation. Marc Shepherd 17:22, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

While I have disagreed with Pixelface about how plot summaries should be written and cited, I'll play the Devil's Advocate here. I don't think it's quite fair to say that because plot summaries are inherently sourced on a widespread basis means that it's OK. There are a lot of fictional topics out there that are in explicit violation of WP:FICTION and WP:NOT#PLOT -- fans that are involved with these articles will defend them as steadfastly as we have plot summaries. I understand Pixelface's arguments but do not believe that they warrant the upheaval of the plot summaries per the arguments you and I and others have put forth. However, comments like "Pixelface earns an A+ for stubbornness and forum-shopping" are not appropriate. I know you disagree with him vehemently, so do the rest of us, but the stances are clear and the consensus has been reflected. There's no need for vitriol. I hope that Pixelface realizes that there is abundantly clear opposition from others, but I don't think that criticism of the editor is appropriate. We all have our perspectives, which sometimes puts us in the minority. Maybe in the future we will have another discussion about plot summaries with a different approach -- it happened with non-free images, after all. It's clear that it is not considered a major issue at this stage, and Pixelface's arguments may shine some light on a future matter. In the meantime, I would suggest that all of us indulge in some hearty editing for the betterment of Wikipedia. :) —Erik (talkcontrib) - 18:49, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Sorry, Erik, but when an editor continues to make the identical points on multiple pages, without attempting to find compromise with experienced editors, I do call that stubbornness and forum-shopping.
The issue, of course, is not merely that the practice is widespread, but that it has endured across a wide spectrum of articles without, as far as I can tell, any significant opposition to date. See, for instance, Cymbeline, a 400-year-old Shakespeare play with a plot summary sourced from the work itself – clearly not a case of fan fiction. This situation markedly differs from the uploading of non-free images that are rapidly tagged the instant they appear, and swiftly removed unless the justification is compelling. Marc Shepherd 19:03, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
I understand, and I agree with you, Marc. Just remember that the criteria for non-free images were lenient than they are now. I'm not saying for sure that it could happen to plot summaries, but both copyrighted images and reiterations of copyrighted works fall under fair use. A topic like Cymbeline wouldn't suffer that fate, of course, but there is a lot of attention on articles of contemporary media, especially TV shows, from what I can tell. I've worked with future films, and there have been instances of editors wanting to list very intricate details about the film. We limit that, obviously, but I'm sure that how we limited non-free images in the past would be perceived as lenient. Things can change, most of all this dynamic encyclopedia. In any case, I do not truly believe there is much more that can be said about the issue at hand; arguments on both sides have become circuitous without any kind of budging. In the meantime, I think we can contribute a bit more on the mainspace than we do on these talk pages. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 19:12, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

This is a question for all editors who have been discussing this: Are plot summaries that appear on the Internet Movie Database considered reliable sources? --Pixelface 21:56, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

We wouldn't cite IMDb to begin with, but if that's where you read the plot summary, I'd trust their judgement just as much as anyone else's that comes here and writes up a plot. Though, you need to use common sense in what you take from their plots, because they may not be written in a purely declarative way, and my entertain its own original research.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 22:19, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Plot summaries on IMDb are created exactly the same way as Wikipedia: they're contributed by anonymous editors. The difference is they can't be changed after they're submitted. Cop 663 23:22, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
The films themselves are far more reliable sources than IMDb summaries, and they're published media. Why would you want to cite IMDb plot sections here? What's the drive behind your question? --Melty girl 23:35, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
No, I would not, Pixelface. Firstly, because while it may be similar to Wikipedia in that it is user-submitted, it is not then user-editable. Secondly, it is not uncommon for film entries at the imdb to have two or more plot summaries listed, and these will sometimes give conflicting information. It has therefore, in my eyes at least, proven itself less than reliable for this type of information. As for the wider point, once a film is released, it becomes its own source for the summary, no different to a video interview with the director being used as a cite in the production section, no different to a DVD commentary being used for the same, no different from my opening a book up and paraphrasing for an article even. As long as the summary is written with as little interpretation as possible (e.g. "Butch hears a toilet flush; Vincent Vega exits the bathroom and Butch shoots him dead"), history has shown that there are few problems beyond a failure to adhere to the general guidelines. After all, even WP:CITE says that attribution is only required "for...material that is challenged or likely to be challenged." Now, when there are problems with the method (e.g. "how do we know Butch hears the flush, eh?"), the routes open to us are, yes, find a citation for it if necessary. But also to look for a consensus; other people will have seen the film. The offending passage may even be removed if it has little impact ("Vincent Vega exits the bathroom and Butch shoots him dead.") You may not find this ideal, and you have presented arguments against using the film as the primary source, but the proof is in the pudding and, for the most part, it has worked thus far on Wikipedia. Minor difficulties may emerge from time to time, but they're rare and usually only a few moments thought away from resolution, and are certainly rarer than the more common edit wars which occur on Wikipedia involving conflicting citations from two or more ostensibly-reliable sources. Best regards, Steve TC 00:12, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

Plot summaries on the Internet Movie Database that are written by people that watched a film can be considered self published. Plot summaries on Wikipedia written by people that watched a film can also be considered self published. Editors cannot cite themselves. If plot summaries on the Internet Movie Database are not reliable sources, I don't see how plot summaries written by editors can be considered reliable. If it's deteramined that plot summaries on the Internet Movie Database are reliable sources, they can be cited in order to give Plot sections inline citatons and follow the guideline on reliable sources which says articles should be written from third-party sources. It appears that plot summaries on IMDB are not editable[1] but plot synopses on IMDB are editable[2]. --Pixelface (talk) 01:49, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

I intend no offence with this, but I'm not sure you grasp what I mean. When we write plot summaries, we are not citing ourselves, we're citing the film. Would you consider my citing a video interview with the director, DVD commentary or any other non-print source as citing ourselves? I wouldn't, and they're exactly the same kind of thing as observing plot events on-screen and relaying them in an article. Now, if you do consider those as such, then fair enough; you would be arguing for a massive change in the encylopedia which I suspect would not be accepted, but I wish you luck with that. Best regards, Steve TC 08:23, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
If a plot summary has no citation, you are not citing the film. And I don't think citing the entire film is acceptable. Which version of the film are you citing? If you cite a director's commentary on a DVD, you're pointing to another person who said something. If you summarized the film on your blog, that would not be an acceptable source. So how does publishing it on Wikipedia become acceptable? --Pixelface (talk) 05:44, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Because on Wikipedia, other editors can verify the accuracy of the synopsis by consulting the film and correcting the synopsis if necessary as per WP:CONSENSUS. This is not the case with blogs and IMDB summaries, which could be inaccurate but are unalterable. Cop 663 (talk) 17:58, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
By Pixelface's definition, if I read a plot summary by Roger Ebert, and cite it, I am simply self-publishing, because I am reading his words and then relaying them in an article. If editors cannot be trusted to watch a film and describe what happens in it, they equally cannot be trusted to read Roger Ebert's words and describe accurately what he says. This way lies madness, Pixelface... Cop 663 (talk) 18:19, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Citations are provided for Roger Ebert's words so readers can verify what was said, and that it was previously published by a reliable source. Quotes can be provided. The reference is freely available online. If a plot summary contains no citation, a reader has no clue whether the information is accurate or pure nonsense. Editors are not reliable sources. --Pixelface (talk) 05:51, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
The problem with Pixelface's approach goes far deeper than that. Except in very limited cases, every valid editorial contribution to Wikipedia requires that editors summarize their sources. This means that, at every step, editors are deciding what facts to present, in what order, in what format, and in what words. If editors cannot do that, then we have no encyclopedia. Marc Shepherd (talk) 18:50, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Yes, summarize their sources with inline citations. If you can't point to where it was previously published, it shouldn't be on Wikipedia. --Pixelface (talk) 05:53, 8 December 2007 (UTC)
Just like Ebert's words, the words and visuals of the film are available to anyone who wishes to view them. The above statement, however, is premised upon online sources and would therefore seem to argue that offline sources are unacceptable references in WP. Since "a reader has no clue whether the information is accurate or pure nonsense" for offline sources as well (since they are not "freely available online"), is Pixelface arguing that they are no longer credible sources? Again, the point others are making is that every source, whether explicitly cited or not, comes to WP through the lens of the editor, but is tempered and vetted by CONSENSUS.
Jim Dunning | talk 07:29, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Pixelface, the fact is that you've attempted to "shop" your interpretation of WP:V, WP:RS and WP:NOR on multiple talk pages, and met with overwhelming opposition everywhere. Your interpretation is clearly contrary to established practice, and seasoned editors clearly disagree, no matter where or how you attempt to make the point.

It's not as if the rest of us think WP:V, WP:RS and WP:NOR are unimportant. Indeed, since most editors recognize these principles as both valid and vital. It's highly unlikely that the practice you oppose would have flourished and endured — as it clearly has — if core principles were being violated.

Your options at this point are:

  • Keep repeating yourself. Realistically, arguments that have been unpersuasive before will probably continue to be unpersuasive, unless you can bring new arguments to the table, but you're free to keep trying.
  • Accept the consensus, and find a more productive way to contribute.
  • Find another online project that's edited the way you believe this one ought to be. Marc Shepherd (talk) 19:59, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Re-ordering sections

There was a brief conversation about this a few weeks ago, and there seemed some enthusiasm for the idea - what would people think of moving the plot summary sections further down in articles? I figure that a very short synopsis of the plot belongs in the leads of articles (Star Wars is the story of Luke Skywalker's attempt to stop the villainous Darth Vader and the galactic empire. White Chicks chronicles the attempt of two African-American police officers to go undercover as white women) and that this provides sufficient context to talk about the things that are most important in our articles - real-world information about production, critical reception, etc. Plot sections are, ultimately, appendices that provide context for the important information. They are not the primary focus of articles, and putting them first is, in that regard, misleading. Phil Sandifer 20:10, 3 December 2007 (UTC)

From what I've seen, there are two arguments. One is that the Plot section should be at the top of the article because it seems fair to precede background information about the topic with a description of the topic itself. The other argument is that plot summaries are only complementary to the real-world context of the film, so they should not be placed so highly. Obviously, Phil, you've reflected the latter argument. It's a matter of considering if that overrides the front-and-center attention of the fictional topic's description. I could go either way, and I know there's been a few Featured Articles that place the plot summary "deeper" into the article. Perhaps we should discuss the pros and cons for each argument? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 20:13, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
I think you've summarized the two sides. And I agree - some plot context is often needed for other sections. But I do think that, for the most part, little should be needed that can't be put into the article lead. You shouldn't need a blow by blow - you should need a basic sense of what sort of film this is. The rest can be introduced contextually - i.e. "Writer came up with the film's twist ending when he..." or "for the film's climactic naval battle, twenty boats were..." Constructs like that provide enough context to follow, and let someone know that they'll want to go down to the plot section if they need more context than that. Phil Sandifer 20:23, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
A follow-up thought: an inherent reason why the Plot section is placed on the top so often is that in Stub-class and Start-class articles, there is usually only the Plot section and perhaps a Trivia section (yech). It's easy for editors that pass through to describe the film or Easter eggs in the film rather than taking the time to research. Perhaps it would be a good move to deepen the plot summary as an indication that the article is mature. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 20:16, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
We could fix this situation by simply declaring that plot sections should not be the first section written, and reduce articles that are just plot sections to their lead sections alone. Essentially, "no plot summary until you have real world context first." I'd support that guideline strongly. Phil Sandifer 20:22, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Personally, I think that the Plot should come first, so as to provide the necessary context for the rest of the article. Discussing particular production problems related to the plot makes little sense if one hasn't already read the plot section, for example. Being as the article is about a fictional work, it would seem to make sense to discuss the work first before bringing up its effects and reaction in the real-world. Girolamo Savonarola 21:03, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Phil's proposal almost sounds punitive: "Children, no dessert till you've finished your vegetables."
No one disputes that a well-rounded encyclopedia article about a film should, among other things, summarize the plot. It so happens that a plot summary is fairly easy to produce, so naturally, it is often among the first things written. Real-world context is harder to come by, and isn't even that meaningful until a film builds up a track record. If Wikipedia had existed when Citizen Kane came out, its real-world context then would be a lot different than it is today, but the plot has always been the same.
In an encyclopedia written by volunteers, some articles will be incomplete for a very long time. I have seen articles that were stub-class or start-class for years, then suddenly there's a flurry of activity, and they become GA or FA. Content begets content: the more you have, the more people will want to add. It helps no one to artificially suppress the plot summary until the rest of the article gets written, which could take months or years to happen.
In terms of the section order, it might be worth looking at a few of the FA-Class film articles, and asking yourself if restructuring would make these articles better. Marc Shepherd 21:24, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Night of the Living Dead, Cannibal Holocaust, and Triumph of the Will would be improved. But I'm a Cheerleader, Casino Royale (2006 film), and The Boondock Saints would not be harmed. Those are the six I quickly surveyed. Phil Sandifer 22:53, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
Why would they be improved? Cop 663 02:25, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
In the case of the first three, because so much of what is interesting about the films has nothing to do with the details of the plot - you really just need to know the basic outlines: zombies attack, there are cannibals, and we like Nazis. In the case of the other three the plots are, for a variety of reasons, somewhat more important - But I'm a Cheerleader is a film where much hinges on the ending, and Casino Royale is interesting in comparison with the book and previous film. Boondock Saints is actually probably closer to Night of the Living Dead - not a movie where the plot is one of the most interesting things about it. But, notably, I don't think that even for articles where the plot is more important it harms the article to move the plot section down. Phil Sandifer 14:20, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
I haven't checked the articles you cite; I'm happy to take your word for it that these articles would be improved. While accepting the point, however, I still don't think it should be a matter of policy to dictate this; if a variation is required, it should be left up to individual editors and article caretakers to decide on a case-by-case basis. Best regards, Steve TC 14:53, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Right now, though, the style manual clearly flags the plot section as an early section. And so right now it's not left up to individual caretakers. Phil Sandifer 15:21, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
What I mean, is generally-speaking, plot sections are better placed at the top, giving the aforementioned fictional context, but that there will always be individual circumstances in which it is prudent to ignore all rules; if for no other reason than to introduce a bit of variation now and again. Best regards, Steve TC 15:29, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Can you find me an article where a thorough plot synopsis is necessary to provide context for later sections? Phil Sandifer 16:13, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

I like having plot sections at the top because they act as a fictional context for the rest of the article. There's also fair use requirements: the plot can easily go bare if it's near the infobox and its poster/DVD cover, but the belly of the article can have all those critical commentary images with the real world context. Alientraveller 10:47, 4 December 2007 (UTC)

I understand the context argument, but most of the articles, and particularly the Good/FA articles I've looked at don't seem to benefit from the plot section going first. Or, at least, the later setions do not pick up on the specific details offered by the plot section, making the plot section a bit of a digression. Phil Sandifer 15:21, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Titanic (1997 film) is one example: see the section on 'editing', in particular (it's badly-written but that's not the issue). Ran (film) is another example, where many of the production and adaptation details require an understanding of the plot in some detail.Cop 663 19:15, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
OK - but the editing section could also be retitled "Change to the ending" and moved away from the other production material, from which it has a noticeably different tone. Ran is a messier case, but Ran is also a messier article, and I honestly find it, in some ways, to be an example of why this change would be good - far too much of that article is focused on the character list, and the later sections are very poorly written - even with the plot summary I have trouble following the article. Which is one of the benefits of actively de-emphasizing plot summaries - it's a very strong way to actively de-emphasize in-universe material. Phil Sandifer 19:24, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Ah - I didn't notice the character list, which is a recent addition with a cleanup tag (and should really be deleted as superfluous - maybe I'll do that right now!) What do you thing about Ran (film) apart from that horrid section? Cop 663 19:57, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Ah, good. A much stronger article now. Though I think most of it would still be perfectly clear if the plot section went immediately before themes - and in some ways clearer, since the background and Lear stuff really add a new dimension to the plot and makes it read in a much stronger context. Phil Sandifer 21:01, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Phil, what's your opinion about Fight Club (film)? I attempted to deepen the plot, which seemed to look OK, though another editor reverted me. I'm on the fence here 'cause I can see arguments from both sides. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 21:09, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Fight Club seems like a tricky one to me, since a lot of stuff hinges on the ending. That said, revealing the ending in the lead would make a lot of sense to me, as it's one of the most fundamental aspects of the story. Phil Sandifer (talk) 21:58, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
There's really no need to reveal a film's ending in the lead of an article in my opinion. Is that real-world information? --Pixelface (talk) 01:56, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
Try arguing the other way around: what value is there in placing other sections ahead of Plot? Certainly Themes and Reception are dependent upon knowledge of the story, so should follow it. Production often references the Cast, so, in most cases, should go after. That would leave Plot vs Cast for first place, and either one suits me.
Jim Dunning | talk 19:12, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
Well, I think we need to distinguish between plot and premise. Certainly themes, reception, etc. depend on an idea of the premise of the story. But that's different from a detailed plot summary. And in most cases, I don't think themes and reception depend on more than the basic outline of what's going on - something that should be covered in the lead section. Phil Sandifer 19:13, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
What exactly is the problem we're trying to solve? Marc Shepherd (talk) 21:22, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
I'm trying to come up with a formatting-based way to emphasize what film articles are - something that helps us make clear to anyone who looks at the article that the article is not primarily for in-universe trivia, "in popular culture" sections, etc. Phil Sandifer (talk) 22:25, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
How would placing in-universe information in the lead (revealing the ending in the lead) do that? I think the trivia guideline already addresses the issues of in-universe trivia, and it contains a link to an essay about in popular culture sections. --Pixelface (talk) 02:03, 6 December 2007 (UTC)
I think you're trying to mandate this in the hopes that it will somehow improve the quality of the articles by discouraging cruftiness. The problem is that it won't - the average cruft-editor doesn't read the guidelines, and the problem largely is a function of undeveloped articles mainly at Stub and Start level. In that sense, it's inevitable until a serious editor rolls around to clean up. Reordering the sections does not (in my view) make sense on its own, nor will it serve as a prophylaxis against bad editing. Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 22:36, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
My god, imagine the energy that would be expended on altering every single film article in Wikipedia to reorder the sections. Imagine the endless fights that would ensue as editors resist the change. And all that expense of energy will not make any of the articles better. What would make them better is (a) deleting the cruft on sight, and (b) actually adding some good content to these articles. That's where the energy should be directed IMO. Anything else is procrastination. Cop 663 (talk) 01:44, 5 December 2007 (UTC)

"Plot" --> "Plot summary"

It seems to me that one of the problems we have with drive-by additions of spoiler warnings to the Plot sections of articles is that the readers don't actually expect it to contain details of the plot. This may seem silly; indeed, it does to me. After all, what else is the section going to contain? Still, there is some small ambiguity with the one-word section title. Someone may read it expecting an analysis, perhaps. Or, at a stretch, an exploration of the themes of the film. It may do some good, and be more accurate a description, were we to recommend titling such sections Plot summary instead. I'm not saying I'd endorse this particularly (truth be told, I'm rather ambivalent), but I'd like to gauge opinion on the matter. Best regards, Steve TC (formerly [[User:Liquidfinale|Liquidfinale]

==]) 11:53, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

I personally think it's unlikely that the two can be confused. If anything, "Plot summary" seems too short-sounding, on the level of a synopsis or even a premise. "Plot" is more full-sounding; it doesn't mince words about its scope within the limits of WP:MOSFILM. Really, though, I've seen them used interchangeably and am not sure if there is a need to lock it into one specific titling. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 14:06, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
To me, plot summary = synopsis, a very short summary of the title. That's usually how I've seen it used in film articles as well. Plot, however, is the one usually found with the full plot section. AnmaFinotera (talk) 16:14, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
I think that they're essentially interchangeable - all our articles are supposed to summarize, but they're also supposed to contain the plot from start to finish. (But not in its entire blow-by-blow.) There's no essential difference in the meaning when viewed literally, and I don't see how dictating a change of heading title will actually result in different behaviors. At the end of the day, overzealous "fanboy" behavior will occur either way; it's best to simply keep our policies clear and as well-circulated as possible, so that any editor following up knows to revert. Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 20:41, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Fair enough; as I say, I was just looking to gauge opinion, as the MOS currently dictates "Plot" solely and I'd be willing to bet good money that each one of us has said something like "as per MOSFILM" (or words to that effect) in an edit summary at one time or another. I'm just looking for ways to head off potential spoiler debates on individual article talk pages now that the {{spoiler}} tag has waved goodbye; they're a waste of everyone's time. All the best, Steve TC 21:17, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

The best way to head off spoiler arguments is the content disclaimer. Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 21:20, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Film Noir italics

Hey film fanatics! This may be an esoteric question, but here goes: I edit a whole lot of film noir articles and I want to discusss the following: Should the use of the term "film noir" in articles be in italics? Is it film noir in italics, or NOT? Since it is a foreign word, I use italics. And, this is especially true of other terms like noir and neo-noir. I'd like some feedback please, especially from some of the seasoned wikepedians. I bet the issue may have come up in the past. Thanks. ♦ Luigibob ♦ "Talk to Luigi!" 21:28, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Based on MOS guidelines on the matter, I would say that it's a sufficiently recognizable term in common English usage. Therefore, no italics. Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 21:38, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

The phrase "award-winning" in the lead section

A gentleman named JediLofty is removing the words "award-winning" and "Academy Award nominated" from the lead sections of film articles on the grounds that they are "POV" and that MOS:FILM says you should not mention such things in the lead. I feel that (a) it's not POV, it's a demonstrable fact, and (b) the MOS may not say you should but it doesn't say you shouldn't either. It does say you should mention any "notable facts"; I would have thought winning awards was notable. What do people think? Cop 663 (talk) 15:43, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

If the film has won awards that are covered in the article, then mentioning that in the lead is appropriate per WP:LEAD. The lead should summarize the article, that that is part of the summary. AnmaFinotera (talk) 16:14, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
I think that these words should be excluded because first, "award-winning" can mean anything from the Oscars and BAFTAs to online critics circle awards. Thus, the prominence can be exaggerated. It can be easily reflected later in the lead section what it won, rather than making a sweeping generalization. In addition, "Academy Award nominated" in the lead not only applies the same way, but also is an issue of systemic bias, assuming that the Oscars are bar none the defining awards for a film, where there are awards like BAFTAs, Golden Globes, SAG awards, et cetera. For example, Transformers could start off as "an award-winning, Academy Award nominated film", where it won the MTV award for most anticipated summer film and was nominated for special effects. The first sentence should usually describe the general background of the film and be consistent across the board, and awards should be part of the release portion of the lead section. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 16:31, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Exactly. There's a place for it, but not before you actually describe what the film is. Otherwise, sentences would be all over the place. Not to mention a film's gross speaks far more than the biased Oscars. Alientraveller (talk) 19:22, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
On a side note, I just want to say that since the Oscars purport to reward artistic achievement, not financial success, the gross doesn't really substitute for awards; they're two different issues. We're writing about both art and commerce here. --Melty girl (talk) 19:42, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
This is a tough one. However, I tend to agree with Cop 663 on this. As he says, "it's a demonstrable fact." However, I can see the other side, especially if the film garners few awards. But some films garner so many awards (like some of the world films I edit) that the phrase almost demands its inclusion in the lead. Luigibob (talk) 04:05, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
I understand what you're saying, but there's a wide range of accolades. I've seen Superman Returns start off as "an Academy Award-nominated film", and with no context, that's a bit of exaggeration with awards covering so many aspects. It seems better to provide the general background of the film at the beginning, and to mention the awards later on. After all, the lead section is meant to serve as a concise overview of the article. There's no hurry to bring up the fact it won multiple awards from the get-go. As the lead section is absorbed by the reader, that understanding will be substantiated anyway. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 04:13, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Per consensus here, I have added it to the manual. [3] Alientraveller (talk) 18:12, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

I suggest rewriting the Lead section guideline to fix grammar and clarity issues —

The lLead section of an article serves as a quick introduction to the film. The very first paragraph should cover the basics, such as the film's release year, alternate titles, genre(s), setting, country, stars, and director (and possibly writer, if significant in some cases). One or two of the most notable, verifiable facts about the film, such as "At the time of its release, it was the most expensive film ever made", could also be included. The phrase "award-winning" in the first sentence of the lead is not recommended: it provides little context to the reader; and the latter later parts of the lLead should instead detail the major awards won or those for which it was nominated for.

The second paragraph should be a brief look at the film's impact: critic and reviewer reactions, whether or not it was a commercial success, mention of sequels or remakes, as well as its lasting influence or significant impact outside the world of film.

Changes are indicated in italics and strikethroughs.
Jim Dunning | talk 18:47, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Jim, I already made some adjustments to the original version -- you might want to look at it ahead and go ahead and copyedit the new version. --Melty girl (talk) 19:51, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
I strongly disagree with the suggestion that terms like "award nominated" or "award-winning" should be deprecated from the lead. In the case of films that attract major awards such as Palm D'Or, Oscar, BAFTA, the fact that a film wins such an award should probably be in the very first sentence. Nominations for Oscars are conventionally held to be accolades in themselves, representing recognition by the movie-maker's peers. Some caution should be used in the case of films that pick up nominations for such things as music, set direction, costume and the like, where these are not major aspects of the film. --Tony Sidaway 18:56, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Being nominated an Oscar for Best Visual Effects is not the same thing as being nominated an Oscar for Best Picture. Therefore, to start out with "Transformers is an Oscar-nominated action film..." conveys totally the wrong impression. I've seen it done with other articles, and it really seems like artificial inflation of the films' reputations. I really don't see the problem with keeping such wording out in the first sentence and be able to detail nominations and wins more specifically later on in the lead section. The range of awards that a film could win is too enormous to be succinctly presented in the first sentence. Not to mention, this would be a slant toward the importance of award wins. While I'd favor award wins over box office performance, it seems academically biased to prefer the term "award-winning" over "box office blockbuster". These are details that can be easily fleshed out in the fullness of the lead section without sounding exaggerated. It seems far easier to flow from the indisputable it-is-what-it-is (release year, country, director, writer, stars) sentence to the nuances of its reception. Theoretically, the lead section is a concise overview of the article, so we shouldn't worry that the scale of a film's impact is lost when we don't mention it in the first sentence. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 19:09, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
Tony, the phrase in question is not recommended against for the lead, just the first sentence of the lead. And Alientraveller's new phrase does just what you suggest: asks for specifics about major awards. --Melty girl (talk) 19:51, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
My point is that we shouldn't really bother with specifics in most cases. For instance in my opinion it's perfectly okay to refer to Superman as an Oscar-winning movie, because its special effects, which were revolutionary at the time and crucial to the success of the film, won the film a special achievement award. At the moment the lead of that movie completely fails even to mention that it won an Oscar at all, and even fails to mention the three nominations. In the context of a special effects-heavy film, two of those three noiminations (Sound, Film Editing) are particularly significant, and the omission from the lead of any mention of the Oscar nomination of John Williams for Original Score seems very, very odd to me. --Tony Sidaway 20:22, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
I agree that Superman is oddly void of any mention of award wins in its lead section -- that didn't get discovered during the GA assessment. However, why wouldn't we be able to say that Superman won for its technical achievements later in the lead section with an example or two, then explain it all thoroughly in the appropriate section of the article? Superman's achievements were not artistic in the classical sense, so the generic term "award-winning" seems unnecessarily broad. It's not much more to specify the kinds of awards a film won, where the "award-winning" adjective seems equivalent to a sentence, "This film won many awards" without any clear understanding. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 20:36, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
It's much more informative to actually say in the lead that "Superman's special effects were widely considered to be revolutionary and won the film a special achievement Academy Award," than to append "Oscar award-winning" in the first sentence. There are so many awards, and for so many things, that "award-winning" is rather meaningless. Something like your example, however, if briefly spelled out, is exactly what is needed to give real context to the impact of a given film. --Melty girl (talk) 20:43, 10 February 2008 (UTC)
It was Alientraveller's very sensible policing of the Transformers (film) article that prompted my initial foray into the deletion of comments in the lead referring to "award-winning", "Oscar-nominated" et al. It does slant the article right from the start. I'm not saying that the awards and nominations shouldn't appear at all, far from it, I just don't think they belong as the fourth or fifth words of the article! Yes, they've won awards but in the same way that the Charles Manson article doesn't start out with "Charles Manson was a psychotic mass-murderer..." film articles shouldn't start out with their awards (whether they be Oscars or Razzies!) -- JediLofty User ¦ Talk 17:40, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

I agree with JediLofty and Melty girl. For a start, the phrase "award winning" is so vague as to be useless, not merely in the lede of a movie article, but anywhere in any article. It ought to be excluded under WP:PEACOCK. (If you want to comment, I've just now proposed that here: Wikipedia talk:Avoid peacock terms#"Award-winning".) As regards the more specific question of, say, Oscars, I have no problem mentioning them in the lede. If it's a prestigious category, or one which reflects an important aspect of the movie, it can be mentioned in in the opening paragraph. But it should never be in the opening sentence. For one thing, that attaches too much importance to the Academy Awards (and a fortiori other awards). We all know how capricious and unscientific any film award is: is Marisa Tomei a better actor than Peter O'Toole? Is Scent of a Woman Al Pacino's best performance? Naive Oscar-based judgments would say so. Probably no film is made specifically in order to win an Oscar, although some productions are influenced by that consideration. This is really a general Wikipedia:Lead section point: the first sentence should state what a thing is; the rest of the opening para states why it is noteworthy; the rest of the introduction summarises the article. Most articles about people or films that have won Oscars devote comparatively little of the main text to the awards; the intro should reflect the same priorities. I think the sentence:

The phrase "award-winning" in the first sentence of the lead is not recommended

should be strengthened to:

Awards won, or nominations received for awards, should not be mentioned in the first sentence of the lead

jnestorius(talk) 00:49, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Deleted Scenes

I propose a new section describing Deleted Scenes. This section would come just after the Plot section. There is almost no information about deleted scenes anywhere on the internet with the exception of Memory Alpha, Wookieepedia, Battlestar Wiki and a few other sites. Deleted Scenes may be short, but they should be covered on Wikipedia just like all other forms of media. I've already started a Deleted Scenes section on the Serenity (film) page. I didn't know there were style guidelines when I wrote it, but now that I do, I suppose I should ask for permission to continue. Will this become a new standard and if so, should I change anything? Does anyone else want to help in the task of adding Deleted Scenes sections to various movie pages? Is this the right talk page to post this suggestion? Observatorr (talk) 03:09, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I think any important deleted scenes should be covered in the production details, with verified sources discussing why they were deleted. Otherwise, they are pretty much trivia and don't need to be listed or included. AnmaFinotera (talk) 03:33, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
I concur with AnmaFinotera; detailing deleted scenes, unless they are relevant in the sense of real-world context, would not add encyclopedic value. It would be useful, sure, but it's rather indiscriminate information if it's only in-universe. I would think that some DVDs have deleted scenes with director's commentary over it. Some of these would be acceptable, but if it's something like, "We had to take out 30 seconds' worth," it wouldn't be very relevant. If it was a scene that was controversial or intended to reflect a relationship between characters that didn't make it to the final cut, that'd be more relevant. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 03:36, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Plot word limit clarification

The guidelines say that the plot summary should be 400-700 words long and should only exceed 900 words if the plot is very complicated. So for a plot that is not very complicated, is the limit 700 words or 900 words? I'm in a dispute with some people on the Talk:Serenity (film) page about how detailed the plot summary should be. Observatorr (talk) 03:24, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

In general, 700, unless there is some demonstrable need to exceed that because of complicated plots or extra long film. AnmaFinotera (talk) 03:29, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Complicated plots, from what I've seen, would generally apply to films whose scenes may not be sequential. Some art and experimental films may be difficult to convey descriptively (without interpretation). I would not consider Serenity a complicated film; only enough information needs to be conveyed to get the gist of the film. A line has to be drawn somewhere, hence the word count. Most details should be saved for actually viewing the film itself. Try to consider that the Plot section is the least important section in a Wikipedia article; it only exists to complement everything else about the film that has real-world context, such as production and reception. The section's only meant to give a general understanding of what happens in the film. If there are specific scenes that need to be detailed and have some real-world context to it, they can be explained in the other sections. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 03:30, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Disclaimer: I'm one of the parties involved in trying to get a lower word count in that article's plot section. Having said that, I think the guideline on this could use some clarification, as it presents a loose limit of 400-700 words, before jumping in with an "actually, the limit is around 900 words" - which some editors interpret as giving them permission to squeeze everything they can into 900 words, even if it's not strictly needed. I suggest a rewording of the section to clearly indicate that 700 words is the preferred upper limit, with 900 words in exceptional circumstances (such as a very complicated plot). The case also needs to be argued a little more clearly that the plot section of a film article is merely there to provide context to the real-world content of the rest of the article, and I also suggest presenting one or two good example ways in which the word count can be reduced, such as the one I presented on the Serenity talk page, replacing:

One day inside an Alliance research facility, as psychic River Tam is being crudely experimented on, one of the Alliance scientists briefs a stoic Alliance officer about Tam's limitless potential as a human weapon. The officer abruptly dispatches the scientists and frees River, revealing himself as Simon Tam, a former doctor and River's elder brother.


As Alliance scientists experiment on River Tam, hoping to harness her psychic abilities as a weapon, she is rescued by her brother, Simon.

In this example, nothing at all is lost of a reader's potential understanding of either the film or the article; all which needs to be said is that he's her brother and he rescues her (his being a doctor is referenced later in the article). The exact method of the rescue is completely irrelevant. All the best, Steve TC 08:33, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
I would agree with you - as a rule of thumb, we're not looking for a blow-by-blow account, but rather a quick summary of the most salient plot developments. Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 09:07, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I think it would be very helpful if Erik's comments were incorporated into the style guidelines. --Melty girl (talk) 17:07, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Template:Future film for films that have already premiered at a film festival

I've been adding a number of articles for films that were screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and have debated with myself about putting Template:Future film at the top of each one. What exactly is our definition of "future film"? All of the films listed at List of films at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival have technically premiered at this point, but most won't see a wide release for a number of months, if ever. Do we want to set the standard as any film that has not yet had a public screening/premiere, or keep the de facto standard as it stands of putting the template at the top of a film's article until it has opened to the widest expected audience? —A 06:51, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

I think that {{Future film}} should be placed in articles of films that have appeared at the Sundance Film Festival. I think that the threshold should be a limited release, since that usually brings in more critical opinions and some revenue. Film festivals, from what I've seen, are ways to shop films for distribution. For example, I've worked on Hamlet 2 and Choke (film), and both of these were purchased for distribution. Of course, there's not quite the clearest of thresholds for such releases, but I think that most (American) films start getting significant attention by their limited release. There Will Be Blood was getting tremendous coverage after its limited release, not getting a wide release until later. That's how I've seen it, but others' opinions are welcome. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 12:59, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
I'd go for that; leave it on throughout production, only removing the template once the film has a limited release, festivals not counting. Steve TC 16:29, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Well the problem with this is that, even for films shown at Sundance, not every film will get a wide release. One can infer that film X or film Y got a great reception and will get a commercial release; but I've seen a number of films at Sundance that I still cannot get on DVD. The other point is that of film "completeness"; many films are not changed between screening at Sundance and a limited or wide release. I still think better guidelines should be hammered out by the community as to when to include the template and when to omit it. I guess my biggest beef is with the wording of the template: "This article or section contains information about one or more scheduled or expected films." I'll use the film Choke that Erik mentioned. The film is no longer scheduled or expected, it is a film at this point. My input would be to use 'Future Film' only for films that have not had any public premieres and have a second template to the effect of "This article or section contains information about one or more films that are not yet widely distributed." with similar subtext to the Future Film template. Thoughts? —A 22:49, 8 February 2008 (UTC)
I think that A makes a lot of sense here. I would add that films seem to take the year of their first public showings, not their first limited release. It is strange in 2008 to call a 2007 film a future film, when it's been shown to the public at ten film festivals in 2007, just because it hasn't been released beyond festivals. 2007 is not the future. Festivals might be a micro release, but they're a release nonetheless, hence the naming of films by the original year they were shown to the public, even if that's not the year of a more general release. It's likewise strange to call a film that's garnered a few published reviews, thanks to festival showings, a future film. --Melty girl (talk) 22:56, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

Steve, Erik, anyone else? Any more thoughts on this matter? —A 21:49, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

My opinion is that only films that haven't completed production (still filming or in editing) should be considered future films. Premieres shouldn't have anything to do with it because sometimes it could be years from when it's completed until it gets any kind of release. See State's Evidence. For An Angel (talk) 17:50, 14 March 2008 (UTC)

Earnings - not in the guideline

Am I blind, or does this guideline offer nothing about where and how to discuss financial success? I've put it in Reception before, but is that where it should go? --Melty girl (talk) 08:31, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

The relevant part of the guideline indicates that it should be within the reception section and, in general, this seems to work OK. Should the reception section become too large, such as a very detailed examination of the critical response to the film, it's usually a good idea to add two sub-headings in the form of Critical reception and Box office. I agree, this could be elaborated upon in the guideline. All the best, Steve TC 08:36, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
I was blind! Thanks, Steve. --Melty girl (talk) 08:55, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

A thought to all -- while the guidelines are purposely flexible, perhaps we can put together an essay either elaborating on points in the guidelines (such as why no user ratings) or suggesting how to handle controversial topics, like Valkyrie (film)#German response? We could discuss different formats in different details and have tips on how to write more concise Plot sections or search out information. I have a subpage at User:Erik/Film article guidelines with a few examples, but I haven't really developed it lately. This discussion made me think of it, so I wanted to know others' thoughts. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 13:03, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

I think essays are helpful on a secondary level, but I'd be more interested to see experienced WikiProject Films editors beefing up the guideline with style rules that specifically speak to issues that come up often, with more examples, and with more clarifying details. I bet there are many non-controversial things that informal consensus exists on which could be added and which editors could come to consensus to, that, if added, would influence users and improve film pages more directly and consistently than an essay would. I think if experienced editors like Erik were to brainstorm about things that have come up recently or come up often but that the guideline doesn't speak to, a good list could be generated. Or maybe a brainstorm isn't necessary; perhaps topics could simply be plucked from this project's talk pages and their archives, one by one. --Melty girl (talk) 16:52, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Cast lists

When I started writing for Wikipedia I first looked at dozens of articles to use as a guideline. In the majority of them I found the cast listed as ACTOR ..... CHARACTER, so I have followed that format. Another editor has been changing this to ACTOR as CHARACTER in some of my articles, citing WikiProject Films/Style guidelines as his reason for doing so.

Isn't this format rather archaic? It reminds me of the many 1930s films that opened with a montage of its cast members, identifying each with his/her name as the character he/she portrayed. IMDb uses the ACTOR ..... CHARACTER format, which seems more contemporary to me.

Actually, I'm not sure if this issue is worth debating. Why not let either format be used? MovieMadness (talk) 14:39, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

I think that the best reason that "as" should be included is that Wikipedia ultimately favors prose. With ellipses, it would affect the initial prose of a bulleted entry in a Cast section. For example, "John Wayne as John Doe, a retired rancher who wants to be left alone." If we replace "as" with "...", we disrupt the flow. I would not mind the usage of "..." in the simplest of cast lists, but we try to encourage prose about the actors and their roles. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 17:29, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for your response. I wonder why some articles list the cast members in a box, such as here [4]. I find this format to be not only non-encyclopedic but very unattractive as well. MovieMadness (talk) 18:25, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
Using a wikitable to list actors and their roles was pretty standard a couple of years ago, but I believe the consensus has evolved to using simple lists instead. Two reasons for this, from what I can tell -- you don't have to worry about coding, and it is easy to add prose about a role, which MOSFILM encourages. If you're willing to be bold, you can convert the wikitable into the simple list. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 20:44, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

One more question, if you'll please indulge me . . . re: adding prose about a role in a cast list, shouldn't a well-written plot synopsis sufficiently defining the characters make this unnecessary? I try to identify key players as well as possible in the summary without making it overlong. Thanks again for your feedback, Erik! MovieMadness (talk) 21:20, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

No problem, I'm happy to help you! :) You're right, the Plot section should be able to define the characters of a film. The Cast section is a more appropriate place for providing the real-world context of either the actor or the role. For example, we can bring together information to explain how filmmakers came up with the role, what kind of casting process they went through for the role, and how the chosen actor approached his or her role. For example, at Sunshine (2007 film)#Characters, the only true in-universe detail is a brief description of the character ("the navigator", "the physicist", etc.) to serve as a quick clarification or as a brief reminder. We try to write sections so they are as stand-alone as possible, so we don't have to go back and forth between sections to understand some context. Obviously, the entire article is better read as a whole, but the stand-alone nature allows flexibility with the sections, such as moving them around or just jumping into reading a specific section without worrying about the others. Hope that explanation helps! —Erik (talkcontrib) - 21:33, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
Please allow me to raise a slightly different issue. The guidelines suggest background information about the cast and crew should be provided, ideally as well-written prose, and cites Halloween as an example, because the article describes the casting and staffing decisions made, as well as discussing the reasons behind some of the cast decisions, the thoughts of the actors themselves about their roles, and some brief explorations of their careers before and after the film. While I feel the casting and staffing decisions made and the reasons behind some of the cast decisions are appropriate inclusions (under "Production notes" and separate from a cast list), in an article about the film, shouldn't the thoughts of the actors about their roles and explorations of their careers before and after the film be limited to the articles about the actors? If we explore an actor's career in every article about one of his films, we'll be duplicating the information in possibly dozens of articles rather than just the one about him or herself, where it logically belongs, won't we? MovieMadness (talk) 18:57, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree with you. I think that Halloween may be a Featured Article very much in need of a review, considering that its casting information comes from web pages like this, which don't seem immediately credible. Maybe we can look at other Featured Articles for a better example, though many articles have different ways of present casting information. I would suggest something like Sunshine (2007 film)#Characters (though that one may need some re-structuring) since I think that only the relevant history is reflected. We don't necessarily need to know about an actor's background unless it directly pertains to his or her involvement with the specific film. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 19:05, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Following up on MovieMadness's declaration on Talk:Finding Neverland that the guideline here is "outdated": Is casting information in paragraph form not acceptable? I happen to think that much of the information he repeatedly deleted [5] (in favor of a list) is worthwhile. (Yes, I know that some of it needs cites; I didn't add it all myself, and I'm looking for those.) I specifically developed it as prose on the recommendation of this style guideline, so if the guideline is no longer supported, it really ought to be fixed. - JasonAQuest (talk) 19:11, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
No, I don't think it's outdated, I like organising casting information in a manner where each actor can have his/her own entry with specific information. Alientraveller (talk) 20:10, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Whether or not the information included at [6] is worthwhile is a matter of opinion. Since much of it is unsubstantiated by reliable references, isn't it better to remove it in favor of a clear, concise, and undisputed list of cast members? If and when some of these comments can be referenced properly, I personally would prefer to see them added to "Production notes" and let a cast list remain intact, the way it appears on-screen or in a program. That's just my opinion. Thanks for letting me express it. MovieMadness (talk) 21:15, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
You don't think the lead of the article should include information about why it's notable (what the movie is about, who the stars are, whether it's won any awards)? Because that's part of what you reverted in your haste to mold the article to your preferences. Whether any individual piece of casting information is worthwhile is of course subject to debate, but I don't think it's a good idea to throw it all out just to replace it with an unadorned cast list like on IMDB; Wikipedia can and should do better. - JasonAQuest (talk) 21:32, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
P.S. I did an extensive amount of work on Rosemary's Baby today. In the "Production notes" section, I included a lot of information about the casting process, but I also added a cast list. This is an example of what I proposed above - incorporating casting details into a "Production notes" section but including a cast list as well. Any thoughts about this? MovieMadness (talk) 21:27, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

JasonAQuest, I'm curious and hope you don't mind my asking why this issue is concerning you as much as it is. You rarely edit film articles, and your interest in Finding Neverland seems to be related solely to your obvious passion for anything related to Peter Pan and not prompted by a specific interest in film articles overall. Am I correct in thinking if I had made similar edits to any other article you would not have taken notice of them nor engaged in a discussion about them? I assure you I mean no offense by asking you this and hope you don't misconstrue it as criticism, because that's not my intention. Thank you. MovieMadness (talk) 21:47, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for asking. My concern comes from finding that an article within my scholarly interests (Barrie), which I've tried to develop in keeping with the guidelines for the medium it happens to be in, had an entire section of information removed from it under the nonsensical rationale that it didn't comply with those guidelines. I was prompted to bring it up for discussion here because my attempt to discuss it on the article's Talk page received no response, my effort to restore the information was clumsily reverted in a way that also gutted the lead, my well-explained edit to restore the info was summarily reverted with the uncivil description "reverting illogical edits", and you seemed to have taken it upon yourself to deprecate the existing style guidelines in favor of imposing your own preferences, regardless. So you are correct in guessing that I've taken a concern about this because your shenanigans happened to step on my toes. There's also the simple practical matter that I can't fix that article until I know for sure what the consensus format is/is going to be, and that you're going to abide by it. I hope you do take this as criticism, because it is. - JasonAQuest (talk) 17:36, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

I think we should reevaluate how to handle casting information. First of all, I think we need to acknowledge that there will always be some sort of redundancy of information on Wikipedia. However, I think we can separate information in two ways -- in summary form, and in detailed form. Articles that are most relevant to the available information should get the details. Here's an example: John Doe is cast into the film Courage because of his performance in Pride. There is a story behind this casting process, about how John Doe and the director met and were able to connect based on the director's script for Pride. Now, on John Doe's Wikipedia article, it can be simply said that he was cast into Courage because of his performance in Pride. If one clicks on the link to the article about Courage, the more detailed background about the casting would be available. This is more pertinent to the film and not the actor himself. Therefor, I think it seems fair to say that actors' articles should summarize transitions from film to film, and at each film article, it can be detailed how the actor obtained that role. I have to agree that it drifts away from the topic of the film itself when talking about an actor's future path at the film article.

I also think that there is persistent interest in identifying the major roles of a film. While identifying all the roles could be done in prose form or bullet form, it seems more appropriate to use the bullet form because sentences would usually be disjointed in prose form. Perhaps if it is more than one person who continues from one film to another film, like with Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a summarized sentence can be provided explaining that several actors from this film were cast into this next one. With a wiki-link, it can be described in more detail at the new article about the carried-over performances. Any thoughts about that? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 21:50, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

Your example of John Doe and the fictional film Courage supports what I was trying to express earlier, perhaps not clearly enough, about limiting film articles to facts pertinent to the film and not sidetracking into various cast member's careers prior to and following the film.
As I mentioned above as part of an earlier discussion, I feel a well-written plot synopsis should sufficiently define the characters, making a separate section unnececessary. If the plot synopsis for Rosemary's Baby, for example, describes Roman and Minnie Castevet as Rosemary's intrusive neighbors who eventually are revealed to be members of a Satanic cult, isn't that enough? MovieMadness (talk) 22:05, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
I think that it may depend on the film and the size of its cast. What I notice is that contemporary films will very often have interviews with individual cast members, as opposed to cast members of older films. For a film like Rosemary's Baby, it's unlikely that there will be specific information about each actor and role. At Fight Club (film), I didn't include a cast list because there's really only three major roles -- Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter. For a film like Sunshine (2007 film), it's a pretty different story. It may depend on the film itself and the information available about it. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 22:13, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Actually, with Rosemary's Baby I was able to add considerable info about the casting process, which is discussed at length on the DVD. I think we're discovering a lot of details about older films thanks to director's commentaries and/or "making of" featurettes on the DVD releases.
In response to your comment "a summarized sentence can be provided explaining that several actors from this film were cast into this next one," was the casting of several actors from Courage in Pride intentional or coincidental? If it's coincidental, I think mentioning it borders on trivia. In my opinion, more pertinent and worthy of mention, for example, is why an actor who created a role in a film was not cast in the same role in the sequel. If the reason is known and can be referenced properly, it should be included. Again, I think these details could be included in a "Production notes" section that does not usurp a cast list. I think both can exist within an article. MovieMadness (talk) 22:29, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Oh, I definitely meant intentional. I agree that just mentioning an actor's previous film without any relevance to the current film is trivial. When you talk about an actor not returning to the same role for the sequel, where do you intend for the content to belong? The original film article, the sequel film article, or both? Also, I was wondering what you thought the difference between "Production notes" and "Production" was. "Production notes" seems a little disjointed to me, and I try to weave the content together for the sake of flow. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 22:35, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
The reason I raised the issue of "intentional" vs. "coincidental" is because lately I've come across quite a few film articles that include the information that JANE DOE, MARY SMITH, and GLADYS GLIMSCHLITZ also appeared in Bitter Grapes together, although that's not why they were cast in the film discussed in that article. With large casts, you frequently have actors whose credits overlap, and to me, that's trivia not worth mentioning, especially if there are numerous instances of it.
When I talk about an actor not returning to the same role for the sequel, I intend for the content to be included in the sequel film article only (JOHN DOE was cast because JIM SMITH, who originated the role, wasn't available, or demanded too high a salary, or didn't want to play the same role, whatever the reason might be. As for the difference between "Production notes" and "Production" is concerned, there is none. I personally think "Production notes" sounds better! :) MovieMadness (talk) 22:48, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Information such as "Actor's performance in This Film led Director to cast him for That One" seems at least as relevant to This Film as That One; it doesn't really say anything about That One except that he's in it, but it tells you something about his acting in This One. - JasonAQuest (talk) 17:36, 11 March 2008 (UTC)

Adaptation differences

I'm proposing adding a section to Films/Style guidelines to address recommended handling of "differences" between an adaptation and its source work. Under 4. Other article components would be an appropriate spot. Many of these contributions are initially in less-then-desirable condition and often require an inordinate amount of editing effort (on both the article and Talk pages) to rectify or redirect. Based on the mentoring and education efforts by film article editors I've seen in the past year, it's apparent there is a solid consensus on how adaptation differences should be handled in the article. Adding this consensus to the Style Guidelines would save an awful lot of education repetition.

"Differences" contributions range from trivia lists detailing minor, insignificant changes normal to most adaptation processes, to sophisticated descriptions of thematic material. I think most experienced editors agree that only significant differences should be included (no fancruft), and that they should not be in a separate Differences section, but appropriately melded into sections addressing production, adaptation, themes and critical reception. Appropriate sourcing and citing are givens.

Key topics to be addressed:

  1. Trivia: changes must be significant, not just the typical differences that result from adapting a work from one medium to another.
  2. Synthesis: even stating what appears obvious (to some), such as "The novel's story takes place in Portland, Maine, while the film's events occur in Portland, Oregon" is considered original research and this type of analysis must first be done by a reliable source.
  3. Sourcing: editors cannot be the ones to identify the differences; they must be observed and noted by a credible source (which would likely support significance as well)

Interested in reactions: is this worthwhile and is it appropriate?
Jim Dunning | talk 01:42, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

(edit conflict, may not address #'s) I think that clarification over this would be a great idea. These "Differences" sections have permeated a few film articles on Wikipedia. I see two arguments for this -- comparing and contrasting between two primary sources where a secondary source has not done so would produce indiscriminate connections. The problem is that the importance of a difference can be argued every which way, with no actual secondary source to establish the difference. I'd argue that it is a form of synthesis, though there may be some disagreement over it. I think that the way WP:SYN can be interpreted, is that a sub-topic of the article is being originally being argued for inclusion by mentioning differences that do not have real-world basis. It may seem "obvious" to compare the source material and its adaptation, but sometimes the two can be completely different factual presentations while possessing the same themes. This gets too much into the interpretative part with trying to determine importance, so I agree that sourcing and citing (of secondary sources) are absolute givens.
I do have a question, though. At I Am Legend, you opposed the book vs. film comparison link because there was not real-world context in the comparisons and contrasts. I understand this to a degree, but it was still a secondary source making explicit observations about the adaptation process. While I understand that it does not give any insight to what the filmmakers intended, it seemed on the important side to mention that differences were noted. I think we just need to define the threshold a little more clearly, because not all observations of similarities or differences will have an explanation. For example, at Road to Perdition#Writing, there are examples of changes with no specific explanation as to why. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 02:08, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
For I Am Legend it's the threshold: the critic's observations just didn't seem to be all that noteworthy. That's all. More to the point here, I don't think a "difference" should be mentioned just because it's a difference; it should have some relative importance to some aspect of the work.
Jim Dunning | talk 04:04, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
Are you opposing the mention of differences no matter where it came from, if it's void of real-world context? What do you think of the paragraphs at the Road to Perdition article? The differences are mentioned as part of the presentation process, even though not all differences are explicitly explained. For example, In the novel, he was also an alcoholic, an element which was removed in the adaptation. This is cited, but there's nothing besides the mention of it being removed. Is something like that inappropriate, then? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 04:12, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
The RtP Writing section I found informative and interesting, and I think those differences are presented with real-world context. I took the example you cite to be supportive of the conscious desire to somewhat de-villainize Hanks's character; at least that's the perception I had based on what's written in the article. Out of curiosity I went to the source, which says, "Early script drafts were actually bleaker; not only was there more killing, Sullivan was an alcoholic. 'In the streamlining of the film, those things were lost,' says Self. 'The philosophy was "less is more."'" Based on that, I would consider adding the streamlining impetus to the article so the reader isn't left with my initial take. I didn't see that kind of value-add with the I Am Legend comparison/contrast article.
Jim Dunning | talk 04:53, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I'm confused. It is currently held that novels and films, as published, verifiable material, can serve as a primary sources for plot sections. Therefore, we can state without citations in your hypothetical novel's article that it is set in Portland, ME, while the film's article could state without citations in its plot section that it is set in Portland, OR. Why then, would you say it is wrong to note in the film article that the novel on which it is based is set in a different state? Why is the novel no longer a verifiable, published source? --Melty girl (talk) 02:11, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
In one case you are simply stating what is happening in the book/film, while in the other case you are intentionally drawing a connection between those two facts. So, in the case of the plot section, it may be important to mention that it takes place in a certain location. But, when you are stepping out of that arena, and are discussing "differences", simply stating that they changed the location--without context as to "why"--boils down to nothing more than indiscriminate information. It has nothing to do with the verifiability of the subjects themselves, and more to do with the indiscriminate nature of simply saying "the book has this, but the movie has this".  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 02:19, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict yet again, hah) The issue is more that an editor, without a secondary source, feels compelled to compare and contrast between two primary sources. Each primary source is appropriate in its own right, but pointing out something like in a different state without independent observation can be unnecessary. There's no easy line that can be drawn in such comparisons. I've seen entries that talk about the difference in colors or the presentation of a side character. It's probably "verifiable" in the strictest sense, but does such a difference have any encyclopedic basis if we the editors are the ones creating our own material for this? We need to cite and stand by secondary sources to warrant inclusion -- that makes matters far more indisputable than saying, "I noticed this difference in the film since I read the book before it, and I feel it should be included." The key word is "feel" -- there is no objective basis for providing this connection. I think that's what Jim and I were trying to get at. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 02:22, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
Maybe it's just me, but I think you're going to have to make this a lot clearer in the guideline. I really don't get it. I can understand from a WP:TRIVIA standpoint that certain information on adaptation differences won't merit inclusion, but I really don't understand why you think it's "creating" material/synthesis to do some fundamental comparisons between a novel and its film adaptation so long as the two things are verifiable and the editors don't also present their own conclusions about themes or motivations behind the differences. Why would a critic have to notice that in the novel there are 10 siblings, but in the film there are only four, or that in a novel the setting was 1960, but in the adaptation it is the present day, or that in the novel, two characters have an ongoing sexual relationship, but in the film they do not, in order for it to bear mention? Aren't these interesting facts about the production process of an adaptation that are accessible to editors from primary sources? Why must a secondary source notice readily apparent facts for us? These aren't quality judgements. To me, it seems like as long as there is a source verifying that a novel was indeed the source material for a film, then those two texts are both valid sources for the film article. I don't yet feel that you've made a clear, strong case for why you cannot look to the basic plot of the novel for information in the film's article when you can for the novel's article. --Melty girl (talk) 03:21, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
Actually, what I took from Jim's proposal, and Erik's iteration, not all information is worth inclusion, regardless of whether a critic noted it or not. If a critic said, "the book takes place in Manhattan while the film takes place in Denver", that doesn't mean it's ok to use. To me, I took away that unless they discuss "why" that occurred, then something as miniscule as a location would be too indiscriminate for inclusion. Just because a secondary source mentions it doesn't mean that it's fine to be included in the article itself.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 03:26, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
That seems like a WP:TRIVIA argument, which I certainly grasp. But I'm not sure that's what Jim and Erik are saying. They seem to be saying you can't do any comparison that only cites the original novel and the film adaptation, and that you must use a secondary source that explains what's in the novel vs. what's in the film. I'm looking forward to hearing their response to my above questions. --Melty girl (talk) 03:36, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
It comes back to synthesis. The question is, why is the difference being presented in the article? There are many differences that can be discerned between two primary sources. Without limiting such differences to secondary sources, the scope of including differences is simply enormous. Secondary sources should usually be able to explain the differences that arise, and I think we can all agree that the real-world context is appropriate. A mere "Differences" section, though, doesn't convey any encyclopedic value. If we're making specific comparisons between two primary sources on our own, we're trying to add value where there was not any before. Hence the need for secondary sources. If a difference is worth noting, then someone besides the editors will report on it. We can't decide on our own if a change is important to mention or not. I've seen this with topics involving fan bases (Harry Potter comes to mind) that seek to outline every difference they possibly can. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 03:53, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Is the objective description of the plot (using the fiction work as a primary source) restricted to the Plot section of that work's article? Based on numerous WP discussions, my impression is the answer is "yes", since it is the obvious location where consensus editing and validation of a primary source can and must occur (in fact, since it is in the Plot section, this alerts editors to the need for the validation). Consensus is the reason that this "exception" to citing sources for the Plot works.

Okay, if this is the case, wouldn't this argue that (1) uncited descriptions of the plot are not allowed outside the Plot section, and (2) the only plot of a fiction work that can be described (uncited) in an article is that of the article's subject? I'm feeling like a jail-house lawyer here (and disliking it), but what I'm pointing out is this: since the storyline of Sinclair's Oil! is not the subject of the article There Will Be Blood, then an uncited description of Oil!'s plot in TWBB would not be allowed (again, the technicality is that since Oil!'s description is not where it is expected, there's no signpost saying, "I'm a plot description based on a primary source and I need consensus validation!") The result of this convoluted syllogism is that I can't point out a difference between Oil! and TWBB in TWBB without cites since I can't even describe Oil!'s plot without a ref. So this argues that a secondary source would be required for every referenced "difference".
Jim Dunning | talk 04:35, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

If Jim feels like he's a jailhouse lawyer, it may be because he's arguing to shackle the bricklayers of the jail's walls. As I pointed out in my initial conversation with Jim on the talk page for There Will Be Blood (which is what triggered all of this), my thinking is in line with Meltygirl's. It's taking OR doctrine a step too far to say that merely stating, simply and plainly, the facts of the plot of a novel and the facts of the plot of a film adapted from it constitutes original research. Editor discretion and consensus should play their usual roles in keeping unattributed analysis and cruft accumulation out of comparison sections, this goes without saying. But what Jim is arguing for, that even so much as interweaving two plot summaries in the same section constitutes synthesis, is both needlessly restrictive and is also makes plagiarism a virtual requirement if any such comparison sections could ever be included in articles. I respect what Jim is trying to do here--ensure that sourcing is always paramount in article creation--I just find his interpretation of OR policy to be too "strict constructionist". Such a reading, put in practice, would be a prime cause again and again for invocations of Wikipedia:Ignore all rules. Robert K S (talk) 05:32, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
I agree, presenting the facts of the plot of a novel and the facts of the plot of a film adapted from it in such a way that differences are clear is fine. Organising information to present it in our own way is what we do all the time.--Patrick (talk) 08:00, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
The issue is that line of thinking permits anything to be compared. The reason why this discussion was initiated is because editors have the tendency of starting "Differences" sections that are very indiscriminate in nature. There are near-limitless differences that can be discerned between two primary sources, none of which can be said to have encyclopedic value. We present it as if we did based on our own personal arguments, and other editors can argue against its inclusion. It's completely subjective and circuitous when we lack the safety net of secondary sources. You're right, we present information in our own way (as there's no such thing as purely NPOV), but there are far too many differences that can be determined in the analysis of two primary sources. It's junk information, essentially. There is a ton of in-universe detail that can be found in either primary source, and it's rather inappropriate to choose certain ones to bring to the surface of our own accord. A "Differences" section has no encyclopedic value to offer. If there are changes that were explained for the writing process, they can go in the Production section. If there are changes that affect critics' opinions of the film, they can go in the Reception section. The threshold needs to be the use of secondary sources because not only can parties independent of us bring up differences to skip subjective and roundabout arguments for inclusion, there is likely real-world context to establish about these differences. In any case, this is a guideline, so we can ignore all rules if the situation warrants it. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 13:14, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
For any information in any article we have to judge whether it is worth mentioning. This applies equally for any difference between two plots.--Patrick (talk) 13:41, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
So you'd be in support of a "Differences" section in a film article that talks about the differences of a character's middle name or the differences of characters' hair colors or color of attire? :) I think the main argument here is that a "Differences" section is indiscriminate. It provides no inherent encyclopedic value. We should say something like, "Sections based on the differences between a film and its source material are discouraged because the differences can be indiscriminate. Changes perceived as noteworthy by secondary sources should be integrated into another part of the article wherever appropriate. For instance, a filmmaker explaining the inclusion of a new character in the film would go into the Production section. A change that affects a critic's review of the film can be included in the Reception section." Would this be light enough of a basis to be included in the guideline? It doesn't say you can't compare and contrast, just that a section solely focused on that is discouraged. If I recall correctly, I don't believe that any of the Good or Featured Articles have passed with such a section available. Thoughts on that? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 14:02, 14 February 2008 (UTC)
I am not in favor of "Differences" sections at all. But I think what bars them is WP:Trivia sections, not WP:Original research#synthesis. What I am suggesting is that I think significant plot (not thematic) differences in the source novel can be mentioned in "Production" sections, and the novel can be cited as the source of the information. Why on earth would we suddenly unable to read the novel and cite it, as long as we don't draw conclusions about themes or motives? Frankly, this urge for restriction to a secondary source to read the novel for us reminds me just a bit of the recent argument that any plot retelling is original research. It's like you're banning people from mentioning the novel's plot in the film article, yet they can do so in the novel article, and that doesn't make sense. I just don't think it is original research to look up basic plot points in a widely-available novel.
If the difference that editors wax on about is the character's different hair color or middle name, then that's a violation of WP:TRIVIA; if they make a whole section about differences, then that's WP:TRIVIA and bad style in terms of the preferred format of film articles; if they do an original analysis of the thematic differences, then that is synthesis and original research; if they give uncited value judgments about the changes, then that's a WP:POV problem. Basically, I think that your rationale overinterprets and over-tightens WP legislation in a way that isn't logical and isn't needed to combat the problem you're encountering, no matter how annoying it is -- you already have the tools needed to revert this cruft. I would propose instead writing an anti-"Differences" section clause citing primarily WP:TRIVIA and WP:IINFO (indiscriminate), suggesting that only basic plot (not detail) differences merit mention and that these should be woven into the Production section, so that they do not become "Trivia" sections under a different name; I'd also say that interpretation and value judgments are verboten as always, due to WP:Original research and WP:POV.
I think there is a fundamental encyclopedic value in noting some differences in film adaptations, and for plot, that can be done in a basic way by editors referring to the published media in question. Mentioning in a "Production" section that a novel is set in 1960, but the film adaptation is set in the present day is a factual, verifiable and significant fact that need not be told to us by a critic. --Melty girl (talk) 17:30, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

(outdent) Perhaps the OR argument is a bit strong. I've been bringing it up in the context of differences being a sub-topic. It seems akin to pointing out every instance of a motif throughout a film. Technically, it's verifiable to see the film and note them. However, when all the instances of a motif are presented in a section, there's no explicit interpretation going on. Instead, the interpretation is more implicit in the overall sense, begging for an analytic light to be shone on the compilation of details. Maybe I'm wrong, but such a listing of details ranging from major to minor in its own sub-topic conveys the originally presented impression that differences are worth noting as a compilation in a film article. However, I don't mind the tendency toward citing WP:TRIVIA and WP:IINFO, but my concern is that it may not be enough if a fan wants to come in and outline all what he/she sees are major differences between the source material and its bastardized film adaptation.

I was thinking, though, perhaps we can extend the proposed treatment, mentioning WP:TRIVIA and WP:IINFO, to encapsulate goofs, deleted scenes, and Easter eggs? All these seem to fall under the same roof -- "technically" verifiable, but still compiled uselessly in the scheme of this encyclopedia. Or should we hold off on discussing these until later? :) —Erik (talkcontrib) - 17:55, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Agree that advising against goofs, etc., should be included.
Returning to significance of the material, I support use of sources to demonstrate the noteworthiness of the difference, as well as the value of it to the reader. Take this example that could be in Three Days of the Condor: "Although Three Days of the Condor is based on the novel Six Days of the Condor, the action in the film takes place over three days instead of the six in the novel." Based on obvious, verifiable facts present in the works' titles themselves, this statement could be made. But "duh"! That's like saying the sky is blue. Now this change is significant, but the reader could've noted the difference in days herself (just by looking at the titles), so why mention the obvious. And a high school English teacher would return an essay containing that statement to a student with the question, "What's the significance of the change?" appended. How much better would it be if the article stated, "Screenwriters Semple and Rayfiel compressed the story's timeframe from six to three days for film length constraint concerns, and to allow the introduction of a romantic relationship without distracting too much from the action."? Strongly recommending a source here accomplsihes two things: (1) the Difference's significance is supported because a credible source also noted it, and (2) we can provide the context of the change because a critic provides the analysis a WP editor can't. Thus, the value of the "obvious" Difference is enhanced for our customers.
In No Country for Old Men, a contributor wanted to mention that Llewellyn's encounter with a hitchhiker (in the novel) had been left out of the film. Although this is truly an obvious, empirical Difference between the works, I argued against inclusion for two reasons. One, that no critic or reviewer had seen fit to mention the Difference. Two, that one could argue that all the Coens did was convert the hitchhiker segment into Llewellyn's brief encounter with the poolside woman, retaining the original theme. And this is where not relying on sources would be a problem: I can argue that thematically there is no change between novel and film on this point since the "temptation of Moss" occasion still appears in both works, achieving identical ends, and that the change is merely an adaptation convenience to meet film constraints; however, another editor could validly disagree with my interpretation of the Coens's execution, intent, and the effectiveness of the scenes. Who's to decide? Including a source for the Difference supports the signficance of the change, and there is no question about interpretation of the Difference's impact.
Jim Dunning | talk 18:57, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

Subheading for editing ease

I would support the requirement for sourcing wherever the analysis of the significance of a change is mentioned in the article, which is what Jim is arguing for in his most recent post, above (the example from No Country for Old Men). I also agree with Jim in his point about "duh" information being excluded from articles on whatever style bases one prefers. I do not concur with Jim that there is a necessary connection between the two--that every difference between a source work and its adaptation needs to have its significance explained (and therefore sourced). As I posited in our original discussion, it is not original research to say "The main character of There Will Be Blood is oil man Daniel Plainview, while Oil! centers around 'Bunny' Arnold Ross Jr., son of an oil tycoon", and such a statement provides worthwhile information while leaving the analysis of the significance of the change up to the reader. I also agree with Meltygirl that there is plenty of ammunition in WP:TRIVIA and WP:IINFO to combat crufty/trivial "differences" sections without needing to overextend the purview of OR doctrine. Robert K S (talk) 20:10, 14 February 2008 (UTC)

In The Prestige article an editor wanted to point out that a character, Julia Angier, dies early in the film, but in the source novel, the character of the same name lives after suffering a miscarriage. On the surface this seems like a simple comparison, and is possibly significant enough to mention since it involves the death/non-death of a supporting character. Unfortunately, what appears to be a simple, clear-cut statement of fact may lead the reader to a potentially erroneous conclusion. Many could think that the character's death early on significantly changes the effect that character has on subsequent plot development. In reality, the tragedies in both works (death in one, miscarriage in the other) result in the same important plot device: intensifying the rivalry between the magicians. It can be argued that all Christopher Nolan did was compress the multiple rivalry-fostering incidents in the novel into a single, but equally motivating, incident for cinematic reasons. Therefore, result-wise, life and death are analagous, and the net result is not all that significantly different afterall. But seemingly simple comparisons like this, without context (necessarily supported by refs), actually can lead to wrong conclusions. That's why I'd be leery of a bare statement that just informs us that Anderson changed the name and occupation of the main character when he wrote TWBB. Without context, it can lead the reader to a wrong conclusion. Are their personalities different? Do their different starts in life affect the outcomes of the stories? Is Bunny's father alive during the story, and, if so, does his presence compared to the lack of Daniel's father have a significant effect on the story? etc. etc. etc. In fact, there are so many differences between the two works, that mentioning context-less Differences like that can be a disservice to both. Since I didn't read Oil!, I have no idea if Daniel's modest beginnings create a notable divergence to Bunny's wealthy start, but I might understandably assume that while Daniel had to work to gain his fortune and probably Bunny didn't might affect the kind of characters they are -- and I might be wrong.
Jim Dunning | talk 00:01, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

Suggested guideline text

To prompt creative juice flow I'm starting this subsection covering suggested wording for a Differences guideline. Feel free to amend the actual wording, or comment in the Comment area below.
Jim Dunning | talk 16:16, 16 February 2008 (UTC)

Adaptation differences

When addressing differences between a film adaptation and its source work(s), ideally, text should be placed in the relevant section of the article (such as Production, Themes, or Reception) and include enough background to provide as complete an appreciation of the intent and effect of the change as possible. Merely noting empirical differences between a film and its source without real-world context is generally discouraged. Creating a collection of such differences in a "Differences from" section in articles is especially discouraged. The very nature of fiction adaptation, especially from one medium to another, is expected to result in numerous differences, significant and insignificant, for a variety of reasons. These reasons typically include the creative and presentation constraints or opportunities offered by the visual/auditory nature of film, screenwriter and directorial interpretation of themes, production budget and logistical factors, time compression and expansion considerations, as well as real-world cultural influences.

If a Differences section must exist in the article's early development, it should, in most cases, be considered temporary, until a better method of presentation can be determined. Lists of miscellaneous changes can be useful for developing a new article, as they represent an easy way for novice contributors to add information without having to keep article organization or presentation in mind. Difference items should be appropriately merged into other article sections as soon as practicable; most references will fit into standard film sections, such as Production, Adaptation, Themes, and Reception. Changes that convey, intensify, diminish or otherwise alter themes and plot elements from the source work can be especially valuable to the article's usefulness and quality.

Adaptation differences should add value to the article. A difference accompanied by an explanation or analysis of its impact and effectiveness is recommended. Editors, however, must avoid interpreting the meaning and effect, or reasons and motivations for, any differences between source work and the film. Without valid reliable sources to support the analysis, Wikipedia's policy against no original research is violated. Be particularly aware of including unverified synthesis when comparing primary or secondary sources. This can either overstate the significance of a change, or misrepresent the motive behind a change if the passage lacks sufficient context and sources.

Including citations to reliable sources will foster Consensus and minimize the potential for edit wars, limiting inclusion of differences to those that have a reasonable level of significance. This will help prevent a film article from devolving into fancruft lists.


  • In Children of Men, rather than just noting that the affliction of infertility is switched from males to females during the adaptation of the story from the P. D. James novel, the article presents comprehensive information in the Themes section on director/screenwriter Alfonso Cuarón's reasons behind the change.
  • An early version of The Prestige article included a Differences section. The section eventually disappeared as its content was either removed from the article or melded into the Production, Themes, and Response sections.


  • This is good, although it is almost entirely negative. It might be helpful to briefly mention the kinds of things that are acceptable, e.g. sourced descriptions of verifiably significant alterations. It might be helpful to give an example of an article that does this job well. Cop 663 (talk) 18:00, 16 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I reworded to put a more proactive spin on the guidance and added some examples. Although not a film article, A Canticle for Leibowitz has a Development section that addresses the adaptation of the novel from three short stories. Might be worth adding.
    Jim Dunning | talk 01:05, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
  • It's a good start. It's worth noting that at the moment this proposal represents the views and concerns of just one editor. (All proposals have to start somewhere.) I don't see anything flagrantly objectionable in its reading. As Cop points out, above, the elaboration could still use a little more nudging in the "this is what should be done" direction, vs. the "this is what shouldn't be done", although, obviously, the latter is also critical to a substantive guideline. Robert K S (talk) 01:52, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
  • I think listing the relatively few not-recommended approaches is better than putting too many recommended ones: this leaves more flexibility for editors. Listing recommended forms actually limits options more than identifying a similar number of less desirable models.
    Jim Dunning | talk 02:32, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, it is a good start. But too long to be included in its current format. The attempt to be thorough is creditable, but has come at the expense of clarity, with too many caveats and qualifications. I mean no offence by this; you've done a bang-up job. But most of your suggested additions are more appropriate to an essay than a Manual of Style. It should be stripped back to cover only the main points. Something along the lines of the following would be sufficient:

    When addressing differences between a film adaptation and its source work(s), text detailing the reasons for a change, its effect upon the production, and the reaction to it should be placed within the section of the article relevant to the information being added (e.g. Production, Themes, or Reception). Noting the differences between a film and its source work(s) without real-world context is discouraged. Creating a section which merely lists the differences is especially discouraged, though it is to be expected that articles in the early stages of development, or about new releases, may contain information which does not easily fit elsewhere. As the article matures, this information should either be moved to the relevant section, or removed entirely. Remember, without valid reliable sources to support any additions, Wikipedia's policy against original research is violated and the information can be deleted.

    This covers the same ground without being too prescriptive, or getting bogged down in the fine detail. All the best, Steve TC 18:30, 17 February 2008 (UTC)
though it is to be expected that articles in the early stages of development, or about new releases, may contain information which does not easily fit elsewhere. As the article matures, this information should either be moved to the relevant section, or removed entirely. - This makes it sound as if it is alright to add these sorts of things to the article at certain stages - it would seem more prudent to delete this. The advice on how to deal with pre-existing sections like that should still stand, however. Girolamo Savonarola (talk) 04:45, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
The length was intentional since I think it's easier to whittle it down rather than the converse. I like your whittling.
Jim Dunning | talk 06:12, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, I didn't want you to think I was being too critical; there's nothing wrong with the actual content of your proposed text, but in addition to the point I already raised, I could foresee a situation in which some editors would use the density of the wording to Wikilawyer around it. Steve TC 08:49, 18 February 2008 (UTC)
Indeed; that was on my mind too. Lazy bones that I am, I took it almost verbatim from WP:MOSFILM#Trivia, but it could be amended to be a little less permissive:

Creating a section which merely lists the differences is especially discouraged, and while articles in the early stages of development, or about new releases, may contain information which does not easily fit elsewhere, as the article matures, this should either be moved to the relevant section, or removed entirely.

This neither advocates or explicitly disallows the inclusion of these sections, leaving it up to the many other relevant guidelines to point the way. Steve TC 08:54, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Is this the complete, recommended text, then?

Differences between a film adaptation and its source work(s) can be addressed by including text detailing the reasons for a change, its effect upon the production, and the reaction to it. This material should be placed within a relevant section of the article (e.g., Production, Themes, or Reception). Noting the differences between a film and its source work(s) without real-world context is discouraged. Creating a section which merely lists the differences is especially discouraged; while articles in the early stages of development (or about new releases) may contain information which does not easily fit elsewhere, this material should either be moved to the relevant section or removed entirely as the article matures.

Jim Dunning | talk 04:45, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Text amended at 08:49, 21 February 2008 (UTC) by Steve TC

  • Support addition of quoted text to Wikipedia:WikiProject Films/Style guidelines#Other article components (though some might argue that it is more of an addendum to Trivia). It gives enough leeway for the information to exist in an article, yet provides the ammunition to argue the strong case for citations, real-world context and its siting within a relevant Production, Themes or Reception section, rather than as an indiscriminate list. All the best, Steve TC 08:37, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Support, although the first sentence is a bit clotted; I found it hard to read. I'd suggest rewriting thus: "When describing differences between a film adaptation and its source work(s), include text that explains the reasons for each change, its effect upon the production, and the reaction to it. This material should be placed within the appropriate section of the article (e.g., Production, Themes, or Reception)." Cop 663 (talk) 17:57, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
    • Not sure. To my eyes, that subtly alters the balance. It instructs editors to put in "text that explains the reasons for each change, its effect upon the production, and the reaction to it" rather than having that as a strongly implied example of the kinds of things which should be put in. It also opens the door (with the word "include") to an interpretation of the guideline that says these are things which should be put in the article in addition to the cruft. I'll tweak the wording a little, see what shakes loose. Steve TC 20:29, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Conditional Support as I'd like to see what Steve can accomplish with some slight revision. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 21:55, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
    • OK, I played with this for almost an hour last night and couldn't come up with anything which didn't look rubbish. Very frustrating. This morning? Two minutes. Bah. Anyway, I've moved around the lead sentence a bit in order to retain the intended meaning of the guideline. Ultimately, it didn't work without using the word "include/including", so I've added a "can be" in order to dilute its prescriptiveness. Steve TC 08:46, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
  • Support: this succinctly conveys the gist of the consensus positions when "differences" issues have been at issue over the past year or so.
    Jim Dunning | talk 12:44, 22 February 2008 (UTC)
    • How long do you think we should wait, and how many opinions should we wait for, before adding this? Steve TC 13:00, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

Sample suggestion

I am very surprised that I cannot find ready examples of information formatting on the Style guideline page. Seeing as how Wikipedia is vigilant about presentation of data, I would have expected to see many concrete examples that can be imitated even by a novice. I have been looking at film article after film article and find radiant non-conformity. I think if concrete examples are given a prominent position on this project's home page, then editors would have to clean up fewer messes made by newbies.

For example: I have looked at 6 different film pages and found 6 different methodologies used to the list cast and crew. A simple formatted list of any of names on the Style guidelines UNDER cast/crew would allow anyone to immediately SEE what it is supposed to look like. I found the same is true for listing credits. The only truly concrete example I can see for listing credits is for an actor; for a screenwriter there is a wide range of methods being used.

If I am asking for something that has been discussed and decided, I ask you reconsider. If I am asking for something that exists, then perhaps it is NOT in a prominent enough place to be easily found by someone not familiar with the depths of Wikipedia. The more I read wikipedia contributions the more I realize that everyone wants to jump right in and create a page for their favorite actor or tv show but they may not slow down long enough to read the Manual of Style in its entirety beforehand. JMHO EraserGirl (talk) 21:49, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps we can draw from the Good Articles and Featured Articles under WikiProject Films. The guideline advocates standardization, but this is not necessarily requisite as we don't want to limit editors. Are you looking for actual examples to be mentioned in the guideline, or links to real-world examples? We can see about doing better with this. Are there any other aspects of the guideline that you think could be more representative? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 21:54, 20 February 2008 (UTC)
at this point i would settle for LINKS embedded in the Guidelines, that point to which featured articles depict certain things properly. I wanted an example of how screen credits are formatted for a screenwriter. I am visual, i need to SEE it. Is it in a table? does it have a leading dot? is the year first or last? where is the notation of writer or adaptor? are teleplays separated from screenplays. But even if you can think of a writer off the top of your head you have to click on several before you find one that is properly formatted. I clicked on 3 that were all formatted differently, before I decided to just use someone who has been fiddled with by a lot of editors. I am using Aaron Sorkin's article as an example for everything.
Ideally it would have been nice to go to the Style Guidelines and SEE what it is supposed to look like and then read the caveats explaining why and what to do when. I really feel strongly about this, since there are so many excited newbies jumping into the deep end, it should be more idiot proofed EraserGirl (talk) 05:47, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
Regarding screenwriters, are you talking about mention of them outside the film infobox? I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say that you found 3 that were formatted differently. If you're talking about screenwriter articles themselves, then you may want to refer to WikiProject Screenwriters. I've only truly worked on Alex Tse, who is a small-time screenwriter. Are there any elements specific to a film article that you think should have visual examples? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 12:59, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
Hah, I see you already found your way to its talk page. :) As you can tell, that WikiProject doesn't have a large number of editors, so it may be a challenge to have consistent discussions. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 13:01, 21 February 2008 (UTC)
Infoboxes aren't part of the discussion, when you can find the proper one THEY actually have standardization. You guys slay me, you say, we don't want to limit editors, but the wiki manual of style goes on for pages and pages and pages, you DO want to uniformity of formatting, you just don't want curb creativity of content. Believe it of not if the stubs & templates were REAL templates, ones that had an empty info box, one or two empty section headers, sections for references, credits, external links already mapped out and waiting to be filled in, you would get a lot better results. MOST people work best when you draw the lines and let them pick the colors.
{info box}
{sample table properly formatted}
==Ext Links==
Then folks can just worry about what to put in not where. Of course none of those headers are carved in stone, but they do remind people that references ARE important and not as many things will be left partially completed. My discussion is not limited to screenwriters, that's just my forté, but I am finding that all behind the camera personnel get short shrift. EraserGirl (talk) 14:07, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Considering that I've started quite a few film articles, a template beyond the film infobox would be a good idea. I'm still not clear, though -- are you talking about articles about films, or articles about screenwriters, too? Here's the format for an article that I usually use:

{{Infobox Film}}

Lead section


*ACTOR as ROLE: Brief description goes here
*ACTOR as ROLE: Brief description goes here
*ACTOR as ROLE: Brief description goes here

Background information about the making of the film

===Box office performance===
Release dates, box office statistics, popular reception

===Critical reaction===
What critics thought of the film; ensure a balanced viewpoint


==External links==
*{{imdb title|id=XXXXX|title=XXXXX}}
*{{amg title|id=XXXXXX|title=XXXXX}}

[[Category:20XX films]]
[[Category:American films]]
[[Category:English-language films]]

Is that what you're desiring? —Erik (talkcontrib) - 15:56, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes! hallelujah! Now why have you been keeping that all to yourself, Spread the love! share your invention with the world, boy! Why must it be limited to articles about films? I could use one of those for FILM PEOPLE, and of course a different one for cast and one for crew as they have different types of credits. Personally I am not interested in going around creating tons of empty stubs for films to be filled in by someone else later. I tend to start something and then finish it as much as I can. What we call stubs are basically empty place holders. If I HAVE to start a film article it would be ever so much nicer if i got an empty template to fill in. The other day I was separating one article into (book) and (film) and the thought was a little overwhelming, so much cutting and pasting AND formatting. I guess I am just not abstract enough, I like lines to color inside. EraserGirl (talk) 21:22, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

I just clicked on stub page Template:1940s-drama-film-stub and all it gives you is a cute little grey box with the line 'this is a 1940's drama stub' what good is that? And I really doubt anyone uses that particular sort of stub at all anyway. Ideally it should present you with a stub/template like yours that says "here I am fill me in!". EraserGirl (talk) 21:30, 21 February 2008 (UTC)

This is what I am using for screenwriters, can you suggest tweakage? Perhaps putting all the work credits as a subheader under a WORKS header?
 {{tl|Infobox Actor}}

 Lead section


 ===Sub Sections===

 ===Sub Sections===

 ===Sub Sections===

 *''[[work title]]'', ([[year published]])

 ==Nonfiction Books==
 *''[[work title]]'', ([[year published]])

 ==Broadway Credits==
 *''production'', ([[year opened]])

 ==Film credits==
 * ''[[film title]]''  ([[year released]]; writer; producer; uncredited)


 ==External links==
 *{{imdb name|0000000}}


 [[Category:American screenwriters]]

Of course I have only really worked heavily on three pages, but the examples I had used didn't have Metadata on them, and I didn't know enough to add it. Subsequently other people have had to come along after me and add it in. Something like this attached to the STUB, even if commented out, would have reminded me of the necessary sections. EraserGirl (talk) 21:26, 23 February 2008 (UTC) EraserGirl (talk) 21:26, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

Critical Reception - the use of review aggregators

I've never been a big fan of using review "aggregators" such as Rotten Tomatoes on film articles in Wikipedia - I don't think it adds an awful lot to an article, and a significant flaw in their usage on Wiki is that they don't necessarily agree with one another due to having varying sources.

On one of the film articles on my watchlist, CJ7, the Rotten Tomatoes scores for the two previous films by the same director/star, Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle had been cited (90% and 89% respectively), demonstrating how the new film, CJ7 with its lowly score of 45% hasn't fared anywhere near as well as those earlier films.

On the Metacritic website, the scores for those earlier films are notably lower than Rotten Tomatoes - 68/100 and 78/100 respectively - and their current score for CJ7 is higher, at 55/100. Only this latter figure is currently noted in the article, and not the comparison figures for the earlier films.

So, on Rotten Tomatoes, the gulf in % scores between Shaolin Soccer and CJ7 is a quite sensational 45%. On Metacritic it is a relatively meagre 13%.

If the aggregate scores only differed by a couple of percent, I wouldn't really see a problem with it, but a marked differences like this means there could be selection bias if a user chooses to cite one aggregator over another (I'm not saying that is the case with this particular article). As such, I'm not sure we should be espousing the virtues of using such aggregators within film articles at all, or if we must, then users should be citing the equivalent figures from both (all) major aggregators. Gram123 (talk) 16:40, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree that such websites shouldn't be decisive in determining the critical reception of a film (although they're much easier to add than actually going through individual reviews). I personally think that both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic should be included because I know that they won't always be even. Additionally, they provide an idea of how to balance reviews in the article. We don't quite have a system for that, but obviously we wouldn't add too many positive reviews for something like 10,000 BC. I think the best content to add in the "overall" sense is a revisited perspective of the film years later. At the time of the release, there's a range of opinions floating around. Later on, depending on the film's notoriety, there is sometimes coverage that talks about how it was received in general. For example, for Fight Club (film)#Critical reaction, I wrote, When Fight Club premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, the polarizing film caused a sensation and faced a wide array of opposing opinions from prominent critics. This was based on a citation from 2001, and using Rotten Tomatoes would be unreliable as it rates 80%, hardly polarizing.
Anyway, are you looking for more specific wording in the style guideline? We could possibly tweak the one sentence about RT and Metacritic to mention including both for the sake of balance. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 16:48, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
(ec)I tend to find they're OK if you explain how the sites calculate their scores. For example:

As of March 10 2008, review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 69% of critics gave the film positive write-ups, based on 181 reviews. At the similar website Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to each review, the film has received an average score of 65, based on 37 reviews.

That way a reader is given all they need to make their own mind up on the information's usefulness. The Hundredth Idiot (talk) 16:50, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Good points, and yes, I think that if RT and Metacritic are the two main aggregators (are there more?), then it's worth tweaking the guideline to suggest users use both for a more balanced view.
I just thought of something when reading The Hundredth Idiot's point - it is possible that all 37 of the reviews used by Metacritic are included within RT's 181. If so, this suggests that RT would be the preferred aggregator. On the other hand, if the sources used by Metacritic are fewer because they only use more "reputable" sources then that may be preferred. Hmmm. Perhaps an analysis is required of what each agreggator's sources are. Gram123 (talk) 14:14, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I'm not a fan of using review "aggregators" such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic in Wikipedia film articles either. I prefer to quote reviews from mainstream critics, whose opinions I feel carry more weight than a RT rating of 83%, which basically tells the reader nothing, even if you explain it means 83% of critics gave the film positive write-ups, based on 181 reviews. Who, exactly, are these critics? Vincent Canby and Mick LaSalle, or Big Bob and Joe Schmo?
As far as an analysis of what each agreggator's sources are, Metracritic relies primarily on reviews from mainstream publications, while Rotten Tomatoes relies heavily on websites created by amateur critics. Is it really relevant that "Big Bob" from "" liked or disliked a film? I don't think so. MovieMadness (talk) 15:05, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I looked at how Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes operated some time ago since I had the same doubts. Metacritic is more selective in terms of picking critics for film reviews. Rotten Tomatoes is a little broader, but it definitely does have criteria for a critic to join their listing. They include critics that we would not cite on Wikipedia, but I think that the contemporary ratings at RT have been highly consistent. If you compare award winners to box office duds declared by newspapers, you can definitely see that RT's ratings have matched the level of critical reaction reported elsewhere. In addition, I think RT works well because of normalization -- the larger the sample of reviews there are for a film, the more "normalized" the rating will be. I think this is why Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes don't always correspond -- Metacritic has a lower sample size. I think that ultimately, both Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes ratings should be covered in the article. However, it shouldn't stop there. The meat of any Critical reaction section is what widely-circulated critics thought of the film. The combination of everything permits the reader to draw his or her own impression of how the film has been received. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 15:24, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I am very strongly in favor of the use of either aggregator because of the advantages that Erik states above. Using more than one per movie is going a bit overboard as they are necessarily going to be very highly correlated. If it were up to me, the data would be reported as a standard score which e.g. would allow people to easily compare RT to Metacritic. Per WP:NOR, we are allowed to perform the simple arithmetic necessary to do that. However, I doubt that either aggregator publishes the mean and standard deviation of their data, and it might be hard to get it. So the best we can hope for is to ask people to phrase things the way that The Hundredth Idiot shows above. Sadly, most of our articles don't do that. They usually include site-specific jargon (like "fresh" for RT) which likely confuses readers a lot. SBPrakash (talk) 06:49, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
Indeed; published information of that sort would be useful, but as you say, a little hard to come by, so we have to work with what we've got. Though I do disagree that information from only one of the sites is necessary. (Oh, and before I go on, full disclosure: I'm The Hundredth Idiot.) Anyway, to address MovieMadness' point first, Rotten Tomatoes does gauge opinion from mainstream critics as well as some notability-challenged publications of the type he mentions. But as Erik says above, the sheer number of publications they draw from helps to normalise the figure, so most of the time it's not a problem. However, anyone still concerned by this might want to refer to the site's "Cream of the Crop" section. This tallies a smaller number of reviews, from more reputable sources, in order to generate a completely separate score. If this differs enough from wider opinion (I go for about 10%), then this could be included. e.g.:

As of March 14 2008, review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 69% of critics gave the film positive write-ups, based on 181 reviews, with a 54% rating from selected notable critics […]

It is also worth keeping in mind that RT and MC will disagree for reasons not just to do with the notability of their critics or differences in the sample size. It's often about how they generate their scores. As explained above, Rotten Tomatoes decides whether a review is positive or negative, calculating an end score based on this simple binary assessment. Metacritic is equally subjective, but assigns a rating out of 100 to a review. So if a film recieves twelve reviews which are generally unfavourable but not utterly scathing, this might translate to a score of perhaps 41% at MC. RT, however, would declare all these reviews negative and so the film would receive a whopping 0% score. This is a strong argument for including results from both sites, as long as it's not the only information in the Reception section, and as long as each article explains how the scores are generated. That way, in combination with opinions cited to the more notable critics, readers are given all they need to make their own minds up. Steve TC 09:31, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
That's a great explanation, Steve; thanks for sharing! This makes me think of 10,000 BC, whose critical reaction has 6% for Rotten Tomatoes and 37 out of 100 for Metacritic. That's a noticeable difference, and it matches with what Steve said. On RT, either reviews are good or bad, so obviously most people didn't give a thumbs up to the film. It's like a pass/fail grade in a college course. Metacritic is more substantial, "grading" with a certain amount of points. I think this difference between the two and the prominence of both supports my opinion that both should be included for the sake of balance. —Erik (talkcontrib) - 16:25, 14 March 2008 (UTC)
I agree that results from both review aggregators should be included, but is it a bit much for "each article to explain how the scores are generated"? That seems like it would create a lot of duplicate information. Wouldn't it be enough to use in line links to Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic whenever they are mentioned and the explanation for how each one generates its scores to be included only in the articles for those sites? For An Angel (talk) 14:25, 17 March 2008 (UTC)