Friday, March 19th, 2010 06:30 pm
We've posted the Fandoms as Category policy change to the policies section of Fanlore. We'd like to open it up for comment. You can find it here.

We, the wiki committee, don't work in a vacuum and would like your input on this. If possible, We'd like to have the discussion here on Dreamwidth. It's easy to answer questions and respond to comments. If discussion becomes unwieldy, we can schedule a chat in the Fanlore chat room.

This is only the first of several policies we're working on and are planning to put out for comment in the next few months. So, let us know what you think.
Friday, March 19th, 2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
Is there a typo under Technical Aspects/Renaming the Existing Pages? The first sentence is:

Each Fandom page will have to be renamed as a category. For example the current Harry Potter page will become.
Saturday, March 20th, 2010 12:01 am (UTC)
You would need to type [[:Category:Harry Potter]] to make it show up as a link.
Friday, March 19th, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
Sounds reasonable to me!
Friday, March 19th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
Um. I'm not 100% sure I understand this, but this seems to go in an entirely different direction from what I imagined from the fandom categories. Like I imagined that a fandom category would allow you to browse all fanworks (zines, fanarts, online fics, vids) that have their own articles in the wiki, without the tedious need for manually updated lists, not just the fandom overview articles (characters, pairings or glossary or such). This sounds as if a mid-size fandom wouldn't be a category because it is no franchise with now a ton of subpages that need a portal to organize.
Edited 2010-03-19 11:09 pm (UTC)
Friday, March 19th, 2010 11:25 pm (UTC)
Well, I imagined something like every Star Trek: TOS zine would have the categories TOS and zine, (along with fanwork, print, fiction/non-fiction the bunch), and then you could either in the site map first click on Fandoms and get a long list of Fandoms (as category, not as the page about the fandom) and then you'd click the Category Star Trek: TOS and find the page about TOS itself, but also subcategories Zines, Vids, Visual Art etc, and then if you clicked Zines there it would list all TOS zines because those had the TOS and the Zine category.

And in reverse if you'd browse through the site map from the media first, like Fan Activities>...>Zines instead of having it end there, fandoms would show as further division there too, so you could either see all zines or narrow by fandom.

I imagined the categories kind of like tags, I guess?

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Friday, March 19th, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
First: this is exciting!

Second, I have a few questions:

What do you mean by "renamed as a category"? A category of the same name as the main fandom page will be created? Or will the actual page be renamed/restructured?

>Spin-off fandoms will have separate (but obviously, linked) categories and/or pages -- thus, Buffy and Angel will be separate categories (or pages, if a single page is all that’s needed).

does this mean you would create a "Jossverse" category with "Buffy" and "Angel" subcategories? Creating separate categories for spin-off series seems to contradict the idea of labeling franchise fandoms as all one thing. For example, Stargate Atlantis is a spin-off of Stargate SG-1, but is it useful to give it a separate category? The answer may depend on the size of the spin-off fandom and the amount of cross-over between the two. For Buffy and Angel, I'd say give them the same category (though I was never involved in Angel fandom, so I could be missing something).

the portal idea is interesting, and I think we're already doing something like it for Star Trek.

although I am not a fan of subpages, it seems odd to make characters of large fandoms be top-level pages and leave characters of small pages in subpages. Is that your intent? In some cases, making character pages into top-level pages solves a lot of problems--Angel is the same character (more or less, heh) on both BTVS and AtS, so there should only be one page for him--but in other cases, it might create problems--there need to be two Spock pages*. Not to say you shouldn't go ahead and do this, but the rules should be very clearly defined.

>Associating the existing pages to each other

I vote for [[Name (Fandom)]]. It follows the disambiguation/qualifier style we've already got.

*So we'd get [[Spock (TOS character)]] and [[Spock (Reboot character)]]???
Saturday, March 20th, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
>We're trying to decide how to do it. Do you have any suggestions?

If you have a "Harry Potter" fandom page and a "Harry Potter" category, there shouldn't be a problem with the page names from a technical point of view, right? Aren't they in different namespaces? So you would create a new HP category, apply it to the HP page and all the subpages and related pages that might be hiding elsewhere. Then subpages would be moved to top-level pages (and some would have to be renamed because they're too generic). Then all the redirects can be edited. Then, I think we should call out to HP fans to come in and review the new page structure to see if content should be rearranged or what-have-you. And it'll be easier to review because we can just look at the category page!

Am I missing a step?

>No Buffy and Angel would be separate categories.

So are you making separate categories for Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis?? It's a parallel situation; different setting, same universe, some of the same characters.

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Saturday, March 20th, 2010 03:25 am (UTC)
Not to keep harping on the Buffy/Angel distinction, but I reread the draft policy and found a contradiction in how fandom categories would actually get named.

>For franchise fandoms, a single category will be used, for example, "Star Trek" will be a single category, with TOS, TNG, DS9, Enterprise, Animated Series, 2009 movie, each constituting individual pages in the category.

This sounds to me like one [[Category:Star Trek]] to be added to all character, pairing, fandom, etc. pages related to any of the 5 shows and 11 movies. Which is exactly how I imagined fandom categories being applied. However, it is not consistent with the statement that says "Spin-off fandoms will have separate (but obviously, linked) categories and/or pages." Separate pages, yes. Separate categories, no! (Although now I see I am conflating "fandom" with "show". But I don't think Buffy and Angel fandoms are any farther apart than, say, TOS and ENT or, for that matter, Harry Potter's many many fractured communities.)

Re: clarification, I hope

[personal profile] aethel - 2010-03-20 09:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Saturday, March 20th, 2010 10:30 am (UTC)
We, the wiki committee, don't work in a vacuum and would like your input on this.

I read your proposed policy change for fandoms as categories and I must say that it is not at all what I thought it would be.

I thought we were talking about this:

Category:Due South
Category:Due South zines
Category:Due South websites

Category:Harry Potter
Category:Harry Potter communities
Category:Harry Potter doujinshis

Category:Star Trek
Category:Star Trek TOS
Category:Star Trek TOS zines
Category:Star Trek TNG
Category:Star Trek TNG zines


Nothing of this has anything to do with renaming existing pages.
Saturday, March 20th, 2010 03:26 pm (UTC)
Yes. I think the main category problem is that fanworks and fan activities are not broken up by fandom. The whole category approach so far seemed to have been to minimize the number of categories with no fandom categories, and now with this proposal that only some big franchises are supposed to get a fandom category that is the same problem. As if the goal was to avoid categories. I'm similarly perplexed actually why we only have a single category for fan but not one for "fanartists", "fanwriters", "vidders", instead you end up tagging people with the category "Video" out of desperation because there is no way to mark them as people who make videos.
Saturday, March 20th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Before I can even approach this topic, I have a concern about the way discussions about official policy and general procedure happen with Fanlore.

This post is not linked anywhere on the wiki, the OTW blog or any other site where fans and Fanlore editors will see it. The only people who have been invited to this discussion are members or subscribers of this comm.

Many other policy and procedure conversations occur in obscurity on random Talk pages. As an example, a discussion about Real People pages occurred on the Billy Boyd Talk page, and was only accessible to people who happened to stumble upon it.

I don't believe either of these approaches to discussion accomplish anything beyond alienation and exclusion of many Fanlore enthusiasts, including those people who do not wish to use Dreamwidth in any way, and those people who do not have the time to monitor the hundreds of edits on the Recent Changes pages to find where the conversations are taking place.

Real consensus is never possible if the conversation is limited to a small group of insiders. The results of these discussions are not accessible to Fanlore users in general either now or in the future.

I strongly urge the Fanlore committee to consider finding a forum hosting option that allows all Fanlore enthusiasts to participate equally in discussions, under the pseud they use on the Wiki and without requiring membership or participation in a site like Dreamwidth.

Barring that, if the Fanlore committee is going to choose to make use of this comm a requirement for full participation in Fanlore, then they should clearly state that on the Wiki itself.
Saturday, March 20th, 2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
Okay, ten hours ago I said to [personal profile] facetofcathy that I'm trying to stay out of any future Fanlore discussions, because I'm under the impression that they're not going anywhere. And see, here I am. Because I cannot shut up and leave this uncommented:

But I can assure you that we don't want to limit participation in the conversation.

Maybe that is what you would like, but the way things are set up now is limiting to a lot of people. It's limiting to people who don't have a DW account to feel like they're on the sidelines, it's limiting to the big crowd of fandom that isn't using journaling services to begin with, it's limiting to the many contributors who don't even know that this comm exists.

Last December, I made a long-wided post on this comm about what I thought were Fanlore's problems and what my suggestions were. While this was posted within minutes by a comm admin, there is no "official" Fanlore response on this thread to this date. Instead, the discussion moved on to [personal profile] facetofcathy's journal. What do you think, how many Fanlore contributors saw that discussion? Ten? Twenty? And it was a really good, constructive discussion, too.

When this comm was set up, I threw in my two cents saying it is a really bad idea. My opinion on this hasn't changed. Set up a blog on Fanlore's server. Set up a forum. Whatever. But put everyone on the same page.

Michelle (, who will really try to shut up now

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Saturday, March 20th, 2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
Right then, the issue at hand.

The gain here seems to be the fact that complex fandoms can have their disparate parts linked and big fandoms and complex fandoms will get a directory listing of pages by being made a category. The restriction seems to be limiting that to only big fandoms.

How are the boundaries to be drawn? By this I mean a big fandom like Supernatural with a not big presence on the wiki will become a category now in hopes that the pages grow into it or not? I think there's risk here of people getting their fandom loyalties stepped on if the committee decides their fave fandom doesn't rate elevation--and I'm using that provocative word on purpose. I think there's also a risk (certainty?) of all fandom categories being Western media fandoms and that's not good optics.

How deep into the fandom do you go with the category? I personally don't think making fanwork pages for a given fandom part of a fandom category is a good plan. I also don't see how making a subcategory of a category fandom for fanworks in that fandom will work when non-category fandoms won't have that option to solve the directory issue. Making list pages by hand of fanworks for each fandom seems like a very poor use of volunteer labour, but how else are those pages devoted to fanworks going to be integrated in? Let's be honest here, there are hundreds of fanwork pages on the wiki now, and most of those were not created from a red link on a fandom page and are not integrated into the wiki until someone does the slog work to make a list, or retcon some links somewhere.

I confess to a little confusion on this issue because I don't really grasp the ideology behind limiting categories when they are the only way (that I know of) to produce automated browsable lists of related content. Is this related to the seeming wiki culture of eschewing subpages--which I also don't understand the history of?
Sunday, March 21st, 2010 01:41 am (UTC)
I too find the proposed policy really non-intuitive. I honestly do not get how it is even useful to have these kinds of categories or why there is this fixation on having as few categories as possible. Can anyone offer some practical examples of when/how these types of categories would be useful? A Star Trek cat that includes only main fandom pages and character/pairing pages seems to me like it would just be replicating the information already on the Star Trek page. It sounds more like a portal than a category.

I had assumed that a fandom category would apply to everything relating specifically to that fandom, i.e. fanworks & glossary terms as well as characters/pairings/main fandom page. But this would obviously only be useful if you could look at two (or more) categories at once, that is, [Fandom] + [Fiction Writing] or whatever. Assuming this is possible, you would also have to have cats for characters & pairings. Otherwise, I like Frogspace's suggestion.

(Requests for categories for Characters & Pairings, as well as Tropes, Doujinshi and Zine Publishers are already on the Bug Tracking. I think these are all needed as soon as possible. Also, I agree with ratcreature that more people cats, i.e. Fanwriter, Vidder, Reccer, etc, are necessary.)

I realise going back and adding new cats to thousands of pages etc could be very tiresome if it is not possible to automate, but in the long run not having useable categories is going to be a bigger problem.
Sunday, March 21st, 2010 07:00 am (UTC)
As one of the people who has probably spend hundreds of hours to collate lists to make fanlor pages findable so that there now aren't 8000+ orphaned zine pages not linked to or listed anywhere, it is my opinion that even if we can't automate it will still easier to add categories by hand through the backlog than having to update lists by hand for eternity...

ETA: Actually I think having things in lists would probably still be useful (because you can potentially organize more info in them than in a category listing) but they certainly would be easier to update if for example for the Supernatural fanzine list you could just go through the category showing SPN fanzines and then add details from the pages listed there to the "List of SPN fanzines" page rather than having to go through all pages that link to SPN to pick out the fanzines by hand.
Edited 2010-03-21 07:27 am (UTC)

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an aside

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Re: an aside

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Monday, March 22nd, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
Coming in late, and sideways, and as someone without a lot of wiki-background:

On a broad general level, this looks to me like a shape-of-the-data problem. What we have is a whole lot of (relatively) unsorted data, and the question is how best it can be sorted via dividing it up into capital-C Categories.

The complication? Categories, from what I'm seeing, are essentially meant to create hierarchy (that is, to organize the data into neat top-down outline or tree form) -- except that the dataset as a whole isn't particularly tree-shaped. And to the extent that it is tree-shaped, there are large chunks of it that belong in more than one tree at the same time -- and the dataset as a whole includes a lot of trees of different sizes.

A further issue, I suspect, is that the term "fandom" is being used to mean two or three different things at once. On one hand, fandoms are communities or groups of people (which takes in things like the filk and costuming communities as well as things like "Gargoyles fandom"). At the same time, "fandom" is also being used here -- specifically, in the context of this discussion -- to describe the sum total of fanworks based on a given source canon (notably as a zine-indexing mechanism). And both of those usages are distinct from the use of "fandom" as a loose synonym for "source canon".

Now I know very little about wiki design (and not too much more about database design generally). But my general suspicion is that if Categories are meant to be applied sparingly and to very large clusters of like items, then they are probably not suitable for gathering up fandom-specific indexes of zines or specific fanworks on a wiki-wide basis. [If I had to develop a standard for when a data-subset should become a Category, I think I'd base it not on the kind of data it is (that is, whatever one is using "fandom" to mean at any given moment) but on the volume of data in the dataset (say, X number of pages with the same tag).
Monday, March 29th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
Seeing the fabulous Merlin character list page gave me an idea: if we create one of these character list pages for every fandom, the individual character pages could be moved to top-level pages without getting lost, even if there's no fandom category for that fandom (yet).

An alternative to subpages would be a template that could be included at the bottom of all the fandom pages (see the Harry Potter template on Wikipedia). Unfortunately, it looks like the template has to be created manually, just like the subpage except it's even more complicated.