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Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 04:50 pm
Hi everyone! The Wiki Committee is in the process of revising our policy documents to put them in a more user-friendly FAQ form. We've got several of these in the works right now and will be sharing them here as each one is completed. Here's what we've been calling the "Intro to Fanlore FAQ." It represents a summary of some existing policies that (we hope) allows new editors to quickly get a sense of how Fanlore works. We offer it for public comment below; please feel free to ask questions or make comments, and we'll do our best to answer you in a timely way!

Please note that we may not be able to respond to your questions this weekend, because some of us (me included) will be offline for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Thanks for bearing with us.

With no further ado...

Intro to Fanlore FAQ

1. What is this Fanlore thing all about?

Fanlore is a wiki with a mission -- to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations -- WAIT, we'll come in again!

Our mission is to record the histories, experiences, traditions, and transformative works of a wide variety of fan communities. Anyone can contribute. This and our other FAQs will (we hope) answer some of the questions that may arise as you read around the wiki and ponder what you want to add to it.

2. Who can make or edit a new Fanlore page?

Anyone can do it! \o/ All you need is to register for an account (it's easy and automatic, we do this mostly to protect against spam), and then you will see "Edit" links on existing pages, and if you search for a page about a topic and find it doesn't exist, you'll be invited to create a new one.

3. I'm not a great writer. I'm worried I'll mess up someone's nicely written page.

Don't let that stop you! Wikis like Fanlore depend on multiple people adding their thoughts and experiences to existing articles and we understand that people have different writing styles. It doesn't have to be a perfectly smooth insertion. And keep in mind, too, that there are people out there who just enjoy copy editing, and that's a way to contribute to the wiki too (so don't worry about the page being uneven or about typos — someone else will enjoy fixing those.)

4. But I don't have time to write and format an entire dissertation on X event!

You don't have to write a formal paper of any kind in order to add to the wiki. Every memory, link, fact or description you add, no matter how large or small, helps to build a better picture of a fannish experience. You can add a detail or an example: e.g. adding a story to a list of notable Snape/Draco stories, or adding your recollections of a panel to a page about a con. You can even add your experience as a quote, like: YOUR_NAME remembers it this way: "[Your experience in your own words here!]"

5. I want to tell a story about something that happened at the con I went to, but I don't want to write an entire article about the whole con. Is that worth posting?

If you think it's worth remembering, then it's worth posting! Again, you don't have to write any more than you are comfortable with. Remember that someone else can come along and add their own experiences as well.

6. Do I have to write only about well known stories/vids/artworks?

There is no "notability" requirement on Fanlore: the only requirement is that a person cares enough to create a page for a fan/work/event. If you think the story/vid/artwork/fan deserves a page, then she does or it does!

7. I don't code. Coding scares the kittens out of me.

You're not alone! One of the most useful pages for a quick reference is the Cheatsheet which has simple directions on how to do headers and links and such using the wiki coding. Many people keep this page open in another window while they write. But again, it's more important that you make your contribution than you make your contribution, edited perfectly. We can always clean up and format the page later.

8. Hey! I posted an article on that thing that happened and someone's gone and changed what I wrote.

Remember that although you wrote the article (even if the article is about you), nobody "owns" a wiki article. By contributing to the wiki, you agree to let other users edit your work. We hope that each edit will improve, amend, correct, or just diversify the viewpoints on a particular subject, which again, will help to build a better picture of a fannish experience. However, if a later editor has changed what you wrote and made it inaccurate, you can edit it again to present both points of view. A good formulation is, "Some fans say... "But other fans say..."

8. There's an article on Fanlore that says X happened because of Y and that's totally not how I saw it at the time. What makes them the authority?

If someone has posted an article on Fanlore that you believe is inaccurate, incomplete, or one-sided, we encourage you to add to the article and help it to reflect a Plural Point of View.

9. What do you mean by Plural Point of View?

While there are some bare facts associated with any event (names, dates, etc.) we believe that the history of fandom is a collection of personal experiences and interpretations, many of them passed along as part of an oral tradition.

In a nutshell, the Plural Point of View policy contends that all the interpretations or experiences are of interest and should be recorded, so when you're writing your article for the wiki, avoid making sweeping generalizations ("All fans believe...") and use qualifiers and non-judgmental language. For example, "To some fans, X event was the best thing ever," leaves open the opportunity for other fans to come in and explain that they didn't think it was the best thing ever. But in a non-judgmental way. "Fan group A, who thought this was the best thing ever, are clearly crazy-cakes," does not allow for a plural point of view.

10. OMG, there's an article about me /something on Fanlore and it's wrong! / biased! / incomplete! Can I delete it?

Someone is wrong on the internet? Impossible! But no, you can't delete it, because that's not how wikis work. Wikis improve through collaboration, so the way to deal with an inaccurate or incomplete entry is to add more details and perspectives to it.

If the information is just factually wrong--e.g. someone said you started writing Highlander in 1997 and it was actually 1998--you can just go in and fix it.

If the information seems biased or written from a perspective you don't agree with, you can add a countering viewpoint. Bracket the information you don't agree with with a phrase like, "Some fans say," and then add something like, "But others say," or "But MY_NAME argues," and make your own point or add a different perspective.

All that being said, if an article has your legal name or something else that outs you or puts you into any danger, let us know immediately and we'll fix it. And remember, most people create pages on Fanlore about people and works they think are interesting and important. If you or your work show up, it's typically a compliment.

11. I've got the real scoop on X event from a friend's journal, but she locked it, so not everyone got to see it. It's all totally true, though. Can I post that?

If the post has always been locked, then you can't post or link to it. However, if it was unlocked (ie public) at some point (and is now locked) then you can quote from it or link to a saved screencap of it.

12. What is fair use?

Fair use is a provision of U.S. copyright law that says that we can use copyrighted material without permission in appropriate circumstances. Fair use favors commentary, quotation, and critical analysis, as well as preservation of the historical record. Images, for example, can be part of an article to illustrate a point in the article.

13. It sounds kind of like anything goes around here. What is just plain not okay on the wiki?

Sockpuppets (each user may have only one account on the wiki). Also vandalism (any additions made in an attempt to damage the wiki) and spam (advertising which invades our fannish space). These are not a few of our favorite things, and we will delete them with abandon.

The other thing that's not permitted is "outing" another fan. We know that many fans are careful to keep their pseudonymous fan identities separate from their real names, and we want to respect that. If we discover that someone's identity has been exposed, the page will be reverted and the history removed, and we reserve the right to ban anyone who outs another fan.

14. But what if someone's comfortable linking their two identities?

If you can point to a statement made by that fan, on an account that they control, where they've publicly expressed that they're fine with linking their two identities, then you can link those identities on a wiki page.

If you want to link your own realname and pseudonymous identities, you can log in to the wiki using OpenID, demonstrating that you own the identity you're exposing.

But our general assumption is that identity exposure is unwanted. Please respect your fellow fans.

15. What if I disagree with another user's assertion about something?

You can always edit a page to include more points of view. If you disagree with someone's edits, you can use that article's Talk page to chat with the page's other editors. If you can't come to an agreement that way, you can contact a Gardener or Administrator for help.

16. I have a specific concern that isn't addressed here.

Please contact us! Our goal is to make Fanlore a fantastic resource and fun to use and contribute to, and we want to help if you are having issues. Contact the gardeners Contact the wiki committee

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
This is great. Something to add perhaps - one of the most common questions I see coming up in fannish circles: "Someone wrote about me! I didn't give them permission."

Answer (and this is totally tongue in cheek): Unless you've been writing and posting and doing all your fannish activity under a rock, chances are someone has seen you and your work and thinks you're awesome enough to make it into a Fanlore entry. But in general, you don't need to ask for (or give) permission to record history and facts and people. If you feel the facts (or the way they're presented) are inaccurate, then see our Plural POV policy. And of course if your real name is being connected with your fannish activities and this is something you do not want to happen, then please contact us (see Privacy policies)."

or something like that. you folks may have a better way of helping people get over the "OMG, someone sees me!!" response.
Friday, September 17th, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC)
this answers a lot of questions i have. thank you.
Saturday, September 18th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
I think one point that could be added to the FAQ is what Fanlore is not about. Adding a lot of canon information (about a tv show, a pairing, a character) is often the very first thing people who are new to the wiki do. And they put a lot of work and effort into it! The impulse is very strong and it makes sense because we are usually excited about our fandoms and want other people to see what's exciting about the source, only the most likely outcome is that someone else is going to remove all the extra canon information because that doesn't belong on Fanlore. The result is that people get discouraged because they were enthusiastic and it was for nothing because they did it *wrong*. Maybe something like a warning? You will be tempted to do this (because shiny canon is shiny) but you must be strong and resist! Or something like that?
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 06:49 am (UTC)
#7 - would be good to say they can just type some text, either in the Page page or even in the Talk page, and someone else will eventually format it.

#10 - this is trivializing a real concern.

I know three people now who have freaked out when someone created a page about their fic. They went ballistic, seriously. One I helped to re-focus the page on the work rather than the author and removed links to her current fannish identity. Another was Dargelo.

There's nothing in the FAQ response to deal with this, what seems like a huge invasion of privacy.

I think the first thing is to acknowledge that people can be surprised and upset by discovering Fanlore pages on their work (especially really old stuff). Wikipedia is so exclusive these days that it's easy to be surprised when Fanlore has such a different policy. Encouraging people to think of their work as part of the history of fandom is better than being flip about it.

Sometimes people have registered at Fanlore and deleted the content they don't like, and then one of us restores it on the basis that no one can just make it go away. That looks like rudeness and entitlement to these already upset people and all their friends, that they aren't allowed to control pages about them. We encourage them to edit, they edit, but it doesn't stick: it seems like we're breaking our own rules.

We need a better process, with better communications acknowledging the issue and offering various options, rather than seeming to insist that our policies are the only way to do things. Some kind of dispute message on the page would be good too.

The FAQ needs to address this seriously and link to a policy/process page, to be good fandom citizens.
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
(Re-posting comment because I used the wrong icon the first time! :-)

Thanks for your feedback, [personal profile] msilverstar.

Re: #10, thank you for being sensitive to these issues. The wiki committee is bringing these concerns to the Board, and together we'll work on finding a way of explaining our policy that hopefully communicates what we mean without making anyone feel that we're trivializing their concerns.
Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 01:37 am (UTC)
Is it permissible to mention one's own works on a page for a relevant subject?
Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 03:44 pm (UTC)
Sunday, October 3rd, 2010 03:49 pm (UTC)
Really? Wow. That sort of thing wasn't anywhere on the FAQ, and I assumed it'd be seen as inappropriate or gauche.