Forum:Sourcing and granularity in lore articles
Making 2 proposals to attempt to formalise what seems to have already become best practice regarding lore related content on the wiki and trying to establish consensus on how to handle sources of information that are not canonically correct and creation of small pages based on game lore.
Proposal 1: add a further entry to RS:NOT to cover lore speculation[edit source]
Sometimes passionate editors get carried away and stretch source material; adding their own interpretations of information or filling in the gaps. I suggest that we make it clear that this is not okay on the wiki by adding a new entry to RuneScape:RuneScape Wiki is not... - maybe "fanfaction" would be an appropriate heading? Suggest wording something like:
"Articles are not the place for players to document theories on or interpretations of game lore. Articles should only contain information that can be confirmed by a reliable source. You can use the talk pages of relevant articles to discuss information that is unclear or open to interpretation."
Proposal 2: modify RS:FUTURE to cover lore content[edit source]
The general guidance given by RuneScape:Future content about how to write article content is broadly applicable to how editors should write for lore related content. I suggest that we could expand this policy to cover both situations - perhaps renaming it to RuneScape:Tenative writing?
We have canon as a page - this doesn't feel like a mainspace page to me but it does seem like a good explanation of the reliability of various sources that could be incorporated into an updated policy. The categorisation of different forms of sources as canon or not may need some discussion. It could also be useful to list various templates such as that we have for indicating different sources of information.
We can also use this to explain the need to add sources for lore related statements. This has become fairly standard practice over time on the wiki. The game's lore is complex and has evolved over the many years that RuneScape has been around; often information can be contradictory and writing accurate content for the wiki requires players to evaluate the relative reliability of sources and accurately synthesise information. Sourcing of statements is fundamental to allowing editors to collaborate in this process and ensure that wiki content avoids speculation or misinterpretation of information. It would be very helpful to have a resource to share with newer users to explain how to correctly write about this content for the wiki.
Proposal 3: set some guideline on minimum notability and/or canonicity for information to be included in the mainspace and/or have a dedicated page created[edit source]
This is a more complex issue and I don't really have a concrete proposal here. From the list of sources on canon it would appear that some sources such as the former postbags and god letters are not considered canon anymore. However we have transcripts of these sources on these on the wiki. We have fairly extensive mainspace documentation of information from these sources - some of which is backed up by other sources e.g. Ancient Gnomish and some of which is not e.g. Chico & . We have some templates such as which can be added to pages dedicated content that only appears in these sources and which do a good job of informing the reader that the subject is not canon. However there is no equivalent disclaimer style template for pages based on god letters, e.g. Ardougne Chimeras, and it is even less clear to readers that information is not canon when it is included/used as source material in mainspace articles. If we attempt to document the source material while avoiding inclusion of it in articles (i.e. stick to dedicated pages like Chico) we end up with many very short pages that read more like trivia points (depending on your thoughts of RuneScape:Granularity you may or may not find this to be an issue). This probably isn't a feasible solution in any case when there's an obvious link between information and an existing page (e.g. it wouldn't make much sense here to make a page dedicated to Lumbridge craft fairs when Lumbridge exists.
For some direction I guess:
A. Do not allow sources that are not considered canon to be used to create articles or add content to the mainspace (i.e. god letters and postbags). We now have full transcripts of these so information would still be retained in the transcript space and the pages god letters and Postbag from the Hedge document them. The existing mainspace content drawing from these sources should be deleted.
B. Allow non-canon sources to be used with disclaimer that information taken from them is not canon by a template on a dedicated page or via wording stating that information is not considered canon along with any mention of information from non-canon sources. If there is a direct contradiction of information from a canonically superior source then it would take precedence.
C. Add something to RuneScape:Granularity regarding minimum notability requirements for a dedicated page related to lore. A good rule of thumb might be for it to include information from more than one source and to not have an appropriately related page where the information could be included as a trivia point. Alternatively we can create redirect terms to the source for information that is not listed elsewhere (e.g. Grey Rocky thing What Looked Like A Rock But Not A Rock could redirect to the postbag which is the only place it is mentioned, lightomatic could redirect to its mention in the manual where it is described) or include information on related pages, as trivia if necessary (e.g. Lumbridge Eagles could be mentioned in the Lumbridge article).
D. No minimum notability requirements, I love granularity! 19:12, 20 August 2021 (UTC)
Support 1, 2, 3B,D - I definitely think updating the policy pages is the right thing to do, I feel we tend to not update them enough. In regards to minimum notability requirements for a dedicated page related to lore (3 C/D) I'd prefer to have no requirements as long as pages are clearly marked (as is the case with Grey Rocky thing What Looked Like A Rock But Not A Rock). In regards to allow[ing] sources that are not considered canon to be used to create articles or add content to the mainspace I think the biggest issue is that in a lot of cases there's no clear definition of what is or isn't cannon. I think as long as pages from sources that aren't the game itself are clearly labelled as being from a certain source, and if possible a note on how it relates to cannon, as with then they're fine. This is assuming the content is from the source and not just speculation (per proposal 1). With regards to adding the information to other pages, which is really the issue that started this I think it should just be marked clearly, my suggestion would be a template(s) that generates something similar to which gives the source, canonical information etc. Might need a version for direct quotes vs paraphrased information. I'd be fine with either leaving these in the places they are now (presumably history/lore etc sections) or moving information like this to their own header, something like Alternate lore or Unconfirmed lore etc. 10:21, 21 August 2021 (UTC)
Comment - I'm still unsure of the best way to proceed with proposal 3 - from discussion on Discord it seems that the definition of what is canon is complicated as there is no official line on what is canon from Jagex (with the exception of god letters which are clearly stated to be non-canon). Another excellent point was that it's not necessarily the source of information alone that determines canonicity (?); but also the degree to which the information forms a key part of the game story (Battleben shared this presentation from Mod Jack which does a good job of explaining this. This leaves a situation where it mostly comes down to editors' judgement and ability to phrase things in a way that reflects the likely canonicity of information (as an example here is a rewrite that I did earlier to try and emphasise the likeliness that some information taken from a postbag is likely not canon; in my opinion the previous version was incorrectly suggesting that the information was canon). My concern is is not always an easy thing for people to understand this nuance, especially if they're new to the wiki and trying to learn how to edit as well.
One thing that may help is a new project that some editors are working on to create dedicated pages for god letters/post bags e.g. Poultry, Dragons and Zombies. I believe that this projects started as a way to replace unnecessary navboxes; but it also does give the option to document trivia and other tidbits from these sources outside of blending it to other content pages in a way that is potentially confusing to readers. I am leaning towards this approach at least for god letters given that they are confirmed non-canon. 13:02, 6 September 2021 (UTC)
Support 1, 2, 3B; Oppose 3A - While less-than-fully-canon sources should definitely be noted appropriately, restricting them entirely to their own pages effectively orphans the info. Even if it's only in Trivia sections, there should be appropriate mentions within related articles. -- F-Lambda (talk) 01:55, 8 September 2021 (UTC)
Comment - regarding the new entry for RuneScape:RuneScape_Wiki_is_not..., "fanon" (fan canon) sounds like the word you are looking for and is used widely in fan communities. From Wiktionary: "Elements introduced by fans which are not in the official canon of a fictional world but are widely believed to be or treated as if canonical." 05:45, 8 September 2021 (UTC)
Support 1, 2, 3B- Much of this has largely become common practice and cementing it as policy would only improve the wiki's lore articles.
- This is largely covered by proposal 2, but one thing that I would encourage is for articles to overall use less authoritative language. It's better to push source criticism and use phrases like "appears to", "X claims", "according to", "said to", "believed to", "purportedly", "supposedly" than to present everything as fact. This is by no means always necessary, but when Bob the Cat says sheep were the first animal on the planet, you really should excercise some caution and make it clear it's just something he claims. This makes for a more speculative tone, but it's more accurate. I think sometimes a desire to make clear, authoritative statements has in the past given a false sense of clarity and misrepresent the sources in the game.
Questions of canonicity are hard to settle, which is why I'm wary about 3A and C. Jagex don't have an official order of priority when it comes to canon, opting generally for a more fluid approach with the exception that 1) the game takes precedence and 2) the god letters are to be taken as non-canon.
- I think that non-canon information often belongs on articles, as long as it's clearly demarcated. I don't think the wiki should just be an encyclopedia of the Runescape canon. It's about Runescape. If we take Zamorak as an example, he has a prominent role in the god letters prior to his canonical appearance and characterisation in the game. If the article is about "the character Zamorak" and not just "the canonical Zamorak", I think there's justification for a subsection or subpage like "Non-canon", "Apocrypha"; or a "Behind the Scenes" detailing the development of the character over time. It mainly becomes problematic when there is a mix such as the use of god letters on the Guthix page. This would also be appropriate for j-mod statements and q&a unless they serve to only clarify in-game content. They only mark authorial intent and the developers have made it clear they don't feel beholden to what their colleagues have said in the past to the extent they do what is in the game. Some wikis such as wookieepedia and memory alpha have pretty extensive behind-the-scenes/appendices sections that could serve as inspiration. Darthnowell (talk) 22:25, 14 September 2021 (UTC)
Support 1, 2, 3b/d - Yeah what most people here said. Non-canon lore still deserves a place, just make clear that that's what it is. A topic with sufficient information could have seperate sections for in-game history and non-canon lore, perhaps marked with a template as suggested.22:42, 14 September 2021 (UTC)