Canon talk:Main

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How to go on[edit]

What would be needed to expand this page with the help of queries? On the one hand we have the general distinctions already there:

  • Terms
  • Creatures
  • Deities
  • Classes
  • Locations (maybe, instead of campaign settings)

In addition:

  • Characters (NPCs)
  • Items - mundane equiment and magical items, general stuff and unique things
  • Spells

And I also encountered:

  • Organisations
  • Events (including longer eras)
  • ?

Would races fall within creatures?

Those distinctions could be further distinguished with the help of queries by:

  • Campaign setting
  • Publisher
  • ?

Probably we do not need to distinguish by edition, as that would mainly be important for stats, and those are not the focus of the canon section?

Any thoughts on that?

For all the distincions above we would then have a category each, right? So far my ideas. Daranios 17:11, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

I had completely forgotten about characters and items and spells, those should probably be at the same level as the creatures and deities. I had originally intended for races to fall into creatures, since they're just a creature type that happens to be playable by default, but it could get it's own page too. Organizations could live at that level as well, since there are a large number of those that are campaign independent(ish).
I've got mixed feelings on locations and events. There are less of these that are campaign independent, and the ones that are strongly tied to a campaign seem like they'd be better served by tying them to a campaign setting page instead of mixing them all together.
So, the main level would have -
  • Terms
  • Creatures
  • Characters
  • Deities
  • Classes
  • Items
  • Spells
  • Organisations
  • Publisher
and then CS would have some sub levels for each CS
  • Campaign setting
  • History (incl events)
  • Locations
  • Characters
  • Religion
  • Organizations
  • (etc.)
for items directly related to that CS (and would exclude articles not directly in that CS). I think of a lot of DnD in terms of campaign setting, and putting the campaign settings up as a top level nav item with the rest fits with how I think about things (which I am generalizing to assume it would help others too :-p). I think that's pretty close to what you were suggesting anyway, does it look workable? - Tarkisflux Talk 18:12, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Sounds well enough to me! I would stick to "Deities" instead of "Religion" on the level of campaign settings, I guess. I think you are right about locations and events. Thinking about it, there will also be few characters and organizations independant of campaign settings, so one could think about which level they fit in best. Do you have a suggestion about what to do with the few campaign setting-independant such things, like, say, planes of existance or Far Realm?
So far I have placed all real-world articles about authors or publishers in the main namespace, but I agree that they would also fit within Canon. Should they be moved?
And in the long run I would indeed like to have all our in-universe distinctions/articles also sorted according to publishers in addition to according to campaign settings. Daranios 19:28, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

Let's Make Something of This[edit]

The Canon section as a whole is woefully neglected. It has the potential to be a valuable reference tool, but it's really not much of anything right now. Let's make this one of our projects, shall we? Let's make the Canon section useful. I think the organization is fine the way it is right now -- what we really need to do is add substance.

What we need for that is to establish guidelines on what sorts of pages should have what sorts of content. The specifics can be discussed on the subsection talk pages (we wouldn't want to clutter this too much), but let's agree on some basics first. Since the bare facts of the material are far more easily looked up in a book/pdf than on the wiki, we should provide some new information, which I would suggest to be a few dimensions of analysis. Here's the broad areas that I suggest we try to cover on each article, whenever applicable:

  • Mechanics. Summarize them (but do not describe them fully, lest we violate copyrights and waste space), and analyze them. This involves describing significant implications of the material, author oversights, exploits, notable uses in builds, DPR analysis, resource utilization analysis, etc. Different mechanical analyses will be appropriate for different material, but we should try to give as much not-obvious information as we can -- and the key there is not obvious, because we don't want to just uselessly regurgitate what can be easily read in the book.
  • Fluff. Much as mechanics can be analyzed, so can fluff. Summarize the flavor presented by the text, draw connections to other material, extrapolate implications, identify questions to be resolved by the DM, identify contradictions, place small-scale material within the large context of the world, link D&D fiction to the real world and real world myths, etc. This can easily start drifting towards becoming something revisionist like the Book of Elements, but we don't want that in this section. Original research is fine, but make sure any conclusions you make are either speculatively phrased or indisputable facts, and are not your creative attempt to resolve a perceived issue.
  • Community. A description of how the community generally views the material, why, and what the responses have been. Contributors here have to be careful to discuss how the community in general responds to the material, which is not necessarily how they as an individual respond. References can help maintain objectivity here. Multiple perspectives are probably going to be included for a lot of material. This section would also be a place to describe the Wiki's justification for placing it in its balance category (if applicable), and also a place to link to rewrites and expansions. This is probably going to be a relatively lightweight section in most articles, because much of it will be grounded on the analyses in the other sections; whereas the mechanical analysis might have lines and lines of calculations culminating in a high DPR, this section might say more briefly, "Many players consider it to be overpowered due to its high damage output."

Thoughts? --DanielDraco (talk) 20:43, 6 November 2012 (UTC)

Two thoughts: Analysis surely is great and helpful. The focus however, in my opinion, of the Canon section, should be encyclopedic content based on referenceable material - comparable to Wikipedia - but without its requirement of real-world connection and notability, or Forgotten Realms Wiki. And I also think summarizing and cross-linking fluff material from all kinds of sources from D&D would be a major and worthwhile goal for the Canon section - as far as this is possible within the limits of copyright. Daranios (talk) 20:04, 12 November 2012 (UTC)
The problem is that, for most of these topics, there isn't terribly much one can say from an encyclopedic standpoint. If you're looking at writing an article on some pervasive topic such as Pelor or the Far Realm, there is certainly quite a bit that one can compile together and build into a worthwhile article. But when you're looking at a single prestige class, or an obscure organization mentioned in one book, you are doomed to writing a stub; further, since you're drawing from one source, it's probably better to just point readers to that source instead of summarizing it. We could simply say that any topics that would yield an article that small are unworthy of an article, but then we would probably not be able to have many articles at all.
Add to that the fact that our users generally have access to all the books anyway -- if we're not giving them any information that they don't already have, what's the point? So yes, I would say that encyclopedic content should certainly be present and comprehensive wherever we can include it. But so that this section actually has some unique value and isn't completely redundant with the widely-available primary sources, I maintain that the encyclopedic information should be supplemented with a close examination of it. --DanielDraco (talk)
Hmm, what do you want to include here: Just everything "Generic D&D", or also campaign setting specific articles, which are not covered by another existing and working wiki? The suggestion in Dungeons and Dragons Wiki:Canon Content Requirements is to include everything (even things covered by other wikis, but those should be very shortly summarized and readers pointed there). Sticking to that policy, I have again two arguments: I think users having all the books will be the exception, not the rule. (And if you really consider all things D&D out there, this will be very few people on the globe, I guess.) And secondly, e. g. Forgotten Realms Wiki or the Great Library of Greyhawk work on the encyclopedic principle and are very much active and alive.
I personally would be quite happy with many stub-like articles, but I can see merit in either have a short article for just about anything within D&D, or instead making small articles sub-sections of articles with larger topics. So I maintain that summarizing and encylopecially organizing material from the original books - within copyright limitations - is worthwhile. Additional close examination, again, would be great in my opinion. However, who would really do this herculean task, and how would we achieve a balanced and worthwhile analysis of original material instead of just presenting the opinion of one wiki author? Daranios (talk) 16:08, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
I said that users have access to all the books, not that they have all the books. We certainly do not condone piracy, but we must acknowledge the reality that piracy of those books in pdf form is very, very common, and consequently many (I would contend most, in fact) users already have access to most materials.
We do at least agree that both summary and examination are worthwhile. As for neutrality, I think the typical wiki process should help maintain that -- if someone draws conclusions that can be contested, then someone else is likely to notice it and either discuss it on the talk page or go in and reframe some statements of fact as statements of possibility or opinion. And I don't mean to imply that we're going to have legions of dedicated editors going through and writing doctoral essays on each minute aspect of the game -- but, especially for articles with little stated by WotC but much to discuss, it can help provide substance.
And, following from that desire for substance, I have to disagree about stubs. Taking Obdurium as an example, WotC has very very little say say about some things, but players might have much more. The Greyhawk wiki's article on Obdurium is completely worthless, and we should do our damnedest not to have worthless articles like that. And if anything, our problems of encyclopedic anemia would be worse than theirs, because they pull from all four editions, the magazines, the novels, etc. -- knowing our userbase, that's not likely to happen, since we'll be chiefly looking at 3.5. A strong focus on analysis is, to me, a good way to compensate, and a good way to bring an additional purpose to this project that might be more relevant to our extant userbase's interests.
Ultimately, I'm simply skeptical that an encyclopedic approach fulfills any purpose. I know that whenever I, for one, have gone onto the wiki of a given game, it has been to learn about some element of gameplay. If I look for an article about the Master Thrower PrC, I just don't want to learn what it does and where to find it -- I probably already know that. Instead, I want to learn how to use it properly in a character, how to fit it into a game world, etc. --DanielDraco (talk) 20:14, 13 November 2012 (UTC)
We clearly come from very different perspectives, let's see what we can still make with that. I have the impression you come from the (major!) homebrew part of the wiki with a focus on generating new things usefull for gaming. Please humour me for a moment to expand on my perspective: I started looking at D&D articles at Wikipedia, looking for or just browsing in areas of D&D information I did not know - fluff, not crunch. Then I saw that many D&D articles were thrown out at Wikipedia, because they have no real-world notability on their own. Then I found Forgotten Realms Wiki (and the Great Library of Greyhawk, which now seems less active than I thought), where they present all kinds of in-universe information, and I liked that. I wondered if there was no such a wiki for generic D&D and other, less expansive campaign settings, and found D&D Wiki, which did (mainly) present D&D material in an encyclopedic way, but was relatively small and disorganized. I started to do some organizing. Then it was decided that it did not make sense to have different wikis dealing with D&D, so D&D Wiki was merged in here. And after some more work we had the Canon section as it is now. It is largely encyclopedic, and draws on different editions. It's just still rather small and not active.
So if we take us two as examples and assume that there are other people out there like us, both encyclopedic and gameplay-analytical (if I understand correctly) information here would be of interest to some people. So why exclude either?
If we had an article about some topic within D&D, we could have an encyclopedic section, summarizing the existing material and giving the references, i. e. pointing the reader to where all the information can be found. And we could have a section of critical analysis. Both sections should be very clearly distinguished. Again, in my opinion, the encyclopedic section could stand alone. The analytical section, in my opinion, cannot, but the encyclopedic section possibly can be very short, just telling what the article is talking about and then launching into an analysis. The only reason against inviting authors to put in efforts wherever they like would be that the task is so large that it can hardly be completed.
What in my opinion has no place in the Canon section, are homebrew expansions, different versions of the topic, or the like. That is, what the Main namespace is for: Homebrew material. If anyone thinks "I can present a much more sensible or balanced or just better version of Obdurium", he could create it within the Main namespace, and refer from a Canon:Obdurium article to it, but not present his version in the Canon namespace. That, in my opinion, is what the Canon policy is for, and what was discussed before merging.
Puh, I am talking a lot, sorry, but it seems important to me now. More about details to what you said:
  • I think we can have (almost) no crunch in the Canon section, because presenting stats would lead to copyright violations fast.
  • I see no reason to exclude any edition of D&D. Do you? In my opinion, this wiki should be about all things D&D. Authors' commitment will decide which editions will be best represented. (This also leads back to the argument, that usually everyone has access to all material.)
  • Stubby information: Why should we exclude anything, just because there is little information about it? What's the benefit of exclusion? Hopefully, important things like campaign settings will be covered by contributors early on. But if someone wants to start with an article about Obdurium, why stop her? A legitimate question, in my opinion, is whether we want to have very short articles about things where there is little information, or do we want to have this information only as a subsection of a larger article, e. g. Obdurium only as a section within Canon:Special Materials, not as an article on its own. I could live with either. Forgotten Realms Wiki has established a 3 Sentence Rule about this. This seems a sensible compromise to me.
So just to recap in the end: I personally as a reader see value especially in the encyclopedic content, and the fact that many authors (I have no data about readers available now) are active at such content at Wikipedia and Forgotten Realms Wiki lets me feel I am not alone with this view. Daranios (talk) 18:33, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm with Daranios on preferring to keep it largely encyclopedic. I go to those other wikis looking for fluff and plot inspiration, not gameplay elements. I have forums where I can go to listen to people argue about specific gameplay elements (because no one can ever seem to agree on them anyway), and don't really want to duplicate that here. It also seems a bit like we already have for the guides and builds in the main namespace. What I don't have is a list of the way that Obdurium has been used in different settings, with links for additional information. I read the books for the fluff (well, I used to when it was good), and I appreciate having those sorts of references here. And I especially prefer it to be edition independent (or at least inclusive), because there are occasionally good fluff ideas in out of the way places. You may not see much value in that, but I quite appreciate that sort of aggregation.
Some specifics:
  • Crunch in the canon section is not necessarily prohibited by copyright, but outside of mechanical summaries I don't think it's particularly relevant to the section. I don't want to tell people how to play the game, I want to inform them of how the game was played.
  • I don't care about stubs, but I also don't want a bunch of 1 sentence pages. The current plan of "summarize, link to longer articles elsewhere so we don't steal their thunder or duplicate their work" still seems a good one to me. I think it works best in conjunction with a "2 paragraph rule" though, with a clause that in some of those cases we may prefer to have one long page with lots of subsections rather than a bunch of little pages (like the materials page we have).
  • If this section is not edition inclusive, it loses substantial value IMO. I want to know what the changes are for a certain place or person over multiple editions and takes, if only because I can mine those for my own plots.
My 2sp - Tarkisflux Talk 19:47, 14 November 2012 (UTC)
I am not proposing excluding any editions. I am simply being pragmatic and noting that, assuming our userbase does not drastically change, most further additions to the Canon section will probably use next to nothing outside 3e and 4e. I haven't said anything to the effect of wanting to keep other editions out. However, one thing that does give me pause is the notion of obsolete canon. Sometimes, lore changes from edition to edition, or is deliberately removed. I feel that, for fine details and obscure entities which are subject to such redaction, we should encourage editors to explicitly note in the article text what edition the information comes from. But, that's a detail which probably doesn't matter so much at this phase.
The 3 sentence rule is...alright, I guess. I feel like 3 sentences is still far too little to justify an article, personally. I, for one, get incredibly frustrated by browsing a wiki for information, and coming across half-paragraph page after half-paragraph page. It makes me lose confidence in the utility of the wiki itself, and start looking for some other resource. 2 paragraphs seems like a better guideline. Anything smaller than that should be rolled into a list page or deleted.
I would like to emphasize, again, that I am not advocating eliminating the encyclopedic goal or pushing it to the sidelines. But if it is the one and only prime directive of this section, we are going to be redundant with the other wikis. Any significant lore is, by its nature, setting-specific -- so the only lore we could possibly include without redundancy are the tiny little bits of obscure fluff like individual monsters from MM4 or an organization mentioned by precisely one prestige class in precisely one book. There's the occasional setting-neutral trove of lore such as we find in ToB, but these sources are few and far between, and the majority of this information is far too niche to give our Canon section much of a point. That is the big big reason that I do not believe we can build a successful encyclopedia on fluff content alone: those projects already exist, and the areas they don't already cover are mostly uncovered because they are, by and large, incredibly insignificant. --DanielDraco (talk) 02:52, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
About the 3 sentence rule: I could also live with a 2 paragraph rule or something like that (though I personally would prefer a 3 sentence version). We could make it a policy, inform authors, and add a tag like "violates 2 paragraph rule - please merge to larger article" on such articles, and of course merge such articles ourselves. What we should definitely not do in my opinion is delete anything because it violates such a rule. Deletion reasons should be plagiarism or plain false information, but not a less-than-perfect presentation of material! A little information to me is better than none.
About campaign settings: Probably we should do a check which campaign settings really have their own wiki now. Forgotten Realms and Greyhawk for sure have one. Spelljammer Wiki seems dead. I don't know about others. But anything not covered on its own can be covered here.
For working wikis there is a policy in place: these "articles should contain only enough information for a non-excited reader to get the basic idea here at D&D wiki, and include a link to more detailed articles in more specifc wikis". I like it, but it really has the disadvantage that it never will be completed, so it could be discussed. My main idea about the use in this wiki is: Here I can look for anything collectively, I do not have to go through different wikis. Either there is an article here, or I will be pointed to more extensive information (ideally by a short article with preliminary information, otherwise by Canon:List of XXX Wiki articles). This could be the portal for all things D&D.
Lore changing through Editions: If this is the case, the (perfect) article should include the changes. Wikipedia does this very well.
General: I think I just did not get your aim completely yet: At the moment, this section called "D&D Encyclopedia" contains exclusively encyclopedic content. I hope I understood correctly that you do not want to get rid of that kind of content. So what would you like to include additionally, or where do you want to shift the focus? You want to include analysis (which could also contain "How to use in game" tips), which we both agree is fine. Again, I cannot think of analysis being included without (at least a little) encyclopedic content. And it would take a lot of author motivation to increase analytical content in volume above the (existing and future) encylopedic content. Do you have anything else in mind? Daranios (talk) 21:04, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
Minor aside for DD - my 2e library is larger than my 3e library (It's what was out when I got into the game, I'm oldish), and I have read more of it. Any canon contributions I make that are not housecleaning, maintenance, or verification stuff will likely be from those editions. I'm rather partial to a format of "Thing in 1e, Thing in 2e, Thing in 3e, Thing in 4e, etc." to show changes over time for pages where it's appropriate. - Tarkisflux Talk 22:01, 15 November 2012 (UTC)
Daranios: A rule without teeth may as well not be written. To control the quality of our articles, I think it's very important that any article that is not of satisfactory substance is, given too long a period of neglect, pruned. We could perhaps implement it in a way that is not so final -- a week grace period, and then it's moved into a community sandbox section for articles not suitable for the main namespace. My concern is that articles like these clog up the namespace, dedicating an entire page to one datum and doing more to inhibit a search for information than to help it.
The big three settings certainly have their own wikis. If the others settings' wikis have gone inactive, the reason for it is that there is simply not much interest. So who, exactly, would our audience be if we are going to actively focus on material that cannot sustain an audience?
Giving this section the function of a portal is fine, but it needs to be more than that too. It needs unique content of its own. We are agreed, on the most basic level, that the function of this section is to relate information. Looking at that vague goal, we have a large population of data to work with, and we should be able to come up with something. But you seem to be proposing two restrictions on our population of data: first that it not be redundant, and second that its dominant and pervasive focus is on summarizing fluff. Given that there are already several major wikis dedicated to compiling D&D fluff, your restrictions just do not leave us much data available.
Tark: Oh, well, cool. Glad to know there is at least one user interested in this section with other-edition material to draw from. --DanielDraco (talk) 22:08, 15 November 2012 (UTC)

Stubs: Granted, Eltison is not good and would be better off as a sentence within the Pale. But what is the benefit of deleting the article? If I am not interested in Eltison, I will not search for it and the existence of the article is not going to confuse a search for something else, is it? If I stumble upon the name "Eltison" and want to know what it is, than I learn something from it. And if the article is deleted, no-one will find it and merge the content into "the Pale" to improve on both. For me this argumentation makes sense. But for me there is also an emotional side: I have seen many an article deleted in Wikipedia, with usable content. I would not like to see that happen here, if it can be avoided.
Summarizing fluff: I think even except articles of a portal nature, there are thousands of topics left for us here. Even if they have too little content to stand on their own, if we merge, in the worst case, say ten of them together to get a really worthwhile article, we are still left with hundreds. Plus the portal ones. Do you want me to elaborate what thousands I have in mind?
Most importantly: Sorry if I am dense here and did not see it yet, but: What would you want to make with the Canon namespace instead? Daranios (talk) 14:09, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

Useless articles like Eltison clutter the site. People don't always use a wiki to look up some specific topic -- often, they browse. If they're finding oodles of stubs in their browsing and gaining nothing out of half of the articles they find, we are doing a disservice to them by not cleaning up properly. Merging into a larger article is, as I have said, a viable option much of the time. But not always. If there is nowhere to merge a stub into, it is better off deleted/sandboxed than simply left where it is.
The problem with the small population of data is not simply that there is not much information left to work with (indeed, there certainly is enough to write a number of articles), but that there is not much good information left to work with. We can write an article on Taint (HoH), and on Reshar's Temple of the Nine Swords (ToB), and on the Planar Cartographic Society (ELH). But only one of those three is something that people are likely to actually be very interested in.
What I am trying to propose is not an exclusive focus on encyclopedic content or on analysis. I'm trying to propose a dual focus, where an article is expected to have both whenever possible. It's an alternative response to the problem of redundancy; instead of avoiding topics already covered and thereby restricting ourselves to the dregs, let's cover new ground by offering something new and valuable within those topics. --DanielDraco (talk) 18:42, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Stubs: I still strongly disagree, my arguments and opinions from above have not changed. I am loath to delete anything unless there is a very, very good reason. If you feel as strongly about the necessity to get rid of certain stubs and want to make it a policy, I suggest we ask a lot more than the two of us to decide. If many people should feel strongly against leaving such stubs alone until someone makes them into something better, and few people should feel like me - which I hope will not be the case - then I would argue for moving such stuff into sandbox(es), where they can be accessed and improved later by authors willing to do it, instead of throwing them away!
Dual focus: No problem with that. So we formally open the possibility for analysis in addition to encyclopedic content within the Canon namespace. Again, the analysis part should be clearly distinguished from the encyclopedic part. It could just be a consistent heading, but I would prefer a clearly visible formating thing. I know hardly anything about formatting here, however. Maybe put a frame around the analysis part? Or, if you prefer, around the encyclopedic part - that however would be much more work in the beginning as everything that is already present is encyclopedic. And Tarkisflux, like me, sees the focus on the encyclopedic part still. In the end, authors will focus their efforts according to their interests. You, I guess, will start with analysis sections, and I will carry on with encyclopedic stuff more or less like I did in the past. Daranios (talk) 20:20, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Stubs: If the content is stubby, and it can be merged into another article, do so. We have full control of redirects after all. --Havvy (talk) 00:01, 17 November 2012 (UTC)