It occurs to me that, in several years of fighting for a more
inclusionist stance on fictional topics, I've never been thoroughly
explicit about why I care.
I am a PhD student in English focusing on popular culture. I have
written and taught on comics, video games, television, films, and all
manner of obscurities. I am, in this area, not just an editor of
Wikipedia. I am a serious user of it. I routinely use Wikipedia to
look up and check basic facts about fictional subjects - what episodes
a minor character appeared in, who the creator of an obscure 70s DC
comics villain was, what the plot of a random episode of something is.
I use Wikipedia for background information to decide if something is
worth looking into in more detail. I don't cite it, or use it in place
of the primary source for close readings. But if I need a quick throw-
away fact or to know if looking into something is going to be worth my
time, Wikipedia is useful.
When an area that has been thoroughly worked on has not been decimated
by deletion and notability police, it is an invaluable resource that
often has not been duplicated elsewhere. There is no other place on
the Internet where I can go for some of this information. When
articles are deleted, the information and work that went into them are
gone, and I cannot get at them. For a handful of shows with active
Wikia projects the information gets mirrored elsewhere, but for a
large amount of stuff, deleted is gone.
Plot summaries, cast lists, biographies of fictional people, etc -
these things are not "fancruft." They are information that I use for
serious scholarly research. Regularly and routinely. When they are
deleted, my work becomes harder. When they are present, I can save
hours of searching for minor details.
I am all for adding more in-universe material, and cutting summaries
and the like to manageable lengths. I do not advocate scene by scene
or chapter by chapter analyses. But on the other hand, it's
tremendously useful to be able to get a general plot of a television
series from the first episode up to the present. Useful. To real
When the information is easily verifiable (as in-universe information
almost always is), the purpose of a notability guideline is to
restrict Wikipedia to useful information. The "multiple independent
sources" rule has, in the past, been a somewhat effective way of
handling this. But we must not forget that the point of a notability
guideline is to make sure that Wikipedia is limited to only useful and
Plot summaries, episode descriptions, minor characters, etc are
useful. They are important. To real, peer-reviewed research. We are
not talking here about webcomics that end after three weeks, or about
obscure garage bands. In most of these cases we are talking about
television shows with audiences in the millions. People study these
things. They are legitimate objects of academic research. And
Wikipedia's coverage of them helps. It is an area where Wikipedia
directly serves the public good.
Please stop deleting this stuff. Thanks.
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