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American Horror Story Wiki:Manual of Style

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The American Horror Story Wiki has a Manual of Style that all articles are highly suggested to follow. This article and related articles represent our official policies and act as guides to ensure that all articles are uniform with certain encyclopedic standards. Some aspects of the policies are optional, but most are required unless otherwise noted. This article is not meant to cover the basic mechanics of editing Wikitext, just the flavor of how we do it on this Wiki. In addition, the content policies and best practices can be found elsewhere.

Wiki Areas and Namespaces

This wiki is largely divided into different areas, called namespaces. They help to keep things organized. Objective areas are for Wikipedic style fact, whereas subjective areas are intended for opinion and discussion.

Objective Namespaces
Main (no prefix) Most articles, including characters and episodes
American Horror Story Wiki: Articles about the Wiki itself, not the show
Subjective Namespaces
Talk: (including comments)
(Any other prefix) talk:
Comments and discussions about the subject matter of an article
Theory:
Theory talk:
Theories and discussion thereof
User:
User talk:
User blog:
Personal space for user self-expression
Forum: Topical discussions not associated with an article page

For Main namespace articles, discussion on how an article should be edited should be in the Talk: namespace. This is not so straightforward on a Wiki that also uses Comments (which are very ill suited for discussing edits). To that end, Talk pages have been made accessible on the Edit dropdown menu.

Layout Guide

Some articles and other specialized non-article pages have a consistent layout and format that are expected. These are detailed on the pages for each type or class of article.

However, some elements are common to many articles.

Banners

Banners are templates that display as an elongated, horizontal box. They usually signify a notice about the article or section that follows them. In Source view, these should always be each on their own line.

The Preamble or Intro

This section of text occurs after any banners and before any headings, infoboxes, or the table of contents. It should identify the topic of the article and place it into context. It may also include a basic description.

Infobox

An infobox is a template that displays as a labeled box along the righthand margin of the article, and contains short labeled data. It also sometimes contains data that is not displayed and is used in other parts of the Wiki. Typically, placing an Infobox of one of the standard forms (like "Infobox character" or "Infobox episode") will place the article into the appropriate categories. Not everyone can see the Infobox. This is especially true of mobile browsers and screen readers. The Infobox should not ever be counted on as the sole source of a piece of information. It's also painfully easy to delete by mistake.

Raised Questions

Raised questions are a section for the greater mysteries of a given episode or character. They're not quite Theories, but they are meant to integrate with this Wiki's sister site, the American Horror Story Answers Wiki.

Footer

References
References are links and text that have been seeded throughout the text and create footnotes.
Theories
Theories are a special part of American Horror Story Wiki. Many articles have theories associated with them that are spoilery or contain very subjective opinions. Rather than discuss these in the main article, they have been given their own articles in the Theory: namespace. Theories which relate to the topic of an article (and are properly formatted) display links in the footer for that article.
Subpages
Subpages are articles that relate directly to the topic (and no other primary topic) but are organized on a separate page to avoid cluttering the main page. Subpages for an article display links in the footer for that article.

Article Names and Significance

Nearly all articles in the main namespace are proper nouns or episode titles, and as such are inherently in "Title Case". All articles in the main namespace that are not proper nouns or episode titles (ie. "Behind the scenes") should use sentence case. In sentence case, only the first letter of the first word of a title and proper nouns in a heading are to be capitalized, with all other letters remaining lower case.

Significance

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It's a fact of wiki: Not all pages that do exist, should exist. Some of those articles are marked as stubs, and will always be stubs because there's the sense that there's more to say about the topic than there actually is. Brief pages that provide only a few sentences with no valuable information aren't particularly helpful. Just because a character is named does not mean they should get a page. Finding such a page is like running for your life and finding a dead end alleyway. Characters, in particular, should only get pages if they have significance and / or relevance to plot or main characters. The deciding factor is whether they can reasonably be linked to by more than one page, and whether those links are reciprocal.

Topic Articles, Subtopics, and Subpages

There are multiple ways to approach this: For guest or recurring characters associated with an event, like R. Franklin/Murders or Westfield High/Massacre, the character has a heading to themselves. Often a redirect is then placed under that character name and the redirect (not the article) given the Category:Characters; this ensures that the character still appears in the Character guide by name. If the character gains enough attention, it can graduate to its own page. This also works for characters directly linked with another article topic where they can be used interchangeably, like Eternal Darkness Tour#Stan or Troy and Bryan. Characters with only a single episodic appearance can also be embedded directly into a header in the episode's article, such as the case with Piggy Piggy#Derrick.

A standalone character page with limited or no links, but that can be strongly associated with another article should be merged into (via suggestion by {{merge to}}) that topic.

Character Articles

Whether a full article, redirect, or a heading: a character's name only should be used as the page title. Do not include the occupation or honorific in the title. This means Jack Colquitt (not Detective Jack Colquitt or Det. Jack Colquitt), Angie (not Nurse Angie), Charles Montgomery (not Doctor Charles Montgomery), Jack Sparrow (not Captain Jack Sparrow or Capt. Jack Sparrow), and Elmo (not St. Elmo, Saint Elmo, or Pope Elmo). The exceptions here would be if the character is not given a first name and naming the article by the last name would be unduly confusing (eg. Dr. Hall) and where protocol dictates otherwise (eg. Sister Mary Eunice should never referred to as simply Mary Eunice, Mary, or Eunice); the rare articles of the first exception should be changed as soon as the character's first name has been revealed.

For main and frequently recurring characters, a redirect (WITHOUT Category, which would make for double entries) from the first name to the full name ([[Ben]] redirects to Ben Harmon) is permitted, with link use discouraged. [[Ben Harmon|Ben]] is preferred to [[Ben]].

Summary and Guide Pages

Summary and guide pages include content that is repackaged from elsewhere in the Wiki into a quick reference. Often, these can be replaced with content in a Category page. If not, they should be deployed with caution. A great deal of nuance can be lost, and sometimes the journey through a good story involves reading more than one page for background.

Perspective and Tense

(see also: Neutral Point of View, Verifiability, & Original Research)

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Plot descriptions of episodes are almost always written in the present tense, with the audience "omniscient" point of view. While this may seem unfamiliar for narrative, it reads much better when the episode is experienced "as it is happening". This is true even of flashbacks. Character pages, on the other hand, are typically written as if their actions are in the past tense.

Character page
Moira is a character in Murder House.
Moira cleaned while Constance talked.
Episode page
Moira is cleaning the house, and Constance shoots her a dirty look.

Except in sections like Notes and Trivia, both episode and character pages should be written as if within the show's universe as actual events rather than something that was viewed on television or other media. Character pages should be concerned only with events specific to that character. Episode pages should be story driven, reserving expositional or trivial details regarding a character to their own article.

When editing episodes that have already aired, it is important to not contaminate the Plot with information from the future. That means that, for example, once Rubber Man's identity becomes known in later episodes not to go back and replace his name in Pilot, thereby spoiling the mystery. The exceptions to this are the Raised Questions answers, and Guest Stars (where a "database" of sorts fills in potentially missing information). When in doubt, just don't add future information, period.

All articles are to be written with a neutral point of view (NPOV), meaning that views, facts, and other relevant types of information about the subject are represented fairly and without bias. This is an important principle when attempting to maintain an encyclopedic atmosphere. The easiest way to know whether something requires a neutral point of view is to determine whether the piece of information in question could have multiple opinions that need to be presented, but not asserted, fairly. All significant points of view are presented as opposed to simply the most popular one, and the most popular view or an intermediate view should not be asserted to be correct. This does not, however, mean that the article cannot inform the reader which view was more popular to the characters. It simply means that the article should not assert that the most popular one is the correct one. Readers should be left to form their own opinions.

Users should also try to avoid using weasel words, which some people will often use thinking that it avoids a non-neutral point of view. According to Wikipedia, weasel words are "words and phrases that, whilst communicating a vague or ambiguous claim, create an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said." An example of this would be saying that "some people believed that Tate was evil." This still leaves readers with a generalization, as it is unknown who "some people" are and why they believed it. See this Wikipedia tutorial for more information about how to avoid weasel words.

It is important to note that a neutral point of view is still a point of view, simply one that does not agree or disagree with a particular claim, fact, or other relevant piece of information. Because of this, a neutral point of view should not be confused with a total lack of or elimination of point of view.

Use of American English

Be aware that while AHS is (by definition) an American show, the fans and contributors may not be. You may see unfamiliar terms, grammar, and spelling variants from all over the English speaking world. As a counterpoint, these may be altered to terms more familiar to Americans. For example: "Ginger" hair is far less commonly used in the US than "red", and may be changed accordingly for the broadest audience. Grammarist and Comparison of American and British English can be used as guides.

Changes to usage of mainstream American English do sometimes occur. One such change, reflected in textbooks and news media, is a drop in the punctuation following abbreviated honorifics. As such, some contributors use "Mrs. Harmon", whereas others use "Dr Arden". This wiki makes no specific recommendation as to which to use at this time.

Comments and other non-English contributions are not discouraged. Using a translator to see what others have written is free. Where there are a lot of fans in a non-English, they should also be encouraged to start a sister community on Wikia. Contact an admin to discuss interlinking or starting a non-English American Horror Story community.

Links

  • Internal links must be used where feasible to articles and pages that are also on American Horror Story Wiki. The exceptions to this are so rare, they barely merit mention, save that certain internal functions require URLs.
  • External links to outside media articles should use {{Cite web}} wherever possible.
  • Interwiki links are strongly preferred when linking to articles on other Wikis. Links to wikis on the Interwiki map (including Wikipedia) are to be changed to Interwiki links at the earliest opportunity.
  • Links are not to be used in headings. Do not put ref tags, links, or anything other than plain text in a heading. Doing so makes the heading impossible to link to. On a related note, headings should be unique on a page. There should not be two === 2011 === headings. In fact, years in Plot sections should be offset by ''', not headings at all.

Spoiler Links

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Very few pieces of spoiler information are encouraged in article pages. To keep such information at arms length, spoilers without citation are treated with the {{Unconfirmed}} tag, if not removed outright. The best practice is to place the spoiler information in a post in Board:Spoilers containing the episode title.

  • The cited source should be clearly identified and the text of the spoiler pasted into the initial entry. (An example of a well defined entry is at Plot details for "Boy Parts".)
  • The discussion topics should include the episode, and additionally any topics added for characters most impacted (as an example, think Rubber Man (episode) and Rubber Man). This associates the Spoiler with the episode and is easily referenced to those looking for it.
  • Any discussion of the spoiler can then take place outside article space.
  • These practices allow the content of articles to evolve without significant revision or page deletion.
  • Only in the pre-season should spoiler character information enter character pages, where it is tagged with {{Unconfirmed}} until a highly reliable source can confirm it.
  • Only an infobox, synopsis, and notes should be included for episodes that have not yet broadcast. The synopsis is assumed to be reasonably vague. At no point should a yet-to-broadcast episode article contain detailed plot or character information. At no point should a character article include very detailed information prior to that information being broadcast. Remember that it is a common practice to leak misinformation prior to broadcast, and that characters and plotlines can be edited out without our contributors awareness. If you forget this, please ask yourself how many children Constance Langdon has.

Citation

In character pages, it is preferable to reference events in <ref> tags than in narrative. Rather than "In Halloween: Part 1, Troy and Bryan threw eggs at the house", it reads more easily as "On one of the nights before Halloween, Troy and Bryan threw eggs at the house.[1]" (where [1] is a ref tag including the episode link). See Citation for more on this.

Commentary and review links

At one time, this Wiki used Commentary subpages linked off of character and episode pages. These produced static, mostly copied verbatim pages for archival purposes. Caching and archiving tools make this type of page unnecessary. Commentary and review links should now be linked in the Notes section. As an example:

Media

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(includes pictures, video, sound, and galleries)

Licensing

Users that upload images that they themselves did not directly create should strive to ensure that they have appropriate permission and / or license to do so. Believe it or not, just because "it's on the Internet" does not mean you can repost it here. Copyright lawyers can be a lot scarier than Tate. Use of material without attribution is absolutely discouraged if not forbidden.

Placement

Media for characters and eventually for episodes, particularly with screen caps): Thumbnails only on main pages. One or two videos at most on main pages. If there's more than that, make and link a Media subpage.

Galleries and Slideshows

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American Horror Story Wiki is an informational, not a vanity site. It is not meant to showcase all of the facets of all possible camera angles of any actor or character. The goal is not to have 300+ images of a single topic. More than 10 to 20 strains credibility of the article. As a general rule, galleries should not be a major feature of a page not labeled as "Media". If there must be a gallery in a main article, ALL images should be vetted to ensure their licenses and / or attributions are in order and that each image has an appropriate caption. If two or more captions are the same, the organizer / contributor should be asking themselves about how necessary or appropriate the images are for the article. Slideshows are highly discouraged on any page.

Overkill

It is highly possible that an article has far too many images that they overshadow the significance of the article. The editors here should strive for a tasteful array, rather than a garish smorgasbord of images. Such displays should be curated to the most significant, impactful, or best images; either that or they must be arranged and organized in a better manner than the current gallery, slideshow, or table (or lack of these elements!) provides. This can even apply to Media subpages; just because they are in the right place doesn't mean they should be disorganized.

Naming

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When uploading or embedding a media file, it is good practice to name the file something significant so that it is easy to find later.

Images

Screencaps should use "File:S01E01 Description" format where possible. Admins are able to rename items in the File: namespace. So can FlufferBot. If you upload a lot of material, and your File: names do not conform to this policy, you will be directed to this page.
Other than screencaps: Aim for being descriptive where possible.
Examples of good names
  • File:S01E10 Violet descends a staircase
  • File:S01E14 Constance sneers
  • File:Evan Peters in Tokyo 2048
  • File:Rosenburg Mansion Sunset
Examples of bad names
  • File:OMGEvanSquee
  • File:rubbermn_909_4h5
  • File:Taissa_4
  • File:2342342342_45

Videos

"Video:Teaser S01E99" is the preferred format for directly episode related material, and whatever description is appropriate. Put the episode number in front if it's a scene from the episode, but after if it's a video about an episode. This makes finding them later much easier.

Keep in mind that you can't use the "#" mark in the title (it'll let you, but "Clue # 3(" becomes "Clue"), and use of punctuation should be avoided in the title.

Examples of good names
  • Video:Teaser S01E14
  • Video:Sneak Preview S01E15
  • Video:S01E06 Tate vs SWAT
  • Video:BTS Zombie Makeup
  • Video:Clue 35 (Blood Pudding)
Examples of bad names
  • Video:See a sneak preview of the thirty-fifth episode of American Horror Story
  • Video:American Horror Story on FX - Ryan Murphy talks about his show American Horror Story to a reporter

Categories

And, as you might expect: Categories. File: and Video: items have their own pages for description, meta-data, license, etc. They can also be placed into categories, and should be. Particularly for YGTDIT and Family Portrait, categories matter.

Quotations

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Quotations help to liven up a page, using dialogue from characters to help "set the scene" of a section, so to speak. Quotations are created through the use of quotation templates (namely {{Dialogue}} and {{Line}}). An overuse of quotes can make an article look very sloppy. This is particularly enforced on good articles and featured articles. An excellent source of advice on quotes and quotability can be found in AHS:TAO.

Category

These should only be applied if one can actually say something relevant about all members of the group as a generalization. In the Category:Ghosts example, there are things that can be said about the entirety of the members (the rules and mythology of ghosts in this show's paradigm). The same can't be said of ALL male vs female characters. Ditto main vs recurring vs guest. Over-organization can become an easy compulsion to follow. Adding categories like "Sex" and "Teen Angst" to a page, 30 at a time, is also not very helpful. Articles are not like blog posts where they require as many tags as possible. The category system was not designed to be used as thematic tags like keywords, and is primarily for housekeeping, article management, and site navigation. The extraneous tags make administration and navigation more difficult.

Templates

Articles typically use templates to shape or enhance text and media. Some of the more commonly used templates can be found here.

Complex Scripts

A number of articles use arcane scripts to process text and images, usually to dynamically generate content. An example of this is a gallery or <references />. Extensions are the most common method; such functions appear as HTML style bracketed tags (such as <references />) called tag extensions or resemble templates that begin with a hashmark (such as {{ #functionname: param1 | param2 | param3 }} ) called parser functions. If you encounter these and do not know how to use them, please leave them alone. If you must change or remove them, please contact a knowledgeable contributor or admin to assist you with the change you wish to make.

Extensions

Poll
Creates voting polls.
CategoryTree
Displays pages in a category as a list. Largely replaced by DynamicPageList.
Limited Section Transclusion (LST)
Identifies named sections and headings for transclusion. Largely replaced by DynamicPageList.
DynamicPageList (DPL)
A complex framework for identifying articles and presenting lists of them, which may also include transclusion or recontextual processing.

Transclusion

Transclusion is a process in which information in one article can be fetched and displayed in another article. There are multiple methods of doing this. The primary purpose of doing so is to avoid duplication of contribution, allowing an article to be written once and proliferating the changes throughout the Wiki.

Getting Help

Following these guidelines may seem like a daunting task for users who are new to wikis and the encyclopedic format. We understand that, and it is perfectly normal that some people may be confused. To ease this confusion, the admins and many contributors are very willing to help anyone who needs it and asks for it. That last point, asking for it, is very important, because we have no way of knowing if you want help unless you seek it.

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