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Forum: The Situation Room > Sweeping changes

This is probably going to sound slightly insane, but we've been on something of a roll with site-altering changes, so I figured I might as well put some up for discussion.

In-universe headingsEdit

I've been feeling for a while that the current heading system of dividing character summaries - "Day X," "After Day X," "Book title," etc. - is not what we should be using. Certainly, it's probably the most convenient, and it does effectively subdivide each article - but it completely ruins any pretense that the character articles are in-universe. The articles are supposed to be written from the perspective that these are "real" people with ongoing lives and histories; just because our windows into their lives are (without exception) twenty-four hour periods, doesn't mean that's how their life stories should be summarized. Plus, the status quo, while well suited to the season/day mapping, really falls apart when it comes to other titled media. Think of how it's going to be when the movie comes out. If it's just called 24, as I suspect, what will we use - "Movie"? "Film"? That's the possibility that really made me realize the need for something different.

As an alternative, I feel we should use a system similar to Wookieepedia: a single "Biography" h2 heading, or some equivalent, which is then subdivided into descriptive, context-aware headings, as necessary. Here's how I imagine this working:

  • For major characters (multiple seasons, etc.), the first subheading would be "Early life and career," containing everything regarding what happened before their first appearance, followed by sections on each major event (read: season) they were involved in.
  • For the most minor or mentioned characters, i.e. Stu, don't use any headings at all - their contribution can be summarized in a single paragraph, so there's no need.
  • Remove any and all references to specific Days or Seasons within the article texts, outside of the Background notes and information section and the sidebar.

The one big gray area I can think of would be characters with large roles in single seasons with not a whole lot of backstory, like Arlo Glass. In those cases, the "Biography" heading should probably stay to keep things organized, but without any subdivisions below that. Then, at the top of that section, a general summary paragraph, like "Arlo Glass was present at CTU New York for the duration of so-and-so crisis."

Here's some example pages I put together to demonstrate how the new system might look: Jack Bauer, Teri Bauer. Notice how the subheadings I chose to use on each of those were specific to the characters themselves - outside of a set few "standard" heading names for the major arcs of each season, I imagine there could be a pretty good degree of flexibility in what individual articles use. For example, it wouldn't make sense to use the "Cordilla virus sting" heading in the article on Alan Milliken; something else specific to that storyline would work better.

Admittedly, something like this system is significantly harder to pull off than at Wookieepedia, for one simple reason: there is no concrete timeline for 24 as a whole, and there's not a single year reference that can be taken at face value. Still, I think it's something that, if done well, will significantly improve the overall credibility of the project. Now, this would obviously be a huge undertaking - if we do this, it would probably make sense to centralize efforts on a project page, showing which articles have been changed over and which need attention. We could even make it a component of the Ultimate Project, along with filling out the IU sidebar info for each character.

More formal citationsEdit

Another change I had in mind, which you might have noticed on those sample articles, is the introduction of more formal, Wikipedia-style citations. While the title-in-parentheses system is effective, it doesn't really allow much flexibility in distinguishing different parts of a paragraph that came from different sources or levels of canonicity. The only way to do that is to stick in these giant links in parens in between words, which looks awful. But putting them all at the end of a paragraph, like I did on the Los Angeles page, isn't helpful either, because it doesn't show where each piece of information came from.

My solution is to use a system basically like Wookiepedia's, and use ref tags to link to each source. The "Early life and career" section on the Jack Bauer sample page shows how this would work - this way, as many different sources as necessary could be cleanly cited without cluttering up the text.

This could actually be done pretty simply - we'd just change the cite template from the current version to something like:

<ref name="{{{1}}}">{{ep|{{{1}}}}}</ref>

That way, the current pages that have been correctly cited would automatically change over to the new system; all we would need to do is add the <references/> tag at the end of the page.

Okay - I think that's about all I wanted to get to for this post. Thoughts? Ideas? --Pyramidhead 20:58, November 9, 2010 (UTC)

The Renee Walker article has been using that kind of sub-heading for awhile now (I don't know if it was you) and, casually, I was about to ask if that was meant to be a standard for other articles. As a matter of fact, I think I did ask about that some place a while ago. Anyway, I'm not sure yet. I do see the advantages of such divisions, but I wanna see what other more experienced editors bring to the table about it. Thief12 01:16, November 10, 2010 (UTC)
Regarding the citations, I'll support it if you can put together a foolproof set of super-clear directions on how to use them. Ideally if you could use the Movebot to facilitate the changeover from the old system (I'm uncertain if you didn't already imply this).
The headings are more complicated. It is a noble idea for sure, but it is an impossible one. There is simply no way to get past the fact that the removal of all mention of the Days from the articles will render them chronologically incomprehensible to everyone but that small nucleus of editors who created and formulated it. In short, such a change would leave the average visitor and newcomer in a state of instant confusion, and, ultimately, hopeless frustration. The reason I say this is specific: the average visitor is a new fan of the show (someone who just started going through their friend's DVDs) or a returning old fan (who just rediscovered his own DVDs). The odds that these people are like me (a guy who has fawned for years over details like nameless background characters) and you Pyramidhead (who took the time to, for example, create a masterful video compilation of Jack's Kills set to kick-ass music) are microscopic. All the other fans I've ever met have never seen every episode, only selected seasons. Most people just enjoyed the show, and wouldn't be able to recall the plots of every single season. Therefore, the descriptive sub-headings you're suggesting would do nothing to help them situate what they are reading. People would want to know what season is being talked about, and the details you're outlining will continually frustrate their attempts to determine it.
Proudhug has explained this in the past best. To paraphrase him, sometimes we must allow oou stuff to flesh out articles in a manner that will be comprehensible to everyone. In short, the company that most frequents this project are proud 24 nerds. This change would make sense for some of us. But 95% of the other fans and folks that visit would be simply lost. I would like to propose something that you may consider a good compromise: we begin utilizing those contextual sub-headings as parentheticals to the Day headings that already exist. Thoughts? Blue Rook  talk  contribs 07:38, November 10, 2010 (UTC)
You make a good point. But I still feel that the story itself should dictate how the articles are organized, rather than the seasons. How about, for the headings that directly correlate to each season (which, as you say, is probably what most people will be looking for), we put "Day X: " in front. So someone wanting to navigate to a particular season can tell from the ToC where to go, while the bulk of the article remains IU. Either that, or put it in parens after the in-universe heading, like Lostpedia does. Check out the examples. --Pyramidhead 06:02, November 12, 2010 (UTC)
I'm afraid I'm pretty against this too, for all the same reasons as discussed above. Also, I definitely dislike the new citations you are proposing. It is messy to have that in articles because it creates larger spaces between lines that do include citations, and smaller ones that don't which looks odd. Also, it's annoying to go to the bottom of the page to see what episode the information comes from, then have to rediscover your position. It's a lot easier with the current system and I disagree that it looks messy to have citations in the middle of paragraphs (something we have discussed before). --SignorSimon (talk/contribs/email) 19:52, November 10, 2010 (UTC)
It's not hard at all to rediscover where you were - that's what the up arrow (or the back button) is for! Also, I'm not seeing any messed up line spacing; if there is, though, I imagine that changing the superscript size would fix it. --Pyramidhead 06:02, November 12, 2010 (UTC)
Bump! -- 02:34, November 16, 2010 (UTC)
Bumping again. After reconsidering, I don't think it's overestimating our readers' understanding to cut down on all the OOU headings in our articles. In fact, it'll force us to write the articles more thoroughly and provide context for when each section occurred in relation to the others, rather than just slapping Day 2 over a few paragraphs and jumping in. Again, I'd be fine with placing the day in parentheses after a descriptive section heading, but it really shouldn't be the primary way of organizing the articles. We're trying to summarize the lives of these characters within the context of their world, and I'm pretty sure they didn't pick the worst eight days of the last decade and number them in order. --Pyramidhead 03:06, February 7, 2011 (UTC)
It would not simply overestimate a new reader's understanding, it would overestimate my own understanding of how the articles would be renamed. Honestly I wouldn't have a clue what the heck would be going on with the pages anymore.
At this wiki there always have been small compromises when structuring the articles with both iu and oou components. Other wikis may or may not, but we always have done so here. It's simple and instantaneously understood. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 06:07, February 7, 2011 (UTC)
What's confusing? You said yourself you might support such a change as long as the Day X headings were also still present, which in the current sample pages they are. We've already adopted contextual subheadings for season sections that are really long (e.g. on Renee Walker); all this would do is extend it one level higher. --Pyramidhead 02:38, February 9, 2011 (UTC)
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