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Policy: Citation
In summary: Cite the source of the material you are quoting when you contribute (even if it is a paraphrase and not a direct quote) with a link, author attribute and date.

If the original material is not available in a public space (accessible to someone without an account or password), do not link directly - see the guidelines below for alternative citation formats.

Be aware of possible link rot and use. See Help:Dead Links.
Related Policies: Help:Footnotes, Identity Protection, Ethical Standards for Community & Content

WIP: We're working on this admin article!

A citation is a reference to the actual location of content that you are quoting, paraphrasing, or otherwise referring to in a wiki article. Citations support the legitimacy of the assertions that you make and provide readers with ways to learn more about your topic. In general, they help to make the wiki a more useful and reliable resource.

Citations can have ethical or privacy implications, however. For instance, most Internet users realize that quoting private email without permission is a violation of established netiquette. Likewise for the quoting of content from private mailing lists or friendslocked LiveJournals.

Our citation guidelines are intended to help contributors weigh these concerns and decide how and when to quote, cite, and link to supporting content.

The Anatomy of Citation on Fanlore

Definition of terms used on this page:

Quotation/Quote: Content that you have copied or paraphrased from another source.

Citation: Any identifying information about your content that informs the reader of its source or origins. For instance, the date of a blog post, the name of a website, or a link to the content itself.

You quote content by copy-pasting or paraphrasing it; you cite sources by showing the origins of a piece of quoted content.

Link: An HTML hyperlink that will take the reader directly to the source of the content you have quoted, are paraphrasing, or are referring to.

Internal link: A link to another page on Fanlore. Contributors should remember to link to other Fanlore terms and articles where possible. Internal linking helps readers find information more easily and fosters interconnectedness on the wiki.

Anatomy of Citation on Fanlore

Restrictions on Quotation, Citation & Linking

Fanlore places very few restrictions on linking to content in citations or on the quotation of content on the wiki. Restrictions fall into two categories:

  1. Content that violates the Fanlore terms of service agreement, and
  2. Content that is protected or whose access is otherwise limited to a group's "members only".

Content that violates the Fanlore terms of service agreement

Examples include:

  • Content that is prohibited by United States law, such as Child Sexual Abuse Material.
  • Content that violates an existing license or copyright. This includes non-transformative copies of songs/audio files, television episodes, entire copies of books, and pirated text, graphics, and video. See Fanlore:Copyright for more information on how copyright is dealt with on the wiki.

Protected or limited access content

Content whose audience is limited by electronic means or by fannish social convention.

Examples include:

  • Private and semi-private correspondence, such as email, instant messages, and chat transcripts
  • Portions of friendslocked journal posts or text from "members only" journals, message boards, mailing lists, or blogs
  • Content such as stories, essays, or posts that are password-protected or require membership or permission to access, including linking to example works on Archive of Our Own that are only viewable to registered users or friendslocked fanworks on LiveJournal
  • Quotation of posts made to mailing lists or forums which are password-protected or are otherwise restricted to members only


  1. In some cases, an original poster (OP) or content creator may agree to let you quote and cite them in a wiki article. In these cases, the OP must grant approval prior to your quoting of the content on the wiki.
  2. If a post is initially public, but later deleted or made private, then screencaps of that material are fine to include as long as nothing in the screencap otherwise violates policy. The key here is the expectation of privacy at the time the initial post was made; if the post was originally open, there was no such expectation, and a retroactive friends-lock/removal doesn't change that. Care should be taken, as always, to present as many points of view on the issue as possible. Thus, if the screencap no longer represents the current position of the person represented, please take care to note their changed stance as well.

See the linking guidelines for further suggestions of how to cite non-public content.

Guidelines for Specific Online Sources


Includes fiction, non-fiction, essays, archives, postings of other kinds of fanworks that occur on a web page.

You may link directly to the content you are citing, such as a story or essay. However, to reduce the likelihood of broken links (e.g., during site redesigns), you may prefer to link to the main page of its site. Also, content creators may prefer that you link to an index or warnings page. Annotate content that requires registration or a password to access.


When citing multimedia (such as images, videos, or audio files), do not link directly to the file. Instead, link to the web page that hosts the multimedia file.

Never hotlink a media file by embedding it on the wiki. For more about uploading image files, please see Fanlore's copyright policy.

Do not link to content that is known to be transient or of limited availability, such as content hosted at MegaUpload or Sendspace. Keep in mind that even sites like YouTube often remove content from their servers.

Mailing Lists

Some mailing lists (particularly those hosted on sites such as are public, and their posts can thus technically be directly linked to, which allows immediate viewing in a browser window or downloading from the public archive. Others require that users sign up or subscribe to a listserv, but anyone may join and read current and archived posts. Still others are completely closed lists with limited membership. Linking guidelines for each of these three cases are described below:

  • Public lists: anyone can view or make posts. Quote or link posts as needed and supported by the technology
  • Membership lists: require users to join the list before viewing any posts, but registration is not restricted. You may link to the main page of such a list, but you may not quote or cite content (without the original poster's permission).
  • Limited membership lists: moderators approve/deny membership. You may mention the existence of a restricted list and/or provide a link to the sign-up page, but you may not quote (without OP permission) or link to content directly. Annotate your link accordingly.

Protected journals, blogs, and communities

Do not quote content from protected sources without permission and never link directly to protected content.

If your article refers to a journal, community, or other fannish space that requires membership or registration but is otherwise public knowledge, link to its (public) home page and annotate the link accordingly.

Forums and message boards

In general, when linking to content at a particular forum you should follow the stated guidelines of the site and the expectations of that forum's user community.

In the case of forums requiring membership for access, whether that registration is open or moderated, we recommend that you request permission to cite.

Email and chat room and instant message transcripts

You may quote personal email only with the permission of the other person or persons who engaged in the email conversation.

In general, the transcripts of chat rooms or instant messages cannot be easily cited. Like citations of private email, citations of this kind of content require that all individuals who were present during the chat agree to publicly disclose the contents of the chat. This makes quoting of these kinds of transcripts difficult from a practical standpoint.

If you do decide to quote these kinds of transcripts, make certain that all parties agree to it.

Formatting Guidelines

See Help:Formatting Guidelines for Citations