Help:Citing sources

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For our citation policy, see Fanlore:Citation. For help on the technical aspects of creating footnotes, see Help:Formatting Citations and Footnotes.

This page includes various guidelines for how and when to cite your sources. Fanlore does not have strict rules on how to format citations, but we do have a policy for restricting quotation, citation & linking to protect privacy. See also Fanlore:Ethical Standards for Community & Content and Fanlore:Deceptive Practices for ethical issues related to quoting out of context. Note: this page is a list of suggestions and guidelines compiled by individual Fanlore editors and does not necessarily reflect Fanlore's policies. However, please keep these suggestions in mind as you edit as they often represent best practices in some fandom and Wiki communities.

What is a citation?

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.

See Help:Formatting Citations and Footnotes for what information should be included in a citation.

When do I need to cite content?

Fanlore is not Wikipedia. Unlike Wikipedia, we do not have notability requirements or a prohibition on original research, use of blog posts or POV magazines as sources[1] or "fancruft". As a result, not everything could or should be cited on Fanlore.

In accordance with Fanlore's PPOV policy, we encourage you to include multiple perspectives on an issue. Sometimes you can cite meta essays and comments posted by different fans as examples of the different points of view. But you are yourself a source; when writing about your own personal experience, you can cite yourself simply by editing the page and saying "So-and-so remembers...."[2]

Linking and Citation Guidelines

All Fanlore content is public and can, of course, be cited, quoted, or linked to from other Fanlore pages. For sources outside of the wiki, Fanlore recognizes three broad classes of electronic content:

  • Public content: Anyone with an Internet connection can access it
  • Limited access content: Access is granted by a person or a community, often via a password, or access is gained by joining a community or mailing list, or by being granted access to the content via a special filter
  • Private and semi-private content: Content that is considered to be private or semi-private by fannish or Internet conventions (e.g., personal emails, chat logs).

The sections below offer guidelines for quoting, citing, and linking to online content in each of these three categories.

Public content

In general, you may quote, cite, and link public content. However, carefully consider the wishes of the content creator or the expectations of the community beforehand. For instance, link to the main page of a fan's website if she has asked, rather than directly to her story or piece of art. Likewise, if members of a community or participants in a fannish activity that you are writing about expect that you will inform content creators when you link to them, then you should do so. Examples:

  • Links to content hosted on the Wayback Machine
  • Author and artist personal websites
  • Public LiveJournal communities
  • Public mailing lists at Yahoo groups
  • Public blog and journal entries
  • Fan fiction archives

Limited access content

Do not link directly to content whose access is limited, and do not quote this content. For instance, do not quote or link directly to a story on a password protected site; or to a post on a friendslocked community; or to a post on a moderated mailing list or one that requires members to join before viewing posts. You may link to the main page of the website, forum, community, or mailing list, however. Examples:

  • Friendslocked LiveJournal communities and posts
  • Members-only mailing lists
  • Members-only discussion forums
  • Websites and archives that require a password to access

There are special guidelines for documenting archive-locked fanworks on AO3, they can be found below at Archive-locked fanworks.

Private and semi-private content

In general, do not directly link to or quote content from private or semi-private fannish spaces such as chat rooms, private forums, friendslocked journals, private blogs, personal emails, and so on. The only exception is if the content creator/s have explicitly allowed you to do so.

Also, remember that there are private spaces within fan communities that are not discussed in public spaces for very good reasons. If these spaces are active but are not common knowledge and you have access, please consider the membership rules for these spaces and whether they ask members to not link to them and how to handle their contents.

Archiving: Preventing Link Rot

Link rot occurs when a link or citation to an external page no longer contains the content it references. See Help:Dead Links to learn more about the tools available to prevent it and how to use them to archive sources.

Guidelines for Specific Online Sources

Archive-locked fanworks

Archived-locked fanworks are works on AO3 that are only viewable to users with accounts on the site. These can be documented if they have been recced or discussed publicly, but documentation should focus on what information is available from public sources.

Do not quote from the work itself, as that is locked content, and do not link directly to the locked work.

If a story was unlocked at the time the Fanlore page was created then this information can remain as it was considered public at the time of documentation.


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 Citations and Footnotes


  1. ^ Wikipedia does not allow, for example, the citing of articles from Roman Catholic publications in articles on Roman Catholic experiences such as Martian visitations, because said articles are written by "believers."
  2. ^ user:aethel. 19 February 2012 Fanlore edit. And if you want to get fancy, you can cite individual Fanlore edits when it's clear that the text represents the editor's own perspective.