Fanlore:Plural Point of View

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Policy: Plural Point of View (PPOV)
In summary: Fanlore is not a traditional encyclopedia that strives to establish a single account of events (as in "Neutral Point of View"). In addition to bare facts, we acknowledge that the history of fandom is a collection of personal experiences and interpretations, many of them only passed along as part of an oral tradition. Because of this, those multiple experiences and opinions are important, and we want to collect and document them as part of our fact set.
Related Policies: Ethical Standards for Community & Content, About Fanlore, Mission.

What is plural point of view (PPOV)?

In a nutshell, our plural point of view policy contends that all interpretations or experiences are of interest and should be written down. It's a "live and let live" policy for ideas and experiences that we think will be pretty simple to follow with that basic principle in mind.

The PPOV policy is a fan-positive, balanced synthesis of multiple points of view that fans may have on a single topic. It acknowledges and reflects these potentially dissenting perspectives and does not privilege one fannish viewpoint over any other.

We've developed the Plural Point of View policy with the belief that all Fanlore articles pertaining to fan works, fan activities, fan terminology, individual fans, events, and fandoms will benefit from its application.

How does PPOV work in practice?

In practice, PPOV:

  1. provides multiple explanations/opinions/definitions; and
  2. uses inclusive language.

As daunting as it might seem to have a policy for this, it can be demonstrated simply in a sentence such as [Term] to some fans means [Definition A], while to others it instead refers to [Definition B].

This sentence provides multiple viewpoints (Definitions A & B) without asserting a single, finite answer or interpretation. It also uses inclusive language: "to some fans" and "while to others". PPOV doesn't end up like this: [Term] means [Definition A] (Definition B is left out entirely) or [Term] means [Definition A], but sometimes it's erroneously defined as [Definition B] (Definition B is discounted).

You can find a mocked-up example of an article that uses PPOV at Fanlore:Plural Point of View/Example.

A Note on User Pages

User Pages are exempt from the PPOV. A user page is essentially a profile page. It is owned by the fan who creates it, and only that fan may edit it.

Although User Pages are exempt from PPOV, they must still adhere to Fanlore's terms of service agreement.

A User Page is not to be confused with a page about a person in Fanlore - the distinction is explained in detail in our FAQ.


Fanlore exists to provide fans with a means to collaborate with other fans who want to share and record their fannish experiences. The plural point of view ensures that Fanlore articles:

  • Reflect and respect the diversity of fannish opinions
  • Do not attempt to establish a definitive account or definitive history of fan experiences
  • Do not judge fan-held viewpoints

How does the PPOV differ from other points of view?

Wikipedia's neutral point of view (NPOV) policy presupposes that it is possible to write from an objective perspective. We do not strive to establish a "true" account of events, explanation of practices, or definition of terms. We do not believe this exists in fandom.

Our intent with Fanlore is to create a space where fans can tell their own stories from their own perspective. The plural point of view policy asks fans to recognize the point of view from which they tell the story, and invites those with other, differing points of view to tell their own stories about the same events, places, concepts and people.

Characteristics of the plural point of view

The plural point of view:

  • Is fan-positive. It does not seek to be objective in its support of fans, their communities, and their creations or activities
  • Does not attempt to legitimize any fannish viewpoint; it does not seek to denigrate or marginalize any fan group
  • Reflects and acknowledges the multiplicity of viewpoints. It presents as many fan-held viewpoints as possible, or as is known by a Fanlore contributor at the time an article is created or edited. Interested fans who hold differing views may add their own perspectives at any time
  • May indicate the perceived prevalence of a viewpoint within a community
  • Is non-judgmental regarding viewpoints
  • Does not editorialize
  • Reflects and respects differences in opinion within communities
  • Does not attempt to establish a "definitive account" or "definitive history" of fannish events, terminology, or activities
  • Includes links to sources that have been chosen to reflect multiple points of view
  • Uses non-offensive language in its description of fan practices and artifacts

Common criticisms and complaints - what about "factual" information?

Although many of Fanlore's policies are based upon the PPOV, it does not necessarily apply to every kind of material housed on the wiki. There is factual information available that should be shared and documented as such, for example, dates conventions were held, production information related to fandoms by source text and so on.

Information that relies on opinions, interpretations and the personal perspectives of fans benefits most from PPOV. For example, when it comes to the article on Slash, we do not believe it is possible (or valuable) to make a statement such as "fans write slash in order to objectify male bodies". Rather, a statement such as "there are many motivations attributed to slashers, including the objectification of male bodies", reflects multiple points of view.

Achieving the plural point of view

General guidelines

  • Do not remove opinions that you disagree with. Instead, add your own. Use phrasing that presents both as legitimate.
  • Do not assume that all fans share your perspective on a topic.
  • Use language that is more inclusive than limiting when sharing your viewpoint.
  • Qualify statements where necessary (e.g. “In some corners of Lord of the Rings fandom…” “Some Babylon 5 fans have said that…”).
  • Cite sources where possible, to give readers a sense of the places (and times) within fandom where a particular point of view, opinion, or definition of a term was common.
  • Remember that the wiki works on the principle that there is no definitive account of events. Rather, it documents multiple perspectives to better provide a broader, more inclusive view of the event/word/phrase/etc.

What to do when you don't know all of the possible sides?

Do not assume that your perspective is the only one. Phrase your article so that it does not close off avenues for other contributors to share their interpretations. Be as specific as you can. Speak from direct experience, citing where possible, and avoid making sweeping generalizations about your topic.

Naming articles

See Editorial Procedures for further practical advice on how this policy affects other aspects of contributing to the wiki.

Structure of articles

Articles should begin with a brief introduction to the article's subject. Subsequent headings on the page can outline the subject's history, etymology, various interpretations, related issues, etc.

See Editorial Procedures for further practical advice on how this policy affects other aspects of contributing to the wiki.

Seeking differing viewpoints

For topics that span multiple fandoms, such as definitions, genres of fiction, meta, and fan practices, consider asking friends or acquaintances in different fandoms about their observations and opinions. This may help you to phrase your article so that it encourages others to contribute their views rather than alienating fans who may not share your opinion.

Links and attributions

By providing links to sources that you are drawing upon for your article, you help to establish the scope of the claims that you are making. For instance, imagine that your article is about the prevalence of Mary Sue challenges in The Lord of the Rings fandom and you are only familiar with challenges that have appeared on your favorite Yahoo mailing list. By confining your examples and links to that mailing list, you signal to readers that you are not making claims about challenges that appear elsewhere. Defining your scope also helps future contributers decide how best to add their own observations about Mary Sue challenges that have occurred on LiveJournal communities, for instance.

Please see Fanlore's citation policy for detailed guidelines and suggestions for citing and quoting content that supports the claims you make within an article.


See Fanlore:Plural Point of View/Example for an example of the PPOV developed by the Wiki Committee.