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Sometimes when I'm working on pages I have a hard time remembering, uh, what one actually puts on pages. So here is a page for a descriptivist look at what sorts of things are actually put on what kinds of pages.

(Also I realize this is.. maybe a kind of strange thing to do? Hopefully this will be useful to others and not just me, eventually. Partially I'm choosing to store it on the wiki because for unfortunate technological reasons I'm unable to securely keep it anywhere else, but also I would enjoy feedback on the talk page!)

Fandom Pages

The intro for a Fandom Page gives a brief overview of the premise of the fandom's canon, source material, or focus. "Brief" here usually means 1-3 sentences, usually nothing with spoilers. Just enough for someone who clicked on it to tell if they're reading about The Avengers or The Avengers.

If the intro has more than one paragraph, the rest of the intro is probably in service of narrowing down the focus of the article, disambiguation, or listing subfandoms/related fandoms.

Some fandoms are more like genres/tropes, like anthropomorfic. Some fandoms are based around an author or publisher, so much of the fandom article is spent just discussing that with links to longer articles on subfandoms (eg, individual pages for each book the author has published). CSI: Crime Scene Investigation focuses almost entirely on the real work impacts of people being fans of the show. This might all be less than accurate for RPF fandom pages.


sometimes "Plot" or "Show Overview"

Usually expands on the intro by discussing the premise in more detail. May talk about themes/motifs present in the canon work, what fans like about it, give historical context, talk more about related fandoms, or mention upcoming installments of canon materials. Some fandom pages don't have this section at all, or only use it to list characters, but other fandoms (especially ones where there's a lot of active fan involvement with TPTB?) find this a useful section to have so that they can talk about how the fandom relates to the canon and/or its creators

Sometimes there's a plot synopsis or other material straight from the network/book jacket/trailer.

Main Characters

Not all fandoms have this section and not all of them who do have it have a subsheader for it. This is often useful to create an obvious need for more character pages or to help people who might want to edit those pages find them easily.

When this section does appear, it does so in a couple different forms:

Critical Reception

Critics are fans too I guess? Also I guess this helps contextualize the source text.

Fan reactions

Sometimes also called "Controversies"

This can cover things like "the fans loved it! here's some statistics" or "the fans were mad about the reboot sucking" or... whatever. Unfortunately people rarely seem to pull quotes for these sections. Note that as this is in the canon section, this controversies/fan reaction section would be able the fans reacting to the canon, the creators, maybe the actors, etc. A controversies section under the "Fandom" subheaded would be more likely to be fans reacting to other fans, eg ship wars, calling each other problematic, etc.


The fandom section is the bread and butter and tries to answer questions like:

  • Who's in the fandom? (Younger fans? Older fans? Did they all mass migrate when an earlier canon ended?)
  • Why are they in the fandom? (What's the draw? Are they all just thirsty for one actor or trope?)
  • How are they in the fandom? (Eg: mostly internet? mostly IRL meetings? do they write, or watch, or play spinoff board games?)


This usually only gets a heading if the fandom is old enough to have several eras, and sometimes the present-day fandom will have the subheader, or they'll both be under headers, etc. Sometimes includes a hatnote to a timeline, eg Timeline of Xena: Warrior Princess Fandom


Sometimes this is just a list like in the canon main characters section above, but some fandoms get into prose and explain which ones are popular in fandom and why, as well as sometimes mentioning popular fanon.


Tends to be just a list of pairings. Sometimes the juggernaut gets mentioned or a particular popular out-of-left-field pairing is explained.

  • Sometimes split up into het/slash/femslash
  • Sometimes has shipping terminology section, or includes the shipping terminology with the ships
  • Sometimes has a section on shipping wars and other shipwank. Eg Naruto#Ship Wars
  • The Hobbit (flim series) has gen ships!


sometimes called Common Tropes, Themes and Storylines or Common Tropes and Fanon
  • covers common fic trends basically.
  • may list tropes or explain them in prose
  • may source common fanon back to its originator if possible
  • also may note preferred character archetypes or genres

Fandom and TPTB

This is occasionally an entire separate level two section (as in Babylon 5) when there's been a lot of notable or controversial interaction. In B5's case the showrunner hung around in the fan chatrooms. Some fandoms just make it a subheading under fandom, though, or leave it out entirely and have all discussion of fan-creator interaction filed under general canon info or under controversies/discussion.

Subsections/common topics for this include:

Discussions and Controversies

Sometimes called "Criticisms"
  • fandom specific but can focus on canon problems eg fridging, portrayal of race, killing a certain character
  • These are sometimes included under "canon" instead of fandom.
  • also sometimes just has its own level two section section if there's a lot to say

Other sections

These sections are sometimes used:

  • Size/Statistics
  • Memes
  • International fandom (as on the Babylon 5 page)
  • Perception of fandom (as on the Naruto page)
  • Challenges (which maybe... belong more in the fanworks section?)


also called fanfiction/Notable Fanworks
  • Fanfiction
  • Fanart
  • Fanvids
  • Crafts
  • Recs
  • Meta
  • Doujinshi
  • Zines
  • Challenges/Exchanges/Big Bags, etc
  • Conventions
  • Podcasts

Archives and Communities

  • LJ/DW comms - more LJ than DW and I have almost no idea how to navigate either site. LJs are usually super dead.
  • Tumblr fandom - links to blogs or tags
  • DeviantArt - links to tags/searches or communities
  • Reddit fandom - links to subreddits
  • Other fannish spaces

Further Reading/Meta

  • Sometimes to meta with articles on fanlore
  • Sometimes news articles or, if critical reception wasn't mention above, stuff about that.
  • Sometimes the meta distinction seems to be about whether the meta is watsonian or doyalist. eg, meta about Why Character A Hates Character B would go under fanworks, meta about Why Canon Should Feel Bad For Its Terrible Worldbuilding And Ending might end up here. Or maybe not! There are no rules.


  • fanwikis
  • official sites
  • fansites not mentioned above
  • sometimes links to AO3 tags or whatever
  • shipping manifestos
  • fandom overviews and introductory/101 posts

Examples, exceptions, things to investigate

  • Blake's 7 is very complete and very interesting but follows almost none of the above observations. However, it is a closed canon (aired '78-'81) and although the fandom definitely isn't dead the information on the page is largely laid out so that each section (eg, "Fanworks overview" or "Archives") contextualizes the information by presenting it chronologically. Obviously this wouldn't work for a fandom whose canon started recently! So it should be no surprise that older fandoms have different page formats and contents.
  • Similarly most of the above were taken from Category:Fandoms_by_Source_Text and overwhelmingly the examples there are for western fandoms, often media fandoms. It may be that RPF, podfics, anime, etc need different structures to be the best pages they can be.
  • The Charioteer has an entire level two section on when and where discussions have happened! Super interesting, not reflected above.
  • Anne Rice has almost no fandom content and is imo a huge mess, although everything there is most certainly fannish and fan-related! It is an outlier nd should not be counted.
  • Obviously this is just my own molehill to make a mountain of but I'm not sure what to do about the recursive fandom sections of Dreaming of Sunshine and Yesterday Upon The Stair when they grow big enough to be unwieldy for the fic pages. Split them off I guess and name them like... "Dreaming of Sunshine (fandom)"?
  • Since canon information is to be kept to a minimum, I wonder if we should make use of linking to fanwikis or IMDB or something more.
  • I wish I could quickly find a list of any/all fandom pages that have been featured articles over the years.
  • Canon fractions and specie and stuff appear to use the catch-all/glossary infobox, eg Tok'ra


Basic Template


==Fannish reaction==


==Example Fanworks==

==External links==


Short introduction, sometimes 1-2 sentences (name, fandom, basic description of role in series) sometimes 1-2 paragraphs.


This has additional basic information, including maybe major developments eg getting married, but usually does not exceed 1-3 paragraphs. Sometimes there is no canon section and the intro is just fairly long; this is particularly common if there's little canon information or if the character has only appeared in one series. (See Clint Barton)

If the character has had multiple appearances in different media or series, this section will usually be divided into sections by canon with brief descriptions of the differences between each version. Sometimes the description will be replaced to a link to a more specific page, so if you're on the page "Character Name" there may then be links for "Character Name (TV Series Title)" and "Character Name (Movies)" and so on. This is especially likely if the character page is actually more of a title and has been used for several distinct characters. (See Batgirl)

If there's a lot of information for every incarnation of a character but they don't have their own main pages, the various incarnations might be given second level sections. The other sections will then be reproduced there as third level sections. (See The Doctor)

Fannish reaction

Also called: Fannish opinions, Fannish response and discussion

Some characters get lots of response! Sometimes those characters don't show up in fanworks because of that response. When this section isn't in the fandom section and instead shows up on its own or under canon, it probably has to do with fannish backlash before, during, or after the release, although it may still be included in the fandom section if the article writer feels that's appropriate.

Compare Jar Jar Binks (who has no fandom section) and #WheresHawkeye; the difference appears to be that in the first members of the fandom just all individually had opinions, whereas in the second there were fannish activities and outreach, like a hashtag and fan theories.

Fandom/In Fandom

This section includes everything about how the character is portrayed in fandom, including fanon and wank. Common sections include:

  • tropes, both fandom-specific and generic.
  • themes and common topics, eg an orphaned character might often have fic written about them that explores their search for a family.
  • characterization, especially if canon characterization is hotly debated or if the character is very minor and most of their characterization is fanon.
  • controversies/wank/character bashing
  • popular fan theories
  • fan campaigns or other interaction with TPTB
  • popular alternate universe versions of the character and how they're handled
  • ships (romantic/sexual) and relations (platonic), sometimes separate, sometimes together, sometimes only one or the other

Example Fanworks

  • fanfiction - sometimes split up into pairings, gen, misc. eg Bucky Barnes is split into Steve/Bucky, gen and other.
  • fanart - sometimes just links, sometimes a gallery eg Marcus Bell
  • vids/AMVs
  • meta
  • misc (eg crafts, filk)

External links

Can include and may be titled after any of the following:

  • Archives (or "Archives and Fannish links")
    • AO3 tag
    • filter
    • tumblr tag
    • sometimes split into sections like "deviantart" or "livejournal" or "fansites"
  • Resources
    • wikipedia
    • wikias and other fanwikis
    • sometimes links to timelines by fans or other meta

Examples, notes, etc

  • good examples of characters with lots of canon and fanon to work with — Bucky Barnes, Marcus Bell
  • poorly received/unpopular characters — Jar Jar Binks
  • fanon characters/ascended extras — Millicent Bulstrode, Dudley Dursley
  • groups use the general info box but can be classified as character eg Marauders but sometimes they're characters eg Weasley Family but sometimes moresomes/ship/pairing/gen relationships eg Team 7 which seems wrong to me — Team 7 is not primarily a ship — but I have other hills to die on


Basic Template
|url=([ archive])

==Some Topics Discussed==



==Comments and Reactions==

==Further Reading==

Every meta page should have...
  1. title
  2. author/s
  3. date
  4. place of publication/post
  5. if online then, a link to online source, plus an archived link
  6. if the post is on an online site that allows comments, then how many comments is the essay in response to another essay or event?
  7. a list of topics discussed in the essay
  8. excerpts from the essay
  9. comments at the essay's site itself (if online), or in the print zine series (if print)
  10. comments elsewhere
  11. additional commentary if present
  12. categories
  13. a list of some closely-related essays written at the same time (if known)
  14. if possible/known, some brief remarks on the context this essay may have
  15. wikilink as much as you can, knowing that others will see wikilinks where you don't (I love this part!)
  16. any other miscellaneous tidbits.
  17. Notating the length would be good, but this can be hard to determine, especially in print zines; too tedious to count words, and the number of pages it is printed on isn't all that helpful.

(With much thanks to MPH for her input!)

An outline as usual will follow below, but I also want to pass on some advice from MPH! To the side here is a list of all the things MPH feels should be included in every Meta page, if that information can be found. Additionally, I asked her what makes her select certain pieces of meta to make pages for. She said:

  • Is it interesting to me? Well – it is all interesting, but some especially ring my bell.
  • Does it reinforce something I need citation or examples for?
  • Does it reveal things in hindsight, is there foreshadowing?
  • Is it in response to someone else’s essay and is part of a conversation?
  • Does it make me laugh?
  • Is it widely cited or referenced by fans and mainstream sources?
  • Did it influence something else, such as TPTB?
  • Does it have many things that are, or can be, linked to other Fanlore pages?
  • Is it a first of its kind?
  • Is it controversial?
  • Sometimes the meta that I find valuable isn’t really the essay itself, but the comments made to it. Many Tumblr meta pages are like this -- the "ask" is short, and the replies are where the discussion where it happens.
  • Is it in response to fannish controversy?
  • Do fans still talk about the meta years after it was written?
  • And of course, I’ve made pages for things I find offensive or way off-base. I work hard at presenting the essay, and subsequent comments to the essay, in a balanced way, even when I’m gritting my teeth!

These all came with excellent examples that I've cut out for brevity's sake. Many of them will be down below in the examples section, but you can also read the full essay here: So let me tell you my thoughts on creating Fanlore pages for meta. I would heavity suggest that you do so, as no amount of quotes will actually replace reading MPH's advice and explanation of her process for yourself.

On to some specific concerns.


If the meta has a title already, just use that and copy the author's capitalization and punctuation! Easy-peasy. If it doesn't have a title, don't panic! The current standard is to use a line from the meta essay to title the article.

MPH said:

Another challenge is when the essay itself does not have a title at all. My decision with those it to take the first line of the essay OR a line in it that (to me) is a good description of the topic and use that as the title. I always make a clear note of that in the page with this phrase: “The title used here on Fanlore is not the title of the essay itself, but a line from the essay.” I was not sure how else to title them, and figure that if this was a bad policy, at least that phrase is searchable for retitling later.

Personally, I try to pick things from early on in the essay, within the first several paragraphs, because usually the writer will introduce their topic and give something like a thesis statement or summary of their argument.


The intro for a meta page is generally only a paragraph or two. It should restate the title, the author, where and when it was published. Usually it sums up what the main thrust of the meta essay is — not just "It's about bees." because that's unhelpful, but instead something like "It's about how great bees are and why everyone should stop complaining about them." so that one has an idea of where the essay is aiming and why. The intro may also provide a very brief summary of the background ("Many posts had been going around comparing bees to Satan and the author is an avid beekeeper.") and/or the reactions ("Many commenters came out public in support of bees while condemning wasps, leading to much insect-related wank.") as necessary and relevant.

If the meta essay you're documenting is a direct response to another meta essay, that meta essay's Fanlore page (or a hyperlink+archive link) will often go here. If the essay itself isn't available anymore, information about it should probably be put in the background section.

Some Topics Discussed

Sometimes "Some Topics Discussed in the Essay and Comments"

When this is used, it's always the second section in the meta essay and it's always a bulleted list. As many internal links and key phrases as possibly are used so that they'll show up in searches and on "what links here" pages — with so many articles on the site, this is the only way to make sure that meta essays will be found by interested parties.

MPH is the one who started doing this, and she explained:

One thing I find quite frustrating is when meta is given a title that has nothing to do with the topic. While print meta is sometimes guilty of this (See About Two Million, Six Hundred and Seventy-Five Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty Words), meta on fan journals, especially during the early to mid-2000s, are the worst culprits. Fans often gave these essays catchy titles that do nothing to describe the topic. Example Today’s Pretentious Hair Flip or Keep it secret, keep it safe. I find these very challenging; if they do not have topics that are robust enough for their own categories, they are essentially buried. That is where I try to make sure that in the section at the top “Some Topics Discussed” or if applicable, “Some Topics Discussed in the Essay and Comments,” is complete enough with key terms that will make the page show up in a search. I still think that there has to be a better way. Perhaps I am melding it in my brain with the tagging system on AO3 and wishing we had options like that. So much info is buried, and I wish there was a way to get at it easier. Sometimes when I create a really interesting meta page and send it off into the wild, I am reminded of that last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where the hotly-pursued relic is ultimately stuck in a crate and carted off to a huge warehouse where it is likely never to be found again.

This is a super useful feature.


...sometimes left until after the essay, as in I (and Sharon) have been backed into a corner defending a single position over quality controls. Frankly, I rather resent this. although that doesn't make much sense to me unless the essay is SUPER famous and the background circumstances relatively unknown.


Excerpts from the essay can be basically of any length or amount. Basically, use your best judgement and take a look at a bunch of examples! Overall whatever seems to be most important or surprising about the essay should be covered, especially anything that drew a lot of specific commentary.

About copying whole essays, MPH notes:

I really, really try to stay away from posting something in its entirety, as that’s not the scope of Fanlore, but sometimes the essay is:

a) so short, there isn’t a good way to summarize. See the metafic A Trekkie's Tale.

b) the essay is widely unavailable and I want there to be a record of it. Essays in print zines and on private mailing lists (the latter only with permission). See Why Should I Encourage People to Write Darkover Stories? and The Wave Theory of Slash Revisited. A side note: there are essays I HEARTILY WISH I could make pages for but they are on private mailing lists with no means of gaining permission and/or are long gone. Example: “Jane of Australia’s Fandom Flounce,” a thing of beauty but forever will likely remain simply a puff of smoke.

c) if summarizing or excerpting the essay doesn’t come close to doing it justice, that the beauty (or lack thereof) is directly related to the whole. See GARBAGE LIKE THAT HAS NO PLACE IN FANDOM.

d) when I’m pretty sure that, while the essay is available now, it will be lost at some point, even with extensive archived links. I should have made one for the original essay Interrogating the text from the wrong perspective as it has since been deleted. We will have to trust the person who cited it, calling it "a paragraph that never ends” that it is complete. Essays on Tumblr are also part of this challenge as they are especially ephemeral. See I See A Lot Of Posts Going Around (Suppressing Women's Sexuality) and Honestly I don’t even care why ao3 was created.

Comments and Reactions

Sometimes "Fan Comments" or "Reactions and Reviews" or... whatever

Comments and reactions can be summed up in prose, or just presented without comment, or both — in my opinion, preferably both, as there are likely to be comments that don't make good quotes but do say interesting things. It can be very hard to follow these sections if it's just a pile of disorganized comments. Of course... you can always organize them!

Some essays might benefit from a Complications section, as in I've stumbled into a minefield and I want to try to stop the rumour mill right now., or a Background section separate from the background for the essay itself because sometimes there are extenuating background circumstances surrounding the comments that aren't applicable to the meta essay itself. Backlash against the author for previous, unrelated wank, for example.


It's pretty much impossible to give any kind of typical outline to comment sections because the organization of comments really depends on what kind of comments one has and how many and so on.

Comments by location
Comments left where the essay was posted or published are often split off from comments posted elsewhere. Sometimes this section is named after the site where the essay was posted, eg "Comments on LiveJournal", while other times it's named something like "Comments on the Essay". If comments are being split up by location and the essay was discussed on many websites, each sometimes site has its own category on the same level as the category for comments on the essay... but other times the other sites are sub-categorized under the "Comments Elsewhere" category.
Comments by date
This is most useful for showing how things have changed or haven't changed since the meta essay, and tends to be used on older essays. Sometimes it's just good to give context to a comment you've found that was made ages after the meta essay itself was published! Usually this goes by year, although comments by month, week or day could be useful in some cases... just make sure you consider summarizing changes over time before you commit to sorting comments by small amounts of time and giving each day a subheading. That could make your Table of Contents much too long. It's not a bad idea to arrange comments by day or time published, of course, it's just probably going to be a rare situation that calls for subheadings by any amount of time smaller than by year.
Comments by opinion
As in Look I don't wanna sound like a Fandom Mom or whatever but what do you think women over 25 or so are supposed to do?: There are enough comments to come up with ways to group comments by their opinion. In this particular example, things were split up along very niche subjects because there were a lot of reblogs and each reblog path is like its own conversation.
Comments by topic
Sometimes different comments focus on different things. On fanfiction pages, you may see things split up by what chapter they talk about, or if they focus on plot or characterization or... so on. For meta, you might split things up based on the topics listed in "Some Topics Discussed" or by any other metric that makes sense to you.

Comment sections may use these as second-level subsections on their own, or as third-level subsections under the second-level "Comments and Reactions", or they might even be fourth-level under broad third-level categories.

For example, all of these set ups would be valid:

  • Comments and Reactions
    • Comments on the Essay
      • 2007
      • 2008
      • 2016
    • Comments Elsewhere
      • 2007
      • 2011
      • 2018
  • Comments and Reactions
    • Complications
    • Date Unknown
    • 1999
    • 2000
    • 2005
    • 2006
    • 2010
    • 2017
  • Comments about bees
    • On LiveJournal
    • On Dreamwidth
    • On Tumblr
  • Comments about wasps
    • On LiveJournal
    • On Dreamwidth
    • On Tumblr
    • On Reddit

Additionally, more than one comment section may be needed, and the comment section may not necessarily be best placed at the end! Meta essays often (but not always) benefit from pages that are presenting in chronological order because that's how the conversation and discussion happened. For example, Thief in Fandom has the open letter in question, then "Initial Fan Response", and then a section about a follow-up letter from the initial author.

If there are a lot of comments that you'd like to feature but the comment section would best be placed somewhere besides the end of the article, as in the case of Thief in Fandom, it may be prudent to make a sub-page for the full list of comment quotes; feature only the most important, influential, or representative examples; and summarize the general trends in the comments.

Further Reading

Sometimes called "Also See" or "See Also", "Similar Essays/Posts", etc.

This section will have a list of other essays and articles that relate to the subject. Sometimes this section is farther up at the top, in which case it's usually called "Similar Essays/Posts" — in some cases it's more important to provide background than further reading; sometimes there's a section at the top and the bottom.

Examples, notes, etc


Often the best way to figure out what your page needs is to look at a whole bunch of other pages, so here are all the meta essays linked in MPH's essay. I shrunk the text size because there are so many!


Examples by others

Examples by me

Notes to myself!

  • Of course I'll be looking at the pages I've done but also HPMOR was somewhat recently featured so I'll be looking at that for sure.
  • I think this will be harder because not all fanfiction has that much to be said about it and that's not necessarily bad, but still... when looking at fic pages I think I'll ask things like
    • What does this tell me about the fandom/genre/author/ship/etc?
    • What links to it? How is it used in other articles? What does it link to?
  • I'm deeply curious about how much summary and excerpting has been done, as well as how reviews are formatted. I think lots of fics I've come across just have reviews/reactions with no summary or explanation behind them.
  • Do any fandoms have a timeline of fanfiction trends? Maybe I should do one for Naruto SI/OC fics.
  • Investigate also the structure of zine pages that are about novellas / zines that only had one or two fics. eg Sympathy for the Devil


Questions to try and address:

It's hard to tell whether there should be timeline included with the opinions, how to group opinions—especially if they could be relevant to other sections of your outline, and if that happens then to you trim the comment to what's relevant to each section? do you post the whole comment each time and just bold the relevant section (and how would you distinguish between OP bolding)?
How much synthesis of what's going on can/should you say, or should you only display the original comments to let everyone draw conclusions from that?