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Forums: Index > Watercooler > What is canon and good citations/references

This is a topic clearly in dispute, but it shouldn't be. Let me lay out what I think is canon and what a valid type of citation/reference should be (<ref>Citation from an original source.</ref>).

Canon

Information from original sources. This includes the transcripts of the Downton Abbey show, statements by creative people involved (writers, directors, etc.), info from the official ITV web pages, and journalistic articles written about or non-fiction works about Downton Abbey.

What is not canon?
Information derived from original sources. Statements by parties not directly involved in the show who are not journalists or non-fiction authors. Bloggers interpreting info from original sources. Opinions and speculations from this wiki.
Citation/reference

A link or bibliographic reference to an original source, preferably with the exact quote. It can be a youtube video of the show or something like that, but the cited info must quotes must be in the video. Although 3rd party transcript web sites are not technically original sources, they can also be used, but should be considered suspect unless a true original source accompanies them. For example, you could link to a transcript web site and then have another reference to a youtube video that confirms the transcript, but doesn't specifically say if everything matches perfectly as long as the relevant info or quote in the transcript matches the original source.

If a journalist or non-fiction writer's statement or reproduction of a quote is used, we will trust they have done their research and have maintained ethical standards. As with any incorrect reference, the cite should be removed if it turns out the person is wrong. A journalist or non-fiction writer who is found to be repeatedly incorrect may require us to make a list of unreliable sources. Hopefully not.

What is not a valid citation/reference?
Anything derived from original sources with a calculation, estimation, presumption, or speculation. If you think it is correct, but you don't know, then it is not valid. Just because someone agrees with your reasoning, doesn't make it valid. Only original sources can confer validity.

Discuss. -- Fandyllic (talk · contr) 1 Nov 2012 3:40 PM Pacific

I agree with this, it seems like a well worded definition to me. Also, I saw somewhere else a suggestion of adding a 'notes' or 'speculation' section to pages (I hope I'm understanding this correctly!) and I think that's a very good idea. That way people who enjoy that type of discussion/information don't have to feel as if they're being excluded and the everyday reader who doesn't get involved in this type of 'behind the scenes' discussion of what is and isn't canon information will know that there's a difference between the two types of information. Speculation will still be able to be included but it will be clear that it isn't - strictly speaking - backed up by canon. --Bluebellanon (talk) 12:22, November 6, 2012 (UTC)

I agree with this, though I will state that it's ONLY in dispute BECAUSE of CestWhat's actions in originally removing the information that started the edit war, but Bluebellanon is right - this is a well worded definition: maybe it could be included on the first page so people can see it when they first arrive?; the idea of a 'notes' section makes me happy - as it means CestWhat has no grounds in removing my edits from the page, just to a new section and it will prevent edit wars. Having a 'behind the scenes', 'notes' or 'speculation' page allows other people, who are not obssessed with details, to have valid discussion and I do believe that a talk page should be made for each of the characters instead of comments so that the discussions with people can be private. --HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 01:35, November 7, 2012 (UTC)

This is going alot better than I expected. If we get agreement from a few more users (hopefully the most active ones) we can make it policy. I will make another forum post detailing my ideas for things like a "Behind the scenes", "Notes", and "Speculation" sections. -- Fandyllic (talk · contr) 7 Nov 2012 11:33 AM Pacific
I'm actually not sure what we are discussing here. Pages/Information should always be referenced. Notes and Behind the Scenes are always a good idea too. Just let me know what the dispute was originally so that I can properly give my thoughts. QueenBuffy35px-Pink crown
15:09, June 8, 2013 (UTC)

Question on script book

You're right that this is badly needed. I do have a question, though. There's a season 1 script book set to come out in December and a season 2 script book is supposed to come out as well. Would those be considered valid sources, especially since they're likely to include deleted scenes that weren't seen onscreen?

Dragonrider2 (talk) 23:52, November 1, 2012 (UTC)

If deleted scenes don't conflict with canon from scenes that made the cut, they would likely be considered canon. At least that's my take. Canon for fictional works is more of what a community agrees are canon and agrees the rules are for establishing canon. The creator, of course, trumps the community, but minus direct quotes from the creator, the community must decide.
This forum discussion is my attempt to start a set of rules for determining canon according to the community. -- Fandyllic (talk · contr) 5 Nov 2012 2:03 PM Pacific
I hope it's okay that I add my opinion when I've only joined today! Anyway, I'm new to all this, but it seems to me that the most important thing when it comes to canon information, is the show itself. Anything else - even deleted scenes - might be contradicted by the show at a later date. It's interesting information, but I don't personally consider it canon. But like has already been said, if the deleted scene doesn't contradict what has already been shown then I think most people would probably consider that canon.
Bluebellanon (talk) 00:32, November 6, 2012 (UTC)

Markers with links to notes/speculation

Somet things currently in <ref>stuff</ref> that is not a good citation can be moved to a "Notes" section. Here's what I would suggest as an example:

Something from Downton Abbey<sup>[[#note-a|a]]</sup>

...farther down near the end of the article...

== Notes ==

* <sup id="note-a">a</sup> Some note about above.

In the article it would look like this:

Something from Downton Abbeya
.
.
.

Notes

  • a Some note about above.

The little a link should jump to the note.

Asking if okay to remove bad reference/speculation/misleading

Hello, I hope it's okay to ask this, but why do we have to keep information in an article at all if it is a bad reference/speculation/misleading? Why can't we just remove it? Keeping it is inacurate and also it feels like pandering to one particular member which doesn't feel fair when no one else adds such material to articles (at least that I've seen). Bluebellanon (talk) 19:30, December 22, 2012 (UTC)
I'd agree. Why bend over backwards to placate one specific contributor.CestWhat (talk) 21:53, December 22, 2012 (UTC)
Oh, like you expect ME to do to YOU when you remove the information? Hmm? You hypocritical ass - you expect ME to bend over backwards to placate you. So, don't EVER, use that as a though. EVER! HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 22:07, December 22, 2012 (UTC)
Just me... http://downtonabbey.wikia.com/wiki/Forum:Adminship?t=20121222040843#Oppose_HarryPotterRules1 CestWhat (talk) 23:01, December 22, 2012 (UTC)
Nether of us are going to be admin, so don't stick that in my face. Trust me... it's not going to work! HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 02:46, December 23, 2012 (UTC)
As I've said in other places, if the speculation has a legitimate basis, it should not be removed, but moved instead to a "Notes" or "Speculation" section. Also, I don't want to give blanket permission to remove anything as most times the issue is a case-by-case issue. -- Fandyllic (talk · contr) 26 Dec 2012 4:44 PM Pacific

Discuss the Downton Abbey Wiki:Canon information page

Discussion begun. I think the page should stay, as Jullian Fellowes is the highest form of canon, followed by the show and press packs - written by him - anbd books that have the foreword by him, as he endorses them. The cast interviews can be wrong - as seen by the one Jessica gave on Sybil's age (albiet, Jullian kept changing her age, but it was still wrong - unless they have no contradicitions, such as the Joanna Froggatt interview that states Anna was born in 1886 and played with Mary and the girls in the village. --HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 12:35, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

Using specific examples

(I thought I'd use different headings - then we can hopefully keep this discussion organised - people can add to whatever section they disagree/agree with).

I'd prefer us not to use specific examples at all in this article and just use it to state which sources we accept as canon. Specific examples can be discussed elsewhere, I wouldn't want discussion of examples - such as the example that HPR1 added about the descent of the Earldom of Grantham or discussion of dates of marriages and birthdays - to overshadow the article or cloud the issue, since it's always possible that people might disagree with the example. Whilst if we just simply state that these are the sources we accept as canon - then it makes it much simpler in my opinion. So I think we should take out all the specific examples given. --bloob (talk) 12:44, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

The Show itself should be the top tier

If we're going to have different tiers of canon then the show itself has to be the top tier (and I'd separate it from press packs). Since we are after all a wiki about the show Downton Abbey and not a wiki about Julian Fellowes then the show itself should be the top tier - canon from the show should be taken as more important than anything else. In that tier I would include transcripts of the show and scripts - as long as we're not including any deleted scenes - only scripts and transcripts that strictly follow what was aired. --bloob (talk) 12:44, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

While you are correct, Jullian Fellowes is the highest form of canon as he writes the show. As well as this, his comments are on the script pack for Series 1, stating why he wrote certain things, etc. It's like with J.K. Rowling - she couldn't fit in EVERYTHING (or stuff had to be deleted) so she revealed it later. He is the same - stuff he couldn't fit in, but is canon, or was deleted, that is revealed by him, is the highest tier of canon; it's Word of God, so that makes it the highest form bar none. Then, of course, comes the show.--HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 13:22, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

Second tier

I think that any information that comes from Julian Fellowes should be the second tier canon. Whilst he does write the show, he might change his mind or not be entirely truthful in interviews so as to keep the plot/endings a surprise so therefore I'd have any information that comes from him as a second tier, with the show itself as the final word. --bloob (talk) 12:44, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

See my above point on last section. --HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 13:22, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

Third Tier

Any script releases that contain any deleted/unaired scenes I would place as Third Tier. --bloob (talk) 12:44, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

I agree with this, except for the "deleted scenes" bit - some of the deleted scenes in the script set for Series 1, Jullian Fellowes confirmed by his comments, did occur, just offscreen. This includes the names of Isobel's father and brother. Jullian Fellowes confirms it is canon; the show just "skips" that bit and goes straight to the John Drake ill in bed bit. --HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 13:22, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

Fourth Tier

ITV website and press packs (I'd put these together since the ITV website releases the press packs). --bloob (talk) 12:44, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

ITV gets their information from Jullian Fellowes - they could post ANYTHING otherwise - so this needs to be higher (second or third). Also, Series 1 backs up the Series 1 press packs; Violet says, in 1913, that Robert married Cora "24 years ago" - this matches the 1899 given in the press pack. As well as this, there is the mention in series 3 of Martha having lots of "tin" - Isidore was a dry goods merchant which involed tin. The press pack for Series 1 also confirms Cora's age, so should be higher.--HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 13:22, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

Fifth Tier

I'm reluctant to include information from cast interviews at all - how do we know where they're getting their information from? Are they just giving their own personal view of the character they play? If they are then their view is no more important than anyone elses - they don't write the show, and any view of theirs might be contradicted by the show at a later date. But if we have to include their opinion as canon, then I'd put them as fifth tier. But if everyone agrees, I'd rather us not include them at all. --bloob (talk) 12:44, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

I think that this one, at least, may be right; only include these in the wiki after the show has finished, as there will be no new information to contrdict the interviews given. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 13:29, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

If the show had finished it wouldn't make this information any more valid. bloob (talk) 19:58, June 4, 2013 (UTC)
It would, actually, since there'd be no new information to contradict the interviews, so it'd be a higher form of canon rather than fifth thier. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 20:13, June 4, 2013 (UTC)
But the fact that the information would no longer be contradicted doesn't make it any more correct than it was before. bloob (talk) 21:38, June 4, 2013 (UTC)


No, no, you misunderstand. Things like Anna's birthdate (1886) came from a Joanne Froggatt interview; once the show is finished - if it has not been stated then there will not be a higher form of canon to contradict it, so it makes it a higher form of canon itself. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 11:49, June 6, 2013 (UTC)

I believe cast interviews are much less important than Julian Fellowes' word, the show, or the Press Packs. I agree with HarryPotterRules1 that it can be included if there is nothing that contradicts it, but I think it should be stated that, somewhere on the page it relates to, "Joanne Froggatt in an interview stated that Anna was born in 1886." rather than saying "Anna was born in 1886." Maggymaytay (talk) 23:03, June 22, 2013 (UTC)

Inferred Information

I wouldn't include information inferred from the show at all. If you have to infer something then it isn't canon. --bloob (talk) 12:44, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

Really? We can infer Violet's birthdate - sometime after 1838 - from her words in the show; she says that "The bloom has almost gone off the rose" when referring to Mary being 22, meaning that Violet, who was married in 1860 would have to be born after 1838 (as 1838 would make her 22 and the bloom would almmost have gone off her too). This should, I think, be after the show, Jullian Fellowes, and press-packs.--HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 13:22, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

You've pretty much just made my point for me. That line of reasoning isn't sound at all. bloob (talk) 19:59, June 4, 2013 (UTC)
Actually, it is. Violet is, basically, saying that Mary is getting to old for marriage at 22; this means that she herself was married BEFORE 22 (and being married in 1860 makes her birthdate after 1838). See? Another inferred thing - which I have already ran past Fandyllic - is the birthdate of Sybbie. 23:04, June 4, 2013 (UTC)HarryPotterRules1 (talk)
Things that have a basis in fact and can be worked out from existing dates are very different from you deciding what it is that a character meant when they said something that involved no dates at all. bloob (talk) 14:14, June 5, 2013 (UTC)
Not entirely true; things can be inferred that are correct; they may not be outrightly stated but working it out can make it correct. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 11:50, June 6, 2013 (UTC)

Okay, I've come up with a better reason for not including inferred information as a tier of it's own - inferred information is already there as it would have to have been inferred from some tier of canon information. So whether or not to accept infered information is in fact a seperate issue from this and should probably instead be decided on a case by case basis. Not including inferred information in these guidelines wouldn't be saying that this wiki doesn't accept inferred info at all - it's simply a different issue from this. Or at least, shouldn't be one of the tiers of canon information, it should have a section of it's own. blue (talk) 20:48, June 9, 2013 (UTC)

That, I can agree with - include it, but take it from the canon bit and put it in a section of it's own to be tied with the canon stuff. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 02:48, June 13, 2013 (UTC)

Actually, Violet said "We have to get her (Mary) settled before the bloom is quite gone off the rose." She didn't say when the "bloom would be gone off the rose" or even when she thought marriage should be done. Therefore, you cannot consider it canon because it has nothing whatsoever to do with Violet's marriage herself. Also, how do you know Mary was 22 when that was said? That has to be inferred information as well.

That being said, inferred information is very important to this wiki, as in the "Fifth Teir" section above HarryPotterRules1 stated that information can't be just said in the shows, so it has to be inferred. Inferred information cannot be considered canon unless the person who writes it on the page it is included on states in the notes the reasons they figured it out. Maggymaytay (talk) 23:13, June 22, 2013 (UTC)

We know she was 22; the Downton Abbey script confirms that, in 1912, she was 21; as Violet says "We have to get her (Mary) settled before the bloom is quite gone off the rose" and Mary is 22, it means that Violet herself was married before 22. Yes, inferred information is important. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 02:17, June 24, 2013 (UTC)

Non-Canon Information

I'd remove the section titled "Non-Canon Information" entirely. The page should be self explanatory without this, I think it confuses things. The page should be just to state what we accept as canon sources and leave it at that. We don't need to go on to state what isn't canon. --bloob (talk) 12:47, June 4, 2013 (UTC)

One is that the show itself is inconsistent both between episodes and official material (Lang's first name being Andrew in the press material and then Henry in the closing credits) and even with the show itself (i.e. Sybil's age doesn't fit in every episode it's mentioned). This what the "Behind the Scenes" sections do well. It's nice to treat this show as if it's reality (Sybil's age must be consistent), but it isn't since it make continuity errors.
Also the "speculation" and "inferred" part ignored that isn't the what this Wiki is meant as well as ignoring that speculation only goes one way i.e. because Violet mocks women who end up in India when she visits Scotland, I'd infer that Great Aunt Roberta isn't her sister, but her sister-in-law. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE I'm not trying to make a case for the whole Great Aunt Roberta stuff again, just to show that speculation can go more then one way which is a problem.
What really needs to be address is how to resolve conflicts on information since I do think conflict can happen in good faith. It is solely the admin or a community consensus or whatever. CestWhat (talk) 18:27, June 4, 2013 (UTC)
Lang's name is Henry - show comes ABOVE press materials. Only Series 2 didn't fit in with her age - Series 1 stated she was having her season (a season occurs at the age of 17; this, plus her being the age of 24 in 5 1/2 years later fits with her death age). Roberta cannot be her sister-in-law for four reasons:
  • One: Robert has no aunts on his paternal side, or not alive ones, at least; he has his aunt, James's mother and that is it.
  • Two: Robert has to "discover" a great-aunt of Sybil, Edith and Mary who "married a Gordon in 1860" - meaning that this cannot be Roberta as he would know of any of his mother's siblings - and his father's too - because they'd be his aunts and uncles and their husbands and wives would be his aunts and uncles by marriage.
  • Three: If Roberta WAS Violet's sister-in-law - through a brother or sister of Violet - then she would NOT be a great-aunt of Mary, Sybil and Edith; she would be no relation to them except "grandmother's brother's wife's sister"or "grandmother's sister's husband's sister," thus by elimination she is Violet's sister and - possibly - Susan's mother.
  • Four: Violet mocks the country of India for being "too hot" and "dirty and smelly" and "having no-one to talk too for 100 square miles"; never once does she mock Susan - her goddaughter, who she is willing to do favours for by taking in Rose - or Roberta - her (probable) sister of whom she speaks fondly of - for going there.

And, actually, you were trying to make the case for Roberta again. I have just proven you wrong... again. 19:16, June 4, 2013 (UTC)HarryPotterRules1 (talk)

How is any of the above relevant to my suggestion? (And I'm talking to both of you here) This discussion is about deciding what should be included on the Downton Abbey Wiki:Canon information page, not for rehashing old arguments or deciding if specific pieces of information are canon or not. We're discussing which SOURCES of information about the show should be taken as canon - nothing else. Please lets try not and get bogged down in old arguments. You've both been asked not to do this anymore by wikia staff. bloob (talk) 19:43, June 4, 2013 (UTC)
I, Bluebellanon, was ending the conversation here by proving how the press material stating Lang's name was wrong, how CestWhat originally changing the article of Roberta to say she WASN'T Violet's sister was wrong and non-canon. That, is why it's, albiet only distantly, relevant. Also, it makes me, clear as day, the winner in the arguments - as I was right from the start and knew it - and ends it totally. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 20:16, June 4, 2013 (UTC)
Obviously I disagree, but I've been hold by User:Fandyllic a thousand and one time not to engage with User:HPR1 and so I won't on this. I wish I hadn't used Great Aunt Roberta as an example and just a new maybe-up one. I didn't want to rehash this again, but mentioned it only that speculation "Fifth Tier" or whatever shouldn't be on there. My point isn't to bring up old conflicts. It's just that one of the problems is that there isn't a way to resolve a conflict that a hierarchy of canon won't solve and I think that ought to be addressed. Also that canon seems to imply that this is reality rather then fiction that has inconsistencies. So (this is a totally made up example so it doesn't upset anybody) that Mrs. Hughes mentions she has a brother when in a previous episode Thomas said Mrs. Hughes just had one sister, the canon hierarchy stuff doesn't apply. CestWhat (talk) 21:13, June 4, 2013 (UTC)
We can't possibly predict every inconsistency that might occur and it's possible that inconsistencies will occur (and perhaps have occurred) that can't be settled one way or another. That's not the end of the world. It doesn't really matter if we can't settle things 100% one way or another. We can simply state in whatever article it is, that there is an inconsistency/contradiction in this case. To use your example we might say something like: "In episode ? Thomas says Mrs. Hughes only has one sister, however we later learn this is incorrect when Mrs Hughes herself mentions having a brother."
Perhaps we need a section added to the article on how we deal with inconsistencies/contradictions but I don't think we need this section on Non-Canon. bloob (talk) 21:49, June 4, 2013 (UTC)
Fine, we need a "possibly canon" section, or something like it - naturally, if BOTH CestWhat and I edit it there WILL be arguments. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 23:08, June 4, 2013 (UTC)
I think a title such as "Inconsistencies and Contradictions" or "Dealing with Inconsistencies and Contradictions" would be more suitable, as I think that's clearer. --bloob (talk) 14:21, June 5, 2013 (UTC)
I agree. Just keep CestWhat out, as nothing will be decided with him there constantly attempting to contradict me when I am in the right.HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 01:08, June 9, 2013 (UTC)

Proposed Second Draft

I've written a second draft of the Canon Information page. I'm not saying this should be our final version, I'm sure there are still changes to be made, but I thought it might be helpful to see what people thought of this and see if it gets us any closer to finding something people can agree on - or at least, come to a compromise on. It's currently written in my sandbox, so please don't edit or leave a comment there, please leave any comments here instead. I'd be especially interested if people think it is worded okay, if it's clear enough, confusing at all, if the different sections work - rather than focusing on the order of the tiers of canon, which I'm sure still needs some more discussion/more input from different people before we find something we all agree on.

Proposed Second Draft of Canon Information Page

--blue (talk) 12:15, June 13, 2013 (UTC)

I moved Proposed Second Draft of Canon Information Page to Downton Abbey Wiki:Canon information/proposed draft and made some edits (nothing having to do with content). I have not really been reading the discussion, but I will try to catch up. -- Fandyllic (talk · contr) 13 Jun 2013 10:05 AM Pacific
Should real history (especially as so many real historic events are mentioned within the shows) be part of good referencing (I don't like the term "canon" for Downton Abbey that much, but that's a separate thing). The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912 so that's when James Crawley died even without the show having to say it was April 15, 1912. Also if William died in in the Battle of Ameins, then that's a good source. Now the show has the grave-marker showing William's date of death as July 28, 1918 and Battle of Ameins was fought August 8, 1918 to August 12, 1918. I say go with the show, but note that it's a conflict in real history which is worth noting. Also real history isn't the sole reason to put something i.e. since the date is mentioned on the show, this event on Downton Abbey happened on a Tuesday. Even it's true, it isn't really helpful to inform anybody reading this article.  CestWhat (talk) 20:30, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
We can't take historical events as canon, obviously. This is fiction. But as you say, it's worth mentioning in articles if it's relevant and any discrepancies too, I suppose, again, if it's relevant. I don't think this needs mentioning in the Canon Information page though. blue (talk) 20:54, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
Hmm, actually, on second thoughts maybe it would be worth having a section titled "Historical Events" - since as you say, it plays such a big part in the show. But I think I'd perhaps just add a short seperate section for it, not include it in the tiers of canon. (This'll teach me to think a bit more about things before commenting! xD) blue (talk) 20:59, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
This is why I don't like the term "canon" since it might well within the characters storylines, but different when the show engages with things going on in the world at that era. Downton Abbey isn't like the Harry Potter series or Star Wars. Downton Abbey is a fictional place with fictional people, but it's a historical drama/period piece rather then a fantasy or science fiction universe. Outside of the estate, the world in the Downton Abbey is the same as the real 1912 rather then a whole fictional universe like Star Wars or even a Harry Potter which doesn't engage that much real major world events. I also mention it because Julian Fellowes specifically mentions how he likes engaging with real history within the show. I don't know about "canon" or "non-canon," but if the episode says that Major Bryant died at the Battle of Vittorio Venet, that's a fictional character in a real historical event that seems fine. CestWhat (talk) 21:08, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean about the use of the term canon. In this context canon information is simply the information/sources of information that this wiki/community accepts as official.
As far as the real world existing outside Downton Abbey - it doesn't because it's fiction. Fellowes maybe does like to engage with real history but it's a fictionalised version of real events. It's not a documentary. Or even a history program. It's an entertainment show and is fiction. Again, I'm not sure what your point is?
Unless you have a solution to propose for either of these - as you see them - problems. Then I'm all ears.--blue (talk) 21:18, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
There's a difference between fiction and historical fiction (fictional people in real events). Historical fiction is about taking more effect to be true to how the events actually happened. The point was that was the show talks a real event or place, that's a reference worth using. CestWhat (talk) 21:48, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
Historical fiction is just a type of fiction. The mere insertion of a fictional character in an historical context creates a whole new fictional world, even though it much resembles our own (alas, part of the entertainment of historical fiction is precisely that -- making fictional characters fit the situation while still making it believable -- but, of course, this or that character couldn't have been there, for the simple fact that they are not historical.
So historical fiction is not about inserting fictional characters in a historical context, but it's more about inserting fictional characters in a pseudo-historical context.
That being said, the history and the timeline of these kinds of shows tend to imitate that of real-life, but certain deviations are to be expected. So, whenever something happens, the Battle of Vittorio Venetto, for instance, one can presume that it is taking place at the same point in time it did in the real-world... unless the story outright says it didn't. In which case it does not. The Battle of Amiens, in the fictional universe of Downton Abbey, took place a few weeks earlier than it did in the real world. And as this is the Downton Abbey Wiki, not Wikipedia that is what the article should read. Or at least this is how I see it. --  Seth Cooper  owl post! 21:58, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
Yes, that's what I trying to say, only you've put it a lot more eloquently! I agree with your suggestion, we refer to it, unless it's contradicted by the show, in which case we go with the show. But the contradiction can always be mentioned in notes/references. blue (talk) 22:04, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
I think with Battle of Amiens dates being wrong with the real Battle of Amiens is just the props department screwed up rather then Julian Fellowes trying to create a massive alternative fictionalized universe from our own in which the Battle of Amiens happened a few weeks early, but that's neither here nor there. It's a mistake just like an editing mistake (i.e. one character is wearing glove, a second later she isn't doesn't mean that this fictionalized world where gloves suddenly disappear). CestWhat (talk) 23:07, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
Maybe he did mean to do it, maybe he didn't. We don't know, and frankly it doesn't really matter. It was in the show, it's canon. It's not up to us to decide that some bits of the show count and some don't. It all counts. blue (talk) 23:35, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
I know there are tons of articles pointing anachronisms and continuity errors in Downton Abbey. That's not what I'm going for, but there's a reason that IMDb has a goof section. CestWhat (talk) 00:22, June 14, 2013 (UTC)
Well there you go then, we can simply include mistakes and inaccuracies in the notes section or perhaps in a behind the scenes section. blue (talk) 06:54, June 14, 2013 (UTC)
But you're contradicting yourself. It's a mistake, but it's also not for anyone to judge if it was a mistake. I mean in this specific example of William's date of death, it wasn't a line in the show. It's a number that really tiny that shows up on a prop that gets maybe half-a-second of screen time. You made that point about "5th Earl" being on the prop for Sybil's grave, that one prop can't just rewrite everything. Or is the prop had been more obviously off then mixing July and August. If it had that William died in 1988. Probably nobody watching would notice, but we would hardly think that this is a fictionalized Battle of Amiens meant to be in 1988. "On the show itself" is a good first tier, but a prop that has something on it that isn't even important to the scene and only on-screen for a half-second shouldn't trump any consideration that it was just a mistake rather then what was intended by Julian Fellowes. CestWhat (talk) 00:03, June 15, 2013 (UTC)
If I remember correctly, the instance you're referring to was about a prop that hadn't even appeared in the show yet, but was seen on a news website. And I was saying that we shouldn't include it if it hadn't been in the show yet (as I say, if I'm remembering correctly). 
What I think is important is that we give readers all the information we have that is relevant. So in this case, giving the date on the grave that appears in the show and that mentioning in notes or reference the date of the real battle. That way people are fully informed. They can make their own minds up what they believe is right. Again we're getting off the point and getting bogged down in individual issues rather than looking at the bigger issue. We need to set guidelines down that will work to help the community. Nothing you've written so far says to me that these guidelines won't help. --blue (talk) 12:21, June 15, 2013 (UTC)
No, the prob was on-screen briefly. It was about a broader issue, that historical events that are mentioned on an episode ought to be canon or at least good reference. The point about conflict between them and just using an example. CestWhat (talk) 07:52, June 21, 2013 (UTC)
No, I'm pretty sure what you're referring to is a discussion about a prop from series 4 for one of the graves (Sybil I think) that has appeared on websites in an unofficial set photo but hasn't aired yet. As I've already said, I don't think historical events should be taken as Canon, but that doesn't mean they can't be mentioned in articles if it's relevant. They don't need to be accepted as Canon for us to be able to do that. blue (talk) 13:05, June 21, 2013 (UTC)
No, I'm referring in the example to this http://downtonabbey.wikia.com/wiki/File:WilliamGrave.jpg It's a prop that was seen on the X-mas special. The prob has 27 July 1918 on it, yet the Battle of Amiens (it's captioned in Episode 2.05) didn't even begin until 8 August 1918. I disagree about historical events, since historical fiction is a different kind of fiction. It's canon that Mr. Bates first arrived at DA on April 15, 1912 which is known because it's the same date that that the rest of the world finds out that the Titanic had sunk. That's sourced to real history. —This unsigned comment was made by CestWhat (talkcontribs) . Please sign talk pages and forum posts with four tildes: ~~~~. Log in to keep track of your comments and maintain your identity on the wiki.
Ah, okay. I think we've got our wires crossed. I thought you were still talking about the Sybil gravestone in reference to the part of your argument where you said I was contradicting myself - and I was attempting to refute that.
To go back to your point - I still don't accept that historical events should be treated as canon. But it seems we've come to a standstill as to discussing it. I think we'll have to agree to differ on this point. :) blue (talk) 19:13, June 21, 2013 (UTC)

A third proposal, to your consideration

I know I haven't been very active in this discussion, but if I can still give my two cents, I'd propose simply a three-tier system (a system of a lot of tiers leads to confusion and difficulty implementing it), something like this:
  • Tier 1: The Show and "Word of God". This would include anything from Julian Fellowes AND the Show, avoiding discussion as to which one should be top-tier. Whenever these are in irreconcilable contradiction, the most recent piece of information is canon.
  • Tier 2: Deleted scenes, original drafts of scripts, etc. Having these as tier 2 would rule any instance of Fellowes-changed-his-mind-about-this-particular-part-so-delete-this-scene as non-canon. However, unless they directly contradict anything else in the series, I don't know why we can't consider those deleted exchanges to have occurred, but simply out-of-screen while we weren't looking. A good example is the scene in which Isobel reveals the name of her father and of her brother -- entirely plausible, even if it wasn't in the series proper.
  • Tier 3: ITV Website, Press Packs, and other officially-licensed sources of information (most of the times, it's the same basic source). While these are, most of the times, invaluable sources (i.e. Cora's parents; Robert and Cora's wedding date; etc.), they only seem to be matter-of-fact information that Fellowes has on his mind during character development; it definitely does not seem to be canonically binding information (i.e. the Season One Press Packs list Rosamund's estranged children Cyril and Lavinia, but by the following season, Fellowes seemed to have made up his mind on having a widowed, childless Rosamund, and that remained the case). Again, whenever these are in irreconcilable contradiction, the most recent piece of information (provided it does not contradict tier 1 in any way) is canon.
Actors' views on their characters are to be disregarded. As an actor, one may have a particular view on the character, or a drive that is used to convey what the author of the work wants to see in that character, but that doesn't make it the character's drive. It may sound like pedantic semantics, until you realise that, most of the time, actors are not the ones in the know about their character — while I write this, I am reminded of when actor David Thewlis was instructed to interpret his Harry Potter character, Remus Lupin as a "gay junkie": and he did so, despite the character transpire no such thing in no point whatsoever.
As for the matter of inferred information, I'd say the rule would be: be reasonable. If something can be proven beyond reasonable doubt then, fine, keep it. But inferrences based on far-fetched, speculative or otherwise unproven assumptions or faulty logic (Violet's sister Roberta was alive in 1857, so Violet must've been born in the 1840s!) are to be removed. --  Seth Cooper  owl post! 21:48, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
You make a lot of sense. To be honest, in my second draft I never thought the tier order/items I used would be the final version, I simply tried to work with what had already been suggested. I'm still not keen on having Fellowes and the show be the same level, but if everyone else can live with that I can too. The only thing I'm wondering is would you include or mention news sources in this anywhere? blue (talk) 22:19, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
Those'd be Tier 3, because... well, Press Packs and press reports should be on the same level (after all, it's all the same source of information; TV channel). --  Seth Cooper  owl post! 22:23, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
That works for me, the only problem comes when you get news sources making things up or exaggerating, especially in the run up to new series. blue (talk) 22:28, June 13, 2013 (UTC)
I've been thinking. I think this proposal works except for one thing. I would put news sources/websites in a forth category. That way we're separating official sources of information/news from unofficial. News sources might exaggerate to get readers, write articles based on rumours, or simply get things wrong. Putting them in a forth category acknowledges this and makes it clear that they're not as important as official sources of news such as the itv website and press packs. blue (talk) 12:31, June 15, 2013 (UTC)
Fellowes, I think should be above all; it's like J.K. Rowling with Harry Potter.Basically, if Julian says (for example) that Sybil was actually 22 - as 2.07 hinted - then his word would be taken over the show, as he is the writer and the show gets stuff cut out. He is "god" basically, which is where "word of god" comes from; his word is law, bar none. Nothing not even the show, which has been edited, as I've said, comes above him.HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 00:30, June 22, 2013 (UTC)
But that's just your opinion. It's not the case that everyone agrees with you. Lots of people do, I know. But not everyone does. I personally think that the show is the highest tier of canon. I don't care what the writer says - that doesn't make me wrong or you wrong. We just think differently. The point of discussions like this isn't always to establish who is 100% right and who is wrong - it's to establish what the majority of the community want and what we can agree to and come to a compromise on. There isn't always a right and a wrong answer on things like this. It's just differences of opinion. Stating things like you often do - as if you're right and anyone who thinks differently is wrong, can be seen as quite combative, argumentative and uncompromising. I know you're only standing up for your opinion - and I'm sure I'm just as guilty of being just as forceful with my opinions on occasion. But for the sake of peace and harmony and the smooth development of this wiki maybe we could agree to differ sometimes and instead come to some compromises? --blue (talk) 00:40, June 22, 2013 (UTC)
While I'm not saying that you are wrong - far from it - "agreeing to disagree" is not coming to a compromise; it's saying "We cannot decide, it could be anything"; that's not good. It's one or the other. 99.9% of other wikis go by the "everything from the mouth of the author/writer, whether it contradicts the show or not is canon" approach. I think we should too. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 01:33, June 22, 2013 (UTC)
Isn't this irrelevant now that you've agreed with the Third draft I linked to at the bottom of the page? We've already come to an agreement haven't we? blue (talk) 01:38, June 22, 2013 (UTC)
Yes, true, I was merely pointing it out for when this is archived. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 05:19, June 22, 2013 (UTC)

Third Draft

I've edited my second draft a little to fit in with Seth Cooper's suggestions. I'd be interested to see what everyone thinks. I'm sure it's not the final version - simply a suggestion for how we could develop the article. See it here: Downton Abbey Wiki:Canon information/proposed draft. --blue (talk) 19:43, June 21, 2013 (UTC)

I like it - it needs more detail, I think; give an example - for those who may not be too sure - of which form of canon is each. E.g. trusted sites - someone may trust a site, but us on the wiki may not. Be explicit; state what they are. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 00:17, June 22, 2013 (UTC)

Blimey! We agree on something. I'll mark it on the calendar! :)
Personally I'm happy with no examples, but if everyone else thinks it needs them I'm happy for some to be added. However, when it comes to the "Trusted News Sources" tier I think it'd be difficult to come up with a list of every news source that we trust - and even harder for us all to agree on it (for example, I personally don't like gossip sites or find them trustworthy - some other people I know do). With that I think it's better to just take things on a case by case basis - perhaps it would be easier to make a list on UNtrustworthy sites that people can't use - should we ever come across any. blue (talk) 00:31, June 22, 2013 (UTC)
That'll work; make a list of sites that we do not trust and state that they can only be used if there is another site that has the same information - that then validates the former site too.
While it works without examples - quite well actually - it would be better with an example for each, for newbies to the wiki - they may never have actually edited a wiki before and don't know what a specific source is - to avoid edit wars. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 01:36, June 22, 2013 (UTC)
If we had a list of sites we didn't trust then surely we wouldn't use them at all - that would be the whole point of the list wouldn't it? If the same information was on another site then we could just reference the other site instead. Though I'm not sure that right now we have any sites we wouldn't allow or don't trust. I'm just saying that it's something to think about for the future, if we ever have any sources we decide not to trust and is a LOT easier then listing every single website and news source that we do trust.
If the article works without examples then it's probably best to keep it without in my opinion - adding them might take a while for us to agree on and might complicate the issue. If anyone's confused about any part of it we can simply answer any questions as and when they come up - if we find we get asked the same questions a lot we could always add a FAQ section, or edit the article to answer those questions. blue (talk) 01:47, June 22, 2013 (UTC)
Aye, true enough. We can post a "If you are confused please contact: [name of person here]" on the front page. HarryPotterRules1 (talk) 05:20, June 22, 2013 (UTC)
This discussion has been open a while now and we seem to have come to an agreement. So unless anyone else has something to add to this discussion I will be putting this in place as official policy. blue (talk) 15:36, August 21, 2013 (UTC)

Policy

The third draft has been put in place as policy as discussed above. You can find it here: Downton Abbey Wiki:Canon information - of course if anyone wants to reopen this discussion at a later date, wants something clarifying or explaining or thinks we should make any changes then this discussion can always be reopened. If so, please start the discussion on the talk page of the policy, here: Downton Abbey Wiki talk:Canon information. --blue (talk) 13:49, August 23, 2013 (UTC)

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