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What is Truth?

Hi everyone. I've been away for a few weeks working on a separate project and that project is about complete so I have time to spend working on my second most favorite pastime--editing this Wiki.

Just before I Ieft, however, I had the very bad grace to stir up a frenzy of posts regarding the Janine Pavlara page. I had two strong objections regarding the article as it was then written and I made my feelings known. Probably in as disagreeable way as was possible and for that I apologize. In the end I agreed that my first disagreement was probably a really stupid claim on my part and withdrew the objection (I objected to the assertion that the Aes Sedai did something because the text did not say outright that they did something, yet when I got off of my rocking horse, and put my plastic pistols away I came to my senses).

The second assertion I still hold as valid, and I will use it a little later to make a point, but my primary purpose in writing this blog is not to justify myself. I'm writing this to start a dialogue with my fellow WOTWiki editors; one that I hope will give us all guidance in the future on how to judge whether something is true, because as you all know, this is not the first case where I have said, "that's not what the text says," and it probably won't be my last. But if you guys can wave something in my face that says "this is what we agreed on, get off your hobby horse," well I hope I am adult enough to then comply. I'll probably be grumpy for a few days, but I'll get over it.

So. When do we decide something is a fact in the world of WOT?

Pulling facts out of literature can be chancey. Indeed I remember an anecdote related to a lit class I took in college where the Prof reported his colleague was accosted by a fan who told him all sorts of things about the back story in his novel that he had not even considered adding--they were a total, and highly imaginative surprise.

What's a fact in the Wheel of Time? For discussion, I propose these criteria in order of importance.

1. If Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson said it, it's true.

2. If it's plainly written in the novel, it's true. Ditto for the graphic novels. An example of this type of fact would be Perrin and Egwene's visit to the Tinker caravan. In one of the graphic novels I own, RJ sent someone a letter describing a bit more detail about Cadsuane. That letter is superb documentation should anyone ever want to use it to improve on Cadsuane's page.

3. If Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson write it somewhere, it's true (I'm thinking mostly about all the interviews included in this Wiki).

4. If their research assistants (or whatever the professional titles are) say it, it's probably true.

5. If logic dictates it, there's a good chance that it may be true, but supporting evidence would be a plus, and wording should stipulate that this is a guess, a good guess, but a guess nevertheless. A good discussion point for this would be the question of who killed Asmodean. I've heard a lot of assertions around the Wiki that Grendael did it, but no one has laid out why they believe Grendael did it. Until they do, when they assert that Grendael did it, they should probably add, "probably."

6. Willie has mentioned to me that there are a few trusted sources out there that support otherwise unsubstantiated fact. For example, Amira Moselle's page asserts that she was in the delegation that went to Cairhien and kidnapped Rand. Search the novels and you will not find any indicator of that fact. Search this Wiki and the only indicator that she was on the delegation that you will find will be on her page and on the Dumai's Wells page that lists the Sisters killed in the Battle of Dumai's Wells. To substantiate this fact, he pointed me to encyclopedia-wot.org, informing me that it was a trusted source. I will say it here as I said it to him on his talk page, if Willie trusts it, then I trust it. He's been far more heavily engaged in maintaining this Wiki than I. But, I would also suggest that it would not be a bad thing if somewhere on this Wiki, we documented these trusted sites.

Okay, so what if something is probably true. As an example I will go back to the Janine Pavlara article where it says definitely that she was also in the delegation that kidnapped Rand. If you look at the novels, shen is never mentioned by name as being part of the delegation, and she never confesses to being part of the delegation. Though she was caught at Dumai's Wells, that is no proof because the novel is clear that more Aes Sedai joined the kidnapping party after they left Cairhien. What proof do we have that she was in on the kidnapping? Only that there were a number of Aes Sedai in the party who had not been Aes Sedai long enough for their faces to appear ageless, and it so happens that Janine Pavlara is so young as an Aes Sedai that her face has not attained the ageless look. That's not proof. That's a good indication--that and her later dealings with Wise Ones, and the fact that she was labeled dat'sang, but these are all circumstantial and when writing the article, though they contribute to the conclusion that she was part of the party, that conclusion is still indefinite. That doesn't mean it can't be included in the article. All that means is that it should be phrased in such a way that the reader knows that it is indefinite.

In conclusion, we should encourage participation in this Wiki in any way we can, and that means editors (I am referring to myself now) need to be more positive and supportive when changing someone else's contribution. I'll work on that, guys. I really do want to see this Wiki succeed. But at the same time if its not a fact, if its only a guess, even if its a really good guess, say so or add a verify tag. The quality of the Wiki will be enhanced if we do so.

Talk to me about this. What do you all think?

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