This is an essay.
It contains the advice or opinions of one or more Wikipedia contributors. This page is not an encyclopedia article, nor is it one of Wikipedia's policies or guidelines, as it has not been thoroughly vetted by the community. Some essays represent widespread norms; others only represent minority viewpoints.
|This page in a nutshell: Categorising fictional characters on Wikipedia can be problematic. We should categorise fiction from an encyclopedic approach based on verifiable reliable sources rather than by intersections which are "made-up" by Wikipedia editors.|
- Should a fictional character be categorised by any in-universe attribute? (Height, weight, gender, skin colour, hair colour, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, etc.) Or for that matter by attributes which may change due to the scope of the fiction (especially when dealing in the "fantastic", where super science, or magic can be involved). Or things which may change as they "develop", such as a superhuman ability. Or things which are "normally" changeable, such as costume/uniform colour/type, weapons or other objects carried/worn, profession(s), etc. And noting that all such attributes are ascribed to the character in question, merely due to an author choosing to.
- And unlike the choice of a "real" person making choices with "real world" (potentially unforeseen) consequences, the consequences in-universe are all set and controlled by the author. So what may be valid for categorisation for a "real person", may be less than so for a fictional character.
- This is exacerbated in fiction of a serial nature, in which there may be more than one author, and as such, more than a single "vision" for the characters and the universe in which they reside.
- And the effect of retcons on the instability of any in-universe character attributes should not be underestimated.
- Then there is the difficulty in determining whether the criteria for a particular category applies to a particular character. For example, should every character who appears in a U.S. published comic book be persumed to be a citizen of the U. S. unless otherwise noted? Or should a character who may appear to be portrayed with feminist beliefs, be automatically categorised as a feminist character?
- And then there is the issue of "identification" with some character's attribute of the work of fiction. By nature, people tend to identify with a character's belief(s), or for various reasons, have favourite characters, or superpowers, or themes, etc. Should categorisation be defined as notable, simply because an editor has a personal preference?
- And this leads into the problem of WP:V and WP:NOR. What defines a fictional character is not something for a Wikipedian to choose and then summarise. If a characteristic is defining, it should be possible to reference sources which state it is defining. Otherwise, it is just opinion that a given characteristic is defining.
- But then, how do we define what a defining characteristic is? Generally, a category should only exist if we can write an article detailing the point of categorisation. Would we be able to write an article on hunchbacks in fiction, or fictional hunchbacks, which doesn't amount to anything more than a list of characters? Is there enough published material to support the argument that this is a recognised genre of fiction, or a well utilised trope? Or are we just saying, well, we've got Quasimodo, and look, we've got all these other hunchbacks too, let's make a category? Is it a question of, we like this so let's make a category; or, scholars have noted this theme in a number of works so let's make a category?
- And if such things require such summary, and citations, then it probably this should be presented best as a list rather than a category, per WP:CLN.