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A stub is a fundamentally incomplete article, often — but not always — only a few sentences in length. A stub is so obviously missing information that it practically screams for information to be added to it.

It is important to stress that a stub is not only a short article. Many articles on this wiki are about minor subjects, of which not more than a few sentences can be written. And some longer articles may be classed as stubs if they're obviously lacking major points.

Stubs are identified through the placement of stub templates on pages which lack enough information to be considered proper articles. Because these templates automatically add pages to various lists of articles needing improvement, editors must exercise sound judgment when deciding to use these templates. If stub templates are used indiscriminately — for instance, placed on articles just because they are short — the lists will become useless to those editors who choose to use them to prioritize their work on this wiki.

Types of stub

Character stub

Articles about characters are often the hardest to judge in terms of their "stubbiness". Beyond the major televised characters like the Doctor, his companions, and perhaps the main guest stars, most characters require special effort to notice. Characters who appear in a medium other than television are particularly hard for most editors to assess, because they're more expensive in terms of pure cost and time required to research.

Additionally, the bulk of characters on this wiki are in fact minor ones. For most character articles, two or three sentences is the maximum that can be written. A good example is the unseen character of H. P. Wilson from the televised episode Rose. While one could argue that the article could be stylistically tweaked, or that a word or two might be added or subtracted, there's never going to be any more information forthcoming on him.

A good rule of thumb is that you should assume that articles about characters are not stubs. Only when you are certain that major details are missing should you mark it as a stub.

The question then becomes what constitutes "major details". This where an editor's personal judgment comes into play. Imagine an article about a person who met the Doctor, had a romanic relationship with another character and was key to an effort to defeat an enemy. If the article didn't at least mention all three of these things, it's probably a stub. But if the article could merely use greater amplification about those points, it's probably not a stub.

Astronomical object stub

The overwhelming majority of articles about stars, planets, asteroids and other astronomical phenomena are going to be short. This is because, aside from planets on which the Doctor has an adventure, these objects are only incidentally mentioned in most stories. Even planets that the Doctor has visited generally are not described in any great detail. We don't know all that much about the planet of Frontios, for instance, despite the fact that the the Fifth Doctor had a significant adventure there. We know relatively more about the culture and people of Frontios than we do about any of its geologic or astronomic details.

However, it is precisely the articles about planets that have served as the backdrop for the Doctor's adventures which harbor the greatest potential for "stubiness". If such an article fails to even mention the known inhabitants of that world, it is immediately a stub. If it doesn't characterize any known geography vital to the progress of a story — such as major cities, land masses, bodies of water, geologic formations, forests, or the like — it's also a stub. But if it merely fails to give as much detail as is possible, it is likely not a stub.

Story stub

Story stubs are fairly easily identified, although the sheer size of a "blank" or "placeholding" story page can fool the eye into believing there's more information on a page than there actually is. Whether a television, audio, comic, prose, or stage play story, they all require the same basic level of information to avoid being a stub.

All these pages begin with a pre-defined format, that automatically places a series of subeheads onto a page. This format can be set on a page by pushing a button above the editing window when starting a new page. Subheads like plot, timeline, continuity and the like appear on the page. You can see what this structure is like by going to almost any story page; Fury from the Deep is as good as any to examine the basic format of a story page. When the format is added to the page, the subheads all appear with the phrase to be added underneath them. This phrase persists until information is added. Thus, a story page can be immediately deemed a stub if one of two conditions is present:

  • There is no automatic formatting present.
  • Most of the subheads are still empty

However, a story page can still be a stub, if certain things remain unfilled.

  • In particular, a story without a plot section, or with one that has very few plot details included, is automatically a stub. The main point of a story page is to give the plot of a story, so its absence means the page is missing its essential element.
  • If the infobox is missing or substantially empty, an article can also be considered a stub — although this information is easily added.
  • For stories which are performed, like televised and audio stories, the complete absence of cast information can also reduce a page to stub status.
  • The lack of audience reception and home video availability can also be a barrier to a stub graduating to full article status.
  • Some attention to crew information is also necessary for performed stories, though the advent of BBC Wales productions, with their extremely long credit rolls, has made this more challenging. Nevertheless, the template Wales crew has sped up the process of data entry, and should be on every page having to do with a story of modern Doctor Who. It can be used on other modern programmes, like The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood, as well. For earlier stories, or stories in other media, at least the main department heads — such as producer, director, director of photography, executive producer, writer, production designer, visual effects — or equivalent positions for the medium concerned — should be included for the article to avoid being classed a stub.

Generally, though, the lack of information in other subheads is not, in itself, enough to judge a page a stub. For instance, not all stories actually have that much in the way of continuity with other stories. Some stories, especially short stories and stage plays, are quite independent of others. Some make no references to popular culture.

Real world stub

Real world stubs are the most varied kind of stub, because they can be applied to an article about anything in the real world super-category, aside from stories. Production personnel, games, companies, merchandise and many other things can be slapped with the real world stub tag.

People

Sadly, most articles about production personnel are currently stubs on this wiki. The vast majority merely give the stories on which a person worked, or might additionally tell the roles an actor played. This is the very minimum a real world personnel article requires to avoid deletion, but is the very definition of a real world stub.

To avoid being a stub, a personnel article should give the birth (and, if applicable, death) dates of the individual. They should give at least a broadly complete accounting of that person's work in the Whoniverse. They should also have some kind of coverage of the person's career outside their Doctor Who-related work. There should also be at least some coverage of their non-Whoniverse collaborations with other veterans of the Whoniverse. For example, an article about Matt Smith should mention the fact that he co-starred with Billie Piper on The Ruby in the Smoke and Diaries of a Call Girl. It might also include information about an individual's personal life, if those details are relevant to the Doctor Who universe. For instance, an article about Peter Davison should mention that Georgia Moffett is his daughter, or one about Steven Moffat should point out that Sue Vertue is his wife. (Care, however, should be taken not to include merely rumored or informal relationships without citation. For instance, it would be relevant to Katy Manning's page that she was romantically attracted to David Troughton, but only because she can be cited as giving this information on the DVD releases of The Three Doctors and The Curse of Peladon.) Finally, as a matter of formatting, all personnel pages should have a link to that person's IMdB page.

As always, a stub is wholly or almost entirely missing some of these details. It's not something that is just missing a few of these details.

Merchandise

An article about a line of merchandise should explain what the merchandise is and give an accounting of the various specific products within that range. Any article which is just a listing of the items (unless the article's title is prefaced with the words List of or Gallery of) is a stub. Likewise an article which just has a few sentences that characterize the product is also a stub. An article need not list every single product in th range, nor must it give all the details in the range to be a full article. But it must at least attempt to give both a general range description and provide specific examples.

Things that are important to develop a full merchandise article include, but are not limited to:

  • History of the range. When did it start? When did it end?
  • The physical characteristics of the members of that range. What are their dimensions? What materials were they made out of? If printed, how many pages did they typically contain? If audio or video, what was their general runtime and format?
  • Intended age range of the product's consumers.
  • Relation to other ranges. How does the range under discussion compare to others? Is it a "young person's version", as with Quick Reads versus the New Series Adventures? Is it for more mature audiences, as with the Virgin New Adventures versus the Target novelisations?
  • Country of origin. While most Doctor Who products have been historically British, this is no longer the case. It would be important to the any of the IDW Publishing comic ranges to note their American origin, for instance.
  • Any evidence of the relative commercial success of the range.
  • If about the company that makes the range, as opposed to the range itself, some details about the company might be important. How Polystyles got and lost the license for Doctor Who comics will be important to ensuring that that article is not a stub. Likewise, in the same way that an article about a product range will need to include examples of the individual members of that range, a company article should incorporate details about the various ranges that it produced. The Polystyle article, for instance, should mention TV Comic, TV Action and the various holiday issues and annual of those publications. Company articles should endeavor to also mention competitors, to give a sense of the marketplace in which they operated. The Polystyle article should include some mention of City Magazines and Marvel Comics UK, for example.
  • If about a product that has incidental relation to Doctor Who some details about the broader nature of the product might be required. For instance some context about what the Radio Times' is would be pertinent to explaining the RT's importance to Doctor Who.
  • Graphics. Articles about merchandise should strive to include pictures of the company/range logo. They should also try to include pictorial representations of the product. However, they need not include a picture of every product in that range. Such full catalogues are usually spun off into a separate "Gallery of" article.

Note that an article doesn't have to answer all these questions to avoid being classed as a stub. But a proper article will attempt to give a sort of context for the range that a stub lacks.

Behind-the-scenes jobs and terminology

Articles which focus on defining behind-the-scenes jobs like "best boy" can also be stubs. These are usually seen as pages which merely give a list of all the people who have held that title. Such pages are actually just lists, not proper articles. A "job" page should endeavor to describe what the job is. Lists of the people holding those jobs are incidental, and often should be spun out into a page, like the as-yet-unwritten, List of best boys.

Exactly how much information would be required to transfer a page from a "stub" to an "article" is another area where the editor's judgment is key. Generally, if you read an article about a job title, and you still don't really understand what the position is, or you know that the definition is lacking fundamental details, then it's a stub.

The same is true of articles that attempt to define production terminology, like CSO.

Species stub

Species in the Doctor Who universe are described by writers to highly differing standards. Sometimes we know a lot about a species' culture, physiognomy and technology; sometimes we only know a bit about what they look like and when they interacted with the Doctor. Trying to define when a species article is a stub is therefore somewhat tricky.

A good place to start is the preloaded topic outline provided when starting a new article. It includes an infobox, and suggests a few main categories that a species artilce should have: biology, life cycle, technology, and history. All of these are good things to try to include in species articles. However, there are many well-written species articles which do not include information about all these topics. Indeed, many species articles do not closely conform to this topic outline. Sometimes, the known details about a species do not readily fit into this pre-loaded structure. It's rarely important to a Doctor Who story, for instance, what the life cycle of an alien is. Nor does every species have readily-identifiable technology. It is only when there actually is information about these topics, and the article fails to include it, that a species article might be considered a stub.

Each case is quite different. For instance, if the article on Cybermen had absolutely no information about Cybermats of the basic nature of cyber-conversion, then it could well be considered a stub, as both were major pieces of Cyber-technology. Likewise, if it failed to mention any societal structure, such the fucntional role of Cyber-Controllers and Cyber-Leaders, then it could well be considered a stub. Meanwhile the Optera don't have a lot in the way of technology, but we are able to say rather a lot about their culture. Failing to at least mention their linguistic system could potentially make the article a stub.

Generally, too, a species article should be considered a stub if it fails to even mention information from each major appearance in the medium in which the species originated. For instance, if you were writing an article about the Robot Yeti, the article would definitely be a stub if it gave details from The Abominable Snowmen but not The Web of Fear. The article would be incomplete, but not a stub, if it ignored the minor appearance in The Five Doctors. Nor would it be classed a stub simply because it failed to give details of the appearance in PROSE: Downtime.

A species article should also strive to do more than just report the encounters that species had with the Doctor, Sarah Jane, K9 or Torchwood. It should attempt to provide physical and cultural details about the race. The fact that an article is devoid of these elements, however, should not be taken as an automatic sign it is a stub. Just as there are many astronomical objects which are only incidentally mentioned, there are many species who are given short shrift by writers.

Nevertheless, there are some things which every species articles — except those about very incidental species — should include to avoid being classed a stub:

  • An instance of template:Infobox Species filled out as completely as possible, preferably with an in-universe picture st 250px.
  • Some sort of physical description, including any known facts about the biology of the species
  • A description of the known history of the species in the Whoniverse. Ideally, this would include at least a sentence about every appearance, but to avoid stubbiness, it should at least include every appearance in the medium of origin.

Even if all three of these things are well-included in a species article, though, it still might be classed as a stub, if the gap between what is known from stories and what is written in the article is deemed too large.

General stub

A general stub is one that defies categorization into one of the more specific stub types described above. As with all stubs, though, the basic rule of thumb is that it's not a stub just because it's short. For instance, the article on The Mystery of Edwin Drood, will never be terribly bigger than it is at the moment, unless a new story is written that centers on the novel. Thus, though brief, it is not a stub.

It's only a general stub when:

  • it can't be classed as any more specific kind of stub
  • it's missing substantial information from appearances not yet cited in the article
  • what is included is so lacking in information that it actually gives a false impression about the topic at hand

Section stub

If only a section of an article is needing expanding, then a section stub should be used within that section.

How to mark an article as a stub

Articles are marked as stubs through the use of pre-created templates. They are included on pages simply by typing their name inside two curly braces. For instance:

{{real world stub}}

will place the real world stub tag on a page, and automatically send the page to a list of real world stubs.

Exactly where on the page you put the tag is a matter of some variability. It's important that the template be readily apparent to readers, so that they'll understand the article is in a formative stage. Thus on an extremely short article, it probably doesn't matter all that much. But for an article which extends down a bit on the page because of the use of preloaded topic outlines — as with articles about individual stories — it's important to put the tag near the top. Due to the way that stub tags interact with infoboxes, the best place for it on a page with an infobox is immediately between the closing curly brace of the infobox and the first word of the article proper, without any spaces or line breaks. Thus:

infobox}}{{TV stub}}'''''The Eleventh Hour''''' was an episode of . . . 

Stub templates

A list of available stub templates can be found at Tardis:stub templates.

List of stubs

The master listing of all stubs can be found at category:stubs. From there, stubs are further divided by type.

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