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Tardis:Valid sources

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When you write an article on our wiki, you need to cite your statements. Knowing which sources are valid is therefore crucial to the writing — and reading! — process. Without a clear sense of what stories will be discussed here — and which will not — your writing may be considered untrustworthy.

Therefore, only valid stories can be used to describe an "in-universe" topic. For instance, if we were writing about Sarah Jane Smith's experience of the country of Italy, we could use anything within The Masque of Mandragora or even The Ghosts of N-Space. But we could not use something from a 1986 fanzine in which Sarah Jane was described as having visited Florence.

For our real world articles — that is, articles about behind the scenes personnel and other things tagged with {{real world}} — it's equally important to know what sources you can use. After all, some girl in South Dakota writing on ilovetennant.blogspot.com shouldn't be considered a valid source for our article about David Tennant.

In-universe sources

The Doctor Who universe is a tricky place when it comes to defining what should "count" and what shouldn't. You should make sure you understand why the DWU isn't like other franchises before you go on. Suffice it to say here that any reference guide about the DWU must, of necessity, make certain choices about what to include – and what to kick off the farm. Our methods have long stressed the need to include as many different tales as possible, even if they are in explicit narrative contradiction. We specifically do not consider the quality of the narrative when deciding whether to exclude a story. Instead, we are guided by the legal status of a work as well as the authorial intent. Those things which don't have the permission of all relevant copyright holders, or those which were never meant to be continuous with the established DWU, are excluded. Except in the most obvious of cases, community discussion is required to declare a story invalid. In these discussions, sufficient evidence must be provided that that the story either doesn't have permission from all relevant copyright holders, or that there are solid non-narrative reasons to believe the story does not occur in the DWU.

Four little rules

It is important that we as a community work to a common understanding of what "counts" and what doesn't. Otherwise, our articles will gradually become "muddied" over time, with some people viewing certain stories as "okay" and other people thinking the opposite. Over the course of several debates in our forums, four main rules have emerged to determine whether a work is a valid source.

1 Only stories count.
2 A story that isn't commercially licensed by all of the relevant copyright holders doesn't count.
3 A story must be officially released to be valid.
4 If a story was intended to be set outside the DWU, then it's probably not allowed. But a community discussion will likely be needed to make a final determination.

Explaining the rules

Rule 1 may seem redundant or just plain unnecessary. It's not. There are a lot of things about the DWU that aren't, in themselves, narratives. Most obviously, the thoughts of someone on the production team can't be used to write an in-universe article. But there are plenty of other disqualified circumstances. Sometimes you'll find a piece in a magazine written as if it's "real life" journalism about events in the DWU. Or you may encounter a game in an annual which sets up the puzzle using the Doctor or his companion. Or there may be information about a DWU character on the back of a playing card or in the packaging on a toy. None of this counts.

Of these three rules, Rules 2 and 3 are by far the most frequently used. Is a televised episode of Doctor Who valid? Obviously — as long as it has been released in its entirety. Is a Torchwood book that you find at your local bookstore valid? Sure, because you can see the BBC logo on the cover. Is a Sarah Jane Adventures audiobook that you've downloaded from AudioGO something you can use on the Sarah Jane page? Of course, because if it's downloadable it's by definition officially released. Note that the BBC do sometimes issue what they call "creative licenses", which allow fans to make things that have the "approval" of the BBC, but which cannot be sold. Such things are not covered by this wiki in any way.

The DWU has messy continuity. A story can't be declared invalid just because it contradicts other stories.

Rule 4 is rarely invoked because there are very few stories which are deliberately set outside the normal DWU continuity. Most stories are trying to be narratively continuous at the time they're produced, even though they may be superseded by later stories. Extraordinary non-narrative evidence — such as the story's author directly saying that the story doesn't happen in the normal DWU – must be presented to the community for a story to be kicked out based on Rule 4. Because Doctor Who stories have contradicted each other since the 1960s, a story cannot be ruled invalid simply because it is narratively discontinuous with other stories.

What doesn't count

Most Doctor Who-related stories so obviously pass our rules that you don't really have to even think about it. The chances are very good that if a story bears an official logo from any of our covered television shows — and an appropriate copyright declaration — it'll be a valid source.

But let's take a look at the kinds of things that don't work for us. Seeing how these rules eliminate sources will probably help resolve any lingering questions.

Class of story Explanation Examples Rule offended
Fan fictionFan fiction isn't allowed.Seriously, NO FANFIC.2
Charity publicationsAny fiction, by any author, where the copyright holder hasn't given permission isn't allowed. And no, it doesn't matter that the story was written by someone who has otherwise written licensed fiction. Or that the publisher did a nice thing and gave his or her profits to charity. Or that the work was almost published by the BBC.Time's Champion
Campaign
2
Stories that have been both unlicensed and licensedA few stories have appeared in charity publications or fan-published media and then were made into professional, licensed fiction. We only cover the licensed version. 2
Stories written by people affiliated with "official" Doctor WhoSome things seem like they might be licensed cause they're written by people associated with the DWU. But they're really not licensed at all.
The Killing Stone
2
Stories with DWU actorsFan-run companies have generously employed a lot of DWU actors over the years. But we don't cover everything Sophie Aldred and Colin Baker were in. It must be a licensed DWU story.
The Airzone Solution
The Stranger
2, 4
ParodyExplicitly parodical stories are things that cannot be used to write an in-universe article. But we often do allow there to be a page about the parody. 4
Non-parodic "what if?" storiesSome completely serious stories have been explicitly tagged by the publisher or author as being outside the DWU Doctor Who Unbound 4
Faction ParadoxFaction Parodox stories which do not appear within BBC-licensed stories are not covered by this wiki. Please use w:c:factionparadox instead.Anything that bears a Faction Paradox logo, like Coming to Dust or The Book of the War4
TrailersTrailers — even the "Next Time" trailer that appears at the end of episodes — are considered spoilers here. They can't be cited before the episode they preview airs. And if they contain information which doesn't make it into the final cut of the episodes, that information is considered a cut scene, and therefore doesn't count. A couple of the The Waters of Mars trailers contained information not in the final product. Also, you can't say, "The Tenth Doctor's TARDIS was pulled by reindeer," just because of the 2009 BBC idents 1, 3
Review copies If you receive a review copy of a story in advance of the official release date, keep it to yourself. 3
Merchandise Unlike that which obtains at w:c:starwars, packaging for merchandise is not a valid source here. 1
Fictional information presented non-narratively Sometimes, publications like Doctor Who annuals, Dalek annuals and Doctor Who: Battles in Time — or even some reference works — will present "biographical" or "historical" information about characters and situations in the DWU in a non-narrative style. Maybe this will be information on the back of playing card or a an article that's a kind of "pseudo-history". None of this is allowed. Most of the Dalek history in Battles in Time
Games and puzzles in annuals that involve DWU characters.
1
Behind the scenes information Although behind the scenes comments are pretty much the only way that a story can be disqualified under Rule 3, such information cannot be used in the writing of in-universe articles. PCOM: The End of Time establishes that Julie Gardner believes the Woman is the Doctor's mother. But her opinion is not reflected in the story itself, so it can't be included in the in-universe portion of the article about the Woman.1

Stories that have been specifically disallowed

The stories we don't allow in our discussion of in-universe topics are actually few and far between. However, for clarity, we've composed a detailed list below.

Trickier stuff

Our simple little rule works to help you understand what stories "count" on this wiki well over 90% of the time. The rest of this document is concerned with the other 10% — the marginal cases that are a little less clear.

When the licensor isn't the BBC

DWU characters owned by others

The wrinkle that is difficult to understand for those who are new to the world of Doctor Who is the phenomenon of the author-owned character. Copyright for individual stories of Doctor Who has long resided in the individual writer, unless the British Broadcasting Corporation made other arrangements. This meant that a lot of characters — particularly species — were owned by individuals, not the BBC. Clever publishers were therefore able to release stories connected to Doctor Who without having to ask for the BBC's permission.

Stories licensed by an individual author are generally allowed here. Click here for a detailed list of these kind of stories produced by BBV Productions, the major publisher of them.

The major publisher of this kind of story was BBV Productions. Typically, they would approach people like Robert Holmes (or, more precisely, his estate) and get permission to write, say, a Sontaran story that didn't involve other characters from the DWU. They then ended up with a story that was, in effect, fully licensed, because they got permission from the owner of the DWU element, and then they created wholly new characters around that copyrighted element.

Our approach is to generally allow these sorts of stories.

A rose by any other name is not as sweet. If the story consistently uses alternate names for DWU characters, places and situations, it's probably not allowed.

The big exception to this is the story that contains analogous elements. As a general rule, if something is an approximation of something else in the DWU, then we don't fool with it. The classic example is the independently-published Faction Paradox stories that are not a part of the BBC Books range. Because writer Lawrence Miles does not have a license to DWU elements other than the Faction Paradox organisation itself, he must resort to using "code names" for Gallifrey, the Doctor, TARDISes, the Master and any number of the basic building blocks of the universe. Moreover, his "Faction Paradox universe" is an explicit reaction against the Faction Paradox narrative seen in BBC Books. It's therefore not the DWU at all. In early 2012, after a year of debate, we put Faction Paradox outside our fences.

Non-DWU characters appearing in DWU productions

Very occasionally, a non-DWU character will appear in a production and then get spun-off into their own series. In such cases the spin-off is generally not considered a part of the DWU.

Character Where disqualified Valid? Notes
Death's Head Lots of discussions, including Forum:BBV and canon policy Narrowly While we do have articles on the original comic series itself, the entirety of the character is not up for discussion here. Basically, Death's Head is valid to us only in stories directly featuring the Doctor or characters introduced in Doctor Who Magazine. If you want a full explanation of the character, go to w:c:marvel.
The Fantastic Four Lots of discussions, including Forum:Iris Wildthyme: should she stay or should she go? No The Seventh Doctor lands on top of the Baxter Building at the conclusion of the Death's Head story Time Bomb!. Because we do not wish to allow in the entire Marvel Universe as a result of this story, we simply make a note of the fact on the Time Bomb page, and then proceed as if it never happened.
Dorian Gray Thread:118228 Only in Shades of Gray The Confessions of Dorian Gray audio series is not a valid source. The authorial intent of author Scott Handcock is that it not be considered a spin-off of Doctor Who.
Big Finish's Sherlock Holmes Thread:118228 No. Never. Not on your life. The only way Big Finish's Sherlock Holmes can be said to be a part of the DWU is because of a crossover in The Confessions of Dorian Gray series. Since that series has been ruled invalid, the Sherlock Holmes claim fails. (Also, the last thing the DWU needs is yet another version of Sherlock Holmes running around. It's already hard to understand who Sherlock Holmes is in the DWU without Nick Briggs getting his oar in.)

When the licensor is the BBC

Though almost everything which is licensed by the BBC and other rights' holders is considered a valid source here, our community occasionally rules certain stories out of bounds. The following is a list of those specific stories, along with references to the debates that declared those stories out of bounds.

Story name Where disqualified Valid? Notes
The Curse of Fatal DeathIs The Curse of Fatal Death canon?NoNot only was Curse put well outside our fences, but it was determined that passages in PROSE: The Gallifrey Chronicles did not reference Emma from Curse.
Death Comes to TimeInclusion debate: Death Comes to TimeNo
National Television Awards Sketch 2011National Television Awards Sketch 2011: Canon?No
A Fix with SontaransIs A Fix With Sontarans Canon?No
Dimensions in TimeIs Dimensions in Time canon and Tardis talk:Canon policyNoDespite a long-open thread at Forum:Is Dimensions in Time canon, no one seemed eager to argue in its favor. Further refinement of the reasons for its exclusion can be found throughout the lengthy discussion at Tardis talk:Canon policy.
PROSE: The Infinity DoctorsIs The Infinity Doctors canon?SortaOn this wiki, The Infinity Doctors is believed to have occurred in an alternate universe to the mainstream DWU. Thus, references to events from the story are allowed in in-universe articles, but they must be prefaced with, "In an [[Infinity Doctors universe|alternate universe]] ..." or the like.
Scream of the Shalka webcast, and all things flowing from ita statement repeated without controversy throughout Is The Infinity Doctors canon?No
Doctor Who Unbounda statement repeated without controversy throughout Is The Infinity Doctors canon?No
Doctor Who? and other obvious parodiesa statement repeated without controversy throughout Is The Infinity Doctors canon?No
Deleted scenesAre deleted scenes canon?NoDeleted scenes were ruled deleted for a reason and therefore cannot be considered a part of the final narrative
The Tom Baker version of ShadaAre deleted scenes canon?NoThe original version of this story was deemed to be essentially one long deleted scene.
P.S.P.S.NoFails because writer Chris Chibnall admitted it was cancelled DVD extra
or any BBC-licensed stage playWhy do prefixes link as they do? NoStage plays are deemed to be invalid because they are ephemeral. You may see something in the evening performance that wasn't there during the matinée. Or by the time it comes to your town, an entire section might have been removed from the performance. An actor that was at the Glasgow run may have given a line-reading that was meaningfully different to the guy playing the same part in London. Because of the uncertainty of content only Big Finish audios of these stage plays are valid sources. If in future some sort of official home video capture of a play is made, then that, too, shall be deemed a valid source by this wiki.
Anything like the Decide Your Destiny and Find Your Fate ranges, in their entiretyDecide Your Destiny and Find Your Fate are NOTDWU from here on outNoAny story with multiple endings clearly can't be counted as a valid source, because we have no mechanism — unlike Star Wars fandom — by which we can determine which of the endings is the "correct" one.
In-universe websites Thread:121084NoAll websites written from an in-universe perspective, such as the Torchwood website, Who is Doctor Who?, and the UNIT website are disallowed.
Novelisations Forum:Doctor Who Novelisations - canon or not? Some excerpts If the passage specifically contradicts established facts on television, then that passage is disallowed. But if the book gives a new fact not contradicted by television — such as a character's name — then it's allowed.

The real world doesn't count

It is a great temptation to believe that the Doctor Who universe is very much like the real world. It is not. There are many, many ways in which the DWU's version of Earth history is different from real world Earth history. You should never assume that because you personally know, say, Albert Einstein's birthdate, or the year the film Breakfast at Tiffany's debuted, or the duration of the Second Afghan War, that these dates will be the same in the DWU.

This wiki is an encyclopedia of the known DWU, not the real world. If a DWU source doesn't explicitly give a detail about a real world item, you can't include it in the main body of an article.

Historical episodes of Doctor Who — even from as far back as season 1, when the show was explicitly meant to be "educational" — are replete with historical inaccuracies. Marco Polo's given DWU birthdate is different from the real world date. Modern day episodes of the show, like The War Machines, are based on qualities of British computer science that didn't exist in 1966. And episodes that were supposed to be set in the clear future, like The Tenth Planet, described events that obviously never came to pass.

A DWU source cannot be described as "wrong" about a real world person, place or thing. Differences simply show ways in which the DWU is not the real world.

The long and the short of it: don't write articles about subjects that exist in both the DWU and the real world using Wikipedia. Trust only Doctor Who sources. Additionally don't go further than what the DWU source actually tells you.

Out-of-universe sources

When writing an out-of-universe or "real world" article, your sources must be verifiable. Please do not cite sources such as fan forums or fan blogs, as this violates our commitment to establishing a neutral point of view. Blogs and forum posts are generally written by single individuals, without any special intellectual rigour or fact checking. Therefore, to include their opinions in our articles would be to give undue to weight to single individuals.

The broader point, however, is that blogs and forum posts are often simply wrong.

This is especially important when citing information regarding living people, upcoming stories, airdates, and the like. Such sources are notoriously inaccurate. Few, if any, are edited. Especially with regards to information about upcoming stories and other broadcast matter, BBC announcements should take precedence among all other sources. Officially-licensed media such as Doctor Who Magazine are acceptable. Some long-standing webistes, such as doctorwhonews.com, are useful as starting points for further investigation, because they always source their stories. However, it is a better practice to cite the original source than to cite doctorwhonews.com. Reports in major media — The Times, Associated Press, CNN, Reuters, BBC News etc. — are also acceptable.

Finally, user-editable sources such as Wikipedia, the Internet Movie Database and this very wiki are to be avoided, as are sites that are built on largely un-edited user contributions, such as the Doctor Who Reference Guide.

Unofficial reference sources

A distinction should be made, however, between the above types of sites which are "forbidden" because of their fan involvement and lack of intellectual rigour, and, for lack of a better phrase, "unofficial reference sources".

Some fans have created sites that are more like interactive reference books, in that they present well-sourced analyses, in exactly the same manner as would any reputable reference writer. Prime amongst this type of allowed fan site is Shannon Sullivan's A Brief History of Time (Travel), which we feel is a genuine attempt at behind-the-scenes scholarship.

Equally, we feel that, due to the fact that John Nathan-Turner historically used fanzines as a way to officially disseminate genuine information about Doctor Who — and very many people involved with the production of the programme followed suit — some articles in some fanzines are completely legitimate sources. Indeed a fanzine like The Frame is almost entirely comprised of primary source interviews with individuals who didn't live long enough to be included on DVD special features. Likewise, the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club's Time Space Visualiser is replete with primary source interviews with a number of figures important to Doctor Who.

Pod- and video-casting have largely replaced fanzines as the highest-profile method of fan communication. These, too, are acceptable sources in some cases. If, say, Radio Free Skaro conducts an interview with Jane Espenson, that's "on the record". If Doctor Who: Podshock secures a video interview with Waris Hussein, that's no less legitimate than something filmed by the BBC. Information given by Dan Hall to a podcast about upcoming DVDs is potentially "news".

A good rule of thumb is that interviews with Doctor Who production figures are of equal weight, regardless of the "professional" status of the interviewer, so long as it can be reasonably established that the person being interviewed is actually whom they purport to be.

Self-reference disallowed

Extreme caution must be exercised with respect to information that comes from the subject of a page. David Tennant's opinion, given to Doctor Who Confidential, about the filming of 42 is perhaps of interest at the page 42 (TV story). However, Tennant's tweet of his age or hometown or other biographical information absolutely cannot be used at the page David Tennant.

It is a fundamental truth of show business that people lie about themselves. Actors will portray themselves as younger (or, rarely, older) in order to get a part. They will say they can ride a horse or speak Spanish or climb mountains — when none of that is true. Janet Fielding is, for example, well known to have lied directly to John Nathan-Turner's face in order to get the part of Tegan Jovanka, misrepresenting both her age and whether she was tall enough to be an Australian air stewardess. Similarly, directors might use the word film in the hopes of connoting feature, even though they may have only done a 15-minute short.

The last thing we want is to become a conduit of deliberate disinformation. Therefore, we do not accept the statements of individuals about themselves as valid sources for the page about them.

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