I support this proposal. I think there is some fan art on this page that fills a need where canon material is insufficient. The art is consistent with canon descriptions and is of high-enough quality that it does not detract from the scope of the wiki, illuminates certain subjects and in fact inspires the imagination of our readers. Ruf (talk) 13:09, January 9, 2019 (UTC)


After seeing many great editors getting involved in the wiki, I think it is the perfect time to reraise this discussion and draw in community contribution. First of all, I wish to explicitly define fan art as is relevant to the Forgotten Realms Wiki:

Defining fan art (or unofficial art):

Fan art is any art that is unofficial, whether made from scratch, or even content-modified official images.

What exactly is content-modification? Content-modification is changing of the content of the image. Take for example, a picture of Cadderly Bonaduce that does not fit the actual canon description:

Danica teased, grabbing a handful of Cadderly's thick, curly brown hair.
  — excerpt from the The Chaos Curse

It is clear from the text that Cadderly has curled, brown locks. However, a piece of official art draws the young scholar with short, straight blonde hair. As source text contradicts this, the art is clearly an oversight, and is wrong. However, that does not mean that we should draw over the image of Cadderly with brown, curly hair, or even replace it. Doing so is content-modifying the image. Instead, it is better to refer to the text, or find official art describing Cadderly correctly.

What about imagemaps and cropping — don't they modify the image? They do. However, they do not at all change the content. Imagemaps form a separate layer, so the art is unaffected, and is not at all modified. Cropping is also not fan art, as it only changes the dimensions of the image, and not the actual content. Highlighting map regions also falls under the case of not modifying content, as their purpose is purely to provide mapping (the location itself is not changed, and thus, neither is the content), not to provide a physical description.

In the case of images made from scratch without any official publication, they are clearly classed as fan art.

Fan art: Should it be allowed on a canon wiki?

Whilst there are pros and cons of having fan art, I believe it 100% should not be allowed on a canon wiki, which we fully aim to be. If we do allow fan art, we should explicitly state that we are a non-canon wiki, which conflicts with existing policies. The only logical argument for fan art on a canon wiki appears to be:

Fan art better represents the true description of the topic than official art.

Yes, that is often true. However...

  • This can easily be countered by making it clear in our canon policy that descriptive text always trumps official art. Thus, there is no actual conflict between descriptions and official art in the first place!
  • If fan art is accepted, then we should also allow stories / quotes that represent the true description of the topic better than the official stories / quotes.

Some other pros are given above by the previous poster, but they all point back to the above argument. For example, "canon material is insufficient; we should use fan-made images to expand the content". You could say the same for quotes and stories. There are not many quotes and stories about mastodons in the Realms, but that doesn't mean I should make some up, that would be explicitly non-canon! The same applies to the rest of the arguments for fan art.

Taking the above into account, it seems clear that fan art should be completely removed from the wiki.

tl;dr A canon wiki should only use official content, and with its respective place in the canon hierarchy. If fan art is accepted, the wiki should do away with its canon policy. Whilst fan art is often beautiful, it has no place in a wiki of this nature.

~ Possessed Priest (talk) 18:38, November 5, 2019 (UTC)

I agree completely with all Possessed Priest's points. I won't repeat, but would add a few. Of course, I'd already said all this last year at Forum:Fan Art.
As I recall, the acceptance of fan art only came about because, when most of us current editors came on board from 2011 onward, the wiki was already rife with unofficial images from the chaotic past: art from Magic: The Gathering and other settings, generic fantasy art stolen from artists without attribution or permission, Realms fan-art, and maps from Mark Taylor/Markustay, on the basis of a fairly offhand and generously interpreted remark ("Most of my maps I consider 'public domain'"), and other fan map-makers. We cleaned up the non-D&D and stolen art (usually after artists' very-justified complains), and against that mess it was easier to just accept the existing situation and the usefulness of MT's maps. There hasn't really been a deliberately made policy of accepting fan-art, only one of shrugging and accepting what we're already saddled with.
But now we're finding regularly that MT's maps have too many homebrew locations and liberties with geography. That's fine for him and some others' fanon, but not for us; "Spire Flow" tripped Lhynard up recently, I've removed maps with homebrew sites. In view of this, there's not a lot of the original basis left for keeping fan art and fan maps.
It's often said that official art has errors or doesn't properly represent the subject: it changes in each edition, firbolgs are chunky blue elves, Drizzt is an old white human! And, well, so? The text-based lore is similarly full of inconsistencies and errors, we don't use that as a basis for accepting fanon and homebrew, so why use it to accept fan art? This gets to PP's third point. Fan art is no worse and no better a representation of the setting than official art. Most are inherently speculative; there is not a word what Alascartha Vyperwood looks like, her age, her hair and skin colour, her clothes style, her weapon choice. Accepting fan art for firbolgs would mean a lot of chunky blue elves, and I think Lhynard would be the first to tell us that it's wrong. :)
What's left is the idea that we would judge the fan art on offer, accept what best fits the lore, is accurate, and is needed, and reject what doesn't. Except, well, we don't. Passersby upload their images then ask about it (e.g., User_talk:BadCatMan#Wheloon_Fan_Art), or don't ask at all (e.g., File:Nalkara.jpg). An admin, usually me, is left to go "Eh..." and fob them off until the matter's forgotten. All the uploads are still here. It is very hard to tell fellow fans, who may have good artistic talent or 3D modelling skill, that we don't think their work is good enough and delete it, to say we accept this but not that. It's subjective and a natural inclination to be nice and tolerant, or ignore it, greases the slippery slope to accepting everything. A blanket restriction is the only polite, sensible limit. As for need, fan art tends to give us art of popular characters we already have official options for, and a few pics of naked Eilistraee. That's not fulfilling any need for art. As for accuracy, most are highly speculative, while something like this File:WhatsApp_Image_2019-01-06_at_12.16.35.jpeg, a 3D rendering of the map of Wheloon might be entirely accurate but is by no means appealing or useful.
The only fan art I can accept are the created symbols and insignia of various groups and cities, which are less invention and more recreation from text or obscured images. For example, at Tantras.
tl;dr Fan art is speculative, prone to error or bias, unnecessary, or just bad. It relies on subjective judgement and is difficult to police. It's non-canon and homebrew, just like non-canon and homebrew textual lore. It's an artefact of the old, bad times, and removing it is the last thing we need to do to make a clean break and be a canonical, high-standards wiki. — BadCatMan (talk) 11:35, November 6, 2019 (UTC)
I regularly modify canon maps to
  1. make them more legible
  2. make them smaller and/or more compact for web presentation
  3. add the approximate location of a feature based on the text description
  4. illustrate a concept that is difficult to visualize from text only
By the above definition, these would be considered fan art. I strongly disagree with a 100% exclusion policy. If this were implemented, then over half the images on my Lost Princess Road article would be removed, and the article would suffer greatly for it, in my opinion. That is just one example. Either we come up with a different definition of fan art, or we make exceptions based on our best judgement, like we always do.
There is no glory in rigidly adhering to a policy of purity and I think it is foolish to even try to go to that extreme. We'd be setting ourselves up on a pedestal and become a target for folks who want to knock us off. It would definitely frustrate good-faith contributors, me included. There is nothing wrong with having high standards (and I think ours are already very high), but I want the wiki to be welcoming and friendly, not the voice of Ao. The policy proposed above is like an edict from Nirvana, whereas I believe we need a little flexibility from Arcadia or even Bytopia (lawful neutral vs shades of lawful good and neutral good, respectively). —Moviesign (talk) 14:27, November 6, 2019 (UTC)
Could the definition of fan art be modified to specifically allow for minor modifications to maps, as described above by Moviesign? To prevent highly speculative location placements (ala Markustay) we could add a documentation criterion (the image file would need a note justifying the placement with references). --Ir'revrykal (talk) 13:49, November 8, 2019 (UTC)
Ok, I've taken into account the raised points about maps. I applied a redefinition to the terms used before:
Definition of fan art / unofficial art:
Any image that is made from scratch, or an official image that has had its content modified.
Content modification: unallowed:
Content modification applies to the descriptive aspect of art. Descriptive art portrays the description of something to the viewer: a sketch of a character, painting of a building etc.
If one takes a sketch of a character and modifies its description, such as changing the color of the character's hair, this is classed as unofficial art, and not allowed. Content modification can also apply to maps. If one takes a map, and changes the location of the landmarks, this is also not allowed, as the content is modified.
Non-content modification: allowed:
Other types of modification are allowed, as long as the content is not changed. Maps, for example, can be modified without changing the content of the original art. Annotated maps are extremely useful for showing the locations of roads, city wards, etc. Imagemaps, cropping (changing dimensions), highlighting (a region, a road, etc) are allowed. Any type of labelling, adding arrows, and adding physical locations, to maps or diagrams, are also allowed.
One wishes to describe where a series of portals connect across Faerûn. One then takes a section of an existing map, and draws the connections between the portals. This does not modify the content of the existing map, it has simply been modified to illustrate the connections; its content is not altered.
An image that doesn't modify the content must also:
  • be sourced: the original image needs to be sourced and the modified image must state who modified it.
  • be clear and justifiably correct: a modified map showing that Auckney is close to Luskan is correct, but showing it east of Luskan is not. Use sources and text to backup your claim.
  • have permission to be used: you must have the permission from those who modified the image.
  • not replicate something that already exists if it doesn't add anything extra.
  • be useful and relevant: a map of the Neverwinter region with an arrow pointing to Neverwinter stating "the location of the Neverwinter Nine" is not useful.
  • follow all other rules that apply to official images.
This revised proposal aims to ensure that we remain a canon wiki, whilst allowing useful labelling to maps and diagrams, whereby the content itself is not changed.
~ Possessed Priest (talk) 15:39, November 11, 2019 (UTC)
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