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Father and daughter

I think we need an official policy for fan art on this wiki.

In general, I am "not a fan", but there have been exceptions. We have a ton of fan art maps on this wiki. This has actually led to canon problems, where the maps were wrong in certain areas, but if the maps are of good quality, and we are careful to only include those without home-brewed content, I think that they are OK.

Beyond maps, though, we don't have much. Sometimes, folks will post images from who-knows-where that end up being from other settings or games. These should be deleted. A generic fantasy elf is not a Forgotten Realms elf. Pathfinder art should not be permitted.

However, sometimes the artist is intentionally doing FR art. One example we have on the wiki is File:Father and daughter.jpg, shown here. The artist, Jenny Dolfen, in my opinion has stayed true to the canon of the Realms in making her image, an it is as high quality as any sourcebook work.

Man-o-War

Steven James, whom I have contacted and who has been contacted in the past for permission, has high quality Spelljammer artwork, which matched the sourcebook information in high detail. His image of the Rock of Bral recreates, for example, the maps published with the sourcebooks in its placement of even city streets and parks.

I am proposing that we not ban fan art outright but that we ensure that it is as good as—if not better than—official art. (Official artists sometimes do a terrible job at following lore and canon descriptions, such as giving galeb duhr arms or giving genasi pointed ears and distorted bodies.)

I also propose that all fan art images are clearly marked such in captions and categorized such. I have just created Category:Fan art for this purpose.

Thoughts?

~ Lhynard (talk) 15:04, February 20, 2018 (UTC)


I have not been on the wiki long, but that sounds like a good idea. It would match the wiki's policy on canon-not-fanon. Making sure the image matches the description will also help cut down on confusion, as will making sure to label fan art as such.

A clause that should be added to the policy, if it should be written, is to also ensure the appropriateness of the pictures- no explicitly sexual content or overly revealing clothing on the more human-like creatures (which is a possible problem with creatures like succubi or certain goddesses); no overly gory or gruesome images; that sort of thing. This isn't a problem I've noticed on the wiki (except for that video of Shar), but it is something that I feel could become a problem in the future. Better to lay down the law now than play catch-up later.

SilverTiger12 (talk) 19:28, February 20, 2018 (UTC)


Sexual content is already banned by fandom/wiki policy, as it should be.

As far as "revealing clothing", I, too, strongly prefer modest clothing, as it is usually more realistic anyhow, and I feel that drawing revealing clothing is generally just a sign of objectification of women. I agree and think it makes sense to ban it from any fan art.

However, what to do with such content in official material is perhaps another topic for discussion. Do we also need an NSFW tag or such for the small selection of official images (from 1e and 2 of the 3e sourcebooks) that include drawings of topless, humanoid-female-torsoed monsters? I am of the opinion that nudity is not always the same as "sexual content", but not everyone agrees. (Also, these are drawings, not realistic photos.) For the sake of completeness, I actually uploaded several such images to Lamia noble and Lillend. I don't find the images provocative at all, but perhaps there should be some sort of content warning? I'm also a male though; do our women contributors such as yourself take offense at a naked lamia? It's worth discussing. Most of the images have magic hair and well-placed objects, so removing those 1e images would not leave us with zero images of said monsters….

(In contrast, I found the Shar video image different. That image was clearly meant to be a provocative use of nudity. On the other hand, Shar is meant to be a seductress. Back to the first hand, it is just as simple to say such in the text somewhere.)

~ Lhynard (talk) 20:42, February 20, 2018 (UTC)


I would recommend against any category or warning about content because 1) it's subjective and 2) it calls attention to it, possibly attracting the prurient. Just let the images be like any other images and not put them all in a group that says "here is the risqué stuff". Act mature and you will be considered mature. As for fan art, I think it will be difficult adjudicating how well it reflects the Forgotten Realms, leading to hurt feelings or protests to the Powers That Be. I'd be ok with allowing an artist to put a link to their DeviantArt page in the Further Reading section of the appendix.

(Okay, this is creepy. I typed that URL in to make sure I got it right and the very first image it displayed was a lamia.)

Moviesign (talk) 23:01, February 20, 2018 (UTC)


No, pictures such as those of the lillend and lamia noble are fine- it is more the provocative or obviously sexual/seductive kind that I was referring to. For example, the 1e pic of the succubus- if that had more detail, it'd be inappropriate. Also, TSR does a good job of keeping the official material safe in that regard- the latest succubi images had enough clothing to be appropriate; if any images were to be inappropriate, it'd probably be the ones of the sex demons.

To be honest, I don't take offense at pics like the lamia- there is a definite difference between simple nudity and sexuality. It is holding a dagger and has the lower body of a lion, therefore, it doesn't really look as bad as, say, a human woman wearing more, but provocative clothing. Basically, it's less of a hard-fast answer and more of a judgement call.

Just my two copper, for all it's worth.
SilverTiger12 (talk) 23:11, February 20, 2018 (UTC)


"I would recommend against any category or warning about content because 1) it's subjective and 2) it calls attention to it, possibly attracting the prurient…. Act mature and you will be considered mature."

good point

~ Lhynard (talk) 23:28, February 20, 2018 (UTC)


I'm all for adding more fan art to the wiki. Some of the body of work that we've drawn on in the past has been brilliant and I've had lots of people tell me that they'd be more inclined to help out the wiki in a visual capacity when their own knowledge of the lore has been lacking.

Every image that we provide on the wiki should definitely be canonical, we are an encyclopedia after all, and when fanon creeps in, even when it's not intentional, our accuracy is debated. As for quality...as long as the images look good on the page they're uploaded to, I don't particularly care if it's clear that it wasn't drawn by a professional - that all of the shading looks realistic or if skin tones are contoured properly. If the image adds something to the page that gets a generally positive reaction, I support it's inclusion. Higher quality is better (unless we do not have the explicit permission of the rights holder) but I am certainly up for inclusion of 'lesser' works.

-hashtalk 23:41, February 20, 2018 (UTC)


We've got multiple issues being discussed here – fan art, maps, symbols, erotic art warranted and these would each be important parts of a broader image policy. I'll focus on them separately. I've been thinking about an image policy for a while. I'm glad someone took the initiative on it. :)

Fan Art: TBH, I'd rather not have the fan art at all. It's a visual homebrew: when the artist puts Corellon and Eilistraee in those clothes, for example, they're saying things about their culture, their style, their personality, which might not be reflected by the lore. Should Corellon be an elegant high elf, or a woodsy forest elf? Should Eilistraee even be wearing clothes? :) (At least clothing style isn't an issue.) When filling in the blanks, what if artwork of a location or character adopts a conventional Western style, when it could as well be Oriental or Middle Eastern, or even African? (Turmish and Turami are a sensitive issue here.) Should a character be well dressed or shabby? By adopting fan art, the wiki risks making certain statements about the Realms culture and personality that might not be warranted. And it will shape readers impressions, by putting the first idea in their head, whether they realise its fan art or not.

If we do accept fan art, what are our criteria? Accuracy to Realmslore is objective, but only goes so far. What's left is opinions on quality, suitability, and style, which are very subjective. Suitability and style risk presenting a visual homebrew and shaping a perception. Quality opens up a can of worms: if we accept one piece and not the other, then we risk artists feeling resentful. If we feel too sympathetic or generous, then we risk taking in too much art and being swamped with non-canon and homebrew.

The aim of using fan art is to illustrate pages that would otherwise be walls of text. But fan art leans heavily toward certain popular topics, which are already well represented by official art. Eilistraee has several official images, a fan-made image, requests for more, and a host more depictions are available (naked drow women being rather popular, obviously). While a little-known character like Bellas Thanatar and his cronies were lucky enough to be painted by Lin Hsiang, we're not short of artwork for Piergeiron and Madeiron Sunderstone, who were also painted (File:Lin-hsiang-8.jpg). Ultimately, using fan art would lead to much the same imbalance as using only official art.

Yes, the official artists vary just as much on culture and style as the fan artists, and they have similar trends, and they can be as good or as bad. But at least they're out of our hands. This is a useful place to draw the line. We ban homebrew lore, so we should ban homebrew images too. (If Candlekeep Wiki had taken off, then the fan art could have had a home there.)

Maps: I'm a bit better disposed to fan-made maps, as they are sometimes necessary for presenting complete maps of areas that have only been incompletely mapped in canon sources. Markustay and HandsomeRob have done excellent work (disclosure, I've worked with MT on projects in the past and found obscure locations for some maps), but their maps are also rife with non-canon and homebrew additions and geographic alterations. Ultimately, it may be easier to reject them outright then to check every little location and quiz Markustay about its origin.

Symbols: Symbols, on the other hand, I'm okay with. They can present a clear coat-of-arms or badge that might be obscured in official art. If they provably match the official depiction, then I can't see a problem. Thomas Love's work, like at File:Baldurs gate crest.png, is a case in point here: a fan-made image that accurately and clearly reproduces an official image.

Erotic images: Erotic (for lack of a better word) images may be too hard to police, given the preponderance of stripperrific costumes and chainmail bikinis for drow women, sorceresses, monsters, and others. (Insert the standard judgment here.) And one of the most popular characters in the setting, Eilistraee, doesn't wear a stitch. Most have their sensitive parts obscured and get away with it. Those that aren't covered are 1e-era drawings, showing nipples but with no great detail or focus. It was a different time, I guess. But they're no more than what we might see in old art of said creatures on Wikipedia, nor are they porny. We don't necessarily need to show them either, as later, better art is available. If we do show them, maybe they should go down in the gallery, not given prominence in the infobox, so it's not the first thing one sees?

Other wikis, like Star Wars's Wookiepedia and Star Trek's Memory Alpha go so far as to have pages on anatomy, both individually and as part of various species (I'll let you find them yourselves). They show images of naked characters, usually obscured but a few with visible nipples, without warnings or special treatment. So I guess it's not something to worry about. That's the mature approach Moviesign stated.

— BadCatMan (talk) 06:42, February 21, 2018 (UTC)


Well, I didn't mean to start a debate- just to suggest that the prohibition against sexual, provocative, etc., images was spelled out in a written policy on fan art.

On the accuracy of maps, Badcatman, I doubt that people are looking at every little detail. I just use maps to get a general idea of the geography (how it's positioned), not the exact details. As long as they are mostly accurate (no major geographical changes), maps are probably safe.

Personally, I like fan art of creatures and people. And while there is more fan art on popular characters than obscure ones, well, the popular ones tend to have bigger articles anyway. For peoples and creatures, those images would also need to be mostly accurate- the image should be recognizable as that creature if you know the written description. Since people can look different, minor inaccuracies can be overlooked, since the fan art provides more of a general idea as to what people from that group look like. As for specific characters, well, use the written description again. If it pretty much matches, good. If it doesn't, then it goes.

For characters like Eilistraee, who have preferences that could be problematic, a closer eye on images of them being uploaded would help. Again, there is a difference between nude/not wearing much, and sexual. For instance, Eilistraee dancing in the moonlit not wearing a stitch, but with conveniently flowing hair/mist/magic sparkles/something, should look more like an innocent maiden (Eve in Eden), because she isn't a erotic character. But it could also look like a scene from an adult club. So, just keep an eye on images being uploaded.

SilverTiger12 (talk) 13:39, February 21, 2018 (UTC)


How about we add a "Fan Art" section to the Appendix and allow external links to related works? We could add a disclaimer banner that the images presented are non-canon but inspired by the Forgotten Realms, or some words to that effect, if the group thinks it's necessary. This way, we wouldn't have to be concerned about copyright or permission to post a link, and we don't have to make sensitive judgment calls, but readers still have access to images about the article's subject.

On the other points, I would like to keep the maps and symbols policy the way it is right now. Discrepancies with the text description in any image on the wiki, whether it's a map, a creature, or a costume, should be called out in any or all of: the {{Information}} template on the File: page, the caption under the image, or a Note in the Appendix.

Moviesign (talk) 14:28, February 21, 2018 (UTC)


It looks like the consensus (excepting BadCatMan) is to accept fan art as long as A) it matches canon and B) it is good quality. I wanted to reply to a few of BadCat's points.

He says: "[F]an art... [is] a visual homebrew: when the artist puts Corellon and Eilistraee in those clothes, for example, they're saying things about their culture, their style, their personality, which might not be reflected by the lore."

I think that that is true, but I think that it is true of all art, fan art or official art.

"By adopting fan art, the wiki risks making certain statements about the Realms culture and personality that might not be warranted. And it will shape readers impressions, by putting the first idea in their head, whether they realise its [sic] fan art or not."

I agree that it will shape reader's impressions; however, I think that some fan art does a better job at remaining true to cannon than official art does. Fan art is made by fans; official art is not necessarily made by fans at all. A fan artist often cares very much about the world of which she or he is a fan to get the details correct. Since our proposed policy is to only allow fan art that matches lore and canon, in some ways, our fan art may be better than official art if we allow it. (See Forum:Canonicity of Images/Maps for examples of canon-violating official art.)

"If we do accept fan art, what are our criteria? Accuracy to Realmslore is objective, but only goes so far. What's left is opinions on quality, suitability, and style, which are very subjective.... Quality opens up a can of worms: if we accept one piece and not the other, then we risk artists feeling resentful."

True, but I don't think that this is as big a problem as you are presenting. As it is, we have had zero artists coming to us asking for us to use their art. We have had about three or four that we've discovered on our own. We make decisions all the time about how to do things here on the wiki, such as this discussion right here. There is not necessarily an objectively correct answer; we simply come to a consensus. We agreed on the date for the Al-Qadim setting for example, even though that is not officially canon. It was an educated decision, but it's still a decision. I agree that the more objective a decision the better, but subjectivity can never be entirely avoided. I suggest that we use our collective best judgment. If all or most of us agree that a given piece artwork is nice, I don't see a problem. If it ever comes to a point that there is some debate on a particular issue of quality, we simply discuss it and decide. As it is, I think we are worrying about an issue that has not happened yet.

I would suggest writing a policy that states, "...if the art is of significant quality," and then rely on the members of the community here to be the collective judges.

"Ultimately, using fan art would lead to much the same imbalance as using only official art."

A good point, but again, since we would be the ones going to look for such images, I don't think this will be a problem. While there are a 100 times more images of El than of the Rock of Bral, I didn't go looking for any of the former. I went looking for one of the Rock, because I thought, "This article could really use a good image." We can control when we go looking for needed fan art.

"[T]he official artists vary just as much on culture and style as the fan artists,... [b]ut at least they're out of our hands. This is a useful place to draw the line."

It would be useful/practical to draw the line there, but I am not convinced of the need to.

~ Lhynard (talk) 17:24, March 2, 2018 (UTC)


We never officially resolved this with a policy, and fan art continues to be a bit rubbish, highly speculative, completely unnecessary, not suited to existing art style, and disproportionately favours the drow. It's almost always added by occasional users or anons who don't ask first, and no discussion follows, so our intention to only pick necessary, agreed-upon works is completely circumvented, and the stuff is added willy-nilly.

So, can those of you who insist on supporting it please create a policy and system for dealing with it? Maybe a voting system? Otherwise, I run with my first impulse and delete it, because I'm not going to handle something I despise. Really, please think about it.

Last time, Lhynard said "...but I think that it is true of all art, fan art or official art." and "...however, I think that some fan art does a better job at remaining true to cannon than official art does. Fan art is made by fans; official art is not necessarily made by fans at all. A fan artist often cares very much about the world of which she or he is a fan to get the details correct. Since our proposed policy is to only allow fan art that matches lore and canon, in some ways, our fan art may be better than official art if we allow it. (See Forum:Canonicity of Images/Maps for examples of canon-violating official art.)"

But the exact same is often said of official lore versus fan-made lore. Fans complain that new official lore isn't made by people who care about the setting and that it doesn't agree with existing canon, and insist that their own lore is somehow better, made with more love, and more fitting to canon. No matter unnecessary, obsessive, idiosyncratic, and contradictory to everyone else's vision it always is.

So, I don't get this weird double standard in which everyone here is dead set in favour of canon and only canon lore, no fanon or homebrew, yet fan art keeps getting a free pass and no oversight. Whether text or art, fan-made or canon, the exact same issues always apply, so there's no basis to accept one over the other. If we're going to be a canon-only wiki, then it has to apply to everything.

(I may sound rather terse, but I've had no sleep due to a cold and now have no patience.)

— BadCatMan (talk) 03:43, June 17, 2018 (UTC)


How about a fan-art policy along the lines of: 1. It is consistent with lore description 2. There is a need for a visual representation of that topic and 3. The art is approved by the wiki as a whole, either through admin approval or a vote?


Personally I feel it adds depth and flavor to some areas that lack artistic representation but I completely understand and, academically speaking, completely agree with you.
Ruf (talk) 05:50, June 17, 2018 (UTC)


I was away for the weekend and just got home. May I ask which recent image triggered this response? I'll try to work up a policy for us to discuss on Monday.
~ Lhynard (talk) 22:58, June 17, 2018 (UTC)


The symbols recently added to Malyk (demipower). They seem to be speculatively based on short descriptions, and the spiral, especially the animated GIF, doesn't seem fitting. (Like any priest would carry that as a symbol.) So, I'd object to these, but I'd like a policy to support any ruling.
— BadCatMan (talk) 01:01, June 18, 2018 (UTC)


~ Lhynard (talk) 15:04, June 19, 2018 (UTC)