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Forums: Helping Hand > On the Canonicity of Tweets

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This is a topic that was initially brought up in the Forum thread about updating our Canon policy to include third-party works primarily published by Ed Greenwood and establish their position in the canon hierarchy for the purposes of this wiki.

While I totally agree with the original post about including those works, I think we should also have a discussion about including Ed Greenwood's tweets to our canon policy.

Here is the main reasoning behind this stance: regarding tweets, our current de facto practice already is to accept them, one way or another. We repeatedly use Chris Perkins' tweets, for example, to set dates that are not otherwise published, but we all agree not to use them if there is some official source that contains the necessary information and promptly notify the reader that the information comes from an unpublished source. While this tends to be generally agreed upon by the wiki's editors, it is not written as an official policy in those terms.

My suggestion is that our stance regarding Ed's tweets be exactly the same:

  • It is valid to add lore that was posted by Ed on Twitter to the wiki, but as soon as some published source (past or future) is found that contradicts a tweet, it is no longer valid. If an official source confirms that lore, the official source must be cited, not the tweet.

Enacting this policy basically means that whenever the books do not say anything on a topic (or that source has not been added to the wiki yet), if Ed said something about the topic it is fair game to add it to the wiki. Not mandatory, no the final word on canon, just valid.

I also agree with the point raised on the other Forum thread that we should explicitly state that a bit of lore comes from a tweet, by using a dedicated citation template. Here is my suggestion: for example, if I can't find anywhere on a published source that nobles of Waterdeep are judged for crimes directly by Masked Lords rather than magisters, but there is a tweet for it, it could be cited like this.[1][note 1]

This should at some point converge towards the wiki becoming content-complete and the tweets complementing whatever lore that isn't found anywhere else. But honestly, I don't think that us becoming content-complete any time soon is realistic anyway, so I see no harm in allowing for those remarks to be added now if no official source can be found, and then removing or rephrasing them when one is found.

A very valid criticism to this idea comes from the fact that Ed has admitted before that he often comes up with the information on the spot, and does not check any sources before publishing these posts. This is a perfectly valid point, but I do not think that it automatically disqualifies all his posts from being included here. Some of them do contain very fun and interesting lore that I believe would make this wiki richer by having, as long as they do not contradict anything.

Another possible point of resistance is about resolving canon conflicts. What if, say, part of a tweet is fine, but another part of it conflicts with something? In that case, my opinion is that we already deal with this kind of stuff all the time when writing about published material, so it would not be anything new for us to reconcile lore from different sources. Having a very clear stand on which source takes precedence, I would argue, makes the job actually easier than when we are dealing with conflict between two published sources.

Note that I am not advocating for us to scour Ed's Twitter posts and put it all here, but just for a standardized way to deal with them, which explicitly encourages readers and editors to look the information up on official sources, if available. We do not have to include any of the Realmslore he posts, but I think it should be considered a valid option to do so.

Thoughts?

Sirwhiteout (talk) 17:56, August 9, 2020 (UTC)


I dislike most of what I've seen of Ed's Twitter posts, but I also hate Twitter, yet it's not going to go away.

Putting that aside, I think this is a mostly fair recommendation. I think that, if agreed on, that Twitter posts go at the absolute bottom of the canon hierarchy. Ed's tweets should never overturn something that either earlier lore already established or later lore afterward overturns.

However, I see no reason to treat Ed's posts any differently than, say, George Krashos' or Steven E. Schend's on the Candlekeep forum. Both of those two, as examples—unlike Ed, it seems—put a ton of effort into tracking past lore when they answer questions, digging out old notes and such. They fill in gaps often on the areas of the Realms where they had invested time in their day. I am only in favor of accepting Ed's tweets if we also treat comments from other designers in exactly the same way. Chris Perkins was already mentioned as another example.

All of these people can be wrong, but they also have access to material that would have been published had it not been limited by size constraints. I am far more interested in that sort of material than things made up on the spot with no investigation by someone. The former information fills in missing gaps in lore; the latter simply adds pointless material that doesn't connect to any lore beyond superficially. There is not much harm in either case, but I am strongly opposed to allowing the latter if we still ban the former.

~ Lhynard (talk) 18:23, August 9, 2020 (UTC)


I like Lhynard's point about the Candlekeep Forums – as he suggested, Ed's twitter posts are like the more recent version of his Candlekeep forum posts. I also agree that they should be on the bottom of the canon hierarchy, due to their conflict with canon lore and perceived lack of research. I wasn't aware that we do not allow information from forum posts to be included, but that is another (though similar) discussion.

My interest in their inclusion rests more with the opportunity that it gives us to share more of his writing. Ed has written A LOT of material, some of which is covered by NDAs. It seems like twitter is a means for him to share some of that material he is still capable of offering up to fans, and I for one would be really proud to help support that – albeit within the structure set up by wiki policy.

Ruf (talk) 19:08, August 9, 2020 (UTC)


Thank you for raising this topic, and making it clear at that. First of all, I enjoy Ed's works, and his tweets can often be fun. However, I am not sure that all of them are applicable to this wiki. Official and officially licensed information should always take precedence, and I'm certain that Ed and other designers themselves agree with that. I have a couple of comments and queries:
Sirwhiteout: "Here is the main reasoning behind this stance: regarding tweets, our current de facto practice already is to accept them, one way or another. We repeatedly use Chris Perkins' tweets, for example, to set dates that are not otherwise published, but we all agree not to use them if there is some official source that contains the necessary information and promptly notify the reader that the information comes from an unpublished source. While this tends to be generally agreed upon by the wiki's editors, it is not written as an official policy in those terms."

With regards to this comment, I think this is somewhat addressed in our canon policy in the "Forum posts" section. We generally only use Chris Perkins' tweets for clarifying something, such as a date, or resolving a discrepancy. We do not use them to establish completely new lore. Thus, I don't think this argument supports the case of lore tweets.

Sirwhiteout: "It is valid to add lore that was posted by Ed on Twitter to the wiki, but as soon as some published source (past or future) is found that contradicts a tweet, it is no longer valid. If an official source confirms that lore, the official source must be cited, not the tweet."

This seems logical and sensible. However, I know for a fact that editors would present tweets as alternative information, instead of ruling them out. For example: "In fact, some sages say that a halfling first brought foxes to Faerûn in the 1st century DR", even if such a statement is in direct contradiction with a multitude of Realms sources.

I would like to quote BadCatMan from the previous forum post:

BadCatMan: "Social media is ephemera. Fans ask Ed Greenwood about anything and everything, even about novels he didn't write and regions, storylines and development he had no hand in; I'm not sure his word should be valued so highly in such cases. Greenwood is a master of spinning lore on the spot. Fans can ask about things that previously had no Realms presence, and with one off-the-cuff remark, they suddenly do. Mistaken fans can feed him wrong information and get wrong information back. I don't mean disrespect, but I don't think his every utterance should be treated as gospel either, but more on case-by-case or careful basis."

This is a good case, especially regarding fan input. Something to consider would be limiting the tweets if a question has been asked to him, etc. If Ed came up with the post without fan misinformation or influence, I could see myself agreeing that these lore posts have a place on the wiki.

Lhynard: "I am only in favor of accepting Ed's tweets if we also treat comments from other designers in exactly the same way."

I feel as if including multiple social media posts by all Realms designers and past contributors is excessive and will cause a lot of unnecessary conflict. I also think that including all designers' perspectives detracts the point of the wiki, which is supposed to focus on official and licensed lore. If we go ahead with this, many questions arise. Who shall we include? Do they have to be currently working on the Realms? Whose comments take precedence?

Lhynard: "I think that, if agreed on, that Twitter posts go at the absolute bottom of the canon hierarchy."

I would agree that tweets should go at the bottom of the hierarchy, though they should not be presented at all if they contradict higher tier information.

Overall, I think this is an intriguing proposal. As Ruf says, it would be nice to share some of Ed's material on the wiki. However, this must be done right and must be very clear. As the issue currently stands, I am not for it. However, that could certainly change if we address many of the issues (some of which I mentioned above) and its specific place in the canon hierarchy.

~ Possessed Priest (talk) 19:17, August 9, 2020 (UTC)


I would like to bump this and see how we can proceed moving with this in the future. :)
Ruf (talk) 19:00, September 4, 2020 (UTC)


I often see these topics come up regarding Ed's responses (twitter, candlekeep, or elsewhere) and parallels to other Realm's contributors. Ed sits in a somewhat different postion to other freelance designers (like George Krashos) or WotC employees (like Chris Perkins) where anything he says or writes about the Realms IS official canon. Other designers can certainly add clarifications to works or spin their own works but are not considered canon unless they are published with a FR logo.

To quote Jim Butler "Everything that bears the Forgotten Realms logo is considered canon. Where two sources contradict one another, a decision needs to be made as to which one should be followed. For game products, that would mean you'd follow a game product over a novel. Later products have precedence over older products."[2]

The wiki generally follows the above quote quite happily with lots of helpful notes when contradictions within canon sources arise. However Ed is a special case alongside this general rule and can create canon

Here is a recent tweet from Ed on the matter "Anything I write about the Realms, by definition, is canon, unless or until contradicted/rendered out-of-date by Wizards-published writing. That's in the original Realms agreement, that Wizards inherited from TSR; Wizards can't change the agreement without negotiating with me (so I'd know about any change). So it's canon, by definition. (Folks on the FR wiki should know this; it was all explained years back.)" [3]

So Ed's words on Twitter or elsewhere are as canonical as they come unless contradicted by Wizards-published writing. However this can't be said for other realms' authours necessarily, though there may be exceptions (like Gygax) elsewhere. So my vote is for keeping in line with Wizards policy and the Realms Agreement that Ed's writings/sayings on the Realms are canon. However I think it would also be useful to have a broader discussion about simplifying the Canon structure. The rule of non-contradiction we have keeps most things in check as we either resolve the matter by looking at the most recent source or explain the issue in a note. The matter of non-Ed or non-Wizards-published sources, like Krashos or Perkins should be used to help clarify contradictions in sources but they are not sources of new canon themselves (sadly).

I often see these discussions as part of an ongoing existential debate on the wiki as the nature of publishing has changed over the years. Are we solely wedded to the 'published Realms'? Especially when authours/designers like Elaine Cunningham, Paul S. Kemp, George Krashos, Tom Costa, et al, have published vast tracts of lore 'unofficially'. If Erin M. Evans makes a post somewhere about Farideh's favourite music, do we need to wait for the, perhaps forever unpublished, book that may one day reference her musical tastes? Yet with the rise of places like the adventurer's league, DM's Guild, revised-extended-enhanced editions of old games or reprints of old adventures (Tales from the Yawning Portal anyone?]] how are we individually assessing each of these potential sources of canon....should we?

That may all be a bigger discussion than we had planned but for now but I'll refer to the Realms Agreement that Ed's tweets (and utterances elswhere) are very definitly canon still and leave the door ajar for some broader chat on the wiki's role.

2 or more coppers for the pot

--Eli the Tanner (talk) 12:38, 19 October 2020 (UTC)


I think there are two categories of tweets that we should cover:
  • a) Lore tweets from Ed Greenwood
  • b) Clarifications from various designers/writers/editors on official products they have worked on specifically

I don't agree with Lhynard that there is no difference between "off the record" lore generated by Greenwood and other designers. I do think the word of Ed has special status. My reasons are:

  • a) Legal. Greenwood's canon-maker status is a specific part of his licensing agreement with Wizards.
  • b) Convention. The word of Ed has been accepted as canon by the majority of the Realms community since its inception.

I don't think these are arbitrary reasons, and are enough to differentiate Ed's contributions from other designers.

As for tweets specifically, I agree they aren't an ideal source of lore, but the case remains that there are a lot of lore tweets we should cover. Due to the off-the-cuff nature of these tweets (and other "off the record" Ed contributions such as Candlekeep posts) I think these should go at the bottom of the canon hierarchy, just above non-canon.

Also, because tweets are off-the-cuff (and if we can agree they should go at the bottom of the canon hierarchy), we should create a Cite twitter template to give us a greater degree of control, allowing us to sort out discrepancies more efficiently.
Ir'revrykal (talk) 17:40, 27 November 2020 (UTC)


I think that you make fair points in response to my comments. My only comment, which admittedly does not change at all your conclusions, is that the legal status of "whatever Ed write's is canon" came before the days of Twitter. I think that makes a difference, but I think that your suggestion about placing it at the bottom of the hierarchy acknowledges that point.

I can fully agree that his tweets should go at the bottom of the hierarchy. I can fully agree that they should be made into citation templates.

I still think that we should have a similar spot on the hierarchy for similar comments/tweets by other creators, re: point b.

~ Lhynard (talk) 18:12, 27 November 2020 (UTC)


Appendix[]

Notes[]

  1. This information was extracted from a Realmslore post by Ed Greenwood on his Twitter account. Such posts are considered canon unless a published source (past or future) contradicts them. If the information can be attributed to an official source, please cite that source instead.

References[]

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