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Project standards

The Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter is meant to provide an extensive detailing of all things in the Harry Potter universe. An important goal of the project is to make this book a useful standalone guide not only for adults but for children and young adults of similar age to the Harry Potter characters. Therefore, several standards have been put in place to ensure proper quality of articles and the overall structure of pages in the book:

  • Follow the present structure of the site:
    • There are six main sections to the book: Books, Characters, Places, Major Events, the Timeline, and Magic. Place your content in one of these.
    • Sections and articles are normally very distinct entities within the book. A chapter in a Harry Potter book goes on its own page (i.e. Chapter 6 of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince goes in like this). There is a hierarchical system stemming from the five main sections listed above.
  • Articles are generally not incredibly long. If the content is useful, by all means, include as much as possible, but remember to break up information into one of the five main sections if you can. Forming an intermixed yet individually distinct set of pages is ideal.
  • The Index provides an alphabetical lookup. This may be the single most useful page in the whole book, especially for readers only looking for reference information. Whenever you add a new article, make sure any important characters, places, or events in your article get referenced on the index page.
  • If you plan on making significant edits, by all means, be bold, but don't forget who you are writing for and what the rest of the book's authors would like. Any radical new formatting techniques should be discussed.
  • When writing articles, refer to events and characters in the present tense.
  • Frameworks for each section of the book exist to make new page formatting easier. Please follow them exactly when creating or laying out a page.
  • Character page section descriptions should follow this format:
    • Attributes: general descriptive statistics. A small amount of text about how the character looks, acts, etc. No analysis (i.e. looks, demeanor, main activities and occupation).
    • Role in the Books: details of the character's actions in the book. Some reflection on the cause and effect surrounding a character but mostly factual and extremely light on analysis. This is still the descriptive phase of the page (i.e. killed X in Book 5).
    • Strengths and Weaknesses: some analysis on where the character has faults, etc. Beginning of inserting facts to back up character statements (i.e. has trouble with confidence, crafty).
    • Relationships with Other Characters: interactions with other characters and the character's stance on others. Personal referencing (i.e. affectionate towards Y).
    • Analysis: general analysis on the character. Whereas the Role section covered how the character acted, this covers why the character acted. Some content here can tie in with relationship analysis the section above (i.e. X feels at home when at Y and feels a great sense of protectiveness over it).
    • Questions: reflection questions for the reader. Made to help the reader gain insight on the character (i.e. does this character really care about X?).
    • Greater Picture: present on many other pages, this is the true "tie-in" section. It points out what the character is likely to do / how likely to act. Point out future controversy and where the role of the character is headed, especially in reference to other characters (i.e. X is likely to go after Y in Book 7 due to his infatuation with Z. After Z's death this damaged X greatly).

Enjoy. -withinfocus

Links

We have elected to use absolute links (of the form [[Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Harry Potter|Harry]]) rather than relative links (of the form [[../Harry Potter|Harry]]) throughout this work. This was originally done because of the tool used to convert Wikitext into PDF in preparation for printing; this tool is incapable of handling relative links, and was not likely to be changed by the toolmaker in a reasonable time frame. It appears that this also makes it easier for novice editors to add links, as a specific page is linked the same way from every other page. Relative linkage can be hard for the new user to understand.

As a side effect, however, we have lost one useful simplification. If we have a relative link on the same level, ending it with a slash causes the last part of the link to appear as the link (e.g. "[[../Severus Snape/]]" on a Character page appears in the text as "Severus Snape"). This does not work with absolute links; the link "[[Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Severus Snape/]]" appears as a redlink, as the Wiki interpreter looks for a subpage of the Severus Snape page with an empty name. Thus every link must have not only the full absolute path to the page, but also the text to use for that link.

Scope and Fanfic

We have elected to base this book entirely on the work of the original author, J. K. Rowling. To this end, the primary references are the seven books of the series, and the three books written for charity: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and to a somewhat lesser extent Quidditch Through the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. We are currently debating the use of the Pottermore web site as a secondary reference. Also as secondary references we can use the other related works by Rowling, the Chocolate Frog cards and copies of the Daily Prophet that were released in the late 1990s. However, we cannot use either the films or the video games as reference material, as they are derived from, and diverge from, the original sources in ways that Rowling had little control over. In particular, we note that the Second Task of the Triwizard Tournament, in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, differs significantly in its resolution between book and film. The solution to the problem of the Task is provided in the films by Neville, in the book by Dobby, probably in an attempt to rein in costs by reducing required CGI in the films. This behavior by Neville, though, seems somewhat out of character.

The inclusion of later works by Rowling in this universe, notably the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and the film version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, fall under the same exclusion because they are not entirely the work of Rowling. While the original story that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was based on was written by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany in addition to Rowling, the stage play is apparently entirely Thorne's work and so is excessively derivative to merit inclusion. The film version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and any sequels, are obviously extremely derivative, in the same way the eight original films are, without there even being a Rowling-penned novel underlying them.

We note that while J. K. Rowling may have had some input into the actors selected for the films, the finer details of their appearance don't necessarily tally between the films and the books. So for instance, Daniel Radcliffe fairly closely, in appearance, matches the cover art of the original first book of the series, cover art which presumably Ms. Rowling had to approve; but Radcliffe's eyes, as seem in most of the films, are not green, and Harry's eyes are explicitly called out as being green in the books, several times. Even gross appearance sometimes varies; Hermione is described as having "lots of bushy brown hair and rather large front teeth," which definitely does not tally with the appearance of Emma Watson. (Contemporary fans seemed to feel that the filmmakers had sacrificed a fairly significant plot point by selecting a cute actress for Hermione.) Because of this, we cannot accept the appearance of the actors in the films as reflecting the eye color and hair color of the characters in the books.

We are aware that there is a considerable body of "fanfic", fiction created by fans of the series that takes place in the same universe. Without ruling on its merits, we have to exclude it from this work, partly because it is not generally available for reference, but primarily because it is out of the control of the author and so does not reflect her consistent world view or writing abilities.

Names and Spelling

The first book of the series came out with two different titles. In the UK, it was named "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". Apparently the US publisher felt that the US audience would not have sufficient background into classical mythology to know what the Philosopher's Stone was, and so titled the book "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". The author has stated that she rather wishes she hadn't given in to her US editor on the matter of the title. While many fan sites, mostly in the US, have chosen the US title, this book uses the UK title as being somewhat closer to the author's intent.

By the same token, some words are spelled differently in the UK and US versions of the book. One in particular is the word "defence", which is spelled with a "c" in this book, following the UK practice. As this one word is used so frequently in the series (in the course title "Defence Against the Dark Arts", and in all of the teachers of that course), and as we have standardized on that use in topic headings and link targets, that same spelling should be used throughout the text. While we encourage British spelling (colour, rumour), with the one exception noted above we should not insist on it.

Finally, there is at least one character who has a slightly different name in the US book. The Divination instructor is named Sibyll Trelawney in the US edition, Sybill Patricia Trelawney in the UK / Canada edition. As per our usual practice, we use the UK variant of her name throughout, though in the article on the character, we do note the alternate spelling. Chazz (talk)

Capitalization

We have elected to capitalize the adjective "Wizarding" where it appears in the text, to highlight uses such as "Wizarding world." We feel that the distinction between Wizarding and Muggle is important enough that it should be highlighted in this manner. We do not, however, capitalize "wizard", except when it appears in context where it would usually be capitalized, as in "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," as it is used so frequently that the resulting scatter of capitals could interfere with the readers' smooth progression and understanding. We also note that, while it almost makes sense to capitalize "wizard" in this book, it does not make sense to capitalize "witch." Chazz (talk)

Book name format

In this project, we have chosen to spell the name of the book out in full, and italicize it, for instance [[Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Books/Philosopher's Stone|''Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'']], which appears to the reader as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Our decision to use the full name of the book was made after all the character pages were created, so the book sections in each character page still use the abbreviated form of the book title. Chazz (talk)

Internal links

Following common practice in Wikibooks, the first instance of a character, artifact, place, or major event mentioned in the article text, for which there is an article in this book, is linked to the main article for that item. Later mentions of the item are generally not linked, though if an explicit reference is made, that may, at the editor's discretion, include a redundant link. For instance, if the Analysis section of a page contains something like "There is more on this subject on Hagrid's character page," the text "Hagrid's character page" may reasonably be a link to that page, despite Hagrid's being mentioned, and linked, earlier on the page. We suggest this later link might be better used for a deep link, for instance "Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Characters/Rubeus Hagrid#Relationships" if the additional information concerns one or several of Hagrid's relationships.

On the Magic and Place pages, where the info box contains a First Appearance entry, where possible that entry should link to the specific book chapter. The First Appearance can actually occur twice; for instance, The Decree for the Reasonable Restriction of Underage Sorcery first appears at the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but it is not mentioned by name there; we hear all students are given a warning note that magic is not allowed, but no explanation as to why not. The first time the name of the act is spelled out in full is in the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Both "first mentions" should be linked from the info box. By the same token, we hear about the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but don't actually visit the place until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, four years later.

Note also that there are a few pages that fit under two categories. Two classic examples are the Ministry of Magic, which is both a place and an organization; and the House of Gaunt which is both a place and a Wizarding family. The only way to deal with these appropriately is to create two articles, as we have done in these instances, and separated the article material by category. A page may refer to one subject in several categories; in such a case, each first mention in a category should be linked, to the article appropriate category. A chapter summary that mentions the physical location of the Ministry, and a policy of the Ministry, will link to both Ministry articles, for example. Chazz (talk)

Study questions

It is traditional in textbooks to offer study questions which the students, answering on their own, can use to enhance their understanding of the key points of the story. Many pages of the Muggles' Guide will have study questions; most chapter summaries have questions further divided into Review and Further Study categories. Review questions, as one might expect from the name, are intended to indicate areas that merit additional study, parts of the chapter that perhaps will be important in later parts of the book. Further Study questions are intended to be more speculative, while not being "blue sky" questions, for which no answer can be reasonably made. These latter questions should be possible to answer with support from the chapter being studied and perhaps earlier parts of the story.

These questions are posed for the benefit of students working with the textbook, and so should not be answered by editors working in the textbook. Allow the students to benefit from the questions; let them think, don't always hold their hands. The answers they come up with may not be the answers any particular editor would come up with, and that's fine; that's how they learn.