- What are the rules for the Library Council? - Updated! 02/01/04
What makes a question worthy of being in the Library?
This has been sort of a nebulous concept since the Library's founding. As steward, I have instictually known what belongs in the Library and what doesn't, but others have had trouble figuring it out for themselves. It's really not so much knowing what belongs, but knowing what doesn't belong.
- Do not post questions that have a simple answer that can be found simply by looking it up. Even if the answer isn't in The Lord of the Rings but is in another volume of Tolkien's work, if there is no depth to the question, then it doesn't belong in the Library. An example of this type of question would be "Who caused Theoden's fatal injuries?".
- Do not post questions that are too vague. Each topic in the Library Council should try to cover only one specific question if possible. This question should be stated in bold in the first post and be stated or summarized as possible in the subject line. An example of this type of question would be "What are the powers of all the Rings of Power and why didn't Sauron use them during the Last Alliance?".
That's it for now, but I'm sure there will be more to follow...
What are some other tips when posting in the Library Council?
When you begin a topic, give it a subject name that is a full question. Don't try to fit an overly long question into the subject line. Make it as long as it has to be, but no longer. If it doesn't look right or doesn't properly explain the topic, expect Minas Tirith administration to correct it.
In the message text of the first post, you must actually specify what your question is by making it bold and separated from any other paragraphs. Check previous topics for a real example. Here's a sample:
quote:What is a good sample question to ask?
Also, please keep it to one question at a time. Even if another point is closely related, open a new thread. The questions have to be separate in their final form, so they must be separate when we discuss them.
Before posting a new question (especially your first question), read all the rules as well as the guidelines below. Read through some older topics and see if your question has already been answered.
Above all, make it a question worthy of entry into the Library. Questions that don't belong will be removed.
- What are the Library Council's general guidelines and goals?
The Library of the White Tower is going to be the most authoritative Tolkien FAQ ever. I’ve seen some good ones around, but almost all have last been updated sometime in 1999. The ones that are active tend to mix apples and oranges by trying to combine a Tolkien FAQ with a name glossary, song index, and other features. In addition, the same stock answers tend to be floating around without enough effort paid to explaining the reasons behind these sometimes-complex answers.
This isn’t going to be a cut and paste job from all the old FAQs out there. We’re going to treat each topic like a new issue and try to present all the evidence in one place. The Council is where this discussion will take place. This forum is for presenting and debating evidence for the issues currently on the table, bringing new information about issues already submitted to the Library, as well as discussing the format and layout of the Library itself. It is NOT the place for asking questions or idle chat. That’s what the main forums are for. The Council is going to be highly focused on the goal of the growth of the Library. If your comments don’t add to the resolution of a topic, they don’t belong in the Council. The only questions I will accept are those made during an active debate that drive the discussion and those that are presenting a new issue for the Council to explore. If it becomes a problem keeping a flood of irrelevant posts out, I will restrict access to the forum to only those who request it personally. Hopefully, for the sake of the community, this won’t be necessary.
Whenever a topic has been explored to everyone’s satisfaction, I will submit an entry to the Library. The main page will show an overview of topics much like a table of contents. These topics can be resorted by a number of criteria, including Difficulty and Obscurity, Race and Species, Ages of Arda, Geographic Location, Source Text, and any others the Council decides on. This advanced sorting is a feature I haven’t seen anywhere else and should make looking up a particular question very easy.
Each topic will have a whole page devoted to it to give it the room it needs to be thoroughly explained. Once an entry has been made in the Library, the issue is not dead. If anyone has new information or a new point to make, simply add a response to the topic in the Council forum.
Another mistake made by many FAQs is to neglect to explain how there might be no definitive answer to a question. The Balrog wings question is a good example. There is no right or wrong answer to this since Tolkien was ambiguous in his explanations. Not only will we present each opinion on the matter with all the evidence, but we will clearly state that each side might be taken as a valid opinion and leave it to the reader to decide.
In a related point, very few FAQs differentiate between the validity of the various texts comprising Tolkien’s work. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings can be taken as gospel truth since they were published by the man himself. The Silmarillion, History of Middle Earth, and even the Letters of JRR Tolkien must be taken with a grain of salt as not necessarily being Tolkien’s last word on a matter. Many issues were still being resolved up until the last days of his life. The history of Galadriel and Celeborn is the most glaring example of this. Even Tolkien hadn’t decided on the ‘correct’ facts of their lives. Any issues that fall in this category must be clearly noted for the purpose of being thorough.
It might grow slowly at first, but as word spreads of what we are trying to do, we should draw the attention of every serious Tolkien scholar. The purpose of Minas Tirith has always been to have a place for in-depth Tolkien discussion. The Library of the White Tower will be a major addition to achieving this purpose.
From: Chicago | Registered: May 2000
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It would be nice if you included a link to the "search" function in the paragraph above where you advise people to check if the topic has been discussed before. Maybe an example would be nice.
Say the question is "Who is Tom Bombadil?". The best way to search would be to include "Bombadil" as the key word (so the search is very broad) and the Library as the only searched forum, so it checks if the topic is present here. Then do the same with "Tom" as the keyword.
From: Middangeard | Registered: Sep 2001
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