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Fanwanking (or fanwankery) is an attempt by the fans of a show to explain plot holes or errors in a fictional universe like Battlestar Galactica. It makes use of contrived and convoluted ideas often using numerous references from the history of the fictional universe itself. Often, fanwanking is the result of confronting critics of work of fiction by “explaining” problems. By fanwanking, a contributor is essentially creating content for the show, rather than letting the show's inconsistencies or errors stand on their own until an official source handles the error (or not).
The Original Series, which aired long before the advent of the modern Internet, creates complications because of fanon, a form of fan fiction which, without an official source to correct it, can become so repeated in fandom over time as to become accepted by fans as authentic information. There are many Battlestar Galactica fan sites that propagate this misinformation. One common and inaccurate fanon reference is that the the Original Series battlestars are Columbia-class vessels. However, no aired or other official source confirms this naming.
Battlestar Wiki and fanwanking
For an encyclopedic project, fanwanking is an insidious form of fan fiction. Fanwanked contributions are often obscured with facts, and has the appearance of the "truth," especially to the casual fan. Since Battlestar Wiki strives to a factual repository for Battlestar Galactica, fanwanking is frowned upon and generally considered to be contrary to our Citation Jihad.
More responsible fans realize that errors do occur and should be accepted as such. Plot holes are often the result of the limited scope of a television show, such as Battlestar Galactica and should be expected.
What is not fanwanking
Retroactive continuity (retconning) is a decision by the "official" authors, producers, or owners of a serial work of fiction to make changes to the "history" of the work or established facts. The main difference between retcons and fanwankery is that the source of the change is the creators of the work, not the fans or audience of a work.
In the Citation Jihad project, there is extensive information on derived content. Because any work of fiction cannot fully explain the ins and outs of every character, event, or object, contributions to Battlestar Wiki can be made based on plausible speculation and logical deduction. These tools should not be used to "fill in the gaps" where content is missing, but to simply assemble the known parts from what the creators of the show have given with as little "glue" (speculation) as possible.
Examples of fanwanking
- In the Miniseries, the number of ships is given as 41, but in "33" the number is enlarged to 63 with no aired reason. Instead of assuming this was a simple retcon, a "fanwank" would state improperly that other ships apparently joined the Fleet after the jump from Ragnar Anchorage.
- In the Miniseries and in a Season 1 episode, the spines of humanoid Cylons glow red during sexual intercourse. Contributors impatient for the explanation of why this occurred may contribute specific scientific reasons to an article, but should have waited for the official source's explanation: the effect was initially an interesting cinematic idea that wasn't continued in later episodes.