Constructed Worlds:Terminology

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This glossary explains the terms used by most of the Constructed Worlds community.

  • Admins - The admins, or more formally, the administrators are the wiki sysops. They are the only ones with the power to protect/unprotect pages, delete/undelete pages, and block/unblock users. Bureaucrats have the additional power of granting or removing user rights to other users.
  • Algo - An algorithm governing something in a map game.
  • Alien Space Bats (ASBs) - In the context of alternate history, when an event or decision happens that is implausible or impossible, it is said to be as explainable as an intervention of Alien Space Bats. The term goes back to the earliest days of online alternate history. Many writers use ASBs on purpose to do high-quality work, adding science fiction or fantasy elements or making unrealistic yet fascinating mashups of different eras. On the other hand, AH projects that use Alien Space Bats out of ignorance or lack of research are generally looked down upon.
  • Alternative History - Also known as Alternate History, Althist, or AH, this is speculation on "what might have been," had something in the past happened differently than it did in our history. For a list of Alternative Histories on this wiki, see List of Althists.
  • ATL - Alternate Timeline, events that happened in a different way than in our history. We use this phrase to distinguish our fictional worlds from the real one, or "OTL".
  • Butterfly effect - a term from chaos theory. The butterfly effect means that even smallest changes can have great repercussions, given enough time. Sometimes these far-reaching effects are called "butterflies". A person, thing, or event that disappears from the timeline due to unforeseen effects may be said to be butterflied away.
  • Chat - the wiki's Discord server.
  • Community Project - A project where the entire wiki community is welcome to join and contribute.
  • Community Timeline - A timeline where the entire wiki community is welcome to join and contribute. 
  • Conlang or constructed language - a developed artificial or fictional language. Conlanging is a community in its own right, but alternate history can incorporate it. AH conlangs typically derive their sounds, grammar, and vocabulary from an ancient source like Latin.
  • Conworld - A constructed world with a developed or imagined fictitious setting. Alternate history timelines can be thought of as creating constructed worlds in their own right, but the term is especially used for projects where process of setting gets more emphasis than working out all the historical events.
  • Convergent - The opposite of historical divergence; that is, when history changes but things still end up very similar to OTL. Convergent events are often criticized because they may show a lack of knowledge or lack of imagination. For example, it's incredibly common for a timeline to diverge many centuries ago but still have two world wars in the first half of the 20th century, out of an assumption that history is just supposed to happen that way. On the other hand, as with anything else, convergences can also be used in well-informed, nuanced, creative ways.
  • Counterfactuality - An alternate set of circumstances that sets up a timeline, as opposed to an event. Frequently these are ASB; for example, "What if the alchemists were right?"
  • Future history or FH - A related genre to alternate history that speculates about events in the future rather than the past.
  • ISOT - Named after the book Island in the Sea Of Time, in these timelines, one or more areas of the world are replaced with areas from different timelines or periods in history. When many places are ISOTted from multiple different timelines, it is sometimes called a Mosaic Earth, after an old project on alternatehistory.com.
  • Map game - a usually competitive, turn-based game in which different people role-play as nations in an alternate history setting.
  • Multiverse - The set of multiple possible universes. In the context of alternate history, it might describe a collection of related timelines, or it could be a science fiction concept used to set up a story. In the context of constructed worlds, it may describe a collection of related worlds, implied or explicitly established (such as through established interdimensional travel) within the worlds' canon.
  • OTL - Our Timeline, what has happened in real life. We use this term to distinguish the real world from our fictional worlds, which are called "TTL" or "ATL".
  • Point of Divergence (POD) - The point at which two timelines diverge and the Alternate Timeline begins. "Hard" alternate history most often explores the consequence of a single POD. "Softer" projects may have multiple PODs, or the POD may be only vaguely defined.
  • Miraheze - The wiki farm which the Constructed Worlds Wiki is based on.
  • QSS - From a Latin phrase meaning "What I have written, I have written," this is the name of the policy that says contributors must respect previously-written content in community timelines or timelines that they adopt. The parallel rule QAA has to do with understanding and respecting the assumptions that earlier writers made, as opposed to what they wrote.
  • SOB or Seal on a Bedsheet - derogatory name for a style of flag that puts an elaborate seal on a boring, plain background. This style is especially common for state and local flags in the United States. See Vexillology.
  • Stub - A term from Wikipedia for a very short wiki page.
  • Talk Page - Each page of this wiki has a corresponding talk page. Links to these pages are in the menu under the edit button. Other places for discussion are our Wiki's Forum and our Discord, both linked from the main page.
  • TTL - This Timeline, A common way to talk about the alternate world we are currently discussing, so it's a synonym for ATL.
  • Template - These are visual boxes made of wiki or HTML code which can contain links, pictures, text, etc. 
  • Timeline (TL) - A chronological listing of events. In the context of alternate history, it can also be a synonym for an alternate history setting, project, or universe.
  • Wank - Originally from alternatehistory.com, a "wank" is a timeline where one nation is made unrealistically powerful. Maybe it wins all its wars, conquers its neighbors, and is somehow still beloved by all. It is similar to the concept of the Mary Sue in fan fiction. The term is meant to be derogatory, but as with Alien Space Bats, some writers have used it intentionally in their timelines.
  • Wikia - The former name for FANDOM before their many rebranding and the previous home of the Constructed Worlds Wiki.
  • Worldbuilding - Developing a fictional world (as opposed to writing an actual narrative).

See also[edit source]

Wikipedia articles on