Talk:Apollo (butterfly)

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Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was No consensus for move. Stemonitis (talk) 18:13, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Relisted Alpha_Quadrant (talk) 15:08, 4 October 2011 (UTC) – One, the common name "Apollo" is ambiguous; it is used to refer to both Parnassius apollo and to Parnassius autocrator. There is no reason I'm aware of to give precedence to either species. Two, articles on species in Apollo use scientific names instead of common names for titles in general, partly because articles on butterflies in general do, partly because most species in Apollo don't have any common names in the first place. "Apollo (butterfly)" and "Clouded Apollo" are the only two exceptions among 60+ pages. Noym (talk) 16:33, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

  • Oppose. Neither name is ambiguous in terms of WP:AT. This appears to be part of a campaign to introduce a new naming convention, departing from the convention of the parent Wikiproject at Wikipedia:WikiProject Insects#Names and titles which reads in part In cases where common names are well-known and reasonably unique, they should be used for article titles. Scientific names should be used otherwise (my emphasis). Has consensus been obtained for this new convention? If so, link to it. If not, then seek it. Andrewa (talk) 18:48, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Comment. This is not a new convention; there has been consensus about this since at least 2007. Please see
  • the old discussions here and here;
  • the recent discussion here;
  • the current discussion here.
Executive summary:
  • Four out of five articles on Lepidoptera have to use scientific names not matter what because common names do not exist or are useless due to ambiguity or neutrality issues. Using common names for a fraction of the one out of four articles where it's theoretically possible would get you nothing but a usability nightmare.
  • The vast majority of existing articles on Lepidoptera uses scientific names already; I don't have any hard number on this but I'd guess it's about nine out of ten. In a genus of somewhere between ten and twenty species I typically have to move between one and four articles. Just browse around and see for yourself. We are not introducing a new convention; we are straightening out deviations from the existing one.
  • The cleanup I'm doing has valuable side effects. Due to the ambuigity problems I mentioned earlier some links in articles currently go to articles different from the ones the article author intended. Due to the same problems many species appear to be documented in multiple articles. It is not realistically possible to fix these problems without cleaning up the naming issues first.
Noym (talk) 19:58, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

I know it can be frustrating, but this is not a trivial matter. I have read the links above. The current discussion, which I initiated, is merely a restatement of your views as re-restated above. Neither the recent discussion nor the old discussion produced a convention, nor even a clear consensus that one was possible.

Several editors including yourself have formed the opinion that there should be a specific convention as an exception to the existing convention for insects and the general policy at WP:AT. Wikipedia is changing IMO, and in exactly the direction you want. But change is slow. Please help it to happen smoothly by contributing these views in the appropriate forums, rather than ignoring the current conventions and endlessly repeating the same arguments, which simply do not address the issue I have raised. Andrewa (talk) 20:59, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

"The current discussion, which I initiated, is merely a restatement of your views as re-restated above. Neither the recent discussion nor the old discussion produced [] a clear consensus"
This is not true.
  • In the first of the old discussions there were seven strong supports and one weak oppose against using scientific names. In the rehash three years later there were three supports and zero opposes. In these two recent discussions, as I've already pointed out somewhere, the possibility of using common names didn't even come up any more. The fact that a common names policy would be "asinine", as AshLin has put it, it completely self-evident to everyone who actively works on this area at this point.
  • The current discussion is definitely not just a restatement; it provides a fair number of specific examples of articles I had to take action on because they were using common names that were highly ambiguous, actively misleading, or flat out wrong. If you look at my contributions history you see that these examples account for roughly half the common names I've changed so far. One out of every two common names we currently have, in other words, is provably unsustainable. You have two options:
    1. let me continue correcting these mistakes, or
    2. have an encyclopedia that willfully and knowingly misleads people (and in some cases promulgates factual errors) because it puts The Rules before clarity (and in some cases factual correctness).
"Please help it to happen smoothly by contributing these views in the appropriate forums, rather than ignoring the current conventions"
I have been actively involving the Lepidoptera Project in everything I do; please look at their talk page. The convention seems to have been voided, as far as Lepidoptera are concerned, by the negatory precedent of years of active disregard. How many butterfly articles have you seen recently being created using common names?
What you seem to be saying there is that the documentation and practice don't match. I'm not arguing with that. That seems to be the problem.
"and endlessly repeating the same arguments, which simply do not address the issue I have raised."
I've pointed out that nine out of ten of the clades we are talking about do not have any common name or at least do not have a neutral and unambiguous common name that Reliable Sources actually agree on. (The NCBI taxonomy, funet, and tolweb contradict each other in more cases than they corroborate each other in.) My assertions are easy to verify; just spend an hour or two browsing the species tree and run a few vernacular names against funet and the NCBI. How, specifically, am I not addressing the issue?
That makes it quite complicated, and yes, now you're addressing one of the issues. This sounds to me like a valid case can be made for the exemption you're seeking/assuming. Specific links, please? You should be able to do in a few seconds what it would take me an hour or two to do.
I'm not trying to be territorial here or anything, I just want a Lepidoptera tree that doesn't spout bullshit at laypeople who don't know not to trust it. Noym (talk) 23:40, 28 September 2011 (UTC)
Likewise. In fact I want all of Wikipedia to be like that. The project namespace is an important part of this. It won't ever match best practice completely, so we have WP:IAR, but the better it matches the less time we'll waste in the long run. Andrewa (talk) 01:29, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Very well[edit]

"Specific links, please? You should be able to do in a few seconds what it would take me an hour or two to do."

No, I can't prove with a few specific links that most clades do not have common names and that in cases where do the taxonomies disagree with each other on what these names are more often than not. You will have to either trust my count or go form an impression for yourself, which is why I invited you to browse the tree. Anyway, I will try to make a case.

1. Let's look at the root of the butterfly tree, Papilinoidea, for example at funet [1]. Woah, bad start. Zero out of five families have a useful common name. The Riodinidae family doesn't have a common name at all; the purported common names of the others are enumerations of common names of two or more of their subclades. Papilionidae are "Swallowtails [and] Apollos". Lycaenidae are "Blues, Coppers, [and] Hairstreaks." Pieridae are "Whites [and] Yellows/Sulphurs". Well, actually they are "Whites and Yellows" or "Whites and Sulphurs" depending on where you live, but whatever; it's not funet's problem the contraction makes for a shitty article name.

2. Now let's look at the same node at the NCBI [2]. Interesting. This list gives actual common names for four out of five families, but two of them directly contradict their funet counterparts. Papilionidae are simply "Swallowtails"; where did the Admirals go? Pieridae are "White, Yellow and Sulphur butterflies"; how again did Yellows and Sulphurs become two distinct subfamilies of equal rank?

Let's keep a tally:

rank taxons looked at useful common names found
family 5 0

3. Let's look at the first family, Papilionidae. [3] [4] As luck would have it, Papilionidae is the easy family. Papilionidae tend to be large, flashy, and popular. They are much more likely to have established common names than the small, sallow Pieridae or small, dull Lycaenidae. Along with Nymphalidae, Papilionidae are the butterflies that people love and whose naming scheme has received the most attention.

Well, let's see. Two out of three subfamilies have a common name. Unfortunately, the common names in question are "the Swallowtails" and "the Apollos", which makes you wonder how funet can call the family "the Swallowtails and Apollos" and how the NCBI can call it "the Swallowtails". I mean, aren't they forgetting something? Like, at least one entire subfamily? Awesome, neither taxonomy is consistent even with itself as regards to common names, not even across the very first two nodes. Oh, and the funet page [5] lists an alternative second "common" name for Apollos. Apparently they're not just the Apollos, they're also the "Parnassians".

I say we name our article on this clade the Fucksticks Butterflies. It's the least actively confusing option brought up so far, except of course for that evil scientific name we can't use because of The Convention.

4. Let's look at the first subfamily, the one with, you know, no common name. [6] [7] It contains one genus, Baronia. Good news everybody! funet and the NCBI finally agree on something! They agree that Baronia has no common name at all.

5. Baronia contains one species.[8] [9] Good news again! No common name either!

rank taxons looked at useful common names found
family 5 0
subfamily 3 0
genus 1 0
species 1 0

6. Let's back up and look at the second of the subfamilies we saw earlier, Parnassiinae. [10] [11] Two tribes here. Neither of the two tribes has a common name, but then again neither does any of the seven genera they contain between them. Of the 77 species in this subfamily, ten have common names that both taxonomies agree about; five species have common names with regards to which they contradict each other. Some contradictions are inconvenient but harmless; Parnassius smintheus is the "Mountain Parnassian" according to funet [12] and the "Rocky Mountain Parnassian" according to the NCBI. [13] Others, however, are fairly serious turds in the punch bowl: according to funet, Zerynthia polyxena is the "Southern Festoon"; according to the NCBI it's Zerynthia rumina. Oh well.

rank taxons looked at useful common names found
family 5 0
subfamily 3 0
tribe 2 0
genus 8 0
species 78 10

7. Let's back up again and have a look at the third subfamily, Papilioninae. [14] [15] Two out of the three tribes and three out of the 17 genera in this subfamily appear to have useful common names. This clade is huge, nobody knows how many species precisely it contains. Roughly half of the species and most of the common names are in Papilio, so it makes sense to look at this genus separately.

Papilio has somewhere between 80 and 230 species, somewhere between 22 and 100 of them have common names; I'm going to go with 200 and 90. For nine species, the common names stipulated by the two taxonomies are exact matches; in four cases funet and the NCBI explicitly contradict each other. P. dardanus for example is either the "Mocker Swallowtail" or the "Flying Handkerchief" according to the former but the "African Swallowtail Butterfly" according to the latter. In the remaining cases funet postulates a common name while the NCBI does not.[16] [17]

The rest of the clade consists of 267 species with a total of 37 postulated common names. There are 10 exact matches.

So this is what we end up with then:

rank taxons looked at useful common names found
family 5 0
subfamily 3 2
tribe 5 2
genus 25 3
species 575 29 – 142

This table dramatically understates the size of the problem. One, as I've already said, Papilionidae is the easy family. Two, I've only checked if the page on genus X at funet directly contradicts the page on genus X at the NCBI. If you test for contradictions across genus boundaries you get at least twice as many positives. Three, many common names are useless even if the two taxonomies agree with respect to them simply because they are ambiguous. I believe I have established that ambiguity is a problem on this page.

Noym (talk) 05:51, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Scratch this, no consensus in project and not interested in hostilities. Noym (talk) 10:52, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Good research you did here. Might I suggest you put all relevant arguments and thnis research you did on a user page or at a subpage of the wikiproject for future use? We could expand on this gradually to make people not actively working on insect articles see why using scientific names DOES make sense. Ruigeroeland (talk) 11:21, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
I really regret discouraging your hard work with the best intentions, and can't help noticing the enormous good will which is expressed in your commendable reluctance to escalate this and start a fight. I wish I'd found a better way forward, and apologise for some of my phrasing which has been more confrontational than I wished.
As I see it, we are caught up in a very gradual shift in Wikipedia towards a more authoritative and less democratic polity. Whether long term this is a permanent shift or a temporary fluctuation it is not possible to observe.
Not easy meantime. Hang in there. Andrewa (talk) 22:13, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
No, it wasn't you who discouraged me and nothing about your phrasing was overly confrontational. You insisted that a significant departure from established policy must have an extensive and compelling body of argument to justify it. You are absolutely right about this, and not just in the abstract; you were absolutely right to step in and demand specific data points. You have nothing to apologize for.
What discouraged me was the discussion on the project talk page. One editor, a distinguished expert and experienced contributor here, is against the cleanup I was trying to perform. I think he means well, and with respect to some of my article moves he does have a case. The problem is he's let the discussion nudge him into deciding he has an ego investment in his position; this has made the debate devolve first into angry rules lawyering, then argument by derision, then argument by pretend butthurt.
We all know that Wikipedia usually sides with the rules lawyers over the pragmatists. Now that a competent and energetic rules lawyer has decided this is personal I would need an official amendment to the policy to be able to continue with anything even remotely resembling effectiveness. My chances of getting this amendment are essentially zero as long as it remains a subject of noisy contention even within its own project.
At any rate this is not worth getting upset about. One, I didn't accomplish absolutely nothing; the butterfly tree definitely contains fewer errors now than it did two weeks ago and I cleaned up a handful or two of unrelated disambiguation pages on the side. Two, the repairs this place needs are tedious but not actually hard, lots of people can do this, and there is no reason the entire tree has to be fixed in one go by one person. One day or other things will have ironed themselves out. Noym (talk) 09:20, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose I don't see any strong arguments based on policy or broad consensus either way. Personally, I think the common name in English (disambiguated as necessary) makes the encyclopedia better. Anyone who needs or will benefit from the scientific name... there it is in the lead. --Born2cycle (talk) 22:28, 14 October 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.