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Make an exception to the MoS capitalization guidelines for the job titles: Chief Mechanical Engineer and Locomotive Superintendent[edit]

A) Do we agree that "chief mechanical engineer" and "locomotive superintendent" are job titles used by British railway companies?
B) Do we agree that according to MoS guidelines, job titles like this are capitalized only when followed by a person's name?
C) If so, do we agree to make an exception to the MoS guidelines whereby these two job titles are always capitalized: "Chief Mechanical Engineer" and "Locomotive Superintendent"? Jojalozzo 23:05, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

  • My opinion is that A and B are correct and that there is no justification for making an exception that is not made for kings, presidents or the pope. Jojalozzo 23:06, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
  • My opinion is that we now have seven sections for just one issue. This is being blown out of all proportion and I am sure that WP:MULTI is being violated. --Redrose64 (talk) 23:58, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I have attempted to define the issues in these RfCs to help focus and contain the discussion and provide a basis for decisions rather than venting. I disagree that this violates WP:MULTI since that covers discussions in multiple forums and rather than fragmenting discussion I am attempting to narrow it. Anyone who thinks this issue is unimportant may ignore it. Jojalozzo 01:05, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
I would echo the comments of User:Redrose64. Consensus has been reached above and this subject should now be closed. Lamberhurst (talk) 08:51, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
@Jojalozzo: I did not state that the seven threads were all on this page. As previously noted, since this WP:RM was filed, there have been postings presenting just one side of the case at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters#When is something a proper noun?, Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style#Advice on job-title capitalisation?, Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (capitalization)#Discussion about the capitalization of wind farms' names and Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters#Advice on job-title capitalisation?. --Redrose64 (talk) 11:54, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
  • YES/YES/NO – I agree that this is a clear statement of the de-facto condition among the rail guys, and a topic worth deciding. But deciding each such thing in its own territory seems like it will not be productive. We should first converge on what are the basic rules for deciding when something is to be treated as a proper noun, and under what conditions we think exceptions may be arranged; then we can see if such conditions prevail here. Otherwise, you'll just get the rail guys perpetuating their own style, much as we've seen in other enclaves. If we decide that's normal and OK, we can leave it be, and if we decide there's good support for central style guidance on capitalization, we can push on fixing it to conform; or we decide on an exception. Dicklyon (talk) 01:27, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
Agree with Dicklyon: style should not be dictated by an enclave: it needs to be discussed in relation to the whole project, particularly decisions WRT "exceptions" to the house style. Tony (talk) 04:25, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
That's very interesting. Tony1 agrees with Dicklyon. The latter votes YES/YES/NO and raises a discussion of a proper noun. However, Jojalozzo specifically states "B) Do we agree that according to MoS guidelines, job titles like this are capitalized only when followed by a person's name?" which is not an accurate summary of MoS guidelines, since it both ignores proper nouns and the examples given in the MOS. So Tony1 and Dicklyon seem to have miss-voted and possibly Jojalozzo does not understand the guidelines. Somewhat a revaluation, as that guideline states: "The correct formal name of an office can be treated as a proper noun, so it is correct to write "Louis XVI was the French king" or "Louis XVI was King of France"."; and King (or king) was preceded by Louis XVI (not followed by Louis XVI). Their answers really aught to be YES/NO/NO. Pyrotec (talk) 12:26, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
True, the point B was not particularly complete and accurate. But the quideline you quote is also too vague to be useful, since it didn't give any clue what titles should be treated as "proper nouns"; and it says there are exceptions, but doesn't say exceptions to what, or how they would be determined (see where that clause initially came from). In the present instance, I see no reason to interpret the job title under discussion as a proper noun, so I wasn't considering that other small paragraph. Dicklyon (talk) 17:26, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
Well to amplify my comment above, its not clear precisely what the vote is about. There is a proposal to move the article from Chief Mechanical Engineer to Chief mechanical engineer and there is a separate one about caps inside the article so presumably as specified above in the three questions every occurrence inside the article of Chief Mechanical Engineer gets changed to chief mechanical engineer, every Locomotive Superintendent changes to locomotive superintendent and every Royal Engineer becomes royal engineer. These are separate issues, but they are arguments over "job titles", and inside the article some of them might be considered proper nouns and some not dependant on whether they are generic or specific. The MOS guide lines seem to suggest that I can write "Daniel Gooch Locomotive Superintendent of the Great Western Railway" as shown, but I need to write "Initially, where a railway company choose to build its own rolling stock in house, the mechanical engineering aspect was regarded as a subsidiary function to that of the chief engineer and this was reflected in various job titles, such as chief of locomotive department, locomotive foreman and locomotive superintendent". A YES/YES/NO vote to the questions as stated above could take out all the caps (well, in English I could use one at the start of a sentence). I might be willing to have some lower case generic job titles inside the article if I can have caps in the proper noun case (i.e. "Louis XVI was King of France"), but that is a difference battle to the name of the article; and I will object to corps of royal engineers/royal engineer(s). Pyrotec (talk) 17:54, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think it's a vote; he's trying to get comments on where we agree and where don't, I think. Maybe not phrased as well as could be to draw out the information, so feel free to respond any way you like. Dicklyon (talk) 18:07, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
OK, then: YES / an inaccurate summary of MOS, so NO / YES, when they are used as proper nouns they can be caps as per MOS; an exception to be made for the name of the article. Pyrotec (talk) 18:20, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
What exception for article title are you seeking? To capitalize it even though it's not referring to a specific person? Seems odd if so. Dicklyon (talk) 18:30, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
Part of the problem with the MOS section on capitalization in titles is its complicated history that never got much review. In particuar this edit introduced capitalization of "the correct formal name of an office" and "King of France", but left it as if that was from the cited source, Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. But it's not; the CMOS 14 would likely downcase king there, at least if it had "the" in front of it, as it does with "the queen of England". As for names of offices, CMOS does not capitalize except when it's combined with a person's name, as in Mayor Dinkins, or in certain formal lists and acknowledgements, like "... C. R. Dodwell, Fellow and Librarian, Trinity College" where normally the same would be "fellow and library of Trinity College". Fortunately, the ENGVAR rant that accompanied that edit was toned down over time, but we're still left with the vagueness of the "King of France" example and the disconnected bit about "exceptions" that now seems to be about exception to the exceptions, assuming the "King of France" thing was intended as an exception to the usual. Better work on that...but I see no read to treat a CME as a deity, above the queen of England. Dicklyon (talk) 19:02, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
That is part of the controversy. When abbreviations are being used in the UK, we would use CME. The Times does, I checked, use "Joe Bloggs was chief mechanical engineer of the A to B Railway company", as do some text books; however some use caps as if chief mechanical engineer was a proper or compound noun. There is inconsistency in British-English sources and its not date-related. The problem is that "queen of England" looks wrong to me, I would correct it to "Queen of England" (so I'm likely to do the same to a famous/infamous Chief Mechanical Engineer of some particular railway company. Being British I tend to look on this downcasing as American pollution of British-English, so I'm likely to shout ENGVAR and resit loudly. Pyrotec (talk) 19:47, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
@Pyrotec: This RfC is to help us decide A) whether CME is a job title or something else, B) just what the MoS says about job titles, and C) if it's a job title whether we want a special exception to the capitalization rules. In the title-change discussion I was reading that some think CME is not a job title so I wanted to provide a place to address that question. I was also reading that some thought it was a job title but should be allowed an exception and I wanted to address that question. IMO, there has not been much clarity or focus in the arguments against downcasing CME and LR. This RfC is an attempt to address a couple of specific issues that were raised without the distractions of tangential issues.
In my down-casing pass over the article, I made a mistake with Royal Engineers by not replacing it as you did with "officer of the Corps" but I think we agree that the RE usage was problematic. I thought I had made that clear on your talk page and wonder why we're revisiting the issue here. Jojalozzo 15:51, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
@Jojalozzo. Thanks for clarifying both points. I was not aware that I was revisiting Royal Engineers, I have no wish to dwell on an unintentional error. We all make them at the most inconvenient times. There is so much going on on this page: proposed change of article's title to lower case and discussions regarding generic job titles versus specific posts within the article and it was not initially clear to me what context we were discussing in this section. I have no wish to write in full "CME of the XYZ Railway co", sometimes I write Chief Mechanical Engineer in a specific context where it is implied that I am referring to a specific post. WP:COMMON seems to have gone out of the window. It seems that someone sees Chief Mechanical Engineer decides that it is a job title and complains about caps. I don't see why every proper post needs to be written out in full when from the context it is clear that a specific post holder is being referred to, even when not specifically named. Pyrotec (talk) 17:50, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
The first sentence of WP:Job titles clearly states that a job title is a common noun - nothing about treating a job title as a proper name. The only mention of proper nouns is for the formal name of an office which the MoS does not consider to be a job title. If I am misreading it please explain. Jojalozzo 00:02, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
What then is the difference between job title and formal name of an office? Is the (current, to avoid ambiguity) "Queen of England" or "queen of England" merely a job title or is she the current holder of an office which has defined responsibilities and powers. Also, the same question can apply to Chief Mechanical Engineer, each railway company may had one, or used a comparable job title, so (arguably) the article is about a group of job holders, and you may have a point about lower case. At any given time a particular Chief Mechanical Engineer is the formal name of an office, that office has defined responsibilities (responsible to the board of the railway company (named company) for ...) and there is only one post holder. Collectively CME is a job title but it can also refer to all the post holders of a specific post in a specific company, so when used as such lower case is (probably) appropriate, but when specific office holders are being discussed its a proper name. Unfortunately, the article was quite poor: little more than a list of post holders and no proper lead, so for the "down case"-ers it was a good article to select. I certainly intend to expand it to GA-class. The original request was a change of article title (to the lower case variant), that then developed into almost a line by line review of the article where individual job titles were down cased and in some cases formal office holders down cased as well, followed up with a request for comment on job titles. I'm not sure even what your vote is about, is it for example about the title of the article, the job titles and names of offices within the article, or all of these? Pyrotec (talk) 06:49, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
It's an interesting issue, Pyro, and one that I recently discussed with User:Noetica, who doesn't have an immediate answer; but I asked him to think about it and get back when his timeframe is freer (I hope soon). BTW, would one say "three queens of England ..."? "All European queens are wealthy ..."? Tony (talk) 06:54, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm British, I would say three Queens of England ... "All European Queens are wealthy ..." because that looks right to me, however I know that other people from Britain will disagree; and I suspect in American-English "three queens of England ..."? "All European queens are wealthy ..." could be considered more correct. I say "consider" since I've never learned American-English but I have reviewed American-English as well as Canadian-English and Australian-English articles at GAN and I have to strongly resist "correcting" grammar/spellings. Pyrotec (talk) 07:02, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm English, I would say "All European queens are wealthy, but some American queens are poor." On the other hand "Her Majesty the Queen". Referring to Mel Gibson's film as "The Passion of the Christ" is correct, but the event should be properly titled "The passion of the christ" according to the arguments posited on this page. In British English in the area I live in, the correct phrase would be he Passion of Jesus (PBOH)""- pretty sure the PBOH is capitalised. Ning-ning (talk) 08:05, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for that contribution. I did not understand the PBOH bit (lack of knowledge on my part) so I googled "The Passion of Jesus (PBOH)" and came up with PBUH - I don't wish to argue over PBOH/PBUH is just might be a typo. What is interesting is the inconsistency in the name - I've seen .... Christ (PBUH), ... Jesus (PBUH), .... Isa (Jesus) (PBUH), all with "C" or "J" not lower case. If those are the proper titles I don't think that wikipeida should be lower casing it just because of the MOS guidelines - they are guide lines not rules. Pyrotec (talk) 08:40, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
Apologies- I got it wrong- PBUH is the one. Ning-ning (talk) 08:57, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
Since "The Christ" is not a job title I don't think this argument has much bearing here. However it does highlight the religious thread in the discussion. Jojalozzo 14:56, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
@Pyrotec: "Queen of England" is the correct formal name of the office, "England's queen" is an example of job title usage, and "Queen Elizabeth" is job title usage followed by a person's name. According to the MoS we say "three queens of England" since this is talking about three people who filled the role of queen (there is only one office of the Queen of England). Jojalozzo 16:03, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

In answer to Jojalozzo's questions: (A) Yes and No. While "chief mechanical engineer" is a generic job title or, job function, "Chief Mechanical Engineer" is the correct formal name of an office. (B) No. You are only repeating the part of WP:Job titles that suits your argument. The difficulty in the question is in 'job titles like this'. In the peculiar case of this article we are discussing a bunch of people, for all of whom, the formal name of their individual office is "Chief Mechanical Engineer" or "Locomotive Superintendent". (C) No, there should be no ground for an exception to MoS. However WP:Job titles is not as clear as it might be, and if we are going to be stuck with Jojalozzo's mistaken interpretation of what it says, then perhaps we should reluctantly invoke the bit of it that says 'Exceptions may apply for specific offices.' We have been told what the Chicago Manual of Style says, but this is a British English article. Unfortunately Globbet's library appears to contain two copies of "The King's English" but not "Modern English Usage". Could someone help with Fowler's take on this, if he has one? I understand Tony's concern about run-away capitalization and "Garbage Collector" (overlooking the implicit snobbery of that choice), but I think in practice there will be few instances of source for 'formal names of office' at junior levels. Globbet (talk) 10:11, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

Allowing that the lower case form, "chief mechanical engineer," is a job title is progress in my opinion but given that we have this job title, shouldn't we use it in the article since we are not talking about a formal office but about the office holder's job?
"Chief Mechanical Engineer" is not the formal name of an office. It is a job title that is (often/sometimes) capitalized in the industry. "President of France" is the correct formal name of an office and "Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway Company" is the correct formal name of an office. I think this confusion of office with job title is at the root of this dispute and I would ask those who think that "chief mechanical engineer" should be capitalized to consider and explain why that should be when the MoS says "president", "king", and "pope" are never capitalized unless followed by a person's name or used in a the formal name of an office (e.g. President of the French Republic, King of France, Bishop of Rome). Jojalozzo 14:43, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
Interesting that the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, in its website's potted biographies of Past Presidents downcases all instances of job title, including "chief mechanical engineer of the ... Railway", except for President and Past President. Ning-ning (talk) 15:14, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, they are obvious more relaxed about it than the downcasers in MOS. Or alternatively perhaps they got them from wikipedia and the downcasers got there first. Pyrotec (talk) 15:35, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
It's simple: (i) the MOS is wrong: (ii) an attempt is being made to implement it too rigidly, (iii) it is based almost solely on American English, (iv) selective quoting of only parts of the MOS. See comment above about the Chicago Manual of Style and WP:ENGVAR. However, I tend to agree with that "Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway Company" is the correct formal name of an office but if a section is entirely about the Great Western Railway and I write "Chief Mechanical Engineer" it can be inferred that I am referring to the "Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway Company". To emphasis the point, in such a section if I wish to refer to the "Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London and North Western Railway Company" and make comparisons against the "Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway Company" I'm going to use the full names, or at least the full name of the former I might just use "Chief Mechanical Engineer" for the latter. I fully agree with you about the religious bit. I suggest that you "down case-ers" consider WP:COMMON. The amount of editors' time that has been squandered on these discussions about the naming of and the use of titles/nouns within this article, which was/is quite a poor article, brings no credit on those who initiated these ill-consider actions. Pyrotec (talk) 15:35, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I think we can write "the Chief Mechanical Engineer" as shorthand in a section on the office of CME of a specific railway company but when we talk about all the CMEs for all the railways as this article does in its introduction then we should use lower case because we are then talking about a generic job not the office held by a CME in a company. Jojalozzo 16:31, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
The reason I was initially drawn into this discussion is that this article jumps out in lists of articles as one where the MoS is not being followed. Once here I discovered that editors appear to think the rules are wrong or the article should be exempted. I don't think the quality of the article is a valid excuse for not incorporating the MoS but I do think it may indicate editing at cross purposes to the project. (Yes, I am losing faith as this discussion drags on.) 16:43, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't have a problem with the selective use of the lower case and the upper case variants within the article. However, I'm not certain what is meant by as this article does in its introduction - there is no Introduction. "Chief Mechanical Engineer" appears once inside the article, bolded in the WP:Lead since the article's title is (still) Chief Mechanical Engineer. The phrase chief mechanical engineer appears three times: once each in the Lead, Locomotive Superintendent and Functions sections. Perhaps you mean Locomotive Superintendent - most are upper case? Pyrotec (talk) 17:02, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I fully sympathise. We are on the receiving end of all of this. Some of it is rebellion. It seems that every occurrence of "Chief Mechanical Engineer" was being down cased so every occurrence of Locomotive Superintendent gets upper cased. If CME can be used both as a job title and as a specific post depending on its context then I will make the necessary alterations. I'd much rather spend my time on productive work. Just compare the size of this talk page it is all about caps/lower case and the number of contributing editors against the size of the article and the contributions. Pyrotec (talk) 17:56, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
  • There is not a shred of a case that some exception should be made so that railway positions can be pumped up by capitalisation. As I've asked: does British Rail employ Toilet Cleaners? Why don't you go through the whole category and request moves to upcase every job-name? Tony (talk) 02:14, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Really, this article could be named "The king of Siam's left tit" for all the difference it'ld make to the content, which will be decided by the use of reliable secondary sources, available in UK&NI libraries.Ning-ning (talk) 05:43, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
While I agree that little/no justification has been offered for an exception to the capitalization rules, I think the toilet cleaner counter-argument is unnecessary and distracting. Jojalozzo 16:19, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Firstly, the comment immediately above contains a modicum of common sense - i.e. "... which will be decided by the use of reliable secondary sources, available in UK&NI libraries". However, none of the citations in the article, which are reliable secondary sources, provide any verification that the topic of the article is even vaguely related to "The king of Siam's left tit". The argument equal applies to the right one as well as the King himself. Secondly, this talkpage is concerned with Chief Mechanical Engineers it is not about British Rail Toilet Cleaners - presumably American English allows British Rail to have caps? - and as yet British Rail has not been mentioned in the article (the "branding" British Rail only dates from the 1960s), so I see no point in discussing Toilet Cleaners, upper case or lower here, they have no relevance. More importantly, I think that the time could be more productively spent rewriting MOS to remove the festering bias to US-English, to bring it into line with WP:ENGVAR, i.e. it recognises "the English Wikipedia prefers no major national variety of the language over any other". Once the MOS has been rewritten to accurately reflect British-English, Canadian-English, Australian-English, to name just three variants, as well as the "Chicago Manual", and as editors chill out and allow WP:COMMON to prevail, much of this frenzy will die down. Obvious for some it will not, but you know that anyway. (talk) 08:22, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
  • ENGVAR and COMMON are red herrings - as useful in this discussion as WP:OTHERSTUFF and WP:OUTSIDE. There's nothing regional about capitalization of job titles. English employs caps to denote importance and caps are used everywhere to puff up positions, roles, products, ideas, etc. Restricting the use of caps to produce a consistent style is commonsense. Jojalozzo 16:11, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Yet, in my few searches, I found that American sources about American companies tended to downcase CME, while British sources about British companies tended to uppercase it. --Enric Naval (talk) 18:06, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm not finding it downcased much anywhere. In US web sites & pdfs I'm seeing it capitalized (in text not titles) though I doubt that's what you mean by sources. Jojalozzo 18:59, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Lower case As a Brit I do not see any reason for capitalisation and I agree ENGVAR is a red herring in this case. As has been said already, many organisations in the UK and US try to puff up their job titles by capitalising them but our style is not to. Martin Hogbin (talk) 16:44, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
It is not the organisations "puffing up their job titles", but reliable sources (see my list from up near the top) writing them that way. The term Chief Mechanical Engineer is verifiable. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:49, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
There is nothing to show that 'chief mechanical engineer' is capitalised more than any other job title. It is to some degree a matter of style. Things are often capitalised that need not be. Our style is not to do so and we should stick to it. Martin Hogbin (talk) 20:27, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Other job titles have much lower percentages of capitalization in ngrams: chief executive officer, project manager or chief mechanical officer. (In chief marketing officer you can see the 60s frenzy for marketing techniques.) I only looked at a few ones Category:Management_occupations, try finding a job that is so consistently capitalized in sources along several decades, and let's see if there are also historical reasons for it. --Enric Naval (talk) 21:09, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
The n-gram doesn't distinguish between when CME is used as an individual's title (e.g. Chief Mechanical Engineer Jason Smithe) and when it's used as a job title. Jojalozzo 22:02, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
It doesn't distinguish either when CEO is used as an individual title or as a job title. --Enric Naval (talk) 23:19, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
My point is you can't tell whether the differences between two capitalizations of the same style or between the same capitalizations with two personal/job titles is due to different uses of the term or the same uses with different styles. There's no basis for assuming that the distribution of uses is the same for CME and CEO. It's a flawed tool for looking at differences in styles for different uses. Jojalozzo 00:43, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Lower case - Many job titles are capitalized in the sources, that is no reason to violate the WP style guideline. The whole point of the guideline is to provide a uniform, comfortable experience for readers within the encyclopedia articles: upper case is distracting and annoying, lower case is easier on the eyes. The "exception" proposed here could be likewise proposed for hundred of job titles within WP, but then why even have the style guideline in the first place? I agree with "puffing" issue raised by M. Hogbin above: persons with these jobs enjoy seeing the title capitalized, but that is no reason to push capital letters into reader's faces. Finally, it is unseemly to start a second RfC so soon after the first one: the prior RfC was initiated on 8 Sept, and this second RfC on 10 Sept. RfCs are supposed to have a duration of 30 days. Re-trying because the first one did not have the desired outcome is not acceptable. --Noleander (talk) 17:02, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
My apologies if I jumped the gun with this second RfC. I didn't start this one because the previous one was unsuccessful, but because I thought this one was better framed to stay on track. Jojalozzo 19:20, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes/Yes/No—I think the guidelines are pretty clear that it should be lowercase, and the usage in the sources is not overwhelmingly capitalized, certainly not enough to justify the break with our style. I think it is important for style to be consistent so that Wikipedia doesn't look amateurish. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 21:11, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
    • I intend to create an article on the generic topic of "chief mechanical engineer"—which would match countless other articles on occupations. Thus, this article title will need to be made more specific to make "room" for the generic one. Can someone advise me what the correct procedure is for this? Tony (talk) 12:35, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
      • I suggest you excise the 'generic' content from this article, go here and paste it in, whilst removing the redirect. You would probably be then left with two stubs to work on; they will develop independent of each other. You can then put {{about}} dablinks on the top of each linking to the other. This current article should perhaps then be moved to 'Chief Mechanical Engineer (railways)' or something suitably descriptive. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 13:26, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Looking at Category:Occupations by type (I can't make a link for that), the house style appears to be "Chief mechanical engineer". Lightmouse (talk) 12:51, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

        • Favonian, is this acceptable? Tony (talk) 14:54, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Additional third opinion: YES/NO/(YES). WP:Job titles says the correct formal name of an office can be treated as a proper noun. Since we largely agree the answer to question (A) is "YES", it's fine to capitalise these two job titles across an article where the relevant railway company's official publications (ie. reliable sources) treat them as proper nouns. I don't think the guidelines dictate either way, and I wouldn't call for a Wikipedia-wide (or topic-wide) standardisation of capitalisation. As long as capitalisation is consistent within an article, it's fine. Deryck C. 08:14, 1 October 2011 (UTC)

I disagree. Clearly all job titles are viewed as common names in Wikipedia no matter how they are handled in a particular area of commerce. Treating CME differently requires making an exception. The guideline for formal names of offices applies only to office names not to job titles - they are not the same thing. Jojalozzo 16:55, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
This article is about an office. --Redrose64 (talk) 18:43, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
If it were the formal name of an office it would be about the CME for a specific railway company, a proper noun/name, upper case. When the topic is any CME's at any railway company as in this article it's a job title, a common noun/name, lower case. Jojalozzo 21:25, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
This article is not about mechanical engineers that happen to be chiefs of their department. We don't even have an article on the job title of mechanical engineer. --Enric Naval (talk) 22:24, 5 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't get your point. Capitalizing the job title doesn't mean it's not referring to a mechanical engineer who is head of the department. I don't see how details of the job and the capitalization of the job title are related. Do you think that CMEs that work for railway companies should have their job titles capitalized to distinguish them from CMEs who work in other industries? Jojalozzo 22:36, 5 October 2011 (UTC)

I do not think the arguments for treating CMEs and LRs like all other job titles have been very well countered. As I understand it, those who desire an exception to the MoS take the position that it is the style in this industry to capitalize these two job titles and, because of that, the general MOSCAPS "common sense" loophole applies. I agree that the style in this industry is special but don't see how common sense has anything to do with embracing whatever new style is employed by the subject of an article. Common sense tells me to maintain a consistent style among all the articles, independent of the styles of the subjects. An inconsistent style confuses the reader who is justified in thinking that variations in style are attempts to communicate variations in meaning. Thinking of the project as whole, it's clear to me that a case by case approach to style is not common sense. Jojalozzo 03:10, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Sometimes it will come down to whether there's inconsistency with some of the external sources or inconsistency within WP's usage. There has to be a very good reason to introduce internal inconsistency, so I agree with Jojalozzol. Tony (talk) 05:16, 20 October 2011 (UTC)
  • YES/YES/NO. Late to this debate too, but I might as well chime in since the discussion hasn't been marked closed. As I've said above, upper-casing job titles here is an obvious case of the WP:Specialist style fallacy, and its particular variant the "reliable sources style fallacy" is demonstrated in spades in the earlier RM debate. The WP:MOS has a clear, site-wide consensus against capitalizing job titles for a reason. There's nothing magically special about British rail workers and their job titles. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 17:22, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
"The specialist literature on some topic is [usually] the most reliable source of detailed facts about this specialty". Well yeah- if I want a reliable source of detailed facts about homeopathy the last place I'd look would be in a book written by a homeopath. Otherwise, all you're saying is that Wikipedia articles have to be written in Wikipedia style. You'd maybe like to take the "specialist style" out of Structuration for a bit of practice. Ning-ning (talk) 01:25, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
I see no specialist style there, much less any that would conflict with general English usage (for example "structure, modality, and interaction" are not Capitalized Just to "Bignote" Them as Important, or any other bullshitty weirdness. Was there something at that article in particular I was supposed to take note of? And of coruse cases like homeopathy were precisely why I put in "[usually]". >;-) The essay's point is surely "use Wikipedia style, not your pet style, on Wikipedia"; the purpose of writing it (as opposed to the point it conveys) is to specifically deconstruct the fallacious and sometimes intentionally disruptive nonsense arguments that are used to push pet style. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 05:52, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
I see we're using "style" in two different ways; your essay refers to styling the name of a subject whereas I see the "structuration" article as being written in the style of a sociology specialist, as the novels of Marie Corelli are written in the style of a Ouida. I'm not aware offhand of any group of specialists other than theologians or Muslims who maintain a pet style of punctuation (in the form of caps or PBUH). American editors tend to insert commas where British editors don't- but English newspapers of the 1930s have a plethora of commas, and English newspapers of the 1780s capitalise everything. There's not usually a kerfuffle about shuffling commas, or about de-capitalisation except in this case... So, "style" may be the wrong term to use if we're merely talking about punctuation/hyphenation/capitalisation. Ning-ning (talk) 17:15, 12 February 2012 (UTC)


I wonder why there was such shrill insistence on the caps for the title/subject of this article, when the text contains prominent reference to other job titles:

Locomotive superintendent

Initially, where a railway company choose to build its own rolling stock in house, the mechanical engineering aspect was regarded as a subsidiary function to that of the chief engineer and this was reflected in various job titles, such as chief of locomotive department, locomotive foreman and locomotive superintendent.

Tony (talk) 13:31, 5 July 2012 (UTC)

Because that was what they were called, Chief Engineer and Locomotive Superintendent. Read this page. Pyrotec (talk) 12:03, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
I think you're missing Tony's point. Nobody objected when locomotive superintendent was made lowercase last Sept. Per book sources, that's the way it should be styled on WP. The chief mechanical engineer title is also not consistently capitalized in sources, so should also be downcased, but that got fought. Apparently some job titles get capitalized, but the rationale remains vague. Dicklyon (talk) 22:02, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

A proposed resolution: do like The Railway Magazine, London, 1906, and capitalize the job title when it comes right after a name, or prefixed to a name, but not when it comes after "the" or is otherwise describing the job or the office, not the person/title (they appear to deviate from their pattern a bit on p.505, but that's nothing compared to the usual mix of caps across British railroading sources). Dicklyon (talk) 22:23, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

Oh, I see we had that discussion a few quarters ago; seems like it got decent support, while the idea of making an exception to MOS:CAPS didn't. So why haven't we done another RM on this, to fix it thus? Dicklyon (talk) 22:30, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

Requested move, re-opened[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: moved, with the caveat that there is no consensus to move the subsidiary list articles – they should go through their own RM. Jenks24 (talk) 10:40, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

Chief Mechanical EngineerChief mechanical engineer – Per the extensive discussions above, and following the suggestion to re-open the move request (Favonian had closed with "close for now with no move, pending outcome of RFCs"), it's time to fix this. The discussions made it clear there is no compelling reason in sources (since many British railway magazines and such did and still do use lower case), and no widespread support among editors, to adopt a style at variance with the WP style expressed in MOS:CAPS, by which the job title should be lower case. We can still accommodate the formal use of the title for individuals by capitalizing it when it's present as part of a name/title, as proposed by Jojalozzo and supported by many. Dicklyon (talk) 01:29, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

The RfCs mentioned above were Talk:Chief Mechanical Engineer#Capitalization of "Chief Mechanical Engineer" and "Locomotive Superintendent" and Talk:Chief Mechanical Engineer#Make an exception to the MoS capitalization guidelines for the job titles: Chief Mechanical Engineer and Locomotive Superintendent. There may have been others: as I noted on 11 September 2011, some discussions occurred off this page. --Redrose64 (talk) 12:40, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
There will no impediment to keeping those subsidiary lists in sync if we decide this one. No admin help needed, no controversy. Dicklyon (talk) 05:55, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Didn't we say that specific positions in specific companies like "Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway" had to be capitalized? Shouldn't it still be capitalized if it is in plural? -- (talk) 23:49, 7 July 2012 (UTC)
Did we say that? If it's in the context of "Joe Blow, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway", then maybe. But plural, I don't think so; that's clearly a generic in that case. Dicklyon (talk) 04:31, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
Every single item in the list is uppercase, but the list name has to be lowercase?.... This means that List of Presidents of the United States needs to be downcased, and many articles under Category:Lists_of_presidents. --Enric Naval (talk) 11:06, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
There would be no analogy there unless you first convinced people that the office title "president of the United States" is OK without the capital. After looking at sources, I'd say that's a very unlikely case to succeed, compared to chief mechanical engineer. Dicklyon (talk) 19:54, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
(warning, I am not talking about this specific move, I am talking about downcasing List of Chief Mechanical Engineers of the Great Western Railway)
But "Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway" is a specific position just like "President of the United States", so the list names should follow the same rules. (And "Chief Mechanical Engineer of the" + company name is also capitalized in sources) Can you explain why these two lists should follow different rules? --Enric Naval (talk) 21:22, 8 July 2012 (UTC)
I can't totally explain why they are treated so differently in sources, but due to that (per MOS:CAPS) we should treat them correspondingly differently in WP. See books and magazines for that title. Dicklyon (talk) 00:03, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
In lists which enumerate sets of people with a particular job title such as the "List of X Railway chief mechanical engineers" or "List of French kings", job titles are downcased. If we considered the office of CME very important, we might upcase CME in "List of holders of the office of Chief Mechanical Engineer of X Railway" but we're not using that construction. We downcase CME in "List of chief mechanical engineers of X Railway" since the latter enumerates people with a particular job title. Jojalozzo 04:03, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
@Dicklyon: only the older sources use downcase. Modern sources capitalize the position.
@Jojalozzo: yet we don't downcase List of Presidents of the United States. The truly generic positions are stuff like List of heads of state of Yugoslavia. --Enric Naval (talk) 07:51, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
And there is a difference between List of French kings (people who were king in the general region of France, even before the word "France" was coined) and List of Kings of France (people who held the title of King of France). --Enric Naval (talk) 09:30, 12 July 2012 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.


Does the chief have to be a chartered/certified/professional engineer, and a member of the Engineering College/Society/Bar/Guild ? -- (talk) 04:06, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

In Britain, a Chief Mechanical Engineer of a railway was almost always a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Some were also members of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Most were members of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers: not all were though - Charles Collett of the GWR encouraged his staff to join the IMechE and the Civils, but did not permit them to join the ILE. --Redrose64 (talk) 12:33, 7 July 2012 (UTC)

Proper noun[edit]

Honestly, I've never read anything so ridiculous as the discussions above about whether it's 'Chief Mechanical Engineer' or 'chief mechanical engineer' outside of name+title use. I'm frankly horrified to see it ended up with the entirely wrong result. I came here from the home page presentation of Oliver Bulleid's pacifics, and can only wonder at some people's theory that by decapitalising CME, they think laymen are going to be saved any sort of confusion, or indeed praise this adherence to a consistent style. The simple fact is, anyone who claims that either in historical or contemporary usage, people use/d 'CME' as just a common noun for the name of a position that was no more worthy of capitalisation than 'toilet cleaner' and no more uniquely identifying of a post than 'king', are just wrong, wrong, wrong. While it may have initially only been used as a common noun, there can be no doubt that by the time of the period of Bulleid's pacifics, it had become a proper noun for that unique position. Just like there was King Henry, one of the Kings of England, there was Chief Mechanical Engineer Oliver Bulleid, one of the Chief Mechanical Engineers of the railways. It's amazing that the nonsense talked above about toilet cleaners and internal consistency managed to derail Wikipedia away from this undeniable reality of the English language. — Preceding unsigned comment added by CME9949 (talkcontribs) 19:11, 8 March 2013 (UTC)

OS Nock[edit]

O. S. Nock became "Chief Mechanical Engineer" of Westinghouse in 1957 (referenced in the article) - a railway job - in a different sort of railway company - I think the article needs to address other contexts such as this.Prof.Haddock (talk) 04:21, 19 January 2014 (UTC)

So you're saying either that Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company Ltd was not a railway company, or that other kinds of companies having chief mechanical engineers is somehow odd or railroad-like, or both? I don't see the issue. Dicklyon (talk) 04:50, 19 January 2014 (UTC)