Talk:Dutch units of measurement

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Inconsistent[edit]

The information on this page seems to be based on the information at the external web link. Unfortunately, the information on that page is internally inconsistent and vague about how the measure varied geographically and over time.

What's the problem? Maybe the big palm that got changed from 96 mm to 100 m? (note lacking 'milli' prefix) In short, who's disputing it and why?
(9.6 cm to 10 cm) Peter Horn 02:43, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

212.83.87.184 09:56, 23 November 2005 (UTC)

Maybe this can explain the inconsistency?

The Dutch system was not standardised until Napoleon introduced the metric system. Different towns used measures with the same names but differing sizes.

These must be completely for sure though.

valid from 1816 to 1937 Peter Horn 02:43, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Maybe sometime we can filter out the dutch ones from these pages:

[1]

[2]

[3]


Immeëmosol 12:58, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Dutch units of measurement#Length[edit]

akker – 7 m (????) I can't find anythig in the Dutch Wiki Peter Horn 02:34, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Akker litterally means acre, and the unit is probably also the same (land plowable in a day). So I doubt this is a length unit, but a surface one. 88.159.74.100 (talk) 19:51, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Editing[edit]

As part of the effort to clean up the pages relating to the Netherlands, I'm going to edit these pages by translating the info from the Dutch Wikipedia. Much of the information seems to be available on the Dutch Wikipedia, as helpfully illustrated by Peter Horn's efforts.

  • In the editing, I'll take the comments above into account, if they have not been integrated already.
  • Users who have been active in maintaining this site (Peter Horn in particular) do you have any objections to revamping? Or comments?
  • I have a problem with the name of the page. I'd prefer something like "Historical Weights and Measures in the Low Countries" or something similar.
  • I appreciate Peter Horn's linkage to the Dutch sites. I personally found it most useful. However, is this standard on Wikipedia? I've not seen this inter-language linkage on other pages. Also, is it useful to people who don't speak Dutch?

Schildewaert (talk) 06:54, 17 March 2008 (UTC)

This article is about Dutch subject matter so it is highly probably that the most reputable sources are in Dutch. Regarding those people who can't read Dutch - can't they trust those who can? In an article such as this, a significant number of readers can read Dutch, including many native Dutch speakers who prefer writing in English so that they can reach a larger audience. Martinvl (talk) 21:44, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

I've finished editing this page for the time being. Generally, the editing was primarily a matter of translating, organising and fleshing out the text. A few comments:

  • The information found on the Dutch Wikipedia pages is unfortunately mostly unfootnoted. Some of the information found on the various websites are also unfootnoted. This fact will effect the quality of this article. Anyone possessing primary sources about Dutch weights and measures is welcome to strengthen the referencing here. There must be a solid reference work out there about this. The Van Vlijmen website lists these two:
  • W.C.H. Staring, De binnen- en buitenlandsche maten, gewichten en munten van vroeger en tegenwoordig, met hunne onderlinge vergelijkingen en herleidingen, benevens vele andere, dagelijks te pas komende opgaven en berekeningen.Vierde, herziene en veel vermeerderde druk, 1902.
  • De oude Nederlandse maten en gewichten, J.M. Verhoeff, 2e druk, 1983; Publikatie 3 van het P.J. Meertens-Instituut voor dialectologie, volkskunde en naamkunde van de Koninklijke Nederlande Akademie van Wetenschappen.
If someone has a copy of these reference works, perhaps they could add the footnotes.
  • I tried not to borrow information from the comprehensive websites set up by several people, but I suspect that some of the information in this article and on the Dutch Wikipedia site has been drawn from these mostly unfootnoted sources. These websites are mentioned at the bottom of the article.
  • It's clear that this is an endless topic. You could literally list thousands of various weights and measures used in the various towns and regions in the Netherlands. It all is rather charming and colourful, but where does it end? I would suggest that in the future this article should not become a comprehensive listing of every possible weight and measure, but become more oriented towards better footnoting and the historical context. The article could provide an overview, the highlights and the significant points on this topic. Let the other websites provide the comprehensive listings.
  • It's easy to see the various articles that could be spun off from this: "Weights and measures in the Dutch Golden Age", "Weights and measures in New Amsterdam", "Weights and measures in VOC, Indonesia and South Africa", and so on. Projects for the future...
  • Flemish weights and measures were not included here. My choice about this was rather arbitrary, but after all the article does have "Dutch" in the title. If anyone wants to add Flemish weights and measures, feel free.
  • There are still a few discrepancies. I dídn't want to change the work done by earlier contributors, but not everything here was consistent with the listings on the Dutch Wikipedia. For example, how many litres are there exactly in an anker?
  • This topic lends itself to illustration with visual images, but there was precious little on Wikimedia Commons. If anyone has images of these various weights and measures, feel free to add them.

Schildewaert (talk) 08:18, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

"duim" (thumb) is still in some use, anpartially in expressions but e.g. people describe screws size based on inches (British, not old-Dutch) as "Duims". Also when dealing with older documents, one can see literally translating "inch" with "duim" was way more customary in the 50s-70s. That is not the case now anymore, but also not 2 centuries ago. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 88.159.74.100 (talk) 19:58, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

I miss vadem and el. Specially el was afaik in common use in marketplaces (for measuring cloth). Vadem (Fathom in English?) is afaik more naval. 88.159.74.100 (talk) 20:29, 27 April 2009 (UTC)

Changes of 4 March 2011[edit]

I made a number of updates to the article which User:Schildewaert revoked, dismissing them as vandalism. Firstly, they are not vandalism. The Oxford English Dictionary describes a "Vandal" as "[A] wilful or ignorant destroyer of works of art etc". I certainly did not do that.

Having made the point that vandalism is not involved, I realise that User:Schildewaert felt the historic contets that I described was excessive. I do not think so. If the article is a catalogue of Dutch units of measure, it is incomplete (and will probably never be complete). If large sections of such lists are left out (for example cataloging which cities used 11 duimen in their voet, and which used 12, then we need some text to discuss this. What better way than introducing the subject with a historic context?. In writing the historic context, I tried to keep things as short as possible without compromising quality. If User:Schildewaert is able to inmprove on the historic context, please do so, but to dismiss it totally is actually vandalism.

BTW, I have been looking at a number of Dutch sites and I have found a few that meet the Wikipedia criteria of nto being self-published. I hope that User:Schildewaert will be able to work with me in using them. He is free to look at my semi-private work area at User:Martinvl/Test to see what references I have saved there. Martinvl (talk) 20:54, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for agreeing to discuss these changes. I have read your comments carefully. I appreciate your involvement and it was only with some thought that I took (and will keep taking) the drastic step of reverting to the original article. I am all in favour of improvement, but any rewrite and amendments should be done with full discussion of each major change, and with the agreement of other users, not with a massive one-man rewrite and reformatting of the previous article. Massive rewrite is perceived as vandalism in this case, I'm afraid. I'm going to revert the page to what it was, but please do not take this personally and feel free to introduce your apparently extensive amendments step by step. May I suggest that you detail and post your amendments on the talk page before introducing them to the article itself. This way other users will have a chance to comment on them before they end up in the article. If we don't do it this way, we'll end up constantly changing and unchanging the body of the article.
I agree that the historical context is important, and I appreciate very much the contribution of your knowledge, but to introduce lengthy explanations of Dutch history is simply inappropriate for an article with this kind of specific subject matter. Much of the contents of the historical amendments were already freely available on other pages dealing with Dutch history. If you do feel the need to explain pre-metric Dutch historical background, please keep it within the context of this subject matter and please keep it to a minimum. I'd like to add that it's better to assume the reader -- yes, even a non-Dutch reader -- already understands the history of the Netherlands when looking at such a specific topic. If not, the reader can click through to the appropriate general article to find out more. It's not necessary to go back to Charlemagne. (I can't help but add that I often see this phenomenon in articles about Dutch topics. They tend to start with very broad statements like "The Netherlands is a country in Northwestern Europe." I feel this approach is unnecessary in an article like this with a specific focus. Also, it gives the impression that the writer is assuming the reader is an idiot. I don't remember the Wikipedia policy on tone, but I think we are to assume that the reader is educated and doesn't need the entire background of a topic spelled out to him. Also, historical explanations should themselves be referenced.
If you could improve the referencing on this page it would be very much appreciated. Unfortunately the Dutch Wikipedia treatment of this subject is pathetic, but this is what this article is inevitably going to be based on.
I agree that this article could be endless. I agree that the article is too long and list-like. May I suggest that you could create separate pages to explain the various specific aspects of this topic. Indeed, I personally would find that a fantastic development. You could even transfer some of the content from this page to those pages. (Of course, that would leave the irony that the English Wikipedia article is much more comprehensive than the equivalent article on Dutch Wikipedia. However, I don't pretend to understand what's happening on the Dutch Wikipedia pages. Referencing is almost completely absent there.)
However, if you do take this approach, please leave this article as a coherent overview. Don't destroy this article to create the more detailed articles.
Also, please review the policy on Wikipedia regarding image placement. Ideally, the images are to be placed in alternate sides of the page (ie right, left, right, etc.)
Also, your introduction of a huge white space at the start of the article is simply poor formatting and destroys the visual impact of the opening. I understand that the initial image is unusually large, but this is a way of handling the fact that the table of contents generated by the page is rather long. It's best to increase the size of the image to eliminate that. If this article were broken down to smaller articles, this problem might disapper as the table of contents decreased in size. Schildewaert (talk) 09:40, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
I have a number of responses to the above:
Pictures
The WP:MOS recommends that all pictures be about 200 pixels and that they be right-aligned. I noticed that the list of bullet-points alongside the picture of the road sign was artificially spaced out to enforce alignment. On the left-hand side of the screen you will see some export facilities. Try to export the article as a printable version or as a PDF and see what happens. The “careful” formatting cause large white spaces. That is why the MOS make the recommendation that are made. I therefore recommend following the MOS recommendations for the pictures (or at any rate for all except the first picture).
Historic Context
I dispute that the average reader understands Dutch history – in fact we must assume that a number of readers do not understand the difference between "The Netherlands" and "Holland" (something that my father, who was born in The Hague explained to me at an early age). I would suggest that this section be reinstated and expanded to include an explanation of how the units of measure were shaped by the history.
Lists of units
After reading User:Schildewaert’s comments, I think that the article could be restructured as follows:
  • Historic Context (an expansion of the text that I wrote so that it explains why the units of measure developed the way that they did
  • Lists of pre-revolutionary units of measure
  • Lists of the Dutch metric system
I do not think it worthwhile breaking the article up into separate articles. WP:SIZERULE suggests that if the article is less than 40k bytes, it should not be split purely on the criteria of size, but above 60k bytes, one should consider splitting it. The article is now between 20k and 24k bytes in length (depending on which version you look at), so size alone should not be the criteria for a split. I think that if we can get lists as well as the texts into an article of 35k - 40k bytes, we should have a good article.
Martinvl (talk) 12:13, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Thanks very much for your response. In the link you provided the guideline on images is found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_style#Images It says: "Multiple images in the same article can be staggered right-and-left" "The default thumbnail width is 220 pixels; users can adjust this in their preferences. An option such as "|300px|" resizes the image to the specified width in pixels, and "upright=1.2" (or "|frameless|upright=1.2" for plain pictures) resizes an image to approximately the given multiple of a user's preferred width. An image should generally be no more than 500 pixels tall and 400 pixels ("upright=1.8") wide" This guideline does not limit images to 200 pixels and it does not recommend that images be placed only on the right. This statement made above is not correct: "The WP:MOS recommends that all pictures be about 200 pixels and that they be right-aligned." There is no such recommendation. If I am misreading the guidelines, please let me know. There are three reasons why the images should be left as they were: 1. The author wanted them that way. 2. They are more visually appealing that way. 3. They are easier to see that way.

1. The article as it was conformed to the style guidelines. It leaves discretion to the author of the article to stagger the images from right to left and to increase the size of the image to as much as 400. You are of course welcome to explain why the images have to be reduced to 200 when the guidelines permit them to be as large as 400. 2. The image changes that you seek to introduce do not make the article more visually appealing. I see the changes to the images as actually "ruining" the visual design of the article. The huge white space at the start of the article makes the entire article look deficient and poorly designed. The large image at the start, in particular, was fascinating and helped to draw in the reader to see what it was about. 3. Another point is that the impact of the images has been reduced. Not everyone approaches a Wikipedia article in the same way. Many will look only at the images and then move on. The images are rather detailed. At 200 one has to strain to even see the detail in the image. The images now look like an afterthought, not as the anchors of the article.

One other point about the images: the second image should be collocated with the section about the modern metric system in the Netherlands.

With regard to content, I appreciate the quality of the amendments. I have it read it over carefully. It's well written and seems accurate to me. I appreciate the fact that you've tied it in to the "Mesures usuelles" article, which I see you also worked extensively on. I see now how it adds to the article.

A few comments though:

  1. None of it is referenced. If anything, this article needs more references.
  2. It refers to a "Carolingian system" without any linkage to a Wikipedia article about that subject. This historical aspect is apparently not dealt with in any other Wikipedia article. It's not clear to me why this Dutch article should be the place for that.
  3. The text is not tight and focused enough. It really doesn't require the references to Charlemagne, Belgium, etc. I appreciate your thoroughness, but this is not the place for a mini-overview of all of Dutch history. They can click through to other pages to find out more. Not every article has to go back to first principles. Why should the Dutch article have so many references to Charlemagne when the French article on "Mesures usuelles" has none? Also, a point of view issue: the amendments will be perceived by most Dutch readers as offputting. Why should this aspect of their history be treated as an offshoot of France's? Charlemagne, Napoleon -- yes, it's part of Dutch history, but not an essential part for the purposes of this article. It's like reading about Dutch history from a French perspective.
  4. I have to admit that I'm not convinced that the entire ancient system of measurements that developed in the Netherlands did not have a local origin. If you're claiming that they were imposed by Charlemagne, it would help to have references to back this up. Maybe only a few of them were, in which case is it worth making this point so prominent in this article?
  5. The introduction (which was admittedly weak before the amendments) is still weak and does not give an overview of the content of the article to follow.
  6. Also, the capitalisation in the first list (under metric system) is inconsistent.
  7. Also, it should be 1860s, not 1860's.

Rather than play the game of changing versions each time, I'd like to give you an opportunity to address these issues. If you are willing to amend the article to deal with these points effectivley, there wouldn't be any point in reverting to an earlier version. Schildewaert (talk) 00:16, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

Hi Schildewaert
Thank you for your response. I have taken the liberty of making some minor edits - replacing the point numbers with "'#". This will allow the computer to auto-number.
  1. Although the WP:MOSIMAGE does permit 400px pictures (300 px for pictures in the lede), WP:Imagesize#Displayed_image_size councels against forcing image size. One of the underlying reasons is that by allowing the computer to do the final tuning, one gets a consistent result (as with the changes that I made to your last posting).
  2. I agree that the referencing is weak. I have been looking for some references (as well as references that can be used in French units of measurement (to 1795) and possibly in French units of measurement).
  3. Charlemagne's territories included the Netherlands, France, Germany and quite a bit else. The Dutch system of measure is derived from Charlemagne's reforms whereas mesures usuelles can only be traced back to Napoleon. Thus refernces to Charlemagne would be out of place in "mesures usuelles".
  4. I believe that the voet, pond and el came from Charlemagne - I am trying to verify that. So far I have been vague about that as I do not have full confirmation - I have not yet put much work into the section on pre-metric units.
  5. I agree that the introduction is still weak. However I do not want to touch it until I can remove the reference that is contained in it. (BTW, I subscribe to the view that the introduction (or lede) should not have any references. Wikipedia allows both approaches, but requires consistency. I also agree that what has been written is not perfect.
  6. One of the changes that I would like to make in the near future is to reduce the number of headings by "demoting" items such as voet, pond etc to being bold text rather than gennerating headings in the Contents box. I also plan to demote "Historic Lengths", "Historic Areas" etc from being 2nd level headings to being 3rd level headings. Do you have any view regarding that.
Martinvl (talk) 12:28, 9 March 2011 (UTC)
I guess you'll need some time to make the changes so I'll leave you to it. Your solution for shortening the table of contents seems acceptable, although perhaps you can increase the photos to 300. Also, I assume you'll continue to amend the introduction and the rest of the text to remove the franco-centric point of view. There are too many references to Charlemagne, Napoleon, the French Revolution, etc. This article should have a Dutch point of view. The introduction should cover to the contents of the entire article, not just the historical aspects. Two references to the French Revolution in the introduction is not appropriate for this article. I appreciate your ability to set this in an international context, but this article should have primarily Dutch subject-matter. I'm just not convinced that Charlemagne had much to do with the introduction of Dutch weights and measures and that Charlemagne is relevant to the pre-metric era that this article is mostly concerned with. During the time of Charlemagne, the area that is now Holland (the core of the modern country of the Netherlands) was virtually depopulated. The historical perspective should start well after that and perhaps focus on the 17th and 18th centuries. Schildewaert (talk) 00:36, 10 March 2011 (UTC)
Hi talk. I read your points with interest and I appreciate your concern me giving too much emphasis to the French Revolution. I must admit that one of the drivers in this has been my interest in genealogy. That made me realise the huge impact that the French Revolution had on Dutch system of government and law. In addition, the formation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the immeadiate aftermath of the Napoleonic era makes the period 1792 - 1816 even more significant and in the context of units of measurement, perhaps more important than the Eighty years war. Martinvl (talk) 07:18, 10 March 2011 (UTC)