Talk:Elizabeth Cotton, Lady Hope

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[Untitled][edit]

shouldn't we have her quoted reguarding Darwins supposed conversion?

the 1915 article included in full is supposed to be a quote from her: see link added for her similar (later) letter.- dave souza 19:21, 27 May 2005 (UTC)

Background[edit]

Most of the Elizabeth Hope page is dedicated to the The Lady Hope Story because of it's prominence, but sadly a lot of background on the woman and her character, which is vital to the readers perspective of the story, has been omitted.

I found this statement strange after reading further: "The story remains a popular urban legend". Dr Paul Marston's article lists four different sources to back up the link between the Elizabeth Hope and the "The Lady Hope Story", so it certainly appears that the story is a disputed fact at worst; to characterise it as an urban ledgend appears to be a strong POV supporting the Darwin's family denial.

I expect the term "urban legend" refers to the suggestion that he "recanted his theory of evolution on his deathbed, and accepted Jesus Christ as a savior", but after reading the "priginal text of the article", it clearly does not state either.

AFAICS "The Lady Hope Story" is the term given to the interpretation of the letter that implies Darwin recanted. I think the story should be moved onto a separate page so that it does not reflect badly on Lady Hope, who by all accounts appears to have been a good lady and this story was assumed to have been penned by her during her final years. It would be nice for this page to include more biographical content. Jayvdb 05:04, 19 March 2006 (UTC)

I am in complete agreement that this page needs more biographical information. However, what she is most famous for is the Darwin story and therefore should stay on this page until the point when (hopefully) we have enough bio data to justify moving it to another page.JoshuaZ 05:40, 19 March 2006 (UTC)


Biased overview[edit]

The 'Initial overview' section sounds rather biased, with talk of retreats etc. Any idea how to change it? -- Simon Coleman-Smith, Hants, UK

First answer is to edit it, as you've done here to make your comment. However the bias has come with recent edits by User:Guillen whose record of POV and poor behaviour is noted at User talk:Guillen, and who added in a lump nicked from CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS & RESEARCH MINISTRY. To restore it, I clicked on the history tab, then clicked on the date before Guillen's edits, clicked on "edit", copied the text from this old edition, then pasted it into the appropriate section having removed the corrupted version. This leaves untouched lots of additional links G seems to have added: it might be worth reviewing whether these should also be removed. ..dave souza, talk 13:28, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Recent additions[edit]

Robertwiddowson has added the following unsourced passage (which gives the appearance of having been copied from another source)

Nonetheless, there are aspects of her account of the event that are difficult to dispute. Lady Hope provides details that accurately describe the room in which they met, Darwin's appearance, and his behavior. In the Bole Letter (Moore, 86), she recalled that the room was large and had a high ceiling, that Darwin wore a purple dressing gown, and that "his fingers twitched nervously" while they spoke. All these details are correct, though they only suggest she may have met with him. The members of the Darwin family who challenged the truthfulness of the Lady Hope story were not living at home at the time of the alleged visit and when her account was published in 1915 everyone who had been an adult at the time and may have provided key testimony to the contrary was deceased (Moore, 97). In Lady Hope's favor, her character has never been seriously impugned. In 1922, some of her U.S. friends wrote an affidavit, upholding her account of the visit. Moore, who has researched the story most thoroughly, believes the meeting did occur, probably on September 28, 1881, but argues against the content of the conversation as reported by Lady Hope. Sir Robert Anderson, who was head of the Criminal Investigation Department of Scotland Yard, was close friends with Lady Hope and, in reference to the visit, wrote, "...a friend of mine who was much with Darwin during his last illness assures me that he expressed the greatest reverence for the scriptures and bore testimony to their value" (Moore, 48).
In her account, Lady Hope also stated that Darwin mentioned studying the Letter to the Hebrews. Bowles, following Moore (note 4 to chapter 5--Lady Hope's story, page 131) notes that the only mark in the Darwin family Bible occurs in the margin beside Hebrews, chapter six. Interestingly, this chapter speaks of those who were once close to the gospel but have since fallen away. On its own, the small backward tick proves nothing. However, Darwin did enter university with the intent to become an ordained clergyman in the Church of England but lost his faith in subsequent years. Bowles speculates that Darwin may have made the tick around the time of Lady Hope's alleged visit. Darwin's thoughts, in the final months of his life, may have turned to religion following the death of his older brother, Erasmus (Moore, 56). Until the end, Darwin publicly declared his agnosticism.

The entire passage has an argumentative tone which is unsuitable for an encyclopaedia article. It's full of conjecture. In addition, the inclusion of references suggests that it was copied from another source, making it at worst a copyvio and at best plagiarism. Guettarda 21:20, 5 December 2006 (UTC)



The article itself is more than a little argumentative. I was simply trying to flesh out the story. Interestingly, Lady Hope herself never claimed that Darwin came to faith in Jesus Christ, as is stated at the beginning of the article. User: Robertwiddowson, 5 December 2006

Fair use rationale for Image:Darwin Legend.jpg[edit]

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Possible coatrack article?[edit]

This article is supposed to be a biography, but most of it is actually about the 'Darwin deathbed confession' story, and its subsequent controversy. That may be what Lady Hope is best known for, but it risks turning this into a coatrack article. Perhaps this section should be spun out into its own article (called Lady Hope story, or whatever), so this article can be kept as a biography. Robofish (talk) 18:45, 22 November 2009 (UTC)

The article could use some work, but I don't think it's a coatrack. How does this article differ (except in quality) from E. B. Grandin?--John Foxe (talk) 01:19, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
Essentially, Lady Hope story would have the same content, with the sparse biographical details trimmed slightly, and Elizabeth Hope would be a short stub with a link to the story article. Not a big deal either way, most of the articles linking to this page seem to pipe it as Lady Hope Story and if you want to change it, could you please revise the articles so that they link to the story rather than to the bio stub. Thanks, dave souza, talk 10:25, 23 November 2009 (UTC)
How about merging the two? For instance, Ethan Smith redirects to View of the Hebrews where Smith's biography is included. In other words, do we need two articles?--John Foxe (talk) 19:30, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Clarification[edit]

The article says, "...Hope told the story of her meeting with Darwin at a Bible conference held in Northfield, Massachusetts". Someone reading this could say, "What would Darwin be doing at a Bible conference?". Does anyone besides me think this should be reworded? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.72.189.69 (talk) 14:18, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

By the way, if you want to search for the exact text, you might try just "Hope told the story of her meeting with Darwin at a Bible conference held in ". The hyperlinks on "Northfield" and "Massachusetts" seem to screw up exact searching. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.72.189.69 (talk) 14:25, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

I've tweaked the sentence to eliminate the awkward phrasing. (The same hypothetical reader might also have wondered how Lady Hope could have met with Darwin at a Bible conference "33 years after Darwin's death.")

Additions by User:Daniel fabius[edit]

Daniel fabius has several times attempted to add uncited opinions by one Laurie Croft to this article. Croft seems to be an expert in beekeeping, and Elmwood Books does not seem to be a WP:RS.--John Foxe (talk) 02:34, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

I refer to the statement 'Croft seems to be an expert in beekeeping' - SO WHAT? As far as I recall Charles Darwin was an expert on EARTHWORMS! Does being an expert on apiculture imply a person cannot also write a biographical study? Dr. L.R. Croft who is quoted in my revision is a retired University of Oxford scientist -albeit he is also an expert on beekeeping. He has published many scientific articles on protein structure (cf. his widely available HANDBOOK OF PROTEIN SEQUENCE ANALYSIS published by John Wiley(). He is also a historian of science and is a world authority on the Victorian naturalist P.H.Gosse - and published the first biography of Gosse since that of his son Sir Edmund Gosse. He has also published two books on the Darwin/Lady Hope story. The first was widely reviewed in the UK and is entitled : THE LIFE AND DEATH OF CHARLES DARWIN (see reviews in New Scientist, 13 May 1989, and The Observer, 23 April 1989. The second book is entitled : DARWIN AND LADY HOPE - THE UNTOLD STORY, published June 2012 (see reviews in Church of England Newspaper of 10 June 2012).Daniel fabius (talk) 17:16, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
That Croft is an expert in protein sequence analysis makes him no more an expert on Darwin and Lady Hope than does his knowledge of apiculture. Elmwood Books does not seem to be a WP:RS. Is it a vanity press? (I looked for the review in the Church of England Newspaper but couldn't find it.) In passing, the definitive biography of Philip Henry Gosse is Ann Thwaite, Glimpses of the Wonderful: The Life of Philip Henry Gosse, 1810-1888 (London: Faber & Faber, 2002), a truly exceptional work.--John Foxe (talk) 18:04, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
With just the two of us involved, it's possible to get a Third Opinion about the suitability of your attempts to add what seems to me to be promotional material from a non-WP:RS source. If you'd like to go that route, let me know and I'll make application.--John Foxe (talk) 19:29, 16 June 2012 (UTC)
In response to the queries of John Foxe:
Elmwood Books is an independent publisher founded in 1982. It publishes books on science and natural history. It also includes the imprint 'Old Lancashire Books' which publishes historical fiction. Dr. Croft published his biography of P.H.Gosse TWO years before Ann Thwaite biography of Gosse. He is also the author of the entry on P.H.Gosse in the Dictionary of National Biography published by Oxford University Press. If you have not read Croft's biography of Gosse you are in no position to pass comment. Croft has also published in academic journals relating to the history of science. I think he is qualified to publish on the Darwin/Lady Hope incident.
You were unable to locate the review of DARWIN AND LADY HOPE -THE UNTOLD STORY by L.R.Croft which appeared in the Church of England Newspaper edition of 10 June 2012. I suggest you look again. You will find the review on page E7. Daniel fabius (talk) 21:40, 17 June 2012 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Daniel fabius (talkcontribs) 21:36, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
At this point I'm unconvinced that the work is peer-reviewed scholarship, although I've read Croft's DNB entry for Gosse and even quoted from it when I dramatically rewrote Gosse's Wikipedia article. I'm also suspicious that your attempt to add an overly long reference here is an attempt at advertising.
Here are some possibilities: one is getting the Third Opinion mentioned above, another would be dramatically cutting the citation to Croft's work to eliminate all the quasi-advertising, and a third would be allowing me enough time to read Croft's book myself, comparing it to Moore.
(You can sign your posts by typing four tildes.)--John Foxe (talk) 14:43, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Please go ahead and obtain a THIRD OPINION. 86.160.247.198 (talk) 21:15, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
I agree with your suggestion namely obtain a third opinion. Daniel fabius (talk) 21:19, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
I'll do that.--John Foxe (talk) 23:05, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
Searchtool-80%.png Response to third opinion request:
The question is whether "Darwin and Lady Hope: The Untold Story" is a reliable source. Reliability is judged by evaluating the work itself, the author, and the publisher. Each factor operates independently, and any one may affect either of the others. As more attention is given to fact-checking, legal vetting, and rigorousness of analysis, more reliability is conferred. Generally, a work is judged to be reliable if it comes from an author that is judged to be reliable, a publisher that is judged to be reliable, or both.

In this case, the publisher seems shaky at best. I've done a lot of scouting to try to find any information about Elmwood Books, and I've come up basically empty-handed. I've found that it has published at least four other books, but they are all authored by Croft. This suggests to me that Elmwood Books may be Croft's own imprint; if not, it still suggests that it is not a serious publishing house that can necessarily be trusted to thoroughly vet its works.

Further, the author's credentials seem to leave a bit to be desired as well. On the one hand, I should acknowledge that Croft's expertise in bees does not disqualify him from being a reliable source, and OUP's implicit seal of approval in publishing a biographical entry he authored tends to give some weight to work. However, it appears that Croft has been crusading on this story for some time, and his writings suggest that he may not be approaching the issue completely dispassionately. His claims that Lady Hope's story must be true because genealogical records bear out other stories she told seems especially suspect.

I don't have the book in hand, so I can't pass any judgments on it more specifically. However, given the sketchiness of its publisher and the potential bias of its author, I would judge this source to fail WP:RS. — Bdb484 (talk) 18:38, 19 June 2012 (UTC)— Bdb484 (talk) 18:49, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

I do not accept that this is a fair review for the following reasons:

(1) With respect to whether Elmwood Books, the publisher of DARWIN and LADY HOPE- THE UNTOLD STORY is a reliable publishing house I would respond by pointing out that it has published books on natural history and science that have been reviewed in THE TIMES of London, and in the OBSERVER newspaper, and numerous highly regarded scientific journals. For this small independent publishing house to have obtained such widespread review coverage must indicate that the editors of these journals and newspaper consider it to be a reliable source. On this basis it must also meet WP criteria for reliability. (2) Editor Bdb484 states that Croft, the author of DARWIN and LADY HOPE -THE UNTOLD STORY, has credentials that "leave a bit to be desired". I do not know how he could make this assertion. As I understand it Croft is the author of "The Handbook of Protein Sequence Analysis" which is a major reference work available in almost every university library and published by John Wiley. I have looked at some of the reviews of this major work (although now overtaken by electronic data) but at the time it was a significant and important academic reference work. If Croft was not a reliable academic would he have been published by John Wiley, or Oxford University Press? (3) Finally, and probably the most important point is that editor Bdb484 makes the statement (without reading Croft's book, I would point out) that he finds Croft's research on the genealogical evidence used by him to substantiate Lady Hope's claims "suspect". This clearly indicates that editor Bdb484 has not studied Moore's article in "Evangelicals and Science in Historical Perspective" for Moore uses the very same argument that Croft has used, however he fails to uncover the crucial genealogical records and comes to an incorrect conclusion as to the reliability and honesty of Lady Hope. Daniel fabius (talk) 17:29, 26 June 2012 (UTC)

Additions by User:Daniel fabius (2)[edit]

Daniel fabius has attempted to add to the article the following paragraph, which I consider promotional. If the book itself lacks credibility as a reliable source, it gains nothing by being mentioned in the Examiner of Launceston, Tasmania.--John Foxe (talk) 15:57, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

More recently Noel Shaw has drawn attention to the recent work of Dr.L.R.Croft, a retired Oxford University biochemist. <ref> "HOPE that gave Darwin his FAITH" in "The Examiner Newspaper" of Tasmania, 23 June 2012 page 75.</ref> Shaw reports that Croft has spent some 20 years researching the Darwin/Lady Hope incident and in his book, "Darwin and Lady Hope -The Untold Story" has come to the conclusion that Lady Hope's account of Darwin's conversion was indeed truthful and accurate.<ref> "20 years of diligent research [by Croft] has restored her reputation." "The Examiner, 23 June 2012 page 75.</ref> The "Church of England Newspaper" has also reported Croft's claims. <ref> "The Church of England Newspaper" 10 June 2012 page E7.</ref> This report repeats Croft's claim that a great injustice has been done to Lady Hope, and that rather than being dishonest she was a woman of high integrity being admired for this by Lord Shaftesbury and Florence Nightingale. These claims are supported by Croft's research into the background of many of Lady Hope's other published anecdotes, when using the latest available genealogical records they are found to be completely truthful and very accurate. On this basis Croft argues that Lady Hope's claim as to Darwin's conversion is also accurate and truthful and that her account of her meeting with Darwin is without exaggeration or embellishment. <ref> L.R.Croft, "Darwin and Lady Hope -The Untold Story" (2012) pp. 110-126.</ref>

John Foxe has again removed information regarding the results of research carried out by Dr.L.R.Croft, previously of the University of Oxford. He states the Croft's book, "Darwin and Lady Hope - The Untold Story" "lacks credibility". On what grounds has he made this assertion, as he has not yet read the book? It is clear that John Foxe is determined that Croft's findings as to the integrity of Lady Hope and the truth of her claim that Charles Darwin converted to Christianity before he died should not be available to individuals who consult Wikipedia. This fact completely devalues Wikipedia as a source of information.Daniel fabius (talk) 20:15, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

I haven't read the book because it's not available to me in the US. (I've ordered a copy from the UK.) From what I can tell at this point, the book lacks credibility because the author is not a historian and there's no evidence that his material has been peer-reviewed. In fact, the author's relationship to the obscure publisher is unclear.--John Foxe (talk) 20:39, 3 July 2012 (UTC)

Proposed 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 moved to Elizabeth Cotton, Lady Hope per my understanding of the discussion below. --regentspark (comment) 20:54, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

With agreement that we call an RfC to discuss the main issue - see below. Arc de Ciel (talk) 12:54, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Elizabeth HopeLady Hope Story – (proposal was briefly changed to "Darwin deathbed conversion story" then back again). Proposed move per WP:BIO1E. All the sources in the article talk about her in the context of the story, and Google Books "Elizabeth Hope" Cotton (using her maiden name to filter out other results) returns only books written by her. These books do not appear to be notable based on lack of secondary sources. Various other searches, such as filtering based on her dates of birth/death or the title "Lady" instead of her maiden name, and using "-Darwin" where necessary, do not return other results on either Google Books or Google. Arc de Ciel (talk) 16:39, 25 August 2012 (UTC)

Additional comment (added after some of the discussion below). Almost all of the biographical information is sourced to a single book, which according to the discussion above is probably not a reliable source. Arc de Ciel (talk) 08:04, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

  • I have no problem with renaming.--John Foxe (talk) 00:17, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Oppose - sorry but doesn't seem a remotely encyclopedic way of presenting a bio, as musty as her books and life are. And "Lady Hope story" is a little POV, despite the fact that her ever having met Darwin was probably a good Christian lie. In ictu oculi (talk) 03:05, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
It wouldn't be a bio - it would be a description of the one event she is known for. This would of course require some restructuring of the article, and I wouldn't mind being the one to do it. The name "Lady Hope story" is the name I've always known it by and is used by reliable sources (e.g. 1 2), but I wouldn't object to "Lady Hope's story," "Darwin deathbed conversion story," etc.
New proposal: actually, I think "Darwin deathbed conversion story" is even better. Would anyone prefer that? (Is it possible to change my proposal once it's been made?) Arc de Ciel (talk) 04:19, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
It is possible, but still meets with the same problem, this person is still notable for a bio. In ictu oculi (talk) 04:41, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks, I've changed it. Although I still disagree with your assessment based on my argument above. :-) Arc de Ciel (talk) 04:56, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Sure, and still Oppose ...we'll see what others say, but a bit unusual to reduce a persons life to one muddled anecdote as a 73-year old. In ictu oculi (talk) 05:55, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
I added a new comment to my statement at the top. I think it seems unlikely that the book is reliable given the discussion in the section I linked (probably self-published, etc), but I'm willing to ask for input on RSN if anyone thinks that's the wrong conclusion. Arc de Ciel (talk) 08:04, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
The proposed title "Darwin deathbed conversion story" has serious difficulties. Let me quote James Moore's Darwin Legend, the best (in fact, only) scholarly treatment of the story: "Darwin does not appear on his deathbed: he is merely resting sometime in the autumn of 1881, about six months before he died. He does not renounce evolution: he is simply made to express concern...over the fate of his youthful speculations—a characteristic concern, in fact. Nor does he embrace Christianity: he is only made to speak in favor of a brand of evangelicalism that, as he told Fegan, had 'done more for the village...than all our efforts for many years.' Although Lady Hope may have taken this to mean that 'the great scientist was a Christian,' as Robertson reported her, the story she finally put in print does not claim anything of the sort."(95)--John Foxe (talk) 18:55, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Good point. How about "Darwin conversion story" or "Darwin 1915 [or 1882] conversion story"? (Or with "Charles Darwin" instead of just "Darwin," since it would be the title.) Arc de Ciel (talk) 19:18, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
I think "Lady Hope story" is a better title. It's her tale. And that title also allows us more easily to provide biographical details about this semi-mysterious character. (I mean, doesn't "Lady Hope" sound like a pseudonym?) It's also interesting that the published story doesn't say that Darwin was converted—which makes calling it a "conversion story" misleading.--John Foxe (talk) 21:04, 26 August 2012 (UTC)
Fair enough. I'm willing to change it back if nobody objects. Arc de Ciel (talk) 00:53, 27 August 2012 (UTC)
Changed back. :-) Arc de Ciel (talk) 03:02, 28 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Support. Any title for such an article will have its difficulties—for instance, the article on the "Elvis lives" myth is titled Elvis sightings—but I'm confident more folks will look for this tale under "Lady Hope story" than "Elizabeth Cotton."--John Foxe (talk) 14:26, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Another possibility is to title the article "Elizabeth Cotton, Lady Hope," which would have the advantage of not having to modify the lead and would also catch any googles of "Lady Hope."--John Foxe (talk) 21:20, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, I lost this message in my watchlist - thanks! :-) I think that's also better than the current title, but I would still reference WP:BIO1E such that we should refer to the event. Arc de Ciel (talk) 19:25, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
I think there's a case to be made that the dear lady is notable enough for a Wiki bio without the Darwin story. After all, she did write 30 books, and regardless of their quality, many of them continue to be available on the used book market; two (including the biography of her father) are in print and available from Amazon.com. I'd be happy to join you in a friendly request for further comment if you're interested.--John Foxe (talk) 20:22, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
Sure, I don't mind. How should we phrase the question? - how about "Is Elizabeth Hope notable enough for her own article, and should the article be renamed to "Lady Hope story," "Elizabeth Cotton, Lady Hope" or a different title, per the above discussion?" Although IIRC the questions are supposed to be as simple as possible to get the clearest feedback, so I'm not sure if that's the best. (Actually, another option might be to split the article content between, e.g. Lady Hope story and Elizabeth Cotton, Lady Hope.) Arc de Ciel (talk) 23:11, 2 September 2012 (UTC)
I think we agree that the title of the article should not be "Elizabeth Hope." Otherwise, I defer to your judgment about how best to frame the question. I'd bet the vast majority of folks entering "Lady Hope" in Google are looking for the Darwin story, so I don't think it'd be sensible to split the article.--John Foxe (talk) 14:29, 3 September 2012 (UTC)
In that case (if nobody objects), why don't we first move the article to Elizabeth Cotton, Lady Hope? Then the RfC question could be much more straightforward. Arc de Ciel (talk) 00:10, 4 September 2012 (UTC)
Sounds good. If the move attracts any attention, so much the better.--John Foxe (talk) 10:33, 4 September 2012 (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.

TalkOrigins Archive[edit]

I read the piece linked, and there's nothing scholarly about it. It's just a ramble through miscellaneous sources that came to the author's attention. The piece even contains the embarrassing misinformation that Lady Hope told her tale to Dwight L. Moody, who died in 1899, fifteen years before he could have heard it.--John Foxe (talk) 12:43, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Just realized you had removed "called the 'Lady Hope Story'," which was the main reason I had cited it. Self-reverted. :-)
Although, why did you remove that statement? I think it's a reasonably common name (especially if it's the best candidate for the new article title), and as I mentioned it's actually the only name I've ever heard it referred to as. (Btw, if you don't object I'll also look up some sources with people claiming that Darwin converted based on the story, since that has definitely happened.) Arc de Ciel (talk) 05:58, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
I agree that it's difficult to come up with a good name for this article. Be glad to have your thoughts. For what it's worth, I think "Lady Hope story" is a better title than "Elizabeth Hope." The title of James Moore's book, The Darwin Legend—it has no subtitle—is just too ambiguous.--John Foxe (talk) 14:24, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
In that case, perhaps you might make your support of the move more explicit above? :-) Arc de Ciel (talk) 07:21, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

RfC: proposed move[edit]