Talk:Natural History (Pliny)

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GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Natural History (Pliny)/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Tim riley (talk contribs) 19:19, 26 May 2014 (UTC) Beginning first read-through. More soonest. Tim riley talk 19:19, 26 May 2014 (UTC) First batch of comments. Some general ones before turning to specifics.

  • Language: we seem to be in British English rather than American, but (possibly showing my ignorance) "Flavian Amphitheater" looks AmEng to me, and Sir Thomas Browne's "skepticism" surely is.
  • I'm not sure of the thinking behind your use of es-apostrophe -v- es-apostrophe-es for possessives. Titus's, Theophrastus's and Herodotus's but Hipparchus' and Posidonius'.
I've gone for Titus's.
So pleased! Much better, in my opinion. Tim riley talk 15:02, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
  • –ise and –ize endings – are you one of the learned few who follow Fowler's incomprehensible rules on this? Bravo, if so. If not, I'd go for all –ise endings like the rest of us plebs.
Ah, I think I'm at least half-Fowler at heart. Let's go for -ise however.
  • Titles of classical works: I can't discern the convention used for capitalising here. It looks a bit random, with, e.g. both Naturalis Historia and Naturalis historia, and also Bibliotheca historica and De materia medica but De Agri Cultura.
Well spotted. I can discover no consistency in other WP articles, books, or scholarly articles. Let's go for Naturalis Historia so it's like English book titles. Feel free to fix any such things, by the way.
  • The article is bulging with duplicate links to the same article. Aristotle, geography and Theophrastus are each linked four times, Herodotus and Claudius three, and so on. There is a handy tool you can install to flag up all repeated links in a text: User:Ucucha/duplinks. I find it invaluable.
I've removed the link farm at the start of the Topics section, which duplicated the Table of Contents.
One problem is that the Overview naturally overlaps the text and requires linking, but as it isn't officially the lead (and is too long to merge there), that means no links are allowed in the main text: an unhappy result of the rule really.
I'd say it depends on whether you foresee taking this fine article further than GA, which I hope you will. If so, you will certainly have to justify yourself at FAC if you aren't within reasonable distance of the Manual of Style on linking (which you sum up perfectly). And yet the MoS repeatedly reminds us that its rules are to be broken when common sense suggests it, and at GAN, at any rate, I'd have no problem with your slipping in a few extra links where you think they will be helpful to the reader. If it's of any help, I have done a few life-and-works FAs of composers, and I have got away with insisting that a link in the lead can be followed by one link in the Life section and another in the Works section (plus captions, as you say, and also, without going overboard, in the footnotes too). To my mind, it's a balance between giving the readers a helping hand and overwhelming them in an avalanche of blue. Tim riley talk 15:02, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
I intend to go with one link in lead (if any), one in body, one in the Table of Contents, one in an image caption (if any). Aristotle done, geography done, Theophrastus done, Herodotus done, Claudius done. Feel free to fix any that remain, I've had a duplinks hunt also. I have the tool but it doesn't work in Preview mode, which is where one needs it...

Now, turning to specific points:

  • Lead: the image spells the title Naturalis Historiae as opposed to your Naturalis Historia – is this some top-spin from the first declension – perhaps genitive singular because Vol One of the book (my Latin's a bit rusty having been learnt in the 1960s)?
Yes, that's a genitive, 'of the (title)'. The Latin title ends in -a.
Then I haven't forgotten quite everything. Rather pleased. But bear in mind that dippers-in whose Latin is (per impossibile) worse than mine may think you've got it wrong in your title. Worth a prophylactic footnote to the caption, perhaps? Tim riley talk 15:02, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Overview
    • Parenthetic dashes. WP's Manual of Style decrees that these should either be em dashes with no space either side or en dashes with a space each side. You have spaced em dashes: frowned on.
spaced n-dashed it is.

Must stop there for tonight. More tomorrow. I am greatly enjoying this article. Tim riley talk 20:32, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

Many thanks for that, and for taking this on. Chiswick Chap (talk) 07:07, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
Second lot, down to the end of Mineralogy.
  • Working method
    • I have to remind myself that I'm reviewing against GA not FA standards here, and so there is no problem for present purposes. But be warned that a section consisting of a single large quote will attract flak at FAC if you go on there.
split, added description
  • Style
    • Nothing wrong with the ablative, me judice. (Just seeing if I can still do it – ignore me)
  • First publication
    • "Pliny apparently published the first ten books himself" – not, natch, a condition of passing GA, but I think your readers (e.g. me) might wonder what exactly publishing consisted of in Pliny's time. He wrote and revised his top copy and then what happened? Could you give us a footnote or a brief sentence? You mention later corrupt monastic transcriptions, but one longs to know how the literate of Pliny's own era would have got hold of the text.
ok, just said 'wrote'
  • Topics
    • I boggle a bit at the idea that organic plants and inorganic matter "interacted" with the Romans. (I'm doing here what I strongly disapprove of in a GA reviewer, viz to try and rewrite the article in his own image, but I hope you'll take the comment in the spirit in which it's meant.)
  • Zoology
    • Discrimination: on behalf of hippos everywhere I wish to know how it is that they need a link when those lumbering elephants don't.
    • Aquaria – hmm. I get an ear-bashing if I try "concerti" for "concertos". I sympathise (or sympathize) and there's no problem on this review page, but again, be warned if you go on to FAC.
said 'aquariums'
    • Links – there really is no wrong and right here, but if I had been writing this, I shouldn't have linked "pearl", "bees" and "honey". I ask myself who is likely to find such a link useful, whereas one can imagine people clicking on "queen bee" or "honeycomb"
  • Botany
    • Again, the logic of the linking eludes me. "Olive" but not "myrtle", though the latter is surely obscurer to most of our readers.
  • Drugs, medicine and magic
    • "remarking acerbically" – fine at GAN, but once more be prepared to defend it at FAC. WP:EDITORIAL, you know.
removed the adj
  • Metallurgy
    • I don't think you need a woad-coloured link to "Britain", but if you insist, you have mentioned the place earlier under "Geography", and the link should go there.
scrubbed clean
    • "removed after the emperor committed suicide" – the way I heard it, Nero got a henchperson to kill him, and didn't technically commit suicide.
discreetly said 'death'

This is a very fine and extravagantly enjoyable article, and unless there is something unexpectedly awry in the last bit it will sail through GAN and looks destined for FAC. However, I mustn't anticipate. More either this evening or tomorrow. Tim riley talk 15:02, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

Last lot of comments. Nothing of consequence and I propose to pass the article for promotion without further delay.

  • Art history
    • "the indices of XXXIII–XXXIV" – if these are indexes in the ordinary sense of the word you will incur a terrible curse from the Society of Indexers for calling them indices. Pliny may have done so, but he couldn't speak English.
  • Reception
    • "Northwestern University teacher Grundy Steiner" – this is an example of an anarthrous nominal premodifier – perfectly acceptable in AmEng, but jarring in the top-notch BrEng prose of this article.
  • Notes
    • Note h: not obvious why "gangadiam" is in bold. And I think (see MOS:FOREIGN) this quotation probably oughtn't to be in italics. We are bidden, "Use italics for phrases in other languages and for isolated foreign words", which I don't think extends to something as long as this note. (Or, arguably, to the quote in the Style section, earlier.)
rm bold, italics in both sections
  • Bibliography
    • The Manual of Style urges caution about the use of the term "bibliography" in a biographical article, because of possible confusion in the reader's mind whether it is a list of book by the subject or about him. "Sources" is the most usual substitute, I think.
Sources it is
    • "This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain… Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.)" – oughtn't we to be told where this text is? Just because it's out of copyright doesn't mean it can't be attributed.
    • Older books – if you decide to go on to FAC you'll need to add OCLC numbers for those books too old to have ISBNs. WorldCat will oblige.

That's all from me. This article is plainly of GA standard, and I hope you will be taking it on to peer review and then FAC. I enjoyed it very much indeed, and learnt a good deal. Tim riley talk

GA review – see WP:WIAGA for criteria

  1. Is it reasonably well written?
    A. Prose quality:
    B. MoS compliance:
  2. Is it factually accurate and verifiable?
    A. References to sources:
    B. Citation of reliable sources where necessary:
    C. No original research:
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. Major aspects:
    B. Focused:
  4. Is it neutral?
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. Is it stable?
    No edit wars, etc:
  6. Does it contain images to illustrate the topic?
    A. Images are copyright tagged, and non-free images have fair use rationales:
    B. Images are provided where possible and appropriate, with suitable captions:
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:

A fine article, and a pleasure to review. Tim riley talk 12:38, 28 May 2014 (UTC)