Talk:Onion

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MEDRS issue(s)[edit]

I removed "Consumption is believed to benefit health" from the lead, because (a) this is not a summary of a statement in the body of the article (b) there is no source compliant with WP:MEDRS for this claim, so far as I can see.

The section "Nutrition and health" should reference at least one secondary review of any health-related claims as per WP:MEDRS, but doesn't seem to do so. If the article is to meet GA standards, this should be addressed. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:13, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

WP:MEDRS compliance isn't required by or referenced by the GA criteria. The expectation of such compliance might be beneficial, but to insist upon it for GA eligibility is above and beyond the criteria. I'd agree at the FAC level, but not at GA. --ColonelHenry (talk) 19:06, 17 September 2013 (UTC)
I disagree that WP:MEDRS compliance ins't required by GA criteria. An article must be "stable" for GA and FA. In plants articles, one of the biggest battles had by plant editors is the attempt by editors to assert false health claims in articles, often to advertise products, but also just by editors overly devoted to using Wikipedia to promote non-mainstream medicine; this then leads to edit wars, blocks, etc. MEDRS helps to prevent this by requiring that health claims have a very specific type of sourcing. If this is not met by this article, the article will not be stable. --(AfadsBad (talk) 19:26, 17 September 2013 (UTC))
That's a WP:CRYSTALBALL prediction, not a policy-based argument.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:49, 19 April 2014 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Onion/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: ColonelHenry (talk · contribs) 01:45, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Looking forward to reviewing this article. --ColonelHenry (talk) 01:45, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Quite a large article, so thank you for taking it on. Cwmhiraeth (talk) 08:19, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Initial comments[edit]

This is a very ambitious article and that poses difficulty in terms of weighing WP:SUMMARY with the comprehensiveness that ought to be present in the interests of breadth of coverage (the balance of criteria 3). I do see with a little more expansion and copyediting, this would be a great FAC candidate and likely a good candidate to be added at Vital Articles (if it isn't there already...note to self, must check). I do have a few advisory comments that I will be adding to:--ColonelHenry (talk) 22:00, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

  • There are several sections that are one or two sentences in the Varieties section. Moving forward per the MOS, either they have to be expanded into stand alone sections or combined.
Done. Cwmhiraeth (talk) 13:05, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
    • The introduction of a list in the European onions section doesn't seem appropriate. Why are they protected? why are they significant? what protections are afforded them?
Removed. Cwmhiraeth (talk) 13:05, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
  • There needs to be more information in the production and trade section.
  • In cultivation, I think there needs to be more discussion on soil conditions. For instance, according to the USDA-NRCS the two most productive onion areas (in terms of per-acre yields) in world are dense, deeply organic soils near Valdosta, Georgia, and the Black Dirt Region shared between Sussex County, New Jersey and Orange County, New York (the former "Drowned Lands of the Wallkill River"). Neither of them can be describe as "best cultivated in light to medium soils that are well-drained and have had well-rotted manure or compost dug in the previous year"
Enlarged and improved. Cwmhiraeth (talk) 13:05, 14 September 2013 (UTC)
  • These assertions need a citation supporting them: (from Historical use)
    • spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. Onions were even used in Egyptian burials, as evidenced by onion traces being found in the eye sockets of Ramesses IV.
    • sentences in the next paragraph regarding ancient greek and roman use. If this is footnote 14, just repeat the citations.
Done. Cwmhiraeth (talk) 13:05, 14 September 2013 (UTC)

...more to come.--ColonelHenry (talk) 22:00, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Review[edit]

GA review – see WP:WIAGA for criteria

  1. Is it reasonably well written?
    A. Prose is clear and concise, without copyvios, or spelling and grammar errors:
    I do not see any spelling or grammatical problems, the prose is clear and concise, no evidence or indication of copyvios.
    B. MoS compliance for lead, layout, words to watch, fiction, and lists:
    Complied with MOS guidelines. I do not see any problems with the five specific MOS sections required by 1b.
  2. Is it factually accurate and verifiable?
    A. Has an appropriate reference section:
    complies with layout style guideline for references, contains appropriate reference sections
    B. Citation to reliable sources where necessary:
    complies with inline citations and reliable sources guidelines
    C. No original research:
    no evidence or indication of original research
  3. Is it broad in its coverage?
    A. Major aspects:
    addresses all aspects with adequate breadth.
    B. Focused:
    excellent job balancing relevant details within the guidelines of summary style
  4. Is it neutral?
    Fair representation without bias:
    No issues regarding neutrality vs. bias/POV
  5. Is it stable?
    No edit wars, etc:
    There is protection on the article dating from June, however, this was because of petty vandalism from anonymous IPs, not because of edit-warring or content disputes.
  6. Does it contain images to illustrate the topic?
    A. Images are tagged with their copyright status, and valid fair use rationales are provided for non-free content:
    All images appear to be properly tagged. On an lightly related note, I love the mixed onions image in the lede. Excellent photograph.
    B. Images are provided if possible and are relevant to the topic, and have suitable captions:
    Images relevant to article subject and content, Captions sufficient.
  7. Overall:
    Pass or Fail:
    Thank you for tackling such a large, ambitious work on a subject most of take for granted.

Cultivation section[edit]

I see that this article has passed the GA review, but I have to say that I think that Onion#Cultivation is not fully compliant with WP:NOTHOW, specifically "Describing to the reader how other people ... do something is encyclopedic; instructing the reader in the imperative mood about how to .. do something is not." The second half particularly has many instructions: "fresh seed should be used each year", "This should only be done", "The soil should not be rich", "should be harvested after the leaves have died back", "should be stored in a well-ventilated, cool place".

I know that Cultivation sections are difficult to write in the recommended Wikipedia style – I don't think I've always succeeded when I've tried – but a GA should be an exemplar. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:47, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Huge infobox with synonyms[edit]

Editors are edit warring to add a huge list of synonyms to the info box. Per MOS:INFOBOX and MOS:LEAD these should be removed from the info box and located elsewhere in the article or in a daughter article. Read the section "Purpose of an infobox" in the MOS. A long list of obscure Latin names is not a "summary" of information in the article, nor are they key facts. You may think they are important facts (and 99% of readers will disagree) but they are not key: they do not define what an onion is or why it is important, or its place in the plant/food domains. Remember this is both a plant and a major food. Wikipedia is not Wikispecies. Would the botany enthusiasts (@Joseph Laferriere:, @Peter coxhead:) please restrain themselves voluntarily or I shall seek admin/MOS help in restoring this article to a readable state, and this article will lose its GA status. -- Colin°Talk 08:22, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

When you removed the list on the 14th, part of your comment was "The info box is not there for 101 varieties". I thought it a pity to lose that list so started a page "List_of_onion_cultivars" to put them on, then added a link from the main article. I then realised that I was misled and these are not varieties, but indeed just a list of synonyms for exactly the same species. So I amended the page and left the list of synonyms in it, but as a collapsible list so that they are not normally visible.
But, as you may note, I am a little confused ;-). If the article is just about a species of plant, Allium cepa then a list of synonyms on the page is quite appropriate (and I think normal for plants and animals with a speciesbox, eg see Dog). This is useful, if for no other reason, in that searches using these alternate/old or erroneous names will find the right species page quickly. But the page is a little dual purpose because the name 'onion' does not just refer to the common or 'garden onion' but to many species which are certainly not culivars of Allium cepa. I think that the page "onion" should not be setup as a species page at all, but a page about vegetables known as onions and include all types. Of course the garden onion "Allium cepa" would be mentioned in the initial paragraph, and a link to its species page Allium cepa would take you to that particular species. Also "List_of_onion_cultivars" also needs to be reworked. --Tony Wills (talk) 09:03, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

I have been putting the synonyms in the taxobox because other editors in this very space have urged me to continue doing so. I tried limiting it to synonyms that have indeed been used fairly recently, but one editor insisted I should list everything. Rumor has it that these lists can be made collapsible, reduced to a statement "Click here to see the list of synonyms" or something to that effect. This is fine with me, but I do not know how to set this up. Having separate pages for "onion" and "Allium cepa" might work too, if you can decide what information should go where. The word "onion" or "wild onion" is often used to refer to many of the hundreds of other species in the genus.Joseph Laferriere (talk) 10:09, 17 March 2014 (UTC) Incidentally, I found another problem on the onion page last night, i.e., someone referring to the umbel as a "head." Any botanist would cringe on seeing that.Joseph Laferriere (talk) 10:10, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Well thinking about the purpose of the page is certainly useful and worth exploring. However "that's what other editors are doing" or "that's what Wikiproject Plants has agreed" or "that's what other articles do" aren't strong arguments and don't address the MOS issues with an infobox containing non-key information. This would indeed be considered trivia by many. I know the botanists think this stuff is useful and that is a common problem on Wikipedia where subject-experts have a different view of importance than the readership, only a tiny minority of whom will be subject experts. Experts tend to be far more interested in classifying things than lay readers, which is why so many articles get classification (taxonomy) details at the start in direct contradiction to advice on article structure which encourage writers to start with the easy and interesting stuff and move the hard/dry stuff later on. Trying to use an infobox for all possible common facts about species/plants is not an optimal solution. Collapsing it has accessibility and printing problems. Please can someone give a good reason why synonyms should be in the lead section (which is where the info box is) and so important that they cause the photos in the article to bunch up? -- Colin°Talk 12:37, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

My dearest friend Colin, with all due respect, I don't think your remarks are completely fair. I agree to a certain extent with what you say, but I have been informed repeatedly by the reviewers that everything must be done in accordance with Wikipedia policy, and that they will edit or delete anything that does not. Indeed, they have done that to my pages many times. So I must listen to what they say, whether I agree or not. Now, as for synonymy being up front and readily visible, yes, there is a very good reason for this. I can cite numerous examples of the same plant being called different names in various recent publications. By "recent," I mean published within the past few decades and still being used by people (lay people and botanists alike) trying to identify specimens. So a person holding in her hand a book identifying a plant as Plantus hypotheticus tries to find this on Wikipedia, to be redirected to a page on Florifera hypothetica, needs some reassurance that this is, in fact, the same critter. Question then becomes which synonyms to list. As I said, I suggested listing only names used in print within the past few decades, but I was overruled by higher powers and instructed to list all names published since 1753.Joseph Laferriere (talk) 13:02, 17 March 2014 (UTC) POSTSCRIPT: Just now I looked at the onion page and note that someone has collapsified the synonymy list. Looks good. And by clicking on "edit" I can see how it is done.Joseph Laferriere (talk) 13:08, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

@Colin: As I've written before, I agree with you that over-long lists of synonyms in taxoboxes cause problems. However, as Joseph Laferriere notes, it's equally important that synonyms are made clear: if you review WT:PLANTS and its archives you'll see that there is regularly a problem with two articles being created about the same plant under synonymous titles. I suggest that in future you start by assuming that Wikiprojects are likely to have good reasons for their guidelines and be willing to explore what these are before you assume they represent some undesirable WP:LOCALCONSENSUS.
One reason for listing synonyms in the taxobox is that it's a taxonomy infobox. It's generally sensible to keep taxonomic information together; e.g. frequently it will have the same source(s). However, it isn't a case of "one size fits all", and there may be a better way of presenting the synonyms. For example, you could have moved them to a multi-column list in the Taxonomy section. Simply deleting this information, as you did, seems to me a very aggressive act. In this specific case, I think that Tony Wills' solution may be the best one. Peter coxhead (talk) 14:42, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

Listing the synonyms in the text was one thing I got criticized for when I first started doing this. I started doing it the way I was taught to do it back in the olden days of yesteryear when information was printed on paper instead of in bits on a screen. People complained that this was hard to understand. "Inscrutable" I believe was the term someone used. I repeat my opinion that some of the older names are better left off, especially invalid or illegitimate names. The chances of anyone reviving a name invalidly published in, say, 1789 are zero, since use of invalid names is contrary to the ICN anyhow.Joseph Laferriere (talk) 16:16, 17 March 2014 (UTC)

You haven't answered my question, rather just given illogical circular reasons like "because it is a taxonomy infobox". I don't know who these "reviewers [who say] that everything must be done in accordance with Wikipedia policy" are but Wikipedia has no "policy" on article layout. It has guidelines in the form of MOS which are general good advice and as linked above at WP:LOCALCONSENSUS should not be contradicted by Wikiprojects. If Wikiproject plants wants to create official guidelines that two screenfuls of latin trivia belongs in the lead then I suggest you try and get that accepted by the community as a whole -- you won't.
Let's be clear, the primary topic of "Onion" is that it is a food plant. Of the thousands of people who lookup this article daily, how many are looking for "Allium cepa var. tripolitanum"? I'll give you a clue -- try a google search for it and you'll appreciate just how unimportant that phrase is to the world. Compare searches for "Allium cepa" and "Onion" also and you'll get some perspective on the latin naming vs the everyday food. If you want to help people searching for a term find the correct article, that is what redirects are for. The searcher will get the friendly message that that term redirects to this article, at the very top of the page. Remember Joseph, that this is not Wikispecies. It is not Wikipedia's primary purpose to be a plant identifier and categorising database. We must balance different needs according to our audience, which is 99.999% not confused about what an onion is. Some of your arguments might be fair for a small plant article where the plant is of ornamental or botanical interest only but this is a major world food. I can't really begin to emphasise enough that having the taxonomy section as the first in this article will cause the majority of our readers to give up. Like equations, italic Latin words will turn off many readers. Do you really think that "Allium cepa var. solaninum - Alef" is one of the first things a reader needs to know and would even understand what that phrase means? Or rather would they like to know, in English, how onions fit alongside shallots or about the different varieties they see in the market? Peter, you say that synonyms are "equally important" (though I'm not sure to what) but then give examples of editors making mistakes. This is a common fault with wikiprojects in that they tend to be inward looking -- solving problems for other members of the projects. Yes your job would be easier if all plants had all these categorisation things up the top because you all speak Latin fluently. You aren't thinking from the reader's point of view. Find someone who isn't a botanist or keen gardener and ask them what they'd want to learn from an encyclopaedia article on "onions". They may well want to know the official Latin name for the plant but I can guarantee that you will find nobody outside your special-interest-group who wants to know about synonyms. Why then are they in the lead, even collapsed. Is your list of synonyms even complete? Can someone explain to me the "Allium cepa var. XXXX" entries -- how is there any confusion with them as they all start with "Allium cepa"? That just looks like a list of varieties to me. I'm sure if I looked in a gardening catalogue I'd find other varieties. Yes I'm no gardener so my confusion as to what this list actually tells me should inform you as to what the general reader is getting from the list -- absolutely nothing of any value whatsoever. -- Colin°Talk 08:25, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

99.999%? Wow. So very kind of you in taking the time to sponsor that expensive-sounding survey and to share the results with us. We have had discussions on these talk pages before about this sort of thing. Consensus is that Wikipedia should reach out to a wide variety of audiences. Just now I took another look at the onion page. There is information on nutrition, cuisine, pest control, medicinal uses, cultivation methods, storage, etc. The article even mentions the use of onions by Roman gladiators. There is also a very nice table of contents so that anyone not interested in Roman gladiators can skip over that part. Similarly, people not interested in the taxonomic information can very easily skip over it.Joseph Laferriere (talk) 09:24, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

The important parts were "It is not Wikipedia's primary purpose to be a plant identifier and categorising database." and "[It] is a common fault with wikiprojects in that they tend to be inward looking -- solving problems for other members of the projects.... You aren't thinking from the reader's point of view." PS: Please indent your responses like everyone else does. You are making it difficult to keep the discussion threaded when you put every reply you write at the top level of the discussion as if it's a new thread.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:30, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
  • I think we can agree that a wikiproject is needed for the huge task of maintaining consistency of presentation across the enormous number of plant/animal species pages. Ultimately we need to get consensus between these maintenance projects and the more general manual of style. Tilting at one windmill (Onions) when there are literally thousands of similar taxoboxes is a waste of time and energy :-). To persuade a wikiproject to do things differently is something that needs to be discussed on the wikiproject talk pages, otherwise one has to fight the same reactive battle over and over (as new editors with similar expertise, and expectations of species page content, take over from those that have been disheartened, reverted, warned and blocked ;-)
  • I personally think that species taxobox content should be automated, but I'm not familiar with the mechanisms available: wikidata? wikispecies? All the info in these boxes (apart from illustrations) is part of some database out there and is something manually copied across to each article. At the very least it sounds like the job for a bot. The difficult bit is to agree what we want to include in the box.
  • The next question (which like the above has probably been discussed many times before) is do we in general want to separate articles about species from particular instances of that species of particular cultural interest. Eg it hardly seems sensible to have a taxobox for the article 'dog', this is not a species article about Canis lupus, its habitat, distribution, diet etc. Canis lupus doesn't even redirect to the article. I feel we need a specific guideline here (there may already be one ;-) and a little pseudo taxo template box to deter people from adding the fullblown one. So in my thinking; like dog, onion would be about the domesticated entity, not a species. The separation allows for the different emphasis and amount of detail in specific areas, it means less conflict but some duplication. --Tony Wills (talk) 09:56, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

I agree. Separate pages for different purposes, all linked of course. As for automated taxoboxes, they already are automated to a certain extent. Some taxa have smaller "species boxes" that require only information about that particular species. The Wikicomputer fills in the higher taxa in the taxobox. Great system, but only some genera have that. Me? I generally do a cut/paste of the taxobox from a related species so I don't have to fill in everything by hand. As for the synonym listings, there are on-line databases such as Tropicos and The Plant list that have that info, although they sometimes disagree. Tropicos is better at listing contypic synonyms, The Plant List better for heterotypic synonyms. Automating that sort of thing might prove difficult, though not impossible.Joseph Laferriere (talk) 11:01, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

Several points here.
  • @Joseph Laferriere: The WP:PLANTS guidelines on synonyms are just that, guidelines, and specific cases need to be considered individually. Thus the taxobox has the option to include subdivisions, but these are rarely listed there – "see text" is much more common. If there are a lot of synonyms, and/or if they need significant discussion, I would put them in the text, with a section wikilink in the taxobox.
  • Dealing with food plants is often a difficult issue. Sometimes separate articles seem to work. Thus there's an article at Banana and one at Musa × paradisiaca. This works because we know quite a bit about the parental species from which cultivated bananas were derived, so that there is botanical information to be covered which is somewhat separate from the food. Other times there doesn't seem to be enough distinct information for two articles: thus Malus domestica is a redirect to Apple. Malus domestica is simply a Latin name given by Linnaeus to cultivated apples, so there aren't really two topics. "Onion" seems to me to fall into the second category: what would there be to say about "Allium cepa" which is not about "Onion"? However, I'm open to a split if it could be made to work.
  • There is an automated system for taxoboxes, which is used, for example, thoughout the Amaryllidaceae. If you look at the taxobox in this article, you'll see that it doesn't give the hierarchy above Allium – this is picked up from "taxonomy templates", such as Template:Taxonomy/Allium. However, classifications are opinions, not facts. WP:PLANTS has explicitly rejected the idea of picking up taxonomic hierarchies from any source outside the English Wikipedia. We need to be able to revise classifications based on reliable sources (and in some cases show different opinions). Currently we use the APG III system for flowering plants, but this could change (if there's an APG IV for example).
Peter coxhead (talk) 16:35, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

Peter coxhead: Thanx for the very thoughtful note. I am all in favor of flexibility. Indeed, that is what separates science from other approaches, a willingness to change and adapt with new information. I think back to some of the things I was taught as an undergrad, ideas considered "quaint" now. People often forget that all these taxa are human constructs for human convenience. Nature knows nothing of botanical families, and certainly the plants have no opinion of what families they're in. As for onion, perhaps anything you say about Allium cepa will pertain to onions, but the converse is not necessary true. The Plant List accepts 918 species Allium, many of which have common names of "onion" preceded by some sort of adjective. Joseph Laferriere (talk) 17:34, 18 March 2014 (UTC)

On the last point, this is where I often disagree with the way the five principles at WP:AT are interpreted. "Onion" isn't, in my view, a sufficiently precise title since, as you note, so many Allium species have this word in their name; also the word is often used to refer to the genus. Something like "cultivated onion" would be better for A. cepa. However, WP:RECOGNIZABILITY is regularly given preference in the English Wikipedia even when this results in ambiguity. Peter coxhead (talk) 13:08, 19 March 2014 (UTC)
Joseph, sarcasm doesn't help. It just shows you are being dismissive rather than trying to understand the viewpoint from a non-botanist looking at what is essentially a food-plant article. Trying to fit WP:PLANT mindset into all articles that deal with plants isn't going to work when some are foods, some make drugs, some are weeds, some are pretty flowers, and so on. Nobody on the talk page of a given article has to persuade a Wikiproject to change its general guidelines. Let me repeat that. Nobody on the talk page of a given article has to persuade a Wikiproject to change its general guidelines. Wikipedia absolutely values the contributions of editors at individual article talk pages. If this means a given article deviates from your precious regularity, then you need to deal with that, not fight it. None of you want to answer my questions about the various synonyms listed on this page. Perhaps because they will expose the trivia aspect of the entries. Has any of you done what I suggested, and ask a non-botanist/gardener about the subject? Would any of them even know what a synonym was? "Maintaining consistency" or automating article generation are but small aspects of overall article creation. This must be balanced against the specific concerns of the subject (such as where one plant has a huge number of synonyms and its readers almost certainly did not come to the article to learn about them). Please explain how this synonym list fits any of guidelines at WP:INFOBOX? Oh, and yes the article on the food plant article needs to be called "onion". The fact that the related plants require an adjective tells you that. Wikipedia targets a wide audience but I'm afraid that targeting that wide audience doesn't mean that because plant scientists are part of that audience and happen to have formed a wikiproject, that their preferences must be honoured and information should be targeted to them at prime lead/infobox level. You guys really need to get a grip on what 99% of Wikipedia's audience is. Satisfy them first and then find a way to meet the needs of the 0.1% in some way that doesn't upset the huge majority. Frankly, having such an important food-article littered with lists of obscure Latin terms, or discussing its taxonomic history as the first section shows just how out-of-touch the article writers here are. Have you actually looked at that section -- why is this list there shorter than the list in the info box? Are both just an arbitrary selection of trivia? I don't suppose I'm going to persuade such determined-to-ignore-the-reader article-writers as you so I leave these comments in the hope that a gifted writer may come along an revise all this mess to oblivion. -- Colin°Talk 15:59, 19 March 2014 (UTC)
Creating an us and them divide is not productive, I presume we are not trying to drive people away from contributing, even if they are experts in their field ;-). We all try to add our bit of knowledge, it takes yet another kind of skill to communicate well though. The point of wikipedia is not just to tell people what they already know, but help them learn more, to expand their knowledge and even their thinking. Yes people coming to onions may not expect to find info about species synonyms, but if they are interested in where the plants came from, and the attempts to define relationships between the various species/varieties/cultivars then that info will be interesting. Even if they came here to find out how to stop onions from making them cry, are we doing them a dis-service by giving them more than they thought they wanted to know :-). Perhaps the main deficiency here is that the relevance of "synonyms" is not clearly articulated here or on Synonym (taxonomy) for the average (50% ? ;-) reader. --Tony Wills (talk) 11:16, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

Colin - I rather resent the statement that nobody has even tried to explain this to you. Others and I have tried to explain things several times.Joseph Laferriere (talk) 19:20, 19 March 2014 (UTC)

What do you mean "nobody has even tried to explain this to you". I see a lot of justifications as to why you guys think synonyms are vital and must be in the lead, all of which imo are weak. I see nobody answering my specific questions. Look through my comments above where I have asked questions. Are you going to answer them or not? -- Colin°Talk 09:18, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
I contest that an infobox is actually part of the article "lead", the code is physically located there but it presents as a sidebar, a reference, not a bit of prose, just a list of key facts. ("next to the lead section" - MOS) --Tony Wills (talk) 11:16, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
  • In all articles the infobox simply lists key facts about the subject, which would probably be boring to put in the body of the article, in a lot of ways it is all trivia! As a pseudo random example look at the infobox for any company (eg BBC), I expect that for 99.999% of readers it is irrelevant and not read. There may be grounds to argue for their removal from all articles, but encyclopedias do contain tables of facts and figures, and standardised infoboxes add to the visual structure and continuity of related pages - it gives the reader a sense of what to expect of the page even before they read anything (even without examining the contents of the infobox, assuming they are familiar with other wikipedia pages already :-).
  • I often think that the info box on articles is a sidebar that is only slightly more useful to most readers than the left hand sidebar (the one containing links to many, many things irrelevant to their reading of the article). I expect that in addition to the 75% of contributers to this discussion, 99.999% of readers of this article are quite happy with the infobox with a collapsed list of synonyms. The reason I suggest going to discuss it on the project page is that it wouldn't make sense for the standardised infoboxes to contain different categories of information on different pages in some random way (eg omit it, if it is too long). --Tony Wills (talk) 06:52, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Tony, read the WP:INFOBOX guideline and you will see that it is very much not a dumping ground for trivia that most readers will find boring. That WP:OTHERCRAPEXISTS is no argument. The overgrowth of infoboxes on WP is an acknowledged problem, so you will find problem infoboxes frequently. Let's wander round the vegetable isle of the supermarket: potato, cabbage, leek, carrot, asparagus, bell pepper, parsnip, shallot, white mushroom, sweet potato. Do any of these have 101 latin synonymns in their info boxes? Guys, accept that your readers do not care about this and find some other way, further down the article, to include it if you must. This is a topic only experts and trivia enthusiasts care for, and absolutely does not belong in the lead, first section or infobox. Read the MOS guidelines. They do not agree with you. -- Colin°Talk 09:18, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
I didn't say anything about a dumping ground for trivia, but that, almost by definition, the content is trivia. It contains little "key facts" about the subject, somewhat disjointed from the text. Only about 0.1% of readers are liable to read through it (usual statistics source ;-). I was not providing examples WP:OTHERCRAPEXISTS, but just demonstrating that normal infoboxes for any subject contain trivia to most people not part of the in-group for that subject. All the species name and taxo-tree stuff is trivia to someone just wanting info on their vegetable or fruit that they're having for dinner. Your examples may have no synonyms (is that a random sample?), perhaps because many use the "cultivars" template that has no space for synonyms. Perhaps the Apple article is a better example, a small list of synonyms, the only question is what is the selection criteria of those synonyms - that is what needs to be agreed by any project maintaining taxoboxes. --Tony Wills (talk) 11:37, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
You said "in a lot of ways it is all trivia". Absolutely not. The content of an info box must by definition not be trivia. It is "key". Not "little key facts", but "key facts". There is no such thing as "little key facts". You are confusing "seldom known" with "trivia". Trivia, by definition, are "pieces of information of little importance or value" -- they are things that could be left out of the article without great loss. Let me quote, since none of you seem willing to read the MOS: "The less information it contains, the more effectively it serves that purpose [to summarize key facts], allowing readers to identify key facts at a glance. Of necessity, some infoboxes contain more than just a few fields; however, wherever possible, present information in short form, and exclude any unnecessary content.". In your edit summary you said " we can all find examples to suit, but that wasn't the point". Well actually I didn't just try to find examples to suit. I listed all the supermarket veg I thought off till I tired of listing more. Really, onion so far is the only one I can find where synonyms are listed in the info box. Still nobody answers my questions. Why is "Allium cepa var. multiplicans L.H.Bailey" mentioned in the infobox. What on earth does it mean and why should anyone care. I Google for this and all it tells me nothing other than that it is a synonym. This suggests to me that this is not in fact information but merely data. Therefore it belongs in a database such as exist for plants, but does not belong in an encyclopaedia article. -- Colin°Talk 14:01, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
I think that we have answered your question as to why the synonyms were initially added to the infobox and why we objected to your deletion.
  1. This is not just an article about the food "onion" but also an article about the species Allium cepa.
  2. The guidance from WP:PLANTS for species articles suggests putting the synonyms in the taxobox. Note that Apple does this – however, there aren't very many listed there.
  3. Species synonyms are names currently considered not to refer to different taxa, i.e. which should not be used as the titles of separate articles. It's desirable to include them somewhere in the article to help prevent incorrect article duplication and to help in fixing it if it does occur. Thus L. H. Bailey's name Allium cepa var. multiplicans isn't now accepted as a name for some entity different from Allium cepa as a whole and if it appears as an article title in Wikipedia should only do so as a redirect to Allium cepa.
In this specific case, I don't think that the general guidance to include synonyms in the taxobox should be followed, and I have said so. The current compromise is a collapsible list of synonyms. This can be changed, but it would be sensible to finish the discussion below about the content of the article first. For example, if the article were just about "bulb" or "common" onions, a cultivar box could be used instead of a taxobox. Currently the article covers all the cultivars of Allium cepa, so only a taxobox works. Peter coxhead (talk) 14:37, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
The collapsible synonym list seems perfectly fine to me. These lists do serve purposes and not even only for specialists. But they don't need to be big piles of visual clutter. However, what you've said about Allium cepa var. multiplicans isn't necessarily correct; if it has been retained as a cultivar group, e.g. an Allium ceps Multiplicans Group, there's no policy or technical barrier to it being found notable enough for its own article, in which case the old name should redirect to the new one.  :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:30, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Should we split this article into "Onion" (all vegetables called onion), and "Garden Onion" (or whatever the appropriate name for A. cepa is)[edit]

  • I agree that the discussion we should have is whether "onion" should be treated as a biological entry, or as a vegetable entry. I think I see support and little opposition to the idea of having an article discussing the various things (mostly related species) called onions and their major varieties, uses etc. And then having species articles for the Common or Garden Onion (A. cepa) etc., and expect that the species articles would each contain species info boxes that are exactly long enough to contain the same categories of information as all other species. If all things called onion are mutually equivalent to one level of the taxo tree (some genus or family? - OK, I am not a botanist!) then a taxo box of some description for the onion article would be appropriate. --Tony Wills (talk) 06:52, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
Before you start tallying votes and making page moves, I suggest you ask for help from editors with experience in naming problems. And read the MOS guidance. Your first step should be to look at "What links here" to find out what topic most people are linking to "onion" for. Look at the list of supermarket vegetables I link above. How do they handle this? I suspect nearly all food plants have a common name that only actually applies to one species or variety but that doesn't mean that everyone wanting to read an article on "onion" has to work out which onion before getting to the most likely topic. -- Colin°Talk 09:26, 20 March 2014 (UTC)
A few good points on article writing but I wasn't volunteering :-). If I was to do it I would simply create the two articles and amend the incoming links to suit, and having set the parameters, utilise the power of crowd sourced editing to get it to make sense. ;-) --Tony Wills (talk) 11:46, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

@Colin: There are, as you would expect, a lot of links to this article. Wandering randomly around them:

  • Some are clearly food-related, but non-specific as to which precise kind of onion is meant, i.e. whether it's what I would typically think of as an "onion" or whether it's a shallot, one of the East Asian Group cultivars, or some other "scallion" type. This non-specificity applies particularly to links from "X cuisine" articles.
  • Some seem to mean a "typical" bulb onion.
  • A few are aimed at the botanical species.

It's a bit of a mess since there are also the articles Yellow onion, Red onion and White onion, as well as Shallot, Scallion, Tree onion, Potato onion, etc. Some of the links to "onion" should actually be to one of these more specific articles.

I concluded that there are two main uses of "onion" in Wikilinks:

  1. a fairly specific reference to "bulb" or "common" onions, regardless of precise colour or cultivar, i.e. to the cultivar group which can be referred to as Allium cepa var. cepa.
  2. a more general reference to a wider range of cultivars commonly called onions, including at least bulb onions, shallots, tree onions, potato onions, and some kinds of scallion, i.e. to Allium cepa as a whole, plus some of its hybrids.

It didn't help me to decide what an article called "Onion" should be about. Peter coxhead (talk) 14:01, 20 March 2014 (UTC)

India[edit]

In India, it is illegal to grow or posses onions. The article should reflect this fact. 69.65.91.78 (talk) 05:32, 20 April 2014 (UTC)