Template talk:Incoherent

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This template ought to place articles into a category, for example, category:all articles needing copy edit. 22:46, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Unmerge request due to inconsistent template name, banner, and usage[edit]

This template used to be correct, but became confused following a 2011 merge. As a result, this template now lacks a single coherent topic (oh, irony!) as the banner says one thing, and the usage quite another, each one a legacy of a different source template. As it stands, it isn't really possible to use this template in a consistent way. Imho, the two templates never should have been merged in the first place, and the proper resolution now is to unmerge back to two templates (with a possible Template rename on one of them, to avoid confusion going forward).

There used to be two related templates with the word Incoherent in the name, one dealing with articles that had text that was incoherent in the normal sense of the word, i.e., incomprehensible, and a second template indicating that the article lacked a single topic, i.e., it didn't "cohere" in that sense. These two situations are not at all the same thing. These two templates were merged in 2011, with unfortunate results.


Template:Incoherent-topic was created in 2008 with the content This article may lack a single coherent topic. (See template history.) The content and banner remained substantially the same until 2011; articles containing {{Incoherent-topic}} were categorized in Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic. (version of Oct 2010) It is now a redirect.

Template:Incoherent was created in 2006 with usage note This template is used to signal that some of the sentences or the text as a whole in a section of an article do not relay an understandable message. By the end of day one the banner read It has been claimed that some or all of this section is incoherent and not understandable, and should possibly be reworded if the intended meaning can be determined.

At 13:21, 20 December 2011 Template:Incoherent-topic was merged (diff) with Template:Incoherent (the former is now a redirect; see template history, user contribs from Dec 2011), with the result that Template:Incoherent is now, well, no longer about a single topic, or at least is self-contradictory. The banner now begins, This article or section lacks a single coherent topic..." but the usage begins, "This template is used to signal that some of the sentences in a section or the text as a whole in that section do not relay an understandable message. Categorization is into the category previously used by Template:Incoherent-topic.

Original merge motivation

Imho the 2011 merge was a mistake. The remaining template is a self-contradictory jumble, and there is a void now where the other template used to be (or rather, the void is the original meaning of this template, which now attempts to carry both meanings with the result that it carries neither one effectively).

I believe that the motivation for the merge may have been partly due to the fact that the word coherent has several meanings in English, but the antonym incoherent does not negate all of them: In particular, while "coherent" has (at least) two meanings, 1) "speaking clearly and logically", and 2) "united as or forming a whole", the antonym "incoherent" however, only negates the first sense, and not the second:

in.co.her.ent: adj. 1. (of spoken or written language) expressed in an incomprehensible or confusing way; unclear (he screamed some incoherent threat)

(Of a person) Unable to speak intelligibly: I splutter several more times before becoming incoherent. (Of an ideology, policy, or system) internally inconsistent, illogical: the film is ideologically incoherent.
2. Physics (of waves) having no definite or stable wave relationship.

--New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001, Oxf. U. Press, NY, p. 859.

Note that (except for "ideology", etc., but not for speech) the definiton of incoherent does not include the antonym of the sense "united and forming a whole" of coherent . (NOAD, coherent, def. 3 p. 332).

Putting it another way: "lacking a single coherent topic" is not a valid meaning of "incoherent". And that is the crux of the problem here, and misunderstanding that point was likely the springboard for the original intent to merge.


But whatever the original motivation was, we now have a problem. As for a resolution, here's what I would recommend:

  • for Template:Incoherent - keep it, with changes:
    • Restore the banner of Template:Incoherent to its original wording (or similar) of "incomprehensible text".
    • The current usage note ("does not relay an understandable message") is okay, possibly beef it up to distinguish between confusing, unclear, and gibberish (see WP:NONSENSE)
    • Remove the code that categorizes articles with this template into Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic.
    • Regarding the template name: either keep it as is, or change it to Template:Incomprehensible (with appropriate redirect added, whatever the resolution)
  • for Template:Incoherent-topic (currently does not exist)
    • Restore this template, or create a new one in its place
    • The goal of this template will be to generate a banner that says, "lacks a single coherent topic" or similar
    • This template should categorize articles with this template into Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic, just as the original template already did
    • The template should be renamed and called, Template:Inconsistent, or Template:Lacks unifying theme or some such, but the word coherent or incoherent should be no part of the name, as that's not what incoherent means, and what led to the unfortunate merge in the first place.
  • The WP:NONSENSE essay should be beefed up:
    • The top section should distinguish better between poorly worded text, stuff that looks like machine translation, "word salad" (already mentioned), gibberiAsh, and other kinds of nonsense. The point is to distinguish what needs copyediting, and what needs to be deleted.
    • It would be good to add a section that would reference all the different templates available for this situation, or perhaps add them in a bullet list at the end of "Dealing with" section.

I'll have to rummage about and see if there's a particular place to signal an unmerge request. In the meanwhile, I'd like to hear others' opinions. Mathglot (talk) 21:46, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

Added a new section to Wikipedia:Requested templates. Mathglot (talk) 23:55, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
As an additional comment: the doc page says that the template categorizes pages into Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic but I don't believe that it does so, as the code does not have an Ambox|cat= argument, and a sandbox test showed no categorization. Mathglot (talk) 00:28, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
  • I like "Unfocused" (or "Lacks focus") better than my original suggestion. The single-word suggestion also made it possible to consult a thesaurus for more possibilities; of the alternatives, ill-defined might be the best one listed, but I still prefer Unfocused. Mathglot (talk) 22:02, 13 April 2015 (UTC)