RfC: Does a largest cities/city population template add anything to an article?
Per a request at WP:AN/RFC this RfC is closed as it depends or no consensus depending on your viewpoint. There is a large consensus that a city population template not be used in every case, some of those opposing because the template are unnecessary in all cases and some opposing because they thought that it should be decided on a case-by-case basis. Their argument that sometimes these templates add value to the articles and sometimes they don't was not refuted, nor their suggestion that their inclusion or exclusion be determined by editorial discretion. -Nathan Johnson (talk) 18:47, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.
Note: It would be preferable (but by no means mandatory) if the commenters, for now, focused on top 125 countries by total area. This is not a discussion about any particular country/article. It's about such templates in general. Pleasedo not change/modify the original form/structure of the RfC.
Although it's not mandatory, try to back your claims with credible rationales that can help reach a consensus. If your comment falls entirely in the lines of I don’t like it or I like it without any reason to back your assertions, it may be ignored entirely.
Clarification: The first question was [until 14:00, 16 September 2012 (UTC)]: "Should articles (esp. featured ones) about nations contain a largest cities template/city population template in demographics section?", thereafter it was changed for clarity purposes to "Does a largest cities template/city population template add value to the articles (esp. featured ones) about nations?" because commenters were ignoring the main question altogether. [added at 14:08, 16 September 2012 (UTC)]
Yes — It may help foreigners (who don't know the locations of the cities or the exact topography of a nation) understand the largest agglomerations better. Many other articles currently use such a template: United States, United Kingdom, and many developing countries such as Brazil, China, South Africa, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Thailand and Colombia. There are a number of FAs (e.g. Australia, Japan, Germany, Canada, etc) that contain such templates, it helps me understand their city population.
IMO, as long as any of the facts and images added to the template would be verifiable and relevant respectively, they should contain such templates. I support 4 images because I believe some people (e.g. people with learning disabilities) may learn from the images what they couldn't learn from texts only. Hence the more number of images, the better. Yes, we can use tables and charts to display the image but these are also a form table/charts. We serve a global audience, so we should not cater to just one set of the viewers and ignore the needs of others. Mrt3366(Talk?)(New thread?) 08:49, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
The short answer is "yes", but the long answer is a bit more complicated.
Does it add value? Yes. Such a template is one way -- one way of several -- that a reader who is unfamiliar with a country can begin to get a picture of it. One of the first things you might want to know about a country is what its principal cities are. Yes, those will be noted elsewhere in the article, but the template might catch your eye first. Or, a reader might be specifically interested in one city, but not remember its name, in which case going first to the article for the country containing that city, and looking around for a familiar name, is an excellent search strategy. (Since most of the world's reference materials are organized by name, trying to find information about something you don't know the name of can be a challenging problem.)
With that said, it's also worth pointing out a few things such a template does not do. Does it add unique value? No, most/all of the information in it can be found elsewhere. Does it add value for all readers? No, some will already know the largest cities, or will prefer to find that information elsewhere. But neither of these are objections to including the template -- much of the information in any article can also be found elsewhere, and all of the information in any article is already known to at least one reader. The real question is whether some information (in this case, the template) adds enough value, for enough readers, to justify its inclusion, and that's a sort of a slippery, subjective question. But I believe the answer here is yes.
Finally, I have been answering the question posed in the section header, "Does a largest cities template add anything to an article?". There are two different questions posed in the first section, "Should articles contain a largest cities template?" and "Should featured articles contain a largest cities template?". Those are a bit different. Ultimately -- and this is another very important answer for this whole thread -- I think such questions should be answered by WikiProject Countries, who are the ones trying to define and encourage a standard "look and feel" for country articles across Wikipedia. —Steve Summit (talk) 12:33, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
If the question is does a template add value to the article, the answer is Yes. But should we add such template to the article of country is something that should be discussed and cannot have a general RFC. Graphical/pictorial represntations provide information in a better way than the text(I am not saying that we just need templates).--sarvajna (talk) 13:32, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes — (invited by RfC bot) I think it is unequivocal that these provide important information, and that the standardization of a single template helps to orient people to the information they need. VanIsaacWSVexcontribs 09:21, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
No, such templates do not add any value to the article
I'm actually going to go out on a limb and say that this is something that should generally not be in articles, although I could imagine in some cases it's okay. In other words, the default should be to not include, and only include if there was a clear, strong consensus at any given country article. This is because I generally find such templates to be excessive and only very rarely useful. If a city is important enough to a country to deserve mention, well, then it should be wiklinked in the text. I literally cannot imagine a time when I would be reading about a country, and my next goal would be to see a list of, and start jumping to, the largest cities in that country. That's simply not a relevant means of providing information about a nation. But, in any case, the idea of making it a default that it should be included is a simple non-starter, because this is at best a stylistic point that should be handled by individual article editors. Qwyrxian (talk) 15:34, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Qwyrxian. Any value added across the board is likely to be minimal due to information rot. Individual cases may include by local consent paired with editor willingness to maintain the template, but even then it might be best locally maintained within the article (case dependent). I would further argue that images are inappropriate, as any city important enough to warrant inclusion likely has an article where pictures would be more relevant and appropriate. --Nouniquenames 16:47, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
Simply put, this is an extremely stupid idea, and I hope it ends here. Regards.--MarshalN20 | Talk 01:12, 21 September 2012 (UTC)
Not only do they add little value to country articles, but they serve little purpose on city articles as well. Population is not the only measure of importance, and in many cases it's effectively an arbitrary one. The important cities of a particular country should already be linked in the prose; tacking on a relatively large navbox at the end is just more visual clutter (even if it's collapsed, it's still clutter), which is proliferating to a damaging extent. PowersT 18:41, 26 September 2012 (UTC)
Useless & distracting. Simple list articles would do as well, & we have them. Maintainability will however not be a problem once wikidata is implemented. DGG ( talk ) 18:30, 27 September 2012 (UTC)
The title of the section says it all, these templates do not add any value to the individual articles. — MrDolomite • Talk 19:47, 28 September 2012 (UTC)
I'd say these are generally inappropriate. A few lines in-text linking to the largest cities should suffice, plus perhaps a link to a list of cities. These are enormous and do not provide information commensurate to their size/distraction. Calliopejen1 (talk) 22:35, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
Can't see the point of a one size fits all rule, here. National articles are huge as it is, but perhaps on something like on Urbanisation in India it would be a better fit. Alanscottwalker (talk) 14:23, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
This should be left to the people who maintain the article on a regular basis to decide. If there isn't a commitment of those who are dedicated to the article to maintain it, then the boxes will get out of date and the content of the text and boxes will drift apart.--Peter cohen (talk) 18:35, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
As this discussion is to support an other stuff exists argument that failed to gain consensus at India it clear that it is not compulsory for a featured article and in some instances clearly does not add to the article. Not all country articles need the template and in some like India it was not needed, only the talk page of individual countries can take a view on the weight of such a template and if it would add to the article.MilborneOne (talk) 11:52, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
Just to note I originally added my comment under No not always but was moved by another user under a misleading header, if we cant add our own unbiased headers then i will move it here. MilborneOne (talk) 18:46, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
A general rule requiring city population templates in country articles doesn't make sense - too many dependent variables. --regentspark (comment) 18:57, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
Agree with RegentsPark. The US, which has the template, is 81% urban; India which doesn't have it, is 30% urban. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 21:51, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
Agree with others. This doesn't need a rule. Let the regular editors of the article decide. Kaldari (talk) 02:36, 15 September 2012 (UTC)
No need for a rule about when to use such a template or when to add pictures to it. But I support a standard layout and I support lean templates. Finally: the call for the RfC is very selectively spread, hampering a valuable discussion. The Bannertalk 12:39, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
Having confused the author of this RfC, here some extra explanation: Yes, I believe that a "biggest city template" can add something to an article. But no, I don't think it is always a worthy addition. And no, more then four pictures are never useful as it makes the template too heavy (there are still people around with phone internet and capped downloads). And not always is it necessary or even useful to put down the top 20 (see: Template:Largest cities of the Republic of Macedonia
Seeing that the the author of this RfC has changed the question of this RfC, I think this RfC should be invalidated and a new one started. The Bannertalk 15:27, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
Firstly, it is most unfortunate that the wording of question itself and the resultant responses thereto speak collectively to the profoundly inexact meaning of what's being asked / looked at. Not only is there the question of whether the template "adds value", which in itself would be subject to an extensive array of understandings, but the banner header reads "Does a largest cities/city population template add anything to an article", which is potentially a different question yet again. On what exactly is the questioner seeking input? Is this an RfC about a possible universal mandate (as suggested by some responses, and is it or is it not confined to the 125 most populous nations, "for now") or is the questioner soliciting preference input about an optional extra (as suggested by other reasonable responses)? Conceptually, I might (or might not) take the viewpoint that it's a "nice addition" when it's an "optional, appropriately sourced, up to date, clear summary" i.e I might (or might not) think it's "adding value" in different situations. But- are the numbers always readily available, are "agglomerations" and "cities" and "conurbations" the same thing or not, and are they necessarily cross-correlationally comparable? Do we care? How many pictures? How many cities? What size of city counts? Which segues to- secondly, there are always technical aspects for a given article that need to be addressed: -what sources are preferred for the populations that are being stated? -should the source(s) always be cited? -should the date of the source's census or estimate be transparent? -are we dealing with core populations or conurbation populations? -are we using consistent guidelines in all countries, and if so what are they? If this were to be a mandate, I'd judge that rigorous careful explanation of all these (and other) technical issues would need to be laid out for consideration. Could perhaps the template result be appended by reference in a particular article, or does it always have to be actually physically incorporated? What we have is rather woolly if discussed generally. Perhaps, for example, a poorly organized table in a country for which the data might be outdated or in some way(s) contentious might not be a "value added" component at all. Would the absence of good data make it better or worse to have a template table added? It seems from reading this page that this question has provenance in a specific issue in regards to India. It really might be better if the objective is (or is not) to impose a universal mandate (or conversely is garnering general impressionistic input about a potential stylistic value-added option) for this to be made abundantly explicit. Or is it a question about India? Based on the extreme breadth of comments here I looked at a few of the relevant templates, and I thought it was interesting to compare Template:Largest cities of Rondônia with cities as small as less than 20,000, and reflect on the 20 "agglomerations" in Template:Largest urban agglomerations in India as well as the 13 pages in the cited source at . If this were about India, would an option be to reference the source rather than pedantically pulling the information into Wikipedia? Or would adding Wikilinks to the transposed material so enhance things that it fully justified the editing time - well, I don't know really. Of course, if time were limitless it could be meritworthy... but time isn't limitless, and who is going to check, correct, maintain and promptly update these templates when they get lengthy and complex? Is it possible that templates are the least attractive editing milieu for many editors in an article? Do we know? Is it possible that numerous template tables of various types are not getting enough attention? What does usage and editing data show? And then there's Template:RFLargestMetros and also Template:Largest cities of Russia - is one of these templates preferred over the other (probably, but why ARE there two, and now we are back at details, details, details...) I see a lot of issues at each level of the onion peel. In short, maybe this RfC should be closed as being incapable of attaining consensus. FeatherPluma (talk) 01:46, 11 October 2012 (UTC)
Yes, for some and no for others and in any case without images
I'll explain why:
Yes: for some countries, it's a useful navigation tool. Ruling it out dogmatically seems silly.
No: some countries self-evidently don't need it. If someone ever takes Palau, Vatican City or Tuvalu to FA quality, the template will be far less useful than in Ukraine, China or Brazil.
Images: Either they'll be tiny, so as not to disrupt the template, or they'll be massive, in which case the template is incongruously large.
There's my opinion. --Dweller (talk) 12:26, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
Thanks. The trouble is that you've introduced a huge lump of subjectivity. Furthermore, by saying that it's essential for country X that's one side of the arbitrary line you wish to draw and inappropriate for country Y that's one place lower in the hierarchy, it'd be open to ridicule.
Don't you think we have enough hurdles to jump at FAC without the need for prescribing or proscribing this particular template? Someone willing to work on (say) Argentina to get it to FA already has enough on their hands without needing to worry about creating this template. Or deliberately not. --Dweller (talk) 12:41, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
Agree with Dweller. There are other issues here as well. The RfC has been improperly framed. Not only is the statement a thinly disguised and over-conditioned allusion to India, but the potential answers also are slotted into different subsections that have all the makings of a poll. Mrt3366 has been unsuccessful in having his way with inserting a template in the India page, he has been unsuccessful in having his way in the DRN he initiated soon thereafter. Now he is attempting, a third time, to have his way by posting to what he hopes is a larger forum. In this endeavor, he has been busily advertising the RfC across Wikipedia, from Jimbo's talk page to those of presumably mortal editors. If "India" is what is meant, then the statement should clearly say India. If other countries are implied, then where is the evidence that Mrt3366 has attempted to gauge opinion on their talk pages in the weeks before he initiated the RfC. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 13:26, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
PS It doesn't help that the initiator, Mrt3366, has been changing the statement of the RfC after people, such as I, have responded. If some of you are scratching your heads about my post above, it is because the statement that I responded to has now been changed! Fowler&fowler«Talk» 21:54, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
Just to note, prior to Fowler&fowler's comment for the most part, two questions were the way they are now, just after it was changed to what Fowler refers to as "over-conditioned allusion to India", fowler commented and then after a brief moment of pause it was reverted to what it was before with an added line in the "note". Mrt3366(Talk?)(New thread?) 07:27, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
The first real change is conforming of question 1 with the main question. Does a template add any value to the article? It was updated for clarification. Mrt3366(Talk?)(New thread?) 14:03, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
We're going off-topic here, but that may be okay since this RFC seems stillborn, but I fail to see how it is useful to link the mayor of El Paso to the City of Los Angeles. Or hell, even to the mayor of Los Angeles. Resolute 01:10, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
Agree with fowler. If you want to talk about including something in the India article, talk about that. Approaching the issue tangentially is sneaky at best. --regentspark (comment) 13:58, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
I don't wish to talk about India here, don't you get that? I wish to first determine whether or not these templates are useful in general for countries that may have at least 10-20 different urban settlements. Because you and I both know very well that Palau, Vatican City or Tuvalu aren't exactly the first three names that come to mind every-time we utter the word "nations". You cannot say something is useful only when it comes to USA, UK, China, Canada but its usefulness magically disappears when it comes to India. Mrt3366(Talk?)(New thread?) 07:53, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
Ok, I'll take your statement at face value that this is not about your desire to see the template in India (but only because I'm a nice guy!). --regentspark (comment) 16:37, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
Agree that this is to support an other stuff exist argument on what is so far a failure to gain consensus on the India page. I did comment in good faith and added a new header to match my reply but as this didnt match the required responses it was moved perhaps to give a wrong impression of my comment. This is clearly not the way to request commments works, I would suggest this request is closed and that users respect the consensus on the India talk page not to include it rather than continuing to use numerous boards and talk pages to undermine the talk page consensus, this is getting close to disruptive. MilborneOne (talk) 18:58, 13 September 2012 (UTC)
I'd only say, like an editor wrote on another page, it is unpersuasive to suggest that if a country is mostly rural or has slums, then pictures of major cities juxtaposed with stats about population may be misleading. We can state how much of a nation is urbanized and how much is not, can't we? Does it really invalidate the city-templates altogether? I was told that “Slums exist in Brazil (where they are called favelas), China and 125+ other countries; slums everywhere have the same issues.” Mrt3366(Talk?)(New thread?) 07:39, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
My reply to Peter Cohen's comment
Leaving it to the "regulars" will allow for opposition of change to an article based on an individual's preference which is a recipe for petrifying content and preventing improvement (essentially turning an article into a monolith). To others I would say, "aesthetics" is not a free pass for the it-just-doesn't-look-cool-to-me crowd. The issue of whether such a template improves an article is not so clear-cut that a rule will work 100% of the time, but I can see sufficient benefit in general (which I have listed in my comment and don't want to repeat them ad nauseam) that the presence of a city population template may be assumed to be the default. Mrt3366(Talk?)(New thread?) 08:15, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Dweller. It all depends on the context. A city population template makes sense for some articles, but not for others. Inclusion of the template must be based on a case by case basis. It's not necessary to have a rule that requires it or restricts it.--SGCM(talk) 11:05, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Dweller too. In general, I support having our articles being as far as possible made up of well-referenced and well-written prose, supported by well-judged, occasional, pictures. Pretty tables, schmalzy presentation, and decorative images and icons all make our encyclopaedia look cheap and tacky, and directly cause unproductive disagreements like this. I do agree it is good to have a co-ordinated approach to the aesthetics of our articles, but I feel this line should be quite a conservative and text-based one. With the greatest of respect to the original poster, I really hate these boxes and would prefer never to see them again. They do not belong on what is essentially a text-based project. --John (talk) 16:32, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
This comment really cuts to the heart of the debate. John, I love text-based media, too, and I tend to view extraneous decorations as unnecessary and intrusive. But I really don't think it's true that Wikipedia is "essentially a text-based project". (Can you cite a source for that assertion?) A picture, famously, is worth a thousand words, and there's a reason that virtually all books and other reference works targeted at a mass audience include a judicious mix of text, tables, pictures, and other graphical information. Most people like them. They make an article attractive and approachable. (Most readers would be put off by a featureless wall of text.) —Steve Summit (talk) 12:45, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
And also I don't think that the template is merely for decorative purposes. If this template containing verifiable and relevant info, is decorative then any other table, pie chart, etc can be labelled as decorative too. Mrt3366(Talk?)(New thread?) 13:49, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
I also agree that "it depends". And would go further to say the very concept of "largest cities" is problematic. Methods for the delineation of cities differ from place to place. I don't know exactly how it works in India, but in the US and elsewhere you often find some cities defined to include vast, often non-urban areas, while others are defined as very small areas surrounded by vast urban metropolitan areas. Classic examples in the US include Jacksonville, Florida, whose city limits include huge rural areas, and Boston, which is fairly small but surrounded by the much more populous and very urban Greater Boston. An even more blatant example of the City of London vs. London (metro). It is natural to want to compare city sizes, and sometimes useful, but all too often it ends up being fairly arbitrary or misleading. Add to this the often arbitrary way metropolitan areas are defined—in the US they are usually (but not always!) defined by whole counties, thus often including huge non-urban areas—the Seattle metropolitan area for example includes large areas in the Cascade Range, including national forests and officially defined wilderness areas. I'm not sure how cities and metro areas are defined in India, but as far as the use of a "largest city" template for articles about nations in general, I would have to say not only does it depend on the nation, but in many cases it probably should be avoided altogether. And if such a template it used, it really really should link to sources that not only verify the populations but also explain what exactly is being compared, how the delineated areas were arrived at, and whether the comparisons are more "apples to apples" or "apples to oranges", if that makes sense (ie, Boston vs. Jacksonville). (PS, the headers in this RfC are confusing and my comments don't seem to fit under any of them, so I am adding them here at the very end). Pfly (talk) 19:23, 14 September 2012 (UTC)
There are a few points (some of which I've sprinkled in up above) which I don't think are receiving sufficient attention:
The right place to decide which features do (and don't) appear in Wikipedia's "standard format" (whatever that means) for country articles is at WikiProject Countries.
People should think not just about what they want to see in an article, but what other readers (or the hypothetical "average reader") might like to see.
Even if we can agree that this template adds value, it is clearly not going to be unilaterally required for every country article. (As it says over at WikiProject Countries, "This structure is advisory only, and should not be enforced against the wishes of those actually working on the article in question.")
The essential question here -- "Should we include this particular piece of potentially-useful but somewhat-redundant information in a particular article?" -- is fundamentally a subjective one. People are (properly) requesting objective arguments beyond "I do/don't like it", and some people are valiantly attempting to inject some objectivity, but the subjectivity is not going to go away.
Finally, a reminder: Wikipedia demands collaborative editing, and collaborative editing demands mutual toleration and respect. The process is guaranteed to break down without those. —Steve Summit (talk) 13:05, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
Whatever might be the right place to decide, this is where people have weighed in. There is not going to be another RfC. Mrt3366 has wasted our time in three forums. His third attempt here is dead in the water. It has not gone his way, in spite of his frenetically plastering—earlier today—the talk pages of all the city templates, and of the country pages that carry them, with invitations to weigh in. What is that if not canvassing? Why did he post only on Japan, US, Brazil, Germany, ..., the country pages that carry the templates? Why did he not post on Chad, Indonesia, Cameroon, Peru, ..., all FAs that do not have the template. He has changed the wording of the RfC not once, but three times, long after people have responded. And you are talking up mutual respect? That will surely make a cat laugh. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 02:47, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Yes, I am talking about mutual respect. And while MrT's has, in several respects, been lacking, I have to say that yours has been, too. (But at this point I'm afraid we're all wasting time; the discussions -- in, yes, too many forums -- are all long past the point of yielding any useful progress.) —Steve Summit (talk) 23:16, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Fowler, stop obfuscating the discussion by straying away from the topic. Just to let you know, I consider your comments as personal attack against me predicated on a gross violation of WP:AGF. I don't know about a cat but it sure makes me laugh because I have not tried to disrespect anybody, at least not on this thread. And if you have something to say about me, you're welcome to say it on my talk page. None of what you have said is constructive to the discussion. There is no my way. I wanted to know what people think and I am successful, I will say. If you honestly thought this is dead in the water, you wouldn't have kept commenting anxiously. It demonstrates nothing apart from your spiteful thinking, insecurity and mocking behaviour. This is a collaborative process I wanted input thus I requested comment, I have already clarified that in your talk page. What's wrong with you? Mrt3366(Talk?)(New thread?) 06:21, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
You said, "There is not going to be another RfC." — there will be as many RFCs about as many topics as people want after this. So stop worrying so much. Mrt3366(Talk?)(New thread?) 06:23, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
┌────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┘It has nothing to do with a personal attack. You are sabotaging the RfC process by canvassing, by giving respondents fixed choices that are biased, and by changing the statement of the RfC again and again. Respondents here need to know what they are up against. They won't find out if I leave a post on your talk page. Not that some haven't already noticed (The Banner, MilborneOne, RegentsPark, Pfly, Resolute, ... have made remarks echoing my own.) Fowler&fowler«Talk» 15:13, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Humorous digression that was not well received
there will be as many RFCs about as many topics as people want after this I, Madame Zelda, gaze into my crystal ball and see an endless stream of big city template in India RfCs in Fowler&fowler's future. Or (in my best singing voice please) an RfC in the morning, and in the afternoon, an RfC in the evening, and underneath the moon That will be five dollars please!--regentspark aka Madame Zelda (my crystal ball) 15:46, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
Please don't sell yourself short. A check for $10 has been fedexed. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:25, 17 September 2012 (UTC)
The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.