Wikipedia talk:Article titles

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Stylization of the "common name"[edit]

Per such guidance as MOS:TM and WP:AT (including WP:TITLETM) and MOS:CAPS (including MOS:CT), my understanding is that when we refer to trying to use the "common name" (per WP:UCN) for an article title, this does not necessarily refer to using the most common stylization of the name (e.g., regarding the capitalization of the name or the use of unusual typographical formatting like macy*s, skate., [ yellow tail ], Se7en, Alien3, Toys Я Us, and Invader ZIM). In some recent requested move discussions, some editors seem to disagree with that interpretation – saying that using the "common name" refers to using whatever typographical stylization is found most commonly in sources. In a recent discussion at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters#Composition titles, it was suggested (by Dekimasu) that it may be helpful to have additional clarifying commentary about this here in WP:AT. The suggestion was editing the fourth paragraph of WP:COMMONNAME to read:

Although official, scientific, birth, original, or trademarked names are often used for article titles, the term or name most typically used in reliable sources is generally preferred. Other encyclopedias are among the sources that may be helpful in deciding what titles are in an encyclopedic register, as well as what names are most frequently used. Note that the preference for common names does not indicate that titles should necessarily be styled as they are found in other sources. For the proper stylization of the common name, For guidance on stylization of the common name, please refer to the Manual of Style.
(using italics here to highlight the key aspects; we would not need to actually use the italics).

Would that be a helpful clarification?

BarrelProof (talk) 21:03, 16 December 2014 (UTC) (modified 21:42, 16 January 2015 (UTC) by (talk) with changes from 17:57, 24 December 2014 (UTC))


  • Oppose – Capitalisation on Wikipedia is determined by reliable sources, except in cases of WP:NDESC titles. It mirrors exactly the process for deciding what to title an article. Everything that applies to AT also applies to capitalisation, as AT is a policy, whereas MOSCAPS is just a guideline. We always go by what's the most common name in reliable sources. That includes what capitalisation to use. A guideline cannot trump policy RGloucester 22:07, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
    The above comment is a very good illustration of my statement that "some editors seem to disagree with that interpretation", which I think helps demonstrate the desirability of some clarification about this issue. —BarrelProof (talk) 22:13, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
    Comment: I read that "capitalisation is determined by reliable sources", and would like it but so far see that it's determined by house style. What did I miss? --Gerda Arendt (talk) 22:32, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
    (EC) Yes, the converse of my suggestion is also true. If we only rely upon outside sources for capitalization, that should go in WP:NCCAPS so that people aren't requesting to overrule outside sources in order to, for instance, decapitalize the prepositions in titles based on the guidance of WP:MOSCAPS. But it would also need to go in almost all other naming conventions as well; it would change how we use WP:FAUNA#Capitalisation and italicisation, eliminate WP:NCROY as far as I can tell (insofar as "we always go by what's the most common name in reliable sources"), eliminate WP:NCPLACE#Specific topics as far as that deals with proper nouns, and remove any instructions to refer to the guidance of particular sources over others as at WP:NCOPERA. And it basically rules out WP:CONSISTENCY; naming on Wikipedia would be exactly as random as implied by taking the median of all naming conventions on any given topic outside of Wikipedia. Dekimasuよ! 22:37, 16 December 2014 (UTC)
    We don't rely "only" on anything, and there are always exceptions subject to talk page consensus. However, the general rule, as far as I can tell, is "Wikipedia relies on sources to determine what is a proper name; words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in sources are treated as proper names and capitalized in Wikipedia". RGloucester 00:20, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    To be clear, I proposed both versions in the linked discussion: "One solution would seem to be adding an explicit statement in WP:MOSCAPS [should be in WP:AT given subsequent discussion] that common name does not imply common style, and that the MOS should be used to determine style (including capitalization) in article titles. The other solution would seem to be adding an explicit direction that the style guide is only to be used for titles in cases in which the most common stylization of the title is unclear, which would be closer to the way we negotiate WP:PRIMARYTOPIC." Dekimasuよ! 02:49, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    I support your second proposal, which is a more accurate representation of how we apply our policies and guidelines, and one that makes more sense. RGloucester 03:45, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    And again, the original context of the discussion that prompted this suggestion was not the current disagreements over whether something is a common noun or proper noun that seem to be informing much of the discussion below–it was the more mundane topic of repeated arguments over the style guide telling us to decap prepositions with less than five letters while a large number of article titles cap "Like" or "From" or "Into" in clear proper nouns. If your opposition is based on the proper noun/common noun issue that's currently causing heat, at least with the change described by Barrelproof we would know where to discuss the issue–by clarifying or cleaning up WP:MOSCAPS and WP:NCCAPS–rather than engaging in protracted discussion over whether general policy (as policy) or specific guidance (informed by particular circumstances) has precedence when it comes to typography. Dekimasuよ! 20:10, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support – I think it's a good attempt to clear up the kind of confusion exhibited by RGloucenter above. And he seems to endorse it, where he notes that our general rule in the MOS does already suggest looking at sources to help decide styling. Dicklyon (talk) 01:24, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    I strongly disagree with the idea that a guideline like the MoS should overwrite the policy that is WP:UCN. RGloucester 01:50, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    I agree that the MOS does not and should not override any policy. I support clarifying that. Dicklyon (talk) 02:02, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    WP:AT is a policy. The addition of this new sentence will imply that the MoS can override WP:AT. RGloucester 02:06, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    The question here is precisely "Does common name imply common style?" If the style is not an essential component of the common name–that is, if WP:UCN tells us which name to use, but not how to write it–then there is no overriding of WP:AT or WP:UCN involved. This is exactly why clarification is needed. Dekimasuよ! 02:41, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    Yes. I believe WP:AT already largely refers the reader to the MoS for such matters, which I believe are basically delegated to the MoS to be handled there (without intending WP:AT to express any conflict with the MoS), but some clarification would be helpful. If the stylization guidelines in the MoS are intended to mostly just be ignored and replaced by searches or to only apply to unsourced articles, we should probably just remove all that guidance or add heavy caveats to it, because all that's just confusing if what we're really supposed to do is survey sources instead. One way or another, I think it would be helpful to have some clarification. —BarrelProof (talk) 03:02, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
  • From previous discussions, my stance is that AT is about whether we use "Kesha Rose Sebert" or "Kesha", ignoring any style issues, and then having MOS:TM deal with the style of using "Kesha" vs "Ke$ha". Importantly this would have this applying equally across both title and body, minimizing reader disruptions. That said, both AT and MOS:TM should also carefully use existing sources to establish the style (aka the deadmau5 situation) that is preferred. As long as AT and MOS:TM do not work in tandem, we will keep coming back to this issue. --MASEM (t) 03:10, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    I think I agree with that. AT primarily considers whether we should use "Cuban green woodpecker" or "Xiphidiopicus percussus", and the MoS primarily considers whether we should use whether we should use "Cuban green woodpecker" or "Cuban Green Woodpecker". —BarrelProof (talk) 04:05, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    Exactly. WP:AT has us consider such titles as Chicago race riot of 1919, 1919 Chicago riot, etc., while WP:MOS leads us to prefer lowercase on "race riot", as was recently affirmed at Talk:Chicago race riot of 1919, in spite of RGloucester's attempt to say that we should let Britannica determine the styling there. Dicklyon (talk) 05:17, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    Now, now – no gloating please. I'm not too sure the deadmau5 example is the best myself. Some titles are going to still be difficult to decide, no matter what we do. —BarrelProof (talk) 05:41, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    Well, yes, I didn't get my preference on deadmaus, but that's OK. There are still open RMs (Talk:Houston_Riot_(1917)#Requested_move_14_December_2014 and Talk:Pottawatomie_Massacre#Requested_move) where RGloucester wants to let Britannica decide the style, which is why you opened this discussion. People should be aware of that back story. If he was OK with a majority of reliable sources, the question wouldn't even have come up in these, but he insists that Britannica should trump most other sources, which is what makes his position particularly odd. By insisting the WP:UCN gives him permission to go with Britannica, he can conveniently ignore WP's style. The clarification cuts off that excuse, which is why he opposes it. Dicklyon (talk) 06:08, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    In other words, then, you're trying to change Wikipedia policy to give yourself an advantage in ongoing move discussions. That's nice and WP:POINTy, don't you think? No matter what, we always evaluate sources on quality. We distinguish between RS and non-RS, between journalistic and scholarly, between primary and tertiary. That's how things are done here. I do not believe that Wikipedia has a "style". If it did, of course, it would mandate one standard to apply to all cases. It does not do that. It says to go with whatever is used consistently in sources, and also asks us to evaluate those sources to ensure that we maintain the encyclopaedic register. In other words, in matters what is most common in good quality sources, not what's common in blogs. If you want Wikipedia to have a "style", you ought make a proposal for one. Please, if you like, create a proposal. RGloucester 06:18, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    WP's style is set out in many guidelines and policies. We might take into account the "quality" of sources, but since sources nearly always vary among themselvs (and even within publications), relying only on sources doesn't work. This "encyclopedic register" is an ill-defined concept that you've invented to promote your agenda. Tony (talk) 06:32, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    How can I have invented it if it is in our policy? Do you not like our "house policy"? I have no agenda. If I had an agenda, I'd be going around making mass-unilateral moves to a certain style. I haven't done, and have never done. RGloucester 06:34, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    If Wikipedia did not have a “style,” then we would not have WIkipedia:Manual of Style. It applies equally to titles and content. — (talk) 07:37, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    RG, at Talk:Watts Riots#Requested moves, were you not among those who insisted on getting clarification at WP:MOS and/or WP:TITLE before deciding? Or was your statement "That's why God has sent me here, to protect these articles from the ugly candour of minuscule letters" a better summary of your position there? Dicklyon (talk) 07:50, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    Ahem… (talk) 07:58, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    "As a rule, editors engaging in 'POINTy' behavior are making edits with which they do not actually agree, for the deliberate purpose of drawing attention and provoking opposition in the hopes of making other editors see their 'point'." Please explain how that describes the actions of anyone participating in this discussion. —David Levy 13:12, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    Mr Levy, don't start being testy. I have no time for such affairs. As far as your words are concerned, My Lyon, I did not request any "clarification" as far as I remember. God did send me there, but you'll notice that I haven't opposed decapitalisation schemes that are supported by good sources. I merely oppose those that are not. I don't think any clarification is needed. WP:AT is our article title policy, and the MoS is just a secondary guide in the matter of deciding what an article title is. It is useful in certain standardised circumstances, but not the Gospel of Lyon, certainly. RGloucester 16:39, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    You seem to have little but time for such affairs, and generate far too many of them.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:48, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
    I'm not expressing irritation. I'm asking you to clarify your assertion that this proposal (or someone's support thereof) is an attempt to disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point. —David Levy 17:19, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    @RGloucester: If the title is not a proper name, then it doesn’t matter who capitalized what. It’s wholly a matter of house style. It’s up to the editors of each publication. In WP’s case, it’s up to us, and our style is to use sentence case. This discussion is not about when a name should be considered a proper name, and it’s not about whether we should stop using sentence case, though those may be discussions worth having. Please do not take this one off topic. Thank you. — (talk) 19:00, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
I'm well aware of that. However, the problem is determining what is a proper name, not whether to capitalise proper names. According to both AT and MOSCAPS, whether something is a proper name is determined by how reliable sources capitalise that thing. RGloucester 19:26, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
This was not the original question here, however; see above. Dekimasuよ! 20:19, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
It wasn't the original question, but it is one the problems that any change of this sort would cause. AT must trump the MoS. AT offers its own advice on stylisation, and the MoS must remain subordinate to AT. Otherwise, we shall have a situation whereby the MoS is used to overwrite AT, and that simply isn't acceptable in any way. There are cases of stylisation whereby the MoS provides its own dictates, such as when to use units. Those are questions purely based on Wikipedia's own "style". However, in cases of capitalisation, where AT is explicitly the policy that should apply, the MoS has nothing to do with it. RGloucester 20:40, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
I think you are assuming a transparent equivalence between written text and the common name that may not exist. You seem to be arguing that the style used by reliable sources is an integral part of the common name, perhaps because we are asked to use reliable sources to confirm that name, but nowhere does WP:AT state that this is the case. Written evidence of the common name is evidence of the term's usage, not the sole arbiter of how it is used. WP:UE works better for your argument, because it already says that "established systematic transliterations... are preferred. However, if there is a common English-language form of the name, then use it, even if it is unsystematic." Here too, though, it says nothing explicit about the stylization of the transliterations. Dekimasuよ! 21:02, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
AT doesn’t “trump” the MOS. They should not contradict. (talk) 20:49, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
They do not presently contradict each other. AT says to capitalise proper names, and so does MOSCAPS. Proper names are said to be established by use in reliable sources. What's so hard to understand about this? RGloucester 22:04, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support either way, whether we leave capitalization and other styling up to sources or to our MOS. Anything that reduces any perceived conflict between naming policy and MOS is a Good Thing. — (talk) 05:48, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    But leaving styling up to sources won't solve RGlouceter's underlying problem of "encyclopedic register" where he wants to let Britannica set our style. Dicklyon (talk) 06:08, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    But it would end the debates over what the policy really means. For the record, I believe that any proper name that isn’t in simple title case should be rendered here as per common usage in the most reliable sources (and non proper names should use sentence case). But if the consensus is for something completely different, I’d be happy with having anything plainly laid out. — (talk) 07:23, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support Content != Style. Seems like a useful clarification even though there are other places that also clearly call out the MoS for covering style of article titles. Having a consistent style is useful to readers. PaleAqua (talk) 07:59, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    • Note I strongly prefer the wording change suggested below replacing For proper styling with For styling guidance. Consider this a weak oppose to the original proposed wording. PaleAqua (talk) 17:57, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
      • And to be clear this is about proper vs guidance, not style, or styling, vs stylization, etc. PaleAqua (talk) 02:28, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. I agree with the above explanations (by Masem, BarrelProof and Dicklyon) regarding the distinction between content and style. As Tony1 noted, styles can vary wildly among reliable sources (and even within a particular reliable source). I don't know why RGloucester places so much weight on Britannica's house style or why he thinks that Wikipedia policy mandates this. His preferred course of action would essentially nullify the Manual of Style's relevance to article titles (and given his statement that he "[does] not believe that Wikipedia has a 'style'", this appears to be his goal). Wikipedia's house style reflects those of reliable sources, but isn't supplanted by them (let alone one in particular). —David Levy 13:12, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Opposed... There seems to be a basic misunderstanding of COMMONNAME involved in the premiss of this proposal. Stylized names such as macy*s, skate., [ yellow tail ], Se7en, Alien3, and Toys Я Us (the examples given) are not actually the COMMONNAMEs for these subjects (I am less sure about Invader ZIM). I suppose one could argue that the stylized version form the WP:Official names of the topics (being how the the name is presented in advertizing and packaging), but most reliable sources (especially those that are independent of the subject) don't actually write the names with the stylization when discussing them. Compare this with a subject like Deadmous5, where an overwhelming number of reliable and independent music industry sources routinely include the stylized "5" at the end. My point being, we should not change the policy based on a poor premiss... we need to keep in mind the distinction between OFFICIALNAMEs and COMMONNAMEs. We need to look at sources that are independent of the topic and see how they present the name. Most of the time, they won't include stylization when discussing the topic... but, when the reliable independent sources do include stylization, then we need to pay attention to that fact... we can know that the stylization is accepted as being an integral part of the topic's name, and we should follow the sources. Blueboar (talk) 14:10, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    I agree with most of what you wrote, but my impression is that BarrelProof simply copied those examples in reference to the broader concept of maintaining a house style. The above discussion focuses on disagreements wherein neither of the conflicting styles is unusual or favored mainly by trademark owners. —David Levy 15:02, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    The deadmau5 case had nothing to do with MOS vs TITLE; it was entirely about MOS:TM and some legitimate disagreements over whether the threshold test there was met. Dicklyon (talk) 17:59, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    Wasn’t COMMONNAME frequently invoked as well? I thought the argument was (various interpretations each of) a small part of AT vs a small part of MOS. — (talk) 18:53, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose the Article titles policy has its own guidance on such things in guidelines that are called naming conventions. For example WP:AT has its own information on how to capitalise ( AT § Article title format ¶ Use lowercase, except for proper names and its own guideline WP:naming conventions (capitalization)). Unlike the MOS which is stand alone and prescriptive, the AT policy is based on usage in reliable sources. Before that principle was established on this page, usage used to be based on a survey of all sources both reliable and unreliable, so many of the naming conventions were prescriptive to try to mirror usage in reliable sources, and while they were successful most of the time, such rule based naming produced inaccurate article titles for the rest. I see this as a retrograde step back to prescriptive naming, for example how does this proposal help in deciding the best capitalisation for the Boston Massacre or whether Comet Hale–Bopp should or should not use a dash or an ndash? I say "Let the sources be with you" rather than "let force be with you". -- PBS (talk) 15:35, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    • As long as we keep this attitude , that AT and MOS:TM are two very separate things with no harmony, we will continue to argue on naming schemes like this. The two pages need to work in tandem, but this also means that MOS:TM should not be as prescriptive, and AT should not be as subservient to RSes when there's clear style problems for WP. There are some naming issues that have to be discussed with the idea of what the prose will use to keep the title and prose versions consistent, for people to find the article to start with , and the like. --MASEM (t) 17:00, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    • The question of hyphen or en/em dash, a question of style, would be delegated to the MOS. As would the question of whether to capitalize proper names (which “Boston Massacre” is). But if this change is made, we may need to add guidance on determining whether a name is a proper name. — (talk) 19:18, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
      • " en/em dash, a question of style" who says it is a question of style does not not depend on whether the words are part of a name? Or do you always use ndash for the component parts of a name? As to whether "a name is a proper name" or not how does one do that without examining reliable sources? -- PBS (talk) 00:21, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
        • The en dash question is pretty well explained already at MOS:DASH. Absolutely agree on improving the MOS guidance on determining whether a name is a proper name. The current guidance is MOS:CAPS is weak ("Wikipedia relies on sources to determine what is a proper name; words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in sources are treated as proper names and capitalized in Wikipedia."), but it's what we have. Incorporating more linguistic knowledge as discussed at Proper name would improve it. Still, the current scheme works pretty well, until people like RGloucester argue that the Britannica trumps almost all other books (and he couches this in his misdirecting language about "blogs"). Dicklyon (talk) 00:33, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    • As far as WP:NCCAPS, it also says things like "For details, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (capital letters)#Composition titles" and "For French, see for instance Wikipedia:Manual of Style/France and French-related#Works of art." Those parts of the MOS don't say "refer to reliable sources to determine how to capitalize." As long as these sorts of things are scattered throughout the naming conventions, we can't just say that the naming conventions and WP:AT are independent of the MOS. Dekimasuよ! 21:25, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment what does "For the proper stylization" mean? -- PBS (talk) 16:50, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    Probably "For styling guidance" is a better way to express what he obviously meant. Dicklyon (talk) 17:44, 17 December 2014 (UTC
    This came up at the linked discussion as well, but I still believe "stylization" is the more precise term to use here. Wiktionary: "stylization (plural stylizations) The process or result of designing or presenting in accordance with a style" and "styling (plural stylings) Any particular form of decoration." Maybe "For guidance on stylization" would work, although changing "proper" (i.e. "correct within the context") to "guidance" could result in reinscribing the problem of references to WP:AT policy trumping explicit guidance in the MOS (or individual naming conventions). Dekimasuよ! 20:19, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    if "he obviously meant" it why write what was written? So Dekimasu you think that there is a "proper" way to do style something, tell me under your "proper" style which is correct "Boston Massacre" or "Boston massacre" and how do you come to the conclusion that you do? -- PBS (talk) 00:21, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    So you were asking about "proper" and not "styling"? In that case, the answer would be that by "proper" I meant "whatever the style guide says to do." That is, following the style guide is proper procedure/best practice. I am certainly not trying to say that there is any inherently "proper" way to style something. Dekimasuよ! 00:34, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    Indeed, the overloaded term "proper" is not so great here. The MOS is not about saying what is "proper" or "improper", or "right" or "wrong", but rather what accords better with our house style, where unnecessary capitalization is avoided, even in titles. The general idea is that when you see a wikignome making edits to make things accord better with house style, you should understand that that's progress. Nobody gets punished for creating articles with titles in title case, which might be normal, proper, or preferred in other styles; we simply move it to improve. Take a glance at new article feed and you'll often find some where you can help. Dicklyon (talk) 00:48, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    @Dekimasu thank you for your reply but you did not answer my question what is the "proper" capitalisation for Boston Massacre and how do you come to the conclusion that you do? -- PBS (talk) 15:03, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    Boston Massacre is pretty clearly accepted as a proper name, and capitalized per the lead at MOS:CAPS, as supported by stats on usage in books. Nobody has ever suggested otherwise. Dicklyon (talk) 16:42, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    I did answer your question: as I said, there is no inherently "proper" capitalization. (I spend half my time in a language that gets by fine without uppercase and lowercase.) I have said that by "proper" I meant "appropriate in a given context," and you have not given your question a context. I never presented my original phrasing as exactly what would have to be added to WP:AT, and in fact did not create this discussion, and if the word "proper" is changed to something that everyone can agree on as a result of discussion here, all the better. I have explained the intended meaning several times now, but you have not suggested any changes to the wording. (Both the MOS and the common name tell us to use Boston Massacre on Wikipedia. In this general discussion, I do not see the utility in asking for one editor's opinion. If you do, perhaps you can reply to my comment about naming conventions delegating to the MOS on your general oppose statement above.) Dekimasuよ! 19:53, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    As suggested by others, I think "For styling guidance" / "For stylization guidance" / "For guidance on styling" / "For guidance on stylization" might be better than "For the proper stylization", by avoiding the notion that other stylization is improper (versus just not necessarily fitting the house style). I'm also neutral on whether to use the word "styling" rather than "stylization". But I think the fine-tuning of the wording is not as critical as establishing the fundamental notion that clarification is desirable and that WP:AT is not intended to prescribe stylization in a manner that conflicts with or overrides the MoS. —BarrelProof (talk) 02:11, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
    @Dekimasu you write "but you have not suggested any changes to the wording" that is because I am opposed to the wording for the reasons I gave in my opposition statement. You write "I do not see the utility in asking for one editor's opinion" it is because you are making statements of fact such as "Both the MOS and the common name tell us to use Boston Massacre on Wikipedia", Where does the MOS do that, and how do you tell that "Boston Massacre" ought to be capitalised from the guidance in the MOS? You also write "perhaps you can reply to my comment about naming conventions" you made a statement, you did not ask a question. Ask a question of me and I will answer it, I hope you will do me the same courtesy. -- PBS (talk) 15:52, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
    I have been extending you this courtesy. The reason this line of questioning befuddles me is that I nowhere made any "statement of fact" about what the MOS says until you asked me several times to make one. The question and answer are both tangential in a conversation about what the policies and guidelines should be telling us to do. ["Should" here does not mean "proper." It means that ideally the policy and the guideline will work in tandem, whereas discussions have been showing them being used in opposition to one another.]
    Further up the thread I specifically noted that in the original discussion I had tried to explain both possible clarifications: "One solution would seem to be adding an explicit statement in WP:AT that common name does not imply common style, and that the MOS should be used to determine style (including capitalization) in article titles. The other solution would seem to be adding an explicit direction [which might be at the MOS] that the style guide is only to be used for titles in cases in which the [naming convention and] most common stylization of the title is unclear, which would be closer to the way we negotiate WP:PRIMARYTOPIC." This is pretty clear, never uses "proper," and does not show support for either position. (I have not added any "support" or "oppose" in this thread.)
    The original discussion was focused on debates over the capitalization of prepositions in composition titles; adding this text would not change how we case proper nouns. WP:MOSCAPS already points back to "standard usage" to determine whether something is a proper noun; after adding this text, 1) WP:AT would say "don't necessarily use style in sources, see MOS"→2) the MOS says use sources to determine if it's a proper noun→3) use sources. Meanwhile, WP:NCCAPS says things like "For details, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (capital letters)#Composition titles" and "For French, see for instance Wikipedia:Manual of Style/France and French-related#Works of art." Those parts of the MOS don't say anything about referring to "standard usage." As long as these sorts of things are scattered throughout the naming conventions, we can't just say that the naming conventions and WP:AT are independent of the MOS. The question I was asking is clear: Would you like to remove the parts of naming conventions that refer us to the MOS for more specific guidance? Dekimasuよ! 20:27, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support The styling of the title has to match the styling of the text (subject to position in a sentence). The MOS is clearly the place in which to set out policies and guidance on styling, not AT which only covers a very small part of an article. As others have noted above, AT is used to select the wording, MOS to select the styling of that wording. Previous debates (e.g. capitalization of bird names, hyphens vs. en-dashes) have consistently upheld this position. Peter coxhead (talk) 18:27, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    I fully agree that the styling used in the text should match the styling used in the title... However, I think both the title and the text should follow how independent reliable sources present the name. The basic concept that evolved into COMMONNAME needs to be expanded into a COMMONSTYLE guideline. In other words... instead of amending WP:AT, we should be amending the various MOS guidelines. Blueboar (talk) 19:07, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    @Blueboar: well, this is an old discussion. I started off being more sympathetic to the notion of COMMONSTYLE, and remain somewhat hostile to attempts to make the MOS over-prescriptive as to style. In practice, however, COMMONSTYLE runs into serious problems. One is that that styles vary with ENGVAR (e.g. capitalization varies significantly) so COMMONSTYLE leads to distracting nationalist disputes. Another is that it's hard to check styles in reliable sources since search results don't always maintain them. But the main reason is the desirability of at least some level of "house style". Peter coxhead (talk) 10:22, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    But surly that is what redirects/pipes are for. One can use any styling one likes for anything but the article title, this means for anything when it is not the subject of a page it can be styled as the MOS "dictates" [sic]. So I agree with Blueboar. -- PBS (talk) 15:03, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    I respectfully disagree. We should not style a name one way in one article and a different way in another article. We shouldn’t, for instance, talk about da Vinci in the article about the man and Da Vinci elsewhere, or Ke$ha in her article and Kesha in an article on pop music, or treat the same text as a proper name in one place and a descriptive name in another, etc. — (talk) 18:29, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support the proposed clarification would be a helpful clarification to the page, and result in increased harmony with MOS:TM. This encyclopedia is an edited product and random chasing after MOS trends in whichever publishers publish on whichever Google Book hit isn't a productive or meaningful endeavour. In ictu oculi (talk) 19:04, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
    If that's the case, you must take issue with MOS:CAPS and WP:AT, because both of these ask us to do exactly that. RGloucester 19:06, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support—So ... "saying that using the "common name" refers to using whatever typographical stylization is found most commonly in sources"—those editors would insist on the source's font and font-size being used, too? Come on ... And it is typical for sources, even so-called "reliable sources" to be inconsistent with each other and within themselves. That is why publishers have a house style. Tony (talk) 01:34, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    Well... IF a given name was consistently presented in diverse sources using a consistent font and font-size, then I would say yes... Wikipedia should pay attention to that fact and follow the common style. However... the reality is that finding commonality in sources with regard to font and font-size would be an extremely rare occurrence. So, I don't think we need to worry about fonts and font-sizes. We are really talking about other forms of stylization. Blueboar (talk) 02:54, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    But don't sections like MOS:TM and MOS:CAPS already acknowledge that when sources are consistent, we do as they do? Trying to follow "most common" would be chaos, but when they're consistent nobody argues. You would not want to see "it appears in sources more often with serifs than without, so we need to use a font with serifs"; yes we see things like "the Britannica capitalizes it, so we should, too", with WP:UCN cited as justification; nobody buys this, yet they you seem reluctant to shut it down. It's weird. Dicklyon (talk) 03:32, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    Bluboar, so that's a "no we don't in practice follow the font and font-size in a source". Where is the boundary, then? Curly vs straight quotes and apostrophes have to adhere to "sources"? French angle-quotes? German insistence on hyphenating street names (where in English they're typically not hyphenated)? Slavish reproduction of dense forests of Vietnamese diacritics? I'm deliberately plumbing these issues to illustrate a point: that slavish adherence to sources is unsustainable and in manty cases not even logical.

    We have a house-style to minimise arguments on article talkpages; those who argue for adherence to sources are setting us up for lots and lots of arguments, diverting us from working to improve the project. Simplicity, please. Tony (talk) 03:42, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

    Not quite, Tony... As I said, it would be rare for the font and font-size to be consistent in sources, but IF the sources are consistent when it comes to a specific topic, then we would (and should) follow the sources. That means we can not form a generalized "rule" (an "in practice") about this. Each name has to be examined on an individual basis. You ask "where is the boundry?"... I am not sure you can (or should) draw one. Each case is unique unto itself, and every "in practice" guideline has lots of exceptions.
    As for the "but we want to limit arguments" point... true... however there is a difference between argument and discussion. We actually encourage discussion on Wikipedia, and don't want to limit it. From my experience, most of the arguments arise when editors try to stop the discussion with a slavish adherence to "the rules". Shutting down discussion does not improve the project. Blueboar (talk) 13:37, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    So, Tony, your idea is to follow sources when they support your position on capitalisation, and ignore them when they don't? That's contrary to what is written. I agree that we shouldn't be reproducing diacritics, following sources on the type of inverted commas we use, or any of that rubbish. One of the biggest travesties on Wikipedia is the naming of such railway station articles as Praha hlavní nádraží. I have no idea what the justification is for using entirely unreadable names. Regardless, capitalisation is clearly another matter, according to the current policy/guidelines. If you'd like to mandate a set capitalisation scheme, propose one. RGloucester 04:10, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    "So, Tony, your idea is to follow sources when they support your position on capitalisation, and ignore them when they don't?"

    No, what gave you that idea? Tony (talk) 04:40, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

    You said "those who argue for adherence to sources are setting us up for lots and lots of arguments, diverting us from working to improve the project", but when the sources don't support your position in an RM, you ask for more sources. RGloucester 04:43, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    There seems to be some critical missing information here to support your allegations, and anyway this seems like a personal attack. Regardless of whether it is or not, this discussion is not the place. — (talk) 06:19, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
    "Adherence" to sources would be an impossible mess, as sources vary so much. We must, and do, consult and respect sources, and rely on them to help understand usage and meaning, in order to decide what aspects of our styling guidance apply. When sources are consistent, we should have little question about what to do; see MOS:CAPS and MOS:TM, for example. Let's just keep on doing it better, and all will be good. Dicklyon (talk) 07:00, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose the proposed addition. The section is question is about recognizability. By definition, stylistic options will be equally recognizable, and adding the proposed text will serve to further confuse readers about the content of the section. Blueboar mentioned a similar reasoning earlier. VQuakr (talk) 08:09, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
    This only seems true of names which intentionally incorporate styling, like the capitalization of iPhone or the numeral in deadmau5, and not names in simple title case or descriptive names. And the MOS does handle such questions of style (as it still would if a COMMONSTYLE guideline were added to the MOS), so does it not make sense to send people there for that information? — (talk) 08:57, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
    We seem to be dealing with two overlapping issues...
    1. a debate about the presentation of intentionally stylized names (for that, perhaps what we need is a new WP:MOS/Stylized names guideline. This could incorporate relevant parts of the various MOS pages we currently have, with the addition of a COMMONSTYLE section)...
    2. a debate about the presentation of COMMON descriptive names (and I think the debate here centers on the question of how to know when a descriptive name has morphed into a "proper name" through common usage.)
    Since they do overlap, the question is whether we should deal with these separately, or at the same time. Blueboar (talk) 11:32, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. To quote myself from a recent debate: "WP:COMMONNAME does not imply WP:COMMONSTYLE (yes, redlink), and instead WP:HYPHEN (and MOS in general) takes precedence. Generally, we style our titles, including punctuation and capitalization, according to our own rules, not according to haphazard conventions of the external world, which vary by location, field of application and fashion of the day." No such user (talk) 12:09, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support—if it's needed to clarify the obvious: we don't use different styling in titles versus running text in articles. Except for that first capital letter, there is nothing whatsoever to say about style that is different for titles than for running text. Is anyone seriously arguing otherwise? Given this, any guidance about styling should probably not be in a title-specific article like this one, and titles should use style guidance found in MOS/etc. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 17:07, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
    • Agreed. Style-wise, article titles are (generally) noun phrases with the first letter capitalized. WP:TITLEFORMAT. The end. Anything else is a matter for a manual of style. — (talk) 06:30, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support: This has been actual, consistent practice at WP:RM for over a decade, and it should be properly documented. MOS:TM would be meaningless under the interpretation favored by RGloucester, which has never gained consensus here, any time this question has come up, in any venue. Also, the idea that WP:AT and WP:MOS are in conflict and that WP:AT "trumps" WP:MOS is a confused fantasy, as has been explained in about 100 previous discussions, here, at MOS, in myriad RMs, etc., etc. It's a misapprehension both of how they interrelate and how WP:POLICY works generally.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:48, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Support - I hope the proposed rule will not be overlooked in the future. This helps readers learn to respect existing guidelines and guidelines themselves be more effective than it has been. --George Ho (talk) 06:43, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Surely policies - WP:V and WP:AT - take precedence over guidelines? And above all, reality takes precedence over our internal, perenially-debated rules on how to format text. I understand that some editors have an urge to follow rules - any rules - and make other people follow rules - but that obscures our greater goal; this is an encyclopædia. bobrayner (talk) 15:58, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Support. This has been a perennial source of confusion and the suggested language provides what's needed to clarify that the question of what the common name is, is distinct from the issue of what stylization to use for that common name. For what it's worth, a while back I attempted to catalogue past consensus on stylization of names–to find the common denominators where we varied stylization from the obvious, sort them into types, and to gather together a comprehensive list of illustrative examples where we had done so–and then deduce a set of rules that led to those common denominators and examples. See here.--Fuhghettaboutit (talk) 22:51, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. For the record, I generally agree with Blueboar's approach. For one thing, there is no sharp demarcation between style and content. There is a point at which the way that a word or phrase is presented conveys independent meaning - i.e., content. And a good way to determine whether that point has been reached for a given name is to have a look at how sources present that name. Now, because this can be a hybrid COMMONNAME/COMMONSTYLE issue, it's tough to decide where to put our guidance - here or at MOS. I would put something here, just because if a particular name has crossed the line where stylization becomes content, then it is more of a COMMONNAME issue than a MOS issue. At first glance, I like Blueboar's proposed wording as a starting point. Dohn joe (talk) 18:35, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Suggest that referring to use in "reliable sources" is not ideal, and the text should instead refer to use in "reputable independent secondary sources". For so many topics, topics with funny title styling, the reliable sources are dominated by primary sources, and mere repetition of primary sources. The examples listed, Se7en, Alien3, Toys Я Us, are typical examples where connected sources outweigh independent sources, where repetition of material is more common than transformative presentation of information. Reference to independent secondary sources is a better pointer to seeing how others refer to the topic. Arguments about how "reliable" the source is leads to preference to the most narrow source, such as a data entry record. Wikipedia prefers to avoid relying on such things. Quality secondary sources are reputable, depending on the reputation of the author and publisher. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 08:02, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose, for the record, any imposition of WP:TM (which is fairly clearly directed towards style in text) on article titles. Titles and running text encompass very different concerns - findability versus readability, to begin with. bd2412 T 18:51, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
    I thought MOS:TM was generally applied to both. Do you know of examples where a trademark is styled one way in an article's text and differently in its title? Dicklyon (talk) 19:44, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
    Or where anything is styled differently between text and title? I thought the policy was to style them identically, save for the initial capital. — (talk) 01:52, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
    The article titled Office of Management and Budget uses that form in the article title, infobox header, once in the lede, and twice in the main article text; it uses the abbreviated for "OMB" 33 times. The article "styled" as Pink (singer) does not use the phrase "Pink (singer)" anywhere in the text at all; it uses the artist's actual name, P!nk, once in the lede and about 20 times in footnotes, and uses just "Pink" in the rest of running text. Clearly "P!nk" is closer what appears in the text than "Pink (singer)". Compare that to a title like Marc Singer, which generally uses "Singer" to identify its topic in the text. bd2412 T 03:00, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
    That title would be “Pink”; the disambiguator doesn’t count. And an abbreviation doesn’t really seem to support your point, either. You were talking about something like an article titled “P!nk” using “Pink” throughout the text, and as far as I know, that kind of title-text inconsistency is supported nowhere on Wikipedia. — (talk) 03:58, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
    bd2412 seems to be just making noise here. Obviously titles can be shortened to more ambiguous forms when referenced in the text, but that's not what he was suggesting, not what we asked for examples of. Certainly doesn't explain why he was concerned about MOS:TM (which I presume is what he meant when he erroneously linked WP:TM). Dicklyon (talk) 04:56, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
    You asked for examples of articles for which the article title differs from use in the article. To the reader coming from outside Wikipedia, there is no real-world rule that "the disambiguator doesn't count"; since we're not writing articles only for Wikipedia editors to read, we should not make distinctions that are only of importance to Wikipedia editors, even if we have ourselves become so ensconced in our internal practices that the significance is immediate to our well-trained eyes. If your aim is to write articles using rules like that, I suggest you start a new site called "Wikipedipedia - the free encyclopedia that only Wikipedians can understand". bd2412 T 22:57, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
    You're reinforcing the impression that you're just making noise. You started by claiming "Titles and running text encompass very different concerns" as a reason to not clarify that the MOS applies to title styling. But you haven't come up with any sensible illustration of what sort of thing you have in mind. The parenthetical disambiguation style has never been a problem. How do you see applying MOS to titles as causing any kind of problem? Dicklyon (talk) 00:37, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
    Clearly (at least I thought so), examples that supported your point were what were desired. Have you none? — (talk) 01:35, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
    If you insist on examples of title/text splits that are only of significance to Wikipedia insiders (rather than to the forgotten general reader for whom this encyclopedia is written), then I would point to Deadmau5; in that article, excluding quotations and footnote references, the subject is most frequently referred to as "Zimmerman". bd2412 T 19:19, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
    Interesting thought. Are you saying that the suggestions of the MOS conflict with preferred practice in this case? Should we do differently? Or change something about how the MOS applies to titles to make this come out right? Actually, it's not clear to me that this is even about styling, since deadmau5 is not a styling of Zimmerman -- it's a different name. So, I still wonder what your point is. Dicklyon (talk) 19:32, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
    I have no objection to the use of Deadmau5 in the title and Zimmerman in the text (or, for a similar example, Tech N9ne in the title and "Yates" in the text), because titles and text serve two different functions. One says what a thing is irrespective of how it would most conveniently be read as a word in running text; the other is used only in describing characteristics of the thing. It is easier for the reader to understand that the topic they are reading about is Deadmau5 when the article is titled so. It is easier to read sentences describing characteristics of the artist when the name "Zimmerman", which contains no unexpected characters, is used. This is no different than using "American Football League" as the title and then "AFL" in the text, to save the readers the strain of having to read all those extra words every time. bd2412 T 19:49, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
    That makes perfect sense. Just wondering why you think it relates to the MOS, or what kind of change would make you happier with it. Sounds like more an issue for the COMMONNAME concept; there's one common name for the title, and a different one in the text. Or perhaps the MOS needs to note that that kind of use of several different common names is fine; like the use of scientific and traditional names; they can't both be the title. Dicklyon (talk) 22:58, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
    We should say something about COMMONNAME titles that aren’t used in the text, shouldn’t we? The implication seems to be that we are to use COMMONNAMEs in general, not just in a title. — (talk) 23:48, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
    Not at all sure that we should... it does not happen very often, and so discussing it would probably cause more confusion than clarity. Instruction creep? Blueboar (talk) 01:04, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
    Fair point. — (talk) 01:54, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
    BD... question... when that article does mention Zimmerman's stage name in the text, would you agree that the stage name should be styled in the text the same as it is in the title (ie "Deadmou5")? Or would you use a different styling in the text? Blueboar (talk) 23:14, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
    Where the article uses Zimmerman's stage name, it is often in the context of saying, for example, that he released a "2006 album titled deadmau5 Circa 1998–2002"; that he announces things "through his subscription service"; or that he "tried to change his name to "Deadmouse" in an online chat room, but it was too long, so he shortened it to "deadmau5"". None of these uses could accurately use any different version of the name, because they are identifiers of objects named deadmau5. It would probably be confusing to readers to have a mix of two spellings of his stage name, so the smaller number of instances where it is not being used as part of an album title, website name, or discussion of the stage name itself should conform to the pattern established by the larger number of uses where it being used as such. To a degree this is also a common name issue - it is impossible not to use a subject's own styling where it is being used to describe titles and URLs by the subject and in quotes by others. bd2412 T 02:03, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
    I don't see how this relates to your point. I think we all agree that we don't need multiple stylings of the same name, except now and then listed as specific alternatives when different enough to be worth mentioning. Like we could list deadmaus as an alternative, since it's used in multiple reliable sources. Dicklyon (talk) 04:52, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
    I was just answering Blueboar's question, which also does not relate to the main point. The point remains that titles can be different from the term (or styling) used in running text, because their main purpose is identification, not readability; therefore, WP:AT alone is the policy to consult when determining the appropriate title for an article. bd2412 T 05:06, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────AT has never pretended to rule on style. The closest it gets to style, which does not overlap with MOS, is matters such as disambiguation. That is not style. Tony (talk) 05:22, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

@BD2412: WP:AT is the primary policy page to consult re its namesake, but not the only. And MOS guidelines play a major role, too, or else they wouldn’t have links all over AT. The fact remains that it would be improper and jarring, and somewhat baffling, to use one style for a name in an article’s title, and another style for the same name (not an abbreviation or an alternate name) in its text. We shouldn’t, for instance, call an article deadmau5 when it discusses Deadmaus, or P!nk and Pink, or fun. and Fun, etc. Do we have any articles where practice contradicts this? — (talk) 05:36, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
@ Tony.... reapeatedly saying that AT does not rule on style does not make it true. If you know the history of this page, it started as a general NAMING policy... ie it ruled on issues relating to names... including stylized names (a name does not cease being a name because it is stylized). In other words... the policy has always been seen as ruling on style when the issue is a stylized name. More importantly... there are hundreds of RM discussions that point to AT (specifically COMMONNAME) when the issue is a stylized name. It is obvious that there is a fairly strong consensus that WP:AT can and does rule on style (all be it in a limited situations). Blueboar — continues after insertion below
“If you know the history of this page, it started as …” And then it changed to be a titling policy, and we developed a manual of style. AT is about titles, not all names. — (talk) 21:21, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
@ 174.141 ... You say: We shouldn’t, for instance, call an article deadmau5 when it discusses Deadmaus, or P!nk and Pink, or fun. and Fun... I would turn that around... we should not discuss "Deadmaus" in the text when we entitle the article "deadmou5". To put this another way, we both agree that we should be consistent between names in article titles and the same names in article text - but we seem to disagree over which policy/guideline we should favor to achieve that consistency. Blueboar (talk) 10:33, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
To recap:
  1. The vast majority of articles will have the same usage because using the independent inquiries of title determination and text determination lead to the same result.
  2. Where the different considerations do require differences, no one has complained of it being "jarring" or "baffling". No one has complained that Tech N9ne refers to its subject throughout as "Yates"; no one has complained that the article "William Anderson (Australian politician born 1853)" uses a text style that ignores two thirds of the title presented at the top of the page; no one is baffled that "Florida Gulf Coast University" is referred to throughout the text as "FGCU". The idea that something like "P!nk would be any more "jarring" as a title than "Tech N9ne" is unsupported by any evidence whatsoever. BD2412 — continues after insertion below
    Please read my last comment more carefully. I was talking about article titles and bodies using different stylizations for the same content, situations like Tech N9ne discussing “Tech Nine” or “Tech 9.” — (talk) 02:52, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
    Where is your evidence that anyone at all would find this "jarring" or "baffling"? I'm a lawyer, I deal in evidence, so evidence, please. bd2412 T 03:49, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
    I presume that’s the reason that we don’t have such inconsistencies. I took the absence of evidence of a contrary practice as evidence that it’s unacceptable. Wouldn’t fly in court, but am I wrong? — (talk) 04:00, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
  3. As Blueboar notes, where the title considerations dictate a title that differs from normal style, the title follows the policy and the text style follows the title style, as with k.d. lang, U Turn (1997 film), Star Trek Into Darkness and dot the i. BD2412 — continues after insertion below
    Is there any indication that this would not be the case if we didn’t have articles named for them? That we only capitalize “Into” because it’s in an article title, or that we only lowercase “dot the i” because it’s in an article title? — (talk) 03:29, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
    It is probably more likely that we capitalize "Into" and lowercase "dot the i" and leave the hyphen out of "U Turn" because those are the common names of the things at issue. The practice certainly lives up to the understanding that the balance achieved by WP:AT, as policy, trumps any guideline on style for article titles. bd2412 T 03:49, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
That is the state of things in a nutshell. bd2412 T 01:15, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Just to offer an example of an article where COMMONNAME was seen as applying to the text... see: Mark Twain. In that article, the pen name "Twain" is used consistently throughout the article (while the subject's real name "Clemens" is only used a few times). Looking at the archives of the talk page for that article, many people have questioned this, and each time they have been pointed to COMMONNAME. I offer this as a counter point to the Deadmou5 article's usage of "Zimmerman". (note... personally, I don't think either article needs to change... I raise the Twain example simply to counter the argument that COMMONNAME has never applied to text.) Blueboar (talk) 16:01, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Has that argument been made? My argument here is that the MOS applies to titles, and that exceptions to MOS in titles apply equally to running text. That titles are not this special thing set apart from the rules we’ve decided on for everything else in the encyclopedia. — (talk) 18:59, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Canvassing break[edit]

This canvassing by PBS-AWB, alt account of PBS, came just before the rest of these. Dicklyon (talk) 16:18, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

What's the canvassing? PBS-AWB notified me of the discussion, and I'm on the opposite side of the debate. Seems like a neutral attempt to attract more participation, based on the recipients of the notices having been involved in prior related discussions.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:56, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
By "canvassing" I didn't mean it was improper, just that it was likely to bring in a new batch of responses. Dicklyon (talk) 00:00, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose change above, per deadmau5 and danah boyd. Our house style cannot override real-world usage. --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 13:21, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose establishing preference for the MoS over sourcing in title styling, as hard experience has clearly shown that both source-based standards and common sense are preferable. —chaos5023 (talk) 13:25, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose our MOS should not trump real world usage or sourcing. Ealdgyth - Talk 13:56, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Support, except that the words "proper stylization" should be implemented as "styling guidance" per above suggestions. What convinces me is the common usage of "Kesha" over "Ke$ha" by a large margin, indicating the public's reluctance to follow her preferred styling. Binksternet (talk) 16:22, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
    • Please see the current wording (updated since your post). — (talk) 18:35, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment - I am not going to pretend I read everything, so ill refrain from expressing what I think is my support for this proposal. But I will point out that the MOS expressly states "The guidance contained elsewhere in the MoS, particularly § Punctuation (below) applies to all parts of an article, including the title. (WP:Article titles does not contain detailed rules about punctuation.)". It was a battle Nd a half to get that language in there, but that's the rule. If this is mostly a rehash of the whole en dash/Apteva debacle except in the context of capitalization, then I wholeheartedly support the proposal because the choice of whether to capitalize is a stylistic one, not a substantive one, and here at wikipedia we have a house style and we don't just defer to whatever the peanut gallery thinks is thhe best style. AgnosticAphid talk 16:40, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Support this, for multiple reasons. (And, if PBS canvassed all who participated in (a) previous discussion, it's legitimate.)
    1. It is Wikipedia's choice to use use "sentence style" for article titles. The present interpretation of the existing clause seems to disregard that choice, and apply "title style" for things which are not titles, referring to titles in reliable sources. This is independent of the "common noun" vs. "proper noun" discussion, as the same WP:MOS rules apply to the title and to the text. It is also independent of the k.d. lang concern, which overrides the "common noun" vs. "proper noun" situation. This guideline is the wrong place to discuss those.
    2. Where the dominant style in reliable sources cannot be determined, the current interpretation would lead to move-wars. This allows WP:MOS to avoid that. (I agree that this is not the only approach that avoids that, but it seems the most similar, among those which avoid move-wars, to reflect what is actually being done.)
    3. It seems better to reflect what is actually being done by all but a couple of editors. With few exceptions, policies and guidelines are supposed to be descriptive rather than proscriptive.
    • We might to add that, if independent reliable sources (which do not have a policy to style things as styled in trademarks, where there is a trademark in question) overwhelmingly style the object in a certain way in running text, that should apply both to titles and to running text. However, stylistic choices such as whether to use quotation marks in titles, even when used in running text, and WP:NDASH, should be used even where reliable sources consistently disagree.
    • Arthur Rubin (talk) 17:49, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
Just a note about trademarked names and how they relate to COMMONNAME... something WP:TM omits mentioning... in most cases, the trademarked name isn't actually the COMMONNAME (it may arguably be considered the WP:Official name, but we don't necessarily use the official name). So... usually MOS guidance and COMMONNAME are in sync on trademark issues. The conflicts between policy interpretation should only occur in those rare situations where a trademarked name is also the COMMONNAME. Blueboar (talk) 21:59, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Support. It took us years of debate to establish this convention, that style is determined by the MOS and not by sources, and clarification that this is how we do things will head off a lot of wasted argument. For example, following sources, we capitalized the common names of birds and whales but not of fishes or land mammals. We now capitalize uniformly based on the MOS. That's an obvious improvement (regardless of which form of capitalization you prefer), but it took a ridiculous amount of effort to get there. Now that we have, there are people who don't want to advertise that we have. Why, so they can continue wasting our time arguing against established consensus that "common name" refers to the name, and not to the presentation of that name? The fact that people are still arguing this tells me that we need to make the consensus more obvious. — kwami (talk) 19:51, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
The fact that we are still arguing about this tells me that there isn't actually a consensus. Blueboar (talk) 13:53, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Reality - as evidenced in sources - must always take precedence over our internal style guidelines. bobrayner (talk) 12:29, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
How can that be a problem for titles? Our style guidelines already respect sources and reality. This is a red herring. Dicklyon (talk) 18:16, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
No. This RfC is arguing against reflecting common "stylization" of names, where the MoS differs. The MoS must not trump reality. bobrayner (talk) 23:00, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: Our Manual of Style tells us—in many places—to follow real-world usage and to use common sense. Following MOS and following sources are not mutually exclusive. — (talk) 12:45, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
    • And yet we still have arguments between people who want to use names that are common in the real world, versus people citing the manual of style. Deadmau5, mentioned earlier, provides some clear examples: [1] [2] [3] [4]. Reality must trump our manual of style. bobrayner (talk) 13:33, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
      • Agreed, so let’s fix the MOS if it says otherwise. Why restrict this to article titles? — (talk) 18:10, 17 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose as per Bobrayner. It would be a weird world indeed were we required to title "...The Truth Is a Fucking Lie..." without the quote marks which make part of the title, while titling Let It Be as "Let It Be" because "style" so demands. If we do not "let it be" then we do indeed turn truth to a .... lie. Blessings!! DeistCosmos (talk) 04:07, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
    • Correct me if I’m wrong, but WP:TITLEFORMAT (not under discussion here) covers both cases. And if our MOS said not to use quotes in titles that included quotes, then our MOS would be broken and we would need to fix it regardless of anything in article title policy. — (talk) 06:17, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
      • It is honestly not at all clear what applicability would apply here -- thos aspect seems not to have been thought through before being proposed, which is the opposite of how such things ought to be done. And if there has been a change to the proposal after many opinions have been registered what is needed is to begin anew with this new proposal. But it ultimately is futile to suggest that we ought to title topics differently than the world titles them. This is the world's encyclopedia, not its arbiter of style, yes? DeistCosmos (talk) 17:51, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

What about conflicts?[edit]

Where might MOS and TITLE come into conflict, and what would be the result? If we took style from a vote of sources, we'd see some more upper casing of a random selection of topics that are important to experts in their respective fields, and a somewhat more random use of en dashes in date ranges and connections between symmetric pairs, and more stylizing of trademarks, perhaps. Then the situation would be that if we referred to such things in the text of an article we'd style them according to the MOS, and if/when we made an article, or moved an article to new topic, we might than go let a vote of sources change to a different styling if TITLE said to take styling from sources. That would be quite a mess; it is much cleaner to specify style in one place, so that we can't have conflict. That's what the MOS is. Let's keep using it; let's change it if it's not doing what we want for titles. Dicklyon (talk) 21:23, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

A conflict I remember is A Boy was Born (published, and in most sources used for the article) vs. A Boy Was Born (MOS). --Gerda Arendt (talk) 13:59, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
First, while WP:AT is mostly focused on article titles, it is not completely limited to titles... and never has been. In fact, what is today WP:AT started out as WP:Names (which is why we still point to various project level NAMEING conventions). In other words, this policy does (and should) affect names in text as well as in titles.
The solution to conflicts is not to amend COMMONNAME... the solution is to adopt a COMMONSTYLE provision at MOS. I have repeatedly suggested that we should change the MOS to better account for stylized names. The various MOSs should say that we should follow the sources when a name is routinely stylized in the sources. I know the regular editors at MOS don't want to hear that suggestion... but I will continue to suggest it. The rational for it is the same as the rational for WP:COMMONNAME... only applied to style: If a significant majority of reliable sources (especially those that are independent of the subject) stylize a name in a given way, then that stylization is the verifiable, accepted, normal, standard way for that name to be written. It's how readers will expect the name to appear. It's how we should write the name in our articles. The MOS should acknowledge that fact. It's that simple. Blueboar (talk) 01:17, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Subject to some debate about what "routinely" means, that's pretty close to what the MOS does already, in MOS:TM and MOS:CAPS. I agree that the place to work on amendments is at MOS, and that's what the current proposal clarifies. Dicklyon (talk) 01:21, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Yes, please, let us respect sources[edit]

If people are at all familiar with my editing and my move requests, they know that I almost always present data from sources. See for example my open RMs where book evidence supports the move, but people ignore that while citing odd interpretations of TITLE: Talk:Long-period_variable#Requested_move_14_December_2014, Talk:Houston_Riot_(1917)#Requested_move_14_December_2014, Talk:Pottawatomie_Massacre#Requested_move. If people want data from sources to help with title decisions, they should clarify that some of these are styling issues and some are naming issues, and then jump in and help decide RMs according to guidelines and policies. How is it that RGloucester hasn't been laughed out of town yet with his God and Britannica theories? Why are people who want to follow sources not helping to make sensible decisions based on sources? Dicklyon (talk) 04:36, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

Well yes, indeed. Tony (talk) 04:42, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
One must weigh sources based on value, not edit ideologically. Our policies and guidelines demand it. RGloucester 04:44, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Agreed! Dicklyon (talk) 04:49, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
@RGloucester: Earlier in this discussion was a quote from you about letter case, a quote which you did not contest, that sounded extremely ideological. I would humbly ask you to examine that and consider your own advice. — (talk) 06:26, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Better watch out; RGloucester seems to think that any anon who comments on these matters is part of a sock-puppet conspiracy. Ha ha!  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:48, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Find something better to do than badger me, IP. I stand by my words. God wills each action I act out. Do you question my faith in the divine? You ought not. RGloucester 06:29, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
I was not intending to badger you. As for questioning faith, at this point I question your good faith, as this comment rather smacks of trolling. — (talk) 06:31, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
It isn't my fault that people these days are godless. God has driven man from his first day, and shall continue to do so until his last day. Regardless, I hope you can find something better to do. RGloucester 06:35, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Of course that isn’t your fault. But this encyclopedia is a secular work, and imposing any deity’s will on it goes against NPOV by introducing a heavy ideological bias. This is why the community insists on rational debate and finds proclamations of God’s will unfavorable—not because they’re godless heathens, but because this is not a religious work. I hope these explanations make sense and help. — (talk) 06:51, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
Last I looked, no god decreed anything about English language writing style. Why are we even entertaining this WP:HOLYWAR business?  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:48, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
*Shrug* Just in case the guy sincerely believed what he was saying. WP:AGF and all that. — (talk) 05:39, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
I'm not questioning good faith, just relevance to WP's purpose and scope. We're not here to entertain much less promote theologically-based ideas about how to write and what may motivate people to write the way they (we) do. Assuming that we don't write the way RGloucester wants us to because we're "godless" is pretty much the ultimate in assumption of bad faith. It's an assumption that we're either hopeless, lost souls in a state of fallen grace, ignorant of God's perfect design, or outright evil. Well, to Hell with that (pun intended).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:43, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
This is an issue that predated any recent "event" move requests and was unrelated to these specific arguments (or RGloucester or anyone else discussing them); I hope we can try to keep discussion of particular editors out of it. (In the interest of keeping the discussion on track, might we be able to merge this subsection back into the last?) Dekimasuよ! 05:01, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
No, this is a slightly tangential appeal, to those who claim to respect sources, to back it up with action. I realize the issue is old, but it was RGloucester's recent revert of a bunch of moves supported by sources, and subsequent bizarre arguments in RM discussions, that prompted BarrelProof to bring it up again at this time. There were several explicit calls in Talk:Watts Riots#Requested moves to clarify the policy and guidelines (as you well recall). That's why we're here. Let us decide. Dicklyon (talk) 05:10, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
"Moves supported by sources"? Unilateral moves against consensus. You didn't even take the time to compile the sources before you made the moves, which we know because even you admitted that a few slipped through that should not've been decapitalised. What a bunch of rubbish. If you can't take responsibility for you own poor actions, please don't even bother speaking about my "bizarre arguments", which are not bizarre at all. RGloucester 06:17, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
No, I did not admit such a thing. One, I admit, is close enough to "consistently capitalized in sources" that I'm going to back away from it, so that we only have to talk about the ones that are clear. So far, no RM has closed with a consensus against any of my moves. In favor of decapitalization, these have closed, suggesting a consensus against your theories of God and Britannica: Talk:Chicago_race_riot_of_1919#Requested_move_2, Talk:Potato_riots, Talk:Rock_Springs_massacre#Requested_moves. Dicklyon (talk) 06:48, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
I have already explained why those passed. I shan't start circular arguments with you. I cannot imagine that such a person as you exists in actuality. RGloucester 06:54, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
STOP... the line between spirited debate and personal attack has been crossed. Take a break and come back when you can discuss this without making it personal. Blueboar (talk) 13:41, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
At User_talk:Dicklyon#Disengage, RGloucester says he is withdrawing from the capitalization-related issues (he seems to have more important things going on). So the theory that WP:UCN's mention of encyclopedias is a reason to override MOS:CAPS is off the table (nobody else went along with that, right?). I don't see any other theory of actual conflict between TITLE and MOS, so it should be easy enough for us to settle on language clarifying that, and then if there's still disagreement about whether things like WP:TM and WP:MOS say what we want, it will be clear to all where to work on amendments.

In the mean time, we still have a few open RMs about routine capitalization moves that RGloucester reverted (see links in top paragraph of this section), and even though he is "not opposed" on many of those, he has sown quite a bit of confusion that would be cleared up if people here that either support or oppose the current change would chime in. It seems that we are all in agreement that sources play an important role in deciding what is a proper name (see the Boston Massacre example discussed above), and the opposers at the open RMs could really mess that up if they hold up the current proposals that are so very clearly supported by evidence from books. If this is canvassing, so be it, but the previous attempt at Talk:Watts Riots was centrally listed to bring in wide participation, and the opposition there mostly said to clarify guidelines at MOS and TITLE first, such as at MOS:MILTERMS. (The general rule is that wherever a military term is an accepted proper name, as indicated by consistent capitalization in sources, it should be capitalized.) There is no uncertainty in these open cases that are mostly lowercase in sources. So why are people who are so interested in these questions here not helping to try to settle them there, too?

I find Blueboar's oppostion at the Talk:Houston_Riot_(1917)#Requested_move_14_December_2014 multi-RM particularly galling, saying that each one needs to be examined individually, when that is exactly what we are trying to do there already. There is no possible reason to split this again into 6 separate discussions; the evidence from sources is carefully laid out and linked, and further examination is invited. Methinks he is just being obstinate to thwart me or something, and people who generally agree with him are avoiding supported these moves just to give a hard time; or am I imagining things? Dicklyon (talk) 17:35, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

Don't take it personally. Blueboar (talk) 18:22, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
Fine; but I would feel better if you relabeled your oppose there for what it is: Decline to participate. Dicklyon (talk) 19:32, 19 December 2014 (UTC)
But I am participating... I respect that you don't like my opposition to mass moves, but it remains my opinion. Blueboar (talk) 14:04, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
A discussion about moving six "Riot" articles to "riot" is not "mass". Your opposition appears to be based on not wanting to look at 6 things; that's a 'decline to participate', as I expect a closer will realize. If you have reasons to oppose any in particular, let's discuss the reasons; since the move rationale is based in guidance, policy, and sources, and you profess to generally respect such thing, I'd think you would support if you participated. You did support the one you looked at (weakly) at least, for which I thank you. Dicklyon (talk) 01:38, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

Back to the original question[edit]

I would like to get back to the original question, with slightly refined wording per above. The current suggestion follows:

Although official, scientific, birth, original, or trademarked names are often used for article titles, the term or name most typically used in reliable sources is generally preferred. Other encyclopedias are among the sources that may be helpful in deciding what titles are in an encyclopedic register, as well as what names are most frequently used. Note that the preference for common names does not indicate that titles should necessarily be styled as they are found in other sources. For guidance on stylization of the common name, please refer to the Manual of Style.
(using italics and boldface here to highlight the key aspects; we would not actually do that on the page)

According to my current count, we have

– along with various expressions of why these opinions are as they are, of course. I have not noticed anyone changing their mind. Is this sufficient to declare the suggestion to have consensus support for this change? I suggest that the answer is Yes.

BarrelProof (talk) 17:57, 24 December 2014 (UTC)

I've been avoiding trying to call myself "in favor," but would tend to agree that we should try instituting the change based on the discussion above. It's clear that the revised wording would resolve a few of the concerns expressed above–in retrospect, "guidance" seems fair enough given that we are asking editors to consult "guidelines." Here's hoping this section won't turn into a recount. Dekimasuよ! 18:04, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
  • I do not think that one can argue that there is a consensus (what is being done here is vote counting), and any changes of the suggested magnitude should not be implemented during a holiday season when a lot of people have better things to do than watch Wikiepdia pages. A discussion involving less than a score of editors is noway near enough to draw a conclusion of a representative sample for all the active editors on Wikipedia. One of the things that has not been discussed is this is a policy page, is that it is an extremely bad idea to link the MOS in all its myriads of pages (many of which are watched by few edits) in such a way that they affect a policy page such as this. -- PBS (talk) 18:13, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
    • It seems like a pretty clear consensus that this clarification helps, and describes what we already do. It's even more clear (14:4) if BarrelProof corrects his lists, moving Tony1 to the support side. I do agree with VQuakr (and to some extent Blueboar) that it would also be good to make it more clear that COMMONNAME is a strategy in support of recognizability, and that recognizability has little or nothing to do with how we style things like caps and dashes; so if they have an alternate way to make that clear, that help reduce the incidence of people citing the irrelevant WP:COMMONNAME in styling discussions, that would be good, too. It's not clear to me why they object to the current attempt to do that, but I am certainly open to any alternatives that they wish to propose. Dicklyon (talk) 18:18, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
    • You're back! I asked a question of you five days ago, and I think you promised to answer. Dekimasuよ! 18:27, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
    • Regarding the suggestion that having WP:AT reference the MoS for guidance would be undesirable, I notice that this page already contains about 9 such references. —BarrelProof (talk) 18:59, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Still opposed... for all the reasons I have stated before. Because stylization can be an integral part of a name, we can not always separate stylizations from the name itself. I would be much more likely to support if MOS had some sort of COMMONSTYLE guidance, but without that... I can not. Blueboar (talk) 19:08, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
    • The suggested addition to WP:AT, in my mind, is not intended to prescribe any particular outcome in regard to what stylization guidance the MoS should provide – only to clarify that the MoS is the place to look for that. If something in the MoS should be changed, its content should be discussed and improved. —BarrelProof (talk) 19:19, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
My objection is that it is premature to point to MOS for commonname/commonstyle concerns... since MOS does not address the issue. Improve MOS first... then we will have something concrete to point to in this policy. Blueboar (talk) 21:21, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
So in the meantime, we let the confusion continue with editors erroneously citing COMMONNAME for matters of capitalization and such? Pointing to the MOS (which despite its shortcomings does pertain to such matters) seems the better compromise. — (talk) 21:46, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
The confusion is the result of MOS not taking COMMONNAME into account... that is best fixed by amending MOS, not COMMONNAME. Blueboar (talk) 13:46, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
Blueboar, I haven't seen any proposals along the lines of what you're asking for. And frankly I'm having a hard time imagining what such a thing would look like. But the I think we mostly all agree that the MOS would be the place to take it up, since titles should not have their own style (other than saying use initial caps and sentence case) that would make them different from style elsewhere. Being in a title has no particular other concerns, does it? Dicklyon (talk) 23:11, 24 December 2014 (UTC)
I have suggested (but not formally proposed) it multiple times at various MOS pages... but the suggestion seems to fall on deaf ears. To make an initial stab at what it might look like... perhaps something along the lines of:
  • "Stylized names: When a name is consistently stylized in a significant majority of reliable sources (especially those that are independent of the subject), Wikipedia should use the same stylization of the name in its articles. These can be seen as being exceptions to normal guidance."
A very rough stab... I am sure that we could come up with even better wording, but that gives you the gist of what I would like to see. Blueboar (talk) 13:46, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
Wouldn’t this conflict with MOS:TM? That explicitly says to use the form closest to standard English. Probably be best to look at revising that page first. — (talk) 16:49, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it would conflict with the current guidance at MOS:TM... that would have to be amended as well. Blueboar (talk) 17:21, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
I would oppose such a broad override. We already have enough trouble with people wanting to use sources to decide whether to use a comma before "Jr.", when it would make so much more sense for us to have a consistent style rather than arguments over the numbers for such trivia that naturally vary in sources that use different styles. Dicklyon (talk) 17:00, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
And thus we come back to square one. Those of us who approach the conflicts from the standpoint of COMMONNAME, feel strongly that COMMONNAME does and should apply to certain style issues, and that MOS (and the various MOS subpages such as TM) guidance needs to be amended to take COMMONNAME into account... meanwhile, those of us who approach the conflicts from the standpoint of MOS feel that COMMONAME does not and should not apply to style issues, and that COMMONNAME needs to be amended to take MOS into account. Neither side want's "their" page to defer to the other's... and we are, once again, at a stand still. So... let me ask this... is there compromise position? How do we break the stalemate? Blueboar (talk) 17:21, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
Not really square one. It seems we have general consensus for a simple clarification about how we use sources and our MOS to make style decisions, in particular that something being a title does not override the normal considerations. I don't see this as a stalemate; the discussion can continue, much more sensibly, at MOS, untangliing COMMONNAME from style issues in the minds of a few editors. Dicklyon (talk) 17:55, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, this is years overdue. An enormous number of pointless and rancorous debates at WT:AT, WT:MOS and WP:RM all revolve around the misguided notion that AT and MOS are somehow in conflict and that AT "trumps" MOS. It's confused nonsense, and our policies and guidelines are not much use if they do not resolve such confusions and prevent such time-wasting, temper-raising circular disputes from arising.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  04:27, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
We should go ahead then. I respect Blueboar's right to continue to ask to modify the MOS to get something like his suggested When a name is consistently stylized in a significant majority of reliable sources (especially those that are independent of the subject), Wikipedia should use the same stylization of the name in its articles. There is nothing in that proposal about titles, or make styling titles differently from other text, so the current clarification only makes it more clear that we all agree that the MOS would be the place to work on such style questions. He seems to be asking to get his way at MOS before allowing the clarification at TITLE, which is not OK. So let's move forward. Dicklyon (talk) 06:26, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
I don't see any serious argument against the separation between AT for "wording" and MOS for "styling", so I agree with Dicklyon – Blueboar can't use his preference for a change in the MOS to support not making the proposed clarification. I support some changes in the MOS, but it's much better to discuss these in a single agreed forum than have inconsistent discussions in different places. It also helps prevents people from trying to game the system by moving from one forum to another. Peter coxhead (talk) 12:27, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
And there's certainly been a ship-load of that.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:02, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

No... COMMONNAME is not separate from styling... and it is not just about titles. COMMONNAME was created back when this page was a general policy dealing with the presentation of NAMES in Wikipedia (which is why the shortcut WP:NAME points to this page)... and it as always applied to the presentation of names in general, not just how names appear "in titles".
When a significant majority of sources consistently present a name with a specific stylization (be it capitalization, non-standard characters, or some other form of stylization)... that stylization is an integral part of the COMMONNAME... and thus COMMONNAME does and should apply to Style... whether in the title or in the body of the text. I strongly oppose attempts to separate style issues from COMMONNAME issues. They are not separate. If MOS guidance is amended to reflect this fact, then I have no problem with pointing to MOS in this policy (because they will both say essentially the same thing)... however, COMMONNAME is a very strongly supported policy provision... and I do have a problem with carving out a huge exemption from it, simply because a COMMONNAME happens to be "stylized". Blueboar (talk) 17:34, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

A significant majority of sources have styles that use hyphen for en dash, and use title case for titles and headings, and style trademarks as their owners prefer, but WP style is different. Your proposal would deny us the ability to have a house style in these and all other areas. If there are more specific exceptions that you're thinking of, we could consider them, but basically saying to let sources vote on our styling is something that WP has always rejected strongly. Dicklyon (talk) 18:36, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
Red herring... It would be extremely rare to find a significant majority of sources that all present a hyphenated/dashed name the same way (far more likely that the sources will be mixed, with some using an en dash and others using a hyphen).... in other words, when it comes to hyphens and en-dashes, I think it would be highly unlikely that there would be a single consistent commonly used stylization - and so COMMONNAME would not apply In fact, lets find out... can you give us any examples where the majority of sources do use an en dash in stead of a hyphen, or vise versa?.
that said, in the abstract (pending any examples) if there are one or two very rare instances when there might be a common stylization over en dashes and hyphens, my answer is: yes... that hyphenation/dashing should be considered part of the subject's NAME, and Wikipedia should follow the sources and present the name the way the sources do. Wikipedia should not be the "odd man out". Also... remember that this is restricted to NAMES. Our guidance on dashes and hyphens for non-names would still hold. Blueboar (talk) 19:53, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
Do you mean proper names? Because that’s an important distinction; not all names are proper names. And I strongly disagree with this position unless it can be conclusively determined that the style choice is an intentional part of the name rather than a choice made independently by the given sources’ editors. And that’s not often an easy thing to determine. — (talk) 21:13, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
Nope... Trying to figure out the intent of the person (or entity) involved is actually irrelevant to a COMMONNAME discussion... I suppose you could say that knowing the intent could help determine whether a stylization should be considered part of the WP:Official name... but as this policy says, we don't necessarily use the Official name. What we really focus on when determining whether there is a COMMONNAME (and, if so, what that COMMONNAME is) is what sources that are independent of the subject use. If a significant majority of independent sources consistently present a name with the same consistent stylization, then we know that the stylization is commonly used, and should be considered part of the COMMONNAME. Blueboar (talk) 22:08, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
I don’t think COMMONNAME says anything about styling for there to be exemptions from. But anyway, two questions: Was the MOS around back then, and if so, why was presentation kept separate from it? Second, what if the sources capitalize a word like “Or”? (Maybe the subject’s obscure enough that the only sources covering it don’t pay copy-editors, I don’t know.) How do you determine whether such a style choice is part of the name or part of the source’s general style? — (talk) 18:48, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
If there is only one source that mentions a name... then COMMONNAME would not apply. You need multiple sources doing the same thing for that thing to be common. (also the subject is probably not notable enough for us to have an article about it, nor important enough to mention it in some other article). Blueboar (talk) 20:04, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
I said sources, plural. And you’re avoiding my second question, and haven’t addressed my first one. — (talk) 21:03, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
my bad... If (and that is a huge "if") a significant majority of sources consistently capitalize a word like "Or" in a name, then yes, I would consider that capitalization would be part of the COMMONNAME... and would argue that we should follow the sources. But like the whole dashes vs hyphens question... I think it is highly unlikely that this would ever actually occur... and would challenge you to give me an actual example of a situation where it does occur. Blueboar (talk) 22:08, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
As for your other questions: 1) yes MOS was around back then... sort of. It was in a very rudimentary form, and focused on very different things than it says today (look at the history of the page to see how it has shifted and changed through the years)... it did not address stylization in names until more recently. I would guess the reason was because we had WP:NAMES to deal with the issue and so there was no need for it to do so. 2) "How do you determine whether such a style choice is part of the name or part of the source’s general style?".... my answer is: It does not matter. It does not matter why any individual source stylizes a name (any more than it matters why an individual source uses "Bill" or "William" when talking President Clinton)... all we care about is that it does so... the usage in any individual source is simply one data point among the rest. What we we care about is seeing if there is a broader pattern that is formed by the aggregate of all sources taken together... that's what indicates a commonname. Blueboar (talk) 22:26, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
Then I would posit that the guidance on presentation simply never made the migration into the growing MOS. And I say it very much does matter whether a style choice is made based on general house style guidelines (or laziness) or based on a particular representation of a particular name. The first is incidental and can be discarded to adapt to any house style; the second is intrinsic to the name and relevant to your COMMONSTYLE concept. Curly vs straight apostrophes is one example that comes to mind: it’s an overall style choice, not a conscious decision about any given name. — (talk) 23:07, 26 December 2014 (UTC)
Um... can you give me an example of a name that includes either curly or straight quotes? Blueboar (talk) 02:33, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
No, because they don’t distinguish between curly and straight. That’s my point. It’s a style choice that’s entirely up to editors and not dependent on a name, and to my knowledge should never fall to COMMONSTYLE. If every single reliable source on Earth used a curly apostrophe to name MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” because they preferred to be typographically correct, we would—and should—still use a straight apostrophe (“U Can't Touch This”) per our manual of style. — (talk) 06:06, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
It looks like Blueboar may have to remain an outlier relative to the consensus, even though he claims I fully agree that the styling used in the text should match the styling used in the title. I suggest we go ahead with the change anyway. Dicklyon (talk) 06:33, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
I think I have made my position quite clear... so there is no point in my arguing it further. As for consensus... not quite... I accept I am out voted among the five or six of us who have been discussing this... but I would request that we obtain a much wider consensus before we enact it. From my perspective, the proposal is a significant change to COMMONNAME, and I think we need to find out what the broader community thinks before we can claim a consensus. We need to advertise the proposal (perhaps a formal RFC) and get the opinions of a lot more editors before we can say we really have a consensus. Blueboar (talk) 16:21, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
“From my perspective, the proposal is a significant change to COMMONNAME…” I don’t see that. COMMONNAME does not presently say anything about style, does not offer any guidance on stylization whatsoever, so the proposed addition seems like common sense made explicit: “Go to the page about X for guidance about X.” Though it probably should also point to WP:TITLEFORMAT on this same page (or perhaps TITLEFORMAT should be moved to the MOS? But that’s another discussion). No objections here to a broader consensus, but it doesn’t seem necessary. — (talk) 17:00, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
true... COMMONNAME does not talk about specifically about style... but that is because those of us who have crafted the WP:COMMONAME provision over the years didn't think that it was necessary to say: "Oh... by the way, COMMONNAME applies to stylized names as well as non-stylized names". We thought a name was a name. We may have been short sighted in not thinking it was necessary to say that... but until it started to become an issue over at MOS, I would have called it petty instruction creep to say explicitly it. We simply took it for granted that COMMONNAME would and should apply to stylized names as well as non-stylized names. Blueboar (talk) 17:31, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
Shouldn’t something like MOS:PN (proper names) or MOS:TM be the place to handle that? (PN doesn’t appear to do so, but shouldn’t it?) Whether or not to preserve stylization in a non-Wikipedia name seems more like a project-wide style question than something limited to how articles should be titled. If we would use a stylized name in running text, then of course we would use it in a title; that’s generally how our titles work. — (talk) 20:45, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
OK... wall of text time... Remember that I am speaking historically (trying to explain some of the history and intent behind WP:COMMONNAME - back when it was first written, and as it has developed over time). MOS:PN and MOS:TM didn't exist when the concept of COMMONNAME was being first developed (Hell, the main WP:MOS only existed in a very rudimentary form). We took it for granted that COMMONNAME applied to all names in all situations, because there was no other page that dealt with names. This was the first.
Now, eventually MOS grew... and TM and PN were written... and all I can say is this: if those of us who had crafted COMMONNAME had been involved in their writing, they would have been written very differently... but we were not. The MOS pages grew in isolation from COMMONAME. I'm not trying to blame anyone for that... or cast aspersions... I am simply stating it as a fact of what occured. There were very few (if any) editors who worked on both sets of pages. Those of us here at COMMONNAME continued to happily take it for granted that COMMONNAME applied to both titles and the names in text, while the editors at the MOS pages started to say something different.
For me, the first indication that there was even a difference of opinion on whetehr COMMONNAME should be applied to style issues was the great deadmou5 debate (about a year ago). This was the first time I saw the argument that COMMONNAME "only applies to names in the title of the article" (and that somehow it shouldn't apply to names in the body of the text). I rejected that argument then, and I reject it still... and (at least in that case) so did the majority of other editors (which is why that article is now styled as it is). Since then, there have been several attempts to amend WP:COMMONNAME so that it will "defer" to MOS guidance on issues of style. Each attempt has (so far) been rejected. Meanwhile... there have been several attempts to amend the various MOS pages so they will "defer" to COMMONNAME... and each of those attempts have been rejected as well. And so we stand stalemated. That is the history behind my opposition to the current proposal. Now, it is possible that my view is no longer in sync with that of the wider community... but I don't believe that is the case. Shall we find out? Shall we file an RFC that actually asks the broader community whether a) the MOS pages should be amended to "defer" to COMMONNAME, or b) COMMONNAME should be amended to "defer" to the MOS pages?" (OK...that probably is not the best wording for an RFC... but that is the essence of the question.) Blueboar (talk) 03:51, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
Perhaps you're having a senior moment. Here you are over 3 years ago discussing the same question of MOS guidelines versus COMMONNAME. This didn't come up with deadmaus. You dismissed WP:JOBTITLES, a part of the MOS, because it obviously focused on how to capitalize in the body of the text, rather than in the article title. Or over 4.5 years ago, when you noted I don't see a conflict... the name without a hyphen (as per MOS) would still reflect the common name. in your edit in a section titled "Which takes precedence: Common name or Manual of Style?". So why did you seem to flip sides from that original position that MOS controlling style would not conflict with COMMONNAME? And why do you pretend it's a new issue with you? Amnesia? Dicklyon (talk) 04:14, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
A large discussion, held somewhere other than WP:AT and WP:MOS, to determine the consensus on our whole philosophy around (especially non-standard) names may be prudent. Not about which page should defer to which, but about what they all should be saying. — (talk) 04:50, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
There is no "broader consensus" about an article title matter than a long and detailed consensus discussion on the article titles policy talk page. And this is even a formal WP:RFC, so that's as broad as it gets. It's an RFC, in the right forum, and running long. The plain fact of the matter is that most 'Pedians simply WP:DGAF about this sort of minutia. Consensus here, as everywhere on WP, is formed by those with the time, interest, patience, and will to participate.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:08, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Bluboar—either your facts are wobbly or your logical connections are hard to fathom, or both. And may I note that in your posts there's a preponderance of the us-versus-them model for pitting one guidance/policy page against another. AT was never designed to rule on style, and it's nonsense to set up a situation where title and main-text styles clash. Think of the readers, please. Tony (talk) 05:50, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
OK... my memory may be flawed as far as when the issue first came up... but not when it comes to the original intent of COMMONNAME and what it would apply to. If you look at the two discussions that Dicklyon links to, they actually support my point.... you will see that I approach the issue from the view point of COMMONNAME. I am applying COMMONNAME to style. In the first discussion, I am noting that sources indicate that we should use capital letters... and in the second I am noting that a COMMONNAME examination did not answer the question of whether to use a dash or a hyphen - it rarely would... source usage is generally very mixed when it comes to the dash/hyphen issue. It would be extremely rare for a significant majority of sources to consistently use one or the other. When the sources are mixed, I have no problem with following our own internal house style. It's a very well reasoned "default mode". My concern is what to do when the sources are NOT mixed... when the sources indicate that we should make an exception to our normally excellent house style. I am not "Anti-MOS" - I am "Pro-COMMONNAME". Blueboar (talk) 14:40, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
But the MOS already does say to follow sources when they are not mixed, for things like trademarks (MOS:TM, which is what would affect deadmau5), and for capitalization (MOS:CAPS, MOS:MILHIST). If there are other places where it makes sense to say something like that, then MOS is the place; trying to override MOS via TITLE is not. Dicklyon (talk) 18:10, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Comments: I have read through this whole thing and have determined that on a large part 1)- it is all over the place and confusing, and 2)- I have to read it again, maybe a couple of times, to try to figure out who is actually on what base. Whatever I miss in this mess someone can let me know about it. Feel free to jump in between each.
    • Harmony: Wikipedia:Naming conventions (geographic names) Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Trademarks, and all others including this policy are suppose to always be in harmony and any discrepancies should be solved as soon as they arise. This would actually give consistency and "might" help avoid conflicts. We need some "ground rules (if you will) but not complete coverage of everything. "IF" something is not covered concerning titles it can and should be discussed here. Otr500 (talk)
    • Style: we NEED at least some sort of house styling to address things like Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters. Referring to (or pushing) Britannica as "the authority" on naming is NOT something we should entertain though it is not unreasonable to "include" as a "guide". Otr500 (talk)
      No one is arguing that we should follow Britannica's style usage ... Britannica's usage is simply one data point among all the others. It's the total of all the data points that determines a) if there is a COMMONNAME, and b) what it is if there is one. COMMONNAME is based on conglomerate usage. Blueboar (talk) 19:14, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
    • Capitalization: "IF" the word "or" is capitalized in common references (in sentences as titles vary widely) we should: "nay I say", must be able to have the common sense to be able to dictate by consensus that Wikipedia can differ from say, Britannica, if that be the case. To me it is absurd to consider capitalizing a word like "or" even if references "might" do this. This means AT does need to have clarification of style concerning titles. Otr500 (talk)
      But... we should also have the common sense to say "Wikipedia should not be the odd man out". Again our choice is not dictated by Britannica alone... but is absurd for us to take a "we know better than all the other sources" attitude. MOS should not be a strait jacket preventing us from using common sense. Blueboar (talk) 19:14, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
      But we do have the right to say “we have different style guidelines than all the other sources.” Assuming the word “Or” isn’t something like the name of a fictional character, there is no reason save style preference to capitalize it or not. In such a case it may be worth investigating why so many sources make the non-traditional choice, but that fact alone is no reason to follow suit. — (talk) 23:41, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
    • COMMONNAME: We need to consult all references and use the name as referred to in those: according, and in harmony with other Wikipedia policies and guidelines including MOS. This is very important and also prevents some naming convention or a few editors from trumping policy by local consensus. We do have consensus that the most commonly used name is preferable but we can adjust that (style) for various reasons. Otr500 (talk)
    • Titles: Naming should also be according to what is found in "English" references following Wikipedia:Article titles#Use commonly recognizable names and Wikipedia:AT#English-language titles. There is Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Article titles that refers to this as a main page. We have writing styles Wikipedia:WikiProject Magazines/Writing guide#Title, Wikipedia:WikiProject Academic Journals/Writing guide#Title. We also have this "Article title policy". Lacking "English references" we are suppose to translate as close as possible to English. This could be used to prevent names like Praha hlavní nádraží. This by-the-way translates to Prague Main Railway Station. Hlavní nádraží (Prague Metro): "Hlavní nádraží" DOES NOT translate to "Prague Metro" but to "main station". So much for policy.
    There is arguing and tons of verbiage over simple things while somehow very longstanding consensus and more than one policy has been trumped by some local desire (or some other reason) to give non-English names to articles. Apparently there is at least one administrator that does not believe there are any policies and guidelines that need to be followed. There was an attack at a train station in China, the 2014 Kunming attack, so someone here please logically explain to me how the lack of adherence to title naming policy does not now open the door for a possible article renaming to 2014年昆明攻击. I would like some REAL sensible arguments that the slippery slope does not open such a door. We have by defacto (don't have to capitalize titles any more per Article title format to capitalized by default) started merging the English Wikipedia with the Czech Wikipedia. It would be amusing to hear why (no, I don't speak Chinese) I can not get my well documented Chinese article name changed? The Czech can do it and are they any better? There are probably 20 editors there (2014 Kunming attack) and I know of at least one sympathetic admin. What about Warszawa Praga railway station to Warszawa Praga stacja kolejowa?
    An answer could have been that this is the English Wikipedia and we have well established policies in regards to title naming. I believe I can argue that at this point (the above mentioned travesty) that there is no such "title naming" policy that can over-ride local consensus and I have proof. Otr500 (talk)
    "ALL" naming conventions and projects should follow this policy or we might as well concede we don't need it and let chaos reign. Otr500 (talk)
    • MOS: MOS should be in harmony with AT and any clarification of MOS concerning AT's would be cleared up here. The authority concerning "Article titles" is here and "style" of content should be there but they are not "separate". Trying to "totally" separate the two IS confusing and will only result in "battles" that can be avoided. There needs to be something on style here, even if brief, because this is a policy and not a guideline. Otr500 (talk)
    • Browser compatibility We need to always be concerned about changes that will affect how a title is presented as well as ease of use to the average editor. I didn't see anything concerning mobile users. Otr500 (talk)
    • Conclusion: Seriously! The editors here need to pick one topic, discuss it to a definitive agreement through consensus, that should include posting at various proper venues, and then move on (close one door then open another) to the next. Surely that would be an appropriate solution as apposed to the bouncing around we have. I would think that the proposal The suggestion was editing the fourth paragraph of WP:COMMONNAME, upon gaining consensus (I suppose that is what all the nods of "support" are still for), would be presented somewhere for more community consensus. If not then any amendments to policy would just reflect local consensus. My bad; I forgot that, according to the Czech named and soon to be Chinese articles, local trumps policy. Otr500 (talk) 16:22, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
      Policy wonks (like me) do need to remember that it is possible to have a "local consensus" on policy talk pages. When only a few editors are involved in a discussion ... any consensus they reach is a local consensus... it does not matter where the discussion takes place. No small group of people can say they speak for the entire community. I have seen numerous cases where as many as 20 policy wonk editors all reached consensus on a change to a policy page... and yet discovered that the broader community (who were not involved in the initial discussion) ultimately rejected the change. Blueboar (talk) 19:14, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
      Thus a decent reason for transparency and as much advertisement (postings) as possible. "Policy wonks" to me are needed because most of the general population (editors) generally just want to go about their business. I depend on consistency of policy (and guidelines) so watch them even if I rarely chime in. Things change but an issue between two, three, or even four can be altered by even a small amount of extra "community" consensus. When a policy of 20 is overturned by more then I add that some of that 20 (consensus prevailed) will add to the others and that becomes a more formidable community consensus. I have been told I look more at the silver lining. Otr500 (talk) 22:40, 28 December 2014 (UTC)

Back to the original question - random break[edit]

Dekimasu you asked "{The question I was asking is clear: Would you like to remove the parts of naming conventions that refer us to the MOS for more specific guidance?" This policy uses the definition of WP:SOURCE for its definition of what is or is not a reliable source, that is a policy definition and there is no point in keeping to separate definitions of reliable sources. This policy already has details on things format see WP:TITLEFORMAT eg "Use lowercase, except for proper names" the section contains a sentence that starts "For more guidance..." I thank that of that form of wording is appropriate but just below is a section "Avoid ambiguous abbreviations" with a sentence that starts "For more details, see..." I think that is confusing, and ought to be changed to "For more guidance...". Using Wikiepdia policies and guidelines how do you decide if the word massacre in "Boston Massacre" should be upper case or lower case for the article title Boston Massacre? -- PBS (talk) 19:49, 29 December 2014 (UTC)

Re “Boston [M|m]assacre,” seems off topic here, but AT tells us to capitalize our titles as we would in running text. That’s our style. That’s it. What you’re actually asking is whether it’s a proper name or not, and I’m not aware of WP guidance on determining that particular point, unless we read it into COMMONNAME. — (talk) 21:56, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
Some do try to read that into COMMONNAME, but the actual guidance, weak though it is, is found in the opening paragraph of MOS:CAPS: "consistently capitalized in sources". Dicklyon (talk) 22:08, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
This is one of the ones where COMMONAME and the relevant MOS are in sync... since the way you determine whether something like Boston Massacre is considered a proper name (or not) is to look at how the subject is presented in sources. If a significant majority of sources capitalize, we know it should be considered a proper name (and thus capitalized in Wikipedia).... if not, it should be considered a description (and not capitalized in Wikipedia). Blueboar (talk) 22:22, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
Actually, I don't think either of them suggests "significant majority" as a criterion. For multi-word titles, there may be more than 2 variations of case; we don't then pick the one that's "most common", but rather only capitalize if the sources do so "consistently", which I take to mean a higher standard than "significant majority". Dicklyon (talk) 23:05, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
@PBS: I think that over time some names take on being a proper noun by "consistent" use. The name Boston Massacre is one such name. It will probably be a daunting task to find any "source" that refers to the name, in title or elsewhere, that does not capitalize "Massacre". The boy was named Danny. The song title was Danny Boy. In instances I have observed the verses in the song even use "Danny Boy". We could just assume the lads last name was Boy but I doubt it. Otr500 (talk) 01:24, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
Wouldn’t TITLEFORMAT—guidance on the style of article titles—better fit in the manual of style? I mentioned this earlier in this discussion. Or should the MOS focus only on style within articles (which still affects titles)? — (talk) 16:24, 30 December 2014 (UTC)
I think it needs to be in both... because the topics overlap. That would not be a problem if the two pages agreed and supported each other. They mostly do... but the sticking point seems to be which page takes "precedence" when they don't agree. I think the answer to that depends on what kind of title we are talking about. This policy makes the distinction between NAME titles, and DESCRIPTIVE titles. I think this might distinction help resolve the remaining conflicts between the two pages... ie... if the title is a NAME (and thus COMMONNAME would apply) then the primary page for settling disputes should be this one (and the relevant MOS pages should say this). If the title is descriptive (and thus COMMONNAME would not apply) then the primary page(s) for settling disputes would be the relevant MOS page (and this page should say so). Blueboar (talk) 22:23, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
The solution to when they don’t agree is: Don’t let that happen. Make them agree and reflect consensus. As to the rest of it, are you talking about the style of nominal titles vs the style of descriptive titles? It wouldn’t make sense to use a titling policy as a general policy for the formatting of names (which don’t necessarily have their own articles), nor to have separate guidance for names as titles and for names in general. — (talk) 23:44, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
If there is ANY perceived or real questioning of which page takes "precedence" when they don't agree then that person should be directed to the fact that WP:AT is policy and WP:MOS is a guideline. If anyone wants to argue against that we should either elevate MOS to policy or downgrade AT to a guideline. A guideline "aims to streamline particular processes according to a set routine or sound practice" which would be policy. WP:ArbCom has a policy requirement so it seems they feel there is a difference. Otr500 (talk) 23:52, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
People do that all the time when they want to claim that COMMONNAME supercedes style guidelines. It's the problem, not the solution. The best fix is to keep styles issues out of TITLE, except maybe for title-specific rules like sentence case. Dicklyon (talk) 01:41, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
I Disagree with Dicklyon on this. We can't keep style issues out of TITLE, because TITLE deals with the presentation of NAMES... and names can be stylized.
We seem to have a basic philosophical disagreement over how to deal with stylized names... Those of us who argue that we should defer to this policy consider the stylization included in such names (ie the stylization is part of the name)... and thus subject to things like WP:COMMONNAME. Those of us who argue that we should defer to MOS consider the stylization to be distinct from the name, and thus not subject to things like WP:COMMONNAME. Until that basic philosophic difference of opinion is resolved, we will continue to have disagreements. Blueboar (talk) 13:49, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
I sense an agenda to set up WP:AT as a separate, competing empire that fragments style guidance. This line was pursued by the now permanently banned editor PManderson. It did no one any good then, and it does no one any good now. Tony (talk) 14:03, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Tony - you may be thinking of a different editor. PMAnderson's block was lifted nearly two years ago. Dohn joe (talk) 17:24, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Blueboar, that isn't what this discussion is about. There is a real an interesting conversation here about whether we should (1) defer to sources to determine styling of a particular term or name or whatever (style is part of the name), or (2) whether we should stick to a single coherent style. That's not this conversation. This conversation (as far as I can tell) is maybe about whether or not to do (1) only in article titles. Yet it is silly that we are having this conversation here, because nobody really wants to do that. Or do they: can someone tell me that they want different styling in the article title vs. running text? ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 16:38, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Exactly. The styling and presentation of names is not a titles issue. This page is about titles, not names. Similarly, MOS:PN and MOS:TM are about names, not titles. They are not the same thing, as names may appear anywhere throughout Wikipedia and may not be associated with the title of any article or redirect. — (talk) 23:08, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment—I think some of you are not seeing the forest for the trees here. If I were writing for a college (university) class with an instructor who specifies APA style, I'm expected to style and title papers and their section headings according to the APA style guide's rules. Similarly, if that instructor specified The Chicago Manual of Style, I would need to follow that book's rules in how I style and format my work. I fully expect that an article I wrote using MLA style will be restyled into the house style of the textbook publisher that is republishing it.

    As for Wikipedia, we have our MOS. Yes, our MOS reactively describes how editors format content instead or proactively prescribing that content, but it is still our MOS that should be followed. In any case, I'm firmly in the camp that says that on matters of stylization of content, our MOS should contain the rules. The capitalization of article titles is a matter of style, and therefore any policy on how to title articles needs to cede its authority on styling matters to the MOS. Many publishers have lacked, or ignored, the capability to properly render dashes and resort to a hyphen instead. Our MOS says that we should use the appropriate dash in running text for "Canada–United States border", so that's how the article should be titled, using the dash. Where there is an alternate stylization, we always have redirects. Imzadi 1979  23:51, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

Imzadi, the problem is while MOS governs style, WP:COMMONNAME governs names (and, no, not just in titles)... Something like "Canada-United States border" isn't a name (it's a descriptive title)... so there is no conflict between MOS and AT. COMMONNAME would not apply. The conflict only crops up in COMMONNAME stitutions, and even then only when the COMMONNAME is stylized. That's the narrow overlap that is the issue here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blueboar (talkcontribs) 01:32, 3 January 2015‎
If COMMONNAME covers styling of names, move it to the MOS. But I thought it was supposed to be a strategy in support of recognizability; that wouldn't need to say much about styling. Maybe a split is in order if you think it's about styling names. Dicklyon (talk) 01:36, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
“Something like "Canada-United States border" isn't a name…” Neither are “Caffeine,” “Guinea pig,” or “Tenerife airport disaster.” So clearly, COMMONNAME is not about proper names; it’s about names of articles. — (talk) 01:54, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes... I think MOS does need something like COMMONNAME. I have been arguing for a while that we need a COMMONSTYLE provision at MOS to match COMMONNAME here.
As far as I know, Caffeine and Guinea pig are names (one is the name of a drug, and the other is the name of a kind of rodent)... I would agree that Tenerife airport disaster is not - it is certainly a very common description of the event, but that description has not risen to the point where sources are treating it as a name (we know this because they don't capitalize it the way they do in the case of Boston Massacre)... I have removed it from the list of COMMONNAME examples (he list was getting overly long anyway).
On your other points... COMMONNAME doesn't care whether a name is a "proper" name or not... all it cares about is whether it is a commonly used name. And if the COMMONNAME happens to be stylized, then I think we should use that stylized name in Wikipeida (in both title and text) because it will be the most recognizable and natural to use. It will be the name that our readers will expect us to use. Blueboar (talk) 02:31, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
I suppose there are different ideas of what COMMONNAME means. I thought it meant to call things what they are commonly called, whether it's a name or not (probably the Tenerife airport disaster example contributed to that impression). But I have seen people taking the opposite position. Anyway, it sounds like you agree that the styling question belongs in MOS, and the only reason you're objecting to the clarification to that effect is that you're afraid you won't get your way at MOS, and are trying to make a wedge issue of that. Let's move on, and take style up where we deal with style. Let's close this sucker. Dicklyon (talk) 03:09, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
FWIW (if anything), after another 9 days of discussion, here's an attempt to update the tally provided above for the proposal to clarify the 4th paragraph:
– along with various expressions of why these opinions are as they are, of course. The ratio is about the same (previously 3.5, now 3.4).
Is this sufficient to declare the suggestion to have consensus support for this change? I suggest that the answer is Yes.
BarrelProof (talk) 04:27, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
I would agree that it is time to implement the change. Or do a request for closure at WP:ANRFC. Dicklyon (talk) 04:32, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Consensus is not a matter of counting votes. Given the amount of opposition expressed, I would say that there is no consensus. There certainly has been no attempt to address the concerns of those who object. Blueboar (talk) 13:11, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Actually, I believe there has been lots of discussion here to address the concerns of those who object. Addressing concerns is not necessarily the same thing as changing the proposal (or coupling it with other modifications elsewhere to create a "package deal"). To the vast majority of Wikipedians involved in this discussion, the proposal is merely a minor and semi-obvious clarification of the existing Wikipedia guidance. —BarrelProof (talk) 17:44, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── No the concerns have not been addressed. The first and foremost concern is the edit that retrospective turned this into an RfC Revision as of 21:42, 28 December 2014 This is totally out of order for two reasons:

  • The first is that the lead of an RfC is biased, I for one would have argued immediately that was so if it has been put forward as an RfC, Ie the structure of this debate would have been totally different.
  • Presumably as the RfC header was added late this Rfc will be shorter than the usual month.
  • I have been assuming that this is a preliminary discussion before an RfC, if this was to be an Rfc I would have requested that it is advertised it much more widely.

I propose that the RfC is remove and a new one is initiated if an RfC is wanted.

The issue of the use of "proper" has not been addressed. Ie no alternative wording has been agreed upon. PBS — continues after insertion below

“For guidance on stylization…” (talk) 20:33, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

So far all that has been discussed is capitalisation of Boston Massacre. What about stylization of the common name that do not follow the Manual of Style such as Star Trek Into Darkness.

A real problem with the proposed wording is it enclosing all of the MOS which is a guideline into a policy including obscure parts of the MOS. Not one person proposing this change has explained the reason for the change. For example where does the MOS guidance vary from the current policy and naming convention guidance that makes the inclusion of the proposed sentence desirable (a few example would be helpful). -- PBS (talk) 19:20, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

Wouldn’t the capitalization of a movie title fall under MOS:TM MOS:CT rather than COMMONNAME? And for such cases, maybe there should be something like COMMONSTYLE—on a page where we keep style guidelines. Pointing to the appropriate guidelines in a policy does not make those guidelines into policy. This policy page already does point to guidelines. I believe this has been pointed out to you previously in this discussion. — (talk) 20:57, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
And in fact the MoS guidelines say that there will be occasional exceptions to the rules it provides, and it seems that Star Trek Into Darkness may be one of them, and that is fine. But in a larger sense, this proposed modification is not to prescribe any particular outcome for particular stylization issues (e.g., title-case versus sentence-case capitalization, all caps, CamelCase, punctuation, l33t, etc.); it is only intended to clarify where the relevant guidance is found, and of course if we find what the MoS says about something undesirable, we always can change it when we reach that conclusion. —BarrelProof (talk) 21:50, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Excuse me because I haven't read this extremely large thread, but just felt the need to make this comment/clarification: I would have to say most movie titles and other media titles are NOT trademarks and not trademarked. In many cases titles may not even be trademarkable. Witness the variety of movies with the same titles... One can't have a blanket policy based on a trademark policy if they are not uniformly trademarked. Centerone (talk) 21:56, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree; these are composition titles, with guidelines at MOS:CT (for capitalization issues) and maybe at other places. Dicklyon (talk) 22:12, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm not familiar with usual RfC customs, but I guess I have no objection to keeping this discussion open until 29 January if that is the usual practice. My personal impression is that adding the RfC header above was just a way to attract additional Wikipedians to participate in the discussion, not for some other sneakier purpose, and would welcome additional further participation. —BarrelProof (talk) 20:04, 4 January 2015 (UTC)
If something is related to policy or guidelines, and probably even essays, I would say that there should be discussion as long as there is participation. There are many reasons I state this: There needs to be a "clear" consensus on any of these. It is not just a "vote" and those involved are, make that should be, really concerned that changes are in the best spirit of Wikipedia progress. There are of course differences of opinions, which is NOT really a bad thing, and if they seem to stall I would suggest even trying to find a way for more comments. Otr500 (talk) 00:23, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
30 days is when an RFC gets de-listed. It's customary to close them when the consensus is clear. It is clear here; but we can wait if we want to. Dicklyon (talk) 00:42, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
And see also WP:FILIBUSTER. A handful of hold-outs whose arguments have already been addressed repeatedly do not prevent a finding of consensus, or WP would almost never come to consensus on anything at all.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:16, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
Yup. The consensus is very clear. The duration has been more than long enough. The loud repetition of objections to solid evidence and logic should be given little weight. If anyone wants to add something new to this debate, please do so in the next day or two. This should be closed soon. Tony (talk) 14:29, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── No the consensus is not clear because the issues have not been addressed. I have mentioned several examples and to date those supporting the change are stating that this change of wording would not affect article titles in those cases. Yet the issues of the MOS being very large with lots of byways being embedded into policy has not been addressed, nor have examples of where this change would affect article titles. If the change will not affect article titles why is the complication needed? If it will affect article titles then lets have some examples to discuss. -- PBS (talk) 11:13, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

It’s a simple clarification of how these pages are already treated by most editors. How would it affect any titles? I’m fairly sure the examples you’ve brought up have each been addressed, no? — (talk) 07:12, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
With the examples I have brought up those in favour of the change in wording have suggested that it has no affect on those examples, which is why I am asking for some example where the wording would affect the decision process given that this policy already has a section called Article title format. -- PBS (talk) 11:49, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
The proposed clarification is not intended to change the outcome of any particular stylization decisions; it is merely to try to avoid the arguments that periodically seem to crop up that assert that the "common name" aspect of the policy means that the typographical stylization of a common name that is observed most frequently in (some set of) sources should "trump" Wikipedia's MoS guidelines when making stylization decisions (an argument that should lead us to wonder why we would bother to establish such guidelines if what we really plan to do is survey reliable sources instead). —BarrelProof (talk) 19:49, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
Okay, here’s an example. Let’s say there’s a thing named Foo Bar. The primary source and some secondary sources (especially fans and others who support the thing) style it as FooB@®, but major sources style it as Foo Bar. Ideally, the proposed bit of text would dissuade editors from invoking COMMONNAME in arguing for FooB@®, since it simply isn’t relevant. That’s not to say we shouldn’t use FooB@®; we just need to have our rationale straight. — (talk) 20:30, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
You have given a hypothetical example not a real one which is I think not very helpful. If the majority of sources style it Foo Bar then that is what this policy suggests is adopted (WP:UCRN). If the usage is close then use the policy guidance WP:TITLEFORMAT, WP:TITLETM etc. What is it that the proposed sentence brings to the table in this hypothetical case? If the vast majority style it FooB@® then what? Let us use a real example like "iPhone", and please explain what is is that the proposed sentence is supposed to clarify. -- PBS (talk) 09:35, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
That line of reasoning is exactly what this clarification is meant to avert. I did not say what the majority used, but regardless of whether Foo Bar or FooB@® is more common, COMMONNAME does not indicate which we should use—they are not two different names. That question falls to, for instance, MOS:TM, being a question of style. The article’s title in such a case follows the project’s style. Stylistically lowercase names like iPhone or deadmau5 are also addressed in our manual of style, because that is the place for it. — (talk) 10:05, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I have no idea what you mean by "COMMONNAME does not indicate which we should use—they are not two different names.", because "Boston Massacre" and "Boston massacre" are not two different names yet we choose "Boston Massacre" as the article title because the majority of sources use that style, indeed if they did not we would almost certainly choose a different name to meet NPOV requirements. You say "are also addressed in our manual of style because that is the place for it". On the contrary the manual of style is for the content within an article not for the article title which is regulated by this policy and its naming conventions. One of the problems with the Wikipedia manual of style is that it often gives contradictory advise to this policy, including the wording as suggested above is likely to have unforeseen consequences unless it is made clear that when the Wikipedia manual of style and this policy are in conflict this policy takes precedence. This is often because obscure pages in the MOS have relatively few eyes upon them compared to this page. Please give an example where this proposed addition would affect the outcome of an article title, which is contrary to the current guidance. If there are no such examples why is this additional wording needed? -- PBS (talk) 12:25, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Whether to capitalize a name means determining whether it is a proper name. That’s not a titling issue, either. And titles absolutely do follow our style guidelines, as well as titling policy. — (talk) 12:39, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
And I thought it had been said already, but this is not meant to affect the outcome of any discussions; it’s meant to affect the discussions themselves. It’s meant to deter people from invoking irrelevant bits of policy in the manner that I’ve pointed out you have. Unless you’re aware of any articles whose titles would not be acceptable in running text, all this would do is hopefully cut unproductive arguments. — (talk) 12:43, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Have you seen The Blood Donor? If you have then you know the retort to your sentence "It’s meant to deter..". Which bits of policy (not guidance) would it deter? Specifically which bits of policy do you think I have invoked which it would deter? -- PBS (talk) 15:47, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
That article’s Talk page is empty. What irrelevant arguments have been brought up there? Or did you mean the episode itself? Then no, I haven’t seen it, so I’m afraid your point is lost on me either way.
But to answer what I did understand… you invoked COMMONNAME to hypothetically decide between Foo Bar and FooB@®, which is the wrong place to look. You invoked COMMONNAME in deciding on capitalization, which is the wrong place to look (we can look to COMMONNAME to determine whether something has a proper name and what it is, but not whether to capitalize it). Article title policy is not the page to look to for style guidance beyond how formatting an article title is different from formatting running text. It’s not “WP:Arbitrary names”. That is all.

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I meant the episode itself (but as you are an American IP you may not get the humour) as a retort to your "invoking irrelevant bits of policy" Doctor "But this is just a smear!" Hancock: "It may be just a smear to you, mate, but it's life and death to some poor wretch!". Which bits of policy (not guidance) would it deter? Specifically which bits of policy do you think I have invoked which it would deter? -- PBS (talk) 17:26, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

The above is constructed as it is because I replied before your most recent edit clash. OK we are back to the same point how does one decide if Boston Massacre is a "proper name" or a descriptive title? One does that by using (not COMMONNAME which is depreciated but) UCCRN, one can not decide that on the use of anything in the Wikipedia style guide that is not already in the policy. The really neat thing about using UCCRN to decide on the capitalisation of Boston Massacre is that we do not have to decide whether it is a proper name or not we can just follow the usage in reliable sources. Hence the debate below this one on the "Cuban [Mm]issile [Cc]risis" can be resolved without having to decide on which is "correct" instead one can do it by usage in reliable sources. If you think that using UCCRN is not how editors decide spelling and capitalisation for article titles then I think you are in the minority. So the format of iPhone is determined by the usage in third party reliable sources per UCCRN not from any reference to the Wikipedia style guide.

You write "but this is not meant to affect the outcome of any discussions; it’s meant to affect the discussions themselves." By "this" do you mean "the proposed additional wording"? If something is not meant to affect the outcome of a discussion then what does it matter if it affects the discussions themselves, because the content of the talk page is not the issue. the issue is the outcome of the discussion that affects the article title. What is it that you think including the proposed wording will alter in article titles? Can you please give an example where the outcome of a decision following the AT policy and its naming conventions would be different if this proposed wording were to be included. -- PBS (talk) 17:26, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Ah, a quote would have worked better. And that one sums up a lot of disagreements on Wikipedia. When was it decided that we shouldn’t call it COMMONNAME anymore? I must have missed that discussion. Anyway, this policy 'does not say to capitalize based on sources. We capitalize based on whether it’s a proper name (we do not capitalize things that are not proper names), and the best page we have about determining whether a name is a proper name or not is MOS:NAMECAPS (and paradoxically not MOS/Proper names), which states explicitly what you keep reading into COMMONNAME. And seeing as COMMONNAME is about recognizability, I must say I’m hard pressed to come up with any names where a reasonable change in capitalization makes them harder to recognize. Bottom line is, red herrings help no one, and the proposed clarification points out that COMMONNAME may be a red herring. — (talk) 17:54, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Re: "Anyway, this policy 'does not say to capitalize based on sources. We capitalize based on whether it’s a proper name (we do not capitalize things that are not proper names)" OK... however, the best way to determine whether a name should be considered a proper name (or not) is by examining sources - and seeing whether they consider it a proper name. If a significant majority of sources capitalize the name, then we know it is a proper name. Simple. Blueboar (talk) 19:00, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Correct—per MOS:NAMECAPS. A piece of policy about recognizability has and claims no relevancy to that. That’s the point. A policy or guideline page WP:Arbitrary names likely would, and a MOS:COMMONSTYLE certainly would, but guidance on names is scattered throughout everything (this particular piece being in a subpage of our MOS) and article titles are only one sort of name. — (talk) 20:30, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
"A piece of policy about recognizability has and claims no relevancy to that" I don't understand what you mean. MOS:NAMECAPS states "Proper names of specific places, persons, terms, etc. are capitalized in accordance with standard usage" what does "standard usage" mean? If it means the a "name that is most commonly used (as determined by its prevalence in reliable English-language sources" then it does not contradict this policy, if however it means usage in unreliable sources as well it contradicts this policy. The wording of this policy is far more precise that the MOS over these issues so what is the point of including the proposed sentence when it introduces FUD? -- PBS (talk) 16:19, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
It complements this policy. This policy helps us determine which name to use in a title, and guidelines like NAMECAPS tell us how to present that name both in titles and in running text. It’s like the relationship between HTML and CSS: one’s used for content, the other for style. Neither is meant to replace or override the other; they complement each other. — (talk) 18:52, 13 January 2015 (UTC)


Mos and AT side by side. The point is that they are semi-detached and there is no need to knock a hole through the wall.

You keep making an assertion which is not true the MOS has been used to determine the style within articles not for article titles (otherwise why do you support the change in wording). I have been repeatedly asking for an example where the proposed wording would change a decision on the style article title and none have yet been given, so it is difficult to discuss the pros and cons of the proposed wording. I have described the relationship between the MOS and AT semi-detached. A major problem is lots of stuff gets added all over the MOS with little scrutiny that could affect article titles. This policy page like the content policy pages has the huge advantage that many editors see and discuss any proposed changes. So I would support wording such as this

Providing the other criteria as laid out in this policy and its naming conventions are met, article titles are styled in common with article text and headings, following guidelines in the WP:Manual of Style

-- PBS (talk) 00:27, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Almost any article with an en dash in the title would be an example, since most sources tend to style en dashes as hyphens, but the MOS says we style them as en dashes. For example, on Canada–Mexico relations, see this web search or this book search; or any article with a year range in its title. Your proposed wording is odd, as it suggests that styling per the MOS might sometimes or somehow cause a conflict with other criteria; I don't see why one would suggest such a thing (unless maybe to get us to not use en dashes?). Dicklyon (talk) 04:17, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
@PBS: Why do you keep asking for examples of how it affects something it shouldn’t affect? I honestly don’t understand your repeated requests, and feel like you haven’t read my responses to them. The proposed wording aims to reduce the amount of tangential discussion about the scope of COMMONNAME; it does not aim to change the consensus that would be reached in said discussions. I don’t think you could give any such examples for your wording, either, and don’t see how it’s any different from the proposed, aside from unnecessarily hedging its bets as Dicklyon mentioned. I do prefer the “styled in common with article text” wording, though, since that’s the whole idea. — (talk) 05:55, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
@Dicklyon - I don't intend to re-open the whole Dash/Hyphen debate... but (since you bring it up) I have to admit that it is a debate that I have never quite understood. Perhaps you could (briefly) explain... if most sources tend to style something with a hyphen, why does the MOS say we should style it with en dash? Why is Wikipedia not following the sources? Are we saying that the majority of sources are "wrong" in their usage?
Also...Have we ever had a situation where a reliable sources usually use en dashs, but intentionally uses a hyphen when discussing a specific subject (or vise vesa) - in other words, a situation where the source itself makes an exception to its own normal style rules. I would think that would be a strong indication that our MOS should allow for a similar exception. Would you agree? Blueboar (talk) 13:09, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Wikipedia doesn't "follow the sources" in that case because we have our own house style. We title articles as they would appear in running text. We likewise follow house style in diligently capitalizing proper nouns (with the notable exception of personal names). We consult sources only to determine which terms are subject to that provision of our house style, not to determine what our house style is. Powers T 12:40, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
This is circular reasoning: The notion that we don't have to follow the sources because we have a "house style" that disagrees with the sources because we don't have to follow the sources.
I recognise that many people would like more consistency, but this encyclopædia documents the real world, and things in the real world are sometimes messy, inconsistent, strangely punctuated, or even CamelCase. Our role is descriptive, not normative. (I'd really like it if we could go back and change the Rwanda article to say that the genocide never happened, but that's not going to make the problem go away) bobrayner (talk) 14:32, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
Well said bobrayner
@Powers why do you restrict following of sources to just "personal names", or put another way why do you make an exception for "personal names"? -- PBS (talk) 14:47, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm just describing current practice. In the spirit of our BLP policy, we respect individual humans' preferences when it comes to capitalization of their personal names. k.d. lang is the ur-example. Powers T 18:39, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm afraid I'm not following you. Every professional publication has a house style, which dictates certain formatting and word-choice options. That's why we have a MOS, after all. Why should we attempt to divine some sort of consensus style from myriad sources when we can simply apply our house style? Powers T 18:39, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
@Powers I do not think you are describing current practice for personal names, I think you are describing how all names are decide using AT, because AFAICT BLP is silent on article titles. If an entity including a person changes its/their name, then Wikipeida follows usage in reliable (third party) sources published since the name change to determine what the names is any peculiarities in that name are only reflected in the article tiles if the usage in reliable sources reflect that usage. For example when Prince change his name to an unpronounceable symbol (Prince logo.svg) he was usually described in reliable sources as "The artist formerly known as Prince" which would most likely have been the name used for the article title if Wikipedia had existed at that time, simply because Wikipedia would have been following usage in reliable sources. In the same way when Muhammad Ali changed his name from Cassius Clay, it took some time before reliable sources started to use his new--and at the time controversial--name, following the AT policy his change of name would not have been reflected in the article title until the majority of reliable sources started to use the new name (but it would have been noted in the biography as the change was mentioned in reliable sources -- and I suspect that any editor in the position of Ernie Terrell would have been very happy to have agreed to WP:IAR and title the article with Ali's his preferred name). One sees a similar thing happening at the moment with the discussions over the appropriate article title for ISIL. So I do not see how you conclude that there is one rule for living people and a different one for every other subject of an article. By the rule you describe, does this mean that when a person dies the capitalisation in the article title should no longer follow usage in reliable sources, but revert to using some arbitrary rules in the MOS? If so how long after they are dead should the change take place? -- PBS (talk) 11:45, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
Clearly I shouldn't have mentioned BLP; it only confuses the issue, as demonstrated by your response. But please note, I said "in the spirit of BLP" -- that is, motivated by the same impetus that leads to our BLP policy. It's a red herring, though, because current practice is indeed to format personal names according to the wishes of the person in question. You will note that we do not follow that guidance when it comes to the names of corporations and brands (e.g., HarborCenter, not HARBORCENTER; It's a Small World, not "it's a small world"). And these capitalization questions are entirely separate from the question of what the entity's name is; we follow the sources for the latter (out of necessity), while we follow our internal style for the former (out of a desire for consistency and professionalism). None of what I'm saying should be controversial; I'm just describing current practice. Powers T 19:25, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

Well, a bot just removed the RFC notice, which seems potentially unfortunate, but this discussion doesn't seem to have attracted any new participants in a while. —BarrelProof (talk) 22:47, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

So should we get someone to close it? I’m not sure what the consensus would be judged to be. — (talk) 05:18, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
I requested a closer a few days ago: [5], since the 30-day delisting was coming up. Dicklyon (talk) 06:02, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
It is not 30 days since this was listed as an RfC, it is only 30 days since this section was opened. -- PBS (talk) 11:10, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
In January 2013 there was a similar discussion see "RfC on COMMONSTYLE proposal", I have informed those 50 or so editors who expressed an interest in that discussion that this one is taking place. -- PBS (talk)

@Dicklyon to follow up on Blueboar's question with an observation. In the example you gave it is not an issue as the tile is a descriptive one. But if you take a case like "Mexican–American War" surly if it is a descriptive title than a ndash is appropriate but if it is a name the hyphen is appropriate? -- PBS (talk) 11:16, 16 January 2015 (UTC)

That's absurd. Are you saying that sources that style it with an en dash are rejecting the usual name and making up a different name? Or that they're rejecting Mexican-American War as a name and choosing a description instead (and still capitalizing War)? Or that the sources are just making an error when they use an en dash? All of these interpretations are absurd. Read a style guide; typographic styling is not a different naming. Dicklyon (talk) 16:06, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
If sources (including sources that routinely do use an en dash when appropriate) overwhelmingly use a hyphen here, then I would say yes, we should use a hyphen. I presume this would be referring to a war between Americans of Mexican ethnicity (Mexican-Americans), rather than between two nations. In such cases where a stylistic choice changes the meaning of the name, it is a titling question and not just an MOS question, and not as simple as following majority usage. — (talk) 21:56, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
Are the English a nation or an ethnic group? -- PBS (talk) 22:19, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
"You be careful out among them English." Dicklyon (talk) 22:48, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
English (disambiguation). Not sure how that’s relevant. — (talk) 23:04, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Oh wait, you misunderstood me. A MexicanAmerican (en dash) war would be a war between Mexico and America. “Mexican-American” (hyphen) is a term meaning an American citizen of Mexican ethnicity, so a Mexican-American (hyphen) war would be a war involving American citizens of this ethnic group. Point is, the choice of punctuation changes the meaning. — (talk) 23:07, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

Wait just a minute…[edit]

The most recent vote got me thinking… are some of the oppose votes based on a belief that the proposed text somehow means that, for COMMONNAME titles, the MOS should supplant the entirety of AT with regard to all style/formatting issues? Because that is not at all what it intends, and such a proposal would be WP:SNOWBALLed. — (talk) 08:46, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

Then could you re-explain what the intent of the proposal actually is? Blueboar (talk) 15:57, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
To clarify that COMMONNAME is not COMMONSTYLE; that’s a style question, not a titling question. COMMONNAME titles are styled as they would be in running text. There’s nothing here to invalidate TITLEFORMAT or any other part of policy. — (talk) 22:06, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
And if there were a COMMONSTYLE provision in the MOs, I would be much more willing to consider the proposal. However, there isn't... COMMONNAME is the closest we come to it. Blueboar (talk) 01:04, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
There are actually several MOS vs COMMONNAME issues being wrapped up in this one RFC... it may be helpful to separate them:
1) The "vanity styling" issue... the problem here is that sometimes the styling of a NAME is seen as being an integral part of the COMMONNAME. And in these cases, you can not separate name from style. When you change the styling, you actually change the NAME. I am thinking of cases like Deadmau5 vs Deadmaus, or Ke$ha vs Kesha. It is important to note that following COMMONNAME does not always support the stylized version (in the case of Kesha it doesn't... you might be able to argue that Ke$ha is the WP:Official name... but a neutral look at the sources shows that it isn't the COMMONNAME.)
2) The capitalization issue... examples are all the various X (M)massacre and Y (I)incident and Z (M)movement articles that Dicklyon has been sending to RM recently... this is an issue where my personal view has somewhat changed as we have discussed things... I now agree that COMMONNAME does not directly apply ... However, I think it applies indirectly. Certainly the same concept (look at source usage) applies. The MOS says to capitalize proper names, and the best way to determine if something is considered a proper name (or not) is to see if reliable sources treat it as one. In other words... do the majority of sources capitalize it when they discuss it. If you don't want to call this COMMONNAME, and want to call it COMMONSTYLE instead... fine... it amounts to the same thing - ie what we should do is determined by what sources do.
3) The "source usage shows that this should be an exception to MOS" issue... I don't have a good example article for this one... in part because exections are rare... but it would include a situation like the one discussed above, where sources that normally use an en-dash - don't use one in a specific name (and instead use a hyphen). In such cases, the fact that the sources don't follow their own normal style guidelines is important, and not something that Wikipedia should ignore. it tells me that such names are special cases... and we should treat them as such.
Why were all three issues wrapped up in one RFC?... because all three relate to NAMES as well as style. NAMES don't always follow style rules... and so we have to be flexible when it comes to deciding the best way to present a name. Unfortunately the MOS pages don't lend themselves to flexibility. Blueboar (talk) 00:34, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
They relate to names, which is a different thing from relating to article titles. This policy page is not about names. It’s about article titles. How we style a name shouldn’t be dependent on whether we choose to use that name as a title; we should not, for instance, prefer “Deadmau5” over “Deadmaus” or “Massacre” over “massacre” iff we use the name for an article title. Sometimes, an article is titled with a name. Sometimes, a name is redlinked in an article’s text. We should not have two separate sets of style guidelines for those. That is all. — (talk) 01:12, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
It's actually important to have the title of the article (sans disambiguation) match how the name is used in the body of the article(s) for reader's helpful consistency. --MASEM (t) 01:37, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
Exactly. — (talk) 02:32, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
Match, yes, match exactly, no. A title needs to be precise out of context. Following introduction, short forms and abbreviations are appropriate. It is not good writing style for List_of_cat_breeds to include "cat" on every line, and even less so for prose-heavy articles. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:32, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
“List of cat breeds” is a purely descriptive title; it has no name to be used in the article. —− (talk) 05:54, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
Persian cat. The article is about the Persian cat. But in fluent English, "cat" is dropped from Persian if already necessarily implied. Eg "The Persian cat has is a round face" but "The Persian is a long-haired breed of cat characterized by a round face". The title name is not necessarily repeated ad nauseam. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 11:09, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
Fair, but tangential; the point was that it would be inappropriate to style the same name inconsistently (e.g. “American Bobtail” and “American bobtail”/“bobtail,” or “What tнē #$*! D̄ө ωΣ (k)πow!?” and actual words) between article titles and running text. — (talk) 11:33, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
I know, sorry, but Masem's post of 01:37, 19 January 2015 read too broadly. If I may suggest it should have been: "It's important to have the styling of the title of the article (sans disambiguation) match how the name is used in the body of the article(s) for reader's helpful consistency."? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 11:45, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes, to be clear, this is basically what I meant - styling/casing should be consistent in the title as it is used in the body. On the wording specifics, it should be obvious that for non-descriptive titles that sometimes the naming will be shorted for simplicity, but the styling should remain consistent. --MASEM (t) 16:00, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
So far as I can tell, that is not a question that has ever been settled by community consensus. Does the title of an article actually need to be identical to the term used to discuss the article subject in running text? If not, then there can be some difference between the terms, particularly if the difference is spelled out in the lede. Three circumstances have been pointed out where this sort of difference already commonly exists. First, where the title contains a disambiguator. This appears to carry through even where the disambiguator could conceivably be used in running text; for example, the article Paul Simon notes that "On one appearance in the late 1980s, he worked with his political namesake, Illinois Senator Paul Simon" (not "he worked with his political namesake, Paul Simon (politician)". Second, where the title is the long version of a term that is usually abbreviated (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation could be the poster child for this, referred to in the article almost exclusively as "FDIC"). The third is the case where an article on a performer reflect's the subject's stage name, but the article notes the subject's legal name in the lede, and thereafter generally refers to the subject by that name. The latter group are not style differences, but the first two are; and we have some instances of things like Cadmium oxide, referred to as "CdO" within the article, where our style enforcers might prefer "CDO" to avoid the appearance of camelcase being used. bd2412 T 17:05, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Do we have any cases of the styling of a name (not a shortening, but uses of the same name, pronounced the same way, with the same letters and/or letter-like characters) being inconsistent between the article and its title? I don’t think we do. So there’s that consensus. — (talk) 21:21, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
A pretty clear example would be k.d. lang, which uses "lang" for the title and "Lang" in the text. To the extent that we have circumstances where titles use styling that differs from the MOS (Deadmau5, dot the i, U Turn (1997 film), the style used in the content does generally follow the style used in the title. However, I would ascribe that to our efforts, as an encyclopedia, to refer to things by their correct real-world names, rather than by an imposed style that differs from usages in the real world. I would also note that this addresses a very specific subset of topics, namely stage names and names of creative works, as opposed to historic events like the Boston massacre, or Mexican–American War. bd2412 T 00:36, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
That's not an example at all. The k.d. lang article also uses k.d. lang in the text, and makes it clear that it's her stage name (it's a registered trademark in fact), and also uses her real name Kathryn Dawn Lang for those who want to know what her real name is. It would be an "example" if the text used "K. D. Lang" or something like that instead of stylized stage name. Dicklyon (talk) 03:40, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
Dick, would you at least agree that when the article is referring to her by her stage name, we should style that stage name "k.d. lang"? If so... then the issue isn't so much one of stylization... but subject matter... whether a specific section of the text (or even a specific sentence) is talking about her as a person, or as an entertainer. "After secondary school, Lang attended Red Deer College" is appropriate... but so is "In 1999, k.d. lang ranked No. 33 on VH-1's 100 Greatest Women in Rock & Roll". Blueboar (talk) 04:08, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree that context should play a role there, and that it’s appropriate to use stage names only when referring to the person as a performer. — (talk) 04:48, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
It is well established that our article titles refer to the person as a performer, if that is their primary source of notability. See Cat Stevens, and the move discussions relating to that title. bd2412 T 19:08, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
@Dicklyon, that is an example with respect to the issue as raised by, who worries that readers will be confused by differences in style between title style and running text style. Thank you for demonstrating exactly why this is a non-issue. After all, if that is not an example, then there should be no problem with titling an article NUMB3RS and making it clear in the lede that this is a stylization, followed by reference in the text to the "real" name as perceived by sources that use "Numbers". Cheers! bd2412 T 04:15, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
I’m not going to insult your intelligence by explaining why that’s fallacious logic. — (talk) 04:50, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm not so sure that's as wrong as you think. It's true that we could title the article one way and explain in the text that that's a trademark stylization, as we did with k.d. lang. If the MOS said that was a good thing to do, we could. But the choice of style for the title is still a style issue, not a title issue. Currently, MOS:TM strongly discourages such all-caps and non-pronouncable stylizations, which is why we don't do it that way. In this example, the title discussion consensus seems to have been to stick with what the MOS currently suggests. Nothing unusual here. Dicklyon (talk) 05:08, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
@, I wouldn't insult the intelligence of our readers by suggesting that although they are fine distinguishing usage in the lang vs. Lang situation, or where there is a lengthy disambiguator, or use of an abbreviated form, but that they suddenly become befuddled when the difference is camelcase or a comparable style issue. bd2412 T 19:14, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
That’s not a difference of “lang” vs “Lang”; it’s a difference of the stage name of “k.d. lang” vs the individual’s legal name. In the case of things known only by their trademarks, like a TV show (Numb3rs), the stylized name is the legal name, and there is no other context to refer to it as—Lang is a person and a performer, while Numb3rs is a TV show and only a TV show. That’s where the analogy breaks down. — (talk) 21:06, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
This is true. However, for the work that is "only a TV show" or the like, unless its writers have been inconsistent in their own usage, the name given by the writers is the only name the work has, and variation from that is error. If sources generally perpetuate an error, it may well be considered the common name according to our standards, and presented as such. bd2412 T 21:57, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
This is also true. And if we use the common name in the article, we also use the WP:COMMONNAME in the title. And of course the styling of either such name would be subject to our (rather flexible) MOS, including: “Style and formatting should be consistent within an article.” (talk) 05:59, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

The underlying question[edit]

We have raised a lot of issues in the discussions above, but we keep dancing around the underlying question -

When a significant majority of sources (especially those that are independent of the subject) consistently present a name with a stylization that is contrary to our MOS guidance, should Wikipedia:
a) ignore the sources and conform our presentation of the name to MOS guidance... or
b) ignore MOS guidance and conform our presentation of the name to the sources?

Before we can reach consensus on how to amend policy/guidance, I think we need to see if we have consensus on this basic question. Blueboar (talk) 12:14, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

This isn’t the question behind this proposal. The real question is whether questions like this one are a titling matter or a manual of style matter. So:
  • Does it have to do with article titles?—Potentially, but not necessarily, and not always. This question would (and should) still come up if the named is not the subject of its own article, where WP:AT would not apply.
  • Does it have to do with how we choose to style text?—Yes. (talk) 21:29, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
Your answer does not really address my question (a or b?). To clarify, I am asking an new question... and what I am asking goes beyond just titles... I am trying to see if we have a consensus on underlying principles or not. If we can't reach a consensus on whether to ignore MOS guidance or ignore sources (when they disagree), then I don't think we will ever be able to reach a consensus on the question that was asked in the original RFC.
I can ask my question as a separate RFC if you would prefer. Blueboar (talk) 01:31, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
I wasn’t trying to answer the question; I was claiming that this is not the place to address it, because it is not a question about article titles (which you seem to agree with). So your question is irrelevant to this proposal.
But if you want my opinion on the question anyway: I don’t think we should ever ignore MOS guidance, and I don’t think following MOS guidance should mean ignoring the sources. I think you’re forgetting perhaps the most important guidance our MOS contains, at the top of every page: Use common sense. To me, applying common sense in making exceptions to any given point is not the same as ignoring the MOS’s guidance [to use common sense]. To this particular question, my personal idea of what’s best for the encyclopedia would be similar to the guidance in MOS:TM, but with a slightly higher standard: Among the styles found in multiple reliable sources with demonstrable editorial oversight, we should use the one most closely resembling standard English. And since this is a question of style, I’ll be cross-posting this to WT:MOS. — (talk) 02:33, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
I don't agree that "it is not a question about article titles"... I think it is a question about both article titles and article text. That said... if you think WT:MOS is a better place for the question... No problem with cross posting. In fact... let's close it here completely Blueboar (talk) 02:51, 21 January 2015 (UTC)



I thought it’d be useful (especially to the closer) to concisely summarize all sides. So here goes:


  • COMMONNAME shouldn’t mean we use the most commonly used styling
  • We should not have separate guidance for names in titles and names in text
    • Counterpoint: Article titles policy is also about names in general
  • Stylization is best addressed in the MOS
  • Proposed edit would stop erroneous citing of WP:COMMONNAME in style disputes
    • Counterpoint: It’s not erroneous


  • COMMONNAME should mean we use the most commonly used styling (even where MOS may say not to)
  • Article text doesn’t have to match the title (but it should where possible)
  • Deferring to the MOS means it overrides policy
  • The wording is unacceptable
    • This was addressed
  • Following MOS can sometimes mean having to ignore stylizations used in reliable sources/ignoring reality
    • Counterpoint: Consensus sometimes means having to ignore the MOS
  • This policy has always pertained to all names including within articles, not just titles
    • Counterpoint: Things change, now we have an MOS
  • This policy still pertains to all names, even though we have an MOS and even though it’s called “Article titles”

Please feel free to reply with suggestions or to edit it yourself if I left something out or wrong, or to reply to tell me why this was a bad idea. But remember this is meant to be a concise summary. Thanks! — (talk) 18:30, 21 January 2015 (UTC)

  • I have added a bit to the non-matching issue, in that there are common cases where they do not exactly match. I would also add, although it has not explicitly been raised as such, that we should not be lumping all different kinds of things together in making these considerations. The names of historic events will not necessarily be best dealt with using rules designed for commercial products or companies, and these again will not necessarily be the best rules to apply to stage names, song titles, film titles, and so on. bd2412 T 20:33, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
    • I don’t think you quite understood what I meant by “concise.” =P I’ve removed the following added details: there are certain common circumstances where the article text does not exactly match the title (title contains a disambiguator; article text uses an abbreviated form; title uses a stage name and text uses a legal name) (talk) 20:53, 22 January 2015 (UTC)
      • I see what you mean. I was trying to clarify that this is not merely an opinion, but a practice in limited circumstances. bd2412 T 20:56, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Pursuant to the above discussion and the apparent lack of consensus for universally imposing MOS-style restrictions on titles (and for certain disambiguation-related reasons), I have proposed at Talk:Pink (singer)#Requested move 25 January 2015 to move Pink (singer) to P!nk. Cheers! bd2412 T 05:23, 25 January 2015 (UTC)

Misleading advice[edit]

Do not create subsidiary articles
Do not use titles suggesting that one article forms part of another: even if an article is considered subsidiary to another, …. (emphasis mine)

This advises against having subsidiary articles, then paradoxically goes on to suggest that subsidiary article are permissible. I suggest "Do not use subsidiary article titles". Mark Schierbecker (talk) 03:50, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

That's simply not correct. The majority of the top-viewed and/or best developed articles have their own subsidiary articles (e.g. Timeline of World War II) Mark Schierbecker (talk) 04:25, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
I think the heading there is wrong. We have “subsidiary” articles. We should avoid subsidiary titles. — (talk) 07:52, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
It would help if we could discuss some examples of articles where this provision might apply (and not apply)... then we could figure out how to word it better. Blueboar (talk) 13:32, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Agree with Blueboar. Further, this advice/instruction/rule is in bad form. Who are these policy-page authors to make rules by fiat for the community. Far better, for community spirit, respect for policy, accessibility of policy to non-policy-wonks, for policy to explain *why* subsidiary article titles are not a good idea. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 07:40, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm going to assume good faith and say it was never intended to be interpreted that way although that is certainly the way it reads. At any rate title policy pages should not be issuing edicts on page content. Mark Schierbecker (talk) 09:26, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
You are quoting out of context. Here is the full paragraph:
Do not create subsidiary articles
Do not use titles suggesting that one article forms part of another: even if an article is considered subsidiary to another (as where summary style is used), it should be named independently. For example, an article on transport in Azerbaijan should not be given a name like "Azerbaijan/Transport" or "Azerbaijan (transport)" – use Transport in Azerbaijan. (This does not always apply in non-article namespaces: see Wikipedia:Subpages.)
Sports events with multiple articles about parts of the competetion make heavy use of en dashes for what many people would call subsidiary articles. A few examples of thousands: 2014 Wimbledon Championships – Men's Singles, 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group I, Athletics at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Men's 100 metres. Note in the last example that we say Athletics at the 2012 Summer Olympics but then use en dash to get down to individual events. It is the accepted practice in the sports projects and I support it but maybe the policy should reflect the practice. It currently says: an article on transport in Azerbaijan should not be given a name like "Azerbaijan/Transport" or "Azerbaijan (transport)" – use Transport in Azerbaijan". En dashes or sports are not mentioned but when sports use the equivalent of "Azerbaijan – Transport", it looks like the examples of what not to do. PrimeHunter (talk) 00:55, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
I suspect that this goes back to the days when sub pages could be created in main space and they were discouraged. This sometimes leads to situations where the talk pages and the articles pages do not quite match as per AC/DC and the talk page talk:AC/DC (which is a sub page of talk:AC). In general it is usually agreed that subsidiary pages ought to be given names that stand independently, but sometimes that is not practical or really desirable. Blueboar some examples have already been given Jan Smuts is a good example of a large biography with subsidiary pages which appears to follow the guidance under discussion.
PrimeHunter you gave an example but it is not clear to me whether you support the format "Athletics at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Men's 100 metres" and would oppose for example "Men's 100 metres at the 2012 Summer Olympics" as an alternative which is more concise but less consistent. Is the format of subsidiary pages a clash between "Naturalness", "Conciseness" and "Consistency"? -- PBS (talk) 18:24, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
I think there are two issues here... first is "should we create an article for a given subsidiary topic?" I would say that we sometimes over do it when it comes to creating subsidiary articles (creating them when they are not really needed... I think we could avoid the need for subsidiary articles by simply editing the "parent article" to trim the fat) but that isn't really a policy issue, and certainly not a WP:AT issue.
The other issue does relate to WP:AT... what to entitle a subsidiary article when we do create one? This is what I think the section is really trying to address.
To give an example: we currently have an article on the Battle of Gettysburg, with a subsidiary article entitled Battle of Gettysburg, Second Day. In that case, the two articles are tied to each other through their titles (and I would say appropriately so).
Now, within the subsidiary article Battle of Gettysburg, Second Day is summary section discussing the Confederate assault on East Cemetery Hill. That section points to a sub-subsidiary article on that assault (see: Battle of East Cemetery Hill)... That sub-subsidiary article has a title that can stand on its own... and (I hope you would agree) because it does have a title that can stand on its own, it would be ridiculous to entitle it: Battle of Gettysburg, Second Day, Battle of East Cemetery Hill (or Battle of East Cemetery Hill (Battle of Gettysburg, Second Day), or something similar).... even though such a title would maintain the "chain of parentage" tie back to the main topic. Blueboar (talk) 19:23, 18 January 2015 (UTC)
I support the naming of Athletics at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Men's 100 metres and the rest in Category:Athletics at the 2012 Summer Olympics. "Men's 100 metres at the 2012 Summer Olympics" would be a little ambiguous with several swimming events although swimming includes the style in the name. Other cases like high jump are more clear but I like the systematic naming with the sport included in the name. PrimeHunter (talk)
Meh... there is a lot of stuff in that article that I would consider unnecessary sports trivia ... especially the charts of who finished where in the preliminary heats. I always like to ask: will the reader 50 years from now be interested in this? And there is a lot in the article that would not pass that test. While I respect the efforts of the editors who wrote it... I could easily see that article being trimmed dramatically, and the important information merged with similar articles into one single Athletics at the 2012 Summer Olympics article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blueboar (talkcontribs) 00:57, 19 January 2015‎

@PrimeHunter I understand you point on consistency, but please explain to me how Athletics at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Men's 100 metres is less ambiguous than "Men's 100 metres at the 2012 Summer Olympics" because does not the the former suffers from the same ambiguity as the latter? -- PBS (talk) 11:42, 20 January 2015 (UTC)

The former says "Athletics" so it cannot refer to events in other sports like Swimming at the 2012 Summer Olympics – Men's 100 metre freestyle. Sports readers are expected to know that Athletics (sport) is a specific sport. PrimeHunter (talk) 13:13, 20 January 2015 (UTC)
I am not sure that holds for all "sports readers"... a fan of baseball or ice hockey is a "sports reader", but may not know that at the Olympics the term "Athletics" refers to a specific sub-category of sports. Also, what about those who are not "sports readers"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blueboar (talkcontribs)
The term "Athletics" is the normal and common name of that sport and not something specific to the Olympics. I'm not sure of your point. Do you think we should replace "Athletics" by something else (what?) to help readers who don't know the name of the sport they are reading about? That goes completely against WP:COMMONNAME. PrimeHunter (talk) 22:44, 21 January 2015 (UTC)
In North America, the word "athletics" means more or less any sport, not specifically those that involved running, throwing, jumping and the like. What's called "athletics" in much of the rest of the Anglophone world is called "track and field" in North America. See our article here. Heimstern Läufer (talk) 00:47, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

Capitalization on Wikipedia[edit]

It has come to my attention that Wikipedia, in the past few years, has recently been influenced by incorrect capitalization common throughout the English language. This is why I ask you: what is a proper noun? A proper noun is different from a general noun/common noun. Although common nouns can be proper nouns: Wikipedians refuse to realize this.

It isn't just a flaw within the English language. Our dynasty articles, such as Han dynasty, should be capitalized despite previous reasoning that "dynasty" is the same as an "era" and therefore should not be in the uppercase form. This idea is controversial. How is it, when Han dynasty is its proper name, that it cannot be recognized as a proper noun? This is the same problem with Cuban missile crisis, Tokugawa shogunate, among hundreds of articles.

Yes, it depends on how you use it in a sentence. If you're using Han as a descriptive term for the dynasty, instead of using the term as a whole, then it is indeed a lower case. (I'm using Han dynasty as my example here so it is easier to follow)

And when it comes to statistics, they cannot prove correctness in the English grammar, as for even a lot of the most professional English tongues cannot master it.

Wikipedia guidelines state that article titles should be written as if they were used in a sentence. This implies, although written and solidified a while ago, that titles such as "List of popular movies" (for example) should not be written as "List of Popular Movies". I'm sure this expands over a deeper span of situations and I get that. However, I see this as being taken too seriously, this downgrades proper nouns!

Recently, a user by the name of Dicklyon has been using guidelines to justify 5x5x5 groupings of requested moves while he doesn't, for nearly all articles under said discussion, have any "area of expertise in" or "participates" in. And need I remind you all that guidelines are not policies? Not every article that follows a similar situation another article is in also meets these guidelines.

Growing up, I have been taught proper nouns have capital letters. Sure, many people use lower case letters in situations; but how can we be so sure they carefully write this way?

There are people who understand grammar and there are people who do not. Unfortunately, one path is persuasive and have tendencies to rub off onto language usage. How can one say Wikipedia does not affect the way people use English? Wikipedia is one of the most influential websites on the world wide web. This simply can't be denied.

I have not come to immediately spark debate. I have come to call upon other Wikipedians to look into all aspects of English. Look everywhere. Have an English teacher in your family? Talk with them about the subject. Look into the roots of English grammar. Search hard and endlessly. Do not look to Manuals of Style as they are variations of how to use grammar based on the way those who speak and write using said MOS views the language itself. Not everyone is taught the same style, but everyone is taught the same basic rules of English. One that is not followed, or damn near comes close to question: How can Wikipedia fix or justify the case of letters for proper nouns?

I'm sure there are Wikipedians who have spent years studying all aspects of the English language. For I am not one of those, so I do not speak on the behalf of those who do. In the other hand, there are also many who are not experts in the language and do not use correct English.

And when all is done; what is your final look onto things? Can you justify this without simply because somebody else convinced me? Convince yourself and then you may truly speak. Do not let others influence your ultimate decision. This is a simple life lesson almost everybody is taught to learn. Or should at least...

My final request is to bring this discussion to a much larger scale as it affects the entire encyclopedia. Thank you in advance.

Sincerely, Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 20:40, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

When this question is brought to enough people, as it was at the big RM discussion earlier this year at Talk:Han dynasty#Han Dynasty to Han dynasty, they usually do not come down as you do and declare the widespread lowercase use in sources to be due to authors with bad English (and I did not participate there; the closer noted a "clear consensus" for lowercase). It is hard to see what makes you so sure that "Han dynasty" should be treated as a proper name, even though authors of English typically do not treat it as such. So, yes, study and learn, but then live with what that studying reveals, please. If you look at my recent closed and open RM discussions, you'll see pretty much the same pattern: widespread acceptance of WP's title and style guidelines, until fans of an area come in and insist on capitalizing what better sources (books) do not. If you and Randy Kryn weren't so devoted to caps, the open ones such as Talk:Pullman_Strike#Requested_move_20_December_2014 and Talk:African-American_Civil_Rights_Movement_(1954–68)#Requested_five_pages_be_renamed_and_moved_27_December_2014 would easily close with consensus to lowercase. Perhaps your appeal here will help... Dicklyon (talk) 22:08, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
Why not move President of the United States to President of the united states, since the country at issue is merely a collection of states that are united, and it is therefore grammatically correct to refer to united states? Why have Toledo Symphony Orchestra rather than Toledo symphony orchestra, since the first line of that article says quite directly, "Toledo Symphony Orchestra is a symphony orchestra in Toledo"? bd2412 T 22:23, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
Why not? Sources are why; and sources. Dicklyon (talk) 23:01, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
How can you be so sure your statistics, which seem to come from one reference tool alone, are accurate? And why do you consistently use guidelines as if they were policies? So yeah, with what bd2412 was saying, let us while we are at it lower case United states since it is just a bunch of states united. Why do you see statistics as a proofing method for English grammar? This is simply not a language you can deem correct with statistics! This isn't mathematics. The sooner you realize this Dick, is the sooner our discussions can evolve into further stages. This topic at hand is far too controversial to leave as it is. Also, when I said larger scale, I meant Wikipedia notice for discussion or something to that extent. I am tired, as many users are, of seeing admins closing discussions because of consensus unions evolving because the majority lack the will to make decisions for themselves. I once lost a consensus to people claiming that Guanqiu Jian and Wen Qin's Rebellion should be called Guanqiu Jian and Wen Qin Rebellion. Nobody would even hear what I had to say and used bogus excuses and rode bandwagons into the conclusion of the panel and it was stomach turning. Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 23:58, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
The stats don't "proof" anything. They're just numbers and graphs. Interpret them any way you want; or find better stats. They are just one view of what's out there, and are probably more useful than claiming to know what's "correct" while ignoring what's out there. Dicklyon (talk) 01:00, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
I am a little confused by the idea that something can be "incorrect" and also "common throughout the English language"... English is a dynamic language. What is considered "correct" is flexible and changes over time. So if a given capitalization is indeed "common throughout the English language"... I would argue that (defacto)... it is "correct". And what was once "correct" may or may not stay "correct".Blueboar (talk) 01:24, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
It hasn't changed. You always capitalize proper nouns and we seem to think it is okay to ignore this rule in the English grammar. Which, indeed, still exists. And by incorrect yet common, think of the word alright. It's not correct, the actual term is "all right". Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 03:44, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
So much damage has been done in capitalization here. (EDIT: I was wrong here, explained in the comment below, and apologize to Dicklyon, and was striking when he edit conflicted me. I'll do so now) Among the most recent mass moves without a discussion are the formerly and correctly titled BRIT Awards (even the BRIT Award Official website and their yearly logos capitalize the term), which are the British recording awards. Dicklyon has recently mass moved the BRIT Award pages into Brit Awards, as if he thinks since it's a play on the word British, so it should be Brit (I can't think of any other reason why he'd do this). Yet, as linked above, the official BRIT Awards site capitalizes BRIT Awards, the use of the capitalization has been consistent throughout my knowledge of the awards and even though newspapers like to say Brits, because it is a cute name, and seem to be creating the common name, doesn't this need a discussion? I can see how Dicklyon just goes in and moves pages which are obviously long-standing names, then when someone steps up to disagree they are attacked like wild animals. Dicklyon, reverting all your edits on the BRIT Awards would be very time consuming, please go back and do it yourself, and then maybe open a discussion on it. Thanks. The BRIT Awards, decapitalized without a discussion? Seriously? And people just let this stuff happen? Randy Kryn 5:26 7 January, 2015 (UTC)
These moves were not undiscussed, and not controversial, as you can see at Talk:Brit_Awards#Requested_move_28_December_2014; most good sources use "Brit"; we don't go by logos. What other changes do you think are "damaging"? Dicklyon (talk) 05:56, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
I was wrong here, you edit conflicted me as I was going to do a striking on my comments and apologizing. I didn't see the discussion, just saw your mass moves and thought you had done so like you did on the pages I met you on. So my personal apology to you (would you mind if I did a strike? Thanks). For damage, see Cuban missile crisis, where most people correctly opposed the lower-casing. Randy Kryn 6:02 7 January, 2015 (UTC)
Apology accepted, you wild animal. On the Cuban missile crisis, there has been a moderate trend toward more capitalization in recent years, but still sources support the idea that caps are optional, not necessary. How does this damage Wikipedia, to do as so many other reliable sources do? Dicklyon (talk) 06:10, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, I had a knee jerk reaction to the BRIT Awards and didn't look at the talk page before making my inaccurate comments. I meant damage to the title 'Cuban Missile Crisis' itself, via Wikipedia. Wikipedia sets the style in many cases, so making moves such as this creates a social wave which literally deemphasizes the event in the 'outside' world. I think that's one of the reasons this discussion may have been opened, that some people are experiencing your long (I see it's several years now) effort to lower-case events and names on Wikipedia as effecting how the civilization looks at these events. The Cuban Missile Crisis, for example, has gained a historical foothold in people's minds as a defining event in the Cold War (or Cold war?), and to them it is an obvious upper-case proper name, as your link shows. So maybe this discussion can be about how the effect of decapitalizing names ripples outward from Wikipedia, which may be the concern that some of us have. Your project now seems to be focusing on social issues, where maybe the rubber meets the road on this question and discussion. Make sense? Randy Kryn 6:24 7 January, 2015 (UTC)
Randy, I don't buy your interpretation of WP damaging the perception of important events by using lower case. And I wish you would also strike "when someone steps up to disagree they are attacked like wild animals" unless you can show where someone did that. I may have referred to you as a fan, or a zealot, in certain areas, but I don't think you should take that as criticism of yourself. I have no problem with you being zealous about the civil rights movement, the Cuban missile crisis, the Pullman strike, or the Brit Awards. Go for it. These are all great things to be fans of. But WP has style guidelines, and without good reasons to the contrary we usually support changes that bring things into closer agreement with guidelines. I have not been focusing on social issues; I just happened to notice and follow some links through riots and massacres to strikes and eventually to you. Dicklyon (talk) 06:35, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Striking done, I was thinking of calling someone a liar without assuming good faith. The Cuban Missile Crisis seems like a good point to discuss your project. Judging from your criteria and way of arguing these things you yourself should be trying to put the capitalization back on that page. Do you only go one way on these pages, from cap to decap? Why don't we join hands, sing Kum Ba Ya, and reverse that one. JFK can then stop rolling in his grave, which would be a good days work, no? (lol, or LOL?) Randy Kryn 6:44 7 January, 2015 (UTC)
Randy, I have occasionally moved things to uppercase. But you need to understand that most articles are created with uppercase title words, since most users (esp. new ones) don't know about WP:NCCAPS, or they know about it but make articles on things they care deeply about and like to see capitalized. One seldom sees editors who don't know to capitalize proper names (contrary to Eric's assertion). So the maintenance work of moving toward style guidelines is most often downcasing. Until the last couple of months, it seldom attracted much notice; but then RGloucester got all up and reverted my most recent 33 moves (I think because I didn't notice one or more of the riot articles I had moved had already been moved by another editor and moved back by RG, so he got pissed), and trying to recover from that disruption has brought a lot of discussion, much of it way silly and offbase, like Eric (and RG, who claimed to be sent by God to fix such problems). Dicklyon (talk) 22:55, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Sometimes I scan the Special:NewPagesFeed, where almost all new titles are upper case (mostly for good reasons); today I found a couple of the rare opposite problem: Jeanne foguth (I fixed); Curtis giddings; it's probably about to be deleted, so I won't bother fixing it. Worth a look are articles like Registered Scientist; is this a proper name? a trademark? or just something that its promoters like to capitalize? The excessive heading capitalization suggests that the author is unaware of our style. But maybe the title is OK. China Household Finance Survey has similar issues worth investigating via sources; the article is full of over-capitalization, and it's not clear whether the title is a proper name; maybe it is, maybe it's not; someone needs to check when cleaning up caps in the article. Dicklyon (talk) 23:13, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I should hesitate to enter this discussion, but the "Cuban missile crisis" is a common noun-phrase ("Cuban" being a proper adjective, and the phrase violates most interpretations of grammar, using the noun "missile" as an adjective), and so should not be capitalized, even if some of the others mentioned in related threads above should be. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 07:30, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

I'm struck by a comment in the second paragraph of this thread: "If you're using Han as a descriptive term for the dynasty, instead of using the term as a whole, then it is indeed a lower case." How can you (or anyone) tell? — Arthur Rubin (talk) 07:32, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
By looking at the context in which the word is used? Blueboar (talk) 14:09, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
I have a few thoughts on the argument that using lower case in some way "downgrades" the perception of important events ... I don't really accept this argument either. But for the sake of discussion, let's see where accepting that argument would lead us:
First, if using lower case can "downgrade" perception, then the flip side should also be true... using upper case can "upgrade" perception. And... we this means we need to be cautious... we don't want to downgrade or upgrade unduly. So here's the question... how do we know how much importance to give the event? How do we know whether capitalizing would be undue?
Second: If case really did affect perception, then surely our collective perceptions would already be affected by what sources beyond Wikipedia do. The n-gram on "Cuban missile crisis" shows that lots and lots of sources (a majority, in fact) don't capitalize it... so one would expect that our collective perception would be that the Cuban missile crisis isn't that important. Yet, somehow, despite the lack of capitalization in sources, we do understand that it was a very important event. Thus, I have to conclude that the argument is flawed... lack of capitalization has no effect on our perception of importance. Blueboar (talk) 12:48, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
For "the Han dynasty" (or Dynasty), there seems to be to be absolutely no difference in wording between referring referring to the "Han Dynasty" as an object or to referring to a dynasty which happens to be "Han", noting that there can be only one. For some of the other examples, there might be a difference, although a Rose Bowl Game (referring, say to the 2001 or 2015 game, or to one of the games in which Washington played) looks a bit jarring. I don't know what to call a "proper noun" which refers to one of a group of specific objects, without specifying which one. I would have thought that it would be grammatically incorrect, as would using the term Civil War to refer to either the American Civil War or the English Civil War. (A few months ago, I attended a presentation entitled "My civil war was worse than your civil war" (note the links), at the Huntington Library. The pronouns (pro-adjectives? whatever) make it clear that "civil war" is a common noun-phrase in that context.) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 17:54, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
But the "My civil war..." example is using "civil war" as a class of things or descriptive category. In each dialect one would say "The Civil War" and not expect to need disambiguation as to which civil war. Within each dialect, Civil War is a proper noun. --Khajidha (talk) 19:01, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, Khajidha is correct. That usage of civil war is classing it not addressing the proper name. That is why I said it depends on context whether it is capitalized or not. That is why saying "My city is better than your city" is lower case because you have not properly addressed the name (proper name, hence) of the city. However, properly addressing (proper naming) "New York City is better than Kansas City" (just an example) would be upper case. This is kind of a weak example but you get the point. Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 20:41, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
  • By affecting perception of importance, it is more of a possibility that it can influence an individuals looks at it rather than the a general population, but things escalate often. I'm unsure why Dickylon favors using statistics to prove correctness in the English grammar over definitions and actual rules within the language. I can easily get 100 people around that don't know the difference between too, two, and to and does that mean what they say is right? And why can we let something like Google Books, which no doubt contains VEEEEEEEERY little of works out there, hold the fate of correctness? I don't see why people think statistics can be used to justify grammar. Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 20:32, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
    English, unlike many other languages, does not have an "official" set of rules. Grammarians set (or codify) rules, but they are subject to change. In French, there are official rules for spelling and grammar. The question of "rules" for capitalization has only been attempted since the mid-19th century, and cannot be said to be established. There are still holdovers from German where all nouns are capitalized, and (I believe) no (capitalized) "proper adjectives". Hence, "we" (Wikipedia) can set style rules that make sense, regardless of whether they are official or commonly used. In the case of capitalization of proper noun-phrases, there we probably should go by what is commonly used (the term "proper noun"(-phrase) not withstanding), but there isn't agreement as to what that is. We could set, by consensus, any style we choose, but, in the absence of consensus (as now), we should go by the style used in reliable sources. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 21:56, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Adjectives are what you could say "subjects of proper nouns" in these cases. Once it (the phrase, etc) is identified as part of the named proper noun it is recognized as a part of the noun. Which is proper. Which are capitalized. Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 04:15, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
Exactly what I have been saying all along. It would be great if we could amend the MOS to say it. Blueboar (talk) 22:18, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Absolutely not. Google Books is not a reliable source because of its low inclusion of the many books out there and your view on correctness in capitalization I really do understand but to say that we should ignore capitalization of proper nouns is against the grammar and absurd. And no, the MOS is not a dictation of how Wikipedia is written and you need to start realizing this because it is getting ridiculous. If we could amend the MOS to also say the MOS has exceptions that'd be AMAZING too. Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 04:09, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
It's right up on top: "Use common sense in applying it; it will have occasional exceptions." But we do also have (and have had for many years) a broad consensus on the basic scheme of avoiding unnecessary capitalization, and on using sources to help us determine what's necessary, that is, necessary when sources consistently capitalize, and not when they don't. Dicklyon (talk) 06:01, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
"using sources to help us determine what's necessary, that is, necessary when sources consistently capitalize, and not when they don't."... wow... Dick, that sounds like you have have been converted to the "favor COMMONNAME side of the debate? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Blueboar (talkcontribs) 13:13, 8 January 2015‎ (UTC)
I understand your reasoning but you must realize there are topics out there that should be capitalized although people choose not to and you keep suggesting that all articles that aren't capitalized on Google Books become lower case which is a bunch of baloney. Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 12:31, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
"you must realize there are topics out there that should be capitalized although people choose not to" ?? No, I don't realize that; I can't fathom why you would think that, especially in light of WP's style as stated in the opening paragraph of MOS:CAPS. Caps are clearly just not necessary in situations where most authors choose not to use them. And Google Books is just a tool; it's a quick way to look at a large sample of reliable sources; feel free to bring in other data. Dicklyon (talk) 16:24, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Bluboar, you say: "I am a little confused by the idea that something can be 'incorrect' and also 'common throughout the English language' ". Like "its" for "it is"? Common as muck, I'm afraid, in every anglophone country. WP's style has emerged over the years through a composite process, which I think is not being grasped by some people in this thread. There's no one correct party-line on capitalisation, yet people are talking of the need to avoid "weakening" the displayed distinction between proper and common nouns; but that boundary was never as simple as it was put to us in grade school, and the problems were swept under the carpet in the typewriter era through the widespread and largely unquestioned practice of capping everything in sight if you wanted. Some people in corporations and public organisations still do this, which is why there's so often a proponderance of eye-poking caps in documents of the "report" type. This is not supported by much other usage, by linguistic logic, or by the major authorities in the language.

    In the modern online era, sites like Wikipedia have been part of a move away from scattergun capping, and towards a default of downcasing unless capping is really necessary. This is common to many other English-language publishers with an abundance of means to highlight text without the use of capping, a desire to be as smoothly readable as possible, and an international readership, including many non-native readers whose own languages have quite different protocols for capping—or don't do it at all. The major English-language style guides (CMOS and Oxford among them) want less capping than there used to be—that is perfectly clear from the change in their advice over the past two decades.

    Arthur outsourcing to "reliable sources" might be more practicable if those so-called RSs were consistent with each other and within themselves. They are usually not, and who wants to import mess?

    bd2412: I don't understand your logic—I can only assume that you're trying to make a point through exaggeration in the hope that it will be crystal clear to all. The jumbling of categories in your examples isn't doing what you want it to, I fear. Tony (talk) 14:05, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

I still don't accept it. English is a dynamic ever changing language. It may be common for people to write "its" for "it is", but it isn't COMMON the way we mean it here (Overwhelmingly more sources write "it's". That may change... If the majority of sources start omitting the apostrophe, then we can say that the apostrophe has become out-dated and "its" will be correct). Other style guides may be calling for decapitalization, but if the majority of actual usage in sources had not followed that guidance (if actual usage still capitalizes), then we can not (yet) call what the guides call for "incorrect".
It may be that we are a transitional phase as far as capitalization goes... where some terms are still regularly capitalized but others are not. So to know which is "correct" in a specific case, we have to look at source usage as it relates to the specific term. This will give us inconsistent results... but English is an inconsistent language. Blueboar (talk) 15:10, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
Since this has been discussed above, I'll mention here I've put it a request for a new vote on the capitalization of Cuban missile crisis on its talk page. Since I'm new to this, but seem to be playing out my rookie month, can someone please help with formalizing the distribution of this request through the proper pings and Wikipedia pages, and help with adding linked data to the 'oppose' side of the debate (I tried to be fair in my opening post but have more 'Support' links and observations than 'Oppose). Thanks. Randy Kryn 16:22 8 January, 2015 (UTC)
Amen. Betcha if Dicklyon was arguing the side of capitalizing Cuban Missile Crisis he'd run rings around everyone who wants it kept lower-case. I've asked him to take that side of the nomination as well, so voters have the best evidence available provided by people who know how to dig up and post data without taking a side. The topic, Cuban Missile Crisis (or Cuban missile crisis), seems important enough to do that. Guess I don't see Wikipedia as an us-against-them battlefield, like a prosecution team, but a place where the full evidence combined with a large dose of common sense gets picked over and analyzed from all points of view by everyone involved. And I am serious, Dicklyon is so good at this stuff - at making his side seem like the only side which can be tolerated - that once in a blue moon he really should be encouraged to provide full research on both sides of some questions, research undertaken with an equal determination, so that a better chance for fair consensus can be reached. Randy Kryn 1:20 9 January, 2015 (UTC)
So far I haven't seen a lot of evidence that my ability to construct a logical and persuasive argument, based in data and guidelines, is a particularly winning strategy. The "fist-shaking" as SMcCandlish called it, of zealots who are sure they are right seems to work about as well. See for example Talk:Pottawatomie Massacre#Requested move. But if you want some tips on my style, try making arguments relative to our consensus policy and guideline pages, supported by data. It might work, or might not. Dicklyon (talk) 01:30, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
Maybe that's the problem in this whole question. To say that a title that's not "consistent" (i.e. used by everyone everywhere) is automatically lowercased seems odd and quite unfair. I'll go back to Cuban Missile Crisis, which the majority of sources capitalize - but according to strict Wikipedia policy if not every source does, then it's an automatic lower case. That's the hole in the glazed donut. The policy (or guideline) is so weighted in favor of lower-case (well, the Iowa Daily Sun doesn't capitalize it, sorry, not consistent. Well, that's exaggerating, but makes a point) that it seems a fixed game from the start. And very unfair in that it does boil down to a legal standard, and not a common sense standard. I'm one of those who lean towards common sense nearly every time, if something is used as a proper name by a large percentage of people, and they can explain why something should be seen as a proper name, then they are onto something which shouldn't be ignored or discarded. And look at the number of people posting on these things, it seems these policies and votes are controlled by an extremely tiny number of people, most of whom have axes to grind and a set-in-stone position to uphold. You can fit the number of people who vote or discuss these things into a single row of classroom chairs. So you, upholding what you see as policy and others see as guidelines which should be applied with common sense, always have to argue and present data on the side of lower-casing rather than making exceptions and coming down on the side of capitalizing what a large percentage of people see as proper names. I now see that Wikipedia has something broken, and yes, it's broken enough that it does hurt the general public perception of world-changing events (at least when we get into votes on pages which are recognized as world-changing events). That's why you can't support a move back to capitalization on a page like Cuban missile crisis (named to look as if missile crisis' were a dime a dozen), because of a strict adherence to a few words on guideline pages. If I'm in the ballpark with this analysis, why not expand the acceptance level of proper names a little to include things that somebutnotall experts in the field (for Cuban Missile Crisis, experts like the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the Library of Congress, the U.S. State Department, etc. and etc. and etc.) see as important enough to capitalize. Randy Kryn 2:32 9 January, 2015 (UTC)
Maybe your strategy of just making stuff, as if it were true, works well enough that you should just stick with it. Things like "Cuban Missile Crisis, which the majority of sources capitalize". Who's going to notice that it's just BS? Dicklyon (talk) 05:50, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
I will ask for an apology, and expect you to apologize. What an uncivil and inaccurate post. Although maybe the Library of Congress may be inaccurate [EDIT: no, I was right about the Library of Congress too I was thinking of the National Archives. Randy Kryn 6:00 9 January, 2015 (UTC)
Calling you on your BS was about the quoted comment, not about those particular sources, which I have not checked. But you have not shown any reason to believe "the majority of sources capitalize", have you? Dicklyon (talk) 06:05, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
I edited my post above yours, the Library of Congress capitalizes too. Your own ngrams show the majority of those sources, at least, capitalize. A quick search engine search finds the majority capitalize, although major magazines like The Atlantic use lower-case, as does the New York Times inconsistently (it's odd the Times has both upper and lower case, the paper of record creates a contradictory record). I haven't spent hours researching this, so my quote was from a quick and common sense look at the sources mentioned (and a quick but not exhaustive look at the references on the page - if you exclude the early 1960s and '70s references, and many of those may be mixed as well, I haven't checked every one). We both are on the edge or over the edge of Wikipedian civility, but when I am called a liar, and this has occurred several times now, I certainly must take issue and both deny that I've lied and ask for said apology. Doesn't mean you have to give it, just that I take that accusation very seriously and try to live my life, both online and offline, abiding in truth. Randy Kryn 6:24 9 January, 2015 (UTC)
And look at the Cuban missile crisis page itself at Primary sources, Lesson plans and External links. I don't know if Primary sources on a Wikipedia page mean something other than Primary sources, but if not, capitalization seems to hold. Randy Kryn 6:47 9 January, 2015 (UTC)
Randy, I don't have to refute ALL of your BS, but I did look at the first item in each of Primary sources, Lesson plans and External links, as well as Further reading and Historiiography. I found that that the first external link treats Cuban Missile Crisis as a proper name (or maybe not, since they also capitalize Missile Crisis alone in their text, suggesting a style of capitalizing important terms whether they are proper names or not), but the first ref in each of the other four sections do not; they either have it lowercase in their text, or in the case of the lesson plan, do not have it in their text at all. So I am missing your point. Show us what you're finding. Dicklyon (talk) 16:08, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
More BS, where you say, "Your own ngrams show the majority of those sources, at least, capitalize." I have no idea what you're saying here, which n-gram stats you refer to, or why you think they can count sources. The n-grams count occurrences; and the occurence counts favor lower case when they are constructed to favor sentences over titles. Simpler n-gram counts tend to have a strong bias toward uppercase, for various reasons. For example, some books with Cuban Missile Crisis in the title will have hundreds of uppercase occurrences, from the tops of every other page, and relatively fewer lowercase occurrences in sentences, yet they are examples of sources that use lowercase (e.g. this book). The opposite is not possible. Many citations to book and paper titles also contribute to the uppercase count more than to the lowercase counts, yet have no real bearing on the question of how many sources treat it as a proper name. Dicklyon (talk) 16:24, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm not going to answer Dicklyon directly on this, as he continues to call me a liar. Would someone else look at the Cuban missile crisis page and check out the Primary Sources section, the Lesson plans section, and the External links and report back. Maybe Dicklyon knows if he goes more into those he'd disprove his own point, maybe he doesn't (so can someone else look, so he can call you a liar too? Thanks). Some of the pages, like this one from the State Department, are on pages within the page-linked material. The lesson plan Dicklyon mentions is also from the State Department, and does not mention the name at all in what he calls the text, but lists it on every one of the five pages of the plan as the title. I have looked at as many of the Primary sources, Lesson plans, and External links as my software allows (I don't have Adobe), and to me they strongly strengthen the case for capitalization - and I would think if Dicklyon was arguing that side of the question he'd be shining a spotlight on those three sections. I have not been familiar with ngrams until recently, so I may have misspoke by calling them sources. His link here at 6:10 on January 7, and his ngram links at the talk page discussion on the move request, do show an upper case prominence, even with the addition of extra words in the listings (his January 7 ngram link in this discussion shows the trend is moving further to upper case over the years, although the data cuts off years ago). This has taken a lot of time, and it now seems to be a two person discussion, so I'd prefer, as mentioned, if someone else can go over the page sections I raised. Thanks. Randy Kryn 17:12 9 January, 2015 (UTC)
Randy, you continue to assert without evidence that "to me they strongly strengthen the case for capitalization", and plead not having enough time to back that up, even though I've taken the time to show where your assertions about source usage are false. This is BS. Did I say you lie? No; but BULLSHIT is what it is. Dicklyon (talk) 18:43, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes but you act like there are no sources that promote capital letters when many sources do in fact and continue to increase. Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 00:41, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
OK, now YOU are lying. I have always been up front in noting that close to half of sources DO capitalize it. Where have I acted otherwise? Dicklyon (talk) 00:56, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
It's in your tone. Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 01:13, 10 January 2015 (UTC)


@ Dicklyon your wrote It's right up on top: "Use common sense in applying it; it will have occasional exceptions." where in the AT policy or naming conventions does it say that? -- It has long been known that common sense does not exist as a concept with the wide and diverse membership on Wikipedia. In England it is common sense at night on a narrow road to walk on the right so that one faces the oncoming traffic (to see and be seen), but if it is common sense in England it is not common sense in Canada. -- PBS (talk) 10:16, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
@Randy Kryn you wrote above "but according to strict Wikipedia policy if not every source does, then it's an automatic lower case." how can you possibly draw that conclusion from the AT policy section "Use commonly recognizable names" (WP:UCRN) which has two sentences that say "Wikipedia prefers the name that is most commonly used (as determined by its prevalence in reliable English-language sources) as such names will be the most recognizable and the most natural." and "Wikipedia does not necessarily use the subject's "official" name as an article title; it prefers to use the name that is most frequently used to refer to the subject in English-language reliable sources." -- PBS (talk) 10:16, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
  • I'm right with Dicklyon on his calling out of the BS factor here. Tony (talk) 07:18, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

I don't see how Dicklyon and User:Tony1 can argue as they are and simultaneously support the addition of "Note that the preference for common names does not indicate that titles should necessarily be styled as they are found in other sources." to this policy, because I think that the adoption of the proposed wording undermines the arguments Dicklyon puts forward. -- PBS (talk) 09:51, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

I don't think it undermines it at all. That phrase basically says it's not about a vote of sources. What we look to sources for is information about proper name status. If sources capitalize reasonably consistently, then we treat it as a proper; if they don't, we don't. If a mere majority capitalize, that's not enough; that's how it has always been on WP. But with many of the current cases being argued, that's not even the issue, since a majority use lowercase; the BS is from the people who want to capitalize anyway, and want to ignore a proper analysis of sources in the process. Look at the data and the arguments in the recently closed RM at Talk:Pottawatomie Massacre, or at any of the open RMs, for examples of what I mean. Dicklyon (talk) 17:29, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Totally agree with Dicklyon's explanation of how we should use an examination of source usage to determine if something is a proper name (or not) - where the two of us probably disagree is on where we draw the line as to what is "reasonably consistent" ... I suspect he draws the line much closer to "unanimous" usage than I do.) I take this one step further... I think an examination of source usage is how we should determine all "stylized name" issues. Blueboar (talk) 19:21, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
The only thing that can prove if something is proper is if it fits in dictionary definitions of proper nouns. So why the hell did you shoot down my claims for that on other pages? Eric - Contact me please. I prefer conversations started on my talk page if the subject is changed 22:43, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Sigh... There isn't a 1:1 relationship between whether noun phrases are proper and whether they are capitalized. The simplest (but not universal) test for a count noun phrase being proper is that it is correctly used without a determiner, whereas if not proper it requires one. Thus "John" in "There's John" is a proper noun because no determiner is allowed ("There's the John" is wrong) whereas "man" in "There's the man" is a common noun because a determiner is required ("There's man" is wrong). On the basis of this test, phrases like "page 3" or "chapter 7" are clearly proper noun phrases. "It's on page 3" and "It's in chapter 7" are correct; "It's on the page 3" or "It's in the chapter 7" are wrong. Yet today it has become uncommon to capitalize "Page 3" or "Chapter 7" in these contexts (although it used to be the norm, at least in the UK). Furthermore there are distinct differences in capitalization conventions between the variants of English and between different publications within a given variant, regardless of the properness of the noun phrase. (In the UK for example The Telegraph capitalizes more than The Guardian, so the former writes "the French Parliament" whereas the latter writes "the French parliament"). So, sadly, "dictionary definitions" don't help. Publications, including Wikipedia, need a house style if they are to achieve any kind of consistency. Rightly or wrongly, the English Wikipedia seems to have decided on maximum decapitalization. Peter coxhead (talk) 16:16, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
And just to make things even more confusing... there is Page 3. Blueboar (talk) 19:10, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Comments: I think I need some "extra" explaining on that one. While John is certainly a proper noun, a specific person, the White House (specific and unique when referring to the Presidents "house") is a proper noun, a specific place, and one wouldn't say "I went to White House". As for as the example of "page 3 and "chapter 7"; The previous sentence would set up "It's in chapter 3.". Example: "Do you know where the Belgian draft horse is located (in this book)?"; "It's (the Belgian draft horse) on page 3 of chapter 7.". This is certainly not a Wikipedia thing as I do not recall ever seeing a common count noun being capitalized and a proper "count noun" is not "usually" questioned. The 3 eaglets in the nest will hopefully grow up to be 3 Bald eagles.".
I am not that old though, being born after the invention of jet aircraft but before space flight, so I may not be up to date on very historical usage. I am also not a specialist on British or Canadian usage but I think some editors try to over-complicate things. If a word (or noun phrase is not a specific person or unique entity, I do NOT capitalize it. "IF" a word is a group or class entity I do NOT capitalize it. "IF" I can not identify a word or noun phrase (denoting proper or common) I do NOT capitalize it. "Belgian" is a proper noun, a specific breed of horse, and "draft horse" is NOT a proper noun, as it is a class of horse among several. This means that on those "names" (entities), that are not so clear, we can follow a "rule" that if it is NOT an obvious proper noun do not capitalize. Then, in a perfect world (IKR!!) it would mean we would need to look at references (source) to determine common usage when the use is contested. AT that point the burden would be on the person contesting the usage. I realize that would be far too simple and we probably would never want that so it is just a thought. I hope that there is "common knowledge" that prevalence means "common" right? Otr500 (talk) 03:36, 16 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Any proposal that opens with "Wikipedians refuse to realize this" in the first couple of sentences is just noise and can be safely ignored. Cf. WP:DFTT.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:53, 17 January 2015 (UTC)

Why avoid quotation marks in article titles?[edit]

§ Article title format instructs, “Do not enclose titles in quotes,” including for minor work titles like songs and TV episodes—why not? The only reason that comes to mind is they would interfere with alphabetical sorting, where such titles would be listed under " rather than under the first letter, but surely that’s a solvable problem. Are there other reasons? (Note that I’m asking about the actual name of the article affected by page moves, not WP:DISPLAYTITLE.) — (talk) 03:53, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

See the RFC discussion that is linked to in the thread immediately above your querry. I have not read all the back and forth, but apparently there are lots of issues involved. Blueboar (talk) 14:44, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
That discussion is about presentation, not page names. I thought my parenthetical note drew the distinction. — (talk) 19:04, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
To clarify my question: Why isn’t Let It Be (an article about a Beatles song) located at "Let It Be"? Why was this decision made? — (talk) 19:07, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
I answered on the RfC, but summarizing: the quotes are used as markup (in running text) to denote the type of title. The quotes cannot be (and were never considered as such) part of the title for obvious technical reasons, like sorting, categorizing and searching (no one would enter the title with quotes). -- [[User:Edokter]] {{talk}} 20:29, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
I may be misremembering ... but it may have been due to the fact that the title of an article is used as part of the URL for the page... in the early days of WP, there were often technical limitations on (or at least concerns about) what characters we could use in our titles without screwing up the coding of the URL. Whether these limitation are still valid I would not know. Blueboar (talk) 13:01, 14 January 2015 (UTC)
Erm, aside from that, it would be very nonstandard and idiosyncratic to have quote marks as part of section titles -- other publications, including encyclopedias, don't do this -- as well as unnecessary and probably confusing, except in cases where quotation marks are intended as part of the title. We use quotation marks (in some cases) and italics (in other cases) within the body of the text mainly in the interests of clarity. It's not just a random decision. Consider which of the following can be scanned and understood more quickly:
  • Let it Be was a song on the album Let it Be.
  • "Let it Be" was a song on the album Let it Be.
The latter is easier to scan. However, adding quotes to the title of the article would not serve the purpose of clarity or anything else, which is on reason that (on almost all albums, books of poetry, and whatnot) the individual entries are not in quotes. That is, the track listing for the album Let it Be lists the song a *Let it Be not *"Let it Be" and so forth. Herostratus (talk) 17:07, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
It would not be completely without merit to use them in titles in Wikipedia, which is a general-purpose encyclopedia: they could be useful to distinguish titles of works from general terms at a glance. However, readers hardly get to articles by means of a random page, so the context (and reading the first sentence) easily clarifies the topic of the article. I agree, however, that the benefits would not outweigh the complications. No such user (talk) 18:24, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

Quote marks are technically possible in page names: The link to quoted page name "A" connects a different page than the link to letter 'A'. One of the worst limitations is for musical sharp notes, such as "C#" linking to letter "C" due to the problem of the hashmark (pound sign '#') treated as a blank section title, rather than the final character of the pagename. The current use of quotation marks in article titles is one of many thousands of problems among WP's current 4,706,663 articles. -Wikid77 (talk) 00:58, 21 January 2015 (UTC)