Wikipedia talk:Article titles/Archive 25

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Descriptive titles again

I put in a shortened form of the change I proposed earlier for descriptive titles of:

A descriptive title may also be used for a currently unfolding controversy to ensure the article reflects a neutral point of view

and it was reverted with:

a descriptive title may also" Not always it depends, generally it is not true, and the word may can be taken to mean that permission is given

I don't understand the objection. The express purpose is to show that permission is give as this describes something that is done and passes Afd on a fairly regular basis. Dmcq (talk) 01:51, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

I would suggest: "A neutral descriptive title may also be used for an article on a currently unfolding controversy or event, unless reliable sources indicate that there is a widely accepted proper name for the controversy or event (in which case that proper name should be used as the title)."
We want to impress upon our editors that we should never insert our own POV when naming our articles... That cuts both ways. We don't use a non-neutral title unless the sources do... but when they do, then so do we. Blueboar (talk) 02:53, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
That's almost the complete opposite of what happens and what I was saying. Using the example of Naming the American Civil War since it is not current to show the problem, during the war it would have been called either 'War of the Rebellion" or "War for Southern Independence' if Wikipedia was around at the time. The Northern version would probably have prevailed by a vote saying it was the more common name. The problem is that a title very often does not express both sides of a conflict and is inherently POV. Commonname in effect says we should choose a partisan name in such cases. This doesn't matter too much when the controversy is over and the history books say that is the common name, but for a topic which is currently unfolding doing this just leads to trouble on Wikipedia. This is to support NPOV in the article otherwise you get forks and edit wars before you even get to writing content in the article itself. What you wrote would disallow consensus about the title and stop development of the article. Dmcq (talk) 13:22, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
While the Civil War was raging, the majority of sources on both sides simply called it "the War". Better examples are the Boston Massacre or the Peterloo Massacre. These name were being routinely used within days of the events. Blueboar (talk) 13:33, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
This policy should be compatible with NPOV#Article_titles which I just spotted again. This is referenced in this section and it covers what I was going on about but I missed the reference. I think it should be emphasised a bit better. Dmcq (talk) 14:34, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
My point exactly. Blueboar (talk) 14:49, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
Your suggested wording said exactly the opposite of the NPOV policy as far as I can make out Dmcq (talk) 15:46, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
How so?... my suggested language is based on the last paragraph of NPOV#Article titles, which indicates that if there is a commonly used proper name for a topic we should use it... even if that proper name seems non-neutral. Blueboar (talk) 17:11, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
You're right, I misread that. That flatly contradicts what this policy has with 'Attorneygate' or the decision not to use 'Climategate' plus a number of other decisions that have been decided the other way. I think there needs to be a bit of resolution of this point. Personally I think one could use Attorneygate now if it still is the common name but doing what it says for currently developing disputes generally leads to very grave trouble with the article. Dmcq (talk) 17:37, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
I think there is a good argument that "Attorneygate" never caught on in enough sources for us to claim that there is a consensus of sources using it as a proper name... "Climategate" is currently a borderline situation... as more and more sources use it, that name is in the process of gaining a consensus usage as a proper name (the question being... where do we draw the line?). The point behind the final paragraph of NPOV#Article titles is that there comes a time when not using a name that has wide usage in the sources becomes a POV action on our part. We should not set our own feelings about what something should be called over rule what the sources say. Blueboar (talk) 18:18, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
The -gate names also have the disadvantage of being slangy. A respectable reference work can be expected to use formal names. WhatamIdoing (talk) 18:35, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
True (although as a suffix, it has started to appear in standard dictionaries)... but sometimes a name that started as slang becomes the formal name. "Jack the Ripper" started as a slang name coined by the London tabloid press, after all. Blueboar (talk) 19:17, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
BB has been putting forward my POV, which is the reason I have not replied. But two points, the first is we are not a paper encyclopaedia, so yes we may call something -gate if that is the name given to a political scandal in the short to medium term in reliable sources if in the longer term other "respectable reference work[s]" use other terms then we can move the page to the new title if that is appropriate. The second is given the information in NPOV and this thread, I am not convinced that any additional wording is needed in this policy. -- PBS (talk) 22:23, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

This doesn't strike me as particularly complex. Neutrality is non-negotiable. There are two ways to achieve neutrality. If there is an accepted name for the topic, it is neutral to use it. If all names are biased (not in our opinion, but in their usage in reliable sources: each name is adopted by a particular party to reflect their POV; e.g. "right to live" versus "right to choose"), then we have to construct a neutral name ourselves. What Dmcq is driving at is that it is sometimes not easy, in the early stages of a controversial current event, to figure out whether, and to what extent, a name is accepted. This is true, but I think it is unnecessary and unwieldy to talk about controversial current events here.

I would advise some guidance along the lines of what I've just written: that we don't use biased names; that we assess bias by breadth of usage in reliable sources; and that if no names cut the mustard we will construct our own.

Hesperian 01:33, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

I don't think it is that simple, take for example Liancourt Rocks we chose a name used in reliable sources (and one where that the library of congress wanted to follow where we had led), but if a neutral name did not exist, I don't think we should have made up our own description, rather we should look at the quality of the sources that use the alternative terms and decide which of (in this case two) is the most commonly used in reliable sources (besides if the names have a bias, then usually at least some reliable sources will use a neutral term). If not then better to choose between them, eg use either at Burma or Myanmar than some neutral construct like "The country on the coast between Thailand and Bangladesh". -- PBS (talk) 02:23, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Hmmmm.... "The Church with the Pope"... ? ... nah. Blueboar (talk) 03:36, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
But there are neutral sources out there, right? Do they call it "The Church with the Pope"? No? They've adopted one of the "biased" names, for convenience, without intending any bias in doing so, right? Hesperian 04:31, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Hesperian, but suspect that PBS isn't wrong either, since in practice, there will (assuming it's a notable subject) always be neutral sources that have their own way of naming something. In other words, we shouldn't have to "construct our own name" (i.e. use a descriptive title) for things which have a name - there will always be neutral sources that we can follow. The only time we need to construct names is when the subject of the article is not some named thing, but some aspect of one or more named things that we find convenient to address on a separate page. In fact the example we currently give in the policy is patently wrong (at least in its phrasing) - "Attorneygate" (if used) would not be a "descriptive title", so the logic was not "uh-oh, descriptive title needed for this one, better make it neutral", it was "Attorneygate, don't like that name, let's use a descriptive title instead". But if Attorneygate was wrong because it was not used in neutral sources, then people should have at least looked to see what term the neutral sources did use instead, and use that, rather than making something up.--Kotniski (talk) 08:14, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Yep. The descriptive title is only proper if biased sources use "Attorneygate" and neutral sources don't use a name at all. Theoretically this could occur, but in practice neutral sources will surely use a name. Either they will use "Attorneygate" too, or they will use some other name. The name used by neutral sources should be used regardless. Hesperian 09:34, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

In fact, the "tsunami" example (assuming it's even valid - is "tidal wave" really still more common?) doesn't belong in that section either - it's nothing to do with descriptive titles. Some rearrangement is clearly required around that part of the page.--Kotniski (talk) 08:20, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

Which I have made a first attempt at doing with my edits just now.--Kotniski (talk) 08:42, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
I have taken it a bit further... removing the attorneygate example completely... and creating a new sub-section on choosing between descriptive titles and common names... which incorporates what is stated at WP:NPOV#Article titles. Blueboar (talk) 14:01, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree with including the material from WP:NPOV#Article titles, but I absolutely don't agree with taking out the "Attorneygate" example. We should at all costs avoid political nicknames as being both non-descriptive and non-neutral. On the non-descriptive side, -gate snowclones are completely uninformative about the subject matter. A case in point - what would you think the nickname "Spygate" was about? It's been applied to four different controversies in as many years. "Attorneygate" tells you merely that it's something to do with attorneys. Each of those nicknames requires some prior knowledge of what the underlying subject matter is. Someone who had never heard of the "Dismissal of US Attorneys controversy" could tell you from that article title, without reading the article, that it was a controversy about the dismissal of US Attorneys. "Attorneygate" by itself is meaningless unless you already know the context. Likewise "Betsygate", "Pinotgate" and any number of other -gates.
Second, the fundamental problem with -gate nicknames is that they are inherently non-neutral. Read -gate: "The suffix is used to embellish a noun or name to suggest the existence of a far-reaching scandal. As a CBC News Online column noted in 2001, the term may "suggest unethical behaviour and a cover-up"." Using such terminology biases an article from the outset - it adopts the terminology used by one side in a controversy. It often prejudges the outcome of a controversy, casting it as a "far-reaching scandal" even if it turns out to be nothing of the sort. The -gate suffix is a political weapon used by one side to tar the other with guilt by association (William Safire set the pattern by coining dozens of -gate terms for every minor controversy affecting Democrats). Removing this prohibition will result in endless fights between partisans. One of the reasons why it was adopted in the first place was to avoid such quarrels.
Third, removing this prohibition ignores the fact that the media has different goals from an encyclopedia. Headline writers and journalists like -gate nicknames because they're snappy, they cut down on word counts and (often) because the nickname advances the political goals of the media outlet. (For instance, The Sun came up with "Betsygate" to attack the wife of the British Conservative leader at a time when the newspaper was opposed to the Tories. Similarly Democrat outlets came up with "Attorneygate" to attack the Republicans.) We're meant to be neutral and we're not aiming for sensationalist headlines or article titles. -- ChrisO (talk) 14:41, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
I think this "-gate" thing has become so hackneyed that people (or at least, neutral reliable people, which are the only ones we're suggesting following) now use it in a rather tongue-in-cheek way, and it doesn't imply any actual serious wrongdoing. As far as I'm concerned, if we reject a name like "Climategate" it's more because it's the wrong register than because it's not neutral. (Though I know a lot of people wouldn't agree with me on that.)--Kotniski (talk) 15:08, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, it's hackneyed and tiresomely unoriginal (the example of Spygate is a case in point) but that doesn't mean it doesn't have political impact. It's fundamentally about framing - creating a pattern of thought which, through repetition, becomes established as the common narrative. It's a standard approach for public relations professionals. I strongly suggest that you read Framing (social sciences)#Politics, which highlights the importance of terminology in shaping a narrative. -- ChrisO (talk) 15:31, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Chris, you miss the point here. Your concerns would be valid if we were to create our own descriptive title containing "-gate" ... but that is not what we are talking about. Titles such as "Attorneygate", "Climategate", "Spygate", Betsygate etc. are not descriptive titles, they are proper names ... no different than Tea Pot Dome scandal, Boston massacre, Peterloo massacre, or Jack the Ripper. According to WP:NPOV#Article titles, when a name is used by a consensus of sources then we should use it. The only question is whether that name is used by a limited group, or by a consensus of sources.
WP:NPOV#Article titles makes it clear that it does not matter whether a proper name is non-neutral or contains non-neutral terms or suffixes... proper names are often non-neutral... the term "massacre" is non-neutral... so is the term "scandal"... so is the term "ripper". What matters is whether the name is used by a consensus of sources. If so we should use that name... if not, then we are free to use other names (or, to invent a descriptive title of our own).
Now, there is a good argument to be made that most "-gate" names have not achieved the level of acceptance and usage required to say that there is a consensus of sources. That is a valid argument. But to say that we should not use them because they are non-neutral is not a valid argument. To put it bluntly: Proper names do not need to be neutral.
To be honest, I don't particularly like the "-gate" suffix myself. I think it is way over used... but... the heart of NPOV is that we should not let our personal POV about things impact our writing. We should not impose our own POV over that of the sources. In other words... when a consensus of sources uses a "-gate" name, it is POV on our part to reject it. Blueboar (talk) 15:38, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
The flaw in that logic is that -gate names are not proper names. They're fundamentally different from all of the other examples you mention. "Tea Pot Dome scandal" was a scandal about a place called Tea Pot Dome. The Boston and Peterloo massacres were mass killings at those places. Those are descriptive names. "Jack the Ripper" in a different category; it's a personal nickname coined by the person who claimed to be the infamous serial killer. -gate names are in a different category again; they're not proper names but neologisms coined to convey a specific political message. A scandal or a massacre is a generic thing. An Attorneygate or a Spygate is not. Adopting a political neologism is, as I've said above, fundamentally incompatible with NPOV's requirement for article titles "to exhibit the highest degree of neutrality", since it immediately adopts the narrative of one side in a controversy. As NPOV says, "Neutral titles encourage multiple viewpoints." Adopting one viewpoint at the outset is a fundamental contradiction of this principle. -- ChrisO (talk) 15:57, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
But if neutral sources are adopting that narrative (which is the situation we're suggesting), then it's un-neutral of us to reject it.--Kotniski (talk) 16:14, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
If neutral sources are adopting one side's narrative, then they're not neutral, are they? -- ChrisO (talk) 16:22, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Sources do not need to be neutral... we do. Blueboar (talk) 16:23, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Sometimes one "side" is simply right. We can't make that judgement ourselves, but if unbiased reliable sources are consistently making it, then we can and should follow.--Kotniski (talk) 16:36, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Kotniski, I think a better way to put it would be: "independent sources". Blueboar (talk) 18:20, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

"The flaw in that logic is that -gate names are not proper names." I see some wriggling here ChrisO :-) What about the use of Whig party from the nickname that came about because of the Whiggamore Raid or the Tory party party named after some Irish terrorists freedom fighters pursued men? -- PBS (talk) 20:24, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

Avoiding duplication with WP:NPOV

Since we're rapidly reaching a situation where we have sections on two different pages striving to say exactly the same thing, I've made a suggestion on what to do about it at WT:NPOV#Neutrality and article titles. Please comment there.--Kotniski (talk) 19:13, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

Bad titles

User:B9 hummingbird hovering has been creating many articles with titles such as Sixfold Expanse of Samantabhadra (kun tu bzang po klong drug). I have asked him/her to stop, based on my interpretation of WP:Article titles and WP:MoS. S/he has refused. Who is correct? Abductive (reasoning) 08:33, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

WP:CSD#A1 applies. I will support you if it needs to go to AfD. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 08:36, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
It may come to that. Abductive (reasoning) 08:57, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
I think that it does not matter what you call an article if it is not a notable topic; if it has not been the subject of reliable, third party sources then it is questionable whether (a) the topic exists at all (other than in the minds of a few individuals) and, even if it does, (b) whether it is suitable for inclusion in Wikipedia as as standalone topic. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 11:30, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Descriptive titles and neutrality

Blueboar & Kotniski what do you think were the advantages to the changes you made that ChrisO reversed? ChrisO what did you see as the detrimental changes in their collective edits? -- PBS (talk) 19:34, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Please see my comments below. Specifically, the removal of the deprecation of polemical nicknames for current affairs. -- ChrisO (talk) 20:47, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

POV and proper names

If Chris O is correct in his assertion that proper names must be neutral... we should change the titles of the following:


I would go on... but that would be pointy. Blueboar (talk) 20:21, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

You're misrepresenting the focus of my concern. I was specifically expressing a concern at your attempt to remove the long-standing deprecation of -gate nicknames. The examples you give are nothing to do with that. The first two are book titles (so of course we use those), the third is a long-standing historical name and the fourth is a long-standing common name. They do not present problems because they are (in the first two instances) the names of particular works and (in the latter two instances) long-standing names about which there is no controversy. What I am specifically focusing on is the use of polemical nicknames about current affairs. Avoiding these in article titles has been a convention on Wikipedia since well before you became an editor. I suggest that the solution we should be looking at is some approach which specifically tackles that issue. -- ChrisO (talk) 20:47, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

AFAICT the section on descriptive names was added with this very big edit on 9 October 2009. As I have said elsewhere I do not think that replicating wording between two policies is a good idea, as it leads to problems over which is that authentic text ..., however that is a different problem from the on you are describing here ChrisO, if this section did not exist before October last year where was the prohibition on using -gate prior to that? -- PBS (talk) 21:24, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

No, it's been around for a lot longer than that. The edit you highlight is a merge from somewhere else. The confusion is understandable - this page has been hacked around so much in the last 6 months that it's hard to tell where all the pieces of it came from. The deprecation of -gate names was originally part of Wikipedia:Naming conventions, which was merged into this page, and it's been a standing convention since at least the start of 2006. I'm not sure when it was codified into policy - I believe some time around 2006-07 - but it's certainly been standing practice for over four years. I recall discussions at the start of 2006 about the White House travel office controversy, which some editors wanted to call Travelgate, but which was given a neutral descriptive title in accordance with what was already a well-established convention even at that early date. (And a good thing too; "Travelgate" was later reused for a South African political controversy.) As I said, the issue is specifically about the use of polemical nicknames for current (or in that particular case, recent) events. This is distinct from Blueboar's contention that "proper names must be neutral". We're talking about a much more narrowly defined issue - specifically that of polemical nicknames. -- ChrisO (talk) 21:39, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
This is page is not a merge with Wikipedia:Naming conventions is was a rename through a page move. The edit on the 9 October (which I have highlighted above) merged several guidelines into this policy page, in principle I supported that merge, but in the merge Kotniski made an editorial judgement on what to include. He missed out the "-gate guidance" which was in Wikipedia:Naming conflict. Until this week I had not thought through the implication of moving a guidance recommendation into this policy page and the potential conflict with NPOV, and until you raised it I don't think anyone who regularly edits this page had considered the "-gate guidance". For ease of use here is what Naming conflict said:
Descriptive names
See Wikipedia:Neutral point of view#Article naming
Where articles have descriptive names, the given name must be neutrally worded and must not carry POV implications.
For instance, a recent political controversy in the United States was nicknamed "Attorneygate" by critics of the George W. Bush administration. The article discussing the controversy is, however, at the more neutrally worded title Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy. A descriptive article title should describe the subject without passing judgment, implicitly or explicitly, on the subject.
See Wikipedia:Words to avoid for further advice on potentially controversial terminology.
--PBS (talk) 22:29, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for tracking down the original text. Note that "Attorneygate" broke in December 2006. The use of "recent controversy" clearly indicates that the codification of the -gate deprecation came shortly afterwards, probably in response to a dispute over the title of Dismissal of US Attorneys controversy. As I said, though, it was already common practice well before then. -- ChrisO (talk) 22:45, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Chris, you continue to miss the point: "-gate" is not a descriptive title, it is a Proper Name (yes, nicknames are also Proper Names... for example Bill is a nickname for William). Proper names are not required to be neutral.... that goes for proper names that end in "-gate" just as much as any other proper name. To be used as a Wikipedia title, a non-neutral proper name requires usage by a consensus of sources. As I said before, the vast majority of events named "-gate" will not pass that test... but... if and when one does, then it becomes POV on your part to reject it. If you wish to use a "-gate" suffix name as an example of this limitation, that is fine... at least we would be doing so for the right reason. Blueboar (talk) 00:28, 30 March 2010 (UTC) (by the way... did anyone else pick up on the Paradox that a "long standing" example discusses something that is objectionable because it is apparently a "neologism".) Blueboar (talk) 01:51, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Boa Sr.

What should we call a biographical article on s.o. named Boa Sr.? Should the period be kept? The "Sr." means "senior", and the person has no last name. kwami (talk) 21:10, 23 February 2010 (UTC)

If it's just a shorthand for Senior then the title should be "Boa, Sr.", with all the punctuation. --Golbez (talk) 23:18, 23 February 2010 (UTC)
Question... is the "senior" considered part of her name, or is it more of an honorific used because of her age (or to distingish her from, say, Boa Jr.)? If the latter, a better title might be Boa (Andamanese elder)... Then in the first paragraph you can establish that she was commonly referred to as "Boa Sr." and explain why. Just a thought. Blueboar (talk) 03:00, 24 February 2010 (UTC)
Thanks! Not sure how integrated into her name it was. Wasn't sure whether to retain periods in Dr(.), Sr(.), etc, as AFAIK not covered at MOS. kwami (talk) 14:39, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

More on descriptive titles vs proper name titles

I want to expand on a distinction that I alluded to in the previous thread... the difference between our using a non-neutral term in a descriptive title and our using a non-neutral proper name.

To move us away from the "gate" debate... let's use examine another potentially non-neutral term... "massacre". We often get arguments over articles that are entitled "X massacre". There are a lot of problems with using this particular term in an article title... If no sources describes the event as a massacre then the title would violate NOR. A wikipedian has made the unsourced claim that the event was a massacre. If sources use the term "massacre" descriptively (ie if they describe the event as being a massacre) then the the use in a title is also descriptive. And it would be POV for a Wikipedian to create a non-neutral descriptive title. However, if a source uses the term as part of a name for the event (as is done with the Boston massacre), then the situation changes. It is not OR or POV to entitle an article on something with its proper name. And proper names do not need to be neutral. and if enough sources use it as a name, it becomes POV for us to reject it.

The key when it comes to titling articles is discerning who is applying the term, and whether it is being applied descriptively or as part of a name. If it is used descriptively, then we need to be neutral and not use it. If it is used as a name then we need to determine whether that name is common... and it is used by enough sources, we need to be neutral and use it ourselves. Blueboar (talk) 16:23, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I'd basically agree with that, though with a large dose of common sense; sometimes something really was a massacre, and reliable sources confirm that beyond reasonable doubt - in that situation there's nothing un-neutral in our using the word in our descriptive title.--Kotniski (talk) 16:33, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
I guess what I was saying about currently unfolding controversy was trying for this sort of thing. After things die down then if a name with 'massacre' in it is still being used then it is the name and that's that. However during the event such names start off as being descriptive. I don't quite follow the last bit about proper names though. Is 'Attorneygate' descriptive or not? I would have thought it was someone's idea of a proper name. Dmcq (talk) 16:50, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Groan lets not go there! -- For the uninitiated please see the top boxes at Talk:List of events named massacres -- Kotniski "massacre" carries far too much POV to construct an NPOV name, even more so for any of the areas where ArbCom have ruled on national disputes, for this to be left to editorial judgement (just look at Drogheda still controversial after all these years). To bring it into an area where there is recent American and British involvement should: the Second Battle of Fallujah have been listed as a massacre in the old List of massacres as the Fallujah Massacre? The same thing happens with the use of the term terrorist attack. There are usually dozens of articles written with the term "terrorist" in the title. If it is the common name for the event then we should use it, but 99 times out of 100 within a short time event events like "9/11" do not end up with the word terrorist in the name in most reliable sources. It is because of this phenomenon (reliable sources tending to use non bias names), or over time the name looses it capacity to shock, that usually the common name in reliable sources is the best fit for Wikipedia articles and we do not need to consider NPOV most of the time. -- PBS (talk) 20:57, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
I would agree that "-gates" are different... they are always coined as proper names. I suppose one could argue that if a Wikipedian were to coin a new and original "-gate" title for an article (one not used in sources) then he/she is using the suffix descriptively (ie describing the event as a "gate" type scandal)... such a title should, however, be challenged as being an OR neologism, so it does not really matter whether it is descriptive or not.
As for "Attorneygate", it certainly is used by the sources as a proper name. So, it does not matter whether "Attorneygate" is POV... what matters is whether it is a name that enjoys the "consensus of the sources"... is it used by enough sources that we can call it the accepted common name for the event? I would agree that this is doubtful. Blueboar (talk) 18:13, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
Again, you're missing the point. It is a nickname and a neologism, often in such cases coined by partisans to convey a specific political message and frame an issue in a particular way. Adopting such a nickname is a fundamental violation of NPOV's requirement to exhibit "the highest degree of neutrality". In this circumstance, blindly following what sources say is not the way forward, because Wikipedia has an additional requirement - that of neutrality - which sources do not. A media outlet using "Attorneygate" (or any other -gate nickname) is not under any obligation to present an issue neutrally. We are. That's the difference, which you haven't taken into account. And as I've said before, using -gate nicknames is also fundamentally non-descriptive - they tell you little or nothing about what the issue is.
You also need to consider the practical effects of removing this prohibition. -gate nicknames were deprecated in the first place because they provoked a huge amount of partisan fighting between editors. There was a lot of controversy about whether the dismissal of US attorneys controversy should be titled Attorneygate (which Democrats favoured) or whether the Killian documents controversy should be titled Rathergate (which Republicans favoured). Deprecating -gate nicknames had the effect of making both sides agree on a descriptive title that did not favour either side's POV. The -gate nicknames were still used for redirects, so nobody lost out. This practice has been in place, stable and working well for a long time. If it's not broken why change it and go back to the bad old days?
The bottom line is that you are proposing a major change to a long-standing, well-understood and effective approach, which will result in very disruptive wrangles across a range of articles. It needs much more exposure than it has had here and I don't think it's acceptable for one or two editors to decide such a change by themselves. At the very least, it needs to be specifically highlighted and discussed on Wikipedia talk:Neutral point of view. I might be amenable to a solution that continued to deprecate -gate nicknames, but I strongly oppose any attempt to lift this deprecation. -- ChrisO (talk) 19:20, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I most definitely am proposing a major change to long standing policy... I am proposing that we change this policy so that it conforms with an even longer standing core policy... WP:NPOV. This isn't about the term Attorneygate. There are lots of reasons why "Attorneygate" should not be the title of that particular article (for example, you are absolutely correct when you note that "Attorneygate is a neologism... more importantly, it is a name that isn't widely used by a consensus of the sources)... but those are not the reasons discussed in the example. And the reason that is discussed in the example (that we should not use that term because the term is non-neutral) is incorrect. Because Attorneygate is a proper name, and because names can be non-neutral, the one question we don't ask is whether that name is neutral. Instead we ask other questions... especially "has the name been used by enough reliable sources for us to say that it has been adopted by a consensus of sources?" In the case of vast majority of the "-gate" names, the answer to that question is going to be "no". Blueboar (talk) 19:53, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Unless it is proposed that NPOV section on naming is moved from the NPOV article into this one (and it has fairly recently been suggested on the talk page of NPOV), I suggest we keep a short description here of the contents of that section and place a {{main}} template at the top in this policy's section to Wikipedia:NPOV#Article titles so that the wording here an not be seen as contradiction the NPOV section. -- PBS (talk) 20:57, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

I am not worried about the wording being slightly different... as long as the concepts being presented don't contradict. Blueboar (talk) 21:50, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
I am, for the same reason as with WP:ATT, one must be given the lead and the other must defer, so that it is clear which is the definitive text. Without over time they will diverge and then who is to say which is the correct guidance without yards of text and man-hours of discussions? Just look at the fun and games over "Self-identifying names" which occur(red) because there was a divergence between this policy page and a guideline, so much more fun can be had and expected when the wording of polices diverge! -- PBS (talk) 01:15, 29 March 2010 (UTC)

Further up this page I said

"[I]t makes no difference whether or not "Canadian navy" is a name or a description; so long as it is the best title according to our principles, we use it. It has previously been proposed here that we should never choose a descriptive title if a name is available. That is wrong. If a name is available but reliable sources consistently ignore it in favour of a particular descriptive phrase, then that descriptive phrase is what we should be using. You might argue that such a phrase thereby becomes a name, which only supports my assertion that the distinction is mostly spurious."

I stand by that. The distinction between name and description is spurious. If reliable sources consistently use a particular word or phrase to refer to a topic, then we do the same. If reliable sources have not settled on a particular word or phrase to refer to a topic, then we have to make something up ourselves. Arguing about whether a title is a description or a name is utterly pointless. Hesperian 23:59, 28 March 2010 (UTC)

No it is not, because NPOV covers descriptive titles it dos not cover names. If it did then we would obviously immediately move American Revolutionary War to the American war of independence, not to mention (so I am) the more blatant Patriot (American Revolution) which manages bias in both name and disambiguation extension. -- PBS (talk) 00:58, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
NPOV covers our own construction of titles in cases where neutral reliable sources do not appear to have a name for the topic. See? I can say the same thing without introducing a spurious distinction. Hesperian 01:12, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
If it were "neutral reliable sources" we would have to remove all national published sources (because they have or can be seen to have a national POV which is can be seen as not neutral) and then we would be able to have lots of descriptive names as there would be no sources at all for lots of subjects :-) We use reliable sources, and do not usually test then for their neutrality as that is a very slippery concept when it comes to deciding on the name of a subject. For example should all American sources that use the term "Patriot" be ignored in favour of the term used by English language sources such as Australian, as Australia did not take part in the conflict? Also what about a book first published in America and then published in Australia does that then go from being a biased source to a less biased source? -- PBS (talk) 01:25, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
Oh my gosh, "All editors and reliable sources have biases", we may as well give up and shut the site down! Or we could use a little more subtlety of mind than you're advocating here, and get along just fine. Hesperian 01:29, 29 March 2010 (UTC)
And the proposal that the American Revolution be titled in "neutral" Australian English is a reductio ad absurdum of the whole argument here. Australian English is not neutral on this point - although it may well be divided; furthermore, we are agreed (WP:ENGVAR is one of the few genuine agreements in the MOS) not to use it for that article. The question whether the American Revolution (or, for that matter, the Glorious Revolution) is a revolution in the sense which has prevailed since 1789 is the sort of question that we are not supposed to ask; if, outside Wikipedia, it produces a change of name, we should observe the change, and act accordingly. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:34, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

Commonly used vs. recognizable

I haven't been watch this guideline for a while; when did WP:COMMONNAME change from "most common used (in reliable sources)" to "best recognized"? — Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:49, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

It didn't. Hesperian 00:54, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
From #Deciding an article title
  • Recognizable – Using names and terms most commonly used in reliable sources, and so most likely to be recognized, for the topic of the article.
Arthur Rubin (talk) 00:57, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
Which should be the best basis for WP:COMMONNAME - which is still there as a separate paragraph. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:49, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

I see Arthur's point. We use patella rather than kneecap because reliable sources favour "patella" over "kneecap". Full stop, end of story. It is not correct to say that we follow reliable sources as a means to a recognizable end: in this case that putative end has not been achieved. Hesperian 02:04, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

No, they don't. There are other reliable sources than textbooks on anatomy. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:26, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
I think you would struggle to make a case that reliable sources favour kneecap over patella.
search term Google Web Google Books Google Scholar
patella knee 707000 3600 63800
kneecap knee 537000 2000 2400
"knee cap" 304000 1568 4380
Patella holds its own in a web search, which consists of relatively more unreliable sources; it holds its own in a book search; and it wins hands down in a scholar search. I concede that many of the articles turned up by a scholar search do not share our values with respect to accessibility, and therefore that column needs to be taken with a big grain of salt. However, I do not have to show that patella wins here; you have to show that knee cap wins. If you cannot, then my point stands that reliable sources do not serve as a means of identifying the most recognizable name. Hesperian 02:45, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
All I need to say is the obvious; that they do not favor "patella" unless one uses a search biased towards those intended for specialists; as we are not. This policy has always favored the interests of a general audience over those of specialists, in a sentence which has been phased various ways. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:00, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
The disputed sentence seems to assert that the name most commonly used in reliable sources is the name most likely to be recognised. You seem to be saying that this assertion is only true if we ignore sources that are "intended for specialists". This I will really concede. It follows that, one way or another, there is a problem with that sentence.

It is for this reason that I keep banging on about using reliable sources "that share our values". Usually I am talking about neutrality; here the value we need to check for is accessibility. Hesperian 03:18, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

The first section is phrased to discuss an ideal situation. Ideally, things like this would not happen, and the most common name would be recognizable; but that's a diagnosis, not a defense. Let's try saying that recognizable names are common in reliable sources, leaving most for CommonName below. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:45, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
I strongly object to the idea that we base our titles on sources that "share our values" (whatever that means)... or that we should discount names intended for specialists. We need to consider all reliable English language sources when determining the most commonly used name... both specialist and non-specialist sources. Neutrality requires that we do so. That said... I have no problem with PMA's change. Blueboar (talk) 13:21, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
On reflection, I think you're right. "that share our values" is not so much wrong, as redundant: the values we expect them to share with us are the very values that make them reliable. With the exception of target audience, which is moot. Hesperian 14:26, 26 March 2010 (UTC)
On the specific example: Just counting hits at your favorite web search engine on "knee cap" is going to artificially inflate hits for the lay term because of confusion with knee-capping.
The overlap between these two names is significant: Many patient-oriented sources will provide both names, as seen, e.g., here.
The relevant specific naming convention explicitly prefers names used in "recent, high-quality, English-language medical sources" to terms used in sources that, e.g., have been dumbed down for children. (These things vary, of course, but the proper names for major human bones are typically taught to 12 year olds in most of America.)
I think it is appropriate to consider all reliable sources, but I also believe that it is appropriate to give more weight to the highest quality sources. WhatamIdoing (talk) 17:39, 27 March 2010 (UTC)
Neither the OED nor the sources it cites (for "knee-cap", Thomas Huxley and Bosanquet) have been dumbed down for children. Patella has always been a technical, learned, term; knee-cap replaced knee-pan in the middle nineteenth century (the last goes back to Golding's Elizabethan Ovid). One purpose of Recognizability is to keep us from pedantry - of using Latin technica for things which have a perfectly good English name. Have we gone to a feast of languages and stolen the scraps, or are we the English wikipedia? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:33, 28 March 2010 (UTC)
No, my point is that most of the sources that use "knee cap" exclusively (without even mentioning the formal name) aren't very good sources. OED, of course, mentions both, as do many good sources.
My brief survey indicates that there are more good sources that mention "patella" without mentioning "knee cap" than there are good sources that mention "knee cap" without mentioning "patella". Low-quality sources, on the other hand (e.g., personal blogs) are far more likely to use "knee cap" than "patella". WhatamIdoing (talk) 22:56, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Using "Attorneygate" as an example

I am removing this again... I am not arguing that "Attorneygate" is an acceptable title (I agree that it isn't), but the stated reasons for why it is unacceptable are flawed. "Attorneygate" is unacceptable because that name is not used in enough reliable sources that discuss the event, not because a Wikipedia editor invented a more neutral descriptive title. Blueboar (talk) 13:05, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

What is meant by 'enough' in this context? Are we talking about absolute majorities or a majority compared to other names? Anyway what other names are there for it? I'm not quite certain what the meaning of majority is in the description of proper names. Also I'd be perfectly happy with a name like Attorneygate now if it was mentioned in post event accounts. The big problem I see is not how much a name is accepted but how much it isn't accepted which is quite a different thing, more like a blackball vote. Dmcq (talk) 13:21, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I think the choice of article title can't be made via a process of Blackballing, else it may never be possible to agree on an appropriate title at all. Also, arguing that one title is better than another is simply going to lead to a very long thread, with competing claims backed up by competing sources, and it will never be clear what consensus has been reached from such a thread.
The way I would imagine such a dispute to be resolved, in say a mediation case, is to line up, side by side, the top 10 sources (or even just the to 2 or 3 sources) supporting one article title or another, and making a comparison of the sources in terms of quality criteria listed in WP:GNG, i.e. the level signficant coverage, the reliability of the sources. Only by making such a direct comparison can an informed view be reached. So for example, if there are 100 trivial mentions of ""Attorneygate", that would not compare as well with, say, a well written academic journal that supports an alternative term to "Attorneygate" (if one exists). --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 13:47, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I agree that the standard should be "acceptance" and not "rejection". WP:NPOV uses the phrase "a consensus of reliable sources" when addressing the issue of non-neutral names. To me a "consensus" implies more than a simple majority (whether absolute or comparative) but not necessarily unanimity.
I think that the comparison to how we determine notability is apt... to some extent, the question we are determining is not only whether the topic is notable, but also whether it is notable by a particular name. Blueboar (talk) 13:59, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
I hardly think 'Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy' is a notable name compared to 'Attorneyate'! In fact I don't think notability has an awful lot to do with titles at all, a good name is nice but there's other important things that come first. Developing an article on the topic is far more important for instance than causing a holy war with the title. Especially when one can use redirects to handle the queries on other names. Dmcq (talk) 14:35, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Notability is not comparative (just as "other stuff exists" is not a valid rational for saying that X is or is not notable... saying "other names exist" is not a valid rational for saying that a particular name is or is not notable). But I think Dmcq is right... while you can make an analogy to notability, that analogy is flawed enough that we should not pursue it. Blueboar (talk) 15:58, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
In fairness, where a topic is newly emerging, then notability is going to be a factor, because there is not much source material to work from, other than news reports, whose headlines are not always the best source of titles, as headlines change as the story develops. If I was a mediator in this case, I would tend to look to weightier publications, such as published books[1] or academic reviewed journals[2], neither of which mention "Attorneygate" at all. I am not familiar with the sources in this article, and so there may be evidence going the other way, but I think article titles and notability are closely aligned, since well established topics tend to provide a wider range of sources in support of one (or two) titles.
Although the secondary sources do not seem to be of direct help either, they seem to indirectly indicate those primary sources that are important. The journal that I have just cited itself cites the Congressional hearings on the "Dismissals of U.S. Attorneys" and "U.S. Attorney Controversy" which do suggest that these titles are favoured by external sources, and do mark as useful reference point. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 16:14, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
None of which negates my original point... we have gotten off track by focusing on the term "Attorneygate". The paragraph that I object to is worded as follows:
  • Occasionally a neutral descriptive title may be used even when one or more names for the topic exist, if it is felt that none of those names is neutral. For instance, a political controversy in the United States was nicknamed "Attorneygate" by critics of the government, but the article title is the more neutrally worded Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy. (bolding mine)
There are lots of valid reason to not use "Attorneygate". There are valid reasons to use the current descriptive title. But the fact that "Attorneygate" is not neutral isn't a valid reason. That is where the example goes wrong. The reason why the example is flawed is that... IF, at some point in the future, the name "Attorneygate" gains acceptance by a consensus of reliable sources... then true neutrality will require us to change the title of the article... despite the fact that the name is non-neutral. Blueboar (talk) 17:01, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Whether or not at some point in the future significant coverage from reliable secondary sources may lead to a change in title of the article, I cannot judge without a crystall ball. However, since most of the coverage of the scandal hangs around the Congressional Hearings, and those hearings have already been the subject of significant coverage from reliable secondary sources, then the current title appears to me to have externally validated, and is unlikely to change any time soon. I think this example, if it does not prove, it certainly does illustrate, how consensus on article titles is arrived at: by examining all of the relevant sources, and comparing them to see which ones carry more weight in terms of significant coverage and the reliability of sources. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 21:50, 30 March 2010 (UTC)
Would Climategate be a better example? I'm a bit loath to bring it up as it is still current. Dmcq (talk) 00:39, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
No... I would also object to using "climategate" as an example... and for the same reasons. Whether we should title that article "Climategate" or not depends primarily on whether "Climategate" is used by a consensus of reliable sources or not. I would agree that the quality of those reliable sources is also something to consider. But the one thing that is not a factor is whether the name is neutral or non-neutral.
It isn't the specific example that is the problem... any example would be a problem... the problem lies in the underlying statement, not the example. Blueboar (talk) 02:38, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
Any example with "gate" on the end would not be a good example, as it sounds like a temporary journalistic invention, and I think most editors would tend take such titles with a pinch of salt. Choosing an article title using trivial coverage is never going to make good guidance.--Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 05:31, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
It isn't a question of finding a good example... there is no good example. This is because the entire paragraph was flawed. The policy is better without it. Blueboar (talk) 13:20, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Proposed wording about descriptive titles and neutrality

For anyone who's interested, I'm trying to produce a proposed simultaneous rewording for the titles section of WP:NPOV and the descriptive titles/neutrality section of this page. Assistance/comments welcome at User:Kotniski/Neu.--Kotniski (talk) 14:05, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

Your draft for AT is acceptable... your draft for NPOV is not. Explained on the draft's talk page. Blueboar (talk) 14:24, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
I must agree. I see no advantage to changing - and (whether or not you mean it) sentences from your draft will be used against established names like Boston massacre. Use of Gdanzig as an example is not at all wise; there is no consensus, merely a stalemate. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:02, 31 March 2010 (UTC)
As I've explained at the talk page of the draft, I'm happy for the Boston massacre examples to be put back (I'm not suggesting that my current wording is in any way perfect). I don't think that what I've said about Gdanzig is at all controversial except possibly among extremists (and given that the subject is neutrality, any good example we give is going to be contested by extremists), but again, I'm not insisting on using any particular example or wording.--Kotniski (talk) 09:24, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

I think this has swung too much back towards "use the most common name even if it is grossly biased". I accept the arguments above in favour of that position. But on the other hand, the fact remains that "attorneygate" is not used because some people feel the name is spin. I don't think any of you guys really believe that "attorneygate" was rejected because it was "felt not to have become sufficiently established in good sources"; so why would we say it? Hesperian 10:38, 1 April 2010 (UTC)

I think that's the only legitimate reason (that would be accepted by the community at large if the matter were up to them apart from a small minority with a POV). Good sources", of course, is open to a high degree of interpretation.--Kotniski (talk) 11:13, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I think it would be best to talk about our own opinions at this stage rather than try and speak for others, otherwise we might start assuming things that aren't true. The business about a consensus of sources doesn' really work for Climategate and I think the distinction between names and descriptions is a bit artificial, all titles are supposed to be descriptive enough for identification, just saying B-52 for instance isn't really good enough. Possibly the article should be called Climategate eventually as opposed to Attorneygate where not enough people used that but it is still better to call it the long name for the mooment like the AfDs say. Dmcq (talk) 12:44, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
Why in the world does "this business about a consensus of sources" not work for Climategate (or any other "-gate")? Blueboar (talk) 13:16, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I am mistified too, and I find it hard to take Hesperian's statement at face value. The term's provenance in terms of who penned it first and in what context has not been established. It might be cited by journalists, but who actually coined the phrase and in what context is not known. This appears to be a classic example of WP:NEO. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 13:46, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't think it matters who coined the term or what the context was... what matters is if enough other (reliable) sources pick up on the term and use it. When does a neologism stop being a neologism? Blueboar (talk) 14:21, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
It does, because the article is about a neologism, not just mentioning it. To quote WP:NEO#Reliable sources for neologisms: To support the use of (or an article about) a particular term we must cite reliable secondary sources such as books and papers about the term, not books and papers that use the term.
I realise that this whole area of neologism is one that is already dealt with, so if we give any examples, we may wish to point any related example at WP:NEO. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 16:07, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
Um, no... to be an article about a neologism, the article would have to be about the word "climategate" (its etymology, meaning and usage)... I would agree that we should not have an article about the word "climategate", just as we should not have an article on the word "Massacre" (instead that page is a dab page with a link to Wiktionary.)
However... as a potential article title the term redirects to an article "about" an event... or rather a series of events that form a controversy (specifically the Climatic Research Unit email controversy). Thus, the article is not "about" a neologism.... it is an article about an event, that might be titled with a neologism.
Thus, the section of WP:NEO that comes closest to applying is Wikipedia:Avoid neologisms#Articles titled with neologisms... which states: In a few cases, there will be notable topics which are well-documented in reliable sources, but for which no accepted short-hand term exists. It can be tempting to employ a made-up or non-notable neologism in such a case. Instead, use a title that is a descriptive phrase in plain English, even if this makes for a somewhat long or awkward title.
However, if "a consensus of sources" use the term, this would indicate that there is an accepted short-hand term that exists. So the advice given in that section would no longer apply. Blueboar (talk) 16:59, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I think it does, for would how a complete lack of coverage about the term "Climategate" itself indicate that it is the correct title? Another way of looking at this is that an article about a neologism is also an article about a topic where a neologism is used as the title. I think this is a good example of a non-neutral label: even when it is used widely, the title "Climategate" conveys to readers an implied viewpoint: that this is a scandal similar to Watergate. Neologisms are a fancy way of labeling topics as one group of people see it. The fact that a term is accepted by one group but not another is a good indicator that it may not be neutral. That is why significant coverage about the title would be needed to establish its credentials as a widely recognised title. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 17:57, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't see your logic - if calling it Climategate implies something, and reliable (which in this case means, among other things, unbiased) sources are calling it Climategate, then whatever it is that Climategate implies is being implied by those reliable sources, and therefore it's right and proper for us to imply it as well.--Kotniski (talk) 19:21, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
My reading of NPOV#Article titles is that that non-neutral names that have been used by a consensus of sources should be considered an exception to WP:LABEL. The word "massacre" in Boston Massacre is, after all, also a non-neutral label... It too was coined to convey to the reader an implied viewpoint. The name was initially coined by partisan political pamphleteers trying to promote outrage among their fellow colonists.
If we were holding this discussion back in the early 1770s, I am sure we would be having heated debates about how to title the article on that event. Editors would be (correctly in my view) arguing that the article should be titled with the more neutral descriptive title of "Boston, Massachusetts shootings controversy". After all, it really is POV to call an event where only five people were killed a massacre"
Yet, today we don't use a neutral descriptive title for the article on that event. Instead we use a non-neutral name. So what changed? What makes a name that would have been unacceptable then now acceptable. What makes the name Boston massacre acceptable today? My answer is... the fact that the non-neutral name has been accepted and used by a consensus of reliable sources.
My point is that "X-gate" is no different than "X-massacre". We can argue about whether a non-neutral name has been accepted by a consensus of sources, but not about what to do once it has been accepted. If and when it has been accepted, we should use it. Blueboar (talk) 19:48, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
I disagree with Kotniski that we can just accept a title because it is the subject of reliable source; how can a mere mention of the term "Climategate" itself indicate that it is the correct title? I think we need more evidence than trivial coverage to accept the term. Using Blueboar's example for a moment, whether a massacre involves 5 or 500 people, its never going to be a neutral term, but I think it is widely accepted in circumstances that involve the slaughter of defenceless civilians, and acceptance of the term spans several hundred years and many unfortunate events that have been the subject of significant coverage to justify its use. Although adding "gate" to an word is not so serious, nonetheless any claim that a scandal was on a par with Watergate, even if it were only indirectly implied in the title (and then only weakly or in jest), would require the same sort of coverage as the documentation of a massacre. I just don't see the depth of coverage in the Climategate article that documents the affair on a par with Watergate in accordance with WP:REDFLAG; I think any reasonable editor would have have to take this neologism with a pinch of salt. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 22:20, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
Are you saying that if "climategate" (like "Boston massacre") is used in conjunction with the event for a long enough time, then it would be acceptable? (in other words, is it your view that acceptability of non-neutral names is based on time of usage and not volume of usage?) If so, this gets back to a question I raised earlier... when is a neologism no longer a neologism? A year? Five years? 100 years? Blueboar (talk) 22:45, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
No, if has not been the subject of significant coverage. Yes, if, in accordance with WP:NEO#Articles on neologisms, it "has sufficiently widespread coverage to be notable, then a fairly newly coined term may be the simplest and most natural way to refer to the concept. In this case that newly coined term may be the best title for the article, provided the use of the term is verifiable". --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 23:18, 1 April 2010 (UTC)
So you agree that a "-gate" term might be an acceptable title for an article, if that term has sufficiently widespread coverage to be notable. You simply don't think the specific term "Climategate" has met that standard. Fine. In essence we agree: Article titles are not determined by whether a name is neutral or non-neutral, but by a different standard. One that has to do with usage/coverage in reliable sources. Blueboar (talk) 00:34, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
I guess I'd only add that there's a reason a non-neutral title is okay: we've got an entire article to discuss how all sides view the term. If there's no discussion, then a non-neutral title isn't okay with me. - Dank (push to talk) 20:09, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

I've boldly removed the WikiJargon from this section.

"Neutral" has a very specific meaning on Wikipedia, as defined in WP:NPOV. Whatever the sources say is "WP:Neutral", even if some people consider the sources' choice of terms to be patently offensive or flat wrong. Using this word to describe anything else is confusing to editors and IMO should be strictly avoided in Wikipedia's advice pages.

What this section describes is not WP:Neutrality (=following the sources, even if you think the sources are leading us right over the cliff); in fact, it is entirely about what to do when you don't follow the sources. This page recommends that when you don't follow the sources, that you choose titles that are inoffensive and non-judgmental.

English has perfectly good words for those concepts that don't conflict with the WikiJargon; let's use those. WhatamIdoing (talk) 20:57, 2 April 2010 (UTC)

Yes. From the above comment, I was inclined to disagree. But on reviewing the diff, WhatamIdoing is absolutely right here. Hesperian 22:58, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
I also disagree with the post. Non-judgmentalism writing in a neutral tone, is part of WP:NPOV; it's one of the distinctions between WP:NPOV and WP:NOR. But the edit is right; we need not make that point here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:04, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
No objections from me. Blueboar (talk) 23:12, 2 April 2010 (UTC)
So are we saying 'Boston Massacre' is a common name not a description because it has entered general usage, 'Climategate' is a common name but..., actually I can't see why Climategate isn't preferred according to the current wording. It isn't like tidal wave compared to tsunami. Dmcq (talk) 09:53, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
With the current wording we no longer directly address this question ... the argument is that "Climategate", as a name, has not (yet) met the threshold that would require us to use it over some other title (such as a descriptive title).
We seem to have some disagreement on what that threshold is, and how to word it... but at least we seem have agreed that a threshold exists. That is a step in the right direction, as it moves us closer to being in sync with WP:NPOV#Article titles. Blueboar (talk) 14:01, 3 April 2010 (UTC)
In which case, I think the threshold for using a non-neutral name has to be higher quality evidence that the term is widely accpeted than would normally be the case, the direct analogy being WP:REDFLAG in relation to extraordinary claims or strongly held opinions. Perhaps some guideance along the lines of the following would be appropriate:
If topic has sufficiently widespread coverage to be notable, then the term that is simplest and most direct way of refering to the concept in the article title should be apparent. In this case that newly coined term may be the best title for the article, provided the use of the term is verifiable.
However, were the title is not neutral, highly novel (e.g. a neologism) or is likely to be challenged for other reason, then high-quality sources are required to demonstrate that a particular article title is acceptable to the world at large.
I realise that contemporary subjects, higly novel and controversial titles are likey to have been coined by just one person, rather than to have emerged from multiple sources. To demonstrate that such a article title is being used my more than one source or group of related sources, I think the burden of evidence needs to be capable of withstand the accusation that the choice of title is purely personal or partisan. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 10:55, 7 April 2010 (UTC)
Hmmm... this might be OK... Suppose we do add it, how would editors interpret it? Let's think of some examples of non-neutral names and see whether they would or would not qualify as an article title under this language. Blueboar (talk) 12:34, 7 April 2010 (UTC)

Non-neutral title

One possibly non-neutral article title: Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories. here's been some discussion about that at Talk:Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories#The Wiki Title Violates Neutrality. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 01:58, 8 April 2010 (UTC)

Hmmm... good point... so do we have high quality sources that we can use to justify that title? (I hope so). Blueboar (talk) 02:54, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
I think this example sort of proves my point, that high quality sources are needed to justify an article title that is likely to be challenged. Just because numerous sources use the term "conspiracy" is not sufficient reason to use this term in the title, becasue there is no proof that a conspiracy exists. Conspiracy theorists would say "of course a conspiracy exists", but I don't think we should allow article titles to be based on hearsay, even if that hearsay is cited by reliable soruces.
It seems to me that there has to proof that a conspiracy actually exists for the title to stick; unfounded allegations are merely labels which contain opinions that may not have any real justification. It seems to me that the title is sensationalist rather than substantive, and that the coverage of term consiracy is trival, rather than significant: there needs to be a source that specifically identifies the "conspiracy theories" as a subject of significant coverage per se to justify the title. Putting lots of trivial coverage together, and claim "here is your proof that conspiracy theories exist" is an example of stretching the facts to fit the theory. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 09:05, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
For me, the use of the term "conspiracy theories" implies that the conspiracies do not actually exist. But I agree it's not a good title - it ought to use a word like "controversy" or "claims".--Kotniski (talk) 09:37, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
I have to question whether that is actually an example of a non-neutral title... if someone theorizes that a conspiracy exists, that theory is (by definition) a "conspiracy theory". No? Blueboar (talk) 13:14, 8 April 2010 (UTC)
The topic of that particular article is not theorization about whether or not a conspiracy exists. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 01:08, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
Correct... it says that the theories do exist, and that these theories claim that a conspiracy exists ... hence they are "Conspiracy theories". Blueboar (talk) 02:10, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
And the lead sentence of the article says, "Conspiracy theories about the citizenship of Barack Obama are ideas that reject the legitimacy of President Obama's citizenship and his eligibility to be President of the United States." I don't see how this article title can be seen in any way other than as implicitly passing judgment on the subject of such ideas.
Actually, I'm doubtful that many, if any, of those holding such ideas claim that a conspiracy exists. The only such conspiracies I've seen purported have been offered up as strawmen. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 04:15, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

I agree, I think the title is a good example of WP:LABEL: an article title that "conveys to readers an implied viewpoint: that of outsiders looking in and labeling as they see it. The fact that a term is accepted "outside" but not "inside" is a good indicator that it may not be neutral".
The significant coverage given to real world events suggests that the subject matter of this article is that Barack Obama's nationality has been the subject of legal challenge which have failed. There is lots of trivial coverage to show that rebuttle of those challenges has resulted in accusations from various plaintiffs that their legal actions failed becuase there is a conspiracy. If this article title where to go to meditiation, I am sure the significant coverage would be given more weight that the trivial coverage, even if the sources for both came from reliable secondary sources. It seems to me that undue weight has been given to trivial coverage when the choice of title was made, despite the fact that it is Barack Obama's nationality or his eligabilty for high office that is the real subject matter of this article.

I think that the following amendment to the section on descriptive titles might be helpful:

Where articles have descriptive titles, choose titles that do not seem to pass judgment, implicitly or explicitly, on the subject. If a title is not neutral, or is highly novel (e.g. a neologism), or is likely to be challenged for any other reason, then that is a redflag that should prompt editors to examine the sources for their choice of article title.

Descriptive titles should only be used where directly supported by significant coverage from reliable sources that demonstrate undue weight is not being given to a particular viewpoint. If such sources are not available, then that title should be discarded in favour of a neutral title, even if it is less recognizable.

For example, the term allegation should be avoided in a title unless the article concerns charges in a legal case or accusations of illegality under civil, criminal or international law that have not yet been proven in a court of law. See Wikipedia:Words to avoid for further advice on potentially controversial terminology.

I think this makes the point that neutrality is the baseline we start from, in line with WP:NPOV. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 09:05, 9 April 2010 (UTC)

Ok, To look at the same issue in a less political article... take a look at Masonic conspiracy theories. The term seems to be used quite neutrally there. In fact the article goes out of its way not to pass judgment on these theories, either for or against. Blueboar (talk)
Good point and good example. Perhaps the content of the Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories article, if that title is retained, would be beter if rewritten similarly. As the content is currently written, that title strkes me as inappropriate. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 14:00, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
My point exactly... I think it is impossible to make sweeping statement about the use of non-neutral terms in titles. Non-neutral terms in titles need to be examined on a case by case basis... because sometimes they are actually used neutrally (as in the case of "Boston massacre" or in the case of "Masonic conspiracy theories"), and sometimes they are not. When they are not used neutrally, sometimes (I will even say most of the time) the best solution is to change the title... but sometimes (occasionally) the best solution is to rewrite and refocus the article in a way that makes the title neutral (this would be my choice with the Obama citizenship article). Blueboar (talk) 14:35, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
So in fact there would be no artificial distinction between common name and descriptive title, just we should choose the best most straightforward description people will recognize which don't conflict badly with NPOV and normally a common name will be fine for that? Dmcq (talk) 15:06, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
hmmm... I am not sure if I agree with that... I do see a distinction between names and descriptive phrases, but how the distinction impacts our titling is less clear. Blueboar (talk) 15:17, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Dmcq in the sense that, if the title is going to be challenged, we look to the sources that can provide the best form of external justification for that choice, whether it is acommon name or a descriptive title. We have to look at each case individually, but there must be some source of external validation we can agree on in order to reach the most neutral title, even if that is the least worst one. --Gavin Collins (talk|contribs) 15:32, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
I agree with that... as long as it is understood that the most neutral title may not always seem neutral (in that it may include non-neutral terms or names). Blueboar (talk) 15:53, 9 April 2010 (UTC)