Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Manual of Style
WikiProject icon This page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines.
 

ENGVAR and articles relating to Commonwealth and European countries[edit]

I'm unsure whether this question has been raised here before, so forgive my ignorance.

In articles relating to countries which are not primarily English-speaking, or would not usually be considered part of the Anglophone world, but which use English as an official language (or are part of the Commonwealth) would it make more sense to standardise on Commonwealth English spelling conventions? For example, some of my edits on articles relating to Sierra Leone and Malaysia were recently reverted by an American editor because he considered that they constituted an attempt to change the variety of English used in them. However, both of those countries were part of the British Empire and both are still in the Commonwealth (English is actually the only official language of Sierra Leone), so if anything it would make more sense to use Commonwealth spellings ("colour" vs "color", "metre" vs "meter" etc – the latter spellings are not standard outside the USA). The articles in question had not previously used consistent spellings, and I had tried to make them consistent.

Likewise, English is also widely used throughout Europe, and it is an official language (and major working language) of the EU. English used in Europe generally follows British spelling conventions. Would the same argument apply here? I don't really see why articles about Europe should be written in US English. Archon 2488 (talk) 21:50, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

I can maybe buy this for countries that have English as an official language. I disagree for Europe. I see no reason that articles on German topics, for example, should prefer British English. I believe I have heard, for example, that the German educational system deliberately teaches both. There is really no such thing as "German English"; a lot of Germans speak English, but very few speak it as a first language, so it does not develop organically. --Trovatore (talk) 22:19, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
It's been raised dozens if not hundreds of times over. The "first major contributor" rule applies. --erachima talk 22:22, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Only where "An article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should use the English of that nation." does not apply. In African Commonwealth countries it would apply. Wiki CRUK John (talk) 09:50, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
OK, but in the case of say, Kenya or Sierra Leone, where English is an official language and widely used by media from those countries? I mean like this sort of thing [1]. The EU is a bit more complex, although there are EU style guides for English use, and hence a kind of "EU English". Archon 2488 (talk) 22:58, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
So if people wanted to specify British English for specifically EU topics — that is, about the union itself rather than its member countries — I personally wouldn't raise too big a stink about that. Provided that it were made completely clear that "specifically EU" means, for example, articles about the European Parliament, but not articles about France or a French chess player. --Trovatore (talk) 23:01, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
In cases like that, the process would simply be to establish editorial consensus that it was a topic of sufficient connection to Britain to change the spellings. Doesn't need a new rule. --erachima talk 23:11, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
It's not always just a case of political/historical ties to Britain or America, though. In the Sierra Leone and Kenyan examples, we should use British English because that is the variety of (written) English used in those countries. Formerip (talk) 23:51, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

I'm not sure how much it helps us think about these issues clearly, but would Wikipedia have an analogous preference for US English in formerly American-occupied countries where English is not now an official language, such as Cuba and Japan? —— Shakescene (talk) 06:59, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

No, it only applies where English is used as a local rather than a foreign language in some context, whether on the street, in education etc. Wiki CRUK John (talk) 09:53, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
That could get you tied into knots quite easily. Both Germany and Austria had British and American occupation zones after WWII, so which would be the correct choice? In any case, those occupations didn't have any lasting effect on the use of English in those countries, so it doesn't really matter. In the case of Commonwealth countries like India, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria etc., English has official status and is widely used by government, education, media and as a lingua franca, even if not many of the people are native speakers. So while one cannot speak of "German English", it's by no means a stretch to speak of "Kenyan English" or "Pakistani English". Archon 2488 (talk) 13:47, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, best not to get tied in knots, as someone said above. Aside from articles related to majority anglophone countries, we should be a little relaxed about the choice, I think. Tony (talk) 14:27, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Something else to consider... English usage outside of the UK and US themselves is actually shifting... and is somewhat generational... with older people using UK and younger people using US. You can often tell how old someone from Europe is (without seeing them) by which usages he/she uses in writing (and which pronunciations he/she uses when speaking). The same phenomenon is happening (but to a lesser extent) in the former British colonies. Older Indians, Pakistanis, Nigerians, Singaporeans, etc. tend to use UK usages... while the younger ones tend to use US usages (probably due to the dominance of US usage on the internet).
I don't think the shift is far enough along to amend ENGVAR... but in say 20 or so years we should probably take a good look at our assumptions. Blueboar (talk) 15:42, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
That is a large part of why I'm resisting the attempt to take a prescriptive, flag-planting mindset towards the matter. Articles on subjects of nation X are much more likely to be accurately weighted towards common usage in X by being left to their organic development than by theorycrafted declarations. --erachima talk 16:18, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
If I may plant a flag anyway, I always favour the use of Canadian English to solve the US vs. UK debate as our variant tends to be a mixture of both.  ;) Resolute 16:46, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
I met several Canadians last weekend. I mistook some of them for Americans, and vice versa. We managed just fine without a MoS when speaking to each other. But a true Brit I can pick out easily when speaking: it's difficult for a non-Brit to manage any of the various British accents - except Jodie Foster in Anna and the King where she made only one mistake. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:26, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
@Blueboar: Now I’m curious, do you know why this is? My first thought is to blame American TV shows and movies. —174.141.182.82 (talk) 12:20, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd say go with first major contributor unless the country has an official tie to a specific variety of English. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:53, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
"Official" isn't part of the guideline, though. In any case where a country (or the majority of what is now the country) was part of the British Empire, and is or has been in the Commonwealth of Nations, and/or has English as an official language, that's obviously a "strong national tie" to British English, unless it's developed it's own clearly recognized variety, as in Canada (for many others, e.g. .au, .nz, .sa, the written differences are not significant enough to worry about here). I.e., I think it's entirely normal to use (and change articles to use) British English for geographical topics like Sierra Leone. And we all know it doesn't mean temporary occupation zones. Extensive ones, different story. E.g. Okinawa should use US English; even several generations after WWII, the US still maintains a strong and influential presence there, and no other English variety has any foothold there.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:14, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
A curious thing is that English is not the official language of England - we don't have any official languages. You can speak Latin in a courtroom if you like, and they can't stop you. Sure, most of us speak English, but we don't have to (but it's difficult getting a half-decent job if you don't). However, the next-door country to the left, where the majority of people speak English, has Welsh as its only official language for everyday life, although the National Assembly for Wales is legally obliged to recognise both English and Welsh as official languages, as are other public bodies (including the law courts). --Redrose64 (talk) 23:50, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
The United States also has no official language, though some individual states do (always English, so far oops, forgot about Hawaii; the just-around-the-corner-and-always-will-be issue of Puerto Rico statehood could shake things up). --Trovatore (talk) 23:54, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Neither of those comments are relevant, really; we already know that Britain has close national ties to British English and the US close national ties to US English, without any question of official languages or political ties to the British Commonwealth; this thread isn't about cases as obvious as those two. A point to clarify is that there is no important difference between Kenyan or Pakistani English, on the one hand, and British on the other, for the purposes of writing Wikipedia articles (regardless of local speech patterns and colloquialisms), but both are clearly distinguishable from US English and because of close national ties in those countries to British culture, we shouldn't use American English in their articles. It would be "Ugly American" dickishness. The inverse goes for using British English to write about Guam.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:32, 22 August 2014 (UTC) PS: @Trovatore, Redrose64: That phrasing sounded snottier than intended. I mean that, while it's interesting as a side conversation, the official languages questions of the UK and US aren't very germane to resolution of the ENGVAR issue at hand. I meant it as "let's not get distracted" observation, not a "shut up, you" observation. :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:44, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Guam, of course, is part of the US, albeit not a state. Maybe the Philippines would be a corresponding example. --Trovatore (talk) 01:06, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Sure, that is a better case.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:32, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

I think we have answered the question Blueboar (talk) 00:07, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

  • Majority native anglophone countries aside, a lesson for us all is the unholy, arrogant colonial mess at en.Wikivoyage, which divides the whole of humanity up into those who shall use BrEng and those who shall use AmEng. So Indonesian articles use one, and across the Strait Malaysian articles must use the other. And Thai articles use the first. China had no instruction when I last looked, so god knows. I objected on cultural and logistical grounds and was howled down by the old guard. Tony (talk) 01:24, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
The language ghetto is of our own making, and I for one would be in favour of removing WP:ENGVAR and of unification towards one single code. We just need to agree to what that code should be, or agree to disagree (as at present). -- Ohc ¡digame! 04:28, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Who mentioned a ghetto? No one. Uniformity is overvalued; ENGVAR isn't perfect but it's better than the alternatives. --Trovatore (talk) 04:45, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Choosing a single variant of English has a big problem. Realistically it will be either American English (upsetting the non-Americans) or British English (upsetting the Americans). Either way we will upset half of our editors.  Stepho  talk  05:58, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
It's splintered beyond BritEng and AmEng, with there now being more that a dozen codes represented in articles now being tagged. -- Ohc ¡digame! 06:36, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
So what? --Trovatore (talk) 07:33, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

TfD and CfD pre-proposal[edit]

I'm thinking that {{Use British English}} and its siblings, and the categories they populate, should be deleted. Thoughts? This is not a !vote poll to delete them (that's what TfD and CfD processes are for). Just trying to gauge whether I'm along in thinking these badly misconstrue WP:ENGVAR, are moving woard an us-vs-them, anti-collaborative environment, and are pretty bollocksy/bullshitty to begin with, since in encyclopedic writing there's essentially no difference between most of them.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:36, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

I suppose there will always be people who will make a confrontation out of anything, but I don't see that as an issue with these templates as such. Perhaps the usage and wording should be re-visited but it seems like a good idea to document for future editors what variety of English to use, to avoid a mixture of -ise and -ize, colour and color, etc. Collaborative editors can just follow what the template says for the sake of consistency, and confrontational editors are reminded in a non-confrontational manner to establish a consensus before trying to change the spelling. It also means gnomes or bots know what the existing consensus is when an article becomes inconsistent because of later editors being unaware of the issue. Personally I would prefer a change to WP:COMMONALITY to include spelling, for instance using the common spelling when various spellings are allowed in British English (possibly including a recommendation to use OUP spelling instead of non-OUP British spelling). I think it is right to get a consensus here (or somewhere similar) before going to TfD and Cfd. --Boson (talk) 14:11, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
These templates can't have the wording revisited, because there isn't any. All they do is add the page to cats like Category:Use British English from August 2014 and Category:Use dmy dates from August 2014 - they display nothing. --Redrose64 (talk) 15:22, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
Ah, so this is not meant to apply to {{British English}}, {{American English}}, etc. Ideally, I would like a very visible edit notice, but you could replace my "revisiting the wording" with "adding appropriate wording to tell the reader what version of English is being used". It's not a big deal, but I do (not extremely often) come across well-intentioned editors mis-correcting perceived spelling mistakes, resulting in inconsistent usage, which doesn't look very professional. Adding a hatnote to indicate the variety of English might not only help prevent this but avoid users going away with the impression that we can't spell. If the templates referred to here merely set a category, that still means that bots know which version to use when inconsistencies are detected. It would also help is the talk page and the article page coud be automatically synchronized. --Boson (talk) 16:30, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish: I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "and its siblings". If you did mean templates like {{British English}} then I would be strongly opposed. Like Boson (but it seems more often) I come across well-intentioned editors mis-correcting spellings much of which could be avoided if more articles were marked with the ENGVAR they use. The best approach in my view is to use the "page notice" – then any editor immediately sees the ENGVAR notice. Peter coxhead (talk) 17:11, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
I think a big issue with using the page notice is that only admins can create/edit this. If the consensus here is to move this to a page notice, then it should also include the use mdy and dmy templates also. Vegaswikian (talk) 17:52, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
@Peter coxhead: By "and its siblings", SMcCandlish means the templates in Category:Use English templates, none of which display text. {{British English}} is not in that category, and it does display text. It's part of a different group, often used as editnotices. It's pointless to put {{Use British English}} and its siblings into an editnotice, because editnotices don't categorise the pages that they're associated with.
@Vegaswikian: Page notices are more properly called editnotices, and it's not just an admin-only action. Account creators and template editors also have the ability to create and edit editnotices. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:00, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd like to be clear that this is what SMcCandlish means and not just your and my interpretation. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:04, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
And I'll add that the text a template generates on the talk page is of no value. How many editors check there to see what version of English is used in the article? In fact, I'll ask what purpose to those templates serve of the ones in the article? Should those be deleted? Vegaswikian (talk) 20:06, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

(Outdent) Yes, I'm talking about the templates in Category:Use English templates. Of the English dialects listed there, most are essentially identical to British English in formal, written form and can simply be redirected to the British one. Most of the remainders are close enough to pidgins/creoles (in the linguistic sense) to present intelligibility issues if articles were actually written in them. Canadian English is an outlier. Aside from the lack of practical utility for these things, the commanding tone of "Use whatever English" is very unwiki.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:23, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Bots and script tools need a way to see which way a page goes in some cases to let them do their work (particularly in achieving date format confortity in an article), which these templates provide. --MASEM (t) 13:31, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Sure, but what is the point of the duplication of, say, both {{Use British (Oxford) English}} and {{British English Oxford spelling}} that put articles into different categories? I've only ever used the second kind and was actually quite unaware of the first. Peter coxhead (talk) 09:14, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
They shouldn't both be used on the same page: {{Use British (Oxford) English}} is for use on the article itself; and {{British English Oxford spelling}} is for use on the article's talk page or (with |form=editnotice) in an editnotice for the article. --Redrose64 (talk) 13:12, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

An RfC and an RM involving imaginary "conflict" between WP:MOS and WP:AT[edit]

FYI: Pointer to relevant discussions elsewhere.

Please see Talk:Artpop#RfC: Should a song title be listed with non-standard capitalization?, which raises WP:COMMONNAME, WP:OFFICIALNAME, and MOS:TRADEMARK issues. While the song in question is at this moment only treated inside the article on the album on which it was released (and thus in a formal sense involves no WP:AT issues like COMMONNAME and OFFICIALNAME_, it's likely, as with so many Lady Gaga songs, that it will soon enough have its own article, and the RfC ongoing might as well get the title right now rather than later. The RfC is being "advertised" because it was noted that the discussion was circular between two or three participants, and even after RfCization, it's still mostly the same parties, and so needs broader input. See also Talk:Ultra high definition television#Requested move 4 (ongoing), which involves much of the same sort of question.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:26, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

SmC, I plan to check out this RfC because of your long history of spotting relevant issues, but I feel obliged to mention that I do not believe this message is suitably neutral in its current form. Publicizing RfCs is right and proper but you're not supposed to prime your audience before they get there. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:34, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Can we make it more clear that WP:RETAIN does not apply to WP:CRITERIA-based moves?[edit]

A discussion is currently underway at Talk:Mikhaylovsky (last name)‎#Requested move where an editor is invoking WP:RETAIN as a reason not to move that page to Mikhaylovsky (surname). Notably, Wikipedia has literally thousands of articles on surnames from all cultures at titles using "(surname)" as a disambiguator (e.g. Bukowski (surname), Ghatak (surname), Jaramillo (surname), Smith (surname), Surtees (surname), Zhuang (surname)), and other than the page under review, none using the disambiguator "(last name)".

It is well understood that the entire purpose of WP:RETAIN is to avoid changing titles like Centre (geometry) to Center (geometry) merely because one editor or another has an WP:ENGVAR preference. It should be clearly stated that:

WP:RETAIN does not apply where a page move brings a title into conformance with WP:CRITERIA, for example by moving the title from an uncommon name to a more recognizable name, moving from an unnecessarily long title to a more concise title, moving from an ambiguous title to a precise or making the title consistent with a title preference that is otherwise uniformly applied.

Would there be any objection to the addition of this clarification? Cheers! bd2412 T 15:50, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

  • I think it's unnecessary to expand the current guidance. The objection at Talk:Mikhaylovsky is a misunderstanding, and the page looks pretty certain to be moved. DrKiernan (talk) 20:14, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I think there is a slight, unintended ambiguity in the WP:RETAIN guideline:
An article should not be edited or renamed simply to switch from one valid use of English to another.
This should read "variety" rather than "valid use." As it is written it could be interpreted to forbid copyediting completely. For example, replacing slang with more formal language could fall afoul of the guideline, as both are valid uses of English. I believe it is intended only to refer to national variations. This also solves the specific issue, as "last name" and "surname" are both valid, but neither is characteristic of any national variation of English. Pburka (talk) 21:49, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Yes, that makes sense. DrKiernan (talk) 08:26, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I can't put my finger on it, but I've seen the same objection in a move discussion before. So, although it is understood by those in the know, I do think it would help to make it clear that, no, the language does not apply to moves made for conciseness or consistency, where there is no real English variation issue. Otherwise, like Pburka says, any less sophisticated editor could point to this language to say that no change should be made. - WPGA2345 - 04:25, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Hopefully, the DrKiernan/Pburka change just made, above, to clarify will resolve this problem. I don't see any cause for a change as WP:Instruction creeping as the big insertion proposed above.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:35, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
    • It's not really instruction creep if we are clarifying an instruction to state when it does not apply, to clear up confusion by editors mistakenly believing that it does apply. To the contrary, I think it would be instruction creep if we have wording that is ambiguous enough that an editor can point to this and say that we are prohibited from changing a word in the English language to another word in the English language, even in the same variety of English. I think Pburka's fix does help there, but is that enough to prevent misuses of the rule like the one raised in the move request that prompted my concern? bd2412 T 14:51, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Image borders[edit]

Is there a MOS section that deals with how images may be formatted (specifically, may images have hardcoded borders)? For example, see Large denominations of United States currency, which has a number of currency images. I'm fine with the quality level of the images, however, the author/uploader has opted to include large black borders around the images (as well as between them, as there are actually two images per individual file). I think including hard-coded borders within images is a bad idea, as it hurts the image reuse possibilities (especially in cases where the images are free to use). For example, while those borders may be acceptable on a PC when viewed through a conventional web browser, they may be quite large when viewed on a mobile device or a low resolution device. They also prove problematic for printed forms as well (wasting ink/toner, etc).

Thoughts? Or is this covered somewhere in MOS already? =) —Locke Coletc 15:36, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Note that the borders are no barrier to reuse, apart from presenting a bit of extra work. All images on Wikipedia (with the exception of fair-use images) may be freely modified for any use. Pburka (talk) 19:01, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
With all respect, "a bit of extra work" is indeed a barrier to reuse when the alternative is "no extra work at all". MediaWiki already generates borders for images when the correct settings are used, so the hardcoded borders seem superfluous. —Locke Coletc 05:15, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Borderless images should be the preferred format. Borders are easy to add if and as needed, but there is no "universal" border that will fit into all contexts worldwide. At the least, image uploaders should be informed of the preference for borderless images. Can somebody identify the appropriate place(s) to notify uploaders? Reify-tech (talk) 13:13, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Preparing images for upload, probably the upload wizard (which I never use) as well. --Redrose64 (talk) 14:50, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
These are not really borders per se. The original bills have either been photographed on a black background or placed there with graphic software to give definition to the bills and their edges. Note the rough edges on the bills and the variable spacing of the "borders" – for example, the first bill (Albert Gallatin). The rationale is understandable; perhaps another method is more appropriate. Modal Jig (talk) 15:33, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
I heard a rumour that in the recent changes to font, etc, they almost decided to remove default borders around images. Tony (talk) 01:37, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
Agreed with Modal Jaig that this isn't reallyh a case of borders, but of real-world background, but the point is valid. It should really also be brought up at Commons; stuff uploaded here usually ends up over there, and most of what's uploaded there, other than people's damned genital pics, is mostly used here.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:39, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

When more than one reference is used, must the numbers be in order?[edit]

Does MOS:REFPUNC mandate that when more than one reference is used, the numbers must be in order?

  • Example: Flightless birds have a reduced keel[10] and smaller wing bones than flying birds of similar size.[11][12]

Hawkeye7 (talk) 21:43, 23 August 2014 (UTC)

Note that the relevant guideline is "Punctuation and footnotes". It does not cover in-text reference order, and there is no way to guarantee that order using the Footnotes system. --  Gadget850 talk 21:52, 23 August 2014 (UTC)
Is question about adjacent references? That is, ...similar size.[11][12] vs. ...similar size.[12][11] Doremo (talk) 05:26, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes. Hawkeye7 (talk) 19:48, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • There are editors who go around reordering adjacent references in the text so they are sequential. I find this annoying when I've ordered them by importance or date, but I know of no "rule" either way. Peter coxhead (talk) 08:36, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Are there any guidelines on this in other style guides? I also prefer to have the refs ordered by importance and relevance, or simply in order of addition. In this context, sorting the numbers into order does not help searching (unlike sorting in other more useful contexts), and seems as unuseful as sorting books on a shelf by the color of their spines. Reify-tech (talk) 13:22, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
When using the Footnotes system, references are numbered in the order they are defined. Reused references keep the initial number when invoked. This is not a guideline or policy, it is technically how Cite.php works. --  Gadget850 talk 13:48, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I could have sworn this was a MOS or citation recommendation at one point, but I also see is logically making sense. All this usually requires to get right is reorder named references in a few places. Nearly every outside MOS that I've seen myself where numbered citations are used always have the numbering of multiple citations in numerical order. --MASEM (t) 13:58, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • If it's not in the MOS, we should be following the professional standard used by nearly every single publication ever, which is to have them in numerical order. Readers do not impart any information from the order of the refs, but they certainly see a poor looking setup when they are out of order. - Floydian τ ¢ 14:10, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
The AMA Manual of Style is an example of a MOS with numbered citations that uses numerical order. I am also unaware of examples of MOS that order numbered citations by perceived relevance or date. Doremo (talk) 14:13, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • I feel that it's a bit jarring to see numbers out of order. However this also feels like something that could easily have a technical solution. When there is a sequence of consecutive references, it should be simple enough to sort them automatically before rendering. Pburka (talk) 14:26, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Are there any manuals of style which allow reused reference numbers which require references numbers to be in order?. For example:
    Fact 1.[10]
    ...
    Fact 2.[12]
    ...
    Further analysis.[12][19][10].
    I don't see anything wrong with that. Most MoSs suggest that references be order in order of relevance, but the numbering system is that of consecutive numbers in order. I think it's a very bad idea to reorder references to make the numbers in order, since they will not generally be consecutive. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 16:12, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
    Keep in mind that most "professional" MOSs are written for paper publications or "static" electronic equivalents - not dynamic constantly changing website content such as a wiki. When compiling such static documents the superscript numbers are inserted (semi)manually unlike here where they are automagically generated by the software. The effort required to perform this "fix" would be a waste of editorial resources - frankly we have far bigger fish to fry. -- Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 18:58, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
To answer Arthur Rubin's question, the AMA Manual of Style is a MOS that reuses reference numbers and requires numerical order. I do not know of any such MOS that do not require reused referenced numbers to be in numerical order. Doremo (talk) 19:11, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Dodger67. Further we should assume that editors who put immediately following refs in a particular order did so for a reason and not reorder them, automatically or manually. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:15, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
A question that is begged is what is a situation where you need to have multiple references in a specific order to support a single statement? I understand that when it comes to sourcing that some references are higher quality than others but nearly every thing I've had the case like that, I can work the inlines around so that instead of grouping all the references at the back end of the sentence, I can sprinkle them around the sentence such that there's no grouped references. --MASEM (t) 19:20, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
These are very common:
Howard C. Bush was in charge of the base camp.[9][10]
where the first reference supports the fact that H. C. Bush was in charge of the base camp, and the second source is a list of the expedition members, that gives his full name as Howard C. Bush. Hawkeye7 (talk) 19:48, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Both would seem to be of equal weight in that sentence, to me, and thus the exact ordering unnecessary. Alternatively, without context, I would guess that one of those references would be better in a previous sentence (eg if you're discussing the makeup of the expedition, ref 10 there would go on the previous statement). --MASEM (t) 20:49, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
The question reflects a confusion of references and notes. You all are saying "reference", but references do not have numbers. The numbered links being referred to derive from the <ref>...</ref> tags used to create notes. Once it is understood that a note can contain multiple references — or preferably, citations to references — then it is clear that only a single note is necessary at any point in the text. And the question goes away. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 20:40, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Not necessarily. Say there is one grouped cite that uses references A, B, and C, and another grouped cite with B and D. There's no clean way to do this without repeating the citation of B. --MASEM (t) 20:49, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
If the order of cites is really that important, you could use WP:BUNDLING and never have to worry about someone coming around and reordering your citations (and have a nicer-looking page to boot). Curly Turkey ⚞¡gobble!⚟ 20:55, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
Officially the in-text element is "footnote marker" per Footnotes. I gave up trying to change the term years ago. --  Gadget850 talk 21:20, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

Something to remember... when a citation is used multiple times through out an article, we recommend using the <refname=> format. This will keep the citation number of the first appearance of the citation, no matter how many times it is subsequently used. So even if you try to manually order the sequence, some citation numbers are going to end up "out of order" (as in: Statement of fact[5][8][13]). no matter what you do.
As to whether we should add something to the MOS about this... I wouldn't... I think trying to put the citation numbers sequentially would be a colossal waste of time, and would not be worth the effort it takes to do it... if we did institute a rule about it, I would just ignore the rule. Blueboar (talk) 21:13, 24 August 2014 (UTC)

They're not talking about skipping numbers as in "Statement of fact[5][8][13]", they're talking about those numbers themselves being out of order, as in "Statement of fact[5][13][8]". Curly Turkey ⚞¡gobble!⚟ 21:21, 24 August 2014 (UTC)
  • This is a total WP:DGAF issue. I would be strongly opposed to adding a "rule" that they have to be in order. No one cares enough, it's impossible to enforce (people move content and citations with it all the time), no one cares, it would discourage editing and sourcing, and, oh yeah, no one cares. >;-) To those who actually do care (yes, I lied), there are already bots and AWB scripts that make precisely this correction. I don't know how frequently they run, but they turn up in watchlist regularly.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  14:42, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Let's get back to fundamentals. The reason to bother with any sort order at all is to allow indexing and searching of large numbers of entities. It is highly doubtful that any single point in the text of a Wikipedia article will accumulate enough references that searching will be needed at that location (also, there is no need to visually search by this arbitrary numerical ref). The potentially-longer "References" section is automatically sorted into numerical order, as it should be to facilitate visual searching. But obsessively sorting references in the text itself is unnecessary, and an example of artificially constrained writing that detracts from rather than adds useful content. It is akin to building a ship in a bottle, and would be a complete waste of editors' time and mental focus.
If anything, the MOS should advise against sorting references within a text into numerical order, whether manually or by computer. It would be better to order multiple references so that the most useful (readable, understandable, accessible) references are listed before those references that are more there for completeness. By default, references should just be sequenced in the order they are added, which is what happens now, for the most part. Don't let a fetishistic fascination with the infrastructure of writing an encyclopedia overshadow the fundamental reasons for building said infrastructure. If it doesn't advance the goals of Wikipedia, leave it out. Reify-tech (talk) 20:14, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
I couldn't agree more with these points. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:19, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

Frequently disputed move request at Wolverine (character) with potentially wide repercussions[edit]

Wrong venue. Please move to Wikipedia talk:Article titles: This has nothing to do with the Manual of Style.

There is a discussion at Talk:Wolverine (character)#Page move back discussion, again concerning whether the page in question should be named Wolverine (character) or Wolverine (comics). This has long been a contentious issue—the page has been moved back and forth several times, and has had several discussions at both Talk:Wolverine (character) and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (comics). The outcome will likely have repercussions throughout WikiProject Comics, especially in light of the result of Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Comics#RfC: Proposed rewording for instructions for disambiguation.

There are also concerns regarding WP:CANVASSing for the discussion. Curly Turkey ⚞¡gobble!⚟ 02:23, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

A MOS talk page is not he palace to address article tile problems. The title of an article is covered by the Article tile policy and it naming conventions (see also disambiguation guideline). -- PBS (talk) 03:08, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
PBS: The discussion is not on any MOS talk page. It is at Talk:Wolverine (character). Curly Turkey ⚞¡gobble!⚟ 03:11, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
So why advertise it here? -- PBS (talk) 03:21, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
How is it inappropriate to advertise it here? What are you accusing me of? Curly Turkey ⚞¡gobble!⚟ 03:25, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
While this is near the top of the page I will copy it here so you can read it "This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Manual of Style page. The thread that you have started has nothing to do with improving the MoS. This should be closed and collapsed. MarnetteD|Talk 04:02, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

Cannot / can not[edit]

Change "can not" to "cannot"? Change "cannot" to "can not"? Leave as first written? Barring any ambiguity of course. Thanks! - Richfife (talk) 16:53, 26 August 2014 (UTC)

Perfectly good faith question, but hopeless as a standards proposal. When the rest of society settles on one or the other, so should we then. We're not likely to do it sooner. It would probably be easier to either standardize or eliminate all uses of can't.__ E L A Q U E A T E 20:32, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
That's what I thought. For the record, this is in relation to this exchange. - Richfife (talk) 20:41, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
No problem, it's a fun usage to speculate about, the lack of "can not" in dictionaries means nothing (two distinct words are not as often represented in dictionaries as actual compound uses), but ultimately its almost entirely harmless either way, despite individual preference, and neither side has proven which use is better at preventing the spread of scurvy and dysentery. It could probably be considered a WP:BIKE endeavour to be avoided on those grounds alone.__ E L A Q U E A T E 20:55, 26 August 2014 (UTC)
My schoolteacher said that there's no such word as "can't". Mind you, that was 40 years ago, it's probably been invented since. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:39, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
"Can't" is a perfectly acceptable contraction (although it's also perfectly acceptable for Wikipedia not to use contractions). Do you mean "ain't"? Skeezix1000 (talk) 16:45, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
IIRC it was in the context of "I can't do this, miss" in response to some task. --Redrose64 (talk) 16:51, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
That is better suited for the Idiomatic Manual of Style along with; there is no try, never say never, say "au revoir" but not "goodbye", etc. __ E L A Q U E A T E 17:02, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd say use only "cannot". Logically "I can not do it." should (or at least could) mean that it's possible for me not to do it but if that's the intended meaning, it would be better rephrased. At least that's my take on things at a glance. Jimp 17:58, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
It's my understanding that it is always "cannot" and never "can not" as two words. But you don't have to take my word for it: [2] ...but it seems this position is not universal. A list of sources here says that "cannot" is merely the "more common" spelling, though some of them refer to "can not" as non-modern. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:05, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

We shouldn't over-worry about what editors can do, or what they can not do, when the use is interchangeable. It cannot be denied that "cannot" is more common, but they're both acceptable and non-errors. __ E L A Q U E A T E 11:59, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

First search result: [Cannot or can not?] Modal Jig (talk) 13:24, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

"courtesy of" in photo captions?[edit]

I noticed in the article South_American_dreadnought_race that all of the photos have the source in the caption. This did not make sense to me for a number of reasons: 1. It is an indirect form of advertising that seems to violate WP:NOTAD, 2. It is a duplication of information, all of the information is included on the photo page itself. 3. It makes the captions unreadable long especially for mobile devices, in violation of WP:ACCESSIBILITY 4. It is inconsistent with the rest of Wikipedia.

My question is two fold, in this specific case as addressed by this revert of my changes [3], is there precedent for "having constancy" and following TCMOS?, and in general, do we have/need a wikipedia wide policy for "courtesy of" style citations in captions? CombatWombat42 (talk) 17:26, 27 August 2014 (UTC)

Yes, per WP:CREDITS we do not give photographic/courtesy byline credit in captions but use the file description page for that. --MASEM (t) 17:38, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
Rid us of this rubbish, Wombat, per all your reasons stated. Jimp 17:51, 27 August 2014 (UTC)
This is ridiculous, and Jimp, thanks for denigrating my work as "rubbish". Greatly appreciate it. Do we still wonder why article writers get discouraged and leave the site? Now, CombatWombat:
  1. You're going to call it advertising? Are you joking? Please tell me that you are. They're nearly all GLAMs or academic sources.
  2. Duplication is not necessarily a bad thing, and in this case, I'm purposely doing it. See this list's subsequent paragraph.
  3. There is absolutely no prohibition against lengthy captions, and most of the captions are only extended by a few words. The João Cândido Felisberto image was an unfortunate exception, but I've compromised; see the end of this message.
  4. If consistency were an issue, we'd have a standard system of citations with a rigid system of determining image sizes and infoboxes on every article. But we don't have any of that, so you're advancing an extremely weak argument. Article writers are given wide leeway, within wide parameters, to choose how to present their content.
Many of these images were uploaded or sent to me by outside parties specifically for use in this article (before anyone jumps, I'm not speaking in the copyright sense), and these credits have helped me attain additional imagery. In fact, I have more to upload once I find enough time to clean them up and ensure that they are out of copyright—although sadly, I wasn't been able to do so before ARA Rivadavia went on the main page. Given all this, I've been invoking a limited form of IAR in several of my articles to acknowledge institutions that have donated material—including several recent featured articles. The remaining captions are there to be consistency, a goal we as a project have only ever championed on an article-by-article basis. What here is actively hurting the encyclopedia?
As a compromise, I've shortened the lengthy captions with short cites. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 00:04 and 00:08, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
You can have a citation in a caption to identify the source, but our MOS disallows the use of bylines simply to be consistent across the board. In this article it is clearly not advertizing but someone would see that and say "well, I need to have my photos with bylines". Better not to do it at all on article pages than partial. --MASEM (t) 00:13, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Your argument doesn't carry through to its logical conclusion. They could also look at the citations and say "well, I need to format my short cites like that." They could look at the images and say "well, some of these are larger, so let me increase all of mine." They could look at the historiography section and say "well, I must be required to have one." To venture into hyperbolic territory, your argument implies that if our hypothetical editor watched a person jump off a bridge, they would follow, because they must blindly follow what came before without investigating why. It's pretty apparent that many of Wikipedia's articles have significant differences, and I'd be surprised if most editors have not long since recognized that. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 04:22, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
However, this is in our MOS, which is a standard all articles are expected to follow. There are some things we do blindly follow as to prevent edit warring over trivial differences like the inclusion of bylines. --MASEM (t) 04:33, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
The credits page is meant to prevent the use of bylines to fulfill GFDL/CC licenses, and it has exceptions built in. Anyway, again, there's IAR. These bylines, which are actively helping the Wikimedia world obtain media files, are a great use of IAR, one of Wikipedia's core principles (in full: "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it." Pretty applicable here.). Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 04:52 and 04:57, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
And we have decided that if a reader needs to find a photo credit, they should look there so that we don't run into the issue of people simply looking for free advertising because they see other photos using that credit. IAR doesn't apply here, unless you want to argue for a full out change in the MOS. --MASEM (t) 05:22, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
And again, IAR tells us that "if a rule [such as the manual of style!] prevents your from improving or maintaining Wikipedia [I've demonstrated above that these credits are helping me obtain additional media files], ignore it." Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 15:22, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
But IAR still has to work by consensus, and judging by the discussion, you don't have that. IAR is not evoked on the whim of one person's opinion. --MASEM (t) 15:25, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Wikipedia policy is not to place photo credits into captions, but to make credits accessible one click away. Wikipedia is actually more careful than many other websites to make credits conveniently available to any interested reader, without cluttering up articles with source information not usually of general interest. An occasional exception may be made when the originator of the image is WP:NOTABLE as the creator of a particular iconic image, but this mention must satisfy the usual criteria for notability. Reify-tech (talk) 15:57, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

En dash vs. hyphen: Specific application question[edit]

I have a specific question about the en dash vs. hyphen issue for anyone particularly fluent in the difference: In the article name Adam–God doctrine, should it be an en dash (as it is now) or a hyphen (as it used to be)?

My initial sense was en dash, but bearing in mind that the gist of the doctrine is that Adam and God are the same person or being, is this akin to the "wrong" example given in § 9.9.2.2 of "singer-songwriter", which uses a hyphen, not a dash, because it's "not separate persons" that are being referred to? According to the doctrine, saying "Adam" and saying "God" is referring to one being—not separate persons—so should it not be a hyphen? (In a literal sense, it's the "Adam=God doctrine"). Any insights or opinions on this? Good Ol’factory (talk) 02:00, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

So what you're saying is you'd like to resurrect one of the most passionate (to the writers) and boring (to the readers) debates in Wikipedia history, but with a religious twist about a longer, similar debate this time? Fair enough.
I'm always for using whichever one -this- is, because that's the one I have on my keyboard. And everything is God. But you should use whichever thing you're supposed to use, according to the result of the last war. That's why they're held. InedibleHulk (talk) 08:17, August 28, 2014 (UTC)
If the doctrine is about the relationship between Adam and God, it should be an endash. On the other hand, if adherents of the doctrine use "Adam-God" as a single name, it should be a hyphen. (Some aspects of the MOS endash vs. hyphen "guidance" seem to be of theological complexity. Let's not start discussing it again!) Peter coxhead (talk) 08:42, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
@InedibleHulk: The one on your keyboard is hyphen-minus, U+002D. See also Wikipedia:How to make dashes. --Redrose64 (talk) 18:35, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks! InedibleHulk (talk) 21:49, August 28, 2014 (UTC)
But ONLY on a keypad that has numbers locked. The numbers on the main keyboard won't work and since I keep my keypad set without numbers locked, and I use ndash a lot, I had to create a macro so alt+F12 would create an ndash. Fyunck(click) (talk) 22:23, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
I use the 'Edit page "Insert"' method described at Wikipedia:How to make dashes#Long explanation - you need to expand the "Are you sure you want the long explanation?" box to see it. --Redrose64 (talk) 23:28, 28 August 2014 (UTC)
No, I didn't want to open the underlying issue for debate again—I was just wondering how the guideline as currently written would apply to this situation. I appreciate the humor, though. Good Ol’factory (talk) 22:04, 28 August 2014 (UTC)

Crimes and the use of "allege"[edit]

Can we get some folks to join this conversation? The question boils down to when someone stands suspect of a crime, do we allege they committed the crime and also have to allege the crime happend in the first place. There is also an overreaching question that the elements of the crime need to be established, and are the RS permitted to do that, or does that have to be determined in a legal setting. Thanks, Two kinds of pork (talk) 05:37, 28 August 2014 (UTC)