Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Biographies

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RfC: Comma or no comma before Jr. and Sr.[edit]

NAC:The consensus is that, while both forms are acceptable, the omission of the comma is preferred. One of the reasons is that the rules about following the qualifier with a comma are themselves complicated. The MOS page already states that the comma is not needed, so that the MOS page can be left as it is. Robert McClenon (talk) 03:39, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

What guidance should be given (on this page and on Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people)) concerning the use or non-use of commas between a person's name and "Jr." or "Sr."? W. P. Uzer (talk) 09:36, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

  • There was an RFC on this matter earlier this month (no consensus), followed by a subsequent discussion - what good would a fresh RFC do so soon? GiantSnowman 10:07, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
    • Most recent discussion (see threads above) seems to imply a new consensus may be forming; in any case the matter needs to be resolved somehow, since at least one editor is insisting on making WP:NCP say something that contradicts this guideline. W. P. Uzer (talk) 10:19, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

Do not place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designations. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr. (not Sammy Davis, Jr.); John F. Kennedy Jr. (not John F. Kennedy, Jr.); Otis D. Wright II (not Otis D. Wright, II).

Style guides vary on whether or not to include a comma before "Jr." and "Sr."; both forms are acceptable, but there is no good reason why Wikipedia's style should bow to the subject's preference. (Determining the subject's preference is also needlessly time-consuming and can lead to disputes.)
The contemporary trend is to omit the commas. As noted above, where a comma is included before, one must also be included after when used mid-sentence, although some editors disagree and this could lead to confusion where there is other punctuation, so it would be simpler all around to omit them. (If the consensus was to include the comma, or to allow it in some cases, the guidance would be more contentious and would need to be more complicated to reflect authoritative style guides on the matching comma.) sroc 💬 07:48, 28 December 2014 (UTC) [added first parenthetical remark 11:42, 28 December 2014 (UTC)]
Accordingly, consequential amendments to remove the commas from:


In the case of Senior/Junior, the preferred format is with "Sr." or "Jr." written after the name without any preceding comma (see WP:JR); ...

sroc 💬 07:54, 28 December 2014 (UTC) [added to latter section 11:38, 28 December 2014 (UTC)]

Can we just vote... sorry, get a show of hands on this?[edit]

Well, given the previous discussions, I don't think we need a general discussion of what guidance should be provided, but rather a simple up-or-down show of hands on what we want to say. So pick one:

  • Option 1: Do not place a comma before "Jr.", "Sr.", or Roman numeral designation. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.
  • Option 2: Do not place a comma before "Jr.", "Sr.", or Roman numeral designation unless it is the preference of the subject or sources concerning the subject. Examples: Sammy Davis, Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

[N.B.: bolding in Option 2 is just to highlight the existence of the additional text, which will not be bolded in the actual rule.] Herostratus (talk) 19:39, 28 December 2014 (UTC)


  • Option 1 for my part. Herostratus (talk) 19:39, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Option 2. Wikipedia doesn't use standardized spelling (US vs British English) or consistent date formats (MDY vs DMY; BC/AD vs BCE/CE), so why should we have a hard rule for this? It's really a solution in search of a problem. And, a subject's consideration should be taken into account. -- Calidum 19:52, 28 December 2014 (UTC)
Why should a subject's consideration be taken into account on a question of style? Do you think other encyclopedias, newspapers and publications consult the subject's preferences? Making allowance for the subject's preference (if they have one) or a preponderance of sources (which likely use their own style rules regardless of the subject's views):
  • is irrelevant, as the subject's style (or sources' styles) should not determine Wikipedia's style;
  • needlessly takes up editors' time checking sources and debating preferences;
  • can only lead to arguments over which style should apply in individual cases;
  • makes the guideline more involved than it needs to be;
  • lends to inconsistency if different subjects are formatted differently and discussed together, say, in a list of famous Americans that mentions "Sammy Davis, Jr." and "John F. Kennedy Jr.";
  • leads to arguments amongst editors over whether a comma should also appear after the "Jr." (it most definitely should, although some editors find this hard to believe).
Option 2 is a bad idea. Option 1 is a simple solution that avoids all these issues. sroc 💬 09:00, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Option 1 if the Sammy Davis Jr. example is fixed to reflect the rule, as I proposed above. Option 2 is deficient for the reasons I have already given above. Consequential changes to WP:NCP would also be needed, as noted above. sroc 💬 08:42, 29 December 2014 (UTC) [addendum 08:50, 29 December 2014 (UTC)]
And can we put the "Jr." and "Sr." in the rule in quotation marks or italics, as they are used meta-syntactically? sroc 💬 09:29, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
OK fixed. Herostratus (talk) 14:55, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
  • Option 1 is my preference, as it's a simple rule, consistent with modern style guides, and probably the only way to avoid the inconsistencies such as people who put a comma before but then don't want to put the matching comma after, in violation of ALL style guides. It also avoids all the arguments and guesswork about what someone might have preferred, like on the Sammy Davis Jr. case where some think the comma is better, but half of the books about him, including the one by his daughter, don't use the comma. It's obviously a style choice, and if WP expresses a simple style rule things will go easier. Dicklyon (talk) 04:07, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
  • If I have to choose, Option 1 is also my preference, for the same reasons. But, let's take a look at the advice in the Oxford New Hart's Rules (latest ed., 2005, p. 103). The fact that NHR now includes explicit guidance for American writers and editors—and apparently enjoys significant sales and readership in the US—raises its status in this context. For these two identifiers they distinguish both American and British usage, and American and British people to whose names these identifiers might be added (a 2 × 2 situation, if you like). I quote:

    "Use the abbreviation Jr (with a point in US use) for Americans, prefaced by a comma unless it is known that the bearer of the name did not use one. In British usage, Jun. is more common, and the comma is not usual."

    I think NHR's intended meaning would be clearer if they started the second sentence with "In British usage referring to Britons,"). Am I right in saying that? They seem to leave it open for US usage in referring to Britons (admittedly, it arises much much less often). Either way, it seems to me that our old article-consistent model—so successful for spelling varieties, units of measure, and date formatting—might be the first principle to state, with some flexibility written in and pointers to the most usual US and UK practice. Could be done fairly succinctly, I think. Tony (talk) 16:48, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

Why don't you propose an Option 3 for consideration? Sounds complicated though. I have that New Harts Rules of 2005; but I haven't noticed anyone using it or referring to it. Amazon shows a 2014 edition; looks like it also has complicated advice on that: "Page 109 ... Each has several abbreviations (Jun., Jnr, Jr; Sen., Senr, Snr, Sr)." & "Page 176 …end in full points while contractions do not, so that we have Jun. and Jr f…" in which they seem to be saying no period after Jr or Sr; I've never seen that before. Dicklyon (talk) 00:16, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
It is a convention of some age (depending on where you come from) that a full-stop is omitted from abbreviations ending in the last letter of the unabbreviated word - Dr, Mr, Jr etc. I think Jr or Jnr are to be preferred over Jun (and like for senior) because of possible ambiguity. Option 1. I think there is scope to address both the preferred abbreviation here and the absence of a full-stop as well. Cinderella157 (talk) 02:57, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 1 - consistency. Commas seem to inundate the line when other names are involved - for example John F. Kennedy, Jr., Joe Blow, Sr., Bill King, III, ugh. AtsmeConsult 01:19, 19 January 2015 (UTC)
  • Of course a comma before 'Jr.' should be kept if the person is known by that name, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. A very few people on a talk page in a non-binding discussion should not be able to say that Martin Luther King's name should be changed on Wikipedia even though the world at large, the U.S. government, and his family adds the comma. I see that Dicklyon has gone ahead and changed the main page of this talk page already, believing that some kind of consensus has been formed here. It has not. The naming of names seems to be a point of conflict, but in this case common sense and common name should prevail, not a set-in-stone policy which is actually a non-set-in-stone guideline. Randy Kryn 6:14 9 February, 2015 (UTC)
  • It's too trivial for most people to care either way. We have inconsistent citation styles between articles, inconsistent spelling, some articles are written in American English, others British, etc. There is no need to impose one way or another. This is a case where it essentially doesn't matter whether there is a comma or not. So, neither or both should be acceptable. DrKiernan (talk) 08:37, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 1 I, too, find sroc's reasoning on this issue persuasive, tending to clarify a prevalent standard and to minimize disputes by affirming its usage. FactStraight (talk) 09:25, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Option 2 When in doubt, the usage by the particular person ought to be adhered to. I doubt this will cause any substantial inconvenience, and conforms to the general principle of accepting the person as a source for their own name as presented in titles on Wikipedia, while allowing names found in reliable sources also to be used in the body of such articles. Collect (talk) 13:04, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

Threaded discussion[edit]

IMO sroc kind of nailed it. To reiterate what he said, Option 1 is the way to go because using Option 2:

  • is irrelevant, as the subject's style (or sources' styles) should not determine Wikipedia's style;
  • besides which sources' styles are only reflecting their own style books, which who cares;
  • needlessly takes up editors' time checking sources and debating preferences;
  • can only lead to arguments over which style should apply in individual cases;
  • makes the guideline more involved than it needs to be;
  • lends to inconsistency if different subjects are formatted differently and discussed together, say, in a list of famous Americans that mentions "Sammy Davis, Jr." and "John F. Kennedy Jr.";
  • leads to arguments amongst editors over whether a comma should also appear after the "Jr." (it most definitely should, although some editors find this hard to believe).

IMO this is a pretty strong argument and a close on strength-of-argument alone could be called for here. Herostratus (talk) 14:40, 1 January 2015 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


Just to be clear, when the closer says "the MOS page can be left as it is", that's because I already made the change a while ago to remove the exception "unless it is the preference of the subject or sources concerning the subject" per consensus here. Dicklyon (talk) 04:10, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification. I have made corresponding revisions to Wikipedia:Naming conventions (people) (see [1][2]). sroc 💬 08:10, 13 February 2015 (UTC)

I've been moving and editing to get rid of the unbalanced commas. Maybe a hundred articles so far; but miniscule impact on the problem. No pushback encountered. In most cases I find the classic mismatch comma error that all the guides warn against. And in many the titles of cited sources have commas inserted where the source did not use it. Apparently a number of editors felt that comma before was really important for some reason. I also see quite a few uncommented moves to titles with comma, when the article originally was without. Dicklyon (talk) 02:30, 21 February 2015 (UTC)

Per discussion below, I regret that I had not noticed that my change to the MOS per the text proposed in the RFC had been changed by DrKiernan before the close. What a mess this causes now. Dicklyon (talk) 04:33, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Consequential moves[edit]

I recently moved:

These moved have been reverted by Richard Arthur Norton claiming that the names with a single comma should remain "per the name from government website" or "the actual name", even though the names with a single comma are not only against MOS but also style guides on English punctuation. I have started a move request at Talk:John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway § Requested move 2 March 2015.

I have also requested a technical move for:

See Talk:Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. § Requested move 1 March 2015. sroc 💬 08:58, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

One wonders what would motivate Richard Arthur Norton to oppose a move toward compliance with the MOS, especially when the site is itself so inconsistent in their styling. Dicklyon (talk) 04:35, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Requested moves are decided on the AT policy and its naming convention guidelines. So why are you posting this here? and not on WT:AT? -- PBS (talk) 20:15, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Not sure what you mean. Don't we style titles the same as text? Does AT have a separate recommendation on how to style Jr. and Sr.? Not that I've seen. Dicklyon (talk) 04:04, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
Please let's not have this MOS–AT loggerheads thing again, PBS. Tony (talk) 04:36, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Clarification on wording[edit]

There seems to be some confusion about what this RfC actually decided. The whole point of the RfC was to amend the previous wording:

Do not place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designation unless it is the preference of the subject or sources concerning the subject. Examples: Sammy Davis, Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

On the basis that there was a consensus forming that Wikipedia's style should not be subject to an evaluation of the subject's preferences, I proposed that the wording be amended to read:

Do not place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designations. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr. (not Sammy Davis, Jr.); John F. Kennedy Jr. (not John F. Kennedy, Jr.); Otis D. Wright II (not Otis D. Wright, II).

Herostratus restated this as:

Do not place a comma before "Jr.", "Sr.", or Roman numeral designation. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

This wording was broadly supported by most respondents. Dicklyon made the change on 7 February to reflect the above wording. DrKiernan made a further change on 9 February to read as follows:

Generally, there is no need to place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designation. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

I reverted that edit on 10 February as it was not supported by the RfC discussion but DrKiernan again edited it to read:

It is unnecessary to place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designation. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

Although the above change was not supported by the above RfC, it was the wording that was in place when Robert McClenon closed the RfC on 13 February stating:

The consensus is that, while both forms are acceptable, the omission of the comma is preferred. One of the reasons is that the rules about following the qualifier with a comma are themselves complicated. The MOS page already states that the comma is not needed, so that the MOS page can be left as it is.

The consensus of the RfC was that the commas should be omitted; however, the final wording at WP:JR does not reflect this. In fact, the final wording arguably opens up the case to allow a comma before "Jr." and "Sr." at editors' discretion where this was not permitted before (it previously said "Do not" except for following the subject's preference). The current wording has been used in discussions to thwart page moves on the basis that the wording does not prohibit commas before "Jr." and "Sr.":

The current situation remains deplorable also because WP:JR provides no guidance on matching commas having to follow "Jr." or "Sr." if one precedes it, which is also being disputed by various users, and which is one of the reasons supporting the RfC to omit the commas altogether.

It seems that Robert McClenon, in closing the RfC, did not realise that the words "It is unnecessary..." would be interpreted in this way and used to undermine the whole point of the proposal. The wording "Do not...", which was as it appeared in the original text and in the proposals put forward in the RfC and agreed by most respondents, should be restored to WP:JR to avoid any ongoing confusion. sroc 💬 14:47, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

  • Oppose. The consensus is not "do not place a comma"; the consensus is "both forms are acceptable, the omission of the comma is preferred". DrKiernan (talk) 14:53, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
The wording proposed and agreed by the majority was "Do not..." You snuck in your wording unnoticed and Robert didn't realise the difference. Let's ask Robert to clarify this. sroc 💬 15:09, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
I didn't sneak in anything. Your personal attack is unwarranted and offensive. DrKiernan (talk) 15:34, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm sorry I you see this as a personal attack; I did not mean to offend you. The fact is that you made a change to the wording of WP:JR from "Do not..." to "It is unnecessary to..." which I do not believe was supported by the RfC discussion (it was contrary to the proposal that had majority support) and it either went unnoticed or the subtlety was not realised by the time the RfC was closed. I do not believe that your version reflects the consensus, but the AN review will hopefully resolve this. sroc 💬 00:01, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support restoration of the version that the RFC agreed on before DrKiernan modified it. I'll do that now. Dicklyon (talk) 00:18, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Closer comments[edit]

It appears that I may have made the mistake of following a Wikipedia policy, assume good faith. I am no longer sure that there is good faith, because there are low-grade personal attacks. On the one hand, my own opinion is that the use of a comma between the name and the suffix should not be prohibited, provided that two conditions are met, first, the subject has expressed the desire for the comma, second, the rules concerning subsequent punctuation, which are complicated, are followed. However, my own opinion is not important, because I was trying to summarize consensus in closing the RFC. I will be requesting closure review at WP:AN with regard to three issues: first, did my closure reflect consensus, or, at least, was it a valid assessment of consensus; second, were there issues that should have been addressed that were overlooked; third, is administrative attention needed because of low-grade personal attacks? Normally non-administrative closure is just as good as administrative closure, but this may be a case where administrative closure is needed. Robert McClenon (talk) 17:18, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

New RFC[edit]

It has been suggested by administrator User:EdJohnston that a new RFC be opened to change the current wording "It is unnecessary to" to "Do not", as in "Do not use a comma". I will be opening such an RFC shortly, but would appreciate comments on one particular point. That is the impact in cases where the subject prefers the use of the comma. In those cases, we have two choices. We can say that, in Wikipedia, we will not use the comma. (The policy on biographies of living persons doesn't require that degree of deference.) Alternatively, we can specify that we will use the comma in that situation, but that the rules concerning subsequent punctuation must be followed. My wording of the RFC will simply say "Do not", thus mandating no comma. Robert McClenon (talk) 18:38, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Well let's see. The close was

The consensus is that, while both forms are acceptable, the omission of the comma is preferred. One of the reasons is that the rules about following the qualifier with a comma are themselves complicated. The MOS page already states that the comma is not needed, so that the MOS page can be left as it is

Striking to heart of this, it devolves to

both forms are acceptable

when push comes to shove, since "is preferred" is just a general admonition with no enforceability, and "not needed" is far from "forbidden".

The difference is that, if I am reading things correctly, formerly the rule was:

Both forms are used, use the one preferred by the subject and/or most sources

and now it is

Both forms are used, use the one you prefer

since it just says "It is unnecessary..." which can certainly be interpreted as "Not required but allowed". Looking at it one way this is even worse than it was (endless arguments, even less uniformity), looking at it another way it removes one small bureaucratic rule preventing writers from writing how they like.

So how about a clean RfC which simply asks for preference:

  1. Don't use the comma, it's forbidden.
  2. Do what you think is reflects the will of the subject and/or most sources.
  3. Do what you like (adding some vague handwaving language that not using the comma "is preferred" is optional and not very important).

Let voters rank these 1-2-3. (You could add a #4 "must use the comma" if you think that ought to be on the table (it hasn't been brought up as a possibility before, though)). If #3 wins the day we would then (I guess) be faced with whether to have an admonition to leave existing material as you found it. How this would work with article titles I don't know -- probably simple majority rule on a case-by-case basis. Herostratus (talk) 21:56, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

Well the preceding RfC is now the subject of an AN review so I suggest that we wait for that to play out first. No point confusing the matter further with another RfC which could lead to conflicting results. sroc 💬 23:54, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Despite my comment that another RfC would confuse matters, DrKiernan has started one anyway (§ Request for comment: Child named for parent or predecessor).
Note that saying "both forms are acceptable" in English does not mean that we can't mandate one form or another in our Manual of Style; we are free to adopt a style from those forms that are generally acceptable in English. This is the nature of the MoS.
Also, the former rule was not "Both forms are used, use the one preferred by the subject and/or most sources", as stated by Herostratus, but "Do not use commas unless preferred by the subject"; the preference of the subject was always a matter of conjecture, but the general rule was not to use commas if the subject's preference was unknown or unclear. In contrast, DrKiernan's wording seems to allow for the editor's preference when this was not the case before (and the RfC never discussed this outcome as being a desired change). sroc 💬 09:40, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
I don't like these terms "mandate" and "forbid". The MOS says what is preferred. Editors should be encouraged and supported to move toward more preferred styles. Nobody should be forbidden for doing things differently, nor mandated to conform. But it's bad form to fight those who are working to move toward a more preferred styling. Whether the MOS expresses it as "do not" or "it is not necessary to" hardly makes a difference, if people will understand that these are just ways of expressing the preferred style. Dicklyon (talk) 05:44, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
The problem is that we still have disagreement as to whether one form actually is (or even should be) preferred over the other. If people are fighting those who are "working towards a more preferred styling"... I have to question whether that styling is actually "preferred". The more I think about this issue, the more I am reaching the conclusion that we should adopt the third option that is always available... to intentionally not adopt a single style. If we have to say anything, simply state that both forms are acceptable. Blueboar (talk) 17:13, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
If we were to allow both styles, then we need to make it clear that a comma before "Jr." or "Sr." requires a comma afterwards. This is a standard rule of English punctuation universally supported by style guides but often overlooked by those who sometimes insist on using only one comma, sometimes copying "official" sources that have it wrong. For this reason, it is simpler to omit the commas altogether (and consistent with MOS:COMMA, which states "Modern practice is against excessive use of commas"). sroc 💬 16:48, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
Separate issue... let's see if we can gain consensus for "allow both" on the "comma before" question... and then tackle the "comma after" issue in a separate discussion. (Grammatically speaking, I would agree... but once again I have to point out that names are unique things, and don't always follow the standard rules of English punctuation. So there would be exceptions no matter what we decide). Blueboar (talk) 17:20, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
Why should there be exceptions? All style guides say a comma before "Jr." or "Sr." requires a comma after. sroc 💬 13:14, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────My issue isn't about whether or not to have a comma, but whichever it is, it should say why -- not just say do not do it. --Musdan77 (talk) 21:35, 2 April 2015 (UTC)

Are we ready?[edit]

Are we ready for a new, broader RfC? The current RfC languishes at a closure review that may or may not be acted upon any time soon. In the meantime, we have had several ad hoc RMs on the issue of Jr. commas. User:sroc above said that we should wait for that review to close before starting a new RfC, while User:Dicklyon has queried why some RM participants have not already started a new one if they intend to.

I think it's time to start the new RfC. The current RfC asked a narrow question: whether to allow evidence of personal preference over comma usage, or only to mention guidance to avoid the comma. The RfC will include several options, some of which were not presented in the current RfC. For that reason, the new RfC will likely make the current RfC moot. Instead of waiting for that RfC closure review to conclude, I'd like to start the new RfC now. But I think we'd all like to avoid procedural objections from people who think we should wait.

So I'm asking here: does anyone object to starting a new RfC on Jr. commas now? Dohn joe (talk) 17:07, 6 April 2015 (UTC)

Yes, please do. The close review isn't going to accomplish anything one way or the other. Dicklyon (talk) 17:25, 6 April 2015 (UTC)
I support a new RfC, given that the close review has stalled and several users have now criticised the previous RfC for not being widely signposted. I would still support the wording proposed last time (i.e., "Do not place a comma before 'Jr.', 'Sr.', or Roman numeral designation"). In any option to allow for the subject's preference or editors' preferences (either of which are fraught with difficulty and prone to argument), I would recommend including guidance that a preceding comma must be matched by a succeeding comma (as unanimously indicated by style guides). sroc 💬 04:44, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Great. I'll wait a couple more days to see if any dissenters show up. Any thoughts on venue and/or notifications to bring in a wider audience than last timeDohn joe (talk) 20:51, 8 April 2015 (UTC)
I don't object to a second RFC... However, I suspect that if you ask the same question as before, the outcome will be the same as before (ie no real consensus will be reached). Blueboar (talk) 01:37, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
Fear not. New questions will be asked. Do you have a suggestion as to how to more widely advertise the new RfC? Dohn joe (talk) 02:05, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
WP:VPP would likely be the best venue to hold the discussion at since the result of it will affect both MOS:BIO and WP:AT. Calidum ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 05:53, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
I agree. The best venue for such an RfC is WP:VP/P, which has a wide audience, and which is the appropriate place for discussing such changes. RGloucester 05:57, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
Go for it. Dicklyon (talk) 05:45, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
So, are we doing this? Do we want to draft the question here first? sroc 💬 08:43, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Yes - sorry for being so deliberate. I just want to make sure no one raises procedural issues that would muddy the RfC. As for the question itself, I was thinking it could extremely simple, as "What should WP's guidance be regarding commas before Jr. and Sr.?" Then we present comprehensive options for people to consider. I would suggest 1) no commas, no exceptions (current language); 1A) no commas, subject and source exception (previous language); 2) use commas, no exceptions; 2A) use commas, subject and source exception; 3) allow both, with internal consistency; 4) no guidance (remove WP:JR). Editors could choose one, or possibly rank their choices in order. Others are free to suggest further options.

The big question for me right now is what to do with guidance on the comma after Jr. Addressing that issue right now is good because it would hopefully resolve the WP:JR guidance completely. Doing so now is bad because it could make the RfC too unwieldy, and doom consensus on the comma before. We could split this into two questions, with the second question being something like "When a comma is used before Jr. or Sr., what should WP's guidance be regarding a comma following Jr. or Sr.?" The options could be 1) include a following comma, no exceptions; 1A) include a following comma, subject and source exception; 2) allow both, with internal consistency. I'm on the fence as to whether to include this at the same time as the other. Any thoughts? Dohn joe (talk) 15:10, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

I think you've outlined the options perfectly. Although it might be useful to ask both questions at once to avoid re-hashing the same arguments, the second question becomes redundant if option (1) is carried on the first question (as I hope it will). For the sake of simplicity, it may be better to hold off on the second question until the result on the first question emerges, although it would be prudent to flag this as a point for further discussion (if relevant). sroc 💬 17:48, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks - I agree. Let's see if anyone else has feedback, and then I'll post the RfC tomorrow. Dohn joe (talk) 21:54, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

Here we are folks, enjoy! Wikipedia:Village_pump_(policy)#RfC:_Guidance_on_commas_before_Jr._and_Sr. Dohn joe (talk) 02:08, 15 April 2015 (UTC)


Would someone check Talk:Nathuram Godse#Lead: why .22sole.22? Few weeks ago, I had discussion with an editor and very soon it became repetitive. Main objection[3] was, whether he was "sole" assassin or not and it turned into a lead re-write. I still think that the lead fails per WP:OPENPARA. Thanks. OccultZone (TalkContributionsLog) 08:03, 3 March 2015 (UTC)

Question about "Jr" in full name names[edit]

I would like some clarification on the issue of whether people, usually men, who have the same name (or at least the same first name and family name) should have "Jr" included in their full name even when such people didn't include it in their name. Some editors include "Jr" for such people on the basis or assumption that this should be part of their full name. I seem to recall, however, that there is, or used to be, a comment in the MoS that "Jr" should only be included in a people's names if they used it themselves. Apologies if this has been discussed before. Thanks, Afterwriting (talk) 01:37, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

It would seem peculiar to append Jr to a name if a person didn't use that. Do you have an example of where this question has come up? Dicklyon (talk) 04:31, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for replying. I have seen it ~ and changed it ~ in numerous articles in recent years. There is a long discussion about this matter on the talk page of the Bob Hoskins article. When he died some obituaries and articles added "Jr" to his name even though he didn't use it. Afterwriting (talk) 04:45, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
If only a few reliable sources mention the fact that the subject is actually a Junior, I think it would be appropriate to at least mention it in passing somewhere in the article (perhaps in a parenthetical added to the opening sentence). I certainly would not use it more than that (and not in the title).
If, on the other hand, a clear majority of sources include the Jr. when referring to the subject, then so should we (even if the subject himself/herself does not personally use it)... per WP:COMMONNAME, we would certainly include it in our article title, as that would be the most recognizable version of his name. Blueboar (talk) 20:13, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
One has to be careful. If the subject didn't use "Jr", there could be a very good reason why. One member of my family is named after his father, but they have different middle names, much like George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, so there is no junior–senior relationship to be had because of the differing middle names. Imzadi 1979  00:13, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
I doubt a reliable source (defined as one with a reputation for fact checking and accuracy) will make that sort of mistake. So if we base what we write on reliable sources, we should be OK. Blueboar (talk) 02:34, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Request for comment: Child named for parent or predecessor[edit]

Both commentators, one from either side, have complained about the RfC.[4][5] So, I have closed it. DrKiernan (talk) 13:56, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Should the section Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies#Child named for parent or predecessor be removed? Is it necessary or required? DrKiernan (talk) 07:32, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

No, it should not be removed. Yes, it is needed, as is evident by the disputes caused with so many users not knowing how to use commas in English and arguing over whether they should be used in individual cases. It must, however, be updated to reflect the consensus for change in the most recent RfC, which will hopefully be borne out in the review; in the interim, it would be premature to debate further changes. sroc 💬 09:31, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Yes it should be removed. Names are unique to an individual. Some Juniors/Seniors write their names with a comma and others don't, and we need to respect how the subject himself/herself writes their own name. I realize that there is a desire to have consistent wiki-wide style guidance... However, my experience is that style "rules" that affect how names are presented always end up causing more arguments than they resolve. That's because names are unique to each individual subject, and not consistent between subjects. So... I think it is better to remain silent on this issue than it is to attempt to impose a "rule" that will be endlessly challenged. Allow both "with comma" and "without comma". Intentionally don't decide which is "correct". Blueboar (talk) 12:36, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

The MOS guidelines do not cover Article titles[edit]

There have been two long RfC in the last two years on the talk page of AT there is no consensus that the MOS guidelines cover article titles. Therefore discussions such as "#RfC: Comma or no comma before Jr. and Sr." are taking place in the wrong locations and any consensus that comes out of them are not binging on article titles. If there is to be a change to the article title policy or its naming conventions guidelines then any such changes ought to be discussed on the title policy talk page and/or the appropriate naming convention. -- PBS (talk) 20:11, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Actually, there has always been a clear consensus that the MOS applies to all parts of an article including titles. But there are a few like you who have resisted clarifying the AT policy to state explicitly that commonname is not about styling, even though a clear majority agree. So don't bring that up as a claim that "there is no consensus that the MOS guidelines cover article titles". They clearly do. Dicklyon (talk) 04:56, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
That's an interesting opinion, but the comma question is just punctuation, not naming. Is "binging" a typo above? —BarrelProof (talk) 20:43, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Could we please not play the "my policy trumps your policy" game again. The claim that AT has no standing because "the comma question is just punctuation" is rediculous. The reality is that we are talking about much more than "just punctuation". We are talking about punctuation that is part of a name. Thus, AT and the various naming conventions most certainly do need to have at least some jurisdiction here. I am not saying that MOS has no standing... but if MOS starts to make rulings on how we present names, rulings that ignore what AT and the naming conventions say, all you are doing is creating argument and disruption. Our policies and guidelines are supposed to work together and support each other. If they don't, then we have a problem. Blueboar (talk) 00:08, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
Style guides don't seem to accept that concept. They treat the comma as punctuation, or styling, not as an inherent part of a name. Can you point to anyone or anything where there is evidence of the comma being thought of as a required or preferred part of a name? We had "Sammy Davis, Jr." as an example, yet most of his albums and many of his biographies, including one by his daughter, omit the comma. Who could then claim it's an inherent part of his name? By the way, my dad is a "Jr." and for 60 years I always wrote his name with a comma; yet I have no qualms about moving to a more modern style; shall I ask him if he minds? Dicklyon (talk) 04:51, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
Just for the record... my father was also a "Jr."... and I know he did mind when people omitted the comma in his name. Blueboar (talk) 18:05, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
Whatever happens, AT and MOS need to sing from the same songsheet. Otherwise we look like fools. Tony (talk) 04:55, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. Blueboar (talk) 18:05, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
"Junior" or "Senior" appended to a name is not really part of the name per se. For example, George Bush, the 41st President of the United States, did not change his name by deed poll to "George Bush Sr." when he named his first son George; rather, "Sr." is sometimes appended to his name to distinguish from the 43rd President, who may equally have "Jr." appended to his name even though it does not form part of his name proper. As such, the styling of punctuation is a matter for the publication to decide, which is why it is covered by numerous reputable style guides, in addition to our own MoS. sroc 💬 05:13, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
I disagree... the appendage Junior and Senior are most definitely an integral part of the name. The Bushs are a poor example, as they are not actually "Senior" and "Junior" in the first place... they have different middle names. (I don't think many reliable sources make the mistake of referring to them as "Sr." and "Jr."... but any that do are factually incorrect.)
The thing about saying "we are free to set any style we want for our own house style" is that we tend to forget to ask the most important question: whether it is wise to do so. We forget that this freedom also includes the option to intentionally NOT set a style... or to allow for multiple styles. Blueboar (talk) 17:32, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
Actually, the article at George H. W. Bush says: "Bush is often referred to as 'George H. W. Bush', ... or 'George Bush Sr.' to distinguish him from his son..." That aside, the fact is that "Sr." does not become part of one's name per se but is used to distinguish people with the same name. Whether it should be styled with commas (always with matching commas in a run-on sentence) or without commas is a matter of style which each publisher is entitled to decide for themselves (as many style guides do). sroc 💬 13:30, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

Nationality "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA"[edit]

This message comes from the talk page of a biography (Talk:Marshall Rosenberg#Nationality), where the nationality is listed as "American" in {{Infobox person}}:

A USA citizen's passport gives the nationality as "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" [1]. This is a bit strange, since it is a noun, but "American" can hardly be a nationality, seeing as "America" is not a country (old debate, I know, but "American" seems like the worst of all possibilities, many countries being American). I guess "US-American" might do (even though Mexico is a "US", as well, apparently). Don't know how wide-spread this is on WP. kamome, 2015-03-03


Good question! I suggest that we just go with what the passport says, and write "USA". — Sebastian 19:01, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Keep it at American. -- Calidum 19:20, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
When you say "keep", it sounds like it's an established standard. Has this already been established? — Sebastian 19:26, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
"'America' is not a country...." Really? Tell that to Tojo, Hitler, and Musso. I always write "Such-and-so was an American whatever..." because that's how people talk and everyone understands what it means. Using terms that everyone understands if useful and functional, so I don't intend to stop doing that. What I would like to see is a lot more use of "American" in lede sentences. "So-and-so was an American baseball player..." (or scientist or singer or whatever). A lot of editors just seem to to assume that American is the default nationality for everyone unless otherwise specified. Herostratus (talk) 21:29, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
I do think that these two things are true: one, that some people resent that "American" is the adjective for people from the United States, and would like it if it wasn't so; but it is. Wishes, horses, beggars. And secondly, there is the type of person who, if you tell them you're from America, will cleverly ask "Oh, really, which country?". Such people are being disingenuous just to annoy and are best avoided. Herostratus (talk) 21:37, 7 March 2015 (UTC)
Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement-en.svg
"Such people are ..." is on the lowest rungs of the hierarchy of disagreement, and is strongly discouraged at Wikipedia. Please let's have a reasonable discussion, based on facts. Kamome based their argument on what appears to me THE authority on nationality in the USA: The United States Department of State. I find that far more convincing than personal attacks. — Sebastian 06:04, 8 March 2015 (UTC)
Rubbish, man. In English, there is no ambiguity. People from the United States of America are American, have been, and always shall be. "American" is the demonym for people from the United States. Deal with it, and find something better to do. RGloucester 21:58, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
Certainly not "USA", per WP:NOTUSA. As a nationality for infobox purposes, I would personally suggest "United States". As an adjective, "American". —BarrelProof (talk) 22:14, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
The denonym is 'American' so that is what we should use. GiantSnowman 13:05, 10 March 2015 (UTC)

Jr. (again)[edit]

Sorry, I know this has been rehashed several times above, but the current wording on the page:

Do not place a comma before Jr., Sr., or Roman numeral designation. Examples: Sammy Davis Jr., John F. Kennedy Jr., Otis D. Wright II.

which seemingly mandates not using the comma, does not match the decision of the RfC above, which was:

The consensus is that, while both forms are acceptable, the omission of the comma is preferred

The actual wording on the MOS page does not convey the message that "both forms are acceptable". Thanks  — Amakuru (talk) 11:35, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

Yes, we know. That is why the section is currently tagged. The wording is still under discussion. Blueboar (talk) 11:53, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
The wording that was proposed and agreed by the majority in the RfC was "Do not...". The result of the closure is disputed and the subject of a review at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard § Closure Review Request at MOS page. sroc 💬 13:19, 9 March 2015 (UTC)
@Sroc: ah OK, thank you, I hadn't spotted that closure review discussion.  — Amakuru (talk) 13:43, 9 March 2015 (UTC)


Is there an active discussion anywhere on the Jr. comma issue? There are several pending RMs but none of the discussions on this page appear active. Thanks. Dohn joe (talk) 20:59, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

I think we're just waiting for a close of the closure review. Dicklyon (talk) 02:09, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
Given the lack of movement in four weeks, we should just ignore that closure review and let anyone who wants to open a new broader RFC on what to do about Jr. etc. go ahead. Dicklyon (talk) 01:29, 15 April 2015 (UTC)

Spouse question[edit]

at Randy Stonehill, there is a section discussing the subject's marriages.

Stonehill has been married three times, to Sarah Mae Finch, Sandra Jean Warner, and Leslie Sealander, with the first two marriages ending in divorce. His marriage to {second spouse} produced one daughter, Heather.

The issue is not about accuracy but about how to describe the second spouse. She took the subject's married name, so should it be "Sandra" or should it be her family name? Walter Görlitz (talk) 03:28, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

Write "His second marriage produced one daughter, Heather" or "He has one daughter, Heather, from his second marriage." DrKiernan (talk) 08:14, 21 March 2015 (UTC)

OPENPARA dispute[edit]

You are invited to join the discussion at Talk:Terry Acebo Davis#BRD. Thanks. RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 22:08, 24 March 2015 (UTC)

RfC: Expanding the permissiveness around ethnicity or sexuality[edit]

So, WP:OPENPARA currently states that "Ethnicity or sexuality should not generally be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability. Similarly, previous nationalities or the country of birth should not be mentioned in the opening sentence unless they are relevant to the subject's notability." This feels highly reductionist and very limited. It's possible for somebody to be notable, generally, and their ethnicity or sexuality to be a prominent contextual element for understanding their work.

A good example of this is artists; there are a lot of artists who have an ethnicity and a nationality; say, Chinese-American or African-American. Their ethnicity is not part of their notability: they are notable as artists. But it is important in understanding the context in which they work. When you have an artist who is a first generation Chinese-American and their work is centred on that identity...sure, they're notable without it. But it's pretty much impossible to understand the work they do, or why they do it, or what it refers to, without also understanding their background.

I'd like to propose amending the guidelines around the opening paragraph, specifically, changing:

Ethnicity or sexuality should not generally be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability. Similarly, previous nationalities or the country of birth should not be mentioned in the opening sentence unless they are relevant to the subject's notability.


Ethnicity or sexuality should not generally be emphasized in the opening unless it is relevant to the subject's notability, 'or provides important context to understanding the subject or their work. Similarly, previous nationalities or the country of birth should not be mentioned in the opening sentence unless they meet the same standard.

Bolding for the diff (I don't plan to have random bold text in guidelines ;p). Thoughts? Ironholds (talk) 19:44, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Agree and support. Certainly there is a tightrope Wikipedia walks, in terms of over-emphasizing ethnic heritage, so prudence is warranted. But often there seems to be a disingenuous de-emphasis, on the well-intentioned assumption that "it ought not to matter" when, in some contexts, it does. When the contextualized importance of ethnicity is well attested in respected, reliable sources yet omitted or downplayed here, it can have the un-intended effect of minimizing a historical or cultural milestone, e.g. the elections of Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama as the first black (in the latter case, by U.S. definition) presidents of nations with records of recent legal racial discrimination. It comes across as a glaring, almost suspicious omission and, more importantly, deprives readers unfamiliar with the subject of the ability to readily learn and understand a significant factor in the person's notability. FactStraight (talk) 20:59, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
@FactStraight: Good to hear it's not just me who finds this problematic! Think I should start an RfC, orrr..? Ironholds (talk) 16:21, 5 April 2015 (UTC)
With notification to the Ethnic groups, Discrimination and any other relevant or potentially interested Wikipedia:WikiProjects, yes! FactStraight (talk) 08:19, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
The intention was always to include ethnicity for articles like Nelson Mandela, but not for all biographical articles. Part of the difficulty is that emphasizing ethnicity is not always an unalloyed good, as when for example we have an article on a controversial or criminal figure, and their ethnicity has sometimes been emphasized in the past for no clear reason.--Pharos (talk) 16:10, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

Oppose and counterproposal. Isn't the real problem here with the use of the word "notability"? Notability has a very specific meaning here and is actually a fairly mechanical concept only affecting inclusion or exclusion from the encyclopedia. We don't evaluate significance or importance to determine notability, we look for multiple reliable sources. That makes this standard, frankly, nonsense. If "notability" were replaced with "overall importance or significance," then it wouldn't seem to me that we would need to invite rule creep by adding the proposed qualification. I would note that the current formulation has been here (in reference to ethnicity, sexuality was added later) since this edit by @Pharos in 2006, whose edit comment refers to this discussion on the talk page, in which Pharos' comment before making the edit was, "It's not official anywhere, but it's I think this is the general consensus of the very long discussions above. Exceptions would be in cases where someone's ethnicity was exceptionally tied to their significance; e.g. some minority rights activists and ethnically-focused artists. Since the issue comes up so often, perhaps we should establish a simple guideline on ethnicity for the fromt side of this page." (Diff, emphasis added.) Perhaps Pharos will respond here and say why he chose "notability" over "significance" in the actual edit. Since I spend most of my time doing dispute resolution, I'm really afraid that the proposed addition is going to provide an excuse to open up a furball of contentious claims between warring ethnic and national groups and have to wonder if the current reductionist formulation wasn't designed to avoid that. Best regards, TransporterMan (TALK) 15:36, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

This was the original intention that I had back in 2006, to reduce the type of edit-warring that sometimes comes up, for example, in Eastern European articles.--Pharos (talk) 16:10, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
The problem with "importance" is, well - what if it's nothing to do with their importance, but is necessary context to their work? Jayron's comments below are excellent. Ironholds (talk) 14:29, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
I think if we're going to discuss changing this, we really need to hammer down the language so we're including highly relevant information in lead paragraphs where appropriate, and excluding such information where not. Just a few examples I can think of off hand:
  • Compare Jackie Robinson to, say, Dave Winfield, two African-American baseball players. Consider the men's relation to baseball's color line. Jackie Robinson's biography rightly mentions his ethnicity in context because to entirely omit it would seem out of place. Dave Winfield's biography doesn't mention his ethnicity, also quite rightly, because while he is African American, his ethnicity is not a major part of his narrative.
  • Compare Harvey Fierstein to Neil Patrick Harris, which I think probably gets it a bit wrong. Both are openly gay actors, but Fierstein's professional career is built upon his semi-autobiographical accounts of life as a gay actor. To minimize the importance of his sexuality to his professional career and public life is to ignore a major facet of his biography. Neil Patrick Harris, on the other hand, while he is openly and publicly gay, has not made his sexuality a major portion of his professional career the way Fierstein has. Fiersteins art is in many ways centered on the life of a gay man in America. Harris's, much less so. The fact that the lead of Harris biography has made his sexuality more prominent than Fierstein makes them both WP:UNDUE in opposite directions: It's more of a central issue to Fierstein's biography and less of one to Harris's.
This is not to downplay the real impact of ethnicity and sexuality (and related issues of identity) to these men's lives as a whole. I'm certain Winfield is quite aware that he's African-American, and I'm certain it is important to him. Likewise, Harris is very publicly and openly gay, and to deny that being "gay" is not important to Harris would be stupid. But that's not the same thing as saying these facts are central issues in the men's biographies. I think if we're to rewrite policy here, we need to indicate in some way the difference between "Every person's ethnicity and sexuality and other identity features must be featured prominently in the lead", which is ludicrous, and "No one should ever mention it ever", which is also ludicrous. I'm not sure how to solve the problem directly, but wanted to capture the realness of the issue. This is at least how I read it, and the issue before us is finding the appropriate middle road that results in well-written biographies. --Jayron32 23:44, 14 April 2015 (UTC)
I pretty much completely agree with Jayron's analysis here too, and this is the same thinking that I had tried to use in originally wording the "relevant to the subject's notability" standard. This doesn't mean that this aspect of personal identity must be essential to the subject's work, just that it is relevant to it in a major way. For example, I could imagine that if we are writing on the hypothetical artist mentioned, and it is possible to back up with WP:RS that "a major theme of her work is her Chinese American identity", then certainly that should belong in the intro. The key should be that it is introduced in a sentence that actively shows its relevance, it's not just "X is a Chinese American artist". But aspects of personal identity wouldn't be emphasized in the intro if art critics, etc, have not considered it a major theme of that particular artist, while the information would still be covered in a family or personal life section.--Pharos (talk) 00:20, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Remember what the leading paragraph and the introductory section is. It is a summary and introduction to what follows in the article proper. If ethnicity and sexuality are a very important part of an individuals identity, that it forms a significant part of the article proper, then it should also form a significant part of the lead. If it is not mentioned at all in the article proper then it probably belongs in the infobox but not in the lead. Greater or lesser significance of anything in the lead section should reflect the weight it is given in the article proper.--KTo288 (talk) 13:37, 15 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose, there is no need to emphasize the ethnicity or the sexuality of the subject unless there is significant weight from a multitude of reliable sources that emphasize the subjects ethnicity or sexuality as the primary reason why they are notable. This is usually the case for those who have made a notable first. Therefore, the subject's sexuality and/or ethnicity need not be in the lead sentence. Perhaps elsewhere in the lead paragraph if reliable sources give it weight, but not the lead sentence.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 04:33, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
    Okay. Why? You've made an argument for a standard for inclusion, not an argument for why that standard for inclusion is the right one. Ironholds (talk) 14:29, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - it seems redundant. Understanding the subject's work really has to do with notability - and if they are notable for being, say, an American artist, then it will say that, if they are just notable for being an artist, then it should say that. — kikichugirl oh hello! 08:49, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
    @Kikichugirl: Except that's not how it's being interpreted by people. I started this discussion precisely because the person immediately above you in this section decided that readers would not find any additional context in the fact that an artist from Oakland who exclusively worked on Filipino-American cultural divides and elements was Filipino-American. Someone can be a notable artist as a result of making works influenced by their cultural background, and not be "notable for their cultural background", which is what you seem to be suggesting the solution would be. Pharos says, above, that when he drafted this section my point was precisely what he meant, but there's clearly some ambiguity or we wouldn't be having this discussion. So all this is really doing is more clearly stating the status quo. Ironholds (talk) 19:48, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't know. I see the point that the original proposer is making and it's a fair point. Jayron32 has a good analysis and makes his point well. The problem, as Pharos points out, is that we also need to "reduce the type of edit-warring that sometimes comes up, for example, in Eastern European articles". Tell me about it! You are always going to have editors who are just really really really excited to make sure that for every article subject who has a touch of Macedonian blood or (or whatever... not to pick on on Macedonians, applies equally to many ethnic groups), this is put front and center in the lede for the reader to admire and ponder over. And then you have [historical figure who died in 1123 or whatever]... it's just really really really important for the reader to understand that his paternal grandmother was Herzegovinian and not Montenegrin, and this need to be in the lede or whatever. And so on. I exaggerate, but not much. And this is why we can't have nice things, like the nice and subtle contextual distinctions that Jayron32 expounds on. But maybe with the right wording this could be a go. Herostratus (talk) 12:53, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
    Yeah, that's why it's "necessary to context"; if you can convince the other editors it's necessary context, great! If not, not so much. But the status quo opens us up for problems in completely the other direction - essentially, whitewashing a lot of culture because we've decided someone's passport summarises their cultural or racial identity. Ironholds (talk) 19:48, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
    I'm not sure I agree with all the specific wording changes suggested, but I do hope that this recent discussion has established that the relevant to the subject's notability. standard is not (and never was) just about "firsts", and I hope this can be considered clarified through general agreement here. The intention was always that these aspects of personal identity be treated pretty much as described in Jayron's examples.--Pharos (talk) 20:03, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
    @Pharos: what? No; that's not why we have policy. We have policy because a wider audience than "people who showed up to have an opinion in the right discussion at the right time" might, over time, care about the outcome. If you want to clarify it, suggest an amendment or endorse an existing suggestion - ideally one that removes the word "notability", which has a very specific meaning. Ironholds (talk) 20:22, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
    I'm not convinced it's terribly unclear now (I think it has worked in most cases), but if we're looking at potential replacements, I would perhaps suggest something like "reliable sources support this as a major topic of the article" or "as part of a sourced statement establishing the context of their importance".--Pharos (talk) 21:11, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
    The fact that I opened this discussion because it wasn't working doesn't indicate to you that it doesn't work? "Reliable sources consider this a major part of the subject's identity"? Ironholds (talk) 23:29, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
All this discussion and not a single reference to the WP:EGRS guide, even though it deals with categories, it is where the issue is actually fleshed it much more detail and nuance than the simplistic "summary" in WP:OPENPARA. -- Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 20:22, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
This is a good point! (although the category context is indeed a bit different)--Pharos (talk) 21:11, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
IMHO I think the present guideline is "working" in a great majority of cases. If there is a debate/content dispute about it, that is why there is that article's talk page. Let consensus be formed there. No need to instruction creep, or to make less clear edit to the established guideline thus making it more difficult.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 00:44, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
@RightCowLeftCoast: if it's "working", could you explain why you're precisely the person I had to bring this case because? You personally deciding the status quo works for you when you're the reason I'm trying to change it is not, actually, tremendously informative. Ironholds (talk) 23:14, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
@Ironholds: don't get personal, see WP:AVOIDYOU.
Yes this is my opinion of it, and compared to the thousands of active Wikipedians, there are very few who have found an issue with the guideline as it stands. Furthermore, any change, would need more consensus than the few Wikipedians presently involved.
The article in question, there was a wide difference, and there remains a wide difference, as to opinion as to the subject's ethnicity being central to their notability. As others have pointed out this leads to unnecessary content disputes when different ethnicities attempt to claim that individual as soley their own. Loosening the guideline as it stands will lead to more unnecessary content disputes. Furthermore, IMHO it is the burden of those who want to emphasize a subjects ethnicity and or sexuality in the lead sentence. If an editor, or group of editors, show that reliable sources give the subject's ethnicity or sexuality as central to their notability, than they can seek consensus to invoke IAR. Otherwise, we have these guidelines to reduce the likelihood of content dispute in this regards, as there is an established consensus against emphasis of subject's ethnicity and or sexuality.
Sometimes, emphasis is necessary. Sometimes, emphasis is useful. Do you acknowledge that "notability" as used in this guideline is a lot wider than, say, the GNG? Because that's what I'm reading from, say, Pharos's comments, and the fact that I keep having to ask questions like this is why I want to change the wording - notability is a term of art with a very specific meaning, and that meaning is not what is meant here. Ironholds (talk) 09:52, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
May I suggest that we use the word "Noteworthiness" rather than "Notability" (since the term Notability has a defined meaning on Wikipedia). Blueboar (talk) 12:37, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. "...provides important context to understanding the subject or their work" is too vague and subjective and is just likely to create disputes. Moreover, I think the OP fails to make the case for a change being needed. We deal with the hypothetical artist whose work is all about their ancestry by describing their work in the article. That's adequate and nothing is gained from also pigeon-holing them. Formerip (talk) 19:29, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Applicability of WP:LASTNAME to Ada Lovelace[edit]

Need 2nd opinions at Talk:Ada Lovelace#Ada Lovelace's name. Thanks. Kaldari (talk) 19:11, 8 April 2015 (UTC)

Proposed style noticeboard[edit]

There is currently a discussion at the village pump about creating a noticeboard (similar to the RSN, ORN and NPOVN) for people with questions about how to implement Wikipedia's style policies. The proponents say that one centralized board would be easier for editors to find than many talk pages, and opponents say that it might be a venue for forum-shopping and drama. Participation is welcome. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:01, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

Ethnicity vs. Nationality[edit]

There is a dispute here (Nicki Minaj article) over the understanding of when to include a notable person's ethnicity in the opening line of the lead. I assume I have a proper understanding of MOS:BLPLEAD, but would appreciate any constructive feedback other editors here can provide in that discussion. As a common courtesy, I thought it would be a good idea to give this a broader audience. Thanks in advance. --GoneIn60 (talk) 13:44, 17 April 2015 (UTC)

@GoneIn60: see the discussion a couple of sections above! Good timing :). Ironholds (talk) 15:49, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks Ironholds. I am often known for my impeccable timing! I did notice the discussion earlier, but it appears to be a clarification of MOS:BLPLEAD, with the basic premise surrounding the exclusion of ethnicity staying intact. Unlike that RfC discussion, the opposition in the dispute I'm involved in believes that ethnicity should be mentioned instead of nationality, a significant departure from the MOS guideline. Either that, or they are confusing the difference between the two terms. --GoneIn60 (talk) 16:00, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
Instead of? Yeah; the discussion above is "as well as". I'm not aware of any additional guidance on replacement but I'd say that I wouldn't consider the two interchangeable. The answer should be to note both. Ironholds (talk) 16:03, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
Right, a solution I threw out there in this particular case was to refer to the artist as a "Trinidadian-born American", which seemed like a good compromise. However, the argument against the compromise (or any reasonable solution) is that the artist was born in Trinidad from Trinidadian parents, and therefore shouldn't be referred to as "American". --GoneIn60 (talk) 16:09, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
Was Minaj naturalized? Is she still a Trinidanian citizen, or dual-citizen? What can be verified? Is her ethnicity central to her notability?--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 03:07, 22 April 2015 (UTC)
Her citizenship cannot be directly verified in any sources that I'm aware of, and I've sifted through nearly a hundred. In most, however, she is recognized as "American" more often than "Trinidadian". Of all the sources, one is a tertiary source from the Encyclopedia Britannica which explicitly refers to her as an American artist. After reading the comments in the above RfC and in light of the WP:OPENPARA, I'm inclined to suggest in that talk page discussion that we remove any mention of her ethnicity and place of birth in the lead, as there aren't any sources that link the significance of those facts to her notability. --GoneIn60 (talk) 13:40, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── That maybe the best way to go. Let the body get into the detail of the matter, especially if there is conflicting reliable sources.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 00:45, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

WP:LASTNAME change[edit]

In WP:LASTNAME, the third paragraph (with emphasis (not in the original) added to a problematic passage) reads:

The person may be referred to by given name in the case of royalty, or as "Prince John", "Princess Jane", "the Duke", "the Earl", "the Duchess", "the Countess", etc. For other subjects, it is preferable to refer to the person by surname, not given name, even if the subject is not controversial. The use of the given name gives the impression that the writer knows the subject personally, which, even if true, is not relevant.

What in heck is the purpose of the highlighted passage? Has this ever been an issue -- that only controversial persons should be referred to by their last name? The controversial J. Edgar Hoover as "Hoover", but the uncontroversial David Brenner as "David"? Makes no sense to me and although I generally oppose changes to rules pages before getting consensus, but in this case I went ahead and removed the passage. Maybe I'm missing something tho. Herostratus (talk) 13:15, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

Herostratus I think that it is best that you removed this. I cannot make sense of this sentence. It is to be expected that Wikipedia typically refer to people by surname. Blue Rasberry (talk) 19:23, 24 April 2015 (UTC)