Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters

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WikiProject Manual of Style
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Try again for "Universe/universe" consensus?[edit]

Archived without action. This discussion merely led to the RfC in the next section. The results can be seen there. Kraxler (talk) 00:15, 24 April 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.

Given the now-closed RfC, is there any appetite for attempting to find a way for closure, or should we (by default) let this lie with no conclusion? Should we follow the closing admin's advice to formulate a new RfC with clear opposing choices? —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 20:54, 12 March 2015 (UTC)

There was some discussion about this here. So far nobody seems hopeful that it would be more likely to succeed than the last one -- which, after all, originally was an RfC with clear opposing choices. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 22:27, 12 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the pointer. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 01:32, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
Actually that's not true. The closer said it failed because "It immediately assumes everyone agrees that there's consensus to change something and codify it into the page, and that by participating in it, your duty is to only choose one of two changes." Those two choices were flawed from the beginning and the closer said we'll need to make more choices that include the alternative proposals. It would need to have the choice of keeping it "as is" also since many felt there was no need for additional refinement. Leaving it lie may be the best choice. Fyunck(click) (talk) 23:47, 12 March 2015 (UTC)
What I said was true. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 01:16, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
It is, with the benefit of hindsight, not true that the original RfC had clear opposing choices. In fact, in the discussion in formulating the RfC (which I had not seen before your link above), at least one editor noted that the proposed RfC didn't present a yes or no choice with no valid other options. This became clear in the ensuing discussion, which made it clear that there were many valid answers other than "choice 1" or "choice 2", as I think the closing admin articulated well. Instead, it tried to answer at least three different questions simultaneously: 1) Should we prescribe a capitalization of "universe" at the MoS level or leave it to individual article talk pages? 2) Should the word "universe" be treated as a proper name when used as the name of the universe we live in, or should "universe" always be treated as a common noun? 3) How should the answer to question 2 be worded in the MoS? To me, the path towards consensus is to answer those questions sequentially, not simultaneously. (Perhaps questions 1 and 2 could be combined — I think there may well be a quick consensus that it should be specified at the MoS level, though that is not a universal view.) —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 01:32, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

I observe:

  1. That there was no concensus to capitalise 'universe in the context indicated. By default, it should not be capitalised.
  2. That the options of the RfC, while not phrased as yes/no, were nonetheless phrased as converse options - despite, what I can only perceive as 'fuzzy logic' applied to argue otherwise. The statement offered by ASHill: 'Should the word "universe" be treated as a proper name when used as the name of the universe we live in, or should "universe" always be treated as a common noun?', paraphrases the two options offered.
  3. Widespread edits had affected many articles. It was not reasonable to leave the issue to individual pages.
  4. The issue of 'universe' is directly related to the MOS section on celestial bodies. The contentious nature of the issue, the widespread edits bringing this matter to MOSCaps and directly relevent section in MOS Caps somewhat predetermine the answers to these questions.
  5. Widening options, with multiple combinations from that which was narrowly confined to the specific matter of 'universe' is even less likely to provide a clear outcome.

Cinderella157 (talk) 03:33, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

Very interesting. My observation would be quite different:
  1. There was no consensus to add anything to the context indicated. By default it should be handled case by case or by individual WikiProjects. The Astronomy Project has already worked it out to their satisfaction.
  2. The options given in the RfC were poor from the outset as was explained before the RfC was listed. The logic of forcing editors to choose between only two poor choices without an option of "none of the above" or taking the whole "earth, sun, moon, solar system, galaxy, universe" sentence under consideration was logically unsound from the beginning.
  3. Since the Astronomy project already had consensus on capitalizing Universe in certain instances, it could have remained uncapitalized in non-astronomical articles. But this RfC was trying to encompass everything.
  4. MOS is already leaning towards "too specific" as a general guideline and simply can't encompass every WikiProject's or subject matter's needs. That's why we have to use common sense in applying it.
  5. Widening options, especially an option in which nothing is changed, or perhaps an option removing the entire listing (except earth) could possibly give a better indication on where to find common ground. As it was editors felt hogtied into the lesser of two evils.

The fact that Cinderella and I see even our "observations" so differently is indicative why the closer wrote that this thing was a mess. I don't mean that meanly...heck Democrats and Republicans can look at the same item and one will see disaster and the other a celebration. It's just the way it is sometimes. Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:08, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

1. The statement "The Astronomy Project has already worked it out to their satisfaction"ais a good illustration that we have a problem with an aggressive and arrogant Wiki Project.
2. It is false to contend that editors were "forced to choose" -- the ones who wanted to discuss something else were perfectly free to start their own topics, but instead chose to sabotage a well-formed RfC by stuffing in irrelevant choices and confusing the closer.
3. It is false to contend that this RfC was what was trying to encompass everything, it was Wiki Project Astronomy which was editing articles far beyond their purview (I am reverting a few of the most despicable examples but expect to get reverted eventually).
4. It is expectable that claims of "common sense" will pop up whenever MoS is not being followed.
5. It is unbelievable that when we cannot agree on a particular point we should expand and add more points that we might disagree on. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 14:48, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
And again we see still another observation of the "fundamentally malformed" RfC. It's good people seeing things from a different perspective. Fyunck(click) (talk) 20:57, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
For what it's worth, though I agree with the substance of Tetra quark's massive-scale changes from "universe" to "Universe", I'm going through and undoing a number of them as a gesture of good faith, since those January 2015 changes clearly did not reflect consensus. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 15:04, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

What I see is that some of those participating in the discussion think that the status quo is worse than either of the two RfC options, while others prefer the status quo. The wording of the RfC assumed implicitly a clear majority for the former view, but I'm not convinced there was one. How many of us agree with each of the following two theses? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:31, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
That can be gathered by simply looking at the previous RfC. I don't think we need another discussion on that. Otherwise you could have simply asked those who wanted original choice 2 "would you want choice 1 or leave it alone" and vice-versa if you originally wanted choice 1. Fyunck(click) (talk) 10:04, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
Wasn't one of the options simply "Universe" if referring to the one and only and "universe" when in the context of a multiverse or fictional universe? Which is then precisely simply a matter of correctly identifying which are proper names/nouns and which common nouns and follow the rule to capitalize proper nouns/names. What could be a 'better option'? --JorisvS (talk) 14:48, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
It's not a proper name. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 14:54, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
That's your view, but there is no consensus for that statement. Frankly, since you've called an entire project arrogant, I'll go ahead and use the same word to describe your unwillingness to acknowledge that there is reasonable disagreement on this. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 15:02, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
Peter, please explain, working from the definitions at proper noun, why it wouldn't be a proper name. --JorisvS (talk) 15:21, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
Ashill, yes it's my view and the repetition that all we have to do is agree to capitalize when it's a proper name is a sign of the contempt that Wiki Project Astronomy members hold for other views. JorisvS: read again, I only used the term "proper name". Then read what WP:MOSCAP says about how to determine what's a proper name, and read the RfC. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 15:37, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
WP:MOSCAP says, correctly, that "Proper names of specific places ... are capitalized in accordance with standard usage", which is quite right. The "Universe" refers to the one specific entity (and is thus a proper name by definition) , which just happens to contain everything we know. --JorisvS (talk) 15:53, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
(ec) I can't speak for the whole project (Lord knows it doesn't speak with any unanimity), but I'm pretty sure that I never said anything like "all we have to do is agree to capitalize". I've said, quite consistently I think, that all we have to do is agree whether to capitalize. Big difference.
WP:MOSCAP says "Proper names of specific places, persons, terms, etc. are capitalized in accordance with standard usage". When the Universe is used as the name of the specific universe we live in, it, to me, very clearly fits that definition. If the universe we live in were named "Fred", there would be none of this debate anywhere: "The universe we live in is Fred." But we use "the universe" or "the Universe" as the name of our universe, so it should, IMO, be "The universe we live in is the Universe". But I recognize that many editors and other sources don't capitalize in accordance with that practice, so we simply have to choose which usage we use. Then we have to decide whether and how this should be worded in the MoS. It seems like a very simple point to me, which is probably why I sound like a broken record on it. What I'm infuriated with now is the unwillingness of the community here to simply agree to answer those simple questions. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 15:55, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

Re: "Then we have to decide whether and how this should be worded in the MoS" Given our lack of consensus, I think the key question is "whether" this should be worded in the MOS... We don't have to make a rule. We can remain silent on the question of how to capitalize the word. Blueboar (talk) 13:41, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

For what it's worth, to quantify the !votes (with all the WP:NOTDEMOCRACY and other salt shakers with which this should be taken, especially that a majority does not necessarily "win"), the following editors have, based on my reading, expressed a clear preference for "universe" to be treated as a proper name in some cases in the RfC on this page or (those with *) in the Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Astronomy/Archive 16 discussion or (***) in Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 14 (17 total, 8 in the RfC):
  • Fyunck, Dondervogel 2, Modest Genius, JonRichfield, Jimp, ashill, Tetra quark*, JorisvS, Blueboar, StringTheory11*, Bhny*, Huntster*, Reyk*, sroc***, DeistCosmos***, Shem***, kwami***
The following editors have expressed a clear preference for "universe" to always be treated as a common noun or to always be lowercase (** only at Universe and User Talk:Peter Gulutzan) (17 total, 12 in the RfC):
  • Peter Gulutzan, Dicklyon, Jordgette, Deor, SPACKlick, Tony, AgnostickAphid, SchreiberBike, Isambard Kingdom, Xaxafrad, WarKosign, Cinderella157, User:SarahTehCat**, John Carter***, Arianewiki1***, Evensteven***, Drbogdan***
The following editors expressed a preference to "adhere to existing guidelines" (2 total; 0 in the RfC):
  • Gronk Oz*, Drbogdan*
The following editors have stated that a clear choice between "universe" and "Universe" is better than making no choice between them:
  • Dondervogel 2, Ashill, SchreiberBike
If there are inaccuracies in this list, others are welcome to edit it, or if others feel that including this list is counterproductive, others are welcome to delete the entire comment. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 15:07, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
ASHill: unsurprisingly you inflate your side and deflate the other side: (a) if you had bothered to read the earlier discussions you would have seen references to several Wikipedia talk pages where multiple editors, whom you don't mention, came to a consensus for 'universe'; (b) the people who actually "voted" i.e. stated clearly for choice 1 or choice 2 voted strongly for universe, even in spite of the heckling by the pro-Universe side; (c) you include Tetra Quark but apparently forget that every Tetra Quark edit, where Tetra Quark changed universe to Universe, erased the opinion of an original editor who wrote universe -- about 100, but Tetra Quark's edit summaries are sometimes unclear so it's hard to be sure. Actually administrator John estimated 1000 in all, making 1000 innocent slobs who thought they had a right to an opinion until your project decided they don't. We have established from sources that 'universe' is the norm so it's no surprise that your side is a small minority. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 18:23, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
I was simply trying to quantify the recent discussion as best as I could capture it from editors who explicitly stated an unambiguous opinion; if any editor in my list didn't express an unambiguous opinion, please remove that name. I'll go ahead and incorporate any editors who expressed an opinion on Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 14, the immediate predecessor to the RfC. But again, the only point in quantifying !votes is to see if the !votes strongly favor one side or the other. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 19:28, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, if you ever feel like addressing any of the objections, they'll be waiting. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 23:49, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
OK, fine. a) Of the 8 discussions you pointed to in the initial discussion on WT:MOSCAPS/Archive 14, 5 (by my reading) actually seem to favor "Universe". b) As has been discussed at length, many editors had issues with the RfC formulation, which is why I read both of the in-depth, recent discussions to find underlying preferences for "Universe" or "universe", proposed MOS wording aside. c) I was trying to quantify the clearly-expressed preferences from the recent discussions in a methodologically-simple way. My reading of Tetra quark's opinion is based on his express statements in the discussion, not the editing history. And even if one were to try to divine the number of editors over the years who have expressed a preference through their editing, 1000 articles certainly does not mean 1000 different editors; a handful of astronomy editors have done much of the work on a large number of astronomy articles, as is the case in many subject areas on Wikipedia. e) I'm unclear how 17/34 (or 8/20 if you consider only the RfC) is a "small minority". But once again, I'm just trying to summarize the current discussion to see if there's anything like a clear preference; there certainly doesn't appear to be. I find it helpful and thought others might; if you don't, feel free to ignore it, but then please don't make statements like "most of the editors who participated in the recent RfC "voted" that universe should not be capitalized". I even offered others the opportunity to delete the list if you think it's counterproductive; that offer stands. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 02:03, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
With (a) you skipped about a dozen pro-universe editors, with (b) you denigrated the only important count (which I see you don't like me repeating) that "most of the editors who participated in the recent RfC "voted" that universe should not be capitalized", with (c) my count of one thousand is too high but your count of zero is too low. Thanks for the kind offer to delete, but if I did then somebody might get the false impression that I took this counting seriously. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 02:52, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
And of course "if" MOS is messed with, the most important thing for me is that universe gets treated the same as moon, sun, solar system and galaxy. They can all be used in similar situations whether you want to call them proper nouns, proper names or whatever. I'm not sure we need another go at this right away but if we did my own musings would probably be to have done this in steps. Of course I have the benefit of hindsight and seeing so many sources brought to light. First I would have laid out a summary of where sources tend to lie on the whole Celestial Bodies section, both generally and astronomically. Then I would have asked for a choice of do we want to change MOS or leave it as is. I would make sure editors realized that changing MOS could wind up eliminating words like sun and moon, adding words like galaxy and universe, or some combination therein.
If it was 50/50 or more for no change, we'd be done. If it looked like 70% wanted to change MOS we'd move on with another step. Maybe something like shall we just keep earth and remove the rest as a lot of general sources do, shall we add galaxy and universe for more uniformity as many astronomical sources do, or shall we go through it piecemeal discussing each term (old and new) to see where consensus lies on earth, moon, sun, solar system, galaxy and universe, plus capitalization of second terms such as in Halley's Comet, Andromeda Galaxy and Milky Way Galaxy. And then step by step after that. That would be more of a funneling effect on ideas rather than starting with an end result. Anyway, after going through the last RfC, and again having the benefit of hindsight, that's how I might start a new process if a new process is required. Fyunck(click) (talk) 18:58, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

The status quo is better than either of the two options presented in the RfC[edit]



  1. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:33, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
  2.  SchreiberBike | ⌨  14:37, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
  3. Cinderella157 (talk)
  4. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs)
  5. Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 11:41, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Either of the two options presented in the RfC would have been better than the status quo[edit]

Don't get this - how is it not the converse of the first option and consequently confusing. Cinderella157 (talk) 06:48, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

The statement seems clear to me, and I have explained in my reply to SchreiberBike (below) how it differs from the previous question. Whether you choose to make your position clear by replying to it is up to you. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 11:30, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
Notice also that Fyunck(click) disagrees with the second statement and has not yet expressed a view on the first. This suggests the possibility that he neither agrees nor disagrees with the first, but I would not presume to conclude that without clarification from him. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 11:44, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
I too answered one statement but didn't bother with the other, because I do see these questions as redundant. I guess I'll add myself to the first question to be completely unambiguous. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 13:59, 14 March 2015 (UTC)


  1. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:33, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
  2. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 14:21, 13 March 2015 (UTC) (but see below)
  3. Isn't this the same as the question immediately above but phrased differently?  SchreiberBike | ⌨  14:39, 13 March 2015 (UTC) [No, this is not the same question. For example, if an editor felt that the status quo was equally good (or bad) as either of the two RfC options, that editor would disagree with both theses. I do not agree with deleting. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 15:26, 13 March 2015 (UTC)]
    Yes. Delete this section? (If someone does that, feel free to copy my agree here to disagree above.) —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 14:49, 13 March 2015 (UTC)


  1. Fyunck(click) (talk) 07:33, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

The status quo is not good, but neither were the two options presented in the RFC... we need to start over and look for a third alternative[edit]


  1. Blueboar (talk) 11:37, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
  2. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 14:21, 13 March 2015 (UTC) (partially. I think we can do better than either of the two options. I also think the questions weren't asked in a way that could lead efficiently to consensus.)
  3. I recognize that some people were not satisfied with the two options and I think that we might be able to come up with better ones.  SchreiberBike | ⌨  14:41, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
  4. I don't think the status quo is ideal. Either the MoS should clarify how to capitalize 'universe' (or not), or it should tell people to decide on individual article talk pages. Xaxafrad (talk) 22:20, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
  5. I believe it oversimplifies an issue which is far more complex (contrary to my previous admonition that this should be "basic English"). A third alternative, preferably one which sets a precedent on universe capitalization, is ideal, though I believe the status quo on all astronomical bodies is problematic and should be changed. –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 11:45, 7 April 2015 (UTC)


  1. Disagree strongly. There is nothing wrong with agreeing to capitalise or agreeing not to. It's just a convention. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 15:30, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
  2. Fyunck(click) (talk) 07:34, 14 March 2015 (UTC)


The question is in two parts and two choices to satisfy four combinations doesn't make sense. Cinderella157 (talk) 06:55, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

It makes sense to me. To agree with the statement as a whole you need to agree with both parts. I agree with the first part and disagree with the second. That is why I disagree with the statement as a whole. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 11:35, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

The result of the RfC is that there is no consensus to capitalise ' universe'. The converse of this is that ' universe' should not be capitalised. Option 2 of the old RfC was a way of recording this. The question is, how do we now record this. Cinderella157 (talk) 06:55, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

You keep saying this, but it isn't true. That is not the converse. There is also no consensus to stop "Universe" from being used. Just because things aren't on this list of examples does not mean anything. It keeps it as the Astronomy Project would want or simply case by case consensus. Fyunck(click) (talk) 07:26, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
From the MOS: "Consensus among a limited group of editors, at one place and time, cannot override community consensus on a wider scale." Cinderella157 (talk) 07:44, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
And community consensus is up in the air. It's use is neither banned nor approved from the examples given. Case by case is the usual way unless a project has a ruling on it. Fyunck(click) (talk) 07:56, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
There was specifically no consensus to capitalise. That part of things is not up in the air. There is no consensus that it is a proper noun in any context. Therefore, if there is no cocencus it is a proper noun (IAW MOS caps), it should not be capitalised. If there is disagreement on this, then perhaps we need to go back and seek clarification on what the closing actually means. Cinderella157 (talk) 11:28, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
I would say there is no consensus to capitalize and no consensus not to. That just about sums up the problem with the status quo. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 11:39, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree. Which is why I think, if we do another RfC, we need to agree upon (in advance) a procedure for simply making a decision one way or the other on whether "universe" can ever be a proper name if no consensus forms. Once we make that decision, I think we can come to a true consensus on how to word the MoS. Without that decision, there are simply too many options to come to a consensus. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 14:04, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
First we need to see if there is consensus as to whether the MOS should specify the capitalization of the word 'universe', or remain silent on it. Blueboar (talk) 15:00, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
This is true. Fyunck(click) (talk) 20:15, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree. —Alex (ASHill | talk | contribs) 23:46, 14 March 2015 (UTC)
No consensus for a statement that it should be capitalised, means that it should not be capitalised. There is no consensus to show it is a proper noun; therefore it should not be capitalised IAW MOS:Caps. Cinderella157 (talk) 00:35, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
There is consensus at WP:Astronomy to capitalize. That consensus can be overridden by WP:MOS if there is consensus to do so, but that consensus here is lacking. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 12:32, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
Cinderella, I have to agree with Dondervogel... given that there is a consensus at the project page to capitalize... I think we have to take the result here at MOS as more of an indication that there is "no consensus against capitalization" (ie there is no consensus to overturn what the project says.) Blueboar (talk) 12:53, 15 March 2015 (UTC)

The closer stated that there was no consensus for option 1, being: "The words universe, sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body ..." This option was to capitalise universe as a proper name in an astronomical context. Without a consensus, it should not be capitalised. The matter was both bought to MOS:Caps as a result of discussion elsewhere and is relevant herein because of the section on celestial bodies. As I stated before, "If there is disagreement on this, then perhaps we need to go back and seek clarification on what the closing actually means." @User:slakr Cinderella157 (talk) 02:48, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

There was no consensus to add universe to the list of examples in MOS... this is true. There was also no consensus for the other items in which one said "The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names but not universe) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body." So no consensus to permanently ban the capitalization of universe against the Astronomy Project's consensus. Astronomical terms are very fluid these days, there are professors not talking to one another just because Pluto was demoted. We need to cut the Astronomy Project some leeway to handle these items, but still make sure any nutballs are stopped from overstepping their bounds. Fyunck(click) (talk) 06:22, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment – I think that fishing again for what to say is going to continue to show the kind of split we saw before. I think it might be useful to look at actual cases instead; find articles where the capitalization of universe is in question, or was recently changed, and let's talk about those. If we decide what to do, it may become more clear what to say to describe those decisions. Dicklyon (talk) 03:22, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

A new idea[edit]

For universe I prefer lower case based on my reading of the MoS, but I don't care that much. For me, reaching some kind of resolution is more important than which way the resolution goes. Many people have expressed their views and there is now no consensus and I don't think one will emerge. I propose a new method of problem solving. I propose that we come up with alternatives for how the MoS could be changed, then let the choice be determined randomly.

For example, it could be the Powerball number, the red number on the right in the set of six numbers at this link. It can be any number from 1 to 35. The choice could be indicated by odd or even numbers, ranges of numbers, or whatever. I chose this lottery because I played it once, but any lottery would be as good.

I suspect some will see this as stupid, but I see a need for new ways to solve problems in Wikipedia. Is there any merit to this approach?  SchreiberBike | ⌨  06:53, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

I am sure that there are those that would cry foul in some form or another if the result didn't go their way. Cinderella157 (talk) 07:22, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
I'm not as worried about those crying foul about the current result as I would be to set some precedent other than wiki established consensus. What happens a year from now when some of these coin-flip decisions get challenged by editors and all we can say is "consensus by powerball." I can't deny that at times I've seen discussions where a coin-flip would be the best solution. Does wiki policy or guidelines say anything about this type of decision making? I'm wondering what other administrators think. Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:35, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
FWIW I did just happen upon this old discussion on coin flipping. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:08, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
I would propose an RfC on the following statement.
The word 'universe' shall be capitalized (as a proper name) when used in an astronomical context to refer specifically to the body that is everything that physically exists.
Perhaps some may wish to tweak the wording slightly. The wording closely follows that of para 1 of the Celestial bodies section. The options are simply to support the statement or to not support it. Cinderella157 (talk) 07:36, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
@Cinderella157: I think that's the right question to ask if we ask this question. I suggest a slight tweak, since the word "universe" is sometimes used to refer to the Universe without being used as the proper name of this particular universe. (And there's a sentence in which the capitalization actually does matter for the meaning!) So a tweaked proposed statement:
The word 'universe' shall be capitalized (as a proper name) when used in an astronomical context as the name of the body that is everything that physically exists.
—Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 14:14, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
My position is very similar to that of SchreiberBike. We need a mechanism to force a decision and right at the start I proposed a simple majority vote to do just that. I think Cinderella is probably correct though in arguing that those who did not like the outcome would not accept it, so I am not arguing for this approach now. Instead I propose that we establish a consensus for a statement along the lines of "almost anything would be better than the status quo". If we establish that consensus first, we increase the likelihood that a closing admin would choose one of the two (or more) options for a specific change. That is why I posed the two (similarly worded) theses comparing the status quo with the two previous RfC options. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 07:48, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Which is why I suggested above that we do it in steps to funnel us in the right direction, starting with "do we want to change MOS?" Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:27, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
A lottery is not a good way to amend the MoS. It should be based on substance, not chance. --JorisvS (talk) 09:07, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
I think that SchreiberBike's approach is about right since there are two valid choices, each of which has substantial support, no evidence that either side is convinced by the other's arguments, and no clear compromise available (since either "u" is capitalized or it isn't). However, as Blueboar has noted above, there isn't even clear consensus that we should make a Wikipedia-wide choice for the capitalization of "universe". So I think it's best to settle that question first (which I hope can be done quickly). So the order of operations I see is
  1. Decide whether to make a decision whether to capitalize universe (probably through a new, simply-worded, yes or no RfC).
  2. If the consensus on #1 is no, we're done. If #1 is yes, decide one way or the other. I think that all the arguments have been made and neither side has convinced the other, but I think most (including me) would be happy to have a pre-agreed process for determining the outcome. SchreiberBike's random number idea is as good as any. We could do a straight vote, but it's hard to see what a reasonable voting population is. This has been discussed enough that I'm not sure a more-narrowly-worded RfC on this is useful since we're suffering from RfC fatigue amongst the marginally-interested editors.
  3. Decide on the wording in the MoS (including whether existing rules already cover whichever decision we come to).
Does this process make sense? —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 14:10, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes, the process makes sense. The first part could be a simple yes/no question... "Should the MOS include the word 'universe' as an example, or not?" Blueboar (talk) 14:49, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Slightly more neutrally worded to not prejudge outcomes of #2 and #3: "Should the MOS specify whether the word "universe" is ever treated as a proper name?" —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 14:57, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Answer is yes - see 'Miss Universe'. Rephrase question in correct context. Cinderella157 (talk) 15:06, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
"Should the MOS specify whether the word "universe" is treated as a proper name when used as the name of the universe live in?" —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:32, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Hold on... context is an issue for question #2... question #1 is far simpler... we need to find out if there is consensus on whether the MOS should mention the word "universe" in the first place... Let's see if there is consensus for that basic question before we worry about anything else. Blueboar (talk) 15:49, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
That's what I'm trying to do, hence the word "whether" in my proposed wording. I just thought that your wording could be misinterpreted to say that "universe" should be added to the list of words that should or should not be capitalized, which is obviously not the issue here. Or what about, to satisfy Cinderella157, "Should the MOS specify whether the word "universe" is ever treated as a proper name in an astronomical context?" —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:55, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Blueboar is correct. Quite simply, Because of queries about universe and galaxy, Do we want to change the MoS Celestial Bodies sentence "The words sun, earth, moon and solar system are capitalized (as proper names) when used in an astronomical context to refer to a specific celestial body (The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System; The Moon orbits Earth)."? Yes or No. Fyunck(click) (talk) 18:40, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
Well... Fyunk's question is almost my question ... but not quite. To be honest, I would be very tempted to answer Fyunk's question with: "Yes, we should change it" ... however, my reason for saying "yes" isn't because I want to add the word universe (or galaxy) to it. My reason for saying "yes" would be that I actually think we should trim the section even further (or possibly cut it entirely). In other words, I am in favor of change, but I favor a very different form of change than those who want to add universe and galaxy.
However, I also realize that the idea of trimming further would involve a new level of complexity that (again) takes us beyond the current discussion. So... again... let's keep the first question bluntly simple... "Should the section mention the word 'universe' or omit it?" Blueboar (talk) 03:13, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
That's EXACTLY why I wrote it like that @Blueboar:. I might have said yes also to my own question for the exact same reason of removing items. If it turned out to be "yes, we need to change it" then question number two would be: 2. Shall we just keep earth and remove the rest as a lot of general sources do, shall we add galaxy and universe for more uniformity as many astronomical sources do, or shall we go through it piecemeal discussing each term (old and new) to see where consensus lies on earth, moon, sun, solar system, galaxy and universe? Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:01, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
This is SchreiberBike writing as an IP because I'm at a public computer. How does this question sound? It doesn't say anything about any specific sentence, but asks the question I think we need to answer first. "Should the Manual of Style specify the capitalization of the word universe when used in an astronomical context?" (talk) 03:34, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────No consensus can be reached on how to put it in there, so not putting it in there is really the only option available, AFAICS. --JorisvS (talk) 19:39, 20 March 2015 (UTC)
The question that was bought here in the first instance was simply whether or not is should be capitalised in context. It was bought here because of controversy and because of the scope of the issue. It is possible to assess this based on 'strength of argument' and the criteria established by MOS:Caps - that it is consistently capitalised by sources in this context. Cinderella157 (talk) 04:27, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
The problem with that analysis is what that logic does to the rest of the sentence. If we could somehow agree that consistently means 90% or more of the time, then we must (lest we become hypocrites) also remove earth, sun, moon, and solar system from the list because all those terms have plenty of sources that keep them always lower case. I can certainly live with the list being completely removed, though I would rather keep earth capitalized when used in conjunction with other capitalized celestial bodies. Talking of Mars, earth and Venus just doesn't seem right to me. Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:16, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
This is still going on? Fantastic!! I reiterate, Universe is a place. If something's going on in our Universe, capitalize it just as you would capitalize for something going on in Ulan Bator. End of story. Blessings!! Pandeist (talk) 17:49, 21 March 2015 (UTC)
Cinderella157 just posted a new RfC asking about the capitalization of universe. I found this RFC counterproductive at this stage and thus took the unusual step of removing it (less than 10 minutes after it was posted here, when I happened to check my watch list, and before there were any responses). There were a number of other discussions going on about the best question to ask next, and this unilateral RfC circumvented that process. In particular, multiple editors don't think that this should be specified in the MOS at all and said that we should make that decision first. There's also the parallel approach suggested by SchreiberBike. And a big issue is what we do with the conclusion of any future RfC. For the last one, SchreiberBike did a good job of setting a closing plan; I see no evidence of such a plan here. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 03:25, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
I support Ashill's unusual step of removing Cinderella157's new RfC. If this is going to go forward in a useful way, we need to go at it slowly and with consensus. I hope to see further discussion of what our next step should be, then for us to gather around a consensus how that should be done, and then take the step. That may be maddeningly slow, but I don't think moving faster will move us forward. Respectfully,  SchreiberBike | ⌨  03:57, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
The RfC has asked the underpinnig question that has initiated the discussion here way back when. Contrary to the statement made by Ashill, it does not propose any change to the MOS. It simply asks the pertinent question. The reasons given by Ashill are incorrect. Quite frankly, this discussion appears to be going around in circles without anybody actually prepared to do something about it. The RfC wsas a valid step.Cinderella157 (talk) 04:05, 22 March 2015 (UTC) The previous closure appeared to state that there was no consensus to capitalise 'universe' and that most opposed the capitalisation of this. I say 'appears', since there is dissent on what the closure actually means. The question of capitalising 'universe' or not is primary to all of the other issues that might arise if there is consensus on the matter. There is no point on agreeing to change the MOSCAPS if there is subsequently no clear indication of what could or should be changed. The RfC I have initiated lends focus and direction to the ongoing discussion - something which appears to be lacking. As for closure, I propose the same as for the previous - closure by an uninvolved administrator after 14 days. Cinderella157 (talk) 04:56, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
I find the new rehash exceedingly disruptive. If it isn't removed I'll start another slower step-by-step RfC. This one is just going to have the same things introduced as the last one... that's a lot of copying and pasting to bring new readers up to speed considering we just went through this. Fyunck(click) (talk) 05:41, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

A new RfC[edit]

If Cinderella157's RfC is disruptive (ie. moving too fast), what wording would you suggest instead, Fyunck(click)? Xaxafrad (talk) 05:59, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

It's not a question of "IF"... it IS disruptive and I will be bringing it to an administrator's attention. As for what I would add... it's already been listed several times @Xaxafrad:. You must have missed it. Fyunck(click) (talk) 06:04, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
You said: "I suggested above that we do it in steps to funnel us in the right direction, starting with 'do we want to change MOS?'"
I thought a change to the MoS was needed to avoid disruptive capitalization editing, and to avoid many duplicate discussions on article talk pages. So I would support your first question. Xaxafrad (talk) 08:20, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
It's certainly not required since the Astronomy Project has already said to capitalize it in certain circumstances. Of course some nutball went and started changing way more than was allowed but that happens from time to time at wikipedia and they usually get stomped on. We were talking about how we would frame such a proposal when this new RfC suddenly appeared. I don't want you mislead...It should also be noted that a support for MoS change in my question might also lead to removal of earth, sun, moon, or solar system... or the addition of galaxy and universe. It was supposed to be a step by step process to slowly whittle things down. Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:38, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
The current RfC approaches this problem from a different perspective. It addresses the substantive question that was bought to MOSCAPS talk but it does not propose a change to MOSCAPS, as has been made explicit in #Background. @User:Dicklyon, there are those that would dispute the outcome of the previous closing wrt this question and no clarification is forthcoming. Cinderella157 (talk) 08:49, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Proposed RfC on whether to include in MOS[edit]

Per the discussion above (#A new idea), I propose the following RfC. I think this should be done somewhat urgently, before the outcome of the RfC on the preference for "Universe" or "universe" is clear, because it should have been done first anyway and because I don't want the be (in reality or appearance) sour grapes from the "losers" or the "Universe/universe" discussion. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 13:35, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Proposed RfC content[edit]

Question: Should the Manual of Style specify the capitalization of the word universe when used in an astronomical context?

Background: There has been extended discussion of this issue since December 2014 at Talk:Universe, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Astronomy/Archive 16, and WT:MOSCAPS. There has also been discussion dating back at least a decade, summarized at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 14. This question does not address whether "universe" should ever be treated as a proper name but instead focuses on whether the Manual of Style should specify whether "universe" is a proper name. After this RfC is complete, if the consensus is that the Manual of Style should specify the capitalization of "universe", there will be separate discussions of 2) whether "universe" should be capitalized and 3) how this should be worded in the Manual of Style.

Subsections: "Responses", "Other options", "Comments"


  • I think this makes sense. If it were done fairly quickly, before #Request for comment - Capitalise universe is complete, I think it would help the closer decide how to interpret what will probably be a messy consensus. How about a 7-day discussion and we ask @Slakr:, the administrator who closed the last RfC, to do the close?  SchreiberBike | ⌨  00:09, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
I quote the following comment made in the course of discussion at #Request for comment - Capitalise universe:
@Dennis Brown: Sorry, a clarification: the RfC was worded to deliberately avoid dealing with MOS wording; choosing MOS wording (including whether this should be mentioned in the MOS) will be done later. The question is purely whether universe should be capitalized when used as the name of our universe. So answering the question that was asked, do you mean support or oppose? —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 13:15, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Cinderella157 (talk) 00:37, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Your point? —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 01:53, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
My point is that there appears to be an inherent contradiction between what you are saying here and elsewhere. Cinderella157 (talk) 03:00, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
I have made it very clear that my reading of the consensus here is that the best path (suggested by others) was to first ask this question, then ask the question that you asked if and only if the answer to this question is yes (but with discussion of the wording, which you didn't do). But the fact that you asked the question about whether to capitalize in a disruptive, consensus-ignoring manner doesn't mean that I want to see that discussion spin off topic. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 03:34, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
I will post this in the next 12-24 hours unless there's objection, with a seven-day window as suggested by SchreiberBike. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 12:48, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Objection. Of course there is objection, the wording fails to make clear that this would give Wiki Project Astronomy more power. And there's already an RfC going on. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 13:57, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
I stated explicitly why I think this should be posted concurrently with the current (ill-advised) RfC. Several editors have contributed to the wording, trying to keep it neutral. You're welcome to contribute to that effort, and of course any editor could post in a response arguments in support of either position; avoiding giving the project you see as power-hungry more power would be a reason you could use to justify voting one way or the other. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 14:11, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
Well, you said "unless there's objection", and there's objection. How many editors want this to happen within 24 hours? Peter Gulutzan (talk) 01:54, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I can say I'm not really into it again so soon. I wasn't even noticing this was here. I'm a bit worried about the actual question's wording since my answer would be "it depends." I'm not sure we need to add more examples added to the list. If the list gets pared down to just earth, then the answer is no. If people are going to try to read into not adding it as universe must always be lower case, then it might be the answer is yes. I think how it's written now is fine and any other nitpicky things should be handled by the astronomy project...provided the astronomy project puts it in their guidelines for all to see. Fyunck(click) (talk) 02:51, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Ashill, Your proposed 3 steps states to effect, that there is no need to determine capitalisation of 'universe' if there is no consensus to change the MOS. The logic of this statement lacks strength. A resolution not to change the MOS does not mean that the capitalisation of a particular word cannot be resolved. It simply means that the MOS should not be changed to reflect the resolution of the capitalisation. The primary question here is that of capitalisation. The secondary question relates to the MOS and how it may or may not reflect the answer to the primary question. If there is any interdependence between these two questions, then it rests in this order and not in the reverse order. Cinderella157 (talk) 02:59, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
No, the first question is whether the MOS should provide guidance. If the answer is yes, we discuss what guidance it should give. If the answer is no, then discussion of whether or not to capitalise "universe" does not belong here. This is the talk-page for discussing improvements to MOS:CAPS, not a forum. NebY (talk) 08:17, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
Actually, the MOS does already provide guidance. The problem is that a portion of WP community dispute this guidance. The problem has impacted perhaps thousands of articles and transcends projects. The question needs to be addressed somewhere - whether or not the MOS is changed. You suggest that there is only one model or process for development and improvement of the MOS. I suggest that there are multiple ways for this to occur. Very few would appear to start from the question of whether or not the MOS should be changed. Many appear to start from a position of resolving a specific question and then addressing a change to the MOS to reflect the solution to the problem. Cinderella157 (talk) 10:22, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
The previous RfC made the assumption that a change was needed to address capitalization (or not) of the word "universe", and focused only on what change to make. It turned out there was no consensus for a change. Any new RfC (including this one) is pointless unless it addresses the issue of whether a change is needed at all. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 12:04, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
You know... I am beginning to wonder if we even agree on what the problem is. To me, the problem is that the MOS suffers from instruction creep, and needs a trimming. The MOS should state the broad principles of stylization, leaving the specifics to projects and even individual pages to figure out. In this case, the MOS should state the broad principle that Proper Names are capitalized. And that's all MOS needs to say.
MOS can leave it to the relevant WikiProjects to figure out which names (in their respective fields) should be considered Proper Names (and which should not). We don't need to make a rule on every single word. Blueboar (talk) 12:26, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree up to a point. It's just that when a dispute arises on *whether* a given term is a proper name that cannot be resolved at project level, MOSCAP seems to me like a good place to resolve that dispute. And by the way, "universe" is an example of a word that has led to a dispute that has not so far been resolved, at project or any other level. In those circumstances it is not sufficient to say "capitalize if it's a proper name" because there is disagreement on when (or even whether) "universe" is a proper name.
I do think Blueboar's proposal (delete the offending sentence) would be a better starting point for the discussion than the status quo. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 14:40, 26 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.

Request for comment - Capitalise universe[edit]

The following discussion is an archived record of a request for comment. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Here is how consensus was found in the five sections.
  1. Oppose
  2. Oppose
  3. Support - While it shares some of the same wording as question 1 it is more specific and is therefore a separate question.
  4. No Consensus, there are not enough responses to form consensus.
  5. No Consensus, there are not enough responses to form consensus.
  6. No Consensus, there are not enough responses to form consensus.

As a side note this was a rather interesting RFC in that it had multiple questions to hopefully find the best solution. AlbinoFerret 01:43, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

The question to be addressed is:

The word 'universe' shall be capitalized (as a proper name) when used in an astronomical context to refer specifically to the body that is everything that physically exists.

Please indicate Support or Oppose in response section.

Cinderella157 (talk) 03:08, 22 March 2015 (UTC)


The matter of capitalising 'universe' was initially bought to this talk page at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 14#Capitalization of universe after a large number of articles were edited to capitalise the word. An RfC was opened (#Capitalization of universe - request for comment). This proposed amendments to Celestial bodies, with the intent of addressing the question. The closing administrator found no consensus for either of the two proposed, opposing amemdments. Subsequent discussion has occurred herin at #Try again for "Universe/universe" consensus?.

The proposition made here has been phrased such that it closely follows to form of paragraph one of the 'Celestial bodies' section. It does not however, intrinsically propose a change to this paragraph.

The wording was derived from Universe (disambiguation), which states, "The Universe is everything that physically exists." Cinderella157 (talk) 16:23, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
More background[edit]

I am loath to simply 'cut and paste' large sections of previous discussion; however, given some statements made herein, I believe that this is a valuable enhancement to the very brief background that was initially provided at the start of this RfC. The following summary provided by Peter Gulutzan from the previous RfC [1] explains why this matter was bought here and addresses statements made herein that this matter should be dealt with at project level. Unfortunateely, it is part of a much larger section and not easily identified by linking. It is useful to note a degree of bipartisan support given to this summary at the time. Cinderella157 (talk) 03:36, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

Some editors have wondered why it is necessary to be concerned about Universe/universe, and/or why the concern is limited to Universe/universe and not other possibly-capitalizable astronomical words. I have dwelt on this at length, but apparently did not do so well enough, so here is an even lengthier reply.

  1. The matter of "universe" has been a specific concern several times in the past, as shown by comments on the Age of the universe article and some related articles after discussions here, here, here, here, here, here,here, and here. When a subject is repeatedly raised in multiple talk pages, that indicates it's an ongoing concern.
  2. An example of an old edits, showing how an editor has changed universe to Universe based on very poor authority ([2] Wiktionary), is here and here.
  3. Recently the idea of changing universe to Universe came up on the Wikiproject Astronomy talk page. The discussion is here, and noticeably the topic is universe/Universe specifically. The result was declared to be a consensus (yes there is argument about whether it should have been), and so an editor changed many Wikipedia articles, from universe to Universe.
  4. Some examples -- a tiny subset -- of the Wikiproject Astronomy changes are here, here, here, here, here, here. Notice that sometimes the edit summaries say that the change is "according to the MoS", which I suppose must mean the MoS as interpreted by this editor.
  5. Before somebody says "well this editor maybe shouldn't have done this", let me observe that this is done with the approval of a Wiki Project and there is nothing -- no policy, no guideline -- that explicitly says it's improper. If WikiProject Astronomy decides to change hundreds of pages, they'll freely do so unless something with more authority overrides their decision. A reasonable choice of authority is MoS.
  6. There was a Dispute-Resolution-Noticeboard incident here about the conduct of one of the WikiProject Astronomy editors. It resulted in a stripping of WP:AWB authority; however, the administrator did not decide about the edits' contents. The January 18 concluding remarks included the sentence

    As specified by several editors below, the discussion itself may be better held at WP:MOS, which would also attract editors with experience in linguistic knowledge, in addition to those from WikiProject Astronomy (and the result potentially integrated into the MOS itself - and if required, resolved via WP:RFC).

  7. After that conclusion, I took it to a MoS talk page with due notice and ceremony. It could have gone straight to an RfC instead, but it turns out that it makes no difference -- we're in an RfC now anyway.
  8. A "compromise", merely demanding that an article's original wording must be left alone unless decide otherwise on the article's talk page, was not accepted.
  9. The above are simply facts. I will add an opinion: if it is hard to change this MOSCAP section for universe/Universe, it will be harder to change for words that have been established for three years (like Solar System) or for ten years (like Sun/Moon/Earth), and therefore adding more terms will make it more difficult to get universe/Universe decided.

Thus: we have a problem, it relates to universe/Universe, it affects many pages, the directive was to take it to a MoS page, it can be solved by a small change in MoS, other things cannot be. Of course it could be solved by declaring capitalization is correct, and the RfC has that option. Of course it could be solved by declaring capitalization is incorrect, and the RfC has that option. Of course it could be ignored, and the RfC very correctly does not have that option -- it would mean that Wikiproject Astronomy's decision stands, and therefore it is exactly the same as saying capitalization is correct. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 20:12, 5 February 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for this synopsis. It helps those of us who weren't there on the ground floor, to get a sense of what has gone before. Fyunck(click) (talk) 20:39, 5 February 2015 (UTC) [part of material quoted from the earier RfC]

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Thanks. Some of the background links and observations can certainly help newcomers understand the complexities involved. It certainly hurts to have all our sources and style guides in disagreement with each other on the capitalization of earth, moon, sun, solar system, galaxy and universe. It's probably what makes it so tricky to keep things consistent. It should be noted the the guy who made all the over-reaching changes was dealt with appropriately at the time and was later blocked for other issues. Fyunck(click) (talk) 06:04, 29 March 2015 (UTC)

Comment Only one guideline is relevant here: English in the context of the intention of the author. If he intends cloud, or tree, or clark, or bill as a proper name or some similar context demanding capitalisation, then it is Cloud or Tree or Clark or Bill, otherwise not. This does not conflict with the current standard in this connection or any other and this entire RfC should be unnecessary. JonRichfield (talk) 14:43, 16 April 2015 (UTC)

The following pages have been notified[edit]

(Action to follow initial posting of RfC Cinderella157 (talk) 03:09, 22 March 2015 (UTC))

Notifications made. Cinderella157 (talk) 04:10, 22 March 2015 (UTC)


  • Oppose. because it is easiest to implement, most conventional (by bulk counts of usage in books, for example), and because many (and, possibly, most) published manuals of style recommend not capitalizing. Why should Wikipedia take an unconventional decision? Capitalizing "universe" does not, as far as I can see, add anything, and does not reduce ambiguity. I also think that adding "universe" to the list of words that need to be capitalized, under astronomical circumstances (and those circumstances are not always clear, especially in discussing historical notions and philosophy), will lead to additional discussion about whether or not nearly synonymous words, like "cosmos", "nature", "heaven", etc. should also be capitalized, again under "certain" circumstances. So, to me, not capitalizing "universe" is preferable. Isambard Kingdom (talk) 14:44, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I don't see "universe" as a word in need of capitalization. Every time I've encountered it, I never confused a lowercase universe for something the author wasn't talking about, while uppercase Universes seem to have an artificial and unnecessary emphasis. And outside sources are far from agreement or consistency. Xaxafrad (talk) 05:08, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Request Speedy Close as Disruptive. An RfC on this was just closed today... a few hours ago!!! Fyunck(click) (talk) 05:52, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose – Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization. Universe is not typically capitalized in sources, even when referring specifically to "the universe" we live in, so it would be very odd for Wikipedia to adopt a style of capitalizing it. Not clear why we need to discuss that again. Dicklyon (talk) 06:23, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
    Neither is sun, moon and solar system yet they are capitalized in certain circumstances here. Fyunck(click) (talk) 06:39, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • I support the thesis (for reasoning see reams and reams of discussion from the previous RfC) but am not convinced it is the right question. What matters is clarity and consistency. At the moment we have neither. The question we should be asking is "Do we need to take action to address the absence of clarity and consistency?" Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:30, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
It appears that it was all too difficult to address both the underpinning question and the required action all in 'one hit', as was the premise of the previous RfC. Hopefully, by answering the underpinning question, it will become easier to address the action that might be required wrt the MOS. Cheers Cinderella157 (talk) 09:05, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • OpposeWiktionary regards the capitalised version as "dated or religious". The OED says "Freq. with capital initial" and has roughly equal numbers of cites for each in its (lower case) entry. In its Third edition comment, it uses the word twice in comment, once capitalised and once uncapitalised. In a search over all entries for OED cites from the past hundred years, all cites that are not in title case use lower case. Dbfirs 08:52, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
    Wikitionary is not a legitimate source @Dbfirs:. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:15, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
    Agreed: it is a sister project, but their decision has no authority here, that's why I cited the OED. Dbfirs 16:14, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
    Not only would I not consider Wiktionary a valid and credible source, but I'd also object to the designation of capitalizing "universe" as "religious or outdated". The capitalization of the Universe is because it can be used as a proper noun to refer to our universe as compared to other possible universes. Of course context matters, but if we are referring to our universe, it should be "[the/our] Universe". This is basic English, people. –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 07:23, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    Wiktionary just reports usages that it finds. I wasn't quoting it as an authority. I would regard the OED as an authority. Belief in multiverses seems to be a matter of faith, and so I regard it as coming under the "religious" category. Dbfirs 11:17, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    What evidence is there that the capitalization of Universe is used in dated or religious contexts? I don't see where OED refers to the capitalization of the Universe as "religious" or "dated". There's no reason to consider multiverses a matter of "religious faith" since it is at the forefront of science and is currently at the precipice of being confirmed as a scientific theory. Or do you consider anything and everything that isn't a scientific theory or "fact" to be basically the equivalent of religious faith, even if it is a scientific hypothesis? –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 12:09, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support for consistency with what we now have. Wikipedia says that in certain instances earth, moon, sun and solar system can be capitalized. Adding galaxy and universe to that list (with the same limitations) seems logical. Encyclopedia Britannica capitalizes the Galaxy as does Websters. Symposiums at the International Astronomical Union capitalize Universe as does the Style guide for the London Times and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. We could shorten the list and just leave earth capitalized, as do many general style guides, but short of that for uniformity we should capitalize galaxy and universe in certain instances. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:15, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support. When it refers to the single entity in which we live (i.e. the one and only), it is a proper name/noun and it is normal English to capitalize proper names. --JorisvS (talk) 10:03, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Request speedy close as disruptive per discussion in #A new idea above. This was posted while discussion about the best way to gain consensus was ongoing. It was posted without even a notification to the ongoing discussion, so there was no attempt to gain consensus on the wording or a process for what we do if the discussion does gain consensus. Meanwhile, it is very clear from the three recent discussions (one at WT:AST and two here, the initial discussion followed by the RfC) that there is no consensus either to treat universe as a common noun or as a proper name. Maybe the participant pool will change and this RfC will come to a different isolated conclusion, but that wouldn't change the fact that there is no consensus unless a fairl large number of previous participants change their mind in the same direction. That hasn't happened in all the discussion so far, so I don't see why it would now. To approach consensus, we need an agreed-upon process to break that logjam. This isn't it, certainly not without any discussion about the question asked in this particular RfC. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 10:06, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Qualified support - I could support this fully if one word was changed... if it said "The word 'universe' may be capitalized...". I realize that this would not resolve the debate. That is intentional. I favor intentionally devolving resolution of the debate over the capitalization of the word "universe" to the relevant WikiProjects, where those who best know the subject (and nuances of context) tend to congregate ... I would Oppose actually adding this sentence (or one like it) to the guideline. The MOS has enough instruction creep. It does not need to specify how to capitalize individual words. Blueboar (talk) 11:43, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
You perhaps ignore that this was bought to MOSCAPS in the first instance because the matter could not be resolved within project boundaries and 'spilled' across boundaries. Cinderella157 (talk) 11:51, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
And it won't be "resolved" here either... nor should it be. It should be sent back to the WikiProject, as that is the proper venue for discussion and resolution. MOS pages are not the place to resolve project specific issues. The projects can refer to MOS to help them resolve the issues... but the issues should be resolved at the project level. Here, they are just instruction creep. Blueboar (talk) 13:42, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

"Astronomical Bodies: Capitalize the names of planets (e.g. Earth, Mars, Jupiter). Capitalize moon when referring to Earth's Moon, otherwise lowercase moon (e.g. the Moon orbits the Earth, Jupiter's moons). Do not capitalize solar system and universe."

In any case - hope this helps in some way - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 13:14, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree that's better, though by saying "Capitalize moon when referring to Earth's Moon" it is more ambifuous or broader that the typical guide that talks about astronomical context; what would one do in for example "when does the moon rise tonight"? Most would not capitalize it, because although it is the Earth's moon, it is not in an astronomical context, but rather an appearance or common context. Dicklyon (talk) 15:11, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
ALSO - According to the "GOOGLE BOOKS Ngram Viewer" => SEEMS "universe" (lower-cased/u) (0.00250%/est) is used over 7-TIMES *More* in Books from the years 1800 to 2008 than "Universe" (capital-cased/U) (0.000350%/est) - maybe Better? => BiGram (universe, Universe) View - in any case -- Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 16:52, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - In the last RfC I showed that most sources (dictionaries, style guides, books) do not support the idea of capitalizing as a proper name, explained why the matter should be up to the MoS and not WikiProject Astronomy, and "voted" with the majority for lower case universe. Editors disrupted that RfC by heckling and adding irrelevant alternatives which then had to be discussed till the whole thing was TLDR; I see that's happening again; I hope this time the closer will cut through the weeds. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 17:16, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Request Speedy Close as Disruptive. Give it a rest. At least six months. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:45, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support (since this discussion apparently won't be closed, I'll resummarize my main feelings and why this is contentious). "The Universe", when used as the name of our universe, is a proper name and therefore should be capitalized, just like "the Continent" is when used as a name of Continental Europe. I do recognize that a majority of sources do not treat "the universe" this way, which is why the opposers aren't crazy and why this isn't an open and shut case. The opening paragraph or the MOSCAPS guideline says "words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in sources are treated as proper names and capitalized in Wikipedia", which gives obvious strong weight to following a majority of sources. However, we aren't compelled to follow the majority of sources in the MOS, and a number of sources (cited below), including many astronomy textbooks and Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, do treat "the Universe" as a proper name. Also, following a majority of sources will necessarily lead to inconsistency, since the name of "the universe" would be treated as a common noun while "the Earth" and "the Continent" would be proper names (since most sources capitalize both of those). Astronomy sources and Wikipedia editors alike do capitalize "the Universe" more than non-astronomy sources and editors, probably because the distinction is most likely to be relevant in astronomy articles (since outside an astronomical context, it's rare to need to distinguish between the Universe and other universes). I give very little weight to the "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization" and WP:SSF arguments; either way, if it's a proper noun, we capitalize it. At the end of the day, if we do specify a capitalization in the MOS, we'll simply have to pick one. SchreiberBike proposed a good way to do so above (#A new idea), since I think that both sides of this debate have compelling, policy-rooted arguments, we're not coming to a consensus, and there's no obvious compromise. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 01:18, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Our MoS says "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization. Most capitalization is for proper names or for acronyms. Wikipedia relies on sources to determine what is a proper name; words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in sources are treated as proper names and capitalized in Wikipedia." The meaning of the first sentence has been present since this edit in December 2007. The third sentence has been in place since this edit (discussion here) in December 2011, though it has been streamlined since then.
    In early February, I used Google Books, Google Scholar, Google News and Google Search to see how sources capitalize universe. I reported the first ten results - not the results which supported one side or another - and found that lower case was used about nine times out of ten. The searches I used and the results of those searches are at the following links: #Google Books, #Google Scholar, #Google News and #Google Search.  SchreiberBike | ⌨  02:48, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support – Any and all proper nouns should be capitalized because it refers to a unique entity as compared to its general application. If we are referring to our universe, we should capitalize "Universe" and precede it with "the". If we are referring to a universe, no capitalization is needed. The same rationale applies to capitalizing the planets or capitalizing "Earth" when it refers to the Earth. "The Universe" is the name of our universe and until we change that (I suggest Pan, which means "all" in Greek). This shouldn't even be an issue, since this is a matter of basic English (ENGVAR aside). –Nøkkenbuer (talk) 06:45, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    If the universe were a proper noun, then it would be correct to capitalise it as a matter of basic English, but most usages elsewhere seem not to regard the word as a proper noun. Why would we need to name something that just describes everything that exists? Dbfirs 11:17, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    I don't see why it shouldn't be considered a proper noun. I don't consider the Universe to refer to everything in existence anymore, since the Universe is quite possibly just one of many systems. Although this rationale could apply before we considered the possibility of other universes as per multiverse, now this is a serious possibility with some mathematical support behind it. Thus, I consider this distinction between "universe" as a common and proper noun via capitalization to be important. The Universe should have been considered a valid proper noun since the point at which we determined the Universe to have an observable limit, and moreover when we found that the Universe may not be the only universe. –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 12:09, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    @Dbfirs: In want way could one consider "Universe", when referring to the one and only (so not when it refers to an instance of a multiverse), not a proper noun, given the definitions of the terms: proper noun? --JorisvS (talk) 12:13, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    The universe is not a name, it's a description. You two can keep your faith in multiverses if you wish, but as far as I'm concerned, they only exist in Science Fiction and in one hypothetical interpretation of some mathematical equations. I'll be happy to change my view just as soon as there is any scientific evidence for the existence of anything outside the universe, which I define as everything that is or has been scientifically observable (or should that be Everything that Exists?) By the way, the current observable universe is not the same as everything that has been observable in the past. I do not see this situation as a parallel to the Milky Way (proper noun) being one of many galaxies, but you evidently do, so we will have to agree to disagree. Dbfirs 13:05, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    Terms (common and proper nouns) are not descriptions, but only refer to things. Maybe it is better to ask why "U/universe" would be a common noun, or more precisely why it would refer to a class of entities or a specific instance thereof (because then it can't be a proper noun). And I actually don't believe in the existence of a multiverse either, but that is just not relevant, AFAICS, because whether they exist or not, they are discussed. --JorisvS (talk) 13:24, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    I don't see why "universe" couldn't be both a name (more specifically, a proper noun) and a description. If it was solely a description, would that mean that the Universe is still the Universe irrespective of how many universes constitute said universe (assuming the multiverse hypothesis is true)? I think it would be better to label that as a multiverse or omniverse to avoid the inevitable confusion regarding how a universe could contain universes (even though that may be true). Moreover, your definition of "universe" is integral to whether you would accept the existence, or even possibility, of other universes because it precludes any distinction between universes. If "the universe" is "everything", then there could not be more "everythings", unless you assume a meta- or hyper-"everything". The error here is assuming that universe = everything, when this does not have to be true, and very well may not be. Also, "Everything" and "Exists" are not proper nouns, so they wouldn't be capitalized (and yes, I can recognize sarcasm). But yes, I suppose "agreeing to disagree" is what's best for the sake of this argument, since it's digressing from the main topic's goal (even though I generally consider "agreeing to disagree" essentially a cop-out to try to terminate an argument without actually trying to reach a resolution). –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 13:36, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    Read wikt:description: A description is a sketch or account in words, an enumeration of the essential qualities of a thing or species. A single word can't describe the essential qualities of something, and so isn't a description. The Universe is all that we know of, which would make it a specific instance and hence a proper noun. In the context of a hypothesized multiverse, the Universe is just one of many universes. As for "everything" and "exists", those are a pronoun and a verb, respectively, not nouns. And this discussion is dead on the core of this topic, and agreeing to disagree would simply mean accept the current situation and it would make this whole discussion pointless. --JorisvS (talk) 16:55, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    I suppose so. I agree that it isn't a description, and I appreciate your correcting me in that regard. I've edited my post above to reflect this. –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 19:16, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
    @Nøkkenbuer:My initial thought was the same as yours, that the universe is a place, and we capitalize place names. I was surprised when I did a survey of reliable sources (see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 16#Capitalization in reliable sources) and found that roughly nine out of ten used lower case. I also thought about words like: everywhere which can be a synonym for universe and the atmosphere or the planet which are referring to unique things but which we don't capitalize. Finally, in discussions about when universe would be capitalized if this proposal were accepted, I saw that reasonable people disagree and that standardizing on lower case would decrease conflict. Why do you think that sources generally don't capitalize universe?  SchreiberBike | ⌨  00:19, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
    "The planet" and the like are not proper-noun uses, but instead function much like "it", referring back to the previously mentioned instance, in this case of a planet. --JorisvS (talk) 09:29, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
    @SchreiberBike: I honestly think that it's because those sources did not consider "(the) universe" as a proper noun, and moreover did not consider the possibility of other universes and the implications thereof on the application of the word "universe". Unlike the old conventions of 18th Century typography to excessively capitalize, there is a clearer and more defined understanding of when to capitalize and the implications of capitalization in modern English. Perhaps these reliable sources did not capitalize "universe" when referring to our or the Universe because they considered "the universe" in the same category of "the atmosphere" or "the planet": names of vague entities which are specific enough to identify a particular entity among like-named entities (often by virtue of context), but general enough to apply to said entity in a liberal and indefinite manner. I suspect "atmosphere" and "planet" is not capitalized when referring to our or the atmosphere or planet is because they are common nouns, not proper nouns. Although they refer to a specific atmosphere or planet, this could only be discerned by the context. Moreover, proper nouns typically function as names, whereas "atmosphere" and "planet" are not names. For example, do we capitalize "man" or "woman" when we say "The woman crosses the street"? No, because they are common nouns, even though they are specifying a particular entity. Basically, proper nouns function as names or titles of specific entities, whereas common nouns do not but can refer to a specific entity. This can help illustrate my point. Getting back to the main point, it's pretty much because these sources, in my opinion, employed the wrong class of nouns. They referred to the Universe, a proper noun, as "the universe", a common noun, because they did not recognize that it it (or could be) used as a proper noun. Here is an interesting article discussing this very topic.Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 19:04, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
    @Nøkkenbuer: Thanks for your reply. I think you are saying that we should capitalize universe because it is a proper noun and it is obvious to you that it is a proper noun. The problem is that professional editors at about nine out of ten of the top Google ranked sources disagree with you. Many of those sources are from major authors and organizations. These people know the meaning of the word. The link you provided with a definition of a proper noun helps with the general concept, but it is does not answer the question for this word. It does define universe though, and it uses the lower case "u". The author at NPR wants to capitalize universe when it means observable universe but use lower case for all other uses. That is different from every other source I've seen and different from what is being proposed on this page.  SchreiberBike | ⌨  04:57, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
    But neither you, nor anyone else here, has been able to tell why. Why is it a common noun according to you or those authors to whom you refer? If you can't answer that it is just an argumentum ad populum. --JorisvS (talk) 08:45, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
    @SchreiberBike: Yes, my point is that "universe" could function as both a proper and common noun, and I consider this to be obvious. With respect to the prevalence of "universe" lacking capitalization regardless of its usage, I must say that I disagree with all those sources. That's certainly an audacious stance, but I think that despite the credibility of the sources and the authors therein, I believe they are using "universe" as a common noun when sometimes they mean it as a proper noun. They continue to keep "universe" uncapitalized as a matter of convention, but I believe this convention is misleading and, at times, confusing. Since there is such disagreement on whether to capitalize "universe" and whether to use it as a proper noun for our Universe, the matter becomes even more obfuscated than it needs to be. If the policy on Wikipedia is to have the MoS reflect the most common and widespread conventions and styling, then I suppose there is no reason for further debate since it's obvious who's the winner. At this point, however, I feel like it's more of a matter of whether we should fall in line with the majority convention despite how said convention is arguably overdue for disposal. As for the article, I shared it more as an interesting addition to this discussion, though I don't necessarily support its conclusions. It's an opinion I can support, though it doesn't really accomplish what I think should be done—i.e., a distinction between "universe" as a common noun and "Universe" as a proper noun describing our Universe. Perhaps I shouldn't have included it. –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 10:47, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
I believe that I have specifically addressed why 'universe' is not a proper name (in my response) but I will expand upon this slightly. A specific referent does not, of itself, mean that a name is a proper name. If one talks about 'the dog', there is a specific referent (a particular dog) but 'dog' is not a proper noun. A specific referent can be created by using the definite article ('the') and by certain other words (such as the definite determiner, 'our'). Onomastic theory purports that proper names arise by one of two processes. The first may be described as a 'Christening' - a process by which someone (or a body) recognised as having 'naming rights' assigns a name. Nobody has suggested that somebody has naming rights to our universe. The second process is one of evolution - by usage, a word comes to be 'widely recognised' as a proper name. To be considered a proper name by the second process, requires that it is 'generally accepted' - in which case, it would be 'consistently capitalised', as required by MOSCAPS. Cinderella157 (talk) 12:16, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
But "the dog" can be applied to any previously specified dog. This is so because "dog" is a common noun. However, without context or specifiers "the []niverse" cannot be applied to any single entity except specifically the one we live in. This indicates that it is a proper noun. Of course, in a certain context or with specifiers, "the universe" can be used to refer to any one member of a multiverse, just like "the dog" can be used to refer to any single dog. This latter usage is also valid, but does not negate the former, and is fully analogous to "the Moon" vs. "the moon". --JorisvS (talk) 13:49, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
'The dog' does not require that the dog is 'previously specified' for it to have a specific referent. Use of the definite article inherently creates a specific referent and use of the definite article is indicative of an appelative and not a proper name. There are monorefferential appelatives, such as nature, the cosmos and heaven. See [3] for a discussion. This reference also discusses other attributes of a proper name which are not attributable to 'universe'. 'The universe' is to a limited extent analogous with 'the Moon' except on the critical point to which 'the Moon' has much more acceptance as a proper name - and even that is questionable. It is a weak analogy for justifying 'the universe' as a proper name. Cinderella157 (talk) 15:23, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
First, thank you very much for that reference, which I find helpful.
The main way in which I find your specific referent argument and "the dog" analogy unconvincing is in comparison to phrases like "the Continent", which is widely accepted as a proper name despite being, as far as I can tell, almost exactly analogous to the Universe (and certainly a better analogy than "the dog"). But fundamentally, the source you provided is the first substantive argument I've seen that gives me some reason to accept "the universe" as the name of the Universe. The strength of the "universe" argument to me so far has simply been that most (but not all) sources do it, which I find to be a very strong but not fully convincing argument for this purpose (see reply to SchreiberBike below). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:53, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
@Cinderella157: Yes, it does. Implicitly specified is also sufficient. But if there is no context whatsoever to go on, people will ask "Which dog (are you talking about)?". And you'd have to be more specific than a link to a book with all its instances of "monoreferential" marked to be making a point. --JorisvS (talk) 16:13, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
@Ashill, I believe that 'the Continent' is best described as a metonym derived from 'the continent of Europe'. The origin of its 'status' is quite different but more importantly, it is widely accepted and acknowledged. By the second mechanism by which noun phrases are proper names, 'the Continent' has evolved to be recognised as such and be 'consistently capitalised'. @JorisvS, the link, you will observe, is a list of search results. The first of the 17 occurrences identified in the link (at p 103) discusses the matter of monoreferential appelatives (and quite specifically 'universe') in the most detail; however, almost all 17 contribute to the discussion. For that matter, 'the universe' implicitly specifies our universe. As you point out, "implicitly specified" is sufficient for an appelative to have a specific referent. A specific referent (even a single referent) is a characteristic of a proper name but it is not defining of a proper name. Proper names are not descriptive nor are they modified by descriptors. Both of these attributes are not satisfied by 'universe'. Cinderella157 (talk) 23:07, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
You misunderstand what I meant by implicit: Implicitly specified by previous discourse, not as a language's agreed upon convention. That book admits that they are sometimes considered proper nouns/names because they are monoreferential and that some consider them proper names some of the time (which is what we've said here, because there are instances where these are not monoreferential). It then goes on to disagree with that, giving only very confused/confusing reasons: 1) "the meaning of a noun like moon in the monoreferential NP the moon is preserved in the appellative expressions a moon, two moons, or several moons, viz. 'satellite of a planet', whereas appellative NPs derived from proprial lemmas, e.g., a John, two Johns, several Johns, have a special meaning, in this case 'a/two/several person(s) called John'. My criticism to this is twofold: a) nothing of "moon" is 'preserved' in "the Moon". In fact "moon" was coined by analogy with "the Moon", because that is the only natural satellite that has always been known and when other natural satellites were discovered a term had to be coined. Such homophone pairs do no preclude one from being a proper noun, which the Continent example also exemplifies. b) "two Johns" is possible by virtue of there being more than one person being called "John". Only one celestial body is called "the Moon", so pluralizing it makes no sense, just like, say, "two Saturns" makes no sense. It has nothing to do with it somehow being less of a proper noun. 2) That book then goes on being even more confusing with "Also, more importantly, the entities in question are not individual members of a basic level category. The world and the universe are certainly not. It is true that the sun and the moon are objects in space (celestial bodies) but this is obviously a higher level category.". I can't make heads or tails of this. It seems to differentiate "The Sun", "Earth", and "the Moon" from "Saturn", "Neptune", "Pluto", etc., but all are simply part of the same-level category: celestial objects. Although they can be subdivided in groups for classification purposes, the same can be done with people, e.g. male vs. female, country of origin, etc.. To get back to what you said, "A specific referent (even a single referent) is a characteristic of a proper name but it is not defining of a proper name.", what then would be defining of a proper name? I would also like to point out that, at least in its current form, our article proper noun disagrees with that assessment. --JorisvS (talk) 08:44, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────To say that I misunderstand what you meant by implicit does not acknowledge that I might be offering a counter-position. I am not relying on a 'convention of language' but on the most commonly understood definition that results from the generally monoreferential nature of 'universe'. If anything, context (and not capitalisation) is necessary to distinguish the more unusual uses of 'universe' from 'our universe' (ie, context must be applied to these more unusual forms).

You state: "That book admits that they are sometimes considered proper nouns/names because they are monoreferential and that some consider them proper names some of the time (which is what we've said here, because there are instances where these are not monoreferential)." This is not what this source says at all. The author has reviewed other onomastic sources and states: "... some reaserchers call them proper names. Others keep to the view that they are appellatives [referring to the sun, the moon, the world and the universe]". The author in no way infers that 'the universe' may be one or the other, depending on the situation, only that it is considered always one or always the other. The author then provides his own analysis by which he concludes that 'universe' is not a proper name.

By our MOS, we choose to capitalise 'moon' in an astronomical context. By this, we might say, 'the distance of the Moon from Earth is ..." but "the moon shone brightly that night", even though we are talking about the same moon it is a distinction that at some level is a contradiction. The author does not make this contradictory distinction and your critique relies upon this distinction. " You state: "In fact 'moon' was coined by analogy with 'the Moon', because that is the only natural satellite that has always been known" and yet, it is 'the moon' that we observe on earth.

Yes, homophone pairs (capitonyms) are possible. But 'the universe' is not analogous with 'the Continent' on the basis of origin. As stated before, I understand that 'the Continent' is a metonym. This author does not conclude that 'the sun' and 'the moon' are proper names when they refer to the our 'usual' sun or moon. He does conclude that the planet Earth is a proper name, as opposed to 'earth', which is dirt but in this case, capitalisation is not being used to distinguish similar things (ie, the Earth's moon and the moon of another planet).

As for an explanation of base level categories, more detailed explanation of this is in pages that aren't in the preview that is linked. By my understanding though, a word cannot be both a proper name and a category.

Answering, "What is a proper name?" is not a simple task. My observation is that Proper noun has some inconsistencies and is perhaps a little simplistic. It states: "A proper noun is a noun that in its primary application refers to a unique entity, such as London, Jupiter, Sarah, or Microsoft, as distinguished from a common noun, which usually refers to a class of entities (city, planet, person, corporation), or non-unique instances of a specific class (a city, another planet, these persons, our corporation)", but it ignores that a specific referent can be achieved by the application of a definite determiner but does say: "In English, proper names in their primary application cannot normally be modified by an article or other determiner ...". This first statement is therefore somewhat simplistic and can lead to misperceptions. It is also at odds with Proper name (philosophy), which is also more consistent with other sources I have read. Proper noun, states "Some proper nouns occur in plural form (optionally or exclusively), and then they refer to groups of entities considered as unique (the Hendersons, the Everglades, the Azores, the Pleiades)." From my reading, I believe that Proper name (philosophy) would dispute this assertion regarding the Hendersons. A proper name cannot be plural (more than one) but may have a plural form. The Hendersons are a group of people with the name 'Henderson' and, while not a proper name, it is capitalised because it is derived from a proper name. from my understanding, there are a series of attributes that collectively 'define' a proper name. In pragmatic terms, where there is no acknowledged act of Christening, a proper name is identified by consistent capitalisation in 'general' use. Cinderella157 (talk) 13:34, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

I would like to say that I really appreciate both Cinderella157's and JorisvS's discussion above. I am not knowledgeable in the sort of technical linguistics and linguistic theories described therein, nor do I have any understanding of linguistics in the same capacity as either of you obviously do, so it was a very informative read. Perhaps I was erroneous in classifying "the Universe" as the name of our Universe, since it hasn't been "Christened" as such. There admittedly is no "name" for the Universe (I still vote for Pan!), and "universe" appears to be monoreferential (if I'm understanding it correctly). In this sense, I suppose the same rules which apply to "nature" might as well apply to "universe". I recall one user, though I can't seem to find who or where, stating that enforcing a capitalization of the Universe as a proper noun and name would implicitly place Wikipedia on the pro-multiverse and -Christening side, which is a bias Wikipedia would probably like to avoid. For this reason, it may be best to follow convention, even if I personally think it's absurd. Regardless, this issue is far more complex than the "basic English" I have claimed above and below. The discussion you two had helped me understand that. I still think Universe should be treated as both a proper and common noun, but as for whether Wikipedia should enforce this... I'm not so sure anymore. Whatever the case, thanks for your thoughts. –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 11:38, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
  • @SchreiberBike: @Nøkkenbuer: I appreciate the source Nøkkenbuer provided as the first I've seen that actually discusses reasons for one choice or the other. Unfortunately, nearly all sources used in this discussion so far are either manuals of style that simply specify one way or the other (without saying why) or we're just reading the source to see what they do. Either way, we're doing original research. That's obviously not forbidden by policy for MOS discussions, but it's not ideal; are there any other reliable sources that actually discuss this choice? Apologies if I've missed some int he discussion. I find the editor's note in the NPR blog illustrative: "Editor's note: That's largely what we've done here on 13.7, until today." ie The editors apparently hadn't given it significant thought. (I certainly don't mean to imply that an NPR blog is a strong enough source to swing the discussion one way or the other, in case anyone's wondering.) —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 14:37, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
    Did you know that the MOS is not subject to the policies applicable to article content? There is no reason we can't do original research about style matters. Per WP:NOTPART, these types of pages "do not generally need to conform with the content standards.". Now, we shouldn't just make grammar rules up, but there is absolutely no reason we can't do original research to synthesize best style practices into one MOS. AgnosticAphid talk 14:56, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
    Yes, that's why I said that original research is "obviously not forbidden". But I do think that reliable sources that discuss the merits of this discussion would help us regarding weight if they exist. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:00, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
    @Nøkkenbuer and Ashill: My thinking is based on the first paragraph of MOS:CAPS. Do you understand that paragraph differently from me, or is it that you disagree with it? The first part has been there since 2007, and the third part since 2011 (links). My understanding is that, around the edges, it is difficult to say what is and is not a proper noun/name and that reasonable people can disagree, so we've agreed to follow sources.  SchreiberBike | ⌨  15:16, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
    @SchreiberBike: I don't think that "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization" applies here (reasoning). The guideline that we follow the majority of sources is, to me, the strong argument in favor of capitalization (and why I'm fully willing to come up with some process for just choosing between the two options). However, I don't think it should be applied in this case because a) I think that in an astronomical context it is used as the name of the particular universe we live in, b) I don't think there's a consistent rule that applies to "the universe", "the earth", "the continent", etc and is consistent with a majority of sources, so I think it makes sense to ignore this particular guideline in this particular case in order to have a more self-consistent manual of style, and c) there are plenty of sources that use "the Universe" in an astronomical context, so we're not making up a rule out of whole cloth (which I would certainly oppose). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:53, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, Ashill! It's unfortunately the only discussion I could find which isn't a blog post or forum thread. It's not much, and it doesn't even really contribute to the discussion (or support my stance) that much, but I thought it's worthwhile to note. I would post more discussion and like sources, but it appears to be the only one in our Universe. (Humor is so difficult to convey over the Internet, especially when you refuse to use emoticons!) –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 11:38, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - This proposal would cause Big Bang (for example) to begin "The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the earliest known periods of the Universe and its subsequent large-scale evolution. It states that the Universe was in a very high density state and then expanded.... Modern measurements place this moment at approximately 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the Universe. After the initial expansion, the Universe cooled sufficiently to allow...." leaving our poor readers wondering why we're using 18th-century typography when describing modern cosmology, or whether Wikipedia was so committed to a multiversal view that the entire article had been deliberately written to imply that the Big Bang theory is a multiversal one. NebY (talk) 12:49, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    I wouldn't consider it antiquated typography, only a noticeable capitalization due to its frequent usage in the article. Perhaps the rule should be that when using "the universe" to describe our Universe in articles, capitalization should follow if and only if there is any reference to another universe (or multiple universes) therein; otherwise, no capitalization is necessary because "the Universe" is assumed to be identical to "the universe" in this respect. I consider this to still be logically flawed, but it could at least provide a tentative compromise for these two opposing side. You're right that the capitalization could imply that Wikipedia accepts or endorses the Multiverse hypothesis, though, which I overlooked. I'm not sure if I will or even should change sides as a result, but I suppose it's reasonable for Wikipedia to follow consensus on this matter, at least until the idea of multiverses elevates to scientific theory status. –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 13:24, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    Also remember, it would treated the same as we already do for sun and moon and solar system. So that sentence above would look the same if you inserted the sun. For example: "The Schnitzel theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the earliest known existence of the Sun and its subsequent evolution. It states that the Sun was in a very high density state and then expanded.... Modern measurements place this moment at approximately 4.6 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the Sun. After the initial expansion, the Sun cooled sufficiently to allow....". If you would capitalize the sun in this situation then you would capitalize universe in the same situation. No more no less. Fyunck(click) (talk) 06:57, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
    Fyunck(click), Well, to be fair, I'd consider it basic English to capitalize them as well, since they refer to specific entities who name and/or title is that which it is called. "Sun", "Moon", and "Solar System" can all function as both proper and common nouns, so I think it's erroneous for Wikipedia (or any source) to not capitalize them when used as a proper noun. –Nøkkenbuer (talkcontribs) 19:20, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose - When universe is used as a proper noun, capitalize it, when it isn't, then don't. Adding extra unnecessary instruction creep that can't possibly address every situation isn't helpful and will not reduce debates nor add clarity to the guideline. In fact, it is strongly discouraged because it causes problems instead of solving them. Each borderline instance can (and is) discussed on the individual talk page. Dennis Brown - 13:03, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    @Dennis Brown: Sorry, a clarification: the RfC was worded to deliberately avoid dealing with MOS wording; choosing MOS wording (including whether this should be mentioned in the MOS) will be done later. The question is purely whether universe should be capitalized when used as the name of our universe. So answering the question that was asked, do you mean support or oppose? —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 13:15, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
    I oppose adding a rule when we already HAVE a rule: capitalize "universe" when it is a proper noun. As for "should 'universe' be capitalized when used as the name of our universe", that seems like a content issue rather than style, as it depends on the context. No single rule can account for all the possibilities. For example, in the Article God becomes the Universe, it makes perfect sense to capitalize as it is a proper noun. This is decided at the article level. I'm against tweaking the guideline in a way that adds less clarity and would be an over-generalization that would apply to many articles on this MOS page. I would also add that this RFC was poorly thought out and worded and probably should be scrapped that reason alone. Dennis Brown - 14:42, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support. It provides a useful distinction between "Universe", the one we happen to find ourselves in, and "universe", any of many hypothetical universes. I believe some writers make similar distinctions between "Solar System" (this one), and "solar system", any of many systems involving one or more planets orbiting a star; and between "Moon" and "moon". Maproom (talk) 00:44, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Procedural comment: Why are we having yet another RFC on this issue? It's been discussed to death already. Furthermore, the proposed wording is utterly idiotic and shows a lack of understanding of the issue. We should capitalise Universe when referring to our specific Universe (the one we live in), and not capitalise universe when referring to other theoretically possible universes (e.g. those with different laws of physics). I've stated this position many times, yet we've ended up with another poorly thought out RFC with an unsuitable proposal, which just muddies the water even further. Modest Genius talk 12:15, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose in opposing the proposed statement I have given consideration to the following:
  1. MOSCAPS states: "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization. Most capitalization is for proper names or for acronyms. Wikipedia relies on sources to determine what is a proper name; words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in sources are treated as proper names and capitalized in Wikipedia." Based upon objective efforts to quantify capitalisation in sources in the previous RfC [4] and here(#Google Books, #Google Scholar, #Google News and #Google Search), the lower case 'universe' is preferred in sources seven to ten times more often. Style guides and other authoritative sources, particularly those that are more generalist, appear to favour the lowercase usage. This information is presented in the previous RfC on the basis of usage in sources, both generally and in authoritative sources, 'universe' is not consistently capitalised in the specified context and does not meet the threshold to be considered a proper name, as determined by the guidence given at MOSCAPS.
  2. Arguments for universe to be a proper noun based on there being a specific referent - ie that our universe is a specific 'place'. These have ignored and have not negated that a specific referent is created by use of the definite article (the). In examples proposing it to be a proper noun, is it is coupled with the definite article. There is no conclusive evidence that universe (in the context) is a proper name and good evidence, by way of usage with the definite article, that it is a common noun.
  3. Arguments have been made that capitalisation is necessary to distinguish 'our universe' from other possible theoretical universes. This is expressly discussed and contrary to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters#Do not use for emphasis.
  4. Where 'universe is capitalised in sources, these tend to be specialised and do not support capitalising (see Wikipedia:Specialist style fallacy).
  5. I see no evidence that 'universe' is generally acknowledged as a Capitonym.
  6. Based on the events leading to this matter being bought here, I see no evidence that this might be resolved within any one project. I see no strength of argument that would support the capitalisation of 'universe'. Cinderella157 (talk) 05:58, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose -- I can't see how capitalizing Universe adds anything to anything. Nobody is going to be confused about whether an article mentioning a particular universe is discussing the universe we live in or some other particular universe, even if there are lots of other universes out there. So how does capitalizing it add anything? It makes the universe seem Extra Special, which I suppose it is, but really it is not truly adding anything useful. With respect to the separate question of whether there should be any rule, I think any rule -- even capitalizing Universe -- is better than no rule because if we can settle this issue once and for all then we won't have to go around hundreds of time having this same exact discussion over and over and over again. I cannot fathom why it would be especially appropriate to capitalize universe (or not) in some articles and not others, so it would really just be best to come up with a rule and get this over with. AgnosticAphid talk 06:48, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
    For the same reason we sometimes capitalize other words, but not always. Like president, god, bob, king, daisy and a host of other words. What we don't need is to try to figure out a "rule" when the existing rules already work: When it is used as an official title, a proper noun, etc., then capitalize. Trying to list each word individually that should or shouldn't ever be capitalized is a fool's errand. Dennis Brown - 19:37, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
    And it's the same for other celestial bodies such as earth, sun, moon, solar system and galaxy. Most of the time they are lowercase, but our MoS gives them as examples of words that are sometimes capitalized. That example list isn't complete and never was intended to be. It would truly be a mess to have to list every word that occasionally gets capitalized. Fyunck(click) (talk) 19:50, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Other Options[edit]

At #Try again for "Universe/universe" consensus?, Fyunck(click) made the following statement.

I find the new rehash exceedingly disruptive. If it isn't removed I'll start another slower step-by-step RfC. This one is just going to have the same things introduced as the last one... that's a lot of copying and pasting. Fyunck(click) (talk) 05:41, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

At Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 16#Alternative Four, added late: Consistency: Capitalize celestial bodiesAlternative Four, added late: Consistency: Capitalize celestial bodies, this user took similar actions. To those here.

This user, having made a notification of dispute regarding this RfC at Wikipedia:Dispute resolution noticeboard#Wikipedia talk:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters#Request_for_comment_-_Capitalise_universe, at 06:22, 22 March 2015, this user has made these edits. As part of this process, I would request that these options be stricken from the discussion. Cinderella157 (talk) 08:16, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

As a general note there is also a request for speedy closing on the basis of disruptive editing. We were all talking about a slower step by step process before this sudden new RfC appeared. Other editors have requested you to drop this to no avail as listed in this diff and in this diff. Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:28, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
What would Wikiproject Astronomy do?[edit]

Can someone say? It appears to me that their project page defers to WP:Naming conventions (astronomical objects), which says nothing about "universe". And when their members describe their interest at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Astronomy, they never capitalize universe. They might be the experts on style in astronomical context, but that style should still fit in with our general style. Be careful of WP:SSF. Maybe Blueboar can say what we get if we defer to the astronomy project. Dicklyon (talk) 15:18, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

There are plenty of examples that never get mentioned in MOS... that's way too specific for a general guideline. It is however exactly what individual projects are for. The tiny little somewhat silly judgements. In this case the capitalization of Universe/universe in an astronomical context. Fyunck(click) (talk) 18:06, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
No, I can't tell you what we would get if you defer to the Astronomy Project... Nor do I really care. My point is that subject specific style issues should be the decision of the subject specific pojects... whatever they decide. They know the style conventions that apply to their project far better than I do, you do, or anyone else here at MOS does. Blueboar (talk) 20:49, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
My impression was that Fyunck was saying they has already decided on this; perhaps not. Dicklyon (talk) 23:43, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
Wikiproject astronomy editors very quickly came to a consensus that "universe" is a proper name when used as the name of our universe (Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Astronomy/Archive 16#Capitalize the "U" in "universe" or not?; it was not contentious, and most (though not all) editors who contributed to the discussion there simply saw it as obvious. One editor seriously overinterpreted that consensus and used AWB to apply it to dozens or hundreds (maybe even thousands) of articles which aren't really about astronomy, which ultimately led to the discussion being moved here and it becoming clear that there is no broader consensus on whether the name of the Universe is a common noun or proper name. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 01:03, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for pointing me at that discussion. Though I don't see why you read it as very quickly came to a consensus that "universe" is a proper name when used as the name of our universe. I'm not seeing that. And it would very odd if so; I've never heard the universe having a name "The Universe", and that's not how it's used in most astronomy books and papers. Many guides including NASA's dont' agree, either. Dicklyon (talk) 04:31, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
But "the Universe" is used in many papers and journals in just that way. As for the guides, you are correct in that some capitalize and some don't. The problem is those very guides have the same problem with earth, sun, moon, solar system and galaxy being capitalized or not. So if one says let's use CERN's style guide that tells us to lowercase universe, then we also have to always lowercase moon as well. We could also go by Illinois State University style guide and again we lowercase universe... but then we also must always lowercase sun, moon, and galaxy, but capitalize Solar System. We go by the International Astronomical Union (the official space naming organization) and they tell us to capitalize all the terms. We could use the London Times style guide that tells us to capitalize Universe, Sun, Earth and Moon, but lowercase solar system. It is truly a hodgepodge of sources. It's why my own view for consistency and ease of editing here is to capitalize all the terms or lowercase all the terms. Or let the Astronomy project handle it. However the Astronomy project should also have a big link right up front to their own guidelines and decisions. You can't keep saying "we decided this by consensus" and expect editors to wade through the archives to find it. Make it easy for editors. I also tend to agree with editor Blueboar that we really don't need all these examples cluttering up MoS. Fyunck(click) (talk) 06:19, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
Option 2. Shall 'Universe' never be capitalized, no matter the context?[edit]
  • No... context always matters. Blueboar (talk) 11:44, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose, see Miss Universe, Marvel Universe, etc. Xaxafrad (talk) 22:42, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support except where part of a proper name or trademark. Dicklyon (talk) 23:42, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose — Not only should context matter, but the capitalization of "universe" is important when distinguishing between our universe, whose name is currently "the "Universe", and another universe, which is especially important when discussing the contents of multiverse theory and the so-called "omniverse". –Nøkkenbuer (talk) 06:58, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose per Blueboar. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 07:52, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose- Of course context matters. Reyk YO! 12:29, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Emphatically not... This is crazy. We are writing English remember? Context matters because Universe and universe mean different things in different contexts. JonRichfield (talk) 14:21, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Option 3. Shall The word 'universe' be capitalized when used in an astronomical context to refer to our specific Universe?[edit]
  • Support but only if we keep earth, sun, moon, solar system in the current listing. Fyunck(click) (talk) 07:50, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Defer question to Wikipedia:WikiProject Astronomy. Blueboar (talk) 11:48, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. In most discussions about the universe, or components thereof, it would hardly be necessary to capitalize "universe". In discussions concerning multiverse theories, it could, possibly, be helpful to capitalize "our Universe", but I expect context (or re-wording) to clear any ambiguity regarding which universe one is speaking about. Xaxafrad (talk) 22:47, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support – Considering the possibility of other universes, and the multiverse or "omniverse", it is only logical to capitalize "universe" when referring to our universe. The same should apply for all pertinent heavenly bodies, including the Solar System. ["Galaxy" in the Milky Way Galaxy is omitted since the name of our galaxy is "the Milky Way" and not "the Milky Way Galaxy", "galaxy" being the type of heavenly body that the Milky Way is.] –Nøkkenbuer (talk) 06:56, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support per Fyunck(click). Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:41, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose – conflicts with the topline premise of WP:MOS that we avoid unnecessary capitalization. Dicklyon (talk) 04:26, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
The question is: in an astronomical context, is u/Universe is a proper name?... if it is (and I think it is), then it wouldn't be unnecessary capitalization... would actually be necessary capitalization. Blueboar (talk) 22:50, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support as per Naming of Astronomical Objects | IAU,,best not let Wiki rules make our article look like they are written by people that dont know the subject. -- Moxy (talk) 06:17, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support for the same reasons as I have stated multiple times already. Why we're having yet another RFC is beyond me. Modest Genius talk 12:11, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Support- generally, since "Universe" is the name of the continuum in which we live. Reyk YO! 12:32, 25 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose This is the same as option 1 and it isn't necessary to have both, but I'll add my "oppose" here anyway. Nine times out of ten sources don't capitalize universe and we should follow sources.  SchreiberBike | ⌨  14:48, 26 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment This is not a matter for arbitrary counting of heads or of sources or of guidelines. There are different reasons for capitalisation and noncapitalisation, and they do not occur with equal and independent frequency, so will persons who have difficulty with such concepts please opt out of this mess? Only one guideline is relevant here: English in the context of the intention of the author. If he intends cloud, or tree, or clark, or bill as a proper name or some similar context demanding capitalisation, then it is Cloud or Tree or Clark or Bill, otherwise not. This does not conflict with the current standard in this connection or any other and this entire RfC should be unnecessary, no matter whether clark as a noun occurs, rightly or wrongly, more or less often than Clark as a name. JonRichfield (talk) 15:38, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Option 4. Shall moon, sun, solar system, galaxy and universe be capitalized when used in conjunction with other capitalized heavenly bodies?[edit]
  • Defer question to Wikipedia:WikiProject Astronomy
  • Oppose. Capitalization based on which other words are used in the sentence is ridiculous. I would think context would be the deciding factor. Xaxafrad (talk) 22:53, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
    You might feel that way @Xaxafrad: but many many style guides we often quote like Chicago Manual of Style tells us to capitalize earth when in the presence of other heavenly bodies. I didn't just pull this option out of a hat. Lot's of university style guides say this exact thing, like Penn State. So almost always earth... but Mars, Earth and the Solar System. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:20, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Comment: I'm trying to better understand this option. For an example, say our moon, the sun, and Jupiter are in conjunction. With this option, "moon" and "sun" should be capitalized only because Jupiter is in the sentence? Xaxafrad (talk) 22:53, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
One of the reasons for this is that regardless of how we feel, many generalized style guides say to never capitalize sun and moon no matter what. I think Chicago MOS does this too. It may even be the majority of sources that do this (other than astronomical ones). But when we go towards astronomical sources we get a majority of earth, sun, moon, solar system and galaxy capitalization's and closer to 50/50 universe. Heck, we could capitalize sun, moon, solar system and universe ONLY when in the presence of other capitalized heavenly bodies. There's lots of options, but I think we should look at all the items at once to determine things. Fyunck(click) (talk) 23:07, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
The IAU formally recommends that the initial letters of the names of individual astronomical objects should be printed as capitals.. IAU Style Manual, Trans. Int. Astron. Union, volume 20B, 1989; Chapter 8, page S30 -- Moxy (talk) 06:23, 24 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose/Comment – I oppose this because although I support the capitalization of universe, solar system, earth, etc., when referring to the unique entities which commonly go by those names (such as "Solar System" for our solar system and "Universe" for our universe); this is a matter of context and not of conjunction to other capitalized heavenly bodies. I support Xaxafrad's statement in this respect. –Nøkkenbuer (talk) 06:51, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Irrelevant. You don't spell Clerk as a name in lower case just because it occurs among lots of lower-case references to clerks, nor vice versa. Only one guideline is relevant here: English in the context of the intention of the author. If he intends cloud, or tree, or clark, or bill as a proper name or some similar context demanding capitalisation, then it is Cloud or Tree or Clark or Bill, otherwise not. This does not conflict with the current standard in this connection or any other and this entire RfC should be unnecessary. JonRichfield (talk) 15:38, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Option 5. Shall we keep 'earth' but remove sun, moon, and solar system from the section on Celestial Bodies?[edit]
  • Support. As with some other general style guides. I don't feel MoS needs to be so specific in its examples. Fyunck(click) (talk) 07:44, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Cut them all and defer the issue to Wikipedia:WikiProject Astronomy Blueboar (talk) 11:51, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Cutting all words with the exception of "earth" seems to go too far. All the examples which follow would have to be re-worded or replaced. I almost prefer the previous suggestion to cut them all and defer to WP:ASTRO, except that I think there might be a valid reason not to defer (although I'm not able to elucidate it at this time). Xaxafrad (talk) 22:59, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment irrelevant and unconstructive. Ignore this option. JonRichfield (talk) 15:38, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
Option 6. The Status Quo list of examples is more than enough.[edit]
  • I both agree with this and disagree at the same time. It is more than enough in the sense that deleting this list would simplify the MOS. It is not enough because it omits mention of "universe". The solution is either to make it longer (by adding "universe") or to delete it altogether. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:34, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree and Disagree. The Status Quo list of examples is actually too much. In fact, I would propose cutting the "Celestial bodies" section entirely, and intentionally devolve style issues regarding celestial bodies to Wikipedia:WikiProject Astronomy. They know the style conventions for the subject matter far better than we here at MOS do. The entire section is instruction creep. Blueboar (talk) 11:59, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: I feel I would also agree and disagree with this option, but rather than simply deferring to WP:ASTRO, why wouldn't we repeat that consensus on the MoS:Caps page? Xaxafrad (talk) 23:14, 22 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree the current list of examples should be removed, not because there is anything wrong with it, but because it is unnecessary and apparently causes this sort of time-wasting dissent. Only one guideline is relevant here: English in the context of the intention of the author. If he intends cloud, or tree, or clark, or bill as a proper name or some similar context demanding capitalisation, then it is Cloud or Tree or Clark or Bill, otherwise not. This does not conflict with the current standard in this connection or any other and this entire RfC should be unnecessary. JonRichfield (talk) 15:38, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
    One of the problems is how many examples do we need in a general MoS guide? Universe isn't the only example that's missing so to speak. There's nothing on nebula like the Orion Nebula. Shall we discuss that and add it? I see nothing on the Hercules Globular Cluster either. There's lots of different types of heavenly bodies that MoS doesn't tell us how to capitalize and style guides argue about, and to add them all is just bloat to MoS. I think that is what @Blueboar: is talking about. MoS is great as a general guide to use with common sense, but when things start getting too specific let the wikiprojects handle it. Project members are the ones that have to deal with this stuff and vandalism on a daily basis. Fyunck(click) (talk) 00:04, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Exactly right. Blueboar (talk) 00:15, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, but letting WikiProjects decide style matters on their own is far from an unproblematic solution. The battle between members of WikiProject Birds (who wanted to enforce their preference for capitalizing common names of birds) and Wikipedians who thought MOS:LIFE should apply to birds, just as it does to all other sorts of organisms, led to one of the most protracted series of discussions Wikipedia has ever seen (see User:SMcCandlish/Capitalization of organism names for some background)—and that's a battle that the WikiProject eventually lost. Let's not go down that road again. Deor (talk) 11:45, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
And that disruptive battle should not have happened in the first place. It wouldn't have happened if MOS:LIFE and MOS pages in general, were a bit more flexible... if they deferred to the expertise of members of relevant WikiProjects when it comes to making subject specific exceptions to our generally good MOS advice. It was our insistence on "enforcing" inflexible MOS "rules", and our "we know better than the subject specialists" attitude that caused the battle and its disruption in the first place. Blueboar (talk) 12:11, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree with most of Blueboar's comments so far, but not with this one. The name of a bird (or a horse) should be capitalized if it is a proper noun (the name of my robin is Peter), and not otherwise. The only exception I can think of (albeit an important one) to this is that the Latin names of species are capitalised universally in peer-reviewed scientific literature, but Latin names are used but rarely. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 12:44, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
Let's be realistic here. To think that Wikiprojects always get it right is dead wrong. Plus sometimes particular arguments spill over into multiple wikiprojects that need further arbitration. But bloating our MoS with every possible example is also wrong. If we did that for everything our MoS would be practically unreadable. It is a general guideline that simply isn't made for every possible exception or trivial subject matter. That is where WikiProjects come in. Fyunck(click) (talk) 18:50, 23 March 2015 (UTC)
It's not about "always getting it right" (indeed as you have pointed out below, the style guides are all over the place on this, so really there is no "right"). It's about who is most likely to come closest to getting it right. For big picture, generalized statements, I think our regular MOS editors are most likely to come closest. But for specifics, I trust our subject matter editors at WikiProjects every time. They know best when to make an exception to the generalized rules. Blueboar (talk) 02:59, 27 March 2015 (UTC)
Blueboar, have you read WP:SSF? Why should we defer to astronomers about capitalization? Does the capitalization of "universe" truly present unique, astronomy-specific issues? One of the most unpleasant experiences I've had on wikipedia was over an editor who insisted that we follow the IAU's rules about dashes in comet names, rather than the MOS dash rules that were the result of an ArbCom process, because that editor thought the IAU knew better than we did what was the best rule about comet names. (Maybe they do, but I don't think they are a reliable source for the best rules about when to use dashes.) That didn't end well, but we do still follow the MOS's dash rules. I don't think this is altogether dissimilar, really. If 90% of generalist sources don't capitalize universe then who cares what the astronomers think? AgnosticAphid talk 06:59, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
One reason is because 80% of those same generalist sources don't agree on capitalizing earth, sun, moon, solar system, or galaxy either... yet they are in the MoS. However many astronomical sources do tend to capitalize those items. And why should we defer to MoS on every individual word? MoS gives us general guidelines that we follow using common sense... it's hideous for every single word in the dictionary. And we have more astronomy words that could be warming up in the bullpen. Fyunck(click) (talk) 04:53, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
You act like the MOS is some evil overreaching beast, but it's just a style guide. We have it for consistency reasons because a lot of editors think the encyclopedia looks better if it is consistent on matters of style. Nobody is saying, "regardless of what you do in your personal life when you write about astronomy, you need to write all of your astronomy articles with lowercase names for universe OR ELSE!" People are saying "if editors come along and wish to update articles so they are consistent with our style guidance, then please don't stand in the way." Finally, I do think it would be better to find a one-size-fits-all answer to this question instead of having to go on and decide about nebula and so on, but there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. Also, yes style guides disagree sometimes but that's not a reason to just throw up our hands and give up on stylistic consistency. Just my two cents. AgnosticAphid talk 01:11, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Actually I've said our MoS works great for generalized things. It really helps. But for this specific an item it falters. Stylistic consistency would be to have earth, moon, sun, solar system, galaxy and universe... or perhaps none of them. And style guides don't just disagree "sometimes" with these terms, they disagree most of the time... item by item in this particular case. universe or Universe is not inconsistent with our style guide at all. Not every example is given. Fyunck(click) (talk) 01:41, 31 March 2015 (UTC)


A long list of examples of capitalization, with no balancing list of noncapitalization, of universe in books is not helpful, but "editors new the discussion" can look in here if they want to see such a list provided by Fyunck. Dicklyon (talk) 15:22, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Some books and places that capitalize "Universe" (In helping editors new to the discussion):

Again, assuming this RfC does not get removed. Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:09, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Not sure why this keeps getting closed by an involved editor. Blatherings, examples, etc. are what this section is for rather than filling up the response section. Fyunck(click) (talk) 23:50, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Articles like the CERN style guide are why we should be looking at astronomical capitalization as a whole. CERN tells us to capitalize Earth (as a planet), Sun, and Solar System. But it tells us moon and universe should always be lowercase. These style guides are everywhere. Illinois State University] tells us to capitalize Earth as a planet, but leave lowercase: world, sun, moon, galaxy, and universe... capitalize the names of all other specific heavenly bodies. And then there's the good old Chicago Manual of style (online version). In 8.137 Celestial bodies it says "The names of galaxies, constellations, stars, planets, and such are capitalized", "but not the solar system." In 8.140 CMoS says "The words sun and moon are usually lowercased". In 8.139 it tells us that the earth is capitalized "When used as the proper name of our planet, especially in context with other planets." So general style guides fluctuate a lot with most lowercasing everything but Earth. Fyunck(click) (talk) 05:43, 23 March 2015 (UTC)

Follow the Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy. That's an authoritative source, I'd have thought. Skeptic2 (talk) 00:29, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

  • I think we can stop playing the "We should follow <insert a style guide that happens to agree with your opinion>" game now? We all get it... there are authoritative style guides that will support just about every option we have. If experts like CERN and the IAU can't agree on capitalization... is it any wonder that we can't reach a consensus either? Blueboar (talk) 01:42, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
    • The reason we can't reach a consensus either Blueboar, is that people are thoughtlessly ignoring the fundamental principle and having recourse to uninformed and illogical application of variable standards of arbitrarily chosen extraneous and notional authorities on subjects other than the natural and functional use of English (err.... english? Hinglish?) Remember English, folks? Stick to respect for the language and the intentions of the author insofar as they affect the content of Wikipedia, and the problem goes away whether MOS or other guidelines mention it or not. Only one guideline is relevant here: English in the context of the intention of the author. If he intends cloud, or tree, or clark, or bill as a proper name or some similar context demanding capitalisation, then it is Cloud or Tree or Clark or Bill, otherwise not. This does not conflict with the current standard in this connection or any other and this entire RfC should be unnecessary and so should the entry in the MOS. If there is any marked problem of Authors Who Like To Dramatise Pronouncements With Unnecessary Or Inappropriate Capitals, then it is sufficient for MOS to say something like: "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization. Where capitalization would conflict with English usage, such as reservation of capitals for acronyms and proper names, special and relevant intentions on the part of the author would be necessary to justify their retention." But frankly I would be quite comfortable with omission of any such redundant instruction whatever. (Did I hear someone muttering about "instruction creep"?) JonRichfield (talk) 15:38, 16 April 2015 (UTC)
    • I thought this was all sorted out years ago. We have traditionally capitalized Moon, Sun, Earth, Galaxy, Solar System, Universe etc when referring to the specific objects, which quite logically and consistently distinguishes them from other moons, suns, earths, solar systems, galaxies and hypothetical universes, and I don't see why anyone would want to change now. Skeptic2 (talk) 10:02, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
      It sorta was, and then Astronomy project confirmed it, but some have wanted to change things at MoS. So this is where we are. Fyunck(click) (talk) 01:43, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
      @Fyunck(click), please explain: "It sorta was" and "then Astronomy project confirmed it", given the discussion at the Astronomy Project[5] by which this discussion was bought here has fairly clearly not "confirmed it". Cinderella157 (talk) 08:36, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
      Nothing really to explain. Astronomy went with capitalizing universe. Then it was brought here. Fyunck(click) (talk) 08:51, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
      So, the assertion that there is a consensus at the Astronomy project arise from the discussion earlier this year that I have linked? Cinderella157 (talk) 09:02, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
      No that's a later link. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:10, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
      the discussion I linked does not appear to refer to any earlier decision or consensus on this. Cinderella157 (talk) 09:32, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
      @Cinderella157: As of 17 January 2015 02:09 UTC, there was not a single comment opposing capitalizing "universe" when used as the name of the Universe with seven editors in support. Interpreting that as snowball support is a reasonable good faith mistake (and a mistake only because a single editor applied that edit when the discussion at WT:AST had only been open for 25 hours, even though a similar discussion had been open at Talk:Universe for over a week, which could reasonably be interpreted as no one having a strong opinion). As we know, a single editor erred badly in applying that apparent consensus incredibly widely and without allowing any time to pass, despite there already being a warning not to use AWB to make these changes. Then, much worse, that editor continued to make these changes after being asked to stop, but it doesn't strike me as at all unreasonable to interpret the WT:AST discussion, as it stood at that time, as indicating clear consensus that "Universe" is correct. (I interpret this is a matter of the history of the discussion, not an indication of consensus that we should follow.) —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 12:19, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
    • @Ashill, I appreciate your assessment and it clarifies matters since some comments would appear to suggest that there was a strong, clear and long-standing (certainly longer standing) 'consensus' at WP:AST. Cinderella157 (talk) 15:43, 30 March 2015 (UTC) @Ashill reping due to typo Cinderella157 (talk) 23:11, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
      • By definition, the universe cannot be an astronomical object, since these exist in space (and time). The universe is spacetime. Dbfirs 10:11, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
      • So the point is that it's _the_ Universe, as distinct from model universes or any other hypothetical sort. I think we agree! Skeptic2 (talk) 14:46, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
        • No, no more than the spacetime in which we live needs a capital letter to distinguish it from other spacetimes dreamt up by mathematicians. Dbfirs 17:37, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
I see that the pro-Universe side continues to repeat the false claim that style guides are inconsistent. In fact dictionaries style guides etc. are overwhelmingly against them. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 14:37, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
Style guides are massively inconsistent on all the terms... moon, sun, solar system, galaxy and universe. More consistent on earth. Fyunck(click) (talk) 01:46, 29 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment This is one of the most ridiculous instances of massive, collective MOSturbation I have yet witnessed on wiki. Why make rules about something the regulation of which serves no purpose? How about going out and improving the encyclopedia instead? ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 05:08, 30 March 2015 (UTC)

Request for closure made[edit]

Request made as per pervious post.

Request for close made (30 days). Cinderella157 (talk) 01:04, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Astronomical Capitalization Issues[edit]

An RFC was recently closed concerning the capitalization of 'universe'/"Universe' as No Consensus, because the closer noted that it went all over the place (all over astronomical space). It appears that this RFC was then reviewed and reclosed, but I haven't spent months in following this case, and some editors apparently have invested months in this dispute. Another RFC was opened within the past two days, and a request was promptly filed at the dispute resolution noticeboard asking for closure of the "disruptive" RFC. The request for informal dispute resolution at DRN has been closed as out of scope for two reasons. First, DRN does not consider an issue if other dispute resolution mechanisms are in progress, including RFCs. DRN does not consider whether an RFC is disruptive and does not pre-empt an RFC. Second, it appears that there are enough allegations of conduct issues that it is clear that there really are conduct issues. (Too many accusations of conduct issues when there were no conduct issues is a conduct issue by the accuser.) However, here is the caution. As is obvious, this is a Manual of Style subpage. Manual of Style issues have been disruptive in the past often enough that the Arbitration Committee has imposed discretionary sanctions on editing and editing disputes on the MOS. Reports of disruptive editing on the MOS can be taken to arbitration enforcement. Arbitration Enforcement gives uninvolved administrators the power, if necessary, to impose draconian remedies, such as topic-bans. Robert McClenon (talk) 16:07, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Try to work together collaboratively on these capitalization issues, because the alternative may not be forcing your way by persistence, but being topic-banned from capitalization or the MOS. Robert McClenon (talk) 16:07, 22 March 2015 (UTC)

Not that it is necessary for me to do so, but just for the record, I second what Robert McClenon has said immediately above.
I came here to see about closing this discussion per this request, and after reading through it all (and as an aside, noting 30 days does not appear to have passed), I might suggest that you all tone down the interpersonal accusations, attacks, and questioning each others' motivations, and stay focused on discussing the topic(s) at hand.
Please be aware and be warned: If this becomes any more disruptive, I have little doubt that sanctions may follow.
The last RfC (now archived) appeared to suggest future RfCs were possible, so in presuming good faith, I've boldly sub-headed all the current discussions under the same top heading for ease of closure and archival. I hope this helps. - jc37 20:22, 5 April 2015 (UTC)
@Jc37: Above @Cinderella157: said "I propose the same as for the previous - closure by an uninvolved administrator after 14 days" and there has been no objection. Also Cinderella157 posted notice of his request for closure two days ago and there has been no objection. Further, there has been no discussion on the topic since March 31. I think it would be appropriate to close this discussion at this time.  SchreiberBike | ⌨  05:02, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Agree with both Cinderella157 and SchreiberBike. Although there is no requirement for a formal closure... we could just agree as a group to close it as no consensus at this time. Fyunck(click) (talk) 09:05, 7 April 2015 (UTC)
Agree on both counts. This RfC is part of an ongoing discussion which has been open since early January and part of the RfC process on this particular talk page since 4 February 2015. I see no need for this particular RfC to be open for 30 days and would prefer to see it closed so that we can move forward and develop consensus on a process (since there was opposition to a process moving forward in parallel to this RfC, which I think would have been a better idea). This RfC can't really be taken in isolation from the continuous thread which dates back to January since a number of editors clearly expressed opinions on exactly this question before this RfC was opened and stated that they wouldn't bother to repeat themselves; their views still count (possibly more than the views of those of us — like me — who have felt the need to say the same thing over and over again). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 11:09, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Closure clarifying questions[edit]

@AlbinoFerret: Thank you for closing the Universe/universe RfC. Two clarifying questions, since I'm not clear about what your closure means or how we should use it in moving forward. First, since the section headings are so far apart that it's difficult to read, these are the statements you refer to and your determination of the consensus, right?
  1. The word 'universe' shall be capitalized (as a proper name) when used in an astronomical context to refer specifically to the body that is everything that physically exists. Oppose
  2. Shall 'Universe' never be capitalized, no matter the context? Oppose
  3. Shall The word 'universe' be capitalized when used in an astronomical context to refer to our specific Universe? Support
  4. Shall moon, sun, solar system, galaxy and universe be capitalized when used in conjunction with other capitalized heavenly bodies? No consensus
  5. Shall we keep 'earth' but remove sun, moon, and solar system from the section on Celestial Bodies? No consensus
  6. The Status Quo list of examples is more than enough. No consensus
Second, does your determination of consensus factor in the opinions stated within this RfC only, or does it factor in the opinions expressed in the threads that led directly to this RfC? I ask because numerous editors expressed clear opinions on this exact question in the previous, very recent discussions but did not repeat themselves in the context of the RfC, so that has a clear impact on whether we interpret this closure as indicative of a clear consensus of the whole discussion or a consensus isolated to the opinions expressed here.
(For the record, it's been long enough that I don't recall -- and have deliberately not checked since it's something for a closing admin rather than an involved editor like me to do -- whether the weight of those who expressed opinions outside this RfC slanted one way or the other. I also don't recall and haven't checked if there were substantive arguments made previously that were not repeated in this RfC.) —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 02:44, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
@AlbinoFerret:Just checking to make sure I understand the closing regarding capitalization of universe. Number one neans universe, when referring to our universe, should be lower case and number 3 means it should be upper case. Right?  SchreiberBike | ⌨  03:39, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
@Ashill Correct, the numbers correspond to the questions asked. The last three were closed no consensus because there were few responses and were pretty evenly split. I did read and consider the conversations leading to the RFC in results where they aligned with a question and the person making the comment above did not respond to the question in the RFC. But imho there wasnt enough to change any of the findings of consensus, but I will look again. The only thing I will add is clarifying one thing you said "it is something for a closing admin" I would add or uninvolved editor to consider. I am not an admin, but I do close RFC's, and I am uninvolved in this one.
@SchreiberBike No, #3 is more specific. In that it is asking about a specific referral to our Universe. While not all inclusive this could be in topics that contain discussions on a multiverse as some responses have mentioned. AlbinoFerret 03:52, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
@Ashill After rereading the discussions, I dont think I missed any that were applicable to the questions. AlbinoFerret 04:38, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks @AlbinoFerret: for the effort. I'm guessing it won't please everyone, but it shows the divided nature of the beast when it comes to astronomical issues, even though per the "background" it wasn't going to change the wording of MoS anyways. Maybe if all the terms are discussed together something could be done, but taken piecemeal it's tough sledding and we'll have to come at this from a different angle, as was suggested before this RfC was placed. Maybe a cool down period is needed before we dive back in. Fyunck(click) (talk) 04:54, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
@AlbinoFerret: Thanks again. Yup, I did mean uninvolved editor. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 13:28, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Does anyone else find this confusing? I'm just a fan of space and astronomy, but I find it hard to distinguish between one and three. Restating above:

1 The word 'universe' shall be capitalized (as a proper name) when used in an astronomical context to refer specifically to the body that is everything that physically exists. Oppose

3 Shall The word 'universe' be capitalized when used in an astronomical context to refer to our specific Universe? Support

Is it fair to rephrase that as: In an astronomical context

  • use lower case to refer to everything that physically exists
  • use upper case to refer to our specific Universe

I think there could be a difference if, in reference to multiverse theory, one might refer to universes Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Universe, but I have never seen it put that way.

Another way of asking for clarification, if one were to edit the article Universe, when would it be upper and lower case? Thank you.  SchreiberBike | ⌨  15:13, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

In answering the question, I interpreted "everything that physically exists" and "our specific Universe" as synonymous (which is why I didn't bother to answer question 3). There's an argument that it's not strictly true that they're synonymous in the context of multiverses, since I don't think normal usage is to use "universe" to refer to "the Universe and all other universes"; I guess one could say that "everything that physically exists" encompasses all universes. This is one reason why the question would have benefitted from further discussion before the RfC was posted, but in the context of the discussion, I thought that that was clearly the intent of the question (as Cinderella157 has confirmed below). Maybe when I have time I'll fork a copy of the Universe article and edit it the way I would do so as an example. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 16:23, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
I would assume just as we do for the occasional times moon or solar system are capitalized. Only when differentiating them from other moons or solar systems. Fyunck(click) (talk) 18:40, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Request for review[edit]

@AlbinoFerret: I appreciate the time you have taken in closing this RfC; however, a close which opposes option one and supports option 3 is inherently contradictory and does not resolve the matter of the RfC. SchreiberBike pointed out in his response at option 3:

This is the same as option 1 and it isn't necessary to have both, but I'll add my "oppose" here anyway. Nine times out of ten sources don't capitalize universe and we should follow sources. SchreiberBike | ⌨ 14:48, 26 March 2015 (UTC)

In phrasing option 1, the description of the universe (our universe) was used as it appears on the disambiguation page for 'universe'. This is noted at #Background. In considering how to deal with this, it is perhaps pertinent to consider how the additional options were added (see [6] for addition of options 2-5), since they were not part of the original RfC. If they had been, then it might be reasonable to assert that the meanings of the two options were intended to be distinct and different but this is not the case. Cinderella157 (talk) 04:27, 23 April 2015 (UTC) fix ping Cinderella157 (talk) 04:47, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

This. Is. Still. Going. On. o_O Pandeist (talk) 05:06, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
Cinderella157 Your free to ask. I will explain why I closed #3 as I did. #3 is a more narrow question than #1. Responders on both sides of question #3 saw that and answered mentioning the possibility of its use in discussions of a multiverse. Whereas #1 was a broad brush and would have had universe capitalized regardless of how it is used. You also can bring up that the questions were added later, but imho its generally a good idea to add questions on the same subject to an existing RFC than have separate RFC's. It appears they were added early, only 3 responses were made before the additions, 2 of those editors responded to the additions, and they ran for at least 30 days before closing. AlbinoFerret 11:17, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
There was only one question in the RfC, and the answer was no. I didn't bother with the other options because they were not properly made as an RfC, and the closer should not have bothered with them either. If the pro-Universe people want to try for a consensus about option 3, let them try legitimately, and I will of course oppose. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 14:18, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
@AlbinoFerret: @Peter Gulutzan: I too did not respond to option 3, since I interpreted the question as exactly the same as option 1. (I also considered option 2 to be the same on the assumption that we implicitly ignore obvious cases like the beginning of a sentence and as part of a title.) Therefore, I guess further clarification from the closer on the meaning of the closing is needed, since the answer to what at least four RfC participants considered to be the same question was first no and then yes. In particular, on what was the determination of consensus based (particularly the to-me-apparently-contradictory determinations for question 1 and questions 2 and 3)? Was it that the arguments by one side were more persuasive? If so, which arguments? Or was it counting participants? Or some mix or something else?
With respect to the closer's statement that #1 "would have had universe capitalized regardless of how it is used", I don't see any participant who made that argument, and it's certainly not how I interpreted the question (particularly in the context of the previous discussions). So does the closer mean that there is consensus not to always capitalize "universe" and there is consensus to capitalize "universe" in specific (non-trivial) contexts? It's hard to know how to move forward without clarification here. —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 15:02, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
@Ashill Its your choice to answer questions in an RFC. But I think its a good idea to always answer all questions in an RFC, when you dont your comments are not there for a closer to consider. Yes, there is consensus to not always capitalise universe. There is consensus to capitalize for a specific use.
@Peter Gulutzan As I pointed out to Ashill, it was your choice not to respond to the questions. The questions appear neutral and were added to the RFC, and editors responded. Closers dont always look into page history to see when they were added but I do look at the first response date. Looking at the histories now the questions were added on the same day the RFC was, only one person answered #1 before the other questions were added to the RFC and did not answer the others. All questions ran for at least 30 days. I dont really see a problem here. AlbinoFerret 17:04, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
WP:RFC: "If you feel an RfC is improperly worded, ask the originator to improve the wording, or add an alternative unbiased statement immediately below the RfC question template." No such thing happened. There were no legitimate options other than the one provided by the originator in the RfC. Peter Gulutzan (talk) 19:09, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
Actually the whole RfC was completely improper, period. And that was stated by several contributors right from the get-go. Choice 1 was not legitimate. To be honest if the only thing I looked at was choice 1 and nothing else, I don't see how choice 1 would be declared as anything other than no consensus. The polling was very close as was the discussion. And looking at the whole ensemble of arguments on this topic... including the last very recent attempts before this RfC, I don't see how anyone could view this as anything other than a hung jury and therefore no consensus. Even if you look at choices 1 and 3 as the same, there were plenty of valid arguments on both sides of the issue, we didn't have a ton of strange ips chiming in, and the poll was split dead center 50/50 with unique editors as far as I can tell. Taken with the last "no consensus" right before this ill-timed RfC, plus other discussions, we have gotten nowhere at all in swaying consensus to something both sides can live with. That leaves us with case-by-case on each article, or going with Astronomy Project's choice on astronomy related articles only. Fyunck(click) (talk) 20:06, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
Or with the lottery/flip a coin suggestion which was under discussion but short-circuited by this RfC. And indeed, there was all sorts of objection expressed to this RfC, so I can't see the argument that "there were no legitimate options" as constructive or valid. (If the objections didn't perfectly follow the right bureaucratic procedure, deal with it or help with the procedure; the objections and the reasoning behind them were perfectly clear and valid.) —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 20:25, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
As attractive as it might appear, flipping a coin is not a 'legitimate option' under WP policy for determining consensus. Cinderella157 (talk) 04:41, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
It would not be a way of determining consensus, but it would be a way of solving a problem that over 80,000 words of discussion have not resolved. There would have to be consensus to take this approach of course. Is there a real policy reason why a decision can't be made in this way? I see a need for new ways to solve problems and I don't want to exclude anything that might work.  SchreiberBike | ⌨  05:32, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
I agree with SchreiberBike. Three out of four editors agreed with “Either of the two options presented in the RfC would have been better than the status quo”, and five out of five editors disagreed with “The status quo is better than either of the two options presented in the RfC”. In other words, tossing a coin would deliver a better result than what we have now. Just do it. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:10, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Formal request for review[edit]

A formal request for request review has been made. Cinderella157 (talk) 08:10, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

Exceptions to Small Caps[edit]

The current phrasing of the section suggests that all use of caps should be avoided. There are however several cases where it is perfectly acceptable to use all caps. One is in reference list for authors names where it makes it easier to pick pout the author names in the reference list. Based in a strict reading of the current wording some editors have no removed the ability to add small caps to author names in citation templates. This is in effect a violation of our policy that states that we have no house citation preference, but all systematic citation styles are welcome. Another example where is in linguistic interlinear gloss examples where it is standard practice to use small caps for grammatical glosses using the Leipzig glossing rules. The current wording is too categorical and should be changed to accommodate exceptions where local consensus requires small caps. If the MOS as it is now worded is taken literally I will be unable to write linguistics articles that live up to the international standard of notation. Other exceptions are quotes of text written in all caps, which should of course also be represented in all caps. I will add these exceptions to the MOS. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 19:32, 16 February 2015 (UTC)

The added instruction "All caps can be used when rendering quotations of texts that use all capitals or small caps" is in direct opposition to the existing "Reduce proclamations, such as those for the Medal of Honor, from all capitals." It also pretty much flies in the face of the the existing "Reduce newspaper headlines and other titles from all caps ..." It is confusing at best, and at worst a sea change. Wikipedia's long-standing style is to avoid all-caps text. You say "of course" as if that takes the place of establishing a consensus. Chris the speller yack 20:08, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
No, proclamations or titles are not quotations, neither are headlines. A quotation is a verbatim repetition of some text written by someone else used as an illustration of what the original author wrote. And it should be obvious to everyone that for example if a text uses all caps for emphasis changing that to italics or some other means of emphasis would break with accepted standards of scholarship. The MOS needs to state that this is of course an acceptable use of all caps.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:26, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Maunus asserts that "This is in effect a violation of our policy that states that we have no house citation preference." I'm inclined to agree, but I have issues with how this discussion is being conducted. The guideline (not policy) referred to by Maunus is contained in WP:Citing sources#Variation in citation methods. But there was an RfC at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 128#Which guideline for citation style? which did not reach consensus as to whether this page or WP:Citing sources controlled citations; all that could be agreed to was the two guidelines should not contradict each other. So this discussion should be an RfC, since the outcome might resolve an inconclusive RfC. Also, no notice of this discussion was made at WP:Citing sources. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:11, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
It is all right and fine that you dont like the way the discussion is being conducted, but the changes to the scaps parameter were made with no discussion or notification at all. I am merely trying to have some sort of community involvement. If an RfC is better then that is just excellent, let's make one. And also lets put notifications at all the rlevenat WP pages.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:28, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
For the record, Wikiproject Mesoamerica (of which you are a member) was invited to join the original discussion on removing the scap option in December but apparently no one from the project responded to the original request for input. Dragons flight (talk) 20:43, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Well that was good, but several of our editors clearly missed that. It was posted during christmas which may have been a reason, also the entire discussion seems to have lasted very briefly before it was implemented.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:58, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I have reinstated the edits which have by now been the collaborative work of three editors, myself, Kwamikagami and Erutuon - and which are supported at least partly by 10 editors in the discussion below and only opposed by three. Furthermore the edits are necessary because they in fact describe an already established practice, the use of small caps in bibliographies have been in continuous use since 2005, and no discussion has ever succeeded in removing them or WP:CITEVAR, so adding this addition simply makes the MOS conform to the status quo. The new thing is the interpretation by some that the deprecation of the small caps in article text also extends to the references - this new strict interpretation of the MOS text prompted the necessity for the addition of this text to the MOS. The addition therefore clarifies and codifies already existing practice, it does not actually create new rules or exceptions. And while I am the proposer it seems clear that there is consensus for adding at least some of the proposed exceptions, and perhaps even additional ones. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 19:31, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
    • You proposed three changes and the response has been mixed, so this is not a simple yes/no. And some responses have no other rationale than "I like it." --  Gadget850 talk 20:31, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Which per CITEVAR is enough of a reason to allow the exception, whereas "I dont like it" or "only niche styles use it" is not enough.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:35, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

RfC: Proposed exceptions to general deprecation of Allcaps[edit]

This RfC discusses the merits of this change to the MOS. The change introduces three proposed exceptions to the general rule against using all capitals. The proposed added text is:

  • All caps can be used when rendering quotations of texts (not headlines or proclamations) that use all capitals or small caps for effects, where removing it would constitute a significant change to the original author's style or intent.
  • In reference lists author names can be given in small caps, if a citation style is chosen that uses this feature.
    Example: Kipfer, Barbara Ann (2000). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. ISBN 0-306-46158-7. OCLC 42692203.
  • In Interlinear glossing of linguistic examples following the Leipzig glossing rules, small capitals can be used.

Respondents are requested to comment on three separate questions:

1. Whether it is a good idea to have additional exceptions for the deprectation of allcaps?
2. Whether each of the proposed exceptions are warranted, or if they should be modified, or if some should not be included?
3. Whether more exceptions should be added? User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:51, 16 February 2015 (UTC)


  • Comment As proposer I consider the deprecation of all caps to be too broad, and to interfere excessively with the freedom of editors to choose citation styles, and representation styles in articles. Leipzig gloss (which uses small caps) is the defacto standard for linguistic interlinear glossing and has been chosen as standard by WP:LINGUISTICS, bibliographies with author names in Small caps has been the long accepted standard for bibliographies in WP:MESOAMERICA, and changing capitalization in quoted text (for example literary texts) is a kind of falsification of quotes. Therefore I think it is absolutely necessary that there be more leeway in the use of capitalization. I would personally prefer that the policy state that it is the choice of a given editor or local consensus when capitalization is permitted in a given context, but at least we need to introduce these exceptions to make the MOS conform with the rest of our policies and with common sense. Btw. capitals are also used in many systems for transliterating ancient scripts, to distinguish between the transliteration and translation. For example when transliterating Maya hieroglyphs capitals are used for logograms to distinguish them form syllabograms and phonetic complements. I believe a similar use is standard for Egyptian hieroglyphs. I note that a couple of users are opposing on aesthetic grounds, or because only some citation styles use small caps - this of course in contravention of WP:CITEVAR which remains in effect and allows users to use any citation style of their choosing even if deemed aesthetically displeasing by others. In effect such an argument moves toward the introduction of a house style by gradually disallowing certain citation styles. Other users object on procedural grounds - here I would like to point out that this feature has always been in use on wikipedia, and the ability to use small caps in references was only removed this week with changes to the CS1 template which had been discussed by only a couple of technically savvy users, without consulting with those who used that feature of the template or with the community in general. Surely this discussion, even if it could have been better organized, is a better alternative than no community discussion at all. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 20:51, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Support As someone who has been using smallcaps for author names for years, I wholeheartedly support this change to MOS. I support (1), it is a good idea, and supports the freedom of choice for citation styles within an article. I find it much easier to pick out an author's name when scanning through reference lists. For (2) I also agree, as for (3), I have no further suggestions. Personally, my main interest is to be able to reinstate smallcaps use in reference lists. Simon Burchell (talk) 21:13, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Follow the reliable, published sources I agree with the proposer that the deprecation of small caps on Wikipedia is overly broad. Wikipedia's practice is contrary to the practice of style guides for scholarly publishing that assign specific roles for small capital text in distinction from other kinds of text markup. The proposer's example comes from linguistics, a topic in which I also edit, and I must go on record as saying that I would expect a Wikipedia article on any topic in linguistics, or on any other topic for which standard reliable sources use small capitals, to use small capitals the same way the better sources use them. It is helpful to readers of the encyclopedia to follow tried-and-true typographical conventions that have been developed over decades. We should readily admit any exception that we can document with a reliable source as a general scholarly publishing practice. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 21:16, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree in part, abstain in part. The long-standing guidance at WP:CITEVAR that any consistent style may be used is effectively destroyed if the "Manual of Style" and its subsidiary pages are interpreted to apply to citations. The popular printed style guides such as those from the Modern Language Association, the Chicago Manual of Style, and "APA Style" contain many rules and some of them are bound to disagree with the "Manual of Style" and its subsidiary pages. Thus, the proposal is too restrictive; rather than saying small capitals can be used in citation reference lists, it should say capitalization in citations is controlled by the citation style chosen for the article. I also agree that if small capital letters in a quoted passage carry meaning, they should be preserved. I don't have any opinion about interlinear glossing. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:20, 16 February 2015 (UTC), modified 23:26, 17 February 2015 UT
  • Comment. Note that I added an example of a small caps citation to the proposed text. Dragons flight (talk) 21:43, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
@Dragons flight:, I suggest you give a citation example that does not rely on any template. Depending on the outcome of the RfC, the template may be modified to act differently, which will be very confusing to anyone who reads the RfC months or years after it concludes. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:49, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
What template? I didn't use a template above. It is copied from a citation in use, so the ISBN and other elements might be superfluous to the point being made here, but I didn't use a specific template. Dragons flight (talk) 21:53, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Sorry, I saw "citation book" and mistook it for a citation template. Jc3s5h (talk) 22:50, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment An additional exception should be included for examples of Latin and Greek orthography during the Old, Classical, and Late Latin periods and the Archaic, Classical, and Koine Greek periods. These examples are sometimes presented in uppercase or small caps, as in Ancient Greek phonology, Archaic Greek alphabets, Latin spelling and pronunciation, and Augustus (the note in the lede on his name). In early Greek and Latin alphabetic forms, there was no distinction between uppercase and lowercase, and letterforms were usually similar to modern uppercase. (To be more specific, Roman inscriptions frequently used Roman square capitals, which are almost identical to modern serifed uppercase, whereas handwriting used other letterforms like Roman cursive, which are, I think, the precursors of modern lowercase.) The best way to illustrate this early Latin and Greek spelling convention is with small caps or uppercase. — Eru·tuon 21:50, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Support the exception for interlinear glosses as well, and mild support for the exception for authors' names in refs. I have only used the citation style with smallcaps for authors' names outside Wikipedia, and it has something going for it, since it provides a further visual cue differentiating parts of refs, similar to the existing visual cues of quotation marks for chapter headings and italics for titles. — Eru·tuon 23:46, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment "if a citation style is chosen that uses this feature" This presumes that Citation Style 1 and Citation Style 2 are not styles in and of themselves. If so, then they are misnamed and all options should be opened to allow any sort of style to be formed with these templates. Thus if this passes, then another RFC should be triggered. --  Gadget850 talk 22:05, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Why is this assumed? Since we dont have a house citation style one is free to choose other styles even if CS1 and CS2 are considered styles unto themselves. (I consider them templates that should accommodate as many different styles as possible).User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 22:13, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
The templates have many advantages with respect to formatting and error checking. As a general rule, I think it is better that the templates are flexible and accommodate different styles rather than having people abandon them in favor of different templates (that also have to be maintained, separately) or manual entry of citations where inconsistent formatting and errors would become more common. Personally, I would be happy to abandon WP:CITEVAR and actually adopt a Wikipedia house style, but as long as CITEVAR is the rule I think it makes sense to keep the templates flexible enough to support a limited set of widely used variations. That way the templates that do exist can be maintained in a unified way. Dragons flight (talk) 22:35, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
But we self-evidently do have WP house citation styles, Citation Style 1 and Citation Style 2, and they are in fact styles in and of themselves. We've developed them specifically to forestall further attempts to impose any of dozens of major citations styles from off WP onto our articles by people who, due to school or professional familiarity, keep trying to impose them. The fact that our two styles borrow features from various other styles, which we've arrived at a consensus to include as features here because they are useful, does not mean we will willy-nilly import other features of external citation styles, especially when they've already been proposed and rejected many times, call-capping of author names being chief among these failed perennial proposals.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:06, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
Unfortunately, the CS1 templates are highly unstable, with constantly shifting parameters, so their use is becoming increasingly cumbersome. Simon Burchell (talk) 11:21, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Question "if a citation style is chosen that uses this feature" What citation styles use smallcaps? --  Gadget850 talk 22:10, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Many publications use small caps in bibliographies, and it is mentioned as an option in Chicago style. Here is an example of a publication that requires it the International Journal of American Linguistics[7]. The style sheet of the journal Language, pulished by the Linguistics Society of America requires small caps both for interlinear gloss and author names.[8]User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 22:13, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • We have {{Cite LSA}} which after the three years since I renamed it is used only in two articles, and it does not use smallcaps.
  • Chicago 16 §14.284 mentions Bluebook using small caps but "The examples in this section use a simpler style advocated by some law reviews, substituting upper- and lowercase roman type for caps and small caps."
  • Chicago 16 §16.140: "If, for example, names of writers need to be distinguished from names of literary characters, one or the other might be set in caps and small caps."
  • Chicago 16 §16.145 Notes the use of small caps in indexes which we don't use.
  • Bluebook is represented by {{Cite court}} which does not use small caps.
--  Gadget850 talk 23:01, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
I may have been mistaken about Chicago style, but if the LSA template does not use mall caps for authors then it is not in fact LSA style which may explain why nobody is using it (I personally didnt even know it existed).User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 23:09, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
It was named {{Harvrefcol}} until three years ago which did not help. I only found it during one of my sweeps of cite templates. --  Gadget850 talk 23:20, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Ok, I have actually used harvrefcol. But combined it with a citation template that used small caps in the bibkliography.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 00:29, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Agree in part, abstain in part. I agree that caps may be used in direct quotations where they are appropriate to preserve the original author's emphasis, though they shouldn't be required for all direct quotes. We don't necessarily need quotes about "REALTORS®" and "TIME Magazine" just because added capitalization is the brand owner's personal preference. I don't have a strong opinion about the use of small caps in citations. I think it is a somewhat silly stylistic choice, but not dramatically more so than other allowed stylistic choices. Given that CITEVAR exists, and is unlikely to change, I don't really care whether authors names are represented in small caps or not. With respect to the use of small capitals in annotation (e.g. List of glossing abbreviations), I think that is probably appropriate in technical articles where small cap notations have been the standard in the field, though I don't imagine them being relevant very often. For less technical articles it is probably better to avoid notations that the typical reader may be unfamiliar with. I'm also not sure whether the statement should reference "interlinear" glossing specifically or "annotation" more generally. Are small caps only used as a form of annotation in the interlinear style? If not, then a more general statement is probably appropriate. Dragons flight (talk) 22:21, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Interlinear gloss is a kind of linguistic convention for annotating the analysis of grammatical expressions, but I agree that probably it is better to make a broader statement allowing it for all kinds of annotation where small caps or caps is the standard (e.g. transliteration of hieroglyphic text, and other annotation systems).User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 22:26, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Support an exception for technical fields (grammatical abbreviations in interlinear glosses; transcription of logograms in Egyptian, cuneiform, and Mayan; rendering Classical Latin and Greek, etc.). Not sure about emphasis in quotations -- usually that's best replaced w bold or italics, just as are underlined and expanded text (letters of the emphasized text separated w spaces, nowadays almost universally replaced w italics), though perhaps Maunus can give an example of a case where it would be good to keep. I think the MOS should head off arguments about whether e.g. TIME Magazine should be capitalized. Don't know about authors' names in refs. I've done that myself, only for it to be changed later, and I didn't particularly care.
For many of the tech uses, caps are not a stylistic issue: they distinguish meaning. The Mayan glyph BE may not be the same as the glyph be, the linguistic gloss ART is not the same as the gloss art. For Classical Latin, it is a stylistic issue, as monocase text could be written in all lower case, but a practical one: People might "correct" all-l.c. text by e.g. capitalizing the first word of a sentence.
Another sometimes important use is to capitalize surnames. Sometimes the surname is at the beginning or in the middle of a name, or may be more than one non-hyphenated name, and many authors find capitalization to be the easiest way to indicate this. — kwami (talk) 22:58, 16 February 2015 (UTC)
Well I can't give an example off hand, but let's say that a modernist poet or author chooses to use capitals as a typographical device (I have definitely seen this done by some poets, with entire poems written in all caps) then we really have no business second guessing that artistic choice if we quote them. Or if an fiction author uses all caps to illustrate someone yelling, or writing in all caps within the fictional setting, it would also be messing with their intentions if we changed their choice of emphasis in the quotation. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 00:38, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
I disagree. We don't generally follow stylistic choices in quotations. For your hypothetical about yelling, retaining the caps would serve no purpose, as our readers would not recognize it as yelling. I once read a novel that used different quotation marks for each character, so that you always knew who was speaking without the author ever having to say "and Foo replied ...". But it would not be useful for us to retain that convention in quoting the novel. For all your other exceptions, you have a clear reason. This case seems to be a solution in search of a problem. I don't think we should include it until we come across an actual problem that needs solving. — kwami (talk) 01:03, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
It is not only useful it is necessary. It is not a quote if you alter what was originally written by the author, then it is a paraphrasing. In literary studies it would be considered a form of falsification to alter this kind of stylistic choices. You also can't mess with James Joyce's punctuation just because the MOS says to follow Strunk and White. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 01:08, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Then you have a much larger problem, as our quotation guidelines specifically allow such changes. There have been several discussions on this, and AFAIK it is allowed by major style guidelines. For example, if a typewritten source uses underlining for emphasis, it is standard practice to replace it with italics. Sentence-initial capitalization changes when embedding a quotation in a text. When quoting Swift, we don't capitalize every noun. It is also standard to correct typographic and punctuation errors, except when extraordinary fidelity is required, as in transcribing ancient texts. I think you'd need to come up with an example where all caps cannot be replaced with e.g. bold or italics before we give that exception, or how are readers of the MOS supposed to know if their case is analogous? — kwami (talk) 01:14, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Ok here is an example, if for some reason we were to quote this passage [9], it is not possible for us to swap "Give me the keys, BITCH. He yelled." to "Give me the keys, bitch. He yelled.", without doing violence to the authors work. In my view there is a gigantic difference between changing systematic use of underlining in a typewritten manuscript to the deliberate use of caps (or punctuation) for artistic effects by an author. It is not up for us to second guess the author in those cases. (Changing Joyce's deliberate use of non-standard punctuation would be an outright literary crime) You simply don't change that kind of thing. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 01:17, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Okay, that's a good place to start a discussion. It seems reasonable, and could probably get consensus fairly easily. — kwami (talk) 01:22, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
I think the point is that the MOS should not prohibit this kind of thing outright but simply make it up to an editorial decision and consensus whether a given case can or cannot use caps in a specific quotation. What I am advocating is flexibility and editorial freedom. So rather than keep a broad prohibition to avoid having "TIME magazine" then we make it up to editors on a given talkpage to decide how to represent caps in cases where there is any reasonable doubt.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 01:27, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Flexibility is good when we have good editors. The problem is that's not always the case. It's hard to write guidelines for all situations. I don't think it's a bad idea to come here to discuss new exceptions, as you have, rather than having hundreds of little walled gardens. — kwami (talk) 02:21, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
You're right, it isn't a bad idea to discuss exceptions here... however, that does not mean we have to explicitly spell out every exception that is made, in the text of the MOS. for one thing, there is no way to do so without ending up with a bloated guideline. We need to resist the temptation to engage in instruction creep. Blueboar (talk) 16:29, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Comment – I have a few reservations. One is that the vast majority of editors don't know anything about logograms or the Leipzig glossing rules, and don't care. I would strongly prefer to keep esoterica out of the MOS. If editors in these fields want to define special typgraphic rules for things like interlinear glosses, they should do so in the appropriate place and link to it from the MOS. I notice that nobody is complaining about the small caps in Interlinear gloss. So I doubt that there would be objections to such a style guide.
Another is that if we are going to start listing exceptions in the MOS, we should start with the uses recommended in Bringhurst. Things like abbreviations and acronyms in the midst of normal text.
Another is whether small caps will improve or degrade the on-screen typography of the encyclopedia. Bringhurst recommends appropriate letterspacing and the use of well designed small caps, which are different from shrunken capital letters. Obviously browsers aren't going to do that for us. But how bad is it going to look? Most users are probably using Arial or some other sans serif with a large x-height. Before encouraging wider use, I think we should look at some screenshots and decide if small caps are tolerable or not, when actually displayed on a screen. – Margin1522 (talk) 03:08, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

The point of including the technical stuff is that we are certain to get editors who insist on removing caps from interlinear glossing cuz that's what the MOS demands. We can certainly move such details somewhere else, but at some point scattered mini-MOS's become more of a hassle than they're worth. — kwami (talk) 03:58, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Comment OK, first about the typography, I like small caps and often lobby for using them, in print. But the small caps that you get from Word and browsers are a travesty. It is possible to do small caps properly on the web (e.g. here), but not on Wikipedia. If and when Wikipedia gets a mechanism to do them properly, then OK, but we don't have one now.
There are also bibiographic issues. Note that the LSA style guide says "Author names should be given in small capitals (if you cannot easily set small capitals, please leave them in regular font—do not set them as all capitals and/or in a smaller font size)." They want their authors to submit Word documents with the font properties of author names set to small caps. That is, set to a display property, like bold, green, or italic. But they want the original data to be "Jones", because that is what libraries and indexing services want. Note also in the other example, the International Journal of American Linguistics page. They do it like this: J<small>ONES</small>, which gives "JONES". Bibliographically this is terrible. We could recommend that editors use {{Small caps}}, which doesn't have this problem. But many of them won't. They will just start writing names and titles in capital letters.
{{smallcaps}}/{{small caps}}/{{aut}} is not a solution as it pollutes the template metadata. --  Gadget850 talk 18:15, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree. If we were going to do this, I think the best way would be to revive the "|authorformat=scap" parameter in the cite templates, which is how this discussion got started. That could be done with the "font-variant:small-caps;" CSS style in the Liberty Bell example that you found. With the style applied it displays as Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land. But if you copy it to a text editor, it reads "Proclaim LIBERTY Throughout all the Land". That's how it should work. – Margin1522 (talk) 20:02, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
About the interlinear glossing and ancient Greek, I really want to keep this esoterica out of the MOS. New editors are already complaining that our guidelines are too dense and hard to understand. If and when somebody starts messing with interlinear glossing because of the MOS, we can deal with it then. – Margin1522 (talk) 17:15, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Comment Perhaps the linguistic community at Wikipedia:WikiProject Linguistics could come up with a set of guidelines for linguistic examples, and the exception for interlinear glossing be listed there. Information on IPA and the significance of angle brackets, square brackets, and slashes could also be included, and a list of abbreviations for morphological, syntactic, and semantic terms. I'm not sure if something like that already exists or not, but creating subject-specific guidelines could allow simplification of the general guidelines. — Eru·tuon 03:47, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Generally support - I am not that convinced about use in references though. Such a practice, while not specifically excluded at citations, does go against the apparent intent (before edit) at caps, which was fairly limiting. Cinderella157 (talk) 03:51, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose reference lists author names exception. I have never seen this style in WP refs, and hope never to see it. The other exceptions I don't know or care much about. Dicklyon (talk) 04:16, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose small caps in CS1- and CS2-formatted citations. As Wikipedia has evolved, CS1/CS2 have become their own "house style" alternatives to other citation styles used in other places. These other styles, like APA, MLA, Chicago, etc., can be used in articles per policy, but it's about time that we recognize that CS1 and CS2 are their own styles. The templates like {{cite web}}, {{cite book}} and {{citation}} that generate references do so in CS1 or CS2 format, not APA, MLA or another style. In generating CS1- or CS2-formatted citations, these templates and their related style now follow the MOS guidance which has prohibited small caps in general usage. If editors want templates to generate other citation styles, then they should create {{APA book}}, {{MLA book}}, {{CMOS book}}, etc and other templates to affect citations of books in various styles. However, {{cite book}} should stay in the CS1 style. Imzadi 1979  05:56, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I don't have strong opinions on the quotation issue (which can probably be taken too far in obeying corporate marketing dictates about ALL CAPS for their important brand names) nor in citation styles (where I think the freedom for editors to choose different styles for different articles is a bit unfortunate, although if it were possible for readers to choose different styles in their preferences that might be a better thing). The technical usage for linguistics seems reasonable enough to me. But I'd like to suggest a fourth exception: post-nominal letters (as used in Wikipedia, usually only at the very start of a biographical article where we give the subject's name in full). Making these smaller than full capital letters is a standard way of making them less obtrusive and I think that's a good thing. They're not really small caps (letters that are grammatically lower case but formatted as smaller versions of upper case letters), rather they're grammatically upper case but formatted smaller than usual, but as it is now I think the policy can be read as prohibiting smaller formatting for them and I think that should be allowed. —David Eppstein (talk) 06:08, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Support – Although it shouldn't even be necessary to include the reference author exception, since the MOS (including SMALLCAPS) does not apply to references. On the other hand, since SMALLCAPS has been invoked as a reason for not allowing small caps in citations, it better to explicitly state this exception. Also per Dragons flight, CS1 should allow some flexibility in how citations are rendered. This flexibility makes it easier for editors to comply with CITEVAR and reduces the need for parallel sets of citation templates. Boghog (talk) 07:54, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose as worded – firstly the change to the MOS should not have been made before this discussion; rather it should have been proposed here and then discussed. I am opposed to allowing small caps or all caps in citations; it's unnecessary and distracting. There may be a few more cases where small caps could be justified, but each one needs to be discussed separately, not in some vague blanket discussion. Peter coxhead (talk) 10:08, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Partially support --  Gadget850 talk 10:57, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • All caps can be used when rendering quotations of texts (not headlines or proclamations) that use all capitals or small caps for effects, where removing it would constitute a significant change to the original author's style or intent.
Support Example: Liberty Bell#Inscription.
  • In reference lists author names can be given in small caps, if a citation style is chosen that uses this feature.
Oppose As best I see it only niche styles such as Bluebook and LSA use small caps (but the current templates that use these styles don't use small caps). Chicago only uses it for indexes and APA for certain chemical compounds.
  • In Interlinear glossing of linguistic examples following the Leipzig glossing rules, small capitals can be used.
No opinion Not my area of expertise here.
  • Support - The referencing rule goes without saying (as multiple citation styles are accepted, restricting smallcaps would be contrary to that long-established policy), the others make sense, and I rather suspect that there still more situations where having a smallcaps option would improve the encyclopedia. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 22:09, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
  • On second thought, even this is still restrictive, as the Bluebook can require the use of smallcaps for the publication name as well. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 22:14, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
"Long established" would be two years. Module:Citation/CS1 was created in Feb 2013 with |authorformat= which was never documented on any of the template pages. A search shows currently 902 pages using authorformat=scap. Before the module we had {{Citation/core}} which did not support small caps. --  Gadget850 talk 22:56, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
WP:CITEVAR is as old as wikipedia, and that is what Philosopher is referring to, not the Cs1 template. Smallcaps have been used in bibliographies since 2005, it is not our fault that it took the developers so long to make a template that accomodates it (accomodaiton which they then promptly removed). Before 2013 we used an another parameter parameter to add caps to author names this was then removed and the scaps was introduced instead.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 23:05, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, Maunus, that is what I was referring to. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 00:56, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Matter to be clarified - I had a look at authorformat=scap, and at the articles. Now, perhaps I missed something but it appears that the functionality of the authorformat argument in the citation module has been disabled. Is there any discussion regarding this and is it relevant? I perceive this is the catalyst for the discussion we are having here? Cinderella157 (talk) 03:12, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

It's a bit off-topic here, but the citation templates have been quite unstable for the last few months. User:Trappist the monk has been deciding that certain previously-widespread usages are mistakes, modifying the templates to forbid them, causing the templates to break. In most cases there has been discussion on a talk page that is only relevant for a subset of the templates, with users of other templates finding out only later. In this case I know of no discussion at all. I know of no instance where he has been willing to even consider or discuss backing out of one of these changes, and after I complained about previous ones he has explicitly stated that he is not willing to have any discussions with me. Sometimes bugs rather than intentional changes have been introduced, also breaking things, and are also not backed out until the next scheduled update, leaving broken pages around for approximately a month at a time. The roughly 1000 articles broken by this particular change are few compared to some of the other ones. So, with that as background: yes, this should have been a discussion on the citation template pages, but now that it's happened, nothing is likely to happen over there unless we get a clear consensus here to re-allow this previously-accepted citation format. Even a clarification that this guideline wasn't intended to apply to citations (rather than an explicit exception for this style in the guideline) probably would be too ambiguous to cause this change to be undone. —David Eppstein (talk) 03:58, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
I would consider this background quite relevant. I have found the following: Help talk:Citation Style 1/Archive 7#Separator parameters and Help talk:Citation Style 1/Archive 7#Undocumented parameter? which are discussions. It appears to be a matter where relative silence was construed (not incorrectly) as consensus. However, consensus can change when the ramifications become more widely know - as would appear here. It is being made to sound like the citation module is not subject to the normal 'rules' of consensus. Cinderella157 (talk) 05:41, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Comment - I suggest that there are quite a few that would oppose the use of caps/small caps in references; however, I also acknowledge the longstanding determination not to specify a particular referencing style. Having said that, I would conclude, from what has been said here, we probably don't want to encourage the use of such styles either. I think that WP:BEANS is probably appropriate to consider in this instance. For this reason, I would suggest and advise against making a specific reference herein. As a solution and on the presumption that there is a general acceptance of the position I am outlining here, I would suggest going back to WP:Citing sources to clarify that the matter has been considered here and, while not supporting [optional if people don't like this phrase then remove], it has been determined that Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters does not preclude referencing styles that use capitals or small caps for author names or as another component of the bibliographic style. I would also suggest that this comment be inserted as a footnote. By this, it would be a matter of record but not part of the main text. I do appreciate that this is perhaps not as simple to do as it sounds and that there are certain niceties that need to be followed. This is a suggestion and I am not assuming support for this - it would need to be established. Cinderella157 (talk) 03:12, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

  • Support for quotes. Here's Mel Lyman for instance: "I only knew that I was going to make this world a beautiful place to live in because I couldn't STAND it the way it WAS; the understanding of how I would DO it came with the experiences I had in TRYING to do it. I was going to bring heaven to earth or earth to HEAVEN, however you want to look at it and let me explain NOW what I only SENSED then" (he wrote like that a lot, God knows why; IIRC Herbert W. Armstrong did too). I would not be in favor of de-capitalizing this direct quote, no. Has this been a problem? Have people been doing this? If so they should stop. I think there's probably already a rule somewhere (or should be) that says "don't edit direct quotes beyond common sense and necessity" that ought to be sufficient and override anything said here about but caps, but if another rule here would help, fine.
The other stuff is above my pay grade. Interlinear glossing, fine, OK, add that somewhere, not necessarily in the main body of the rule. Maybe a footnote or subpage. Citations, don't much care. I'm OK with people citing how they like, within reasons, so that's OK with me too I suppose. Let a hundred flowers bloom. Herostratus (talk) 13:02, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment re quotes Several comments above support using all capitals in quotes if the source does. This is not what the MOS says at present. MOS:QUOTE says Formatting and other purely typographical elements of quoted text should be adapted to English Wikipedia's conventions without comment provided that doing so will not change or obscure the meaning of the text; this practice is universal among publishers. For example, if the source uses caps for emphasis, then italics should be substituted. So this part of the MOS would also need to be changed if all caps were allowed in quotations. Peter coxhead (talk) 18:14, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
    Your statement "this practice is universal among publishers" is a strong one, and if true, is compelling enough for me. In the Mel Lyman example shortly above, I don't see the harm in replacing the unnecessarily capitalized words with bold, italic, or bold+italic formatting. I see a small amount of value for using small caps in interlinear gloss notes. But I don't see the value in using small caps for author names in references; I've never had a difficult time finding the authors' name when I wanted to know it. Xaxafrad (talk) 21:13, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Just to be clear, the green text is not "my" statement; it's what the MOS currently says and what is being disregarded above. Peter coxhead (talk) 21:17, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Well regardless, the statement is false. It is not universal practice among publishers to change one formatting for another, if that can be said to constitute a change in the authors original intent. It is only normal to do this if a typewritten manuscript adopts a convention such as underlining or caps simply for emphasis which the publisher then translates into the desired form of typographic emphasis in collaboration with the author (i.e. the authors intent was for the emphasis to be expressed in italics, which was simply coded with caps in the typescript). As a scholarly practice it would be considered quote falsification to change someone elses typographic conventions in quotes. So the MOS is simply wrong on this point. As for "not seeing the value" that is not really relevant since per WP:CITEVAR it is enough that someone else sees the value in a specific citation style. User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 21:28, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Note the proviso, "provided that doing so will not change or obscure the meaning of the text". That was Taivo's point: sometimes changing from all caps might change or obscure the meaning of the text. (And why I asked for an example.) But formatting *is* generally adapted to the local standard: spaced en dashes vs em dashes, reversed quotation marks or other national conventions, changing indented paragraphs to spaced paragraphs, etc. None of those things are relevant to the meaning, and so are commonly changed without comment. On the other hand, when graphic fidelity is desired, a quote may even reproduce line breaks in the original places, but that's not the norm. — kwami (talk) 00:03, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Are we coming to the conclusion that all of these exceptions are already acknowledged either directly or indirectly? If this is the case, do we need to make these explicit in the body of the text? If we do need to make a record for clarification, would a footnote be better? Cinderella157 (talk) 01:19, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Oppose as presented, per Peter coxhead's reasons. I would support the first and third cases, but they should have been discussed here first. Using smallcaps in reference lists is problematical, needs more consideration. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:16, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
More consideration, using Smallcaps in reference lists has not been considered problematical for the past 10 years where it has even been used in FA articles - so it is not as if it is some new thing that people are asking permission to do. In fact it is a right that has always existed and has only been removed now because some template editors took the MOS too literally and didnt realize that WP:CITEVAR clearly permits this feature.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 22:42, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Yes, see rongorongo and decipherment of rongorongo, which both went through a long and arduous FA confirmation. I don't think the caps in the refs were ever even mentioned. — kwami (talk) 00:03, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
By "more consideration" I mean deeper than a few comments here. Use of smallcaps in reference lists should be discussed in a venue more particularly relevant to such use, such as WP:CS. Also, you have over-interpretedWP:CITEVAR: it provides guidance, not rights, and certainly grants no "right" to use all-caps. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:20, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Please explain in what way the guidance in WP:CITEVAR is compatible with disallowing the use of reference styles that use smallcaps for author names. On wikipedia there is no such thing as "deeper consideration" than a widely publicized RfC.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 23:18, 28 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Partial support - All caps can be used when rendering quotations of texts...... Undecided on remaining two as I have concerns about consistency. AtsmeConsult 13:45, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
The last is necessary, and has long-standing consensus, as transcriptions without caps would be wrong. It's not a matter of style, but of meaning, as with acronyms. If "art" and "ART" have two different meanings, we cannot change one into the other. I clarified in the lead that the proscription is about the stylistic use of all caps. — kwami (talk) 18:30, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
That was a good point, and maybe the basis for a consensus here. There is a lot of support for ALL CAPS when they are (arguably) semantically significant. Small caps for author names gets less support because it's a matter of style. Semantically the rongorongo cites are just the same as before, small caps or not. (And BTW they still look great to me – I really like those hanging indents.) – Margin1522 (talk) 00:00, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose references list case; WP has it own citation styles. It does not (and does not need to) attempt to emulate others. That style has been proposed many times here (and at WP:CITE, and Template talk:Cite, and Help talk:Citation Style 1, etc., etc.) and rejected consistently. Oppose "original author's style or intent" case, as overbroad; "for effects" is too vague (and ungrammatical – the expression is "for effect"), and "the original author's style or intent" is tautological and all-encompassing, such that we would always and without exception use the caps because the original author did. Maybe there is the germ of some kind of valid point in there, but it's not been expressed in a way MOS can implement. Tentative support of Leipzig glossing rules case, but only as a separate proposal, with substantial input from WikiProject Linguistics; just because a convention exists somewhere does not mean it is one that WP should adopt and promote. If Kwami is right (and I think this may be the case), then this change probably should be made, as it's not really a style matter, but a semantic one in linguistic contexts, that can be mistaken for stylistic (much like use of single quotation marks in glosses, and the asterisk to indicate extrapolated words and roots that are not attested). Mixing that case in here with two stylistic proposals is confusing and will not lead to a clear consensus. As for the other two, limiting "citation styles, and representation styles in articles" is much of the point of the rule against ALL-CAPS to begin with. MOS exists to provide WP with a consistent style, and this is by definition a constraint on editors doing whatever they feel like just because they like it or are more familiar with it. This is true of all style manuals.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  10:47, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • While CS1 and CS2 were created on Wikipedia, neither one is the "house style". As WP:CITEVAR notes, there is no house style on Wikipedia. This follows the same principle as WP:ENGVAR - and the philosophy behind both of them is quite basic to Wikipedia. There is a difference between a "widely-used, locally-created" style and a "house style" and the MoS should always reflect that. – Philosopher Let us reason together. 18:22, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • The Wikipedia MOS is different from other manuals of style because most other manuals cover both the main body of the text, and the citation style. You can tell Wikipedia's MOS doesn't cover citations because it doesn't provide nearly enough information to write citations. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:40, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Support and suggest additional exception for ancient/archaic languages without miniscule characters as described above by other editors. // coldacid (talk|contrib) 00:09, 7 March 2015 (UTC) // coldacid (talk|contrib) 00:09, 7 March 2015 (UTC) Summoned va WP:FRS; please {{Ping|coldacid}} if you respond to my comment.
  • Comment: It has just come to my attention that we alreayd have a Template:Cite_LSA, a LSA style citation template that uses small caps for author names. If the MOS is not reworded to specifically allow the use of this citation template, then we have a problem. ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 00:10, 28 March 2015 (UTC)
  • Comment: I haven't read through the entire discussion here but I would like to add another exception: inscriptions on artworks which are all in capitals. It's common practice in art history books for these to be transcribed in small caps. This is in the same spirit as what Maunus said above: "Other exceptions are quotes of text written in all caps, which should of course also be represented in all caps." Ham II (talk) 08:37, 5 April 2015 (UTC)
  • Smallcaps for coins? I'm copyediting over at Wikipedia:Featured article candidates/McKinley Birthplace Memorial dollar/archive1. Wehwalt says: "I really think small caps are the most effective and understandable way of conveying legends on coins. People have seen coins and that they are generally (mind, I said generally) in capital letters." RHM22 says: "I agree with Wehwalt regarding the use of 'small caps'. I have used them in the my articles, and I find them to be the most effective at conveying what is actually written on the coins. Not everyone knows how U.S. coins are designed, so it's probably unclear to most whether or not capital lettering is used. If instead of "MCKINLEY DOLLAR", we say ""McKinley Dollar" (in capital lettering)", then how did we decide to capitalize "Dollar"? Coin inscriptions aren't mentioned in that section of the MOS, and in my opinion, that exemption should probably be codified." - Dank (push to talk) 23:00, 5 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) 18:58, 14 April 2015 (UTC)

Capitalization of prepositions in composition titles[edit]

We've been here before, nothing was changed, and there is still the problem. The four letter preposition rule, for all its simplicity, causes more problems that it solves, and seems to be a problem part of Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style/Capital_letters#Composition_titles, aka MOS:CT.

The rule is generally good. Unfortunately, the character count of the preposition is only an indicator, and is sometimes wrong. Some four letter prepositions are expected to be capitalized by the community, others not. Example problem cases include "into", "like", and "until" vs "till"

I suggest (and edited[10]) that the decision to capitalize depends on the importance to meaning of the word, and that length is only an indicator.

Talk:Smells_Like_Teen_Spirit#Requested_move_20_February_2015 is an example of evidence that guidance here is out of step, and some of the individual comments in the discussion are particularly compelling that something at MOS:CT needs improvement. As per my edit, I believe that mentioning "important", "unimportant" and "meaningful" in relation to prepositions is an improvement. It is true that long prepositions are usually important and capitalized, but length is not the definitive factor. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 07:35, 17 April 2015 (UTC)

This stems from the fact that too many editors treat our MOS guidance as "the rules". What we currently say is excellent in terms of generalized guidance (what one should usually do), but unfortunately that guidance is too often taken as being "the rules" (what one must always do) - and enforced as such in situations where it is not appropriate. I think we need to make it clearer that there are lots of exceptions to our guidance, that what we say here is not a "one-size-fits-all" sort of thing. Blueboar (talk) 14:09, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
You mean in addition to the giant box right at the top of the page that explains that guidelines are to be applied with common sense and there will be occasional exceptions? Perhaps put similar wording in the text of the lede, since editors seem inclined to ignore the bold-faced wording in templates at the top of pages?
On the substance, I agree with SmokeyJoe; the proposed edit is an improvement (particularly in that it requires common sense in its application instead of a prescriptive rule). —Alex (Ashill | talk | contribs) 14:20, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
Yup... in addition to the giant box. The problem of editors who can't seem to ever understand that there are exceptions to an MOS continues - despite having the giant box. This may be due to our habit of creating shortcuts, pointing to sections (and sub-sections) of policy/guideline pages... editors only read the parts of the policy/guideline that they are pointed to, and don't see (or pay attention to) the big giant warning boxes that are placed at the top of the page. Sometimes I think we should get rid of all section shortcuts (so when we point someone to a policy/guideline page they have to read the entire policy/guideline). At other times I think we need a shortcut pointing to the box so when someone argues "But that's against [[WP:<Insert shortcut here>]] we can counter it with... yes, but it is supported by WP:WHAT IT SAYS IN THE GIANT BOX. Any way... I think it would be helpful to note that while we usually wouldn't capitalize short prepositions, that isn't an "always" rule... and note that there will be occasional situations when doing so is appropriate. Blueboar (talk) 15:42, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
  • I agree with the change forward by SmokeyJoe. Per WP:BURO, rules are intended to reflect existing community consensus. It's clear consenus is that "like" and others like it may be capitalized, despite what some believe. Calidum T|C 15:03, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
I would avoid "may" as it is somewhat ambiguous (does it mean "you have permission" or does it mean "you might do this"). Blueboar (talk) 15:42, 17 April 2015 (UTC)

Although I agree that the guidance should be changed, I have to oppose this proposal. I don't see how it is makes sense to talk about "important", "unimportant" or "meaningful" words in a title. How are we supposed to judge this? Why is the "like" in "Smells Like Teen Spirit" particularly meaningful or important?

I'd note that, in APA style, everything with more than three letters gets capitalised. Seems to me that would cause fewer issues. Formerip (talk) 20:32, 17 April 2015 (UTC)

Comment. Above, Blueboar wrote, "I think it would be helpful to note that while we usually wouldn't capitalize short prepositions, that isn't an 'always' rule... and note that there will be occasional situations when doing so is appropriate." If we're going to allow exceptions to the guideline in "occasional situations", how does one determine what situations justify the exceptions? Following one or more "sources" (usually, in practice, these constitute pages elsewhere on the Web) is just following someone else's style guidelines—assuming that they have any and aren't just making it up as they go—rather than following our own. If we're going to do that, what's the point of even having a manual of style here? Deor (talk) 21:01, 17 April 2015 (UTC)
  • There seems broad agreement. To Formerip, the number of letters has proven to not be agreed as the criteria in a number of cases. Sometimes "like" is unimportant. Sometimes "through" is not. The generally understood and more correct version is that important words are capitalized, and MOS:CT goes into too much detail, by an inch.
If you don't like "meaningful" or "important" then the onus should be on you to suggest something better. How are we to judge what is important or meaningful? The question betrays an inability to understand that guidelines should not need to set out precise rules for minutiae of possible questions. Editors with an interest in a subject should be trusted to use good judgement.
User:Dicklyon reverted, and especially as he cares about these things, I would hope to see him either comment or preferably make the next edit. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 05:14, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
How does one determine what situations justify the exceptions?... by examining sources... But you don't just look at one or two sources. You look at lots and lots of sources that discuss the topic. You look to see if there is a broad pattern of capitalization for that specific topic. You especially pay attention to sources that (like Wikipedia) usually wouldn't capitalize short prepositions, but do in the context of the specific topic (ie look to see if there are other sources that make an exception to their style guides). By looking at lots of sources - by looking for a broad pattern, we go beyond "just following someone else's style guidelines"... we are determining whether there is a norm for that specific topic, and following that norm. Blueboar (talk) 11:36, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
"But you don't just look at one or two sources. You look at lots and lots of sources that discuss the topic." No. Such actions are moving away from relying on reliable sources. Google scholar results and google ngram results are not reliable sources. Usage cannot be reliably sources without WP:NOR unless there is a secondary source discussing the usage. Yes, use the few sources that actually support the topic Usually, this is next to obvious, and sometimes all that is possible. Most articles are not sourceable from lots and lots of sources. Some articles, such as the problematic Journey Through the Decade, have barely any English language sources.
Expecting content editors to decipher inaccessible style guides, or to carefully examine lots and lots of sources that are not even useful to the article, is not a good idea. Use the sources that support the content. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:36, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
SmokeyJoe, I'm guessing that you and Blueboar have no experience with the "real-world" use of style guides by publishing companies. If one works for such a company, one doesn't depend on any sources with regard to the capitalization one uses for titles of works, nor does one "look to see if there is a broad pattern of capitalization for [a] specific topic"; one simply follows the company's style guide. It's often specifically stated in such style guides that the style in which the title appears on the work itself (and, by extension, how it's treated by other works mentioning the title) is irrelevant—the only way to ensure consistency is to use the house style for everything. A number of folks hereabouts seem to think that WP:COMMONNAME applies to the styling of titles on WP. I disagree. If our MoS is to have any use at all, it should be followed in the same way style guides are followed in real life, with perhaps a very few exceptions being made in anomalous cases. Allowing exceptions on the basis of "sources" or editors' judgment is tantamount to having no style guideline on the matter at all. If that's what people want, then the guideline should just be deleted. Hedging it about with vague handwaving about "importance" of words or "common sense" is certainly more useless in practice—and considerable more confusing—than what we have now. Deor (talk) 15:47, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
Deor, you would be guessing poorly. I am well experienced with style guides. They are very good to a point, and of negative value beyond some point. Here, defining the capitalized preposition by character count is such a point. Wikipedia is not like a publishing company. If you have to teach the authors an unintuitive, and at times problematic, style guide, then you have an entry barrier for authors. I support nearly every word of MOS:CT, but not the four letter preposition rule, because it routinely conflicts with predominant source usage, and routinely upsets editors. You are asserting an extremism that should be rejected. The MOS:CT can offer detailed guidance in most respects while leaving discretion to defer to source usage for prepositions. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:57, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
SmokeyJoe, the onus isn't on me to do anything. I'm perfectly within my rights just to object to a proposal which I think is a bad one. And it's not about allowing or not allowing editors to use their judgement. If that's what we want, then why not just say "Editors may use their judgement"? The problem is that the wording with reference to "important" etc is meaningless, because there are not really such things as relatively important and unimportant prepositions. i.e. the difference between "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Smells of Teen Spirit" may be the length of the preposition or it may be simple convention, but it is nothing at all to do with "like" being a more important word than "of", because that proposition doesn't even make sense. Formerip (talk) 12:31, 18 April 2015 (UTC)
You are right about there being no onus. I don't know why I said that. Your objection, though, is difficult to deal with. You appear to both (1) deny that there is a problem; and (2) suggest changing the four-letter rule to a three-letter rule. (1) appears to deny the apparent. (2) would just shift the disputes a little, and would involve moving an awful lot of pages for no good reason. On whether "important" and "meaningful" are appropriate words, I don't know whether they are ideal, but they strike to the heart, in that words that are important and/or meaningful, or importantly meaningful, are capitalized, and others are not. This is a rough but good summary of title case. I would trust content editors to better understand importance and meaning than for MOS authors to keep this page up to date. --SmokeyJoe (talk) 02:29, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
There's no way I'm going to cap five-letter prepositions like "into". Tony (talk) 03:15, 23 April 2015 (UTC)
FormerIP at 20:32, 17 April 2015 (UTC) appeared to advocate capitalizing all "into"s under a three letter rule. I'm not sure about five letter versions of into. Was that a mistake? --SmokeyJoe (talk) 03:32, 23 April 2015 (UTC)[edit]

Should (and similar) be capitalised at the beginning of a sentence, like "adidas" becomes "Adidas" (as the MOS recommends)? My instinct was to uppercase it; the article currently has the lowercase "d" throughout. Rothorpe (talk) 01:58, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

Well, I do see a capitalized form at the beginning of the sentence in the section
  • Dabs operates in Ireland under and has previously operated in France, however this closed at the end of May 2006.
I think a lot of companies that operate mainly, or exclusively, on the internet are using all lower-case names now, but I don't want to take the time to look for them now. That's the name of the company, CorinneSD (talk) 18:26, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
Now I've read the original question more carefully. I think it should be capitalized at the beginning of sentences. An alternative, if not overused, would be to add a phrase such as "The company" or "The firm" CorinneSD (talk) 02:04, 24 April 2015 (UTC)