Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Capital letters/Archive 5

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Innate intelligence

Comments on the Talk:Innate_intelligence#Move.3F discussion are welcome. --rgpk (comment) 18:06, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Science and Mathemetics section

Moved some misplaced examples out of the religion section into Science and Mathemetics.
Telpardec (talk) 00:07, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Inconsistent use

In Dragon Warrior, there are some items the player needs to retrieve. The manual does not capitalize these items termed "balls of light"; however, other secondary RSes that name them do capitalize them as "Balls of Light" (or sometimes improperly as "Ball of Light". Should it be capitalized here or not? Jinnai 18:41, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

Internet/internet

AWB has started capitalising "internet" to "Internet", e.g. here. According to Internet capitalization conventions, many publications are now using the common noun (uncapitalised) form. Does Wikipedia have any conventions about this? —  Tivedshambo  (t/c) 21:31, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

I don't think so, but I would prefer the "internet" - case. Maybe we should start a pool. mabdul 21:16, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
I prefer to treat it as a proper noun. It is a specific net. You can think of SIPRNET, but I guess you can get me with that is an abbreviation, and military at that. but I think even written out, it gets the capitals. I think that is more common on traditional print sources, and that given our work product is closer to conventional writing than a computer hobbyist site, think we are better off going with the more traditional slant. But you can look it up and there is different usage, so you can decide if you want to be more safe or more out there. And of course you can look at all the similar issues with world and earth and universe and "the seas" and the like.  ;-) TCO (talk) 21:33, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
I do think this is comparable to the "universe". The fact that something is uniquely identifiable doesn't qualify it as a proper name. Because the internet is a descriptive term, and it has social connotations which are not proper names, I prefer the "internet". When in doubt, do not capitalize. Inarius (talk) 16:52, 25 May 2011 (UTC)
It's not at all comparable to "universe". "Internet" with a a capital "I" and lower-case "internet" have two different meanings (the Internet, vs. any inter-network; the latter is a common noun, though not a common one, if you get my meaning). That some mainstream publications are sloppy is irrelevant. I a lot of them don't hyphenate e-mail, either, even though we would never write "ecommerce" or "egovernment" or unhyphenate any other "e-for-electronic" (and email is actually already a word, albeit an obscure one, meaning "to armor oneself or another, such as a warhorse, especially with chainmail or ringmail"). — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 04:18, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

Celestial bodies

This example from the current version of the article:

"The Moon orbits the Earth"

Is contrary to the guidance here:

http://www.wwu.edu/journalism/syllabi/207labmanual.htm
ASSOCIATED PRESS STYLE ESSENTIALS
The sun warms the earth.

My recollection from school was to capitalize "Sun," "Earth," and "Moon" only when not preceded by the definite article.

Similar:

http://www.myenglishteacher.net/captilizingletters.html
Titles of people are only capitalized when they are followed by someone’s name.
Example: That is the president of the United States.

The definite article "the" already makes it clear that a unique object/person is the subject. Capitalization in these cases make the definite article redundant. - Ac44ck (talk) 17:18, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

This is an old comment, but I'll respond anyway: To me, the sun warms the earth means "the sunlight warms the dirt". If you're talking about the celestial bodies, those are proper nouns and should be capitalized. The words sun, moon, and earth all have meanings as common nouns ("sunlight" or occasionally "star", "natural satellite", and "dirt", respectively), and those do not take capitals except e.g. as the first word of a sentence. --Trovatore (talk) 05:51, 26 June 2011 (UTC)

Titles of people

I need some clarification on the "part of the name" thing. It says that "President Nixon" goes with capital, but can you give an example with a full sentence? Does it apply to any case when "president" goes before the name, as in "...the treaty was signed by US president Nixon, fooian president Foohnson...", or is there a more specific rule? Cambalachero (talk) 00:36, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Not sure, but the best would be to rephrase the sentence, saying "...the treaty was signed by President Nixon of the US and President Foohnson of Foo..." to avoid the potential for incorrectness and well-meaning-but-incorrect corrections where the capital is switched. oknazevad (talk) 20:45, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
I think I got it. Being "part of the name" means that both words (title and name) are used as a single noun? Cambalachero (talk) 21:22, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Can we re-visit this part of the guideline. I've just changed all the Kings in George II of Great Britain to kings, but when I started doing the same for the Queens in Anne, Queen of Great Britain, it just didn't look right. Elizabeth II is always called "the Queen" not "the queen". These websites say capitalise for high offices, capitalise when used specifically as opposed to generically, capitalise when they refer to a specific and obvious person, capitalise when referring to definite persons, capitalise when very high ranking, capitalise for very important titles, and capitalize a title referring to a specific person and used as a substitute for that person's name. I do appreciate that there are others saying never capitalise: [1][2]. It seems to me that this is essentially a personal choice, but if we decide that Elizabeth II will always be "the queen", I think we could find the MoS is not in line with actual practice. DrKiernan (talk) 18:10, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Looking at a recent edit spat, this seems to be a vexed question here. In Federal government of the United States#Executive branch, "the President" is used throughout, even when not referring to the full title or to a specific person. In looking at normal English usage, it seems to be "presidential", or "the presidency" or "a president" and "the President". Wikipedia seems a little out of step here, and inconsistent in usage. Perhaps it should be that in an article dealing with a specific person or office, the term "Queen" or "President" or "Governor-General" is seen as referring to the full title, which is always capitalised. --Pete (talk) 04:41, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
Citing any government organization on capitalization is very ill-advised, because government types capitalize everything they possibly can, for some reason. <Burp> Sorry, I'm eating my Meal, Ready-to-Eat. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 04:22, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

(Non-)Capitalization of German loanwords

Shouldn't this rule (from List of German expressions in English) be included somewhere on this page?

German common nouns adopted into English are in general not initially capitalised, and the ß is generally changed to ss.

Art Carlson (talk) 07:43, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Makes sense to me. — SMcCandlish   Talk⇒〈°⌊°〉 Contribs. 04:23, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
I can't tell if it makes sense without an example or two. Are we talking about hamburgers and frankfurters, or what? edelweiss? What about Fahrvergnügen and Schadenfreude and Zeitgeist and Übermensch, which are more German but being used in English? Or exceptions for those derived from proper names, like Rottweiler and Neanderthal and Kaiser? Dicklyon (talk) 04:53, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

Governments

This doesn't seem to be covered. I can appreciate that "state" has no cap generally. But what about the "state of Florida" or (repeating the title of an article) "The Government of the State of Florida" or "The 'government of the state of Florida." It seems to me that "State of Florida" is a formal term, like "Commonwealth of Virginia". Maybe not government, but it was in the title. Which may be next by the editor-fixer, BTW. :) Student7 (talk) 18:35, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes, the full, formal name should be capitalized when it's being used not to identify the location, but the governing body as a corporate entity. For example, The plain "Chicago" can and should be used when simply discussing the city in general, but "City of Chicago" should be used when discussing the city government (in the American sense) as a whole. The construct "city of Chicago" shouldn't be used, as the plain "Chicago" is sufficient for general discussion, and the corporate governing entity specifically is a proper noun that includes the capitalized "City". (Of course, New York City, and other such places that typically include "City", "Borough", "Township" , etc to disambiguate from some other location are a special case. "New York City" refers to the city in general, while "City of New York" is for the city government corporate.) oknazevad (talk) 02:09, 15 May 2011 (UTC)

Stylized (non-acronym) ALLCAPS in tables/lists

In a table of songs with bands that perform them, we have some bands like KMFDM or HIM which are acronym alongside bands like Kiss (band) where they normally use "KISS" even though this is not an acronym. This makes the Kiss entry look funny particularly for anyone that knows the band. I understand the intent and logic behind ALLCAPS for prose sections, but in table entries where the allcaps word is by itself or minimal other prose around it, it would seem that, if it improves the looks, to use the allcaps stylistic version in contrast to the prose-friendly version. Any input on this aspect? --MASEM (t) 00:18, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

I don't think the fact that it's a table matters in the slightest, and that bands with actual acronyms or initialisms appear alongside doesn't make it matter more. It looks weird because it's often spelled in all caps, but a quick Google search of "the band kiss" shows that Wikipedia isn't the only place where the lowercase version lives, so I don't think we need to make a Kiss or band-name exception. -Rrius (talk) 00:46, 18 May 2011 (UTC)

Capitalization of "white" (or "White")

Is it "white" or "White" when discussing European-Americans in discussion and presentation of US census data. The US Census tables capitalize the term, along with "Black" and the "n" in "Native American" and "i" in "Pacific Islander" (see, e.g., [3]). When the 2000 US census data were imported into Wikipedia, way long time ago, the presentation always capitalized the "w", "n", "i" in White, Native American, and Pacific Islander. See, e.g., Peoria,_Illinois#Demographics ("Black" was not used). Throughout our article on White American, "White" is capitalized throughout. Recently, another editor protested that my use of capitalization of "White" was not appropriate. What say us - is it OK? If not, do we send a bot to correct the literally hundreds of thousands of capitalized "White"s, "Native"s, "Black"s, "Islander"s? Carlossuarez46 (talk) 20:14, 2 June 2011 (UTC)

RFC: restructuring of the Manual of Style

Editors may be interested in this RFC, along with the discussion of its implementation:

Should all subsidiary pages of the Manual of Style be made subpages_of WP:MOS?

It's big; and it promises huge improvements. Great if everyone can be involved. NoeticaTea? 00:28, 25 June 2011 (UTC)

Capitalization of "short" vs. "long" prepositions

Sorry, gang, but I have to take issue with a hard-and-fast rule that would say that four-letter prepositions get decapitalized but five-letter prepositions are capitalized. This leads to all sorts of anomalies, such as "over" being lowercased but its companion "Under" not, potentially in the same title, or titles with established orthographies (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest being a good example) being recapitalized just for Wikipedia. Without some flexibility, what we have here is a k.d. lang problem. I seem to remember a time when the article for her was stubbornly enforced to be set to "K.D. Lang" despite the fact that she was not known by that orthography anywhere--rules were rules, after all. Except, there is no reason for a rule so stringent as a 4-letter/5-letter preposition rule. What is the source for such a rule? Where else is it obeyed? Robert K S (talk) 12:57, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

In general, "over" is not capitalized in the middle of a title unless you capitalize all words in the title. Just because you can show one title of a work where the rule seems often to be ignored, that doesn't mean the rule doesn't exist. Your proposed wording replaces a clear rule, which can be ignored like all WP guidelines, with one that means absolutely nothing. Better than pulling "over" out of the list and neutering the 5-word rule would be to find a way to work "generally" or "usually" into the wording. -Rrius (talk) 13:18, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
It's not one example. I can name examples until I'm out of breath. I'll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me. Reign Over Me. Moon Over Parma. Get Over It (many songs, film, etc.) Bridge Over Troubled Water. Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. I'll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me (double whammy there). The question is, where is this rule supposedly from? It's not followed uniformly on Wikipedia, and it seems to be a minority rule in every other source. It's contingent upon those who want to institute the rule and see it followed to show that it ought to be, for good reason, when other sources--I dare say the majority of sources--go flatly against it. By the way, in all of the above examples, I'm not relying on the Wikipedia pages to show that the word "over" shouldn't be capitalized. Search on the Internet. Look at IMDb. Find the original album covers. Look for references to the titles in the print media. Overwhelmingly, "Over" is capitalized. Robert K S (talk) 15:08, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Capitalization of words with elided letters in titles

Which would be the correct article title: Get 'em Girls (song) or Get 'Em Girls (song)? This was recently brought up for an uncontroversial requested move here with the rationale being "caps". If the word "them" had been spelled out in the title, it would have been capitalized. But I think it looks odd to capitalize the remainder of the word with elided initial letters. Such elisions are not uncommon in popular music titles. Perhaps another bullet could be added under Wikipedia:Manual of Style (capital letters)#Composition titles to clarify this. olderwiser 12:11, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Addendum. The examples below show a tendency to capitalize the elision, so I may have been mistaken in thinking the elided word shouldn't be capitalized. There does nonetheless appear to be some inconsistency in the titles. Perhaps the rule should be to reflect a) how the work it titled by the authors/distributors and b) how reliable media present the title. Note: Not all the following are musical compositions, but all are titled works. olderwiser 16:14, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
Upper case
Lower case

A side observation, where the elision is presented without any leading space between the remainder and the preceding word, the tendency is to not capitalize.

Suggested addition

Seasons I see things like, "Cranston returned for Season 4 of Breaking Bad..." all the time. For some reason, editors think that "season" is capitalized when it refers to a season of a television program. As far as I'm aware, this is not standard English in any style manual and I think it would be wise to add something about that to this article. For what it's worth, I always see it paired with a numeral (e.g. "4") rather than a spelled-out word ("four") with this capital-S construction. —Justin (koavf)TCM☯ 02:30, 5 July 2011 (UTC)

I agree that this guideline should explicitly caution editors against the capitalised spelling of "season" and "episode". Should similar advice regarding the use of "act" and "scene" in plays and operas be included?
As for numerals: I think that strictly following WP:ORDINAL might often look awkward and pedantic; consider "after declining viewer numbers in season nine, season 10 was to be the last." -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 05:12, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure I agree with this. I feel like there's a generally tendency when given the construction of a noun followed by a cardinal number to capitalize the noun and use the numeral. For example, Act 1 is the first act, Chair 21 is the twenty-first chair, Person 3 is the third person. The way I see it, it's acting like a proper noun with "Season 1" being the name of the first season, etc. Additionally, I don't know what other style guides say, but a quick google search of the NYTimes[4][5][6] and the LATimes[7][8][9] websites (not including blogs), appears to show that they tend to capitalize in these situations. -- Irn (talk) 11:25, 5 July 2011 (UTC)
Is this the last word? Anything followed by a number should be capitalised? Or, less far-reaching: "season", "act", "scene" followed by a number should be capitalised? -- Michael Bednarek (talk) 11:39, 19 November 2011 (UTC)
I don't think it should be. There is surely a distinction to be made between a style and a proper name. "The fourth episode of Foosoap..." is fine. "The 4th Episode of Foosoap..." is absurd. Use of "....Season 4 of Foosoap..." should depend on an RS (as opposed to some other organisation's style guide) using it, otherwise it should be "....season 4..." or more likely "... season four...". The distinction between 'numeral (e.g. "4") rather than a spelled-out word ("four")' referred to above suggests this is style-based and I can't see any reason to follow it unless it becomes a standard international convention. Ben MacDui 12:15, 19 November 2011 (UTC)
So far as I know this is pretty standard. As a mathematician, I am used to this kind of style from our technical writing. For example: "Using Zorn's Lemma we can show that. ... It follows from the main theorem of the last section that Proposition 5 can be strengthened as follows: ..." I am pretty sure that professional style guides such as the Chicago Manual of Style also prescribe this style, if only someone with access could look it up for us. Since it is a matter of style, we should definitely not make it dependent on what the sources do. Tea-leaf reading from sources has nothing to do with verifiability, it's just laziness. The only exception would be if high-quality sources in a specific field (or a specific variant of English) were consistently using a non-standard style. Hans Adler 12:30, 19 November 2011 (UTC)
You are alluding to one of my concerns about this - WP:ENGVAR. It may be that there are few international differences but instruction creep of this kind isn't helpful if there are. Also, "tea-leaf reading from sources has nothing to do with verifiability" - how true, but then this discussion has nothing much to do with verifiability either. Unless I misunderstand it is a suggestion that we have a consistent style regardless of source usage. I am not sure why you choose the rather ad hominen word "laziness". Ben MacDui 14:12, 19 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, but I responded to how I understood "Use of '....Season 4 of Foosoap...' should depend on an RS (as opposed to some other organisation's style guide) using it". It sounded as if your were proposing that (hypothetical examples, so no need to prove me wrong in these cases as I am no doubt wrong) if most sources about The Kingdom (TV miniseries) were written by non-native speakers of English who for some reason (incorrectly, in my opinion) wrote "season 1" and "season 2" instead of "Season 1" and "Season 2", whereas for practically all other series the word is capitalised in this context, then we should also use this eccentric capitalisation in our article. If that's not what you meant, then I apologise. Maybe you can clarify what you did mean. But over the last year or so I have seen an increasing trend for people to propose precisely this kind of tealeaf-reading from sources in order to undermine the MOS, or the common sense (and previously uncontroversial) practice of doing in Wikipedia what encyclopedias do, even if all the sources are not encyclopedias and therefore do things differently. And when you challenge them on this, most of them claim that this is what is required by WP:V. I hope you will agree that this just doesn't make sense. By saying this is just laziness I reduced the reasons behind this behaviour to just one dimension. Of course there are several others, but I think it's really mostly lazy thinking that makes editors identify style issues as nails just because they haven't returned the hammer of verifiability to the toolbox after their last handicraft work. Hans Adler 17:00, 19 November 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for this reply. What I meant about " Use of '....Season 4 of Foosoap...' " was that if it is clear that the originators of the work and coverage by native speakers of English in the country of origin also uses this form, than that's fine. Thus "CS Miami, Season 8" would, assuming it meets those criteria, be the appropriate form. However "Taggart, Season 27" would not be as the producers uses "series", not "season" and (at least some) reviewers don't capitalise the "s". A review in a Zimbabwean newspaper would not carry the weight of the "local" reviewers. I hope that's a more useful description - and apologies for not making this more so above. Making every one use caps because that is standard practice in the US/India/Zimbabwe or wherever isn't something I'd support. Ben MacDui 10:13, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

Languages

Hello,

I propose adding a section detailing the capitalization of languages. It would include the following guidelines:

  • Language names (such as English or Spanish) should always be capitalized, even when used as adjectives ("English literature", for example).
  • Adjectives such as "ancient" should be capitalized when used as part of the name of a language. For example, "Ancient Greek". Note that this not apply when referring to "ancient Greek food", for example, because this refers to the period, not the language. If you want to refer to literature written in Ancient Greek, use "Ancient Greek literature", but if you want to refer to literature written in the ancient Greek period, use "ancient Greek literature".

I can't think of any more at the moment. Any ideas? InverseHypercube 23:25, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

The last is a good example. It's simply the distinction between proper and common noun, of course, but it might be useful to spell it out. Have you had trouble with this from other editors? — kwami (talk) 18:38, 22 July 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I've seen this mistake quite often, usually using the proper form "Ancient" incorrectly, such as in "Ancient Greek civilization". Also, I was not sure before doing some research whether "ancient" had to be capitalized when referring to languages, because "ancient Greek" could refer to the ancient form of the Greek language, instead of being a language in and of itself. It seems convention dictates that it should be capitalized. InverseHypercube 19:02, 22 July 2011 (UTC)
If it's merely descriptive—just some ancient form of Greek—then it should not be capitalized. But if it's the stage of the language encoded in ISO etc. as "Ancient Greek", proper noun phrase, then it should. But it's probably a bad idea to rely on capitalization alone to dab those two meanings.
English is easier: I doubt many people use the common adjective "old" to describe the language, so (AFAIK) it should only be "Old English". The diff in caps is more important at the other end: "modern English" is a rather different animal than "Modern English". — kwami (talk) 12:07, 24 July 2011 (UTC)

god/God

We're having a dispute over the proper capitalization of "god" in a passage, and one of the confounding factors is the MoS. We say, In a biblical context "God" is always capitalized when referring to the Judeo-Christian deity, but not capitalized when referring to anyone else to whom the word "god" is applied.

That's good as a rule of thumb, but not quite true. It actually can be conflated with the preceding rule, Proper nouns and titles referencing deities are capitalized, because the same rule applies: Besides use in titles, capitalization indicates that the god is supreme.

That's true in the Biblical context as well, at least in the NIV. So foreigners repeatedly say "the god of Israel", lower case, because they do not see him as supreme. But when the King of Babylon is convinced, he says, ""Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings"—lord gets the same treatment. Or, in a contest between religions, Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of Jehovah ["the LORD"]. The god who answers by fire—he is God. That is, the capitalization is a recognition of which god is supreme, not an indication of Jehovah. (Though of course Jehovah turns out to be God. There is no god/God difference in Hebrew; all instances are elohim.) We even get small-g 'god' for Jehovah in his own words, given the proper context: The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, "This is what Jehovah says: 'Because the Arameans think Jehovah is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am Jehovah.'"

Abolutist adherence to what is supposed to be a guideline is the real problem, of course. But people tend to do that. I think it would be a good idea to give at least an idea of how capitalization has semantic impact, and isn't simply anaphora for Jehovah. — kwami (talk) 18:33, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

I think we should be very wary of adopting the capitalization conventions of any single translation of the Bible, as each translation reflects the outlook of its translators, in terms of language choice and complexity, theology, and intended audience. It's the sort of NPOV convention based on a wide variety of sources we should use. oknazevad (talk) 01:54, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
We specifically say we don't capitalize "Him", even though it is capitalized in most Bibles. It seems to me that we're trying for plain English here, so as not to push a particular theology. Not capitalizing nouns unless they're being used as proper nouns (names, titles, etc.) is part of normal English punctuation. — kwami (talk) 11:20, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
I am Catholic. I would hope that we can, for otherwise non-controversial topics involving different biblical translations, adopt the King James Version as the basis for most quotes in this English version of Wikipedia. This would presumably include capitalization.
While we are at it, I hate to be referred, when I am in a hurry, to a list of bibleverses containing a selection of translations, starting off with the Aarvdark version, and proceeding through dozens, if not hundreds of other versions that I never heard of. That is not helpful IMO. Point to KJV and be done with it! Don't make a double indirect pointer out of a reference! Thanks. Student7 (talk) 11:49, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
The problem with the King James is that the language is out-dated; however, it does seem a simple standard to adopt. Perhaps we could use the King James with any spelling and capitalisation modernised? McLerristarr | Mclay1 07:12, 27 July 2011 (UTC)

Stylistic all caps

I would like to know why it is now acceptable for articles about individuals who "like their name in all lowercase" to be stylized as such (k.d. lang and will.i.am), but individuals who like their names in all caps is still not accepted? Also, are band names acceptable to be in all lowercase too? Xfansd (talk) 22:34, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Discussion at village pump concerning capitalization of technical terms

There is a discussion of whether and when to capitalize technical terms at the Village pump. We lack guidelines for determining what is a proper name and what is not in this context. I encourage participation from those involved in developing these MOS guidelines. Jojalozzo 03:16, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Clarification of science and math naming guideline

I attempted to clarify the guideline for names of ideas in science and math. This guideline could apply to engineering as well (where full capitalization of names for ideas is standard practice) but I'm awaiting the results of ongoing discussion. Jojalozzo 16:07, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Similar issues arise in chess where Gambit, Game, Mate, Opening, Countergambit are often capitalized in the names of specific moves (e.g. see Category:Chess openings). Is this a different case from Extreme Programming or Program Evaluation and Review Technique? If so, how? Jojalozzo 19:33, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Where is this ongoing discussion? It seems to me that the problem is not related to science, engineering, chess, or any particular field, but to the wide tendency of people in a field to capitalize to make their own stuff more prominent, or proper-like. I've been seeing the same at dog breeds, for example; most guides that comment say to only capitalize the proper name parts, but all the dog breed articles in WP all seem to use title case. We should make a more broad and clear guideline about this, I think. Dicklyon (talk) 16:53, 21 August 2011 (UTC)
Oh, found it. You linked it above, thanks. Dicklyon (talk) 16:59, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Individuals' names

There is a clause on this page that allows for the non-capitalization of individuals' names. Why do we not treat individuals who have their names (or stage names) entirely capitalized or partially capitalized with the same clause? I am only really aware of the existence of this practice when it comes to musicians and celebrities in the Japanese sphere, we surely should not have this double standard set in place, because in the majority of reliable sources, their names are parsed in all capital letters.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 18:19, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

  • Comment. Essentially, the rationale for the refrain from writing in all caps correlates to psychological factors and the Chicago Manual of Style. Since this is the English Wikipedia, we use English grammar and style guidelines, along with generally accepted standards to maintain readability. The standards and guidelines are consistent throughout Wikipedia and not exclusive to Japanese musicians and celebrities. From a left brain/right brain perspective, studies have shown that writing in all caps hinders the readability, i.e., comprehension, speed, ease, and flow of the text for readers. Capital letters have no ascenders or descenders, which help us recognize word shapes, instead of needing to identify each individual letter. De/ascenders permit reading by word units, while all capitals tend to be read letter by letter. Use of de/ascenders greatly improves comprehension and flow for the reader. Hope this helps. Cind.amuse (Cindy) 23:24, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
    But if it how the individual refers to himself or herself, why should we be required to change it?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 23:27, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
    On capitalized letters and readability, you might find this article interesting: [10] Cooldra01 (talk) 14:02, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
    • (edit conflict)This also is a BLP and NPOV issue though. Especially for indivisuals, we also strive to be as neutral as possible, something more important than astetics. If they and other sources use an all caps name, imo WP:BLP and WP:NPOV should come into play else we should not allow any exceptions. Otherwise we are not being neutral; we are saying those who use lowercase or CamelCase can be represented how they want, but those who use all UPPERCASE cannot.Jinnai 23:29, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
      • I agree. I believe all names (especially but not limited to BLPs, and regardless of national origin) should be presented according to their verifiable use in reliable sources, preferably third party sources. That's the standard for everything else in Wikipedia and it is a double standard for all caps names to be treated differently, especially now that other "artistic choice" typesettings like no caps and camel case are allowed. From a truly neutral point of view, whether or not an all caps name is harder to read is not relevant: if that is how the name of the individual (or title of a work, etc.) is most widely presented in verifiable sources, then that is the version that must be used. Furthermore, given that with names we are talking about, at most, a few words being presented in all caps - not whole sentences or paragraphs - I do not think that readability would be meaningfully compromised anyway. Ibanez100 (talk) 01:41, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
      • Agree. If verifiable and reliable third-party sources consistently refer to an individual as an all-caps, non-caps or whatnot, that name should be used. It is not our place to alter an individual's name for the sake of aesthetics. Cooldra01 (talk) 14:02, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
      • This is really interesting for me. As someone who strongly supported making the change regarding the lower case names a few years ago, I now find myself reacting negatively to this idea on aesthetic grounds because, frankly, I don't like it, which is, of course, not a valid argument. This does strike me as a WP:BLP issue and is logically consistent with the change made for lower case names. So I support it as well. -- Irn (talk) 14:30, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

A move request has been started at my first attempt to ignore the rules, found at DJ OZMA. If every source calls him "DJ OZMA", why should Wikipedia have it as "DJ Ozma"? And why can't Kabachan be at KABA.chan, etc.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 00:06, 23 August 2011 (UTC)

It's hardly universal. See DJ Ozma at [11], [12], [13], [14], [15], and others. Do we have an example of name that is more universally all caps? Dicklyon (talk) 16:45, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree that if most independent sources use unusual capitalization of a person's name, when written in the latin alphabet, the English Wikipedia should too. However, sometimes family names are written in all caps to identify it as the family name, in contexts where some people write their family name first and others write family name last. In that situation, the English Wikipedia should use normal capitalization. Jc3s5h (talk) 17:33, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree, and that would be a good point to address in the rules if all caps names become explicitly accepted. In my opinion, the only exception to what you said would be if there is a verifiable and established all caps Romanization of the person's name. However in the vast majority of cases, like you said, the Romanized family name should not be in all caps as that kind of capitalization is something which is done more or less out of convenience than out of any kind of verifiability. Ibanez100 (talk) 19:09, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
@Dickylon: It's still the subject's preference to write his name as "DJ OZMA", as much as it's Ms. Lang's preference to write her name as "k.d. lang".—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 19:08, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm not denying that, but I don't think it's very relevant. Evidence suggests that reliable sources ignore that kind of odd preference, and use normal style instead, as we do, and as we do with odd trademarks and such. Dicklyon (talk) 19:12, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
It's not true that reliable sources ignore nonstandard capitalization of individuals' names. Pick up any reliable Japanese music magazine and you will see numerous individuals' names presented in all caps, no caps, unusual punctuation, and the like. The musician hide (alternately or formerly known as HIDE) is an excellent example of no caps and also an example of all caps. For an English language example, see will.i.am or k.d. lang. Ibanez100 (talk) 19:42, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I only claim that some reliable sources ignore funny styling. We can, too. Dicklyon (talk) 19:59, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Taking this away from the specific DJ OZMA example for a moment: if "some" reliable sources say (for example) Fred, while most reliable sources say FRED, how is it in the best interest of verifiability, neutrality, and other BLP principles to present the less verifiable version in the article? That seems to me like cherrypicking sources to support a personal preference. Ibanez100 (talk) 20:24, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Not only that, but if the majority used fred we'd not have any issue. That seems like a double-standard.Jinnai 20:55, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it seems fair to call it a double standard, if that makes you more comfortable with it. Dicklyon (talk) 20:59, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
Well the best defense of it so far has been "all caps ins't ascetically pleasing" which is probably the least important criteria. Even if the studies are true, there are plenty of other things that aren't (such as black text on a white screen) that we none-the-less don't do. I'm not saying we go exclusively with what the person says, but rather we simply apply the same measures we apply to other non-standard capitalization.Jinnai 21:21, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
So, simply because 5% of reliable, regularly updated and frequently visited sources use DJ OZMA in non-caps means we have the excuse to use it as such, and we will definitely exploit that excuse? And if you already know it's a double standard, you still feel no inclination to change it? I think you just don't like it. Cooldra01 (talk) 08:56, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, yes, but that's just me. I see no big issue in our different standards for lower-casing and upper-casing names. Maybe someone else has an opinion, too? Dicklyon (talk) 06:59, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
The top of this page says: "This page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines." Everyone is certainly welcome to their opinion and it's fine if you don't personally mind the different standards, but the purpose of this talk page is to find and deal with such things. Ibanez100 (talk) 19:24, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

(undent) I think this issue is unusually cut and dry: Wikipedia only uses all caps for acronyms and initialisms, and "DJ OZMA" is neither, so his name should be written on Wikipedia as "DJ Ozma". I simply don't see a pressing need to change this: WP already rewrites trademarks of companies and products for legibility and easy searching (Macy's, Skate, Yellow Tail, Seven, Alien 3, Toys "R" Us...), and a person's stage name isn't really too different from a product's brand or trademark.

I also think it's fallacious to argue that a Japanese stage name suddenly becomes a definitive English name just because it happens to be written in romaji. We convert the name of Japanese artist 浜崎あゆみ into Ayumi Hamasaki, even though the former is her most common name, and in the same vein I don't have a problem with converting the name of Japanese artist DJ OZMA into DJ Ozma. Jpatokal (talk) 02:11, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

浜崎あゆみ and DJ OZMA are two entirely different cases. The first is a name in Japanese characters and therefore must be rendered in Latin characters (romanized) to be legible in English. The result, "Ayumi Hamasaki", is romaji: a Latin alphabet rendition of a Japanese language word or name. "DJ OZMA" is not romaji, because it is not a transliteration of a name that was originally in Japanese. Since it is already in Latin characters, further conversion is not needed: altering it to DJ Ozma is no different than altering k.d. lang to K.D. Lang or will.i.am to William, both of which are no longer considered acceptable on Wikipedia. Altering some Latin alphabet stage names but not others is a clear double standard. Why should a Latin alphabet stage name be altered simply because the man who uses it is Japanese? Ibanez100 (talk) 06:23, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
1) DJ OZMA's legal name is Ozumano Sumitada (尾妻野 純直?), so yes, it actually is a (partial) transliteration. Whether the chicken came before the egg is another question ;)
2) But that's actually irrelevant. The point is that romaji (Latin characters) do not make the name English, any more than BOOK OFF becomes English when written with romaji instead of as ブックオフ. And guess what? The company's article is at Book Off, with normal caps, even though the company always uses all caps for it.
3) Last but not least, being Japanese has nothing to do with it; DJ OZMA should, according to current guidelines, be written as DJ Ozma regardless of whether he's English, Japanese, or Zimbabwean. Jpatokal (talk) 12:00, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
This discussion is a request to change the current guidelines - of course other articles haven't been changed yet. DJ OZMA is an example, not the main point here Cooldra01 (talk) 13:13, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
The legal name is not the issue. The fact of the matter is that he refers to himself, and most of the press refer to him, as DJ OZMA. 浜崎あゆみ is another case because she refers to herself in English as "Ayumi Hamasaki". And this is a request to change the current guidelines when it comes to the names of people, not the names of companies, etc. "DJ OZMA" should be as viable a page name as "k.d. lang" and "will.i.am", regardless of how it is formatted.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 18:11, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Ozumano Sumitada is a transliteration of the name 尾妻野純直 but DJ OZMA is neither a transliteration nor a real Japanese word, and ブックオフ is a gairaigo word which is a transliteration of BOOKOFF (I personally think the article should be at BOOKOFF rather than Book Off, but this discussion is about the names of individuals specifically). However, the intricacies of transliteration to and from Japanese are not particularly relevant to the simple issue at hand. To take this away from the specific example of DJ OZMA (who is just one of the many individuals to which this issue applies), let's say there are two celebrities who are consistently referred to in numerous verifiable, reliable sources as FRED and wil.ma. Some time ago, these would have been altered on Wikipedia to Fred and Wilma. Nowadays, wil.ma is acceptable but FRED is debated and still usually altered to Fred, creating a double standard. If wil.ma gets to be wil.ma, FRED should get to be FRED. Ibanez100 (talk) 18:39, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
  • No all-caps We shouldn't use all-caps for anything but abbreviations that are commonly written that way. As Cindamuse (talk · contribs) noted above, all-caps is much harder for everyone to read. Other types of odd capitalizations (e e cummings, eBay, CamelCase) are fine with me, but I draw the line at all-caps. D O N D E groovily Talk to me 23:24, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
    • Why is this the case? Why should we automatically assume that if something is written in all capital letters it is an abbreviation? If these people write their names in all capital letters, why shouldn't we? There's been an ongoing issue at Yui (singer) where "YUI" (the person's preferred name) has never been used. Similarly, Misia (Japanese singer) is known as "MISIA" everywhere but the English Wikipedia. We are only trying to suggest that these individuals' names be exempt from the capitalization rules, much like anyone who parses their name only in lower case letters.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 23:49, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
      • Would D O N D E groovily like that? I wouldn't. Dicklyon (talk) 00:30, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
        • WP:JUSTDONTLIKEIT? Ibanez100 (talk) 02:06, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
          • My point is that people like to style their names to get attention, like our editor friend D O N D E groovily. That's fine, but doesn't mean that others, including WP, are bound to follow their styling. There is a more established trend to follow the strange downcasing that some people do with their names; I don't know why, but at least they're not obnoxiously attention-grabbing, so they are easier to tolerate. Dicklyon (talk) 03:04, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
            • Toleration is not an argument; it's a matter of individuality. For example, I can't stand will.i.am, as the names seem to blend in with the sentence, but that's just me. Cooldra01 (talk) 16:19, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
              • I don't like that either. But it's not where WP decided to draw the line. Dicklyon (talk) 19:10, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
            • Dicklyon, if we already follow the styling of people who don't use any capital letters or use CamelCasing, why shouldn't we give PEOPLE WHO WANT THEIR NAMES WRITTEN LIKE THIS the same treatment?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 18:07, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
              • We don't, and we shouldn't, because it's widely regarded as obnoxious attention grabbing, or yelling. We don't necessarily respect CamelCase, either, at least not in trademarks and such. Dicklyon (talk) 19:09, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
                • More opinions instead of arguments based in fact. It's a double standard right now that lower case is allowed but all caps is not. If the majority of reliable sources report the name in one form, why should we use a less used form because some people have predispositions to assume that it has to be an acronym or that it's, as you say, "obnoxious attention grabbing, or yelling". If Nao Baba/Sumitada Ozumano/Show Ayanocozey/Naomi Camelia Yazima wishes to be known as DJ OZMA when he wears a blond afro wig, why shouldn't we refer to him as such? Same goes for Takamasa Ishihara, better known as MIYAVI, or Misaki Ito (allegedly this is her name), better known as MISIA.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 19:20, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
                  • Because Wikipedia naming conventions are guided by the ease of use of our readers and the general rules of English spelling and punctuation, not the (putative) wishes of the people its articles describe, much less their marketing departments or PR flacks. Jpatokal (talk) 12:07, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
                    • Therein lies the problem: Wikipedia has given in years ago to non-caps "flacs" as you put it, however WP still bars all-caps. Why? Cooldra01 (talk) 14:56, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
                    • If you're concerned about Wikipedia caving in to notions like neutrality, verifiability, and special attention to accuracy in BLP articles, that train already left the station when Wikipedia began to allow things like k.d.lang and will.i.am. Adding all caps personal names to the list of allowable stylizations is not a radical idea, it's merely clarifying the existing rule by explicitly addressing a different type of stylization (less common in the English speaking world) which may have been a simple oversight when the rule was originally rewritten. If it's not an oversight and the rules on stylization were actually meant to allow wil.ma but disallow FRED, one would think that would already be specified in MOSCAPS. It's not. Something that explicitly mentions how to treat all caps personal names needs to be added to MOSCAPS, and preferably something explicitly allowing it, since the only two arguments I see against it are "I don't like it" and "but we've always done it such and such way", the first of which is not relevant and the second of which is a circular argument. Ibanez100 (talk) 19:54, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
                      • I've commented at length over at WT:MOS-JA, but I'll repeat a little bit of it here. First of all, brian d foy should probably move. Secondly, the reason we've allowed exceptions for all-lowercase but not for all caps, when it comes to personal names, is that all-caps means something in modern Standard Written English, whereas all-lowercase doesn't. When k.d. lang asks us to eschew caps on her name, she's not conflicting with readers' expectations that they must be dealing with an acronym, or else that someone is shouting.

                        I'm not saying this means we shouldn't capitalized DJ OZMA, just that there is a difference between the two sides of the "double-standard". -GTBacchus(talk) 15:36, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

                        • Likewise, I've replied to your WT:MOS-JA comment over at WT:MOS-JA, but I'll also answer more briefly here. I don't know much about brian d foy, but if he prefers an all lowercase name and there are sufficient reliable third party sources for it, I'd definitely support the notion of moving it. However, I disagree with the notion that all-lowercase doesn't mean anything: a noun in all lowercase indicates a common noun as opposed to a proper noun, so there is still an equal reader expectation issue in the sense that (a) a reader might not expect an all lowercase word to represent a personal name (personal names are proper nouns and capitalized), and (b) a reader would expect the word, which looks like a common noun, to be preceded by "a" or "the". In the end both k.d.lang and DJ OZMA are both equal offenders in terms of English rules and reader expectations, and in both cases their stylization could suggest something other than a personal name, which is why I think it's still a double standard to treat one significantly differently than the other. Ibanez100 (talk) 20:28, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
                          • I agree that "k.d. lang" and "DJ OZMA" are equal "offenders" (not my word choice) in terms of English rules, but not in terms of reader expectations. I am a fairly normal reader of English, and those are not equal in terms of my expectations. Are you saying that I'm wrong about my own expectations? -GTBacchus(talk) 22:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
                            • Other than personal preference or personal expectation (the latter being an aspect of preference), if we agree that all caps and no caps are "equal offenders" (my word choice) in terms of English usage, why treat them differently in regard to personal names? Ibanez100 (talk) 22:41, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
                              • It would seem that your argument equates the principle of least astonishment with IDONTLIKEIT. If it doesn't, then how am I misunderstanding you? I'm not talking about "personal" expectation, because I don't matter. I'm talking about what I think an average reader's expectation is. Also, you might note that I do not claim that we need to change DJ OZMA from all-caps. You seem to think that I'm arguing against all-caps. I'm not. -GTBacchus(talk) 16:08, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
                                • If you didn't intend to reference your own personal expectations, then I'm confused as well. When you said "my expectations" and "my own expectations" in your previous message, I assumed you were talking about your own expectations. Ibanez100 (talk) 23:51, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
                                  • Well, gee. When I said "I am a fairly normal reader of English," I was attempting to use myself as a representative of what I think most people's expectations are. I think I have some idea of what most people's expectations are. -GTBacchus(talk) 04:06, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
                        • I also replied to you at MOS-JA. Essentially, there are contexts one can read into words all in lowercase just as they can in all caps. It's only that you may choose not to read connotations into all lowercase that makes it seem like having something in all caps has some special meaning in English that is unique to its capitalization format.Jinnai 21:06, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
                          • Yeah, I disagree. There is nothing in Standard Written English that is signified by all lower-case letters, other than the indication that the word is not a proper noun. In Standard Written English, all-caps are used for acronyms, and in Internet English, all-caps means shouting. There is no standard meaning for all-lowercase other than the default of "no special meaning". This isn't a matter of my choice, it's a simple fact about Standard Written English.

                            There are "contexts one can read into words all in lowercase", but these are not part of Standard Written English, and they are outside of the usual rules of the language. One can "read into" lots of things, but that doesn't make whatever you read into it a standard meaning. All-caps English has a standard meaning, and all-lowercase English does not.

                            "Connotations" are not remotely what I'm talking about here. One can read "connotations" into anything, such as font choice. However, that doesn't mean that font choice has a standard meaning in English. -GTBacchus(talk) 22:52, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

                            • I'm confused. I thought we both agreed above that a lack of capitalization is not meaningless, but indicates a common noun as opposed to a proper noun? Since we are specifically talking about nouns, that is a standard meaning and significant. Ibanez100 (talk) 22:41, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Question - What are the specific guidelines that are at issue here? I see a line near the top that says all-lowercase is okay sometimes; and I see a line in the middle that says all-uppercase should be avoided. But I dont see one that says all-uppercase (persons names) are prohibited. But maybe I'm just missing it. Anyway, if there is such a prohibition, it may be because WP arose in the world of computers and the internet, where all-uppercase is considered rude and a sign of ignorance. So, many WP editors may have a reflexive dislike of all-uppercase. On the other hand, if a person uses all-uppercase in their name, we may as well be fair and permit it in article names, since we permit all-lowercase. --Noleander (talk) 02:15, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
    • There's no specific explicative rule which prohibits all-caps. But editors on WP generally use the quote "Avoid writing with all capitals" on WP:ALLCAPS to prevent most capitalizations from taking place. And yes, it's a double standard which I, and other editors believe is unfair. Cooldra01 (talk) 13:14, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
      • We're also talking about a very narrow exaction here even less than what can use all lower or CamelCase.Jinnai 19:28, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I just noticed something in WP:MOSCAPS#General_principles: "Capital letters are sometimes a matter of regional differences. If possible, as with spelling, use rules appropriate to the cultural and linguistic context." Given that the examples discussed so far have all come from a culture where all caps personal names are nothing unusual, I now feel even more strongly that such capitalizations are already allowed, even preferred, by the MOS. (However, I would still like to see the phenomenon of all caps personal names explicitly addressed in the MOS somewhere for clarification.) Ibanez100 (talk) 23:06, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Have we met any sort of consensus or compromise? The quicker we finish this issue the better. Cooldra01 (talk) 07:19, 8 September 2011 (UTC)


    • I don't have a head count, but the only real reasons I've seen to not allow it are ascetics and the that its not a part of standard English. Given that last bit I'd have to say that argument is no longer applicable and the other amounts to WP:IDONTLIKEIT imo.Jinnai 03:12, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

When is something a proper noun?

The lead says "It may be helpful to consult the style guide on proper names if in doubt about whether a particular item is a proper name," but the linked page is too narrow to be useful; why do we even have it, or link it here? Then the next section says "Capital letters are sometimes a matter of regional differences. If possible, as with spelling, use rules appropriate to the cultural and linguistic context." Can someone say what this is about? Maybe an example?

More generally, how can we include some guidance in a form that's more general than the long list. I don't think we should have sections on ring roads, subways, dog breeds, methodologies, etc., but these are all areas where WP has a lot of capitalization that seems to be at odds with the general scheme "Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization." On other hand, it can often be argued that these "follow common usage", since over-capitalization is very common, especially when people are promoting stuff they care about, or when usage is assessed by things in lists or titles.

Is a proper noun one that is "almost always capitalized" in sentence context in reliable sources? Should we say so? I recall that we used to have something like that, but I can't find it. Dicklyon (talk) 00:00, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

My view is that a proper noun refers to a unique entity, as opposed to a class of entities. The discussion this spun off included 'Extreme Programming', a proper noun referring to a specific, unique and titled methodology, not to be confused with 'extreme programming', which is standard English referring to any programming that may be considered extreme. In much the same way you might have 'a dog named Dog', you also have 'a form of extreme programming named Extreme Programming'. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 23:49, 22 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm familiar with the definition that "a proper noun refers to a unique entity, as opposed to a class of entities," but the trouble is that people make up decriptive names for things out of generic terms, write them in upper case, and hope that they catch, which they don't always. Like with dog breeds: is the name of unique thing (a breed), or of a class of dogs? The insider dog groups usually capitalize them, but the style guides say they're not capitalized, except in group-insider publications. Similarly in many fields. If you look in books for "extreme programming" in lower case, you find quite a few: [16], [17], [18], [19], and [20]; and of the ones that capitalize, many use the "eXtreme" form, presumbably to illustrate the acronym "XP" rather than to imply a proper name. Is it possible that the generic "extreme programming" is used to refer to something other than the named method? Are there sources that illustrate that difference somehow? So what is our criterion for deciding which it is? Do we just accept as proper noun any generic term that someone has used as a name? Dicklyon (talk) 04:54, 23 August 2011 (UTC)
I couldn't offer much insight into dog breeds, it's not an area I have much interest in. In general, modified proper nouns retain their capitalisation unless they've come into common generic use. I know that a lot of dog breeds are named after regions so breeds like Alsatian, Pomeranian, Jack Russell would all make sense capitalised since they're essentially modified proper nouns. Breeds like Shih Tzu (lion dog) are unclear, and combinations of proper and regular nouns like Irish Setter are somewhat vague as well. I'm not sure what the general treatment in English should be for those. I think DGG's sentiment below is close, and I'd alter it slightly to say that when in doubt, use what the majority of reliable sources use. Discretion is necessary, of course, to assess the quality of sources in this regard. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 00:24, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I think that "majority" is far different from DGG's recommendation, which emphasizes "consistently" (and mine, which says "almost always"). Dicklyon (talk) 00:57, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
As I said, I altered DGG's sentiment. The rest is semantics, I interpret 'consistent' in this context to mean 'in agreement with' (by its definition), which is determined by looking at the number of quality sources that are 'in agreement' to determine what kind of capitalisation is used consistently across multiple sources. The difference between 'majority' and 'almost always' is simply a matter of threshold. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 06:44, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Right, we could make an ROC curve for it and then decide where we want to be. My point is that we should aim for a low false-positive rate (don't capitalize things unless we're real sure) by interpreting "consistently" to mean "almost always", as in > 95% of high-quality sources. Or maybe 90%. But I'd live with lower if someone makes a good case for it. But still it should be stricter than "usually capitalized in high-quality reliable sources" or in a "majority" of them. Dicklyon (talk) 06:50, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I think the best rule is that something has to be consistently referred to as a proper name by third party discriminating sources, for us to do so. That most of the available sources may use capitals is not conclusive, because mot of them are likely to just copy the press release. Capitals in this context are promotional. I rewrite qwuite a number of articles of products and the like, and I start off by changing most of the mentions of fell names to "it" or the equivalent, and then changing the capitals to lower case. Those two steps alone are often enough to make something look like an encyclopedic article. DGG ( talk ) 02:56, 24 August 2011 (UTC) so promotional that , in the typical ca I normally remove them as a matter of course DGG ( talk ) 02:56, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
(fell=>full?) Jojalozzo 01:39, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

I have added what I think part of the answer is as a new section at Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Proper names#Compounds with proper names, with specific examples from various fields. I'm sure there will be some issues with some on the specifics, so let's discuss it some more and see if this is what we want. Dicklyon (talk) 06:03, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

See Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Proper_names#new_addition_in_the_middle_of_a_content_dispute. --Enric Naval (talk) 21:12, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
This whole thing looks suspiciously like an attempt to alter WP:MOS#Celestial_bodies via proxy, in order to obtain an advantage in an ongoing content dispute in the MOS talk page. When Dicklyon edited this page, his only two edits were to change the examples from a capitalization that contradicted his position, to one that supported it. This parallel discussion and these changes were never mentioned in the MOS page despite the proposer participating several times. --Enric Naval (talk) 21:46, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Via proxy? No, I'm trying to be open about figuring out what our capitalization style guideline is and how it applies. Dicklyon (talk) 22:31, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
It looks like my attempt to adjust examples to conform to normal capitalization, which is to say lowercasing of things that are commonly found lowercase in sources, has finally attracted a bit attention. Please join in here or at the revised guideline page that I linked above. Dicklyon (talk) 06:12, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
The current test application of the guideline clarification is at Talk:Halley's Comet#Requested move. Dicklyon (talk) 07:46, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

comet and galaxy examples

There was an edit-warring about the comet and galaxy examples, so I have replaced them with examples taken from IAU's official guidelines. This also makes this guideline fall in line with Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(astronomical_objects). --Enric Naval (talk) 19:15, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

It was hardly an edit-warring; just trying to converge on examples that best make the point without too much controversy. Your change is highly biased toward letting the IAU determine our style. You removed the example of "Andromeda galaxy" lowercase from an IAU document in favor of one that's upper case. I hope this will further the discussion (which is why I made your new section a sub-section of the section above about proper names). Dicklyon (talk) 19:20, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
[21] is not "an IAU document", [22] is. --Enric Naval (talk) 19:31, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
How is it not? It's a page of their web site. Dicklyon (talk) 19:42, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
A random page in their website is not "an IAU document". the HTML version of an IAU document is. --Enric Naval (talk) 20:11, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Sky and Telescope uses lower case for your example "eclipse comet". Your example "Milky Way Galaxy" is at odds with our article Milky Way that says "Milky Way galaxy". In books n-grams, the two cases are about equal (with many of the capitalized ones being in titles and headings). Dicklyon (talk) 19:53, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Which means that the article needs to be updated to fit the official IAU guidelines, our own style guidelines and our naming convention on galaxies, just like Andromeda Galaxy already does. --Enric Naval (talk) 20:11, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, I hadn't looked at that section on galaxies. So maybe in writing our capitalization style guidelines, we need to note that in some wikiprojects we turn the styling over to certain outside official organizations in that field. It look like we do similarly for the American Kennel Club on dog breeds, though I haven't found it stated anywhere. Dicklyon (talk) 22:36, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Not to the wikiprojects, but to the subject-specific naming guidelines. They should be linked under the relevant topic, like it already happens in |Animals, plants, and other organisms and make sure that they agree with each other. This is a style guideline, not a naming guideline. If the naming guideline rules a certain capitalization in the name (like in the fauna guideline), then the style guidelines shouldn't contradict it. That would lead to having different styles in the title and in the text. Aka, if the naming guideline says Bald Eagle is a capitalized proper noun, then the style guideline shouldn't recommend against capitalizing it. --Enric Naval (talk) 00:29, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
I just wanted to add here that my position on this issue is somewhere in the middle ground. It's important to distinguish what parts of a descriptor are part of the name and what parts aren't. Andromeda is probably the clearest of the examples - the galaxy's name is 'Andromeda', not 'Andromeda Galaxy'. The word 'galaxy' is external to the proper name and shouldn't be capitalised, in the same way the word 'planet' in 'planet Jupiter' is not part of the name of the planet and shouldn't be capitalised. Seems I wrote this too hastily. 'Andromeda' on its own is the name of the constellation that the Andromeda Galaxy appears within. So it seems 'galaxy' is part of the proper name for the galaxy and should be capitalised. I blame the early morning without coffee for this slip up :)
Milky Way is a borderline case because it is almost always seen in combinations of the form '[the] Milky Way [galaxy]' so I'd defer to the official body for capitalisation there in the same way we defer to IUPAC for the correct spelling of aluminium and sulfur. Halley's Comet is fairly straightforward, since the name of the comet isn't 'Halley's', it's 'Halley's Comet' or 'Comet Halley'. The word 'comet' is part of the proper name and thus is capitalised.
On the order of precedence for guidelines, my understanding is that specific guidelines override general guidelines. We have naming and style guides for specific areas of interest like flora, fauna, chemistry and so on that have guidance that contradicts the base manual of style, and in these cases the specific guidance is intended to take precedence. As it relates to this subject, the manual of style should not explicitly contradict more specific astronomy-related naming guidelines. If the intent is to change the naming guidance for astronomy-related subjects it should be done in the specific area first.
I will not that while I generally support reducing overcapitalisation, this effort to do so has been taken to absurd extremes over the past few months. Capital letters are a very common syntactic element to the English language with extensive and multiple purposes, and we should not be so zealous in our cleanup as to start infringing upon legitimate uses. Capitalisation has subtle but important meaning that is lost when it is inappropriately stripped. To paraquote Einstein, make things as simple as possible, but not simpler. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 00:05, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Like Halley's comet, Andromeda galaxy appears much more often with galaxy as a generic, especially if you discount the many uses in headings and titles where it is capitalized. See [23]. So if we're going to respect usage, those would be easy. On the other hand, if our style is to defer to specialist organization recommendations, then we'd go with the IAU and capitalize them, even though that IAU style is making only limited headway against usage in recent years (even on their own "Naming Astronomical Objects" page as I pointed out above). Dicklyon (talk) 05:52, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Enric insists on having Halley's Comet and Andromeda Galaxy as examples in the capitalization guidelines, even though we are clearly far from any consensus on that decision, or on any policy or guideline that would support it. I agree that having examples of tough cases is a good idea, but only after they are decided. The Halley's comet requested move is 50-50 (much to my surprise, as I expected that to be an easy fix). Our policy is to only capitalize proper nouns – so people argue that things are proper because somebody else's style calitalizes them. And Techno argues for a different approach when he says "Capital letters are a very common syntactic element to the English language with extensive and multiple purposes." In WP, the purposes are only title initial, sentence initial, and proper noun; in other styles, yes, there are other purposes, like emphasis and identification of new preferred identifiers, explainin acronyms, etc. We don't do that; or do we? Dicklyon (talk) 17:46, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
There's confusion out there, and the boundary between generic and titular is being blurred by people and organisations who aim to boost the perceived importance, or somehow capture the uniqueness, of what are in effect common nouns. I note that the WikiProject UK Railways people have descended en masse to !vote against an RM to downcase Chief Mechanical Engineer, despite the fact that their own styleguide is silent on upcasing job-names, but says to downcase "station" in place-names such as "St Lawrence Junction station" (fair enough, the last). They've responded to none of the substantive arguments put at the RM, except that one user has referred to Proper noun in his defence (rather counterproductively, it seems, when you peruse the lead of that article). Tony (talk) 05:09, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I agree with Tony that 'Uppercaseitis' seems to be an issue in some areas of Wikipedia. It probably results from the misguided notion that things like job titles are proper nouns, which are capitalised, instead of common nouns, which are not. We capitalise the letters when creating acronyms, but that process ought not to be applied in reverse when expanding the acronym again: 'chief executive officer' becomes CEO, but should remain uncapitalised when expanded. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 06:59, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Right, but is this really relevant here? There are thousands of chief executive officers, but there is only one "Comet Haykutake". --Enric Naval (talk) 07:11, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Not a good example. There are zero comets Haykutake, and two comets Hyakutake [24]. In books, "comet Hyakutake" is frequently NOT capitalized (though more frequently it is, compared to the older named comets). By the way, the first author of the book I linked is a prof of physics and astronomy, and a member of the IAU; the second has written several books on comets and on astronomy, with major publishers; so I think they count as knowledgable and literate high-quality sources. Styles vary, but for this comet at least, the lower-case from seems to be overwhelmingly more popular in books; 5 of the 10 first Google books hits use lower case, and of the other 5, most are either sentence-initial or in titles; you can dig deeper if you need better evidence that styles vary. Dicklyon (talk) 16:51, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
There is only one "Great Comet Hyakutake"[25], and when sources speak of "Comet Hyakutake" they refer to C/1996 B2, not to C/1995 Y1, another comet discovered by the same person. See also "But this faint Comet Hyakutake was not "the" Comet Hyakutake."[26]. --Enric Naval (talk) 12:34, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Enric, I'd like to get Noetica's opinion on this, but he seems to be scarce at the moment. Sorry to revert your addition of examples: could we discuss it here first ... and could I suggest not using currently contested examples? Thanks. Tony (talk) 09:47, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Talk:Halley's_Comet#Requested_move was withdrawn, which means that the example is no longer contested. These examples were in the long-standing text, until Dicklyon started trying to change them. He was bold, he was reverted several times, and now he is supposed to discuss it.
Also, let's not change the rules depending on one's convenience. the "Comet Hale-Bopp" example in WP:MOS is contested (by me) and you refuse to remove it. --Enric Naval (talk) 12:34, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
This discussion appears to be stuck. Dicklyon tried to get consensus for his new example and failed, so he has now gone and removed the old example, which does have consensus and is in agreement with current practice. Guidelines should not be held hostage like this. --Enric Naval (talk) 21:19, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

OK, this is the long standing text, with grammar fixes so it's clear that it's a comma-separated list of examples:

Names of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, stars, constellations, and galaxies are proper nouns and begin with a capital letter. For example: "The planet Mars can be seen tonight in the constellation Gemini, near the star Pollux", "Halley's Comet is the most famous of the periodic comets", or "The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy".

If you think that these are not the best examples, then please propose replacement examples for discussion instead of removing again the long standing ones. --Enric Naval (talk) 12:46, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

I haven't looked at the principles involved, but whatever text ends up there, shorter is better:

Names of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, stars, constellations, and galaxies are proper nouns and begin with a capital letter ("The planet Mars in the constellation Gemini, near the star Pollux", "Halley's Comet is the most famous of the periodic comets", "The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy").

And it needs to be harmonised with MoS main page. Tony (talk) 13:48, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

I have no problem with that change.
The long-standing text was already harmonised. The main page WP:MOS#Celestial_bodies has used for years these exact same examples. --Enric Naval (talk) 15:14, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Long-standing, but hotly contested when looked at recently, as it's not harmonized with the top-level rule on /Capital letters. Surely we can use something less controversial to illustrate what we agree on? Dicklyon (talk) 00:14, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Please show where these examples are "hotly contested" or "controversial". Halley's Comet move request shows the contrary, that the attempts to remove the capitalization are controversial and hotly contested. You can't keep indefinite roadblocks on guidelines because you don't like their contents. --Enric Naval (talk) 20:05, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that's the place – 50-50 split between caps and not. Dicklyon (talk) 20:47, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
More like 30/60 against moving, which would have resulted in "no consensus to move" if you hadn't withdrawn. (without the neutrals, a 33-66 split against moving)
Tally:
move / follow general manuals of style
Dicklyon
kwami
Tony
Jojalozzo
Noetica
don't move / follow IAU style
Serendipodous
Enric Naval
Powers
Baseball Bugs
Boson
FoxCE
TechnoSymbiosis
Wavelength
Greg L.
Carcharoth
Casliber
neutral/other
Trovatore
70.24.246.151
--Enric Naval (talk) 23:04, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
If you can't find proof that these examples don't have consensus, then I will restore them. You are free at any moment to go and try to change the consensus via Requested Move. --Enric Naval (talk) 21:08, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

There was already an edit warring report about people reverting the examples without discussion. People removing the examples should engage the discussion and provide examples of how these examples don't fit the current practice in celestial bodies or how there is no consensus, instead of simply claiming without any proof that there is no consensus, or that there is significant disagreement, wikipedia is not based in WP:IDONTLIKEIT arguments. --Enric Naval (talk) 08:28, 8 October 2011 (UTC)

Capitalization of hyphenated proper nouns

I've spent the past 20 minutes or so searching WP:MOS and the archives of this talk page, and I have found virtually nothing that states how we should treat capitalization of internal parts of proper nouns (e.g., "Great Black-backed Gull" or "Great Black-Backed Gull"). This is it:

(Part of the problem is trying to figure out what to call this. I've seen people use ambiguous terms like "mid-caps" and "compound words", call the separators hyphens or dashes, and of course spell "capitalisation" with "s" or "z", making for challenging searching.)

Anyway, I'd suggest we make a specific call on whether to capitalize internal elements (there's another variation), add it to MOS:CAPS and WP:MOS, and perhaps add a link to it in MOS:DASH, as many people don't understand the difference between "hyphen" and "dash". ~ Jeff Q (talk) 12:12, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

I don't see any books with internal capitalization in "Great Black-backed Gull", or a few other gulls I checked (except for sometimes in titles, e.g. for Red-Legged Kittiwake). I'm not sure how general it is, but if that's the pattern, it would be useful to say so. But not in MOS:DASH please. Dicklyon (talk) 05:43, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Always go with the sources. The Chicago MOS prescribes capitalising the second element of a hyphenated term if it's a noun or proper adjective, which means 'Great Black-backed Gull' would be correct with 'backed' as a common adjective, however under CMOS styling, 'Great Black-Back Gull' would also be correct with 'back' as a noun. These obviously aren't consistent with each other if written in the same article, which is the main purpose of a MOS to begin with. My stance is that while a manual of style is useful, it does not need to be strictly adhered to where consistency is sacrificed. Sources, on the other hand, do need to be strictly adhered to under Wikipedia's policies, so prioritise them above the MOS. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 23:56, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I find the policy on style and sources quite confusing. Where can I get more info on sources taking precedence over MOS? Jojalozzo 04:36, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

Capitalization more generally

←An interesting issue that has become more pointed recently. To what extent should WP's house style be overridden by external sources? There are several unresolved problems in drawing on outside sources: (1) If they are at variance with our own, what criteria should be used to determine that they trump it? (2) To what extent should factions and subgroups of professions and topics be able to determine exceptions to our house style and on what basis? (3) How is internal stylistic consistency of WP to be pitted against external inconsistency?

A case in point is corporate and professional abuse of capitalisation. In some areas—business studies, management, telecom, IT, to name a few—the capitalisation of what our guidelines and policies say are common nouns is rampant. We need to establish a set of meta-guidelines, in fact, so that when these dissonances arise, the discussion can at least be a little structured. I propose something like these questions should be asked when determining whether a usage should be adopted by WP, whether generally, or by exception for a particular topics or subtopic:

  1. How reliable (i.e., authoritative, widely used, respected) are the external authorities. And are they standard, general styleguides; styleguides (New Harts Rules, Chicago Manual of Style) that claim authority over or give guidance for writing within a profession or field (North American dog-breeding); or in-house guidelines (IBM))?
  2. How divergent are these "reliable sources", and what proportion of styleguides recommend the usage?
  3. What is common practice among writers in the field?
  4. What is the extent of any disadvantage in allowing inconsistency by making an exception to (or even changing) WP's house style? Tony (talk) 05:02, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Agreed that it's an interesting issue. The base question to ask in my opinion is: when should syntax be preserved, and when should it be subject to local style guidelines? To answer that, we need to know if the syntax we observe in sources is specific or is governed by the source's own style guidelines. The latter question has caused some disagreement on Wikipedia recently, with different editors making assumptions about the reasons for a source using a particular syntax (eg. accusations that the source is incorrectly propagating marketing capitalisation) and using those assumptions as a basis for favouring one syntax over another.
My view is that verifiability, as a core policy, trumps our WP:MOS guideline. If an entity (of any kind) is verifiably known as P.A.K.A., should our MOS override this because we don't render dots between letters of an abbreviation? Can a reader verify the name of this entity if we've altered it based on internal rules? I don't believe a manual of style has the authority to make that decision.
Wikipedia's standard is verifiability over truth, and in this case I believe the verifiable syntax we have available to us using our standard methods (by reviewing usage across the majority of reliable sources) should take precedence over the 'truth' of local style guidelines. By its nature, Wikipedia's manual of style is one single style, while our sources should, in theory, represent many different styles, through which we can assess which rendition is most common amongst all the styles available, not just the single style we employ here.
I mentioned in another thread, we already apply the standard of verifiability to spelling. We don't change the name of the movie Inglourious Basterds to Inglorious Bastards because that's the proper way of spelling in English. The title of the movie is intentionally misspelled, verifiably so across multiple reliable sources, and it's our job to reflect what the sources say. In fact, the misspelling of the title of this movie conveys information subtly different to the corrected version, which I won't digress on. The point being, Inglourious Basterds is the verifiable title of the movie, not the true spelling of the words used, and altering that title to correct it would cause it to lose some of its meaning.
With that in mind, why do we treat syntax differently? If changing the spelling of Inglourious Basterds to Inglorious Bastards is inappropriate and causes loss of meaning, why would changing the syntax of DJ OZMA to DJ Ozma be somehow more acceptable, or avoid losing potential meaning? Why is iPod acceptable as an exception to the rule, but Halley's Comet had a proposed move to Halley's comet? I understand the desire to avoid giving names more importance than they deserve because of zealous marketing, but using the verifiability of the majority of reliable sources easily mitigates this - Macy*s may be how the store is marketed, but the majority of sources simply refer to the store as Macy's. The band may label their albums as Koяn, but the sources mostly refer to them as Korn. And if the majority of sources are referring to something with unusual syntax in contradiction of our manual of style, who are we to declare that unusual syntax as inappropriate and modify it? That's not only out of our scope, but it contradicts our mission as a tertiary source. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 06:23, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Verifiability trumps truth: that might be ok in Armenian, but English is sprawling and huge. You're unlikely to get all sources saying the same thing, which is why there's a problem in just saying "Use reliable sources" for style (I presume you mean "style" when you say "syntax"). Calls need to be made by WP because usage and guidance out there tends to vary. If you want an example, sentence case in titles is our house style, yet is not common out there. Tony (talk) 06:35, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
That's related to my point. Under what criteria are you assessing a source to determine if its syntax is a matter of style or a matter of convention? Is Extreme Programming a stylistic capitalisation or an actual proper noun? Is it capitalised because it should be, or because marketing minds behind the term have influenced the source to use capitalisation where it shouldn't? These are subjective assessments that each editor is liable to be doing differently, as indeed has already happened. We don't need to make subjective assessments like that. Our policies on sources already handle situations where sources differ in their factual information, why can't this existing framework be extended to handle cases of differing syntax as well? Given enough sources, it's not usually difficult to establish the most common representation of a name. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 23:37, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Extreme Programming and eXtreme Programming are stylizations. If you look at books, you find both of those, as well as extreme programming, all referring to the same model. It is not the name of an individual anything. But most common may be capitalized, because it's often being promoted as special; going with most common is not a good answer if our house style is to only capitalize proper nouns. Dicklyon (talk) 02:56, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
You'd be mistaken, Dicklyon, and your google-fu could use some work. Extreme Programming is a proper noun referring to a specific and titled methodology. A more appropriate Google Books search across reasonably good quality sources shows nine out of the first ten results use Extreme Programming exclusively, one uses a mixture of eXtreme Programming and Extreme Programming, and none use extreme programming. As a software developer myself, I've reviewed enough quality sources on the subject over the years to have a reasonably good grasp on common usage in the IT discipline.
You have, however, succinctly proven my point. Subjective analysis of the reasons behind capitalisation of a term in sources is precisely what leads editors to reach differing good-faith conclusions. Applying the established framework of intelligent analysis of high quality sources shows that there is, in fact, a clear single answer to the question. The latter is the criteria we should be using for syntax in Wikipedia, not the subjective assumptions of editors. Or in simpler terms, we should be conveying the syntax in use by our sources (verifiability), not what we think the correct syntax should be (truth). TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 04:11, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Why would you say it's more appropriate to look to sources that have "Extreme Programming" in their titles? Aren't those exactly the ones that are likely to be biased toward promoting it more? That's my point. Your "high-quality sources on the subject" are too close to the subject to be treated as independent reliable sources. You assert that it's a proper noun, but many independent sources do not agree with you; many interpret it as a "programming model", whether or not it's also a "specific and titled methodology." Specific and titled doesn't mean proper. The reasonable interpretation is that many are capitalizing it for other reasons. Dicklyon (talk) 04:53, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
What an absurd statement. Expert sources in the software development field are 'too close' to the field it describes to accurately describe the field it describes? This isn't a case of primary sourcing with a person writing about themselves, and knowledgeable sources are exactly the kind we're after here. You seem to be in favour of throwing out the content of comprehensive sources in favour of 'Software Development for Dummies'. To the best of my knowledge, that's not at all in line with the norm here. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 22:25, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that would be absurd; glad you said it, not me. What I said is that they're too close to be "independent", not too close to be accurate; particularly, with respect to styling decisions like capitalization, they are not independent if they have "Extreme Programming" in their titles. Insiders in a field tend to capitalize the stuff they care about, and that's a large part of what's going on here. Is there any other plausible explanation for the fact that capitalization is more common in books with "Extreme Programming" in their titles than in books without, which are still computer-related books, but more independent of that particular topic. Dicklyon (talk) 22:36, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
I fail to see how academics in the IT field are too close to the field to be considered independent. Out of curiosity, did you look at who the authors of the various books in the search results were? Implying that all of them are somehow too close to the subject to be independent doesn't make sense. You'll note, however, that it was your search that required 'Extreme Programming' to be in the title; mine did not. (struck, misread the search terms hastily) I can answer your 'plausible explanation' with a comparison: which source is likely to be more accurate with regards to the description of the process of quantum entanglement, a book by a professor in the field titled 'Mechanics of Quantum Entanglement', or a book by a professor in the field titled 'A Guide to Understanding Physics'? A specialised source cannot be considered inferior (or worse, somehow invalid) on that basis alone, and in fact we tend to rely on specialised sources for accurate information in most scientific fields. Computer science really isn't an exception. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 23:02, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
You need to look at those searches again. I used the negation operator "-" to find books without the topic in the title, to get a bit of independence. You didn't. Google book search puts a premium on finding your search term in the title, so that's all you got. Half (5 of 10) of your hits are in the "The XP Series", so it's not surprising that they have a uniform style of treating their topic as special. Certainly nothing wrong with that, and no criticism of their authors is implied by saying that they are not independent of the topic. I looked again at your 10 hits; only 1 of them (Extreme Programming Pocket Guide) uses "Extreme Programming" exclusively (even if you ignore "eXtreme Programming" as an alternative stylization). The others do so mostly, but betray their editors' true feelings in places like their bibliographic information pages, where they downcase either their own titles or their topic areas (typically including "extreme programming", "Extreme programming", or "eXtreme programming"). The styling adopted in the books is fine for the books, but they're not claiming that they have a proper name in "Extreme Programming." Dicklyon (talk) 23:24, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
I struck the comment on search terms above, was a bit distracted back-checking. I only got three books in the first page of results from the same series, and bibliographical entries are typically supposed to preserve the style used in the source. In any case, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find explicit confirmation that anything is a proper noun so it's little surprise that the sources make no such claim. Looking at our own article on proper nouns, we see the example Mary lives on Floor 3 of the Main Building, which states 'the capitalization shows that 'Main Building' is the name of the building, not just a description of it' and classifies it as a proper noun. This same logic applies to Extreme Programming, which is the name of a process, not just a description of it. In my experience, the capitalisation here is consistent with usage in the majority of quality reliable sources which is the criteria I've argued we should be using for determining this to begin with. 'Is it a proper noun?' is a subjective question we shouldn't be asking, but rather 'What do the sources say?'. It's not simply a matter of style. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 23:41, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
The problem is just that we don't agree on WP style for capitalization. You want to capitalize anything that most sources capitalize, and I only want to capitalize things that "almost all" sources capitalize. I thought the latter was WP style, but it becomes less clear; in particular, every specialized area wants to capitalize their own stuff. The astronomers want to capitalize galaxy in Andromeda galaxy, even though a minority of sources do so, because that's what the astronomy authorities recommend. The dog fanciers want to capitalize retriever in Labrador retriever, because that's what the AKC recommends. The software development geeks want to capitalize whatever O'Reilly capitalizes, because that's what they know. It's all a natural part of English usage: people over-capitalize what they're into. But usage outside of these specialist fields is, in my opinion, more like what WP should strive to follow. Less over-capitalization, reserving caps for actual proper names, not every made-up name, just seems more encyclopedic. You brought up Extreme Programming; it's just one of many possible good examples where insider sources capitalize more than independent sources do. Nothing special in that. Dicklyon (talk) 03:17, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
For specialized fields, you want to follow the conventions of sources outside of the fields, because they differ from the sources inside the fields? --Enric Naval (talk) 09:32, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
No, I don't think "follow the sources" is a useful concept for style issues. But the more independent sources are often useful to get some distance from the insider's view, especially on things like capitalization style where people generally tend to over-capitalize their own important stuff. Dicklyon (talk) 15:23, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree with TechnoSymbiosis. I have often thought lately that simply applying Wikipedia's "verifiability over truth" standard to capitalization would solve nearly all of the disagreements on this talk page. Why should Wikipedia's policy be "verifiability over truth and everything must be citable to reliable third party sources, except in the case of capitalization in which we will impose our own preferences and alter verifiable information to what we think it 'should' be"? That doesn't make any sense and seems contrary to the core concepts of Wikipedia. In my view, using reliable third party sources as a standard for capitalization is not only more in tune with the spirit of Wikipedia in general, it's also a much simpler and more internally coherent policy that would greatly streamline the MOS. Ibanez100 (talk) 05:02, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
  • Verifiability governs content not style. "Verifiability trumps truth" means we present the content of the RS. Can we apply that principle to style if all the sources don't agree? Do we style a sentence that is supported by source Y using Y's style and a sentence supported by source X using X's style and mix up the styles however we like if a sentence is supported by two sources with different styles? What if the sources do all agree? And then a new source is added that doesn't agree?? Please explain this "established framework of intelligent analysis of [the style of] high quality sources" that is not founded on editors' subjective interpretation. Jojalozzo 05:53, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
    • If every source says something different, I would question how many reliable sources are being used and whether the subject is in fact notable. Realistically you are not going to encounter a situation with a notable subject where there are only five sources and one source says KISS, one says Kiss, one says KisS, one says kIss, and and the other says kiSS. So in my mind that is a non-issue. If the sources do all agree and then one source is added that doesn't agree, that's no different than if that were to happen with any other facet of the article: go with the version that is the most verifiable in reliable sources. If there is a less common version that is also notable for some reason, note it. If two versions are equally verifiable, choose one and make note of the other. If the other version later becomes more verifiable, change it to that. All of these examples are simply applying Wikipedia's standard of verifiability to capitalization. Ibanez100 (talk) 23:55, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I strongly disagree. When we add a verifiable source that contradicts other sources with respect to content, we present that new content in the article. We don't just "make a note of it" it because it is not consistent with what's already there. Inconsistent content presents no problem - everyone accepts it as part of the give and take of intelligent discourse. But we want a consistent style so when two verifiable sources have different styles, we cannot include them both and thus have to violate verifiability as you propose ("choose one and make a note of the other"). That's exactly why verifiability works for content but not for style. Jojalozzo 03:55, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
  • That's what I meant by "make a note of it": present it in the article if it is notable. Let's say there is an individual whose name is usually presented in reliable third party sources as GEORGE, but is sometimes presented in reliable third party sources as george. The lead can go something like: "GEORGE (born 1992 in Kalamazoo), sometimes known as george, is a random example. GEORGE was the first example to ..." Of course, editors should use their own judgment as to whether the less-common capitalization is notable enough for inclusion. I never suggested to violate verifiability; quite the opposite, as the entirety of my two comments above is in favor of using verifiability as the standard for capitalization. My words "choose one and make a note of the other" were specifically in regard to what could be done in the rare event that two capitalization styles are exactly equally represented in reliable third party sources. A far more serious violation of verifiability would be to (again using the example above) discard both GEORGE and george in favor of George, thus rejecting verifiability entirely in favor of arbitrary stylistic concerns. Ibanez100 (talk) 06:11, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
  • I assert that the capitalisation of names is not a purely stylistic concern. Capitalisation and other syntactic elements like hyphens and apostrophes confer distinctive meaning to a name that are simply incorrect if altered. 'van Buren' and 'Van Buren' are not the same and for any given individual, only one is correct. 'Chesterfield-Smith' and 'Smith-Chesterfield' have different meanings even though the low-level intention of the hyphen to produce a double-barrelled name is the same in each. While I have no objection to following standard style for common sentence structure and word representations, names are an exceptional case that should never be subject to alteration on stylistic grounds. To do so alters the meaning of the name away from what was intended. It's not our job to preserve naming syntax to the exclusion of all else, but it is our job to accurately reflect what the sources say. If it can be determined that the majority of reliable sources use a non-standard syntax, we have no grounds to change it. Our project's main pillars trump stylistic concerns, in both letter and intention. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 22:53, 11 September 2011 (UTC)
      • Techno, syntax means word order. Could you explain what you mean in your use of this item? I've heard no convincing arguments in this thread that my initial list of four criteria (= discussion points) is not a good idea for making stylistic determinations. For this purpose, I've changed the bullets into numbers, to make referral easier. Tony (talk) 03:00, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
        • In my understanding, syntax can mean either the specifics of word order, or the broader subject that concerns itself with all of the contributing rules and practices relating to sentence construction, including punctuation and capitalisation. I use the term in the broader sense. To address your numbered points:
  1. As far as names are concerned, the external authorities we should be relying on are relevant, good quality sources. What external style guides do may certainly be relevant for formulating our general style guidelines, but I believe names should be an exception in which accurate reproduction is more important than local style concerns. In areas like science where there is such a wealth of sources that it can be difficult to determine a forerunner, deferring to official representative bodies is appropriate, as we do with the IUPAC for chemistry topics.
  2. In practice, sources can be completely divergent on syntax, in much the same way that sources can be completely divergent on content. Applying the same (or at least similar) approaches to resolving both simplifies and streamlines our processes for determining what to use.
  3. Common practice should be determinable from examining available sources. In most fields there's an identifiable 'majority' standard of practice, and in areas where that's unclear (aluminium vs aluminum, sulphur vs sulfur, etc) it's possible to defer to official representative bodies like IUPAC for chemistry, IAU for astronomy and so on. In the absence of both of these, editors should be able to come to a consensus through discussion, as happens in every other situation.
  4. Wikipedia should strive to be as consistent as possible, without compromising the precision of our information. Syntax in general - and capitalisation especially - conveys meaning (eg. iPod has a differed meaning to Ipod, with the lowercase 'i' having a specific technology implication that is lost if altered) and our in-house style should not attempt to alter that meaning. Our style can quite happily apply to general writing without adversely affecting the meaning of names.
Hopefully this addresses your questions. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 22:53, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

English translations of French song titles

When presenting the English translation of a French song title, does the English translation follow the French style for text formatting of titles (capitalizing only the first letter of the first word)? Or does it follow capitalization rules for English titles (capitalizing the first letter of all words except for connecting conjunctions, prepositions, and articles)?

  • A "Chanson sans paroles" ("Song without words")
  • B "Chanson sans paroles" ("Song Without Words")

Rjaklitsch (talk) 12:31, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

According to MOS:ALBUM, it looks like the standard is to use the French capitalization style in that situation, though it also says that in most cases you shouldn't translate it at all. Ibanez100 (talk) 00:39, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Regarding the presentation of English translations of French titles, the Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition) has this to say on English translations of foreign titles:

14.108 Translated title supplied by author or editor
If an English translation of a title is needed, it follows the original title and is enclosed in brackets, without italics or quotation marks. It is capitalized sentence-style regardless of the bibliographic style followed. (In running text, parentheses are used instead of brackets; see 11.6.) See also 14.110.

So according to CMS, the correct style for translated glosses in running text is "Chanson sans paroles" (Song without words). For published English translations, standard rules on titles apply.
Rjaklitsch (talk) 13:38, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Advice on job-title capitalisation?

There's been a move request at Talk:Chief Mechanical Engineer to downcase the title, per WP:Job titles (part of the title policy), and the MoS section on the same point. The move request was notified at the UK Railways WikiProject (at variance with the generality of the article title, this article was intended to be specifically about chief mechanical engineers in British-related railway companies). At that stage, this was expressed in the one-line lead followed by a huge number of unreferenced examples of holders of such positions mostly in the 19th century. In trying to fathom the theme of the article, I failed to see that the title should have been more specific as well as downcased: the job title is used generically (still is) and the scope is restricted at the same time (not US-related, not chief mechanical engineers in power stations or on ferries or in aeronautics or factories).

Now, the railways editors really care about the notion of chief mechanical engineers—in good faith, like the wider phenomenon of corporate and professional upping of importance via capitalisation—but where will it all end? They descended on the RM and !voted en masse against downcasing.

Because I pointed out the shambles the article was in, an editor has kindly worked on it, adding references and expanding the information. But the theme is still scoped in relatively narrow terms, and in the main text it's not, for example, Joshua Smithers, Chief Mechanical Engineer, Northampton Railway Company.

I do think we need a centralised approach to this. Almost the entire category of transport occupations is in lower case, as are just about all other occupation categories. Why must this one stick out? And is it hogging the name-space of the generic article that probably should/will be created on chief mechanical engineers? (There are quite a lot of chief this and chief that articles, surprisingly.)

Your advice and comments at the RM would be appreciated—maybe I'm confused now. I'm leaving the same notice at WP:TITLE and WT:MOS.

Thanks. Tony (talk) 16:01, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Well it soon will be: for example, Joshua Smithers, Chief Mechanical Engineer, Northampton Railway Company. Pyrotec (talk) 08:25, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I'm not following. What will soon be what? Jojalozzo 13:32, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
This issue is a fairly widespread one, certainly far exceeding the boundaries of Wikipedia. There's no hard and fast rule in the English language for this. Typical attitudes that I've seen are that titles before names, such as 'Chief Mechanical Engineer Joshua Smithers' are capitalised as they become part of the name, but titles after names, such as 'Joshua Smithers, chief mechanical engineer' are downcased as they become an identifying appositive. I'd rather see Wikipedia adapt to appropriate context-sensitive usage, as we do with the 'American English vs British English' issue, than to try to assert a particular rule.
That said, in the case you gave above, WP:Job titles actually supports the capitalised version of the title. Quoted, 'The correct formal name of an office can be treated as a proper noun, so it is correct to write "Louis XVI was the French king" or "Louis XVI was King of France"', from which it can be quite reasonably and logically argued that 'Chief Mechanical Engineer' is the formal name of an office and is allowed to be treated as a proper noun. TechnoSymbiosis (talk) 23:30, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Request for Comment: Capitalization of common names of animal species

Request for comment on mewithoutYou band name

The band stylizes their name as mewithoutYou, however it is my opinion that the name should be capitalized as MewithoutYou at the start of sentences and when standing alone. An anonymous editor, or possibly several, is (are) objecting and changing it to a leading lower case in all instances. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 15:50, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

The band's manager has decided to enter the fray and is modifying the article so that instances of the band name start with a lower case letter in some instances. Assistance would be requested on the article's talk page. --Walter Görlitz (talk) 22:03, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

Names of "laws" (adages)

In List of eponymous laws we see that none (or few depending on recent up-caser activity) of these laws capitalize "law". In List of scientific laws and List of scientific laws named after people we also see "law" lower-cased exclusively. This lower-case usage in technical and scientific categories is an established style in this project and also well reflected in the literature. (There are many exceptions in computer science and engineering where Up-Cased Names for Ideas is more the norm.)

However, we see how "laws" (adages, really) that have caught on in popular culture are capitalized in most usage - due, I think, to the prevalence of such usage in popular media where style is dictated by the requirements of sales and marketing. Here is a sample of such "laws":

Also see Category:Adages.

Do we want to make an exception to the MoS for these adages in fiction and popular culture? Jojalozzo 16:46, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

I oppose any such change. We have a perfectly coherent and consistent guideline in this matter, and it is in accord with CMOS, New Hart's Rules, OED (in most of its definitions for such laws, as supported by most of its relevant citations), and most other authorities that take notice of the issue. Yes, there is a tendency in popular media to capitalise, especially in reporting or using viral coinages like "Murphy's law". When such whimsical expressions find their way into serious published work, they are treated variously. Wikipedia can choose consistency, simplicity, and rationality here; or it can bend to inferior practice. I know which I prefer for the Project.
NoeticaTea? 00:45, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

First of all, let's make clear that physics and scientific laws are not capitalized in sources and would not be affected by this change.

Fictious laws occur capitalized in sources. For example Finagle's Law or Parkinson's Law. For example, Murphy's Law is capitalized in both Merriam-Webster dictionary and Oxford English Dictionary. And the "The new office professional's handbook" by American Heritage Dictionary recommends to capitalize "popular and fictitious laws". "popular laws" is too vague to be useful, but it should be easy to distinguish which laws are fictitious and which ones aren't.

For computing and economic law, like Moore's Law, the results vary depending on which law you look at. I see, for example, that "Dictionary of computer and internet words" from American Heritage Dictionary doesn't capitalize Moore's law. So I don't think it's necessary to capitalize those.

So, let's capitalize only fictious laws. Nothing more to add, Jojalozzo already explained well. --Enric Naval (talk) 17:10, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

  • No new exception to MOS - The MOS currently discourages capitals, and it has no specific guidance for fictitious laws. It appears that many fictitious laws are capitalized by the sources, and thus the WP community may make case-by-case exceptions as needed, which is okay, since it is acceptable for WP to make exceptions to conform to the sources. It may be that, as the decades go by, these capitalized laws may become lower case in the sources, who knows? But adding a new rule to the MOS would be overkill, and WP:Instruction creep. Better is to leave the MOS alone, prefer lowercase, and just handle this on a case-by-case basis in individual articles. --Noleander (talk) 18:49, 29 September 2011 (UTC)
  • MOS:CAP is being cited to prevent those moves, and opposers say that capitalization is a style issue that doesn't need to follow sources. That is why the exception is needed. --Enric Naval (talk) 17:27, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but the whole point is that each of these fictitious laws need to be examined in any event on a case by case basis. The MOS lowercase rule is the starting point. The community can agree to upper case for individual articles, if the sources so indicate. That is normal WP procedure: the system is working. If we were to add a new rule to the MOS ("Uppercase is okay for ficticious laws") then that would not help at all, because many fictitious laws use lower case, and so we'd still have to have article-by-article discussions to examine the sources. (Indeed, the proposed new exception could backfire, because some editors may mistakenly use uppercase for laws which sources treat as lowercase)! In other words: it is already WP policy that MOS guidelines can be overridden, on a case-by-case basis, if the community consensus so agrees, after examining the sources. The very top of this MOS guideline says "use common sense in applying it; it will have occasional exceptions." --Noleander (talk) 17:33, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
Why should the style of sources be considered in applying Wikipedia's MoS? Isn't the purpose of a style guide to maintain consistency and minimize confusion? Isn't style supposed to be independent of other style?
What is the benefit of modifying style on a "case by case basis"?
Does "use common sense in applying it; it will have occasional exceptions" mean use sources' style whenever most differ from Wikipedia's? Why is that common sense? Jojalozzo 11:51, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
  • No exception to the MoS for adages. Agree with Noetica above, that Wikipedia has it's own style with respect to this issue, and we should be consistent with that style guide regardless of the style used by popular media. LK (talk) 09:31, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
  • No new exception - These fictional laws are treated in different ways by sources, but where they commonly are capitalized in said sources, I think a consensus can just be made to have exceptions on those articles; a new rule at MOS seems to me as though it would be far too much. ~~ Hi878 (Come shout at me!) 00:27, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
  • No exception – there's no reason to not just treat these pop laws like all the others, and use WP's lower-case style. Dicklyon (talk) 03:03, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
  • No exception in cases involving a possessive noun. I'm agnostic, though, about cases like "(T)he (T)hree (L)aws of (R)obotics". Seems to me that MoS does not cover this type of case. Capitalisation may possibly help in some cases (e.g. to stop the reader thinking "What three laws? No-one's mentioned anything about laws..."). --FormerIP (talk) 23:21, 18 October 2011 (UTC)