Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Computing

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WikiProject Manual of Style
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Needs overhauling[edit]

I've lightly copy-edited the top, but I seriously doubt whether anyone takes any notice of this guideline as it stands. One change I made needs expert review, I think: "Video game vendors that make sequels and prequels for their most notable products sometimes affix to the name of a product a different number to the version number." It was pretty clunky before. Is the meaning correct now?

I see two structural issues straight off:

  1. It starts with very specifically targeted advice, about starter packs. It should start with broad advice about style that applies across the board (with exceptions, perhaps, but they should be noted for editors' benefit). I've gnomed through a few related articles and found commonly repeated stylistic horrors, which underlines the need for a more useful MoS/Computing.
  2. There are probably opportunities for merging guidelines into this one.

I'm going to leave a note at MoS main page, at whatever WikiProject is relevant, and at the talk pages of a few people in the area who I know are interested in style.

Your thoughts? Tony (talk) 01:22, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the light copy-editing. Much appreciated.
As for the two other points:
  1. It starts with "common mistakes". That's the broadest topic I could find. And yes, it targets very specific audience, i.e. those who write computer articles. I hope I didn't miss anything. Did I?
  2. Unfortunately this article is an essay and not part of the "official" manual of style. (One day, it will be.) Until then, we must be careful not to merge it with anything official without gathering consensus first.
Fleet Command (talk) 06:27, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks FC. But if it's not part of the MoS, why does it have MoS/ in its title? Something's amiss here, and I'd say a computing/telecom MoS subpage is very much needed. Tony (talk) 06:35, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Simply because I loved the title and I wanted it to become MOS one day. I asked an admin if I am allowed to use that title and he said he cannot find a clause that prohibits me and as long as I put the essay tag on it, it is fine.
And tell me about telecom. Maybe we can expand this essay. Fleet Command (talk) 06:54, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, I think it needs to be a proper MoS page if MoS is in the title, and it's clearly a slip-up that whoever changed the title to our new formatting, with the slash, didn't notice the essay template. You might be interested in contributing to the thread at MoS main page, where a few other possibly similar pages have been mentioned. Telecom and computing ... is there a distinct boundary between them? What really counts is utility for editors who seek stylistic guidance. Sorry to be critical (now it's clear that it's largely the effort of one editor). Your expertise would be welcome: these topics are a bit of a mess in stylistic terms. How does this page relate to Wikipedia:WikiProject Computer science/Manual of style (computer science), in your view? Is there an overlap, and could they be conflated? Tony (talk) 07:09, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
I proposed a merger and received a non-negotiable "No"! But they do overlap. As for telecommunication, it is in direct connection with IT. For instance, take VOIP and unified communications. And yes, this article was almost entirely my work. (I felt there was a lot of unwritten consensus lying around that needed writing.) Not anymore! You copy-edited and now it is a joint work. That's how joint works start. :) Fleet Command (talk) 07:46, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Command-line examples is the other obvious merger candidate. In the meanwhile, I would like to make an attempt to add some proposals for the issues we recently ran into, for example on article titles. W Nowicki (talk) 18:23, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

We definitely need guidance as to upcasing and downcasing. It's clear that protocols, trademarks, and proprietary names should be upcased, but systems and servers and equipment items such as USBs (expanded) need to be dealt with. This is one of the glaring needs. Tony (talk) 02:59, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
WP:MOS already has a section on this, so I guess that would be redundant. Fleet Command (talk) 11:47, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, you'd think so; but the devil is in the detail in computer and telecom articles, where fine judgements sometimes need to be made concerning whether an item is a proper or common noun. MoS expresses the general principle, but it hasn't been enough to stop rampant capitalisation, which in the end makes the text harder to parse, especially for non-experts. Tony (talk) 12:00, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

Well just like in normal articles, I wanted to summarize and link to the appropriate in-depth discussion. Indeed, the problem is for topics like DSL, which started as one specific protocol (thus proper noun) but evolved into a generic term for a family of related technologies (so is being proposed now to down-case). Anyway, please review my proposal and let us discuss if it makes sense. We can then add other guidelines as we run into related issues I hope. W Nowicki (talk) 18:40, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

Sorry, Nowicki, is your proposal linked here? Tony (talk) 00:56, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

I meant my changes to the proposed MoS/Computing, for which this is the talk page. delta here W Nowicki (talk) 16:55, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Styleguide version history / release history tables[edit]

I'd like to introduce the Template:Version template to this styleguide, with the goal to establish it as a standard. It simplifies creation of release histories, standardizes release stages and makes the content more accessible:

Version Description
Old version, no longer supported: 1.0 Old version
Older version, yet still supported: 1.8 Older version, yet still supported
Current stable version: 2.0 Current stable version
Future release: 3.0 Future release

I imported it from the german de:Vorlage:Version and I synchronize it manually. It is used widely on de:WP and begins to grow on en:WP Please comment and/or help improving the template. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jesus Presley (talkcontribs) 20:53, 26 November 2012 (UTC)

Currently, in English Wikipedia, we have our own style. See articles like Internet Explorer 10#Release history, Firefox (actually Template:Firefox usage share) or Google Chrome#Release history.
Color Meaning
Red Old release
Green Stable release
Blue Beta release
Purple Dev release
But in my humble opinion, this is a Color of the bike shed issue. It must not be put into the manual of style without strong consensus. Please consider calling in additional input. RfC, village pump or various WikiProjects (software, computing, Microsoft, Apple, etc.) may be used to attract input.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 21:11, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
P.S. Fragments should not end with period. Also, I forgot to mention: I don't like it. Best regards, Codename Lisa (talk) 21:37, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Good ideas to use such a template, but why with colours? As someone with (slight) visual acuity problems, I hate that people don't think about those who have problems. There is nothing wrong with the default black on white that most of Wikipedia is published in. --Biker Biker (talk) 21:39, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Hi. Actually, template documentation page says this template ({{version}}) populates accessibility data. (No more explanation is supplied.) In addition, as much as I appreciate your attention for visually-impaired people, I find that people blessed with the gift of sight also need attention. Wikipedia, for the most part, is black and white. (Images add color but are constantly removed with reason that amount to excuses.) Best regards, Codename Lisa (talk) 22:29, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Thanks so far for the comments. Accessibility is provided by replacing the color codes with replacement information inside the "title" attribute. As I only translated the template, I cannot report of more accessibility features. The color scheme (of course) is replacable, it can easily be adopted to the one that CN Lisa mentioned. However, above colors are not consistant at all across en:WP. IMHO it makes sense to introduce one standard - and I didn't find any styleguide that decides on this. I am happy with differing styles for (german) de:WP and en:WP. Jesus Presley (talk) 23:25, 26 November 2012 (UTC)
Green tickY I moved this discussion to the template talk page. Please continue there. Jesus Presley (talk) 01:27, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Cost and license should not be combined[edit]

Cost and license are entirely different things and should not be combined. Cost deals with money, licensing deals with rights. Palosirkka (talk) 19:53, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Hi. I entirely agree with "Cost and license are entirely different things and should not be combined".
What I don't agree is what you call "cost" and "pricing information" (judging by our conversation in your talk page.) For example, you regard "freeware" as word that specifies pricing information. I don't. Most Wikipedia, by the look of it, does not. (Evidence: The volume of editing that you have done so far and is disputed. When you find an entire world in need of editing, please take into consideration that your point of view may not have consensus.)
Freeware, by definition, is proprietary software that can be used and often shared with family and friends without restriction, free of charge. "Proprietary", "used ... without restriction" and "shared ... without restriction" are use term. "Free of charge", yes, it is price. So, "freeware" is three parts licensing info and one part price info. Evidently, you have only taken "free" and "ware" and thought it is pricing. No.
So is the commercial software: "Commercial software" indicates that software may only be used by licensee, may not be shared, restrictions such as number of computers and/or number of users is in effect, a price must be paid. So, the term "commercial software" is three parts licensing terms, one part price.
One thing I find disturbing in your editing is that although you wish to eliminate the distinction between "freeware" and "commercial proprietary software", calling them all "proprietary", you take your time to separate "free software" into "GNU GPL" and "MPL".
That said, since we already disagree, I called in an RFC. Best regards, Codename Lisa (talk) 20:10, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
Looks like our little spat is a misunderstanding, a communication failure. I concentrated too much on the rousing allegations of censorship as that is something I'd never do. I guess neither of us assumed good faith. What you say about freeware and commercial software makes sense after all. You have convinced me now. Palosirkka (talk) 15:41, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
However, looks like your definition of commercial software differs from the one in the article which says that commercial software is a commentary on non-zero price alone. Palosirkka (talk) 15:47, 10 August 2013 (UTC)
Hi. About the "commercial software", I never disagreed with you. I agree completely. But it is exactly for that reason that Wikipedians always write "proprietary commercial" to indicate that a usage right is intended. (I myself write "commercial proprietary" to better deliver the message.) As the article says, "free software packages may also be commercial software". So, neither "proprietary" nor "commercial" alone sufficiently describe a licensing term because proprietary is a source model and commercial is a price model unless it is used in a context that indicates proprietary source model. (This "unless" portion is part of the key to our dispute.)
Best regards, Codename Lisa (talk) 18:11, 10 August 2013 (UTC)

Tenses in articles about discontinued software[edit]

This has come up in the FAC for The project stopped in 2011. I see that, for example, RSTS/E is entirely in past tense, Microsoft Works has a not-entirely-clear mix of tenses. I put entirely into past tense - but is there a perceptible general practice about how to address dead software? - David Gerard (talk) 19:52, 17 October 2013 (UTC)

There are the school teachings, you know. Facts about software that are true regardless of time should be written in simple present tense while timed events should be in other tenses. For example, Windows 95 is an operating system; it is a discontinued operating system but an operating system nonetheless. Discontinuation does not turn it into a tomato. So, "Windows 95 was an operating system" is wrong.
That said, tense consistency is an issue of story books. Wikipedia articles are not story books to have a consistent tense. There is nothing wrong with mixed tense.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 20:39, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I see what you mean. OTOH, for RSTS/E, was an operating system would not be unreasonable. (The software, company and hardware are long dead; old geeks might fire it up in an emulator once or twice just because they can and go "ooh, lookit that!") But OOo is not quite that dead. I might try recasting it along the lines you suggest - David Gerard (talk) 21:13, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Or not. Microsoft Works is basically along the lines you suggest and comes across as a mess in terms of tenses, often switching in the same sentence. It's not striking me as an example to emulate - David Gerard (talk) 21:35, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
Hi. You are treating software like humans! It is an interesting take, one that shows your sensitivity to accuracy; but metaphor and Wikipedia are not really in good terms. Take this example: "Julius Caesar was a ruler". To our knowledge, he was not born a ruler but became one and ceased to be one when he died because rulership is invalidated with death. Now, which one of these two sentences are correct about a dead wife? "Lisa Hayes was my wife" or "Lisa Hayes is my wife"? That depends on the culture; some take death as an end to existence, while others take it as another great adventure. And it is generally not a good idea to say "Lisa Hayes is my wife" peremptorily to a woman one is dating.
But consider cold hard facts: "Halberd is a two-handed pole weapon." "Sword was once a widely-used weapon." "Gun is a modern weapon."
If we go by a rule-based approach, "To be" verb in all these sentences is a state verb and changing it to past tense requires the state to be invalidated. "Dead" is also an absolute adjective; one thing is either dead or not. That's why in legal context, which is strictly rule-based, Lisa Hayes is treated as a deceased wife, not an ex-wife, and Julius Caesar is a deceased ex-ruler. Treatments like "was my wife" are not rule-based; they are emotional. Saying Windows 95 was an operating system because we don't see it around is an emotional treatment of Windows 95. A rule-based treatment says "Windows 95 is an operating system which we don't see around much." (You and I both could argue that "don't see it around much" is also an emotional treatment too.)
IMHO, the fact that Microsoft Works is badly written and is using rule-based treatment of the tenses does not sanction emotional treatment of the subject. The solution is to resolve the badly written state through a rewrite that still supports rule-based treatment of the tenses.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 22:52, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
tl;dr "write well". Well, yes ;-) - David Gerard (talk) 07:26, 18 October 2013 (UTC)


Can I add to License section clarification and standardization on license tags. For example:

  1. GPL instead GNU GPL or GNU General Public License
  2. BSD instead BSD License or Berkeley Software Distribution or Berkeley Unix
  3. MIT instead MIT License or X11

--Rezonansowy (talk • contribs) 20:34, 2 November 2013 (UTC)

No, you can't; the guideline reflects community consensus and currently there is no wide consensus on restricting any of these correct forms. The community is free to choose whichever it likes. In fact, per WP:STABILITY, ArbCom has previously blocked people who made such edits.
Best regards, Codename Lisa (talk) 20:51, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
In fact, I would only to make a provocation to discussion about it. Anyway thank you for quick info, let us begin the discussion to reach the consensus. --Rezonansowy (talk • contribs) 21:51, 2 November 2013 (UTC)
First, let me tell you my feelings about such a mandate: I see no harm in using either "GPL" or "GNU GPL" and bluntly spoken, I think I'd be a very mean and sadistic person if I forced other people to surrender their freedom and stop using "GNU GPL" in favor of "GPL".
Second, A simple talk page discussion with a few dozen participants is not enough to override ArbCom sanction.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 10:01, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
I forgot to mention an important thing that this will be useful only in infobox. I agree with it, editors may write as they wish. Determined writing of the license in infobox will be also useful when infobox entries will move to Wikidata. Besides, I don't want to override any sanctions. If this is a wrong place to propose it, then just please tell me where i have to do it. --Rezonansowy (talk • contribs) 12:05, 3 November 2013 (UTC)
Hi. Policy proposal ordinarily go to Village Pump. But in this case, you must first contact an arbitrator to check with him. Basically, you should state what you want to do and provide a very strong reason as to why this case is so urgent that should be exempt from past ArbCom sanctions, e.g. trying to prevent a huge damage to Wikipedia which cannot be prevented by any less restrictive measures. If he or she confirmed that you are indeed right and something should be done about it, then you proceed with the proposal in the Village Pump. There, you must collect a huge consensus.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 13:20, 5 November 2013 (UTC)
OK, thank you. I'll try to take this challenge :). --Rezonansowy (talk • contribs) 12:27, 6 November 2013 (UTC)

Linux vs GNU/Linux[edit]

I basically agree. I've rephrased it a bit as a guideline rather than a rule (because the exceptions do exist, and legislating against editorial judgement is silly). I've also toned down the second paragraph, which came across as condescending. Do we have handy links to the discussions, since we're referring to them? - David Gerard (talk) 13:57, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

Hello, David. Thanks a lot for the review, though I'd rather we supply the reasons based on which the discussions are ended, i.e. WP:COMMONNAME and WP:NPOV.
The first paragraph, however, is where I tilt my head a little. "Generally," is redundant. (All MOSes have generally written on them.) "Exceptions include proper [...]" does not apply here at all because when you say "proper names", you are automatically walking outside the domain of "family of operating systems". So, this not an exception.
I am going ahead and fixing it, but if you didn't like it, you know where the revert button is, right? Bless you.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 23:16, 4 January 2014 (UTC)
Looks good, cheers! - David Gerard (talk) 09:28, 5 January 2014 (UTC)

How is "Freemium" a software license?[edit]

"Freemium" answers the question of "do I have to pay for it" not "what are my rights related to its use". The latter is the concern of licensing. 02:07, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

I'd appreciate if you kept this discussion in one forum instead of multiple. (Just add notices to the forums to publicize the topic).
"Freemium" is a license type (similar to shareware, freeware, free and open-source and commercial software), not the name of a pre-written licensing text such as GPL or GFDL. As for "what are my rights related its use", yes, the word does imply that: Freemium type EULAs grant rights similar to freeware, but stipulate that with a payment, the user can receive additional features or services. For the exact nature of your rights, you must read the license agreement itself. (But again, this is true when you know a program is free and open-source but do not know whether it is under Apache license or GPL.)
Perhaps it helps alerting the participant what brought you here: The issue of what to put into the infobox to describe concisely and as much as possibly accurately, the licensing terms of a piece of software that allows one to use its basic features freely but requires payment for its additional features and services. Surely, we cannot copy and paste the license agreement in there. "Freemium" is an excellent compromise.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 02:22, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
I'll keep the discussion here since it has the correct audience and greatest visibility.
Shareware, freeware, FOSS and commercial software aren't a licenses either, although 'Proprietary commercial software" is. GNU General Public License, GNU Lesser General Public License and BSD License are clearly licenses and are some of the choices that FOSS may use. The former are distribution models and not licenses.
If a product does not have a standard license type it's a proprietary license. So "Proprietary freemium" would be a better description. Walter Görlitz (talk) 02:52, 15 January 2014 (UTC)
Hi. I do not disagree with your proposal in the last paragraph (because it is a good compromise) but I myself won't go with it because when an article goes to WP:FA, they ask "why proprietary freemium? Do we have non-proprietary freemium too?" The answer is "no" and the author is forced to remove "proprietary".
As for your first paragraph, correct, they are not licenses (I said the same myself); they are license types (mind the word "type" at the end). But also, their use in |license= field is the best compromise to accurately and yet concisely tell the reader what are the licensing terms without risking a revert on the grounds of publishing extremely detailed info that interests a minority.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 03:05, 15 January 2014 (UTC)


Apparently only Microsoft (and those rehashing their press releases) use term "x64". Term "x86-64" appears to be used much more widely, and the article about the platform is called x86-64 either. I propose replacing all "x64" suggestions with "x86-64". Opinions? — Dmitrij D. Czarkoff (talktrack) 12:36, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

I am afraid your proposal is already overruled by WP:ArbCom. (See footnotes in MOS:STABILITY.) Both forms are currently in widespread use, hence both forms are acceptable.
Best regards,
Codename Lisa (talk) 00:31, 31 July 2014 (UTC)