Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers

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No. 10 Downing Street and so on[edit]

Right now we've got

Proper names, technical terms, and the like are never altered: 5 Channel Street;   Channel 5;  Chanel No. 5;  Fourth Judicial District;   Fourth Amendment;   Fourth Estate;   Fourth Republic

-- and that's fine. But what about certain conventional situations that aren't proper names e.g.

Along the south side of X street are No. 123, where Historical Personage died, and No. 137, where Infamous Killer lured his victims.

-- ? In English usage, at least, reference to Number. 123 or No. 123 are conventional -- do we require the text to say Number 123 every time, or is No. 123 OK here?

In older American usage you see that some time, but nowadays (it is my impression) it's more common to write "at 123 was This, and at nearby 137 was That."

Anyway... thoughts on writing "No. 123"? EEng (talk) 10:13, 29 June 2014 (UTC) Bump EEng (talk) 04:08, 5 July 2014 (UTC)

What's happened to all the MOS warriors?[edit]

has the fire gone out? Can't I get a peep re the above? EEng (talk) 18:11, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

I don't know if this will be much help, but as a Briton, I can tell you what I do myself. I personally use the numero sign, as in № 10 Downing Street. I do speak the "number" allowed. I personally would advocate for using the numero sign, as opposed to "number", which is never written out as far as I know. However, I wouldn't be surprised if the American usage of "123 Such and Such Road" started seeping in, and I've certainly heard "10 Downing Street" being used occasionally on BBC News reports in recent years, whereas they would've previously said "№ 10". RGloucester 22:16, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
If "No." is the common usage, I'd say keep it unaltered. For a Canadian example (though not related to a street), Leduc No. 1. Resolute 22:48, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
  • If it's the world according to MOS you seek, your answer is here: MOS:NUMBERSIGN. Oddly, it's not found or referenced on the "Manual of Style/Dates and Numbers," but on the first page of "Wikipedia:Manual of Style." I edit a lot of sports articles and the number abbreviation rules come up a lot as many sports fans want to insert the number sign symbol (#) directly into text, which is a no-no. I had to go looking for the specific MOS section, and was a little surprised to find it elsewhere than on the MOS numbers subpage. Cheers. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 23:45, 11 July 2014 (UTC)
I was aware of NUMBERSIGN though I couldn't remember where it was. Leduc No. 1 is covered under the proper names rule. I guess what I was wondering was whether the flat prohibition on No. might be relaxed in this situation where convention strongly endorses it i.e. "house numbers", such as in the examples above, for times and places where that was the convention. [See below] The weird thing is I had an actual article situation when I posed the question, but I can't even remember what it is now! I don't know... I do think this usage should be allowed. Anyone want to propose text? EEng (talk) 02:55, 23 July 2014 (UTC)
I had misremembered NUMBERSIGN. I thought it said not to use No., but it looks like it allows it, so I maybe this entire discussion is a waste of time. Sorry. Or am I still mixed up? EEng (talk) 18:40, 10 August 2014 (UTC)


{{convert}} provides two units for kilowatt-hour; one is for "common usage", while the other outputs the correct middle dot per WP:UNIT. Examples:

  • {{convert|123|kWh|abbr=on}} → 123 kWh (440 MJ)
  • {{convert|123|kW.h|abbr=on}} → 123 kW·h (440 MJ)

Kilowatt hour asserts 'The symbol "kWh" is most commonly used in commercial, educational, scientific and media publications'—including "scientific" might be overdoing it, but the others are correct in my experience. Given that kWh is commonly used, what should be the output from convert? Should the above example using kWh give the same output as kW.h? Or should it be up to the editor to decide which to use?

The only discussion I can find is at 2008 MOSNUM. In May 2014 there were 61 converts using kWh in 36 articles, and none using kW.h. I prefer that convert gives the editor the choice of how the output should appear, and I support the principle that Wikipedia should follow real life rather than lead it. However, if a strong consensus wants the middle dot, that's fine too. Johnuniq (talk) 07:32, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

I have just noticed that several energy units have been carefully designed to allow the editor to either insert a middot or not.

No middot: µWh mWh Wh kWh MWh GWh TWh
With middot: µW.h mW.h W.h kW.h MW.h GW.h TW.h

I wonder if Jimp would like to explain the history. Johnuniq (talk) 08:15, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

  • Just to echo here my arguments from the preceding discussion: consistency (among units and with standards) is more important; the claim about "real-life" usage has not been supported by studies.
    And, in fact, my point was that conversion to kilowatt-hours ({{convert|123|MJ|abbr=on}}) should produce "kW·h" instead of "kWh". — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 07:57, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
    • Re {{convert|123|MJ|abbr=on}}: That's just a matter of specifying the output unit (|kW.h), or changing the default output unit for MJ and friends. Johnuniq (talk) 08:15, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
      • The default output should be according to MOS (with "·"). I doubt that the dot-less output is needed (that is, I think that both "xWh" and "xW.h" parameters should produce "xW·h"). — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 08:28, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Another thought is that some people actually misunderstand "kWh" as "kilowatt per hour" (similarly to "psi", which is "pound per square inch"), whereas with "kW·h" the meaning is clear. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 08:09, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
    • Those people do not even know what the dot means. -- [[User:Edokter]] {{talk}} 08:38, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
  • kWh is by far the most common usage (even in scientific papers), so it should remain the default. The concatenated unit has the same meaning as the dotted unit anyway; they both represent a factored unit. -- [[User:Edokter]] {{talk}} 08:38, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
    • No! For example, "m·s" means "meter-second", but "ms" means "millisecond". Please read WP:UNITS, the standards and the previous discussions. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 09:58, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
      • "ms" is not a concatenation but a prefix. -- [[User:Edokter]] {{talk}} 10:47, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
        • Both kW h and kW·h are correct symbols for kilowatt hour. By contrast, kWh, while sometimes used as an abbreviation, is not a correct symbol. MOSNUM should promulgate correct use (kW h or kW·h). Dondervogel 2 (talk) 10:52, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Statements such as "KWh is not a correct symbol" misunderstand what we're doing here. kWh is not a formal scientific symbol, but like it or not it's the long-established convention, in authoritative sources, for topics such as e.g. Electric energy consumption, and articles on those topics should (even must) follow that usage. Thus convert and other templates must offer kWh as an option, along with the other two -- purists who happen to be tinkering with the template must not impose their views on what should be, instead of what is (in reliable sources, that is). EEng (talk) 15:12, 29 July 2014 (UTC) P.S. Wikipedia does not "promulgate" any usage, correct or incorrect; it strives to reflect the usage of reliable sources, giving preference to the best sources in any given topic area.
    • I did not mention Wikipedia. Only MOSNUM. Surely the purpose of MOSNUM is to promulgate a uniform practice throughout Wikipedia? If not that, what else? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 15:27, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
I misunderstood you -- thought you meant WP "promulgating" to the wider world, as in trying to set a good example of ideal usage. I see now you mean MOS setting an example/giving guidance to WP editors. Yes, that's what MOS is for, but again, what MOS promulgates is what's used in reliable sources, and that varies from field to field. So, as mentioned, while in a physics papers you'd see kW{{middot}h or kW h, in a discussion of consumer energy conservation you'd see kWh. EEng (talk) 18:25, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
I have also seen KWH used on utility bills. I'm not sure I have ever seen any extra characters added. Vegaswikian (talk) 18:48, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
"KWH" in bills is probably a dark legacy of ancient printers that did not have any glyphs except numbers ans capital letters. :–) — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 23:53, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Above it is asserted that many scientific publications use kWh. I can't say I read any scientific publications devoted to electric power generation and distribution. However, the IEEE has several publications devoted to this area including IEEE Transactions on Power Apparatus and Systems, IEEE Transactions on Power Delivery, and IEEE Transactions on Power Systems. The IEEE provides "Preparation of Papers for IEEE TRANSACTIONS and JOURNALS" (April 2013). That publication on page 2 states "Use the center dot to separate compound units, e.g., 'A·m2.'" I suggest this indicates that one of the largest scientific publishers in this field has chosen middle dots, therefore, if WP:MOS does the same, it is not pushing a novel or marginally accepted practice. I would like to see WP:MOS continue to recommend the choices recognized in official standards, that is, the middle dot or the space. Of course, articles should follow WP:MOS except when WP:IAR applies. I take the comment by Dondervogel 2 at 15:27, 29 July 2014 (UTC) to mean that Wikipedia articles should not contain statements that widely used language is incorrect, but that does not mean that Wikipedia articles should use such language if it does not conform to the language used in the best sources. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:50, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
You're wasting your time arguing whether kWh is or isn't used in scientific papers. It clearly is in sources such as discussions of consumer energy consumption, national energy policy, etc., and articles on those topics will therefore use it. Speaking of IEEE, here for example is IEEE's own "Smart Grid Forum" [1] -- a bit bloggish, but still clearly IEEE-sponsored (and IEEE is very careful about its publishing standards) using -- ta ha! -- kWh with no dot and not space. You're focused on standards for the highest-level, most formal journals, and that isn't appropriate for all articles.
If the question on the table is, What should the convert template to, the answer is that it must off dot, space, and no-dot-no-space as output options. If the question is, what should articles use, I think we should leave that to editors of individual articles. If and when it appears that there's a recurring issue that wastes editors' time, that would be the time to think about adding something to MOS. EEng (talk) 18:25, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
The piece cited by EEng as an example fails. Doug Houseman or his copy editor can't even get the capitalization of units and symbols right. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:53, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
It seems to me that the question is whether MOSNUM should promulgate good practice or common practice. In my opinion it is good practice that should prevail. I see a clear parallel with Mbps vs Mbit/s, where the latter is recommended by MOSNUM because it is the internationally agreed symbol, and therefore unambiguous. The same logic applies here. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:08, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
That's not a very good parallel because there is no division in kWh. No-one who understands basic algebra would insert a division there would they? I've never seen it with a centre dot here in the UK. Even the article that we cite in our Kilowatt hour article as evidence of confusion uses kWh without a dot or space. Dbfirs 20:44, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
There are many instances of less-than-ideal usage which are not bad enough to create confusion, such as irregardless or "I could care less." That's no reason to encourage such less-than-ideal usage. There is also the danger that someone who is familiar with the meaning of "kWh" but not familiar with some other compound unit symbol may use "kWh" as an exemplar to decide how to (incorrectly) construct the symbol for the other unit. Jc3s5h (talk) 21:06, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Crikey, will you get a clue? OK, tell me that the Lawrence Berkeley Lab is sloppy and unreliable as well [2] This is as hopeless a quest as were earlier attempts to get mpg in articles about automobiles changed to miles/gallon. Forget it. You're wasting everyone's time. EEng (talk) 22:03, 29 July 2014 (UTC)

I can tell you that people at LBNL are not better than in other places, and thus it is not surprising that the draft that you refer to is not something to rely upon (besides "kWh", it is typographically disgusting in many respects). — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 23:41, 29 July 2014 (UTC)
You're wasting yours and everyone else's time EEng (talk) 03:28, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Well, "psi" and "scfm" have an invisible division in them. :–) As I pointed above, the kilowatt-hour article even mentions the "kilowatt per hour" confusion explicitly, so this problem is not so illusory. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 10:50 pm, Today (UTC−4)

"kWh" is the only way I have ever seen it in the electric utility industry or in news articles. The pattern is the same with Wh, MWh, GWh, and TWh, not to mention similar units like kVA and MVA. I am unable to recall the last time I have seen "kW h" or "kW·h" in a utility industry communication or in a news article; I suspect that I may never have seen the units written that way, in many thousands of occurrences. Call it original research if you like, but you would be hard-pressed to show even a tiny minority of sources using anything other than "kWh". Offering the dotted option in the convert template is a kindness to pedantic editors and wikiprojects that dictate a specific style for units, but widespread use of the dotted option on Wikipedia would be contrary to the vast majority of real-world usage. – Jonesey95 (talk) 03:36, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Agree with Jonesey above, with most of my work in energy-related projects, "kWh" is near universal, and even "kW-hr" will have wider usage than "kW(dot)h". Our article on the unit of "kilowatt-hours" can explain the proper units, but for any other case, we should be using the most recognized units. --MASEM (t) 03:52, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Please keep in mind that "communications or news articles" are oriented on plain-text typesetting, and they used to be authored on regular typewriters that simply lacked the interpunct symbol. For the same reason there are no equations, for example. Here we don't have such technical limitations, so why not to follow the standards? Especially, since this would be totally free: just type {{convert|...}} and get the perfect results! — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 04:34, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
You're not listening. Different topic areas use different symbols. One of them is kWh. Stop wasting everyone's time. EEng (talk) 04:48, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
EEng, I was replying to Jonesey95. Please do not change the indent level of other users' comments. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 05:18, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Mikhail, I'm replying to you. Stop wasting everyone's time. EEng (talk) 05:21, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Regarding the history of why when the unit was added to {{convert}} the option of the dotless abbreviation was given, I don't completely remember the specifics (it was almost seven years ago) but this must have been before MOSNUM had anything to say about it and given that "kWh" is so common I guess including it must just have made sense. If I were adding the unit to the template now, though, I'd probably comply with MOSNUM and wouldn't give the dotless option. So, do we fix the template or the guideline? My preference would be for uniformity as opposed to making an ad hoc exception for watt-hours. There are plenty of abbreviations in use out there that we don't allow. If we were to take an anything-goes approach, why have a MOS at all? Jimp 14:18, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

By including kWh as an option we are complying with MOS, because what MOS says is Unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources, and as abundantly demonstrated above, in some subject areas RSs use kWh. I point out that MOS' guidance "Indicate a product of unit symbols with & middot; or & nbsp;" is part of a table headed "General guidelines", not "Rigid restrictions". So far this debate has gone on at the convert template's talk page, and here on MOS, but -- tellingly -- AFAIK not in the context of any actual articles. This is a solution in search of a problem. In fact, to put an end to this I make the following proposal:
Regardless of the niche usages of the "kWh" notation, conversion from MJ to kW·h implies that the main units in the particular article are the SI units, so the result of the conversion should also be formatted according to the SI rules. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 10:33 pm, Today (UTC−4)
This is ridiculous. If -- as is obvious from the below will happen -- kWh is endorsed as an option (along with kW h and kW·h), then the output of convert will need to offer kWh as an option (along with kW h and kW·h) for its output. You're trying to use the machinery of convert as a back-door way to force people to insert a space or dot in kWh (at least when they use convert). WP:STICK EEng (talk) 03:37, 1 August 2014 (UTC)


Add to WP:Manual_of_Style/Dates_and_numbers#Specific_units, in the Energy section, a new row as follows: kilowatt-hour ... kWh / MWh / GWh ... Where reliable sources in a given subject area (such as energy supply and consumption) do so, the symbols kWh, MWh, GWh (with no space) are used in place of (for example) the formal kW h (i.e. with space) or kW·h.
  • Support. EEng (talk) 16:43, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support, suggest to also add MWh and GWh (but no others) as common usage when you start talking power plants. Other magnitudes of "watt hours" typically are otherwise not used frequently enough to require this. (I rearely see TWh used, usually that gets spelled out better, for example) --MASEM (t) 16:58, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Added MWh and GWh to the proposal. I left it intentionally ambiguous as to Wh since, really, it's use in RS that controls, so just let editors figure that out if it comes up somewhere. EEng (talk) 17:12, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
I guess I wanted to make sure it was clear it was only to their specific decimations of the Watt-hour unit. I could see someone trying to argue mWr (milliwatt-hr) as the "right" unit display, though at that magnitude, the units typically switch over to joules. The three listed as explicitly the only prefix-ified versions of "watt-hour" that would be acceptable due to their common usage). --MASEM (t) 00:03, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
So you're OK with the wording? EEng (talk) 00:26, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
Yes. --MASEM (t) 01:24, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose because the proper symbol will not confuse those familiar with the proper way of writing metric units, but the incorrect symbol may very well confuse those who are just learning to write metric symbols correctly. Also "kW-h" is wrong. Jc3s5h (talk) 17:01, 30 July 2014 (UTC), sentence struck in response to change in proposal at 18:30 UT.
  • It's not wrong. It's not consistent with how other units typically are written, no question, but its an artifact of how the energy/power industry worldwide use the symbols. --MASEM (t) 17:09, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Oops. Fixed hyphen to middot. Jc's reasoning would be an argument for changing mpg to miles per gallon in articles on cars, and converting all articles to American English. Wikipedia follows reliable sources in whatever subject area is being treated. EEng (talk) 17:12, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose, for the same reason as Jc3s5h, and because in the absence of a good reason not to, it makes sense for MOSNUM to follow international standards. Precisely the same reasoning as for nmi (nautical mile), kn (knot) and bit/s (bit per second). If you follow widespread use why doesn't MOSNUM advocate use of nm, kt and bps for those units. I am not aware of an internationally agreed symbol for mpg, which makes it a poor counter-example. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 18:12, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
I can't speak for knots and so on, but the reason bps is a no-no is that its a well-known source of confusion because of its bits-bytes ambiguity. Your fetishizing of "international standards" is a red herring. We follow the sources in each topic area, not "international standards" (unless that's what the sources follow).
Tell you what. Why don't you go change all the uses of kWh at Electricity meter, Emission standard, Energy density , Cost of electricity by source , Feed-in tariff , Financial incentives for photovoltaics , Feed-in tariffs in Germany , Energy in the United States , Solar power, Solar power in Massachusetts and see the reaction. Then come back and let us know. EEng (talk) 18:51, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
I did do that once. For kilotonnes (kt) and nanometers (nm) I mean. Before I learnt of the existence of mosnum, I changed them one by one to knots (kn) and nautical miles (nmi). I encountered lots of resistance of the kind you anticipate, from editors who preferred kilotonnes and nanometres. International standards are sources in their own right, of a kind, and the most reliable sources follow them. When I discovered mosnum I found an easier way. Make a good case here, and others will follow. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:14, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
You did that once for some other units, but not for kWh. You can't keep saying that "the most reliable" sources use certain terms when we've clearly shown that there are perfectly good sources that use a different term. Here are more: [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] Now go start a discussion at Cost of electricity by source -- see what kind of laugh you get. EEng (talk) 20:45, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
The place to make the case is not in individual articles, but here in mosnum. And that is what I am doing. I agree that use of kW h is rare (which just means that reliable sources are rare), but I see no advantage in departing from a perfectly simple multiplication rule that is easy to explain and easy to understand. Use of the correct symbol would also make it easier to understand that kW h is a product of kilowatt and hour. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 21:40, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Now you're showing that you really have the wrong end of the stick. Ultimately these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis in articles -- that's why MOS is a guideline. And we don't add a new "rule" to MOS unless it's clear that editors in individual articles are wasting time rehashing the same old issues. What's being proposed here isn't a rule but an "anti-rule", reaffirming, specifically in the case of kilowatt-hours, that editors of each article should follow the notation of RS in that topic area. EEng (talk) 22:39, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
You are entitled to your view. I am entitled to mine. Can we agree to disagree? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 22:54, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
That would have a much more appealing ring to it if you weren't advocating dictating, to editors of articles you have no interest in, that they write those articles in a certain way that serves your sense of symmetry and order, even when the sources in the topic area do it another way. EEng (talk) 23:03, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
First, MOSNUM is a guideline - editors can choose to follow that guideline or not; second it is not my sense of symmetry that matters here, but the consensus of editors on MOSNUM. It seems we cannot agree even to disagree :P Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:36, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
No, in general editors are expected to follow MOS, though MOS itself allows for "occasional exceptions" in accord with "common sense". I agree your sense of symmetry doesn't matter here -- I didn't say it did. EEng (talk) 06:56, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
"use of kW h is rare" because the vast majority of reliable sources do not use it. – Jonesey95 (talk) 22:57, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
  • "dpi" is another example like mpg, then, we don't use "dots/inch". --MASEM (t) 18:19, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. as it supports common usage, whatever the rights or wrongs most reader would think that any other form is a mistake. MilborneOne (talk) 23:00, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. spare us from ugly unneeded dots.Constant314 (talk) 23:05, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
Yes, and dots aren't recyclable and are a major cause of climate change. EEng (talk) 23:36, 30 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose. If you really want to use the non-standard notation, at least change the wording from the prescriptive "are used in place of" to a permissive "can be used". — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 03:38, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
You're still confused. The standard notation is whatever is standard in the topic area a given article treats -- you want one particular source to be the "standard" for everything. What the proposal says is
Where reliable sources in a given subject area do so, the symbols kWh, MWh, GWh are used ...
And the reason it says that is MOSNUM's general provision that Unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources. We follow the practice of sources in the topic area. EEng (talk) 05:55, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
Kilowatt is a SI unit, hour is accepted for use with the SI, so the appearance of "kW·h" is governed by the SI standards. If you can find a different "standard in the topic area", we can consider it to be more important, otherwise — rely on SI. The argument of "practice" is flawed, since it does not tell what to do if different "reliable" sources use different notation ("kWh", "KWH", "kW·h", "kW-hr", whatever)? — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 10:41 pm, Today (UTC−4)

[With what I hope will be the permission of my esteemed fellow editors, the following has been converted to a comment from a (pseudo-)subsection so as not to confuse where further comments/supports/opposes should go -- EEng (talk)]

  • Comment EEng has diverted this discussion from the topic on the {{convert}} template to advocating the "alternative" notation in MOS. I suggest splitting his/her "proposal" into a separate topic and continuing here the original thread (which is related to conversion between different units, not to a particular unit itself). — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 03:38, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
oh oh ... Mikhail, Ohconfucius appears to have removed this because it may impute wrongdoing to EEng without much evidence of it (as far as I can see). You've reverted it back in. Well, you're entitled to do that, but does it assist calm, clear debate? Please assume good faith, and remember that this page is subject to DS. Best. Tony (talk) 04:49, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
Changing MOSNUM is a legitimate question on its own, but it is not directly related to the {{convert}} questions. I believe, separating these two topics will promote clearer debates (for example, where people are supposed to put their comments about the original topic now?). I do not know how to do this split correctly, so I asked for the help from more experienced users. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 05:14, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
You seem to have forgotten that this is the MOS talk page. So we're having a MOS discussion. EEng (talk) 05:55, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support original proposal. The MOS is not a voluntary set of guidelines; it's a style manual. Editors can follow it or not as they choose when creating text but must not undo changes made later to ensure consistency with the MOS. So MOSNUM should explicitly say that the commonly used forms like "kWh" are permitted. Peter coxhead (talk) 07:56, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose for consistency and simplicity. We don't have to follow whatever we see out there. Jimp 11:50, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
Yes, we do, as the next two Supports explain. It's only when there's a conflict between sources of comparable authoritativeness (in the field) that we make a choice of our own. EEng (talk) 16:00, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support - The first bullet point of the MOS says, "Unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources." The proposal is simply codifying this. There are few sources that use the delicately punctuated versions. There is no significant ambiguity with the proposed symbols. ~KvnG 14:49, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
"Delicately punctuated" is certainly the right phrase. EEng (talk) 16:20, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per Peter coxhead. It's a bit like MB and MiB: it makes no sense to have more than one ways of expressing kWh – the other different forms are hardly ever used in RL, and may confuse readers. -- Ohc ¡digame! 15:51, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
Just to be clear, the proposal doesn't mandate using kWh (no space, no dot) exclusively, since I'm sure there are e.g. physics contexts in which space or dot is used. Rather, the proposal makes it clear that kWh is an acceptable choice, when it's what sources in the field use. EEng (talk) 16:00, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
I think what we are discussing is whether one should use the symbol kW h or the abbreviation for that symbol kWh. I see no good reason not to use the symbol myself, but my opposition to use of the abbreviation is based on the desirability of clarity. The analogy with MB vs MiB is not a good one because MB and MiB are symbols that mean different things, and to use MB when you mean MiB is clearly incorrect. To use kWh when you mean kW h is not wrong, just an unnecessary barrier to clear communication. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:36, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support. I would like to see scientific references which use "kW·h" or "kW h", especially since the SI unit would be 3.6 MJ. I would think, in fact, that kWh should be the lead abbreviation in kilowatt hour, per actual use. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 19:17, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Support Per common use, no we don't have to follow whatever we see in real life but we are writing an encyclopedia to be readily understood by as many of our readers as possible. Given that the majority of sources use it and most of our readers would be familiar with it is precisely why we should be using it. We should never use an abstract, unfamiliar form. WCMemail 22:23, 31 July 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment Believe it or not, this discussion now has its very own ANI thread! Administrators'_noticeboard/Incidents#User:EEng EEng (talk) 04:09, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support as "kWh" is so prevalent in literature directed towards general and technical readers, while as noted by others J is preferred in much scientific literature. For information, checking some favourite print compendia of definitions, conversions and values I found "kWh" (Perry's Chemical Engineers Handbook, 6th edn, 1973, McGraw-Hill, Table 1-4 Conversion Factors; Larousse Dictionary of Science and Technology - previously published as Chambers (UK) or Cambridge (US), 1995, Larousse), "kw h" (BS350:Part 1:1974 Conversion factors and tables, British Standards Institution, 1974 (1998), p58; CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 68th edn, 1987, CRC Press, pF-245), and spaces used in other units but no example of "kW h" (Tables of Physical and Chemical Constants, Kaye & Laby, Longman, 15th ed, 1986), but no examples of "kW.h". NebY (talk) 11:58, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Oppose I don't see what's so difficult about "write metric units according to the SI convention"; there is no need to invent different rules for every unit (what is the rule for newton-metres? what about joule-seconds? etc.) and following convention promotes consistency, which aids intelligibility. If some people don't understand SI convention, that is not our responsibility. Ultimately the BIPM is the only authority on how unit notation should work; WP editors should not presume to know better than the organisation that maintains the standards. Archon 2488 (talk) 13:47, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support A few contributors here feel that "exactitude" is more important than readability. Most reader's monthly electric bill will use kwh (with various forms of capitalization). The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission uses KWh in their regulations.[8] The term "kW•h" will be unfamiliar to most readers and confusing to math majors trying to figure out why we are using a dot product in a unit of measure. We should not punish readers because they have never heard of "SI" units. Wikipedia should use the terminology that is in widespread use; not obscure terms from some standards committee. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 22:03, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't think it's fair to describe the world's most important standards organisation, which is responsible for defining the SI units (and thereby, in effect, all others), together with the standard notation for using them, as "some ... committee". Archon 2488 (talk) 15:09, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
SI may be an "important standards organisation" but some of their units are not widely used in publications targeted at the general public. Wikipedia articles targeted at the general public and should not be full of elitist terminology. (Some SI units are widely ignored in the technical press.) -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 16:31, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for an example from federal regulations! However, the heading of that document says "Unofficial", ;–) and it merely describes some changes in other documents. Could you please find the actual official documents? (I'm also suspicious about the apparently interchangeable usage of "power" and "energy" in their language.) Regarding "unfamiliar and confusing" — aren't the dot notation for multiplication and the multiplication of units included in the school curriculum in English-speaking countries? — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 01:13, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
"exactitude" -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 02:14, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
"We should not punish readers because they have never heard of "SI" units." If someone has heard of a kilowatt-hour, then they have heard of an SI unit (or at least, one of the SI's "addon" units). As Mikhail says above, the dot denotes scalar multiplication, and the product of two scalar physical dimensions is indeed a scalar product. I don't see how this is confusing. Even the idea behind omitting the space is that the multiplication is implicit, as in algebraic expressions like "2y". The question is simply which notation is the less ambiguous. Archon 2488 (talk) 12:34, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment It think it's worth noting that not a single actual document or paper has been presented so far using anything other than kWh. EEng (talk) 03:51, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Because people advocating the consistency and standard-compliance understand that solitary examples are insufficient to make any conclusions about the general situation. Moreover, the existence of general standards (mentioned several times above) means that anything special about particular units is simply unnecessary. If you want to see something country-specific, here are some US-related documents:
People from other places can probably provide similar documents. If you claim something different, please provide the corresponding style guides or at least a reliable study about the "real-world usage" (so far, only poorly formatted texts have been presented as a supporting evidence). — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 04:45, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
None of the documents you linked appear to contain the string kw so I don't see what they have to do with this at all. I repeat that you've never pointed to even a single use of kW-dot-h or kW-space-h. Not one. Just a lot of "standards" apparently implying dots or spaces ought to be used, but no evidence anyone actually obeys that. EEng (talk) 05:38, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Reference [4: ISO 31-0] suggests that if a space is used to indicate units formed by multiplication, the space may be omitted if it does not cause confusion. This possibility is reflected in the common practice of using the symbol kWh rather than kW·h or kW h for the kilowatt hour. Nevertheless, this Guide takes the position that a half-high dot or a space should always be used to avoid possible confusion
So there you have it. NIST says don't use kWh; ISO says it's OK (and so does APS [9]). The problem with appeals to the authority of standards bodies is that, contrary to what some seem to think, there is no one controlling standards body and, as just seen, they disagree. We use what workers in the field actually use, not what someone says they ought to use.
I think the arguments on both sides have been thoroughly ventilated now, and it's time for a close based on the strength of those arguments. Anyone? EEng (talk) 05:38, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Congratulations, you have finally found reliable sources! :–) Just to supplement your comment, the NIST quote continues:
...; for this same reason, only one of these two allowed forms should be used in any given manuscript.
(it is not clear whether this passage is about "kWh" or all units). And a small note: ISO 31-0:1992 was superseded with ISO 80000-1. Do you know whether the "suggestion" mentioned by NIST is still there? It would be interesting to see the actual wording. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 07:03, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Not sure what you mean by "finally" -- if you think the other sources, to which I and several other editors have linked before now, aren't reliable then you don't know what a reliable source is. Anyway, I'll be happy to extend similar congratulations to you in return when you adduce even one source -- even one -- that actually uses the dot or space forms. EEng (talk) 07:41, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
I can offer you a source that uses a space if you want, but we all know such sources are rare, so I don't think it changes anything. I have stated before on this page that MOSNUM should follow international standards unless it has a good reason not to. This applies not just for the kilowatt hour, but for all units. I will look up the precise wording of ISO 80000-1:2009 on multiplication of units. Watch this space. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:19, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
  • This search gives several hits for "kW h". I will look op iso 80000-1 next. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:25, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
  • The relevant text from ISO 80000-1:2009 reads
A compound unit formed by multiplication of two or more units shall be indicated in one of the following ways:
N • m, N m
NOTE The latter form may also be written without a space, i.e. Nm, provided that special care is taken when the symbol for one of the units is the same as the symbol for a prefix. This is the case for m, metre and milli, and for T, tesla and tera.
While the wording could be clearer, I infer from this that kWh is a valid symbol for kilowatt hour and I withdraw my objection to the proposal to use it. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:30, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
There's hope for you yet! EEng (talk) 08:54, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I consider the previously given sources unreliable. But the NIST quote refers to a standard and says "common practice" — that's all I asked for.
Taking into account the ISO 80000-1:2009 text and the NIST comment, I suggest extending your proposal with this kind of more general wording (for example, "mAh" should be included; maybe there are other such units) and these references. It also needs to address the consistency issues, so that "kWh" or "kW·h" must be used consistently within an article (I don't know whether is it desirable to demand consistency with other units, for example, that "N·m" and "kWh" should not be used within one article). I think, it would be a much more reasonable approach. — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 22:27, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per common use. It is not uncommon to concatinate factored units in general, and in math it is done all the time; (a · x) becomes (ax), etc. -- [[User:Edokter]] {{talk}} 09:01, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Yes, but in the case of units these concatenations can lead to ambiguities such as ms-1. But in fairness, there is only one way to parse "kWh" in terms of the SI unit symbols, even if it's not really correct SI, so it's less important. Archon 2488 (talk) 15:09, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment. I will guess that some of the advocates of little-known SI units have never explained a new technology to an audience with mixed backgrounds. The key to success is to use terms the audience knows, not to impress them with technobabble. Wikipedia has an audience with a wide range of backgrounds. A reader with a Masters of Business Administration may want to read about power generation, they should not have to research the units. I am sure the financial community has some really esoteric terms from important standards originations that we could use to explain the cost of power production. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 17:46, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
  • The goal of consistent ways of making compound units in SI is to make it easier for people from different fields to understand unfamiliar units, because everyone writes them the same way. But since Americans are willfully ignorant of SI, the goal isn't fully achieved. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:09, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
And so it begins... EEng (talk) 19:23, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
The point remains: nobody has explained how promoting inconsistency allows for greater intelligibility. If you stick with the BIPM standards and try to understand them, rather than just assuming the BIPM consists of a crowd of best-ignored inbred scientists and engineers who do nothing other than engage in intellectual masturbation, then you will understand the motivation for using consistent mathematical notation. Disambiguation. Precision. Unambiguity. But all of this is of second-rate importance compared to the goal of pandering to the innumerate. Archon 2488 (talk) 20:12, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
  • "Nobody has explained how promoting inconsistency allows for greater intelligibility." Explanation: An article can't be consistent with everything, so choices must be made, and Wikipedia's choice is to value the intelligibility gained by consistency between a given article and external literature on the same topic, more than it values the intelligibility gained by consistency between that article and other articles on other topics.
  • Since you bring it up, since BIPM stands for Best-Ignored Perfectionist Masturbators (formerly BIISE -- Best-Ignored Inbred Scientists and Engineers) what did you expect? I really think it would be for the best if someone closes this discussion before the inevitable comparisons to Nazis make their debut.
EEng (talk) 21:46, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
Why is the world's most important metrology organisation "best-ignored" in discussions about measurements? Is that not like saying that the IPCC is best ignored on questions of climatology, or that the UN is a marginal group of political masurbators? In what other context would this level of disregard for major international organisations be accepted? Archon 2488 (talk) 22:45, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
  • oppose MOS instruction creep. I am opposing both the previous proposal, of using the convert template to enforce the middle dot spelling, and this proposal, of using MoS to enforce the spelling without. Since both spellings are evidently correct and in use, this is not in need of regulation (beyond consistency within articles). Fut.Perf. 08:20, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
The proposal isn't meant to favor any of the three (space, dot, no-space-no-dot) but simply clarify that no-space-no-dot is as acceptable as the other two, the final choice being determined by what's used in sources for any given article.

I agree with you re CREEP -- as I said early in this discussion, "If the question is, what should articles use, I think we should leave that to editors of individual articles. If and when it appears that there's a recurring issue that wastes editors' time, that would be the time to think about adding something to MOS". I finally made this proposal since in general, compound units do use either middot or space, and several editors wanted to interpret that as meaning "no-space" is forbidden.

If there's a modification of the wording you think would better express the "equal footing" of kW h, kW·h and kWh, that would be welcome. EEng (talk) 12:46, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

  • Support "Kw h" is very uncommon and in fact I have never seen it any of the papers I have read. "Kw.h" is confusing and seems to me like a file of some programming language. "Kwh" is by far the most used abbreviation. -- Magioladitis (talk) 08:36, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
    • Wait, nobody is proposing to use "kW.h". What people are discussing is "kW·h", with a middle dot (and "kW.h" is being used only as a convenience shortcut here in this discussion). Fut.Perf. 08:48, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
      • "kW·h" is even worse. It uses a non-standard keyboard character. -- Magioladitis (talk) 08:52, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
        • The mid-dot '·' can be inserted by clicking on it in the special symbols a little below the edit section, along with –—×÷←→ and similar symbols. I have also created the {{kWh|45}} template that displays as 45 kW·h.  Stepho  talk  09:34, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
    • Do you think that an argument with wrong capitalization ("Kwh" instead of "kWh") looks convincing? ;–) — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 22:15, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support per reliable sources and common usage. Dbfirs 11:38, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Arbitrary break (re kWh proposal)[edit]

[Side question: For me at least (IE 11.0.10) the Proposal subsection above doesn't appear with an [Edit] link -- anyone know why that is?] -- EEng (talk)
  • Support - Changing my position from comment due to pervasive usage, but with the following strong caveat: that the wording restricting its applicability to a subject area not be weakened. —Quondum 14:10, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
But you're OK with the current wording? EEng (talk) 16:12, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Let's say I consider tweaking as a next step, with the current wording just squeaking in on acceptability. There are wordings I'd prefer, e.g., "are used" to become "may be used". I agree with QrTTf7fH's sentiment below (and thus would prefer a strong oppose), but since this appears not to be WP's stated role, I'll put that aside. If, for example, WP was to clearly distinguish style as its own, and content as reference, I would oppose. But since this seems a fuzzy area, I'll not venture there. —Quondum 17:29, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Comment – Some of the above discussion seems to ignore what the purpose of a MoS is; there is also some heavy emphasis on personal preference. A MoS is to provide a guideline for uniformity despite style variations elsewhere. I would suggest that an encyclopaedia that spans the world would do better to simplify its style guide where possible even if this does not entirely reflect dominant usage. We need to accept that any style guide will inherently cut across some styles used somewhere else, and that some readers will have to become familiar with a new style. I'm sure that if we continue to accumulate exceptions to easily stated rules, the MoS will become increasingly unworkable. Could someone please link to the place in the MoS where it says to use the notation or style dominantly in use in notable sources? —Quondum 23:11, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Glad you asked:
  • WP:MOSNUM#Choice of units: In most articles, including all scientific articles, the main units chosen will be SI units, non-SI units officially accepted for use with the SI, or such other units as are conventional in reliable-source discussions of the article topic (such as revolutions per minute (rpm) for angular speed, hands for heights of horses, etc.)
  • WP:MOSNUM#Unit_names_and_symbols: Unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources.
  • In conjunction with that let me repeat (slightly modified) something I said earlier:
An article can't be consistent with everything, so choices must be made, and Wikipedia's choice is that the value of consistency between a given article and external literature on the same topic is greater than the value of consistency between that article and articles on other topics.
kilowatt-hour ... kWh / MWh / GWh ... Where reliable sources in a given subject area (such as energy supply and consumption) do so, the symbols kWh, MWh, GWh (with no space) are used in place of (for example) the formal kW h (i.e. with space) or kW·h.
EEng (talk) 01:01, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I suppose I walked into that one. It seems that my suggestion of retaining simple and reasonably uniform style guidelines in the interest of manageability is not enshrined as a principle. Also, I would personally not have adopted the principle that Unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources, but would rather have built on the requirement for SI units to be expressed as the SI mandates. Your mention of "Wikipedia's choice" is not obvious. (Is that codified somewhere? Not that I'm going to challenge it.) Unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources is probably the crux of it, and in particular the intent behind it. It does not address the matter of whether frequency of use by reliable sources is a factor, so it may be argued that the use of SI units mandates their usage as per SI.
Your suggested wording reflects the sources being from a restricted area. I suspect (gut feel only) that in areas of physics, where there is occasion to use these units, the SI standard may dominate. With the restriction of the subject area as given in the suggestion here, however, and if the usage is agreed to be pervasive within that area, I find it difficult to object despite my own liking for uniformity and a particular style.
I'll leave the open issues of interpretation that I've highlighted to others to debate, if they wish; some rewording (especially of the quoted piece in WP:MOSNUM#Unit_names_and_symbols) might be useful. —Quondum 02:09, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I think the idea is that, for example, someone who reads about a topic on WP and then decides to get serious about it shouldn't find himself realizing that WP taught him notation different from that in the outside sources. An example: articles on engines talk about RPMs, but if we rigidly adhered to SI, those would probably have to be expressed in Hz or, I suppose, radians per second. That would be completely insane and make WP a laughingstock. Can you trouble you for an explicit support or oppose? EEng (talk) 03:13, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I would not agree with that "idea"; this kind of "WP taught me something different from what I'm expected to use" problem cannot be avoided. When the outside sources overwhelmingly use one notation throughout a discipline your comment is fair, but when it is varied within the discipline (even with a relatively dominant notation), I see no reason to use this argument. Your example of kWh etc. related to electrical energy generation and consumption by a populace may be an example of overwhelming use (I get the feeling fro others' posts above that this is the case).
I have a feeling that the MOS should make calls of this nature on a more specific basis, rather than making the call on how to make a choice. Thus this could be a setting precedent, not a formula for a decision, and future specific choices could be made in the MOS without allowing editors to say "I'm changing this article to XXX style, since the MOS says if sources do it, that's how it must be. My evaluation is that sources do it." I would rather see consensus be reached in each case on whether the particular usage justifies a specific deviation from the SI mandate. With that in mind, may I suggest the following?:
kilowatt-hour ... kWh / MWh / GWh ... In the subject area of energy supply and consumption, the symbols kWh, MWh, GWh (with no space) should be used in place of (for example) the formal kW h (i.e. with space) or kW∙h. These unspaced symbols are overwhelmingly used in this subject in outside sources.
This I could support. —Quondum 03:41, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I had a careful explanation of why jumping to that kind of specificity is opposite to usual MOS practice, but my machine crashed and I lost it -- haven't the heart to recreate it in full. But in brief: MOS prefers, where experience suggests the specificity its guidance is inadequate, to titrate in additional guidance slowly, drop by drop, until the litmus paper just changes color (if you get my meaning), rather than dumping in the whole bottle of additional guidance right at the start. (Changing the wording to call out energy supply and consumption as the exact area concerned, instead of as just examples, would be dumping in the whole bottle. Anyway, I just grabbed those two topics because I knew they applied -- there are many others that would have to be on the list as well.)
I hope that made sense. EEng (talk) 04:35, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Your analogy could be interpreted exactly the other way around, where giving general guidance rather than dealing with only a specific case is the whole bottle: it has far greater impact. Generality tends to bite in unexpected ways. But: I do not have particularly strong feelings on this, and I'd suggest waiting for comments on this perspective from others first. —Quondum 04:58, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree (strongly) with most of Quondum's analysis. The main place we might differ is that where Quondum writes "SI" (International System of Units) I prefer "ISQ" (International System of Quantities). One benefit of the ISQ over the SI is that it is more inclusive, defining, for example, units like the decibel, the megabyte (and, yes, even the loathed mebibyte) and the nat. That makes it more applicable for a platform like Wikipedia. The ISQ has broad international consensus across a broad spectrum of disciplines. In a nutshell: one simple rule is better (easier for everyone to follow - even the readers) is better than lots of complicated ones with countless exceptions. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 07:01, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Our evidence (above) is that this restriction is unnecessary, because the watt-hour is not often used in physics. The joule has superseded it. That's why we've struggled to find examples of watt-hour notation in physics. We find it in material for the general public such as news reports and energy bills and we find it in government and policy documents, though even there it is elbowed aside - compare the use of kWh in the domestic section of the UK government's Energy Consumption in the UK 2014[15] with the use of ktoe (thousand tonnes of oil equivalent) in the remainder of the document[16] as discussed on page 8 of this part.
In short, when we find the watt-hour we normally find Wh. When we look for it in fields where we'd expect a mid-dot or a space, we rarely find it at all. We don't need to impose a restriction in the MOS because it's already inherent in the sources. NebY (talk) 08:05, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Makes sense, but there are articles that use the watt second. Should that be W s, W·s or Ws? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:55, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
What do articles currently use when presenting data in watt-seconds and using a symbol or abbreviation? NebY (talk) 10:17, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Why not just call the watt-second a joule, which is what it is? Archon 2488 (talk) 13:08, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I can't help noticing a glitch in the logic above (by NebY and Archon 2488). You cannot mandate anything such as "just use the joule instead of the watt-second in Wikipedia". And while the watt-hour is not a typically used unit in physics, it is valid and would occur in contexts discussing equivalences or in intermediate results in which hours are convenient. You do not have to go far to find an example: look at the lead of joule. We must therefore be careful to avoid mandating the use of the abbreviated units anywhere but in fields in which we have identified that use of the abbreviated units are the norm. And while I agree with what Hallucegenia says below, it should not be taken to imply that the industry standard unit should take precedence over the units elsewhere. —Quondum 14:01, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment Strong support I think it is important for us to remember that kilowatt-hour is a non-SI unit used mostly by the electricity supply industry, where the abbreviation is overwhelmingly kWh. The SI unit of energy is the joule. Though the kWh is a non-SI unit accepted for use by the BIPM, it does not seem to me that authorities on scientific notation should take precedence over an industry standard usage for an industry unit. Hallucegenia (talk) 12:24, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
To avoid any doubt, this translates into Strong support.The kilowatt-hour is a non-SI unit used by primarily by the electricity supply industry, and that industry universally uses kWh as the symbol. To do otherwise in Wikipedia articles on electricity supply undermines, in my opinion, the encyclopedic credibility of those articles in the eyes of industry specialists. Articles on scientific subject that refer to electrical energy should use SI units such as Megajoule. Hallucegenia (talk) 16:59, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose: Wikipedia is falling in a spiral where the most popular (mis)conceptions dominate and even become the rule; let's not continue this terrible practice. We must remember that truth isn't decided by majority. Just as we don't need to keep quotes identical character per character (Typographical changes are permitted for the sake of keeping a consistent look), we shouldn't “recommended” to follow a convention just because it's the most popular one in the industry. “Kwh”, “MWe”/“MWth” all arose because of the failure of people to follow the relevant standards, which are there for a good reason. The general case of concatenating units (Without space) to indicate product leads to ambiguous results, like “Gs” for gauss-second (But that's already used for Gauss) or “Tm” for tesla-metre (But that's prescribed by the BIPM as the construction for terametre) and hence are disallowed by the relevant standards (SI brochure). Following the recommended convention of mandatory product symbol for units (Including space) for some units while disregarding it for others would be an inconsistence. Recommending “KW⋅h” would be neither original research nor correcting great wrongs, it's supported by the relevant standards (I.e: reliable sources). Whether a part of the industry has unfortunately chosen to disregard that and deform a part of the language (Concerning the representation of unit) shouldn't make us follow such a deformation as well; were this the case, for the same principle we should be using slang like “gotta”, “ain't”, “bro”, etc... for the articles on pop music; or “lol” for the articles about Internet culture (And I'm not talking about quotes, but the encyclopedic text itself). I suggest that the Manual of Style keeps recommending the expression KW⋅h in encyclopedic text but to keep whatever representation is used in quotes. Regards. QrTTf7fH (talk) 15:22, 4 August 2014 (UTC).
  • If you want to propose a change to MOS' provision that "the main units chosen will be SI units ... or such other units as are conventional in reliable-source discussions of the article topic", go ahead, but this discussion is needs to be done in the context of that MOS' provision as long as it's in force.
  • You've put your finger on another reason MOS says what I just quoted: because otherwise, the units in the article text would clash with the units in quoted material. Come to think if it, that may be the main reason for the provision in the first place.
  • Let me ask you: if article says that an engine achieves 200 hp at 5000 rpm, do you want that changed to 149 kilowatts at 83 Hertz (or maybe 524 radians per second)?
EEng (talk) 16:57, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Giving engine power in kilowatts is quite common outside the US. As for whether you measure cycles per minute or per second, follow the convention that makes sense in terms of the field or industry you're talking about. Archon 2488 (talk) 18:01, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
You didn't answer the question, which was whether you'd accept an article saying an engine operated at "5000 rpm", or not. EEng (talk) 18:36, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I said that I would expect the article to express frequencies in terms that make sense in the appropriate context (i.e. whether the time unit is the second, minute, hour, etc). For vehicle engines, this would obviously be minutes; I don't see any reason why it would be given in revolutions per second. Radians per second are dimensionally equivalent, but conceptually somewhat different, to hertz (similar to grays and sieverts, or joules and newton-metres), so substituting one for the other wouldn't generally make much sense. As for the notation "rpm", it's an established convention and there is no SI equivalent in any case, unlike a unit derived from SI standards such as the kilowatt-hour. For comparison, nobody bothered to invent consistent mathematical notation for the Ye Merrie Englande units, so we have lots of made-up abbreviations such as "mph" "mpg" "psi" and even stranger beasts such as "ksi" and "psf". There were half-hearted attempts to invent pseudomathematical notation such as lbf/in2, but that never really caught on. Given that I view these latter units as little better than pseudoscience, I don't really have a horse in the race as to how they are written. Archon 2488 (talk) 01:11, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
Indeed, it's mostly people in the United States who have a preference for the deprecated horsepower and their deprecated customary units as well. In the rest of the world, it's quite common to state mechanical power in kW and I'd not hesitate to add the corresponding conversion to an article. I'd use both RPM and s-1 for describing an engine speed, but usually not rad⋅s-1 because that's a unit for a different quantity (Related to rotation frequency by a factor of 2\pi; see angular frequency). The encyclopedic text needs not follow the same conventions of its quotations. Like I said, were this the case, we'd be pressed to use terms “gotta”, “wanna”, and so in the encyclopedic text of an article if the article includes a quote using those, or to keep ALL UPPERCASE WHERE IT'S PRESENT IN THE ORIGINAL QUOTE. Your first point seems to me too vague to understand. Regards. QrTTf7fH (talk) 19:29, 4 August 2014 (UTC).
Yes, it's a slippery slope. If we allow kWh we'll have NO ARGUMENT AGAINST ALLOWING ALL CAPS. We'll be trapped. EEng (talk) 20:12, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
(ec) If it's actually a quotation - i.e. we're representing the point as being word-for-word what the original said - then we should represent it as exactly as we reasonably can. If the text we're quoting uses the words "wanna" or "gonna", we don't change what it says - we use "wanna" and "gonna". If the text we're quoting gives a distance in smoots, we don't convert it to metres. If the text we're quoting gives a power in solar mass-areas of Wales per cubic dog-year, then we don't convert it to watts, horsepower or anything else. If it is in a quotation.
But I suspect that it not what you mean. What I suspect you mean is that we do not have to use the same style choices as the sources that we cite, which is true. We do not. In that case, we follow the rules set out in the MOS, which are based on common practice rather than formal official standards. In many cases they will coincide - but sometimes they won't and this appears to be such a case. Kahastok talk 20:23, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
I thought units in quotations should be converted in square brackets? Notwithstanding some people's fondness for nonstandard units, giving distances in smoots only (if that was, hypothetically, what appeared in the quotation) would not be very helpful. Archon 2488 (talk) 01:11, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
But that does not mean that we do not follow the conventions of the quoted text. We would never, ever, no matter what the circumstances, quote the Proclaimers as singing "But I would walk 805 kilometres, and I would walk 805 more, just to be the man who walked 1609 kilometres to fall down at your door". We follow the convention of the original quotation, which gives those distances in miles. And it wouldn't matter if the song was Australian, or French, or Chinese, or if we were discussing quotes of written or spoken prose. If it is a quotation, we don't change the text.
But as I say, that is distinct from following the conventions of sources we cite, which we don't do. Kahastok talk 21:35, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Support use of "kWh" unspaced where appropriate. I do not accept that there is any significant likelihood that these units will be used outside the contexts of electricity generation and supply. I would suggest that there is no realistic probability that the lack of space or middot will cause misinterpretation or ambiguity. Kahastok talk 17:44, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
    • It's used quite a bit for hybrid and pure electric cars in relation to the battery capacity.  Stepho  talk  23:00, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment If it's any help, I've just done a Google search on the website, which is one of the authoritative organisations mentioned above. Searching for ' "kWh"' yields 24,000 results, and all of the instances on the first page of results are genuine references to kilowatt-hours. On the other hand, searching for ' "kW·h"' yields just 2000 results. The first page of results includes four references to "....kW H-bridges"; one instance each of "kW h", "kW/h", and "kW-h"; and two articles that use "kW.h". None of the results on the first page use the notation "kW·h". For me, this is conclusive. Is anyone out there who would be able to close this discussion? Hallucegenia (talk) 20:17, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
    Hallucegenia, this is effectively an irrelevant point if it is not tied it to a principle of the MOS related to general external usage. Outside usage does not override the MOS. Would you care to do make this link? What we are doing is saying that when outside sources are essentially consistent in a particular style, it seems unreasonable to break from such a style in WP. EEng made this link rather weakly, IMO, and I have implicitly accepted it. —Quondum 20:44, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia:MOSNUM#Unit_names_and_symbols.Unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources. Hallucegenia (talk) 23:14, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
That is what I called weak. It does not supersede the requirement for SI units. I was hoping for a principle, not a quote of a line of which the intention was probably to deal with ambiguous cases not already handled. —Quondum 00:38, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
I don't understand this comment. We are not discussing choice of units here, so the "requirement for SI units" is not relevant. We are discussing the appropriate symbol to use for kilowatt-hour, which is not an SI unit. The Manual of Style says "Unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources". (This is in the first line of the section on Unit names and symbols, not a special case to deal with ambiguous cases.) It is the principle we should follow. Actual practice in electrical power engineering and electricity supply is to use "kWh" as the symbol for kilowatt-hour. "kW·h" may have some abstract theoretical justification, but it is not used in practice by reliable sources. So Wikipedia should use "kWh" in articles on electrical power engineering and electricity supply. Hallucegenia (talk) 05:48, 6 August 2014 (UTC)
  • A small consideration: are you sure that the search engine is able to find "·" properly? I mean, it might work with a reduced character set in order to simplify indexing (which is suggested by getting "kW h", "kW/h" and "kW-h" results for the "kW·h" search). And a question: Can you do the same for "mAh" before this discussion is closed? Or we are going to get separate discussions for each particular unit? — Mikhail Ryazanov (talk) 20:53, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Comment (ec) I don't think the Google search proves a thing. What does matter IMO (coupled with my previous observation that kWh is permitted by ISQ rules) is the definition (as 3.6 MJ) by IEEE Std 260.1-2004 of the unit kilowatthour (symbol kWh). Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:47, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
  • and from IEEE/ASTM SI 10-2010
  • The symbols for certain compound units of electrical power engineering are usually written without separation, thus:
  • watthour (Wh), kilowatthour (kWh), voltampere (VA), and kilovoltampere (kVA)
    Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:58, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Good work, Dv! Now it's really, really time for a close. Who wants to volunteer? EEng (talk) 22:31, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Glad you found it useful. The full reference, in case needed, is American National Standard for Metric Practice IEEE/ASTM SI 10™-2010 Revision of IEEE/ASTM�SI�10�2002), IEEE, NY, 11 April 2011. (This does not change my own position by the way, which remains neutral, but if it helps others decide one way or another, then it still serves a useful purpose). Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:44, 5 August 2014 (UTC)


Prolonging the agony on kWh[edit]

Thank you Dondervogel 2. At the risk of prolonging the agony, it seems to me that the wording of the IEEE standard is more comprehensive and straightforward. We should quote it directly in the MOS:

VERSION H: The symbols for certain compound units of electrical power engineering are usually written without separation, thus: watthour (Wh), kilowatthour (kWh), voltampere (VA), and kilovoltampere (kVA). Hallucegenia (talk) 23:26, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Agree that this is pretty much the nail here, to support EEng's proposal as an allowance when talking for these units in the context of electrical power engineering. --MASEM (t) 23:50, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
If you want to this, I think it should be changed slightly:
VERSION Q: In electrical power engineering, the symbols for certain compound units are usually written without separation, thus: watthour (Wh), kilowatthour (kWh), voltampere (VA), and kilovoltampere (kVA).
I might point out a further similar unit: A⋅h (which on batteries is usually Ah or mAh). —Quondum 00:38, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
I had the same thought of using the IEEE/ASTM SI 10-2010 text, but kept it to myself because as you may have heard, some people think I'm mean and bossy, and I was afraid to endanger the consensus already building. So what will we do with it?
  • The list in the IEEE/ASTM text is certainly meant to be just examples -- if kWh is OK then certainly so is MWh.
  • If we say In electrical power engineering that will be taken literally as the exact boundary of applicability, and there will be endless arguments about whether e.g. a battery charger for an electric car is "electrical power engineering". So we should keep the "conventional in reliable-source discussions of the article topic" bit from the MOSNUM general guidelines.
Therefore I suggest:
VERSION E: In some topic areas such as power engineering, symbols for certain units are usually written with neither space nor · -- for example Wh, VA, Ah, and so on; as well as (for example) kWh, MVA, GAh, and so on. Follow the practice of reliable sources in the article's topic area.
Again, the purpose is to make it clear that editors should, as always, look first to sources in the article's topic area, and specifically to make sure they don't feel guilty about breaking the pristine space-middot convention, if sources indicate they should do that.
I'm assuming all the supports would be happy with one of H, Q, or E, or some melding of them. Can those of us who have not dropped dead from exhaustion and are still watching, hammer out a final version we can all support, and then we can ping all the old participants for a new round of supports on this new verions. OK? So first, comments please on H, Q or E (or tell me if I'm assuming too much). EEng (talk) 03:17, 5 August 2014 (UTC)
I have no problem endorsing such a proposal (I will not split hairs between three different versions), now that people have actually bothered to find a supporting standard, rather than just inventing one. In passing, I must remark how much it amuses me that standards organisations are not inbred masturbators when they tell you what you want to hear. Now if only certain people would at least bother to furnish us with a legitimate standard for bronze-age crap like "stones". Archon 2488 (talk) 10:04, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

You still have it backwards. The significance of the IEEE/ASTM standard is that it convinces a certain group -- those who think (contrary to WP guidelines) that standards are the final authority -- to stop arguing about this. It doesn't mean that standards are, or ever were, what controls WP's approach to this question or to other similar questions.

It's helpful to look at standards because they can explain why sources follow the practices they follow, and especially where sources follow conflicting practices, it's probably because they follow conflicting standards, and looking at the standards can help us understand the whys and wherefores, which in turn helps WP come to its own decision.

A second reason to look at standards is that they often express things well and comprehensively, and to the extent they say what MOS wants to say, they can often be cannibalized.

But those are the only reason for looking at standards -- not because they control. The sources in the topic area control. And not because I say so, but because MOSNUM says so. EEng (talk) 15:49, 5 August 2014 (UTC) P.S. All this talk of masturbation and "stones" is beginning to evince an unhealthy preoccupation.

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Hallucegenia, Quondum: Can you opine on H vs. Q vs. E? EEng (talk) 22:17, 6 August 2014 (UTC)

Between them I'd go for E. —Quondum 06:28, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
I'd prefer H, because it's the shortest, but would support any text that prefers "kWh" over "kW·h". Hallucegenia (talk) 15:55, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
The reason for the middot is rather obvious. It avoids ambiguity. Consider the Coulomb, or Ampere-second. If it were symbolized as "As" the potential for misreading would be rather obvious, while "A · s" is quite clear. The professionals in the IEEE standards committees, rather like wikipedians, donate their valuable time to hash out these standards. They are not doing so as a form of "masturbation" but rather because they have a legal and moral obligation to the public and their clients to get these things right. Confusion gets people killed, and that is something to be taken very seriously. LeadSongDog come howl! 16:39, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The only problem with that fine piece of reasoning is that, as we've seen, it's IEEE itself which endorses omitting the space and middot where there's no ambiguity. And as seen as there's clear consensus to follow that practice in articles where sources on the article topic do so. Based on Hallucegenia and Quondum's comments, I'm going to install Version E in the live guideline, contingent on their being no objection by the supports so far to the slight expansion it represents over the proposal originally discussed. EEng (talk) 18:54, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Hmm, on reviewing the current standard, para seems to be your point of reference. "The symbols for certain compound units of electrical power engineering are usually written without separation, thus: watthour (Wh), kilowatthour (kWh), voltampere (VA), and kilovoltampere (kVA)" is the only exemption offered to the general rule "To form the symbol for a unit that is the product of two or more units, use either a raised dot (called a middle dot in computer technology, Unicode character 00B7), which is preferred, or a space." I would have to do some archeological work to find out just when those exemptions were added, but they are certainly there now. I can accept that for the specific cases of the Wh, the VA, and their multiples there is no risk of ambiguity, particularly as they are to be applied in electrical power engineering. Your wording at "E", however, invites broader application of the concatenation of symbols, as per my earlier example. This invitation I contend still needs addressing. LeadSongDog come howl! 20:06, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that only geeks can edit. MOSNUM appears to be inhabited by geeks with advanced science degrees whose ideal unit of measure includes a character that is not on a normal keyboard and requires a superscript or subscript. You get bonus points for needing a convert macro. We should follow reliable sources not some scheme that is a grand unification theory for all symboldom. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 19:46, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
What, there's no space on your keyboard? That's novel. LeadSongDog come howl! 20:09, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
I was not just talking about the kWh unit. In general when a new user attempts to edit an article they see a blizzard of markup language. This example has a high degree of difficulty: Gmiddot; M<sup>minus;2</sup> -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 21:32, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
Your "example" has the disadvantage of not being a real unit, or a real anything – giga per square mega? Archon 2488 (talk) 01:15, 8 August 2014 (UTC)
We try to avoid the one extreme of requiring 5 university degrees and 10 years expereince to edit WP or the other extreme of simple editing allowing it to look like twitter entries by 15 year olds.
Is the capital M supposed to represent M for Mega or is it supposed to be lowercase 'm' for metre? We get blasted for being too picky but also get blasted for being inaccurate or ambiguous.
When you edit an article there is a small set of commonly used symbols slightly underneath the main edit. This set includes – — ° ′ ″ ≈ ≠ ≤ ≥ ± − × ÷ ← → · § . Click in the article at the position you want the symbol, then click on the symbol one you want and it appears in the article. Takes longer to explain it than to actually do it. Simple.  Stepho  talk  23:53, 7 August 2014 (UTC)

Microsoft is more important than IBM and Toshiba[edit]

It is for the best that editors remain unaware that IBM and Toshiba use unambiguous binary prefixes, because (shock, horror, probe!) they might start to use them themselves, and we wouldn't want that, would we? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 21:26, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

For further clarification, according to IBM:

  • Decimal units (base-10), such as K, MB, GB, and TB, are commonly used to express data storage values. These values, however, are more accurately expressed using binary units (base-2), such as KiB, MiB, GiB, and TiB. At the kilobyte level, the difference between decimal and binary units of measurement is relatively small (2.4%). This difference grows as data storage values increase. When values reach terabyte levels, the difference between decimal and binary units approaches 10%.
  • To avoid confusion, the online LTFS Single Drive Edition product documentation represents data storage using both decimal and binary units. Data storage values are displayed using the following format:#### decimal unit (binary unit)
  • For example, a value of 512 terabytes is displayed: 512 TB (465.6 TiB)

It is for the best that Wikipedia editors remain ignorant of the benefits of IEC prefixes. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 21:40, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

Please read WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS. What you added, even if the statements are accurate (I didn't check; many such statements added have been faked), have no place in the MOS. They may be used on the MOS talk page to attempt to justify a change in the MOS, but they do not belong in the MoS. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 23:13, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
See also the OR-laden QUOTEFARM Timeline of binary prefixes, which includes stuff like '1957 ... Earliest instance of "kilobit" in both IEEE explore and Google Scholar'. EEng (talk) 23:40, 1 August 2014 (UTC)
Well, are the statements in question true or false? Is this yet another context in which we are supposed to ignore inconvenient facts for political reasons? Archon 2488 (talk) 22:48, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
IBM still uses KB, MB and GB to specify memory in their computers. Here are some quotes on the IBM Power System S824 [17]
"Level 4 (L4) cache - 16 MB per DIMM" and "Memory Min/Max - 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 module"
The IBM zEnterprise z196 [18] can have 3056 GB of Processor Memory.-- SWTPC6800 (talk) 23:53, 2 August 2014 (UTC)
The question is, are these units actually GB etc. or are they GiB, etc.? Archon 2488 (talk) 00:25, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
IBM may be weird (they now offer a decimal floating point unit on their mainframes) but they're not weird enough to build Random-access memory (RAM) with a capacity that is evenly divisible by one billion. Nobody's built RAM with a bit capacity that's evenly divisible by a power of 10 since the 1950s. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:56, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
The memories are industry standard binary size. The decimal floating point units are required for bookkeeping that is accurate to the penny. The repeated decimal to binary to decimal conversions of several million dollars could introduce serious round off errors. All the calculations are done in decimal to eliminate this problem. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 01:32, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

I don't see the relevance of computer architecture to how data storage is reported. In its customer support pages, to reduce confusion IBM consistently provides conversions between MB and MiB. Here's another example:

  • Decimal units such as KB, MB, GB, and TB have commonly been used to express data storage values, though these values are more accurately expressed using binary units such as KiB, MiB, GiB, and TiB. At the kilobyte level, the difference between decimal and binary units of measurement is relatively small (2.4%). This difference grows as data storage values increase, and when values reach terabyte levels the difference between decimal and binary units approaches 10%.
  • To reduce the possibility of confusion, this information center represents data storage using both decimal and binary units. Data storage values are displayed using the following format:#### decimal unit (binary unit)
  • By this example, the value 512 terabytes is displayed as: 512 TB (465.6 TiB)

The wording is slightly different but the underlying message is the same. The fact is that IBM and Toshiba are following international standards. Another fact is that IBM has gone to a lot of trouble to explain why it follows them. A third fact is that MOSNUM editors consider it appropriate to hide this information from its readers.Dondervogel 2 (talk) 07:47, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

Our (well, your) reasoning is not appropriate for the MOS, but only for discussions about the MOS. (And, even if correct, it doesn't significantly affect the arguments for the status quo, that KiB, MiB, etc., should not be used unless used in the sources.) — Arthur Rubin (talk) 08:04, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
So far I have just stated relevant facts. You are arguing that while MOSNUM readers (i.e., WP editors) need to be informed that unambiguous units are unfamiliar, they do not need to know that they are being used for disambiguation by the computer industry in situations for which disambiguation is needed. So far I have drawn no conclusions from the facts, but let me do so now by stating that I disagree strongly with your opinion and by explaining why. For the most part, MOSNUM does a good job not just in prescribing good practice, but in explaining the reasons for the choices made. A bizarre exception is made in the case of binary prefixes. Where it has attempted to disambiguate, the computer industry has chosen to use IEC binary prefixes for binary powers, and standard prefixes for decimal powers. MOSNUM should follow that lead instead of insisting on the present (failed) guidelines that result in hundreds (possibly thousands) of ambiguous articles. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 11:03, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Suggestion: does the convert template not support TB --> TiB conversions, etc? If not, why not? This would be a good way to disambiguate, and should keep everyone happy. It's all very well to say that WP should follow the conventions used by particular industries, but then in order to understand the units used, it would appear that the readers would also need to be familiar with industry practice. Archon 2488 (talk) 12:36, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
The first step would be to find an industry that uses the "MiB" units. An obscure application note on the IBM web site does not mean IBM uses this failed standard. "MiB" has been the binary unit of the future for almost 2 decades. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 14:41, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Toshiba press releases and product specifications [19] [20], plus IBM [21] [22] [23] and HP [24] [25] Dondervogel 2 (talk) 15:21, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
It's still beyond the scope of this discussion or of what should be in the MOS, but you have demonstrated that some (major) players in the industry say that they use MiB or that they use MB solely in the decimal sense, not that the industry uses MiB, even in situations where the disambiguation between the binary and decimal usage are made. (I was going to say "are necessary" rather than "are made", but that would be wrong.) We would need third-party comments to remove the "say", and survey articles to support what you seem to want. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 14:50, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
What I have shown is that these major players do use MB vs MiB to disambiguate between decimal and binary meanings, by which I mean that when both meanings are needed in the same article or on the same page, the decimal meaning is indicated by MB and the binary by MiB. I maintain further that this is the only form of disambiguation followed by industry and challenge you to cite one single example of a major player using an alternative disambiguation method. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 15:39, 4 August 2014 (UTC)
Here's an example where a major player (Samsung) deliberately exploits the confusion to "overprovision", describing a GiB of SSD as a GB, while reserving the additional ~7.4% for bad block repairs. This seems like a relatively principled practice if one concedes to the idea that confusion is inevitable, but the explicit conversion is clearly the most honest approach. Using {{convert|1|TiB|TB}} seems perfectly reasonable, though Module:Convert does not presently support these units. LeadSongDog come howl! 18:53, 7 August 2014 (UTC)
IEC prefixes shouldn't be used on Wikipedia just because someone can find one quote somewhere on a website from a manufacturer, especially when other pages from the same manufacturer use the commonly used units. Has the majority use or consensus changed in the real world yet? No it hasn't. No MOS change needed. Disambiguate any articles using exact numbers (or power notation) instead of IEC prefixes, the exact numbers (or power notation) are simpler and generally understood by more people. Fnagaton 11:55, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

MOSNUM history on IEC binary units[edit]

The adoption of the IEC binary prefixes on MOSNUM in July 2005 was controversial from the start.

This is ridiculous. There are a few extremely important points that are being ignored here. First, and most importantly, The Manual of Style should reflect common usage on Wikipedia, and not prescribe a usage which is not the common usage'. So no matter if 3 or 5 people vote here that the MoS should "recommend" the IEC prefixes, if that usage is no the common usage on Wikipedia, then it shouldn't be in the MoS. The reality is that the IEC prefixes are extremely obscure, particularly to the lay reader. Second, "oh, we'll just put in a link" is not really an adequate response to that complain. It's not a valid argument for the same reason that many articles include measurements in feet in inches. Third, people are used to kilobytes being 1024 bytes and megabytes being 1024 kilobytes, and even though there are new prefixes that define that explicitly, those prefixes do not enjoy common usage. It doesn't matter if they're official (whatever that means--there is no regulatory authority over the English language). The only thing that matters is common English usage—and with the exception of hard disk manufacturers and a few others, a megabyte almost always means exactly 1,048,567 bytes. Usage on Wikipedia should reflect the common usage, and the MoS should reflect usage on Wikipedia. Nohat 23:24, 12 July 2005 (UTC) [26]

In January 2006 a rogue editor, User:Sarenne, began the wholesale editing of articles to change KB to KiB, MB to MiB, and so on. That was his only contribution to the articles. Here is an example from May 2007[27]. When the article creators and regular editors complained at MOSMUN, they were told that consensus was the IEC prefixes. [28] There was a long and tedious debate about mandating the IEC binary prefixes. By July 2008 MOSNUM switched back from the IEC MiB to the traditional MB.[29] It appears that a few specialized devices are now specified with the IEC binary prefixes. This does not mean the Apple II article should be change to 4 KiB of RAM. If in 6 more years TiB is common, the vintage computer articles might still use the vintage units. Following the reliable sources would still be a valid guide. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 21:45, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

A slightly one-sided "history" don't you think? For a start it takes no account of the simple fact that Sarenne was trying to improve articles by removing ambiguity. Eight years on and what do we find? The same ambiguity in the same articles, and now many more due to the passage of time. The present draconian guidelines effectively contradict themselves by requiring disambiguation but then putting up a barrier that makes it nearly impossible to do so. Second, it fails to mention the incivility and socks used by those opposed to disambiguation. It was that incivility that caused the problems, not Sarenne (after all, there are plenty of mechanisms in place to keep rogue editors in check), and in your heart of hearts you know it. Third, it fails to point out that Nohat's summary is itself one-sided in not mentioning that the megabyte had a decimal meaning long before Apple and Microsoft created the present confusion.
One final point: mosnum should not construct a barrier to disambiguation as it does now - it should facilitate it. It should start by encouraging simple steps that any editor can carry out (and yes, that would inevitably involve the mebibyte because like it or not the mebibyte has become the industry standard disambiguation tool for binary units), and then encourage further improvement by replacing any unfamiliar ones with footnotes, ad presently prescribed. Permitting this 2-step disambiguation would make it much more likely to happen, and WP would have far fewer articles that contravene the present requirement to disambiguate. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 05:28, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
It's not "one-sided" at all. Sarenne was blocked for repeated major disruption to hundreds of pages. There is no ambiguity to using the commonly used prefixes and if necessary using exact numbers or power notation to state the bytes used. The present guidelines are not draconian at all, they reflect real world use. They are like that because some people tried to push their point of view about uncommon and rarely used IEC prefixes. Therefore MOSNUM should rightly create a barrier to people trying to push a point of view about these hardly used IEC prefixes. The mebibyte is not the de facto industry standard tool for binary units, simply because it is not widely used in the industry. It doesn't matter what supposed "standards body" anybody can cite because that is a primary source and does not follow the policy about reliable sources. A "standard" that isn't followed by the industry isn't actually a standard, it's a failed standard and one that Wikipedia does not insert into general articles. What actually matters to Wikipedia is the majority real world use demonstrated by secondary sources. Permitting what you call the "2-step disambiguation" (i.e. using IEC prefixes with a footnote) pushes a point of view that is contrary to the accepted majority real world use. Wikipedia does not push a point of view. Fnagaton 13:54, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
Saying they are hardly-used is a bit unfair. For example, I recently noticed that git-clone seems to display data transfer information in terms of mebibytes. Archon 2488 (talk) 23:09, 21 August 2014 (UTC)
The occurrence of a term in version control software could be the definition of "hardly-used" by the general public. -- SWTPC6800 (talk) 14:38, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
The general public is unfamiliar with git? You really think so? EEng (talk) 15:36, 22 August 2014 (UTC)
So giving an example of use is evidence that it is unused. How can one argue with such logic? I am sure that nobody ever uses Git, and GitHub is an obscure idea that never caught on or influenced anything. Honestly, discussions on MOSNUM make me feel like I'm stuck in a timewarp and I'm not sure whether I'm in 2014 or 1954.
Does the exclusive use of base-ten constitute "pushing a point of view"? What about the merits of base-twelve or base-fourteen counting systems? Or do those arguments apply only when the masses of certain kinds of simians living on certain islands are under consideration? What about those rare cases where non-decimal counting systems are actually useful, and there is actually an objective reason for using them? Are we not supposed to use them only in those cases? Again, what kind of logic is that? Archon 2488 (talk) 22:46, 22 August 2014 (UTC)

Nonsensical entry under "Accept" column for date formats[edit]

The rationale for

  • this edit (edit summary: you're not thinking carefully about this. As you have it the one Acceptable is the right replacement for both Unaccepts, and that's not true because the Unaccepts are ambiguous. Like I said we could lv Accept. empty, but please discuss on Talk)

in WP:Manual of Style/Dates_and_numbers § Date formats really escapes me. There is no uncertainty about the ambiguity: it is stated under the comments. The question marks ??-?? barely gives a hint unless you already know what it is trying to say, and would belong under the comments if you really want to use it. I think it is amply clear, though a few more words (e.g. "the day–month ordering is ambiguous"). The location of the bad format under the "Acceptable" column is the worst of all options. Besides, it is the one acceptable version for what is meant by both unaccepts (which, if you can disambiguate if you really want to, though a suitable choice of day > 12 for the example would achieve the same purpose. —Quondum 04:24, 3 August 2014 (UTC)

For the record, the original example wasn't nonsensical, but rather the best I and a number of other editors could come up with for a case that was just a bit different from all the others, and therefore didn't quite fit the format of the table. I think the OP's latest modification of the example [30] is a good one and solves the problem pretty well. EEng (talk) 04:56, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
Thanks – I'm glad there's something that is a reasonable fit all around; getting the right meaning across is tricky. And apologies for the wording that I chose above – I need to be less insensitive to the issues that others have considered and what they've achieved. —Quondum 06:19, 3 August 2014 (UTC)
As you may have seen I made a further adjustment which, in combination with your earlier edit, gives us something quite effective instead of just the least awkward of several bad alternatives. EEng (talk) 03:17, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Per mil[edit]

There've been unanimous comments at Talk:per mil to return the page to per mille and I'm launching its formal process now. That could go either way: per mil does seem to have an honest lead at Google Scholar despite being unbearably misleading and less common in general use. Maybe the people who come by to comment now will have a different feeling from those who have already stopped by.

Regardless of that page's status, though, I propose we suggest not using written "per mil" as a matter of house style (as here, here, here, here...). We can build a bot so that each use links to the subject's article and people are still going to misunderstand it as "per mil[lion]". It's not an issue worth having, particularly when any page using ‰ in a technical context should be using the symbol in the first place and when "per mille" is (A) etymologically more correct; (B) just as common in general use; (C) not unknown in technical use; and (D) not possible to confuse with ppm. (In the article on property tax, even if it is less common in general use, we should be using "mill" to fit with all the other phrasing on the page.) What do you guys say? — LlywelynII 12:16, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

I would support using "per mille" generally, because it's less ambiguous (also "per mil" looks somehow "wrong" to me; it looks like it should mean "per millilitre/millimetre" or "per mil"). Archon 2488 (talk) 13:41, 5 August 2014 (UTC)


As a side point, I have no qualm with the underlying assumption in our treatment of percent: non-technical pages can write it out and technical pages & infoboxes should use the sign.

However, the page currently reads as if we are saying non-technical pages (as a matter of style) should always write out the numbers and percent. That can't be right. Surely, in an article on Christianity,

  • seven to ten percent of Arabs are Christians is fine;
  • seven to ten % of Arabs are Christians is wrong;
  • 7 to 10 per cent of Arabs are Christians is not good; and
  • 7.1 to 10% of Arabs are Christians is fine.

Not only fine, but better. We should include an example in our treatment to make that clear. — LlywelynII 12:16, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

(We're talking here about WP:PERCENT.) MOS has a longstanding prejudice against mixing "verbal" and mathematical/symbolic forms (as your last example does) -- your last form is explicitly deprecated among the the "scientific" examples and I predict there would be significant resistance to changing that.

How would you feel about taking your example a step further, to 7.1–10% of Arabs? That's explicitly OK in MOSNUM, though under "scientific". However, the non-scientific/scientific divide is gently stated ("commonly used", "more common") and I'm not sure you'd have a problem using that form in a non-science article.

My usual advice is that changes shouldn't be made to MOS until it's clear there's a chronic, recurring problem that is wasting time at the article level. If you want to use that form in a certain article, why not go ahead and try it and see what the response is? EEng (talk) 18:50, 5 August 2014 (UTC)

And easier to read as:

  • 7–10 per cent of Arabs are Christians is not good; and
  • 7.1–10% of Arabs are Christians is fine.

Isn't there a rule in MOSNUM about consistency of decimal places? 10.0%? Tony (talk) 23:24, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Well, there's some talk of precision at MOS:DECIMAL and MOS:UNCERTAINTY. If/as this discussion continues, beware confusion of significant figures vs. decimal places. EEng (talk) 00:00, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

Follow the practice of reliable sources?[edit]

The sentence about following the practice of reliable sources was inserted in this edit by User:Pmanderson. That editor never accepted the concept of the Manual of Style picking one acceptable style choice over another. Not surprisingly, the edit was just thrown in, without resolving the resulting contradictions it created. For example, the MOSNUM at the time of the edit stated (and still states) that there should be no space between a number expressed in Arabic numerals and the percent sign, even though some reliable sources do put a space there.

I think the statement should be qualified to indicate it does not apply in cases where the MOS or MOSNUM has decided to chose among acceptable alternatives. Jc3s5h (talk) 02:10, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── We're talking about this:

== Units of measurement ==
[etc} [etc] [etc]
===Unit names and symbols===
  • Unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources.

What MOSNUM says about formatting %/percent isn't part of the "Units of Measurement" section, so your example doesn't apply.

This text says only that unit names and symbols should follow sources. It's pretty narrow. Furthermore, at the time it was added it was only one of a half-dozen mentions throughout MOSNUM (still there) that sources in the topic area should guide. And regardless of how it got there, it's been present for almost four years. Is there an actual, non-hypothetical problem you're trying to solve i.e. disputes among editors that would go better in future if a change such as you suggest were made? EEng (talk) 02:43, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Official sources from the BIPM and NIST choose to treat "percent" as a unit name and "%" as a symbol, even though Wikipedia chose to list them in the "Numbers" section. There are also variations in reliable sources about whether there is a space between the numeral and "°C". Jc3s5h (talk) 03:01, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I repeat: is there a non-hypothetical problem you're trying to solve? Can you point to a dispute that's arisen that would have gone better had the kind of change you're proposing been in place? If there's no need for yet another MOS provision, then there's a need not to have a new MOS provision. EEng (talk) 03:16, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
The way I see it, the quoted statement point conflicts with others, so it should either be removed, or it should be clarified to take lower precedence. After all, its only logical intent is to apply where other MOS provisions do not already indicate what is needed. And the need to not have an unnecessary provision is a good argument for simply deleting the line. —Quondum 03:29, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Touche. Sort of. Actually, the logic of WP:CREEP isn't entirely reversible, for the following reason. If we take as a first approximation that more rules reduce conflict and debate (though possibly at the expense of strangling other desirable things), then when one considers adding a rule, one ought to be able to point actual conflicts under the rules as they are which you claim the new rule will prevent. But when we consider removing a rule, we have to think about whether or not conflict will be increased in the future -- without the rule -- and unfortunately that's a hypothetical about which we can only surmise. Anyway...
IMO something of this kind is needed, because without it, in any area on which MOS does not opine, editors have no touchstone at all from which to proceed to decide what to do. If you look back you'll see some extremely petty disputes about -- dunno -- whether gasoline in Scotland should be measured in imperial pints, or something. You'll see the cease-fire agreement at WP:UNIT. I stayed out of these disputes, but I watched, and one thing I believe in retrospect is that awful as they were, the general principle that we look to sources on the topic made them less awful than they would otherwise have been, because it gave the disputants a place to start.
Anyway, I was planning to propose the following:
In general, unit names and symbols should follow the practice of reliable sources.
Again, please remember the text in question occurs in the section on "unit names and symbols", so it has very narrow applicability anyway. However, I really don't think we should go further than this until we know what actual problem we're solving. EEng (talk) 04:29, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I think some of the recent conflicts about kWh vs. kW h, or KiB vs KB, are cases in point, in terms of the discussions on this talk page. Some editors treated "follow the reliable sources" as a principle that prevented the MOS from selecting one choice from among several acceptable choices. But this was never an established principle because when the text was created it created contradictions and those contradictions have never been resolved. Jc3s5h (talk) 04:08, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Quite the opposite. In dozens of articles editors had happily resolved among themselves to use kWh, by applying their common sense (as the top of every MOS page urges them to do) and looking in the sources on the article topics -- the "reliable sources principle" worked well. It's only because someone came here wanting to overturn that principle that we ended up in that long discussion, and added a clarification so it wouldn't happen again.

At least in that case we had an actual question to answer (i.e. the formatting of kWh). What you propose is to now resolve all potential conflicts in advance. Again, I urge waiting until an actual problem arises that someone cares about. EEng (talk) 04:29, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

I'll accept the "wait until we have a test case" rationale, but I will point out that the kWh example only went the way it did because the general usage within the subject area appeared to be effectively universal. The phrase "the practice of reliable sources" falls a little short of capturing that. —Quondum 05:59, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree, yet there's remarkably little trouble nonetheless. EEng (talk) 06:23, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
This rule raises the question of "what is a reliable source?". It tends to get interpreted as "follow the majority" even when that majority is unreliable. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 08:15, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Exactly – this is fertile ground for disagreement, but I guess we'll have to wait for a skirmish to review this. (And I would not say that the closely related kWh thing was "remarkably little trouble".) Other that these two, uses of the phrase "reliable sources" abound on the page, but in all but these two cases in it is highly constrained and generally serves as an additional final constraint, not as a (first!) requirement. But I'm anticipating the discussion ;-) —Quondum 14:35, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
When I say "remarkably little trouble", I'm thinking of the many discussions on the talk pages of individual articles which get resolved amicably, with those who inhabit MOS none the wiser. Editors hanging out here see only the hard cases where tempers flare. EEng (talk) 17:55, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
The discussion on kWh was mostly good-natured, and it was resolved well with Eeng's stewardship. But you do not need to look far to find a dispute that lasted (literally) for years, was not resolved well, and was anything but natured. I am referring to a dispute that resulted in many editors avoiding this page (one referred to it as a "snakepit" and one stopped editing WP altogether), and is at least partly responsible for the present restrictions on this page. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 15:21, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
One helpful thing about the bit/byte dispute -- never-ending, deeply entrenched, seemingly irresolvable -- is that it provides a yardstick against which all the other never-ending, deeply entrenched, seemingly irresolvable MOS disputes can be measured. And in the darkest hours of any other controversy, editors can remind one another: "Well, at least this hasn't gone on as long as bits and bytes!", and take comfort in that.

More seriously, I began my career as a computer engineer more than 35 years ago, but I have no idea what the right answer is. In fact the reason this has gone on so long, I think, is that there is no right answer, and in fact there may not even be a good answer -- we (computer people, that is) may have backed into a corner from which there's no way out. For professional reasons I never edit computing-related articles, and that's lucky because I think this would be a constant source of anxiety and conflict.

How gratified I am by your "stewardship" comment. Perhaps you don't know it was recently suggested that I be topic-banned from MOS because (it was said) in the kWh discussion I was "disruptive", my comments weren't "helpful or proportionate to the importance of the topic" and showed "too much aggression", and that I "simply cannot relent on MOS-related matters" (WP:Administrators'_noticeboard/IncidentArchive849#User:EEng).
EEng (talk)
But there is a way out - a very simple one. It has been endorsed by the International System of Quantities and is followed by scientists and industry alike. Wikipedia claims to follow reliable sources and the reliable sources follow IEC 80000-13, but Luddite mosnum editors prefer to resist progress.
If I had known about the proposed topic ban I would have opposed it. You are doing a good job. Consider toning down for newcomers not yet accustomed to your style, especially non-native English speakers who might not appreciate the wit.
Dondervogel 2 (talk) 20:18, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
It's only a way out if consensus can form behind it, and I just don't see that happening. The enormous confusion in the real world seems destined to always be reflected as dispute within WP. I've been touting the fundamental principle of following the practice of sources, and mostly deflecting the question of what to do if sources are in serious conflict, as they are on bits and bytes. My personal answer is in such cases WP will need to make an arbitrary decision and memorialize it on MOS. OK, but which of the several alternatives will that arbitrary decision endorse? And now we're back to arguing again. In some cases that arguing can be eventually resolved, but in others it goes on seemingly forever if not longer.

I'd get involved if I thought I could help but (a) I don't think I can add usefully to the debate and (b) as mentioned, for professional reasons I need to stay away from computer-related topics. I hope you don't feel I'm abandoning you.

I wasn't worried for a second about the topic-ban -- everyone recognizes an angry hypocrite when they see one -- but thanks. Speaking of toning it down... Luddites?
EEng (talk) 21:22, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Units of measurement[edit]

My request is incredibly simple and basic. May we please have a table showing the style adopted by WP for basic units of measurement, e.g. centimeters, inches, pounds, ounces? Like the sort you see in diaries, on the back of calendars, etc. P123ct1 (talk) 19:34, 10 August 2014 (UTC)

Can you give an example of what you're looking for that's not here? EEng (talk) 20:18, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
I am also confused by this request. The current guidance is if anything somewhat too extensive, and several special exemptions have had to be negotiated at the MOS level (some might say this is less than ideal). In what way is the existing guidance deficient? Archon 2488 (talk) 14:28, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Date format consistency between body and reference sections[edit]

I made this change, which is based on consensual current practice and is one of the desired aims of this guideline but seems to not to have been made explicit, for some unknown reason. However, my change has been reverted claiming that it needs to be discussed at Wikipedia talk:Citing sources. We do not rely on our sources to determine the date formats within our citations, and to do so would lead to an undesirable mish-mash of dmy, mdy and yyyy-mm-dd that would be contrary to our goal of format consistency. As my change is purely a format issue and does not seem to be one that impinges on using a mix of "standard" dmy or mdy with another such as yyyy-mm-dd or yyyy, mmm dd, I reversed his removal and open the discussion here. -- Ohc ¡digame! 04:07, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

I went through this when rationalizing the presentation (the presentation -- not the content) of MOSNUM 6-9 months ago. For reasons I've been unable to discern there's extreme protectiveness of the flexibility to use somewhat different date formats in the article proper versus in the cites. As I recall there's extensive discussion of this over the years, but I can't recall where, though if you search the archives here, at Wikipedia talk:Citing sources, and (I seem to recall for some reason) at Help_talk:Citation_Style_1 I think you'll pick up the scent.
In the meantime I think it would be best if you self-revert. I say this not because I have a position on this (I don't) but because of the extreme emotions I've seen on this in the past. EEng (talk) 04:53, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
AFAICR, that was in relation to the mixed use of dmy (or mdy) and yyyy-mm-dd dates in the references section, there was an understanding there needed to be internal consistency vis à vis the use of dmy vs mdy. -- Ohc ¡digame! 08:03, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree with EEng that the best we've been able to agree so far seems to be: be consistent in the text; be consistent in the publication dates in the refs, not necessarily using the same style as the text; be consistent in the style used for access and archive dates, not necessarily using the same style as elsewhere, e.g. here yyyy-mm-dd can be used. So there can be three consistent styles in an article, and experience shows that some editors will strongly defend this situation. Peter coxhead (talk) 07:44, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
So you seem to be saying that we should allow ourselves to be consistently inconsistent when it comes to the two sections?? <scratches head furiously> It's bad enough to have some articles in dmy and others in mdy, but at least there is potentially consistency within an article, but sincerely fail to see how it can be in readers' interest to have dmy in the body and mdy in the references or vice versa. It just looks sloppy. -- Ohc ¡digame! 07:51, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Article-consistency for optional styles is the mainstay of our system. Just why we would allow mdy in the main text and dmy in the references is beyond my small intelligence. Yet I too often see it. No one has ever complained at its harmonisation. Tony (talk) 07:59, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Strongly agree Confucius and Tony. Consistency is more important than the egos of individual editors each wanting their own favrit spelling. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:04, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I really don't care either way, but it's easy to turn that argument around. "...the egos of a small group of editors wanting to impose their favourite spellings on all editors of all articles, some of whom may prefer to use their favorite spellings." Who's imposing on whom? But again, I have no dog in this fight. I really should unwatch this page, but it's like a traffic accident -- I can't help looking. EEng (talk) 14:54, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Agree that we should be consistent in articles and we should disallow a mix of DMY and MDY in an article text & references. It should be made clear in the MOS that such a mix is not to be tolerated. Keith D (talk) 11:26, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Suggested criterion: if the article is in US English, use MDY, otherwise use DMY? If there is a strong reason to prefer the latter, which I doubt, then the article probably shouldn't be in US English in the first place. In any case, MDY isn't commonly used outside of the US. Archon 2488 (talk) 11:33, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree DMY should not be seen outside articles written in US English. Other articles would then choose between DMY and YMD, as appropriate. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 11:50, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I agree with the points above. @Ohconfucius: I agree that we shouldn't allow a mix of DMY and MDY in the text and in publication dates in references (although I favour allowing YYYY-MM-DD in access and archive dates). My point was that there are editors who object strongly, quoting WP:CITEVAR, which does seem to allow citations to exist in a world of their own. So CITEVAR would need to be adjusted to achieve consistency of the kind those of us commenting here seem to favour. Peter coxhead (talk) 14:31, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
If there are editors who object to this kind of consistency, they must be very few, or very shy. Maybe we don't need to invent such stumbling blocks. Let's move forward. Dicklyon (talk) 14:38, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
All I know is that I've made such consistency adjustments in the past and been sharply "told off" quoting CITEVAR. I tend to move on in such cases, so I can't off-hand recall where this happened. Peter coxhead (talk) 14:41, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
so what am i doing wrong? i've harmonised dates in over 100k articles and nobody has complained using the argument you quoted. -- Ohc ¡digame! 22:21, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
@Ohconfucius: luck – you didn't encounter those with views like Jc3s5h below. :-) Peter coxhead (talk) 08:18, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
@Peter coxhead: Tempting fate, I have had flaming arguments here at WT:MOSNUM with JC3, but have never come across editors holding those views in article space. ;-) Or maybe it's simply because "other formats" represent a minuscule proportion of all WP articles. -- Ohc ¡digame! 08:29, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
To add in my agreement, one should be be used DMY in the prose and MDY in references, or MDY in prose and DMY in references. Or, more specifically, if one is using DMY or MDY in references, that choice needs to be consistent with the date format in the prose. --MASEM (t) 14:50, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

I have advertised this discussion at WT:MOS and WT:CITE. Since the current state of affairs has been arrived at through numerous requests for comments, I consider it unacceptable to change the state of affairs without a well-advertised and well-attended request for comment.

Given that the Wikipedia community steadfastly refuses to adopt a house citation style, I will offer two substantial reasons for allowing the date format in the citation to be different from the date format in the body of the article:

  1. The editors may be using citation management software that automatically produces one of the external format styles. Having to manually change the date format after the software has created the citation would defeat the purpose of using software. An example of a format that could be cut-and-pasted into Wikipedia is the CSE style. Here is an example of that style: "5. Stevens MH. Heavenly harbingers. Smithsonian. 2001 Nov:20, 22."
  2. If the style does not provide automatic links among the inline citation markers, the short footnote (if any), and the list of works cited, it is helpful to have works by the same author listed in chronological order. Putting the year first in the publication date makes it easier for readers to manually locate the correct work in the list.

Jc3s5h (talk) 15:20, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

"It's bad enough to have some articles in dmy and others in mdy", why? "Suggested criterion: if the article is in US English, use MDY, otherwise use DMY?" I am sill amazed that people don't realise that in Britain both styles are used.

I am developing an article at the moment and throughout the text I an using DMY (it is in British English), but this leaves me with a quandary, because it is a very detailed military campaign article that covers a few days. If I place the dates as section headers I get "10 June" "11 "June" etc, with sub headings for the actions of the day and the bivouac locations at night. The problem with this is that the TOC looks odd because I get:

4 10 June
 4.1 lots sub headings
5 11 June
 5.1 lots of different sub headings
6 12 June
 6.1 more sub headings

Stylistically it looks better in the TOC to use

4 June 10
 4.1 lots of sub headings
5 June 11
 5.1 lots of different sub headings
6 June 12
 6.1 more sub headings

This fits in with the advise in MOS:SECTIONS "Avoid starting headings with numbers ... ", and is stylistically justified, yet I know that if I use one format in the text and another in the headers it will not be long before a muppet comes along insisting that the days and months MUST be consistent. There are times when it is convenient to use different formats within an article and there are times when for stylistic reasons someone may wish to use more than one format.

-- PBS (talk) 16:53, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

The first format looks clearer to me, because it seems less likely to be mistaken for
4 June 2010
 4.1 lots of sub headings
5 June 2011
 5.1 lots of different sub headings
6 June 2012
 6.1 more sub headings
Dondervogel 2 (talk) 17:40, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
Also, one can "split" the numbers a few different ways without impacting much else, such as "Day 1: 10 June" or "Tuesday, 10 June". --MASEM (t) 17:46, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
You have to consider it in context, the military campaign was fought over days not years, and the lead explains the context before the TOC is read. Why would you assume "2010" and not 1010, 1610, 1810 or 1910? The day as in Tuesday ought not to be included as it is not a significant, as to "Day 1" it is meaningless as no reliable sources counts the days like that (and few mention the days of the week), but they all mention the day of the month, the month and the year. -- PBS (talk) 18:17, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I think the issue is not whether the table of contents can be deciphered, but whether it is instantly understandable. There are an infinite number of ways to indicate that a car should stop, but the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices strictly regulates what a US stop sign must look like so that drivers will recognize it instantly. Since a table of contents is a navigation aid, just as a traffic sign is, I think Dondervogel 2 is justified in tinkering with the format to make the meaning instantly recognizable.
However, this is off-topic for this thread; consistency of the table of contents with the body of the article should be raised at WP:MOS. Jc3s5h (talk) 18:40, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
yes, this conversation has splintered and ought to be forked, but to reply to your point: MOSNUM isn't here to cut down on traffic accidents and there's no huge need to "instantly" recognise dates. "instant recognition" can be had if ALL dates were in the same format, and we wouldn't want that, wound we? ;-)-- Ohc ¡digame! 22:21, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
No, we woundn't. EEng (talk) 22:46, 11 August 2014 (UTC)
I do not think it is off topic because it is an example of why one shoe size fits all is not necessarily the best way to go. -- PBS (talk) 07:26, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

Does anyone know of a publication or publisher which expects works to contain proper citations, has a manual of style about how to write the body of the work, but does does not specify citation format? Wikipedia is the only publication I know of that fits this description. If someone does know of such a publication or publisher, how do they prevent conflicts between their manual of style and whatever publication style the author picks? Jc3s5h (talk) 23:29, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia is the only publication I know of that fits a lot of descriptions. I wouldn't worry about it too much. It's just argle-bargle to worry about whether the date formats in the references match the text. One more rule and one more thing to worry about. For references I use whichever style I like and so should you. If someone doesn't like it they should leave it alone anyway. But if they want to change it anyway let them. It's not worth worrying about. Herostratus (talk) 00:24, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia isn't a professional publication and doesn't even try to be even though some articles may be close to professional quality. Overall, we try our best and would be best classified as a "lay publication" targeted at the layman. I see no real point allowing editors from different fields to ape the different formats used in various external style guides applicable to their professional publication. Anything other than a unified style would just confuse our readership. -- Ohc ¡digame! 01:58, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Sure, but there are a number of factors that have prevented Wikipedia from adopting a unified style for citations. I don't know why no printed style guide could be agreed upon before the advent of citation templates, that was before I heard of Wikipedia. By the time I started editing, it was a contest between templates and no templates. Templates really didn't lend themselves to being adopted as a house style, because they were more a toolkit than a style. Different editors would make uncoordinated changes to various templates, and if you put too many on a page, they stopped working. Also, there were no templates for some kinds of sources.
In such a contentious atmosphere, it's no wonder that no one was willing to write a complete citation manual that could coordinate the development of citation templates, or explain how to cite sources that weren't supported by templates. Such a work would be at least 50 pages, judging by the size of the corresponding chapter(s) of printed style guides. The would-be author would probably figure no one would accept it, no matter how good it was, so why start. Jc3s5h (talk) 02:27, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The text in MOSNUM already spells out in great detail which date formats should be used where (mdy vs dmy). Let's not invent a new set of rules for citations based on engvar (which is not necessarily consistent with date format). We just need to say: "Avoid using dmy in reference lists where mdy is used in the main text, and vice versa." Tony (talk) 03:00, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The style for the American Medical Association says dates are in the MDY form. Automated tools that generate citations in that format generate MDY dates. So Tony1 proposes forbidding the American Medical Association style in dates that use DMY in the body of the article, but making such a prohibition violates WP:CITE. There is no point in putting the rule in; since it contradicts another guideline, it is unenforceable. Jc3s5h (talk) 03:14, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
The AMA style is not god. Like the much-reviled APA style. If the dates are dmy in the article, why should some US system be used in citations? Think about our readers, please. The AMA is not servicing an international online wiki encyclopedia that is edited and read by speakers of all varieties of the language. Tony (talk) 06:17, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
A person who wants advice about the best citation format to use for an article is going to read WP:CITE, not WP:MOSNUM. It is wrong to put a rule in WP:MOSNUM that forbids certain citation style formats, because that is not the topic of this guideline. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:34, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
"We just need to say: Avoid using dmy in reference lists where mdy is used in the main text, and vice versa." Why? Herostratus (talk) 03:47, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
Popcorn, anyone? EEng (talk) 05:37, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

@Dondervogel 2 "It's bad enough to have some articles in dmy and others in mdy", why? --PBS (talk) 07:26, 12 August 2014 (UTC)

I think what I said was that MDY should be avoided in references unless used in the main article. My view is that MOSNUM (and MOS generally) should strive for a consistent style, first within articles (essential) and then across articles (desirable). Dondervogel 2 (talk) 07:46, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Although I think that it would be better to say that the text and references should not mix DMY and MDY, I do agree with Jc3s5h that this would need to be agreed at WP:CITE as well as here. A full RfC, anyone? Peter coxhead (talk) 16:27, 12 August 2014 (UTC)
  • The actual purpose of the "two styles" rule was always, as far as I could tell, to allow YYYY-MM-DD in the refs, "a foolish consistency" etc. I am happy for all dates in an article to follow DMY or MDY. I trust that there will be no actions that casue conflict taken if we adopt this approach, and certainly none that prolong it if it occurs. All the best: Rich Farmbrough00:27, 13 August 2014 (UTC).
    • Just to expand a little, phrases like "not to be tolerated" are not consistent with the wiki-way, and the guideline status of MoS. All the best: Rich Farmbrough00:28, 13 August 2014 (UTC).

I strongly agree with Ohconfucius, Tony1, Dondervogel2, Keith D and Masem. It seems like a no-brainer to me: If the article uses DMY, use DMY in the references. To do otherwise just looks very sloppy. If "citation management software" produces the wrong results, don't use citation management software. I strongly disagree with Herostratus's assertion that this issue doesn't matter. -- Alarics (talk) 10:58, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

There's an important difference between "if the article text uses DMY, don't use MDY in the references" and "..., use DMY in the references". I agree with the first, but not the second. Peter coxhead (talk) 13:10, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Why not turn it on is head "if the references use DMY then don't use MDY in the text"? It seems to me if all someone wants is consistency it does not matter which way round it is. -- PBS (talk) 15:34, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
We could, but it would require revision of WP:STRONGNAT; I doubt consensus could be formed to change that. Jc3s5h (talk) 15:50, 19 August 2014 (UTC)

The IBM style guide[edit]

There are hundreds (probably thousands) of articles in which the unit symbol MB is used ambiguously to mean one of megabyte and mebibyte. There are also many articles in which the same symbol is used in the same article to mean both of those. I don’t know how many but it is not hard to find them (a simple search for “MB GB” returned TomTom top of the list, and I am sure there are many more). What is the purpose of inflicting this kind of ambiguity on the reader? IEC binary prefixes are part of the International System of Quantities, are used in hundreds of scientific publications every year, and have been adopted by industry as the preferred disambiguation method when both binary and decimal meanings are presented in the same article or context (see, e.g., the IBM style guide). I propose that MOSNUM follows IBM’s lead, drags itself kicking and screaming into the 21st century, and ends its pointless deprecation of IEC binary prefixes. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 13:29, 13 August 2014 (UTC)

An extract from the IBM style guide reads [DeRespinis, F., Hayward, P., Jenkins, J., Laird, A., McDonald, L., & Radzinski, E. (2011). The IBM style guide: conventions for writers and editors. IBM Press.]

To help avoid inaccuracy (especially with the larger prefixes) and potential ambiguity, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 2000 adopted a set of prefixes specifically for binary multipliers (See IEC 60027-2). Their use is now supported by the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and incorporated into ISO 80000. They are also required by EU law and in certain contexts in the US. However, most documentation and products in the industry continue to use SI prefixes when referring to binary multipliers. In product documentation, follow the same standard that is used in the product itself (for example, in the interface or firmware). Whether you choose to use IEC prefixes for powers of 2 and SI prefixes for powers of 10, or use SI prefixes for a dual purpose ... be consistent in your usage and explain to the user your adopted system.

Dondervogel 2 (talk) 13:36, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Or we could add MB with some parameters to {{convert}} and have it display any and all results in base 10. I think that would meet the spirit of the IBM guide and use one of our standard tools. Any interesting default could be to always output base 10 and those funny camel case things that no one uses. Vegaswikian (talk) 17:47, 13 August 2014 (UTC)
Adding a MB <-> MiB conversion to the convert template is a (very) good idea, but I'm not sure this would solve the ambiguity/contradiction in the TomTom article. How do you see it working there? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 07:54, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
Not much reaction yet - I guess everyone's on holiday - so let me make a more specific proposal, like this
  1. DEPRECATED: My computer is equipped with 16 GB of RAM. It has a 500 GB hard drive.
  2. PERMITTED: My computer is equipped with 16 GiB of RAM. It has a 500 GB hard drive.
  3. PREFERRED: My computer is equipped with 16 GB of RAM.[1] It has a 500 GB hard drive.[2]
In this way, articles can be improved in a stepwise basis. They can be disambiguated easily by going from 1 to 2, at the cost of the unfamiliar GiB (which must be linked). Going from 2 to 3 removes the unfamiliar GiB at the cost of the additional effort required for the footnotes. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 12:35, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
  1. ^ When measuring RAM, 1 GB = 10243 B
  2. ^ When measuring hard drive storage, 1 GB = 10003 B

The excerpt from the IBM style guide doesn't say to use the IEC prefixes, it says "In product documentation, follow the same standard that is used in the product itself (for example, in the interface or firmware)." That's not quite as restrictive as MOSNUM, but it certainly isn't a directive to change to IEC prefixes with all deliberate speed. Personally, I think the reason people don't care about this is that in the systems people use every day, they have more disk capacity and RAM than they know what do with, and just don't care about a 13% difference; when they think of increasing their disk or RAM capacity, they think of doubling it. (By the way, I used to use the IBM Style Guide when it consisted of a list of exceptions to the Chicago Manual of Style, with little stickers to stick in the affected sections of Chicago so you would know to look up the exception whenever that section applied to what you were writing.) Jc3s5h (talk) 14:28, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

I guess my concern is that option will run afoul of the MoS by creating too many blue links. I'd rather see:
  1. PREFERRED: My computer is equipped with 16 GB (17,179,869,184 bytes) of RAM. It has a 500 GB (500,000,000,000 bytes) hard drive.
I think we have to spell out the conversion clearly. Of course if convert supports this, then there is no user calculation needed. The template would display the conversion requested. If the numbers are too large we could output the conversion using the E9 scaling in the template. One could argue that GB, as a common term, should not be linked. Whereas GiB does since it is not common. But as pointed out above GB is ambiguous but if the conversion is provided, it is not ambiguous. Vegaswikian (talk) 19:06, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
I believe the degree of precision suggests is absurd in nearly every Wikipedia article. Jc3s5h (talk) 19:24, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
If you convert to E9, I think that issue is addressed. Using footnotes or section links for the same term does not really help the readers. Vegaswikian (talk) 20:14, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
@Vegaswikian: The need for the blue links will stay as long as there is ambiguity in the meaning of GB. The links are needed even doing it your way, with explicit conversions, because the reader will otherwise not understand why two different conversions are used. I also think that writing 16 GB (17.2 E9 bytes) is more confusing than 16 GiB, which is more precise as well as more concise. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 21:52, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Sept vs Sep for September[edit]

Someone called BattyBot ran awb[31] to change the abbreviation for September from Sept (the US standard) to Sep (I have never seen that before!) in a reference.

There was a discussion here in January 2014 and an RFC (which supported this nonsense). Also note that most spell checkers, including the one in the Chrome browser, consider "sep" to be an error. The Chicago Manual of Style clearly says that the abbreviation should be "Sept".

Before I change it back, I thought I would post here. Robert - Northern VA (talk) 23:19, 14 August 2014 (UTC)

  • If the months are standardized to 3 letter ones (including "Jun", "Jul", etc. ) then "Sep" is right. But if one is using the partial abbreviations, ("June", "July") , then "Sept" should be used. --MASEM (t) 23:23, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
  • Why abbreviate? This is not paper. Spell it out so readers with English as a second, third or fourth language know what this is. Vegaswikian (talk) 23:25, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
My answer is the citation style in WinFixer is execrable and the right answer is ignore the trivia of the date abbreviation and do a major cleanup on the citations. As far as browser spell checkers, they consider "accessdate", most proper names, and URLs to be misspelled, so they are of limited value when editing Wikipedia. (If we had smarter bots, we would have them skip articles like this because they need much more help than a bot can give.) Jc3s5h (talk) 23:39, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
The result of the RFC linked above was that "Sep" or "September" are both valid, depending on circumstances. "Sept" and "Sept." are proscribed. See MOS:MONTH. Quoting from the RFC closure: "when it is necessary to shorten a month, the month should be shortened to the first three characters with no full stop and this should be reflected in the two relevant MOS's". After the RFC was closed, the MOS was updated to reflect the consensus of the RFC.
Please read the RFC and discussion. It resolved inconsistency in the MOS and provided clear, concise guidance to editors. As for your spell-checker, if you are unable to prevent yourself from "correcting" "Sep" by ignoring the little red squiggly line, you can right-click on "Sep" and add it to your dictionary.
P.S. Jc3s5h, I cleaned up the references in a variety of ways. It's 20% less execrable now. – Jonesey95 (talk) 23:42, 14 August 2014 (UTC)
I will add that, as an American, "Sep" doesn't look right to me either. If we allowed abbreviated dates in the running text of articles, as the Associated Press Stylebook does, I would argue for "Sept" in articles that use American English. But since we only allow abbreviated dates in limited situations, I think it's OK to go with the format that saves the most space. Jc3s5h (talk) 00:00, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I am more used to seeing "Sep" than "Sept" myself. This comment about ISO 8601 (from an MIT website) seems relevant

"Are there any variations within, or applied to, ISO 8601 ?

The standard lays down a 'full' format for calendar date/time (e.g. the last day of last year is 1996-12-31), and then also defines 'truncated' forms (as in '96-12-31' says year 96 in any century, December 31st) and 'reduced precision' (for example '1996-12' specifies only down to month level) formats. The 'full' format is the most relevant here.

Astronomers have been using the ISO 8601 format to record observations and transfer data for many years, in fact since before computers were invented. Astronomers have made one small (unofficial) change to the way that ISO 8601 works. They often write the month as a 3-letter abbreviation. So instead of writing '1996-12-31' for the last day of last year, astronomers would write '1996-Dec-31'. This makes the date clearer to those who have not come across the Year-Month-Day way of writing dates before, but does have the disadvantage that it may render the date unknown to a non-English-speaking person. So it is appropriate to perhaps have a menu option on computer software that allows a choice of the 'Month in Numbers' or 'Month in Words' on output screens and printouts; so that software may store dates internally as numbers, but will convert the month to words on computer printouts intended for human reading e.g. store as '19991231' but print as '1999-Dec-31'."

Dondervogel 2 (talk) 04:16, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Dondervogel 2, I don't see how ISO 8601 applies. It requires a 4-digit year followed by a 2-digit month. Neither of the references you supplied talks of month abbreviations. In addition, the examples you give - '1996-Dec-31' - is not in the same format as Sept 4, 1999. Your argument is apples and oranges. Robert - Northern VA (talk) 05:40, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I did not explain myself well. My point was that 3-letter abbreviations are common (in my experience more common than 4-letter ones, though I accept the likelihood of regional variations). Perhaps a better example is Microsoft Excel, which also uses 3-letter abbreviations, and might on its own explain why "Sep" seems familiar to me while "Sept" or "Sept." do not. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 05:57, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
Interesting argument - spreadsheet software now dictates English grammar. We are discussing dates used in human readable text and not the quirks of computer software. According to The Associated Press Stylebook 2012
Always capitalize months. Spell out the month unless it is used with a date. When used with a date, abbreviate only the following months: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec.
I am not aware of any style guide or grammar book used in the US that supports the 3-letter abbreviation for September in text except when used in columnar tables (like a spreadsheet?). By pushing this change, you are effectively rewriting every English grammar book. Robert - Northern VA (talk) 08:56, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
I am pushing nothing - just stating facts. But if you want an opinion I am happy to offer one. If the context of this discussion is limited to text that one would read, I agree 100% with User:Vegaswikian: why abbreviate? Dondervogel 2 (talk) 09:02, 15 August 2014 (UTC)
@Dondervogel 2:, I started to read your comment above until I came to "This comment about ISO 8601". Our ISO 8601 article, in my opinion, is seriously broken, but there are not enough editors to move forward with any solution. So until some editors go over there and take a look, I will stop reading comments by editors who invoke that article in guideline discussions. This is my small way of trying to put work on articles ahead of work on guidelines. (I will read the MIT link to see if it might help with the "ISO 8601" problems.) Jc3s5h (talk) 10:00, 15 August 2014 (UTC)


Hi, portions of the writeup at MOS:LARGENUM are breaking my brain. Is there any way to clarify this?

Where explicit uncertainty information is available and appropriate for inclusion, it can be written various ways...

I've never heard of "explicit uncertainty information" and it's coming off as a grammatical mistake, although I do see 11,000 Google hits for the phrase being used in statistical and other math worlds (such as here), so I assume the problem is me. That said, those words in that order are bizarre to the layperson. And then a following clause reads:

Where explicit uncertainty is unavailable (or is unimportant for the article's purposes) round to an appropriate number of significant digits...

That's messing up my head as well, because we have a double-negative, followed by a negative alternative, so it's difficult to figure out what we're not looking for, or what our option isn't. I really don't know what is trying to be said here. "If you know the exact number, but such precision is unimportant for the article, round the number to an appropriate number of significant digits"? If so, can't we just say that?

Thoughts? I'm sure the math nerds will laugh me out of here, but I come in peace! I think we need to make this area a little clearer for we commonfolk. The boldface might be hindering as well. Thanks, Cyphoidbomb (talk) 02:13, 23 August 2014 (UTC)