Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 100

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2 by 4 inches (50 mm × 100 mm)

The guideline recommends "1.2 in × 1.8 in" over "1.2 × 1.8 in", fair engough, but what if the "×" is spelt out as "by" and/or the "in" (or whatever unit) is spelt out as "inch(es)"? "1.2 by 1.8 inches" would seem quite normal to me, "1.2 inches by 1.8 inches" being perhaps a little over the top but not wrong. How about "1.2 × 1.8 inches" verses "1.2 inches × 1.8 inches"? How about "1.2 by 1.8 in" verses "1.2 in by 1.8 in"? I sort of feel it's a question of "×" vs "by" more than "in" vs "inch(es)". Thoughts anyone ... JIMp talk·cont 07:08, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Expunge the passage as MOScruft. Omitting the in may be unclear, but including it may be heavy; both depend strongly on context. Either mention the problems or leave the entire matter to editorial judgment. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:30, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

I would advise against writing like that when you write it in words. No one writes "a 2 by 24 millimeter section", so I don't see why one should write "a 2 by 4 inches wood plank". One speaks of 2 by 4's, or 2x4's but that's because grammar-wise it's the name of the thing. When giving specifications, it should be "1.2 in x 1.8 in" or "1.2 inches by 1.8 inches", the x being used when units are in unit form and the by when units are fully spelled out. IMO.Headbomb (talk · contribs) 14:02, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Idiom is "two by four" or "2 by 4 inch plank". No inches need apply. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:19, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Also, a 2 by 4's actual dimensions are 38×89mm, see Dimensional lumber - which should probably be linked from instances of "two by four". --Random832 (contribs) 20:00, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

What on earth is wrong with "1.2 × 1.8 in" and "50 × 100 mm"? Shorter, easier to pick up, and absolutely unambiguous. TONY (talk) 14:15, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

There's a missing unit in the first number, so it could be anything. 1.2 ft x 1.8 in; 1.2 in x 1.8 in, 1.2 yards x 1.2 inches etc. Headbomb (ταλκ · κοντριβς) 19:02, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

Yes, it could mean anything; but in the absence of any evidence or indication to the contrary, it doesn't. See ellipsis; thus, for example, the phrase in my last sentence is equivalent to in the absence of any evidence to the contrary or indication to the contrary,. Again, never using ellipsis is bad, because clumsy, writing. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:20, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree that 50 × 100 mm has only one possible meaning: five metres. Thunderbird2 (talk) 06:02, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
I think I'm returning to my original gut feeling. Anderson is right to bring up ellipsis. I'd say that "1.2 by 1.8 inches" could mean nothing but "1.2 inches by 1.8 inches" and would be the usual way of expressing it in English. Ellipsis is aptly applied when we're dealing with words, the longer form clumsy. It doesn't occur in mathematics though. As Thunderbird points out, "50 × 100 mm has only one possible meaning: five metres", mathematically speaking. Since we're using a mathematical symbol (the times sign) it might be looked at as a mathematical expression. If we're using symbols/abbreviations for the units, we probably won't have to be concerned so much with wordiness. I agree Headbomb that "×" should be used when using symbols/abbreviations and that "by" should be used when spelling the units out. JIMp talk·cont 01:13, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

What about adding phone numbers?

I am almost 100% sure that phone numbers should NOT be added to Wikipedia, though the creator of this page seems to disagree. I want to delete them (stop me if I'm wrong) but each time I am stopped. I would appreciate it if someone could point our anything at all relevant to my point that I can share with said user as I can find none myself --Maurice45 (talk) 19:52, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

  • If it’s not even an English-language TV broadcast in India, the first question that pops to my mind is “does this subject have sufficient notability to even merit inclusion in en.Wikipedia?” I wrote “if” because the article doesn’t even explain what language the broadcast uses. Does that even matter for notability (?), I don’t know; but then, I’m not an expert on Wikipedia policies. Greg L (talk) 20:31, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
  • P.S.: The second thing that pops to mind is MOSNUM isn’t the proper forum for this. I’m not sure what forum is suitable and I hope someone else can direct this editor to the correct one. Greg L (talk) 20:33, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
    Explain that Wikipedia is not a phone book, and that is all the backup you need. ArcAngel (talk) 14:54, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Fnagaton should resign as sysop

I see that Fnagaton has flagrantly abused his role as a sysop by closing the AN/I on Omegatron with this POV summary:

This discussion has been archived after Tony's attempt to misrepresent and to make edits after the section has been archived. Tony's attempted bad faith misrepresentation and the subsquent refutation is now archived.

I was not aware that the page had been closed when I made whatever edit he's referring to. But there is a serious accusation of "misrepresentation", and again "bad faith misrepresentatio" that I dispute; in its focus on me alone, it is POV.

Can anyone advise me where I can make an official complaint about this? It seems a denial of natural justice that he thinks he can close a page with such a POV summary to which I have no right of reply, the content of which I think a lot of people would dispute. I think this is sysop-resignation material. [1] TONY (talk) 14:14, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

You attempted addition of bad faith misrepresentation to a section three months after it has been archived, the whole page is an archive as shown by the word "Archive" in the page title. You gave no right of reply by editing an archived page in the first place and what you did was a breach of etiquette by editing an archived section with your own personal attack and not telling anyone about it. Hiding an edit in an archived section that nobody is watching is also a breach of etiquette. That is why it has been marked with a "following discussion is archived" box to make sure you realise the section has been archived in the first place and should not have been edited by you. The justice is that your attempted misrepresentation has been archived for everyone to see. If you really want to make a complaint you may of course, but it will only draw attention to how you edited an archived section and your attempted bad faith misrepresention. I did actually consider reporting you for adding bad faith misrepresentation long after a section has been archived because what you did was wrong, but then I decided to mark the section as archived to make it clear to you that you should not be editing old archived sections and to give you a chance because I don't want to see you punished for making one mistake. Fnagaton 14:25, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
PS. If, as you claim, you were not aware the page had been archived when you made your edits then you can demonstrate this by requesting that all of your edits added after the section was archived and your edits to this talk page are completely removed. I would then consider the matter closed and I will not make a formal complaint against you for your attempted misrepresentation added to an archived section. Fnagaton 14:54, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Tony, see Wikipedia:Administrators#Grievances by users ("Administrator abuse"). --Gerry Ashton (talk) 14:52, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
I certainly will report this abuse. Fnagaton, I request that you remove the edits I made to that page in error. I certainly won't be removing my edits on this page pointing out your abuse and your personal attack. TONY (talk) 15:56, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
You made a personal attack with your first edit. You were then corrected by another editor and you then proceeded to make an uncivil comment which then demonstrated your are using bad faith misrepresentation. Your personal attacks and bad faith misrepresentation are archived on the page for the complaint to see. Fnagaton 16:03, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Let me get this right: you ask that I ask that edits I made in error be removed; then when I do so, you attack me again, but refuse to remove them. I give up. Further attack is the best form of defence, is it? My issue now is your abuse of admin privileges. TONY (talk) 16:18, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I said "requesting that all of your edits added after the section was archived and your edits to this talk page are completely removed". You have not made this request because you have not asked an uninvolved administrator to completely remove your edits here and on the ANI page, this involves removing all history entries for your edits. I cannot remove the history of your edits here and on the ANI page. I specifically mention this talk page because your accusations are completely false and you have made untrue claims in your edit comments themselves so it would do no good to only request the ANI changes to be removed since it would leave your untrue accusations on this page. I'll say it again, if you request that all of your edits added after the section was archived and your edits to this talk page are completely removed I would then consider the matter closed and I will not make a formal complaint against you for your attempted misrepresentation added to an archived section. Fnagaton 16:26, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • And now an anonymous Tor user has just made an edit to remove the section Tony1 objected to. And another Tor user. Fnagaton 18:54, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
    The Tor edits have been completely removed by User:Swatjester. Fnagaton 19:42, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Monthly update of style and policy pages: April 2008

It was a complicated month, so I hope I've captured, as simply as possible, the substantive changes. Please notify any issues on the talk page. TONY (talk) 15:59, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

:Tony, did you mean this talk page? I am assuming so, and I do have one minor comment, which is that in SI-speak, kgs does not mean kilogram-second (that would be kg·s or kg s). Thunderbird2 (talk) 16:09, 7 May 2008 (UTC) Comment moved to the correct talk page Thunderbird2 (talk) 10:27, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, Thunderbird; I goofed, and have now provided a section link to the talk page of the monthly updates—see above in this subsection. I'll deal with your point tomorrow, if you don't mind; off to bed. TONY (talk) 16:18, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Omegatron's proposal on a kind of no-break space at bugzilla

User:Omegatron has given the bugzilla (MediaWiki) developers a proposal to automatically avoid wrapping lines between numbers and certain abbreviations, such as cm or m. The link is https://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=13619. He's not proposing that they insert a no-break space character, simply that the html rendering not wrap the line in those places. Does anyone have anything to add or subtract from the list of scientific symbols at User:Bobblewik/monobook.js/unitformatter.js? - Dan Dank55 (talk) 03:24, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Centralized discussion: Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style#No-break_spaces_discussion_continues_at_bugzillaOmegatron (talk) 17:08, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

I agree the discussion should be in one place at a time ... nothing was going on there when I posted this :) Let's keep it there for now, but input would be appreciated, we don't get to take our concerns to bugzilla every day, and this one is important (to me). - Dan Dank55 (talk) 19:53, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

I reviewed the link provided by Dan which supposedly is a list of scientific symbols, and it struck me as gibberish. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 13:32, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
So many responses come to mind, but just one seems relevant. In wandering around Wikipedia, I've noticed that some discussions are more useful than others. A useful rule of thumb is to talk about things on the right page, and never on two different pages at once, otherwise things get a lot harder than they need to be. Note that, now that Stanton is back, he has moved several discussions that were in WP:MoS over here; good for him. We should be more careful to do that. In this particular case, the discussion has relevance to a bunch of different issues at the same time, so, as I pointed out above, we're arguing this one over in WP:MoS, where you will find that I gave additional links to official lists of SI symbols. The discussion needs more eyeballs, and there's some urgency, because there's an open request at bugzilla. - Dan Dank55 (talk) 14:13, 14 April 2008 (UTC)
Like Gerry Ashton, I was curious enough to click on the monobook.js link. Also like him, I did not understand the programming language used in the script, but something caught my eye nevertheless. Just after the comment "// decibel" is the command
  • txt.value = txt.value.replace(/(\d)\s?(dB)\b/g, '$1 $2');
Now I am curious about what this does. Can someone explain? Thunderbird2 (talk) 17:23, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
The reason I am curious is that the decibel is no ordinary unit. It is a (logarithmic) unit of ratio, and often meaningless unless accompanied by more information about both numerator and denominator of that ratio. It seems unlikely to me that such subtle (but important) considerations are taken into account by a single command. Hence the request for clarification. Thunderbird2 (talk) 17:31, 23 April 2008 (UTC)
It simply replaces any sequence of the form { <digit> <zero or one space character> "dB" <word boundary> } with { <same digit> < what I assume is actually a non-breaking space no, it's just a space> "dB" }. I don't think any special considerations are applicable here, though I'll note that this statement will not do the same for, e.g. dBA dBV and so on. --Random832 (contribs) 19:51, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

This line

   txt.value = txt.value.replace(/º/g, '°');

is indiscriminate. It will replace instances even where the Ordinal indicator character is actually intended.

   txt.value = txt.value.replace(/centigrade/gi, 'Celsius');

replaces all instances of the word "centigrade" in any context. "The Celsius temperature scale was previously known as the centigrade scale." would become "The Celsius temperature scale was previously known as the Celsius scale."

I'm also concerned in general about the indiscriminate behavior of this script, as applies to quotations, URLs, etc.. --Random832 (contribs) 19:58, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

User:SkyLined is working on a template {{val}}that'll fix this. Right now it's buggy (problem with 0s and the max number of digits mostly) though, so it's hard to recommend as if, but having wikipedia automattically replace anything indiscriminately is a BAD, BAD, BAD idea.

Examples: 123123.123234 MeV/c2, 1.22(35)×10−12 s Headbomb (ταλκ · κοντριβς) 13:09, 10 May 2008 (UTC)


No no no. The Mediawiki feature changes regular spaces into non-breaking spaces for display only. Currently, if you type « something in guillemets », the spaces between the guillemets and the words are converted into nonbreaking spaces when the page is rendered (see the wiki source and HTML source for the example I just typed). We are proposing that this be extended to units and dashes.

This will not add spaces where none previously existed. It will not affect the article's source code. All it will do is prevent numbers and units from breaking lines. False positives can be fixed by changing the regexp and nothing will be harmed by it. The worst thing that could possibly happen is two words not wrapping when they should. The link to Bobblewik's script is just an example of the kinds of units it could recognize, since my simple proposal to just change any instance of <number><space><letter> was rejected. — Omegatron (talk) 16:23, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

Fourth draft

{Quick link to version on MOSNUM}

The following green-div section is a “live” version for making proposals on. Please don’t do edit warring here. Discuss your proposals and edits in Discussion of “Fourth draft”, below.

Let’s not treat the fourth draft as so sacrosanct; that’s what this is here for: a sandbox. If someone has what they think is a good idea, toss it out there for others to look at. And don’t be defensive if someone replaces it with something else; we always have the red-div for reference. If someone is considering trying an edit they really know would be unhelpful and they know full well that the edit would be strongly opposed, don’t bother. Give & take. If someone has what they think is a truly bright idea that will gain consensus, add it to the below green-div ASAP. If everyone embraces the philosophy that they will only make edits intended to be one-and-a-half steps forward and only a half step backward (greater consensus with each move), this may go smoother. That’s my 2¢. Greg L (talk) 01:07, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Follow current literature

Use terminology and symbols commonly employed in the current literature for that subject and level of technicality. When in doubt, use the units of measure, prefixes, unit symbols, number notation, and methods of disambiguation most often employed in reliable periodicals directed to a similar readership.

The objective of technical writing is to communicate with minimal confusion so that readers can learn about a subject and are primed as well as possible to learn even more in their studies elsewhere. There are three important elements in determining what terminology and units of measure are best suited for a given article:

Preference for international units

Wikipedia generally prefers international systems of measurement, such as the SI, over U.S. customary units or the imperial system. Unless there is a good reason to do otherwise, write "He was 1.83 meters (6 foot) tall", not the reverse.
Discipline-specific practices
Wherever a discipline consistently uses its own units—either conventional or non-SI metric—this should be followed, since our readers should be able to converse with those knowledgeable in the discipline. For example:
  • “a 450 cc Honda motorcycle engine” and never “a 450 ml” or “450 cm3 Honda motorcycle engine”;
  • “Saudi Arabia exported 9.0 million barrels of crude”, but not “Saudi Arabia exported 1.43 million cubic meters of crude”;
  • “a gravity gradient of 3.1 µGal/cm”, not “a gravity gradient of 3.1×10−6 s–2, in the science of gravimetry.
Parenthetical conversions should be given where appropriate and should generally also follow the practices in current literature on that subject unless there is good reason to do otherwise. Often the conversions will be to modern systems. To retain accuracy when quoting sources, editors should generally use the units used by your cited source as the primary value for that particular measurement. The units to choose for parenthetical conversion througout an article is highly dependent on the subject matter. Even within the narrow discipline of piston engines in ground transportation, there is a range of permissible ways to show conversions; there is often no best way. For instance, writing "a 450 cc (450 cm3) motorcycle engine" is inappropriate even though it is in conformance with the SI; simply linking the first instance of “cc” to the Cubic centimeter article is sufficient. Writing "the Ford 351 Cleveland engine had an actual displacement of 351.9 cubic inches (5,766 cc)” is appropriate for a historical, American-made engine. And writing "the Dodge 5.7 L Hemi has a displacement of 5,654 cc (345.0 in3)" is appropriate for a modern, American-label engine that is classified in liters. But writing "the Ferrari Dino V12 engine has a displacement of 334.0 cubic inches" would be inappropriate in an article primarily about a European-made sports car.
There have been occasions where standards bodies have proposed new units of measure to better adhere to the SI and/or to address ambiguities but the new units didn’t see widespread adoption. Because existing prefixed forms of the byte are ambiguous ("KB", for instance, can mean either 1024 or 1000 bytes depending on context), the IEC in 1999 released its IEC 60027-2 amendment, introducing new prefixes for bytes and bits, such as "kibibyte (KiB)", "kibibit (Kibit)", and "mebibyte (MiB)". However, the IEC prefixes have seen little real-world adoption and are therefore unfamiliar to the typical Wikipedia reader. In keeping with the principle of follow current literature, editors should use the conventional binary prefixes, such as "kilobyte (KB)" and "megabyte (MB)", for general-interest articles and clarify their meaning where necessary using familiar techniques (subject to "Binary prefixes", below).
Level of difficulty (Do not write over the heads of the readership)
For some topics, there are multiple modern systems of measurement to choose from but some would generally be unsuitable for use in articles directed to a general-interest readership. For instance, the Planck units would typically be suitable only for advanced articles directed to expert readers—for example, an article on the mathematics of black hole evaporation—whereas an article on black holes directed to a general-interest readership should describe their mass in terms of solar mass. Level of difficulty also applies to the decision as to whether or not scientific notation should be employed in an article and, if so, at what magnitude it should begin. Here again, editors should look towards current literature on that subject for guidance in selecting level-appropriate units of measure, unit symbols, number notation, and terminology.

Figure of merit

Clearly, it is unrealistic to expect that wording for Fourth draft, above, can be found that will make all parties to this discussion happy; some editors’ views are polar opposites of another. The best we can do here is track how editors feel about this and endeavor to maximize the total score of support. Any edits that yields more points of support than it takes away should be considered as progress. Greg L (talk) 21:36, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

I would just like to point out the possible meaninglessness of voting on a document that can change at any time. If Jim, Bob, and Olga vote on this today. Tomorrow johnny edits, then Johnny votes, as well as Onésiphore, Paul and Abdul Nassim. Vote is not accurate, because people voted on different things. My vote goes for the fourth draft version that was displayed when I voted. See signature time. I'll try to keep my vote up to date. Headbomb (talk · contribs) 04:40, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I agree that rapid and radical editing could make it quite challenging to keep one’s vote current. Hopefully, chaos won’t reign supreme and we can adapt to the minor challenges. Greg L (talk) 04:43, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Maybe make the proposal text a sub-page to make it easier to put a watch on it? Then somehow include the sub-page inline with this page? I seem to remember it being done on one of the admin pages but can't for the life of me remember where exactly. Fnagaton 23:39, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I’ve never seen it done before but recognized the need for that capability and was wondering if the tools were available to pull it off. Why not? Greg L (talk) 03:42, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Neat. I’ll make a note of how you did this. Thanks. Greg L (talk) 21:15, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

At 8:3 in favor and no new “oppose” votes in over two days, there is clearly a general consensus in support of this guideline. Further, the arguments of the “oppose” votes simply are either in the minority, or are fallacious and can’t realistically be considered as a legitimate basis for maintaining a {dispute} tag, which has been removed. Greg L (talk) 21:33, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

Well, I think SOME of the arguments of the "support" votes are fallacious and have been refuted soundly. So there. Why does your opinion rule? Jeh (talk) 02:14, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Jeh, this policy was extensively debated, crafted, and tweaked for a very long time. Yes, as you surmised per your vote comment, your vote doesn’t really matter now because voting ended. After the first three “oppose” votes came in, no new ones were posted in over two days whereas “support” votes were still coming in. Circumstances have changed radically; potential “support” voters now have no reason whatsoever to post their vote since Follow current literature is now posted to MOSNUM. Not surprisingly, some “oppose” voters—like yourself—will continue to register their opposition to Follow current literature. While this affects the tally, it can’t and mustn’t change the outcome because the tally only becomes increasingly skewed due to the entirely different expectations and motivations for editors to continue voting or not. Nevertheless, your vote is still welcome since it was accompanied by your views on the matter. Greg L (talk) 03:59, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, extensively debated - with you declaring that all views opposing yours were invalid or had been refuted, and even telling objectors not to bother trying to change the proposal because any such changes would be quickly reverted. That's not a debate and it is not inviting of the proper process. No wonder so many objectors have gone away. For myself, I've been travelling a lot for work, and prepping for more travel, and I simply haven't had time to notify other past participants in the binary prefix discussion -- the way you did some of them. I may have time before the weekend... I think two days of relative inactivity is hardly sufficient to declare "end of debate" on a discussion that's gone on for months. Further, I am aghast at your claim that further discussion or votes "mustn't change the outcome." It seems to me that by your rules (and why are we operating by your rules, anyway?), consensus can change (see WP:CON, but only until GregL declares the discussion is over? You know, I would accept such a conclusion from an impartial moderator, but you are hardly an impartial participant in this matter. Jeh (talk) 07:21, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • What is not proper debate is posting up another "hate it" vote without providing substantive argument. We've already had impartial editors come along and say there exists good enough consensus i.e. there are no substantive reasons preventing the guideline text from being used. See [2] and [3]. Fnagaton 07:27, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Jeh: “…and even telling objectors not to bother trying to change the proposal because any such changes would be quickly reverted.” Pasture pancakes. Extensive discussion occurred and countless edits—by me and others—were made. They were all good-faith edits. Only disruptive “edits” (wholesale deletions of entire portions) that weren’t seriously intended to ever be accepted by the majority were rejected out of hand and reverted. You seem to have missed out on a lot of the goings on here while you were away. You really should have familiarized yourself with the facts before wasting 0.0001¢ of Wikipedia’s hard drive storage space. When you begin an argument with totally fallacious charges, I tune out the rest of your arguments; they aren’t worthy of the time to refute them. Goodbye. Greg L (talk) 16:47, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
DEGREE OF GENERAL CONSENSUS 
Editor   4     3     2     1     0  
Dank55
DavidPaulHamilton x
Denniss
Fnagaton X[1]
Gene Nygaard
Gerry Ashton X
Greg L X[2]
Headbomb x[3][4]
Jeh x[5]
Jim77742
Jimp ×[6]
LeadSongDog
Lightmouse x
Mahjongg X[7]
Marty Goldberg
MJCdetroit X[8]
Pmanderson
Rilak X[9]
SWTPC6800 X
Thunderbird2 X[10]
TONY X
New editor…
New editor…
New editor…
New editor…
4 = Complete support
3 = Could be improved, but I support this
2 = Ambivalence
1 = Could be much better
0 = Complete opposition

Vote comments


  1. ^ This table is a good idea. The fourth draft is fine by me also.
  2. ^ The fundamental principles conveyed so far are perfect IMO. So long as the details do a good job of demonstrating and supporting the principles, I’m happy. Greg L (talk) 21:36, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
  3. ^ In the light of Dfmclean's latest comments Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Why nanometers and not angstroms?, I revise my vote to 3. The greenbox could clarify that readability is preferred over consistency with literature in the case of trivial conversions like this one. I am ambivalent on this aspect, but fully supportive of the others.
  4. ^ That discussion also showed how easy it would be to settle the issue. I'm changing back my vote to a 4.
  5. ^ Not, I suppose, that it matters. I've been busy the last few days. Now I see GregL has declared "consensus." But I strongly disagree with putting IEC prefixes in as an example. I also strongly disagree with the whole notion that MOSNUM "policy" should, on a project-wide basis, be able to override expert editors' judgement and consensus on individual articles. If a consensus of editors on a given article agree on a set of units for that article, so be it.
  6. ^ a very problematic proposal which could well lead to many arguements and inconsistencies along with an influx of perplexing non-standard terms, units and abbreviations—JIMp talk·cont 17:56, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  7. ^ sounds great to me
  8. ^ I actually agree with much of what Jimp had to say (somewhere on this page), however, I feel that there are situations where discipline specific units and abbreviations are standard/well known in that discipline like cc in automotive and medical fields; hectares in real estate, mbar in weather, and barrels of oil. And just because we have this policy does not mean that we shouldn't convert to m³, acres, inHg, or whatever.
  9. ^ While I feel that this draft can perhaps be better refined in regards to some units of measurement, I support it as I believe that this is a good step towards an encyclopedia where the usage of units is consistent. ~~~~
  10. ^ It's premature to remove that 'disputed' tag; the present wording will end up in Balkanisation of units and endless disputes over what counts as "current literature"



Comments on “Vote comments”

This section is intended to provide a forum for rebutting and commenting on the above vote comments. This is in hopes of keeping the above Vote comments short and pithy. Greg L (talk) 21:42, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Tony's vote:

I was kinda surprised to have a vote at 0 when we had three at 4, and I wondered how in the world could someone be in complete opposition to this. So I decided to review Tony's comment to see what his objections were. Here are his objections:

  • Doesn't like the title "Follow current litterature"
I guess that could warrant a 3 rather than a 4, because that would be something that could be improved. But that's certainly not a reason for complete opposition, especially since he did not seem to think that the the first and third draft were not completely off track.
  • Someone edited the MoS text without going through the talk page first.
Now this, while regrettable, and that we could have a circle jerk about how that's not how one should do things, it has very little to do with what we're doing now. We're on the talk page debating what should go in the MoS. So this objection, if one might call it that was addressed. So that cannot be the reason.
  • There is no consensus/unclear whether or not consensus/can't find consensus.
Well that's what we're trying to see with this vote, so that cannot possibly be an objection.

And then out of the blue we have very explosive remarks from someone who up until this point appeared to have been arguing constructively with concern that consensus was reached etc... remarks such as

  • Your "rah rah" attitude makes me want to puke. Can't you see that as soon as the page is unfrozen, I and others will quite justifiably start hacking into the bits that are unacceptable, including contraventions of MOS and bloated, irrelevant, inappropriate statements. That's what should happen on the talk page, not the project page. So there will be insability on the project page: you and your self-congratulatory football lackies will be entirely to blame for that. Or you can do the proper thing, and post it HERE so we can get agreement on the wording. This idea of "rough" consensus serves absolutely no purpose.
If we forgive the explosive remarks, insults and the threats of unilaterally editing the MoS (something pretty weird for someone who insisted on having consensus, but that could still be appropriate if the edits were reverts and not actual edits so let's give benefit of the doubt on that), the objections still seem to be that consensus wasn't reach. But again we're having a vote to see what the support for the green box is, so voting "no" on the grounds that there is no consensus for the green box seems rather weird. So that cannot be the reason.

Continuing with some more objections:

  • Text appeared to be aimed towards students
Was addressed by Greg L, mentioning that people who go on Wikipedia go to learn things, hence the "continue their studies" where "studies" did not mean "academic studies". I guess this would also warrant a 3, but to think that is a reason for complete opposition is a strech of the imagination
  • Text encourages PMAnderson to write badly.
Wikipedia will survive if PM Anderson fails to get the "Tony's Barnstar of quality writing" on his user page. I'm sure Tony will agree that Wikipedia's survival does not depends on people getting that barnstar, but rather on achieving consensus between the editors that care about Wikipedia, so this cannot be the reason why Tony is in complete opposition to the text.

So unless I'm missing something here, perhaps Tony gave a reason for his complete opposition but someone deleted it, perhaps the he clicked on the submit button and subsequently X'd his window before the submit had a chance to go through, I think Tony made a mistake and X'ed a checkbox he didn't mean to X. It would be doing a disfavor to all the other editors who worked hard on this proposal, including Tony, to count his vote as it stands now. I'm sure Tony will check the checkbox he meant to check very soon, or will provide us with the reasons of his opposition. Headbomb (ταλκ · κοντριβς) 15:24, 5 May 2008 (UTC)


  • Thank you for your analysis Headbomb. I was thinking “I still can’t figure out what Tony’s specific problem is” and was coming here to address that subject. I see I’m not alone.

    To Tony (and Lightmouse): Let’s set aside issues over how this guideline got here. Let’s set aside the details of the examples used to support the broad principle. The policy in its totality, basically boils down to this:

Wikipedia broadly prefers the SI and other international and modern systems of measurement except for those rare exceptions (European and Japanese motorcycle engines in cc, for instance) where a discipline consistently uses other units. In those cases, editors should use the units used in current literature on that subject.
Do you disagree with the basic principle of the guideline? Your zero-point vote would suggest you oppose even the basic principle. If so, why? Greg L (talk) 16:12, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

To Jimp: So… when you wrote in your vote summary “a very problematic proposal which could well lead to many arguements and inconsistencies along with an influx of perplexing non-standard terms, units and abbreviations”, you must mean that it will lead to “inconsistencies” worse that what we have now, where one computer article on Wikipedia uses “MiB” and other uses “MB”; a problem this policy addresses. Or by “arguments”, you seem to be implying that the current situation, where there are ten archives (and counting) dedicated just to bickering over the IEC prefixes and that is a good thing. Is that right? But by “perplexing, non-standard terms”, I assume you must mean some editors’ continued use of units of measure no one is familiar with, which this policy addresses. Is that right? Or is it that you really like these unwise practices but you just can’t find a rational argument to oppose an obviously good policy? Greg L (talk) 18:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Greg, your wording reads as if I haven't made my position clear enough. My short and pithy vote comments were more or less a summary of what I've been saying all along. Surely you don't have to guess what I must mean. Surely you don't need to assume what I'm refering to. Surely what I seem to be implying is that which I've stated in black and white numerous times on the page ... even to the point of starting a whole section. However, in case I really have yet to make my point clear enough, I'll try put it forth again.
One thing I'll make clear is that I'm not focusing on binary prefixes but trying to glimpse the wider picture. Whereas this policy was crafted to address inconsistencies amongst computer articles (and I'm sure it might help in that area) it has grown beyond this scope to involve a significant section of the encyclopædia. All articles are being asked to swallow the medicine prescribed for the computer articles. Do we resolve the binary prefix battle by declaring war on the entire encyclopædia? At this rate there will be no Archive B11, no, it's gone global. The bickering continues: it's right here. I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel on this. Ten pages of archives on this fight should be a good indication that there may never be a solution yet instead of containing it, the fight is broadened in scope. No B11 but there will be a 98, 99, 100 ... But not only here but all over the place you'll be likely to see arguments anout the interpretation of this policy, about what constitues the literature, about the worth of Google searches.
The inconsistencies in multiples of the byte are likely to give way to inconsistencies amongst all units. Some articles will be refering to a particular unit one way others will be refering to the same unit another way. Kilopascals here millibars there, "cc" here "cm³" there, "psi" here "lb/in²" there, micrometres here microns there, nanometres here ångströms there, "cu in" here "CID" there, "km³" here "BCM" there. A great variety of units will be involved ... yes, this is worse.
Yes, by perplexing, non-standard terms, I mean the use of units of measure no one is familiar with (e.g. the gal, the ångström, the micron, etc.) along with unfamiliar, non-standard and confusing (e.g. "TCF", "lb·ft", "MBTU", etc.), which this policy could be used to endorse.
If the proposal obviously seemed good to me, I'd not be looking for arguments to oppose it, I'd be all for it ... obviously. I've given my arguments against the proposal, if you wish to label them as irrational, you're free to do so.
JIMp talk·cont 06:55, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

And to all: This isn’t some sort of contest where opposing editors game the system with zero points trying to keep the point count low and obstruct progress. You can’t obstruct progress; it will go forward regardless, along with those who are have recently hopped on board and have been working in good faith on this. The point system was added here to serve as a gauge of progress. It is already understood that some editors simply think the IEC prefixes are a great idea (even though the rest of the real world doesn’t use them) and they’ll never come on board. It is already recognized that some editors are so smitten with the SI, they oppose the use of non-SI units even though they are standard in the discipline and the BIPM approved their use with the SI. We understand that there will simply be no bringing these editors on board. If opposing editors don’t go with the flow and try work collaboratively with the rest of us to develop wording that better puts Wikipedia in alignment with the rest of the world’s encyclopedias and books, then you’re going to miss out on an opportunity to help craft the final product that goes to MOSNUM for good. Greg L (talk) 18:36, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Greg, with due respect, it is not up to you to decide whether this "progress" will go forward. Progress requires consensus, which has not been demonstrated. Regardless of its intended purpose, this point system clearly shows that lack of consensus. Let us not be so quick to dismiss the editor who simply will not be brought on board. Let us also not take it as a given that this proposal will go on MOSNUM for good. JIMp talk·cont 06:55, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Thunderbird, there is no point trying to game the system by pretending to be on the fence and remaining silent on this issue until it’s too late. It’s clear what the general consensus is. A ridiculous extremist movement that is clearly in the minority can’t forever undermine the effect of the guideline by insisting that since they oppose this, it should be saddled with a {disputed} tag. It is clear that there is a general consensus in support. Greg L (talk) 21:42, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
votestacking+DavidPaulHamilton is a sock of Fnagaton=no consensus+you should be banned217.227.222.52 (talk) 21:47, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • It is highly likely that you are User:NotSarenne and “217.87…” who are one in the same and trace to Germany. You are banned for life. User:Sarenne, by the way, originates in France. It also appears you are now using Internet tricks to masquerade as users using I.P.s in China and Russia. Please stop disrupting Wikipedia. Everything you do here is unwelcome. Greg L (talk) 22:02, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Greg, I'm not sure that refering to your opposition as a "ridiculous extremist movement" is such a helpful way of going about things. I can acknowledge that your position has its strengths. What I perceive to be its weaknesses I've attempted to address in a rational fashion. I'm arguing for consistency across the encyclopædia. I'm arguing that, for the sake of comprehensibility, conversions (be they metric, imperial, US customary, nautical) should generally be provided regardless of what happens outside of Wikipedia. However, there will be instances where no conversion should be given, e.g. don't provide "conversions" from millibars to hectopascals (nor kilopascals) ... but inches of mercury would be fine. I'm not opposed to the notion of looking to outside literature to give us an idea of what to do. What I'm uneasy with is the idea that we should do willy-nilly (... more nilly than willy for me) whatever we seem to find out there. Is that so ridiculous? Is that so extreme? Is that a minority view? Only one thing seems clear in this issue: there is no consensus. There never has been. The disputed tag states nothing but the fact that there is no general consensus in support or in opposition. You would have the tag removed, how about removing the section, which was insterted without ever gaining consensus? JIMp talk·cont 00:42, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
I have to side with Jimp's on this. Not only is refering to the "other side" as a "ridiculous extremist movement" doesn't help anything, but it also neglects that the points raised by the "opposition" are valid. I just don't feel the points raised are a big enough hinderance to stop us from moving forward with the version we have now, but it could be adressed in a future update. Think of it as a "save point". It wouldn't say there is general consensus, even though there is a clear and significant majority which is IMO clear and significant enough to carry forward and upload it with a "debated" tag.
If this is upload as it is now, it'll be a great step in a more permanent solution. In a month we'll be talking about improving THIS guideline, with feedback for the good and the bad it gives, helping us asserting how to improved the stuff we're disagreeing on right now. I don't know about you all, but I'd rather talk about improving these guidelines with retrospective and insight than try to anticipate every possible issue. Headbomb (ταλκ · κοντριβς) 03:10, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I appreciate your reasoned response Jimp. It would have been nice if you would have matched that view with a “1” or “2” vote and better worked with the dozen+ editors who had a hand in crafting this. But you know as well as I do that when your opposition to the policy reaches a certain extent, there really is no tweaking the policy to address concerns; you pretty much just flat oppose it and that’s it. This is the way you came across. Not having editors choose units “will-nilly” isn’t an unreasonable thing to desire; not in the least. The trouble is that a much larger number of editor here simply think such concerns are unwarranted and amount to making a mountain out of a mole hill when one looks at what the guideline really says, which boils down to: “Wherever a discipline consistently uses its own units—either conventional or non-SI metric—editors should observe that practice so readers can readily converse with those knowledgeable in the discipline.” The policy is supposed to fix “will-nilly” choices by laying down an easy-to-prove test that settles the point.

    In every instance I can envision Jimp, all we will be doing is bringing Wikipedia in line 1) with real-world usage and literature in a field, 2) with the way professional encyclopedias like World Book and Encyclopedia Britannica already do it. That means “cc” for Honda and Suzuki motorcycles, “barrels” for crude oil production, and “megabyte” for computers. In many cases, Wikipedia is already doing the right thing in “going with the flow.” In others, like “megabyte” we’ve currently got an untenable situation where some articles go with the flow of real-world usage while still other articles put Wikipedia in the position of being the only place around by using terms like “mebibyte” in general-interest computer articles. Further, battles have raged continually for years from the moment that unwise practice first began. This marks the beginning of the end for that practice and is the beginning of consistently keeping Wikipedia in line with the practices observed by professional, paid editors at the real, print encyclopedias. As long as the editors here take a good-faith approach to following the guideline, disputes will be settled faster and much more rationally from hereon.

    As for a “lack of consensus”, that’s not the case. Francis Schonken, an uninvolved administrator editor who works on Wikipedia policy issues long ago (even before this latest vote) stated as follows: “Discussion [now primarily] seems to be style improvements of the wording (and "too long"/"too short" kind of comments) - nothing substantive to the core of the matter of this being a useful idea to be added to mosnum. Yes the procedure was somewhat unusual. Nothing inappropriate or whatever though, congratulations!” Greg L (talk) 03:40, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

I'm no admin ;) --Francis Schonken (talk) 05:01, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Oops, fixed. Greg L (talk) 05:58, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
By no means do I intend to discount the judgement of Francis but he is just one human like you and me. Humans can overlook things ... even if they do happen to be admins ... or work on policy issues instead, as the case may be. My take on the matter at the time Francis made the statement was that there were not only style improvements under discussion but a number of concerns, substantive concerns, which cut to the core of this proposal. This situation I don't view as having changed. I don't like to go about calling people wrong but I don't see any real consensus as having formed.
Certainly, on counting the numbers, I'll concede that the majority seem to be in favour of the proposal but it's by no means a vast majority. The opposition (for lack of any better term's popping into my head) may be in the minority but we are a significant minority, many of whom have shown a great interest in and/or a deep knowledge of units of measure and their use on Wikipedia. However, Wikipedia doesn't operate on counting votes alone. Reasoned discussion is essential. A number strong arguments in favour of the proposal have been brought forth. I can see where you're coming from, Greg, and believe you to have the best intentions. However, a number of strong arguments against it have also been presented and not all of these concerns have been addressed. Currently the main topic of discussion on this talk page is this proposal. Some of the discussion is about how to improve the proposal and some is about the appropriateness of the means by which it got onto the page but a significant proportion deals with whether or not the proposal should be policy. Consensus is still far off.
Similarly, let's not attatch too much significance to those numbers up there. If I write like a "1", then take me as a "1". If I write like a "2", then take me as a "2". I dunno, maybe I'm a "½" or even a "1⅔". My "0" was to show that I've got concerns with the very basis on which the proposal is built. Some of my concerns appear to be along the lines that this proposal may cause or worsen the very problems it's intended to prevent. That is, we've got a lot in common with respect to our ends, we differ in perspective as to the best means to those ends. Nor do I intend to let my opposition prevent me from suggesting improvements—I detest nattou, but if we're having nattou pizza for dinner let it be the best nattou pizza we can cook. My critcism of the policy was as much aimed at its improvement as at its removal. I'm willing to help tweak it inspite of my opposition. There are a number to tweaks I'd like to make. However, no amount of tweaking will address all my concerns without radically changing the policy. Therefore I rank myself as a "0". JIMp talk·cont 08:43, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
To Jimp: well put.
To Greg: I do not take offence at being omitted from the table. That's an easy to mistake to make, which I accept was made in good faith. I do take offence at being accused of bad faith. I was not silent. I made my concerns known before voting, and reserve the right to vote after due consideration and at a time of my own choosing.
Thunderbird2 (talk) 08:55, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
From above "we are a significant minority, many of whom have shown a great interest in and/or a deep knowledge of units of measure and their use on Wikipedia."" - Who exactly? Above I asked for substantive objections to be produced and in reply got uncivil comments. I have also been the victim of numerous Tor edits that want to use IEC prefixes and insist on inserting my personal information into numerous pages, most of those edits have since been removed by Oversight. These are not the actions of people who show a great interest in Wikipedia. "However, Wikipedia doesn't operate on counting votes alone." - Quite true it doesn't. "Reasoned discussion is essential." - Exactly. "A number strong arguments in favour of the proposal have been brought forth." - And not refuted. "However, a number of strong arguments against it have also been presented and not all of these concerns have been addressed. - Where exactly? If you think anything has not been addressed then provide diffs. Any arguments previously mentioned in opposition to the guideline text have already been refuted. As I have written above, please provide substantive objections, i.e. arguments that have not already been refuted. Fnagaton 17:18, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
It would be quite enlightening to make a summary of all the arguements and counter-arguments for and against the proposal. Then we could more clearly see how true it is that the concerns I claim have not been addressed have, in fact, been refuted. You ask for "substantive objections", Fnagaton. I claim that they have already been presented. If I felt that they had been refuted, I wouldn't have gone about calling the arguments "strong". JIMp talk·cont 00:37, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
If they have already been presented and are "strong" (i.e. not refuted) then it shouldn't be too hard for you to supply the diffs, would it? :) I'd like to see what you think are the substantive unrefuted arguments. Fnagaton 00:43, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
I started a new section to discuss what I saw as #The trouble with following current literature. There are comments from you in it, Fnagaton, but not what ammount to a refutation in my view. JIMp talk·cont 18:21, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
  • What is this significant minority” business? Only on Wikipedia does one ever find such a ridiculous amount of mollycoddling to a vocal minority. One can change the U.S. Constitution, convict the U.S. President in a Senate impeachment trial, and find a party culpable to the tune of millions of dollars in a civil trial with vote balances like this. What’s at stake here is a hell of a lot less important than those examples: whether or not Wikipedia should better conform itself to the practices of professional, print encyclopedias like Encyclopedia Britannica, and use the units overwhelmingly used in the real world on relevant articles. Encyclopedia Britannica uses “megabyte” exclusively in computer articles. Why? Because the rest of the world does too. Encyclopedia Britannica uses “barrels” exclusively in articles about crude oil. The rest of the world does too.

    The minority “oppose” element that objects to Follow current literature use arguments like “it opens the door to…”, and “influx of perplexing non-standard…”, and “willy-nilly…”. These arguments are specious and do not withstand the sanitizing scrutiny of the majority of the editors here. There is clearly a general consensus on this issue, and the “support” editors have leaned over backwards to give a full and fair hearing and to solicit the input from those who had anything remotely approaching a constructive suggestion or addressable concern. Greg L (talk) 01:06, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Jeh, Lightmouse, Tony, Thunderbird2 and I marked the above poll with an "x". I'm sure we can add Gene Nygaard to the list of opponents and Gerry Ashton too I guess. Elsewhere a decision is carried through with a majority vote but WP is no democracy. Those are not my arguments, they are merely a few of the words I wrote when putting my arguments forth. If people would like to discuss my writing style, that's fine by me. I fail to understand how you percieve there to be any consensus on this. JIMp talk·cont 18:21, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Discussion of “Fourth draft”

{Quick link to “Copy from current MOSNUM”}

  • I’ve started this process by addressing a concern of LeadSongDog in his 22:50, 29 April 2008 (UTC) post. Greg L (talk) 18:24, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Is "(subject to "Binary prefixes", below)." (in the discipline-specific bullet) leftover text from something else? It looks kinda weird, especially since there is no "Binary prefixed" below.Headbomb (talk · contribs) 04:34, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

I would give SI or unit accepted with SI preference when writing an overview of many topics that do not use the same units. An example of that would be an article North American oil importations. Since US uses barrels, Mexico uses [insert Mexican unit here] and Canada uses m3, when uniting the three in one, give preference to SI units, even if the US article is written in barrels and the Mexican article is written in [insert Mexican units here]. Headbomb (talk · contribs) 19:18, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Maybe then, we should find a better example to use that oil production. I thought I was safe to use this example because barrels of oil are universally used by the world press, the CIA fact book, and in all world-wide commodities transactions. If one reads up on oil production in any professional print encyclopedia, the convention is to simply follow standard practices in the oil industry: barrels. Thus, I felt it was a good choice for an example to use here: use barrels of oil (like “11 million bbl/day” as the CIA factbook says) like all the rest of the world unless you are writing of an article specifically about Canadian oil production. Even then, when a Canadian producer is selling their oil on the world market, they quote in cost per barrel. Why should someone hear about how oil costs $120 per barrel on the TV or radio news, or read of it in the newspaper or Newsweek, or in Encyclopedia Britannica, and then go to Wikipedia and see cubic meters first? That makes no sense whatsoever to me. Thus, it seemed like a perfect example to use in order to get this point across Greg L (talk) 19:14, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Add "unless there is a predominant international usage for the non-SI units." to what I just said. What I say may not apply to oil imports, but you get the idea.Headbomb (talk · contribs) 19:18, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

      • Yes, the choice of oilbbl was unfortunate, it too is a ratsnest. The problem arises not with small quantities but rather with the large multipliers. Multiplied units like MMbbl or Mbbl are very much subject to locally variant interpretation. When discussing the size of global reserves or even global trade, we need to discuss numbers in the (short scale) trillions of barrels. Add to that the fact that barrels have more than one size and it just gets too confusing for the average young reader who (through most of the world) only uses SI and may never have seen a barrel. Nearly all the international trade in oil is conducted via oil pipeline or supertanker by specialists who would not be in the least confused by the choice of bbl, tonne, or m3 units, while the commodities and futures markets are dealing in pure abstractions of value that would happily use any unit that doesn't take up too many characters in abbreviated form on their trading screens but would only use one unit and one multipler in any dealings done. They will of course treat Brent Crude, West Texas Intermediate, and a few other benchmark types as seperate commodities that may differ in price by as much as a few percentage points from one to another or as much as twenty or thirty percent over a year. Why not leave this choice up to the editors at Petroleum to work out? LeadSongDog (talk) 20:09, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
        • I would appreciate some evidence for the existence of this fantasy young reader who reads English and is interested in oil and has "never seen barrels". We are not here to write for Neverneverland, but for the same audience who takes other English-speaking publications. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:18, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
  • No kidding. And even if such a fantasy reader does exist, how would one decided how to communicate to someone who has never seen “barrels of oil” before? Why… look to current literature on that subject. Everyone else: newspapers, magazines like Newsweek, the CIA fact book, oil company annual reports, commodities trading, etc., etc., all use barrels and don’t bother to convert to cubic meters because the standard practice observed by the vast majority of the oil industry uses nothing other than barrels. It would be a welcome relief if volunteer Wikipedia editors stopped behaving as if they are somehow wiser than the paid, professional editors all over the world and simply followed current literature. Wikipedia is not our private soap box to promote change in how people measure things and communicate. Greg L (talk) 22:30, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
  • The mindset expressed by Greg_L is that a person reading an article about oil couldn't possibly be interested in any related product, such as propane, liquified natural gas, biodiesel, that might be measured in some other unit. I don't remember what the volume of a barel of oil is, and I have no plans to ever learn it. Any article that lacks a conversion to cubic meters is deficient. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 22:44, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
  • The green-div is silent on the issue of conversions for barrels. It speaks only to the issue of the primary unit to give. Conversions are addressed in a separate section, which makes it clear that 1) there are a wide varieties of ways to do conversions and it depends on the nuances of the subject matter, and 2) when in doubt, look towards current literature. I see no reason to specifically say that parenthetical conversion of oil to cubic meters should be discouraged; it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if English-language current literature on that subject in Europe provides conversions to cube meters. Editors here have to stop reading more into the wording than is there. There is no “conspiracy” here except to get Wikipedia in line with how the rest of the world works in any given discipline. The whole IEC prefix issue (one, seriously extreme example of a piss-poor practice) morphed into—and is covered by—this most basic of principles covered in the green-div. Greg L (talk) 23:17, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
          • My point was a simple one and I ran on too long. Oil barrels make a bad example. Try light-years or carats instead.LeadSongDog (talk) 20:31, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
              • Running this google news query just now found various recent English-language stories reporting oil spills in gallons, litres, tons and barrels. Should we convert to all of them?LeadSongDog (talk) 21:34, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
                  • Who suggested doing so? But your link presently begins with a WSJ article which says 11 million gallons; if that is the only source for the spill, we should use it (even converting to a quarter-million barrels, which was probably what their reporter heard, would mistate the precision). The next says 100 liters (less than a barrel). Again, we should not convert; we should state what our source tells us. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:53, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Or the current wording: “Wherever a discipline consistently uses its own units. Regardless of how the basic principle is conveyed, if we can agree on that principle, and can then agree that the example points properly demonstrate the principle, then we’ve got it. Greg L (talk) 19:21, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I guess adding what I wrote would be kind redundant.Headbomb (talk · contribs) 19:34, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

A problem for many users is that the current text could be interpreted as *forbidding* SI units. If the intent of the text is about putting non-SI units in primary position and still permitting SI units in secondary position, then perhaps the wording should be made clearer. Lightmouse (talk) 19:36, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

How do you read it to do that? It recommends against giving SI primary position when, as with bbl, some other unit is customary, but that's all. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:43, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

The proposal is huge that nuances are lost as soon as you get 20 words further on. There are examples of what 'not to do' that quote SI units and these could be taken to mean that the intent is to forbid SI. Lightmouse (talk) 19:51, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

I would have thought Preference for modern units (SI) and all the examples of engine displacements would address any possible ambiguity in this regard. If your feel that a fair, honest, straightforward interpretation (no hidden strings assumed) can be construed as somehow forbidding parenthetical conversions to the SI, then let’s fix it. Note that the current wording says “Parenthetical conversions should be given where appropriate and should generally also follow the practices in current literature on that subject unless there is good reason to do otherwise.” There are so many examples—besides oil—that could be added but things would get cluttered awfully fast. I would think the general principal of Follow current literature should suffice. Greg L (talk) 19:48, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

The four bullets in the current guideline are succinct enough to be explicit and usable. Headbomb's example above looked like it could become a succinct bullet and do all that you seem to want. Lightmouse (talk) 19:58, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

The phrase “Saudi Arabia exported 9.0 million barrels of crude” from the fourth draft does not contain a conversion to SI units, thus implying there should be no such conversion. Also, the forth draft says "'a gravity gradient of 3.1 µGal/cm', not 'a gravity gradient of 3.1×10−6 s–2'", which implies that if a unit that is metric but neither SI nor accepted for use with SI is used, it is incorrect to provide a conversion to the appropriate SI unit. I suggest the draft be immediately updated to show any acceptable conversion, and a statement that conversions other than those shown in the examples are incorrect. Otherwise it is difficult to judge just what conversions the draft is, or is not, advocating. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 19:59, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Exactly. Look at the bullet style in the current guideline that predates this proposal. It is good. The prose style in the proposal takes too long to read and it is clear from this little discussion that even we do not fully understand its intention. It is a problem that gets worse as more nuances, more examples, and more justification is added. Lightmouse (talk) 20:08, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Does anyone here know how current periodicals on these subjects handles these two conversions? Or how Encyclopedia Britannica and other professional encyclopedias handle this issue. Or how a really general-interest, English-language periodical like Newsweek would handle it barrels of oil? I don’t know the answer to how the Canadian-version of Newsweek handles barrels of oil, but I would argue that if even they don’t disambiguate to cubic meters, then doing so here wouldn’t be appropriate. In the case of gravimetry (gals), the unit SI-equivalent (“reciprocal seconds squared”) wouldn’t found anywhere but here and is a really hard unit to get one’s mind around. Just linking to the linked gal/cm link and reading that it is a centimeter per second squared of acceleration for each centimeter of elevation is all that is required to properly educate the reader and prepare them for their studies elsewhere. Why teach them a hard-to-understand unit they wouldn’t encounter in the real world? This issue cuts precisely to the heart of the discussion: to follow current literature and not run off doing our own thing promoting the adoption of the SI when it doesn’t really “clarify” anything for anyone. Greg L (talk) 20:10, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

You do not need to solve that now. Simply state the guideline that is no longer than any of the existing bullets. I do not believe that there is a clear and present danger that needs to be solved today relating to oil and gravimetry articles. You are clearly interested in binary prefixes but I suggest that you give just one example in its own sub-bullet. The whole thing can be wrapped up in one bullet with one sub-bullet of one sentence each. Lightmouse (talk) 20:18, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

As Mencken said, "For every problem, there is a solution that is clear, simple, obvious, and wrong." Attempting to say what exactly should be done in a bulletpoint is one of these. No bulletpoint is complex enough to fit the universe; but

  • Use the units customary in a given field.
    • For the sciences, often, but not always, this will be SI.
    • It is often advisable to state a measurement in the style and units of the source. This may increase accuracy as well.
  • Add parenthetical conversion to other units, SI, US customary, or imperial, if this will make the article clearer.

would be a good start. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:31, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

(ec with Gerry Ashton's remarks, which follow). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:33, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Please don't waste your time defending barrels of oil or gal/cm. Since these are examples, they should represent what to do in a wide variety of similar cases, and readers shouldn't have to be gravity or petroleum experts to understand the examples. Consider the gravity example: a non-SI unit that is accepted for use with SI in some circumstances. Another such unit is the astronomical unit. The absence of a conversion for gals implies that one shouldn't provide a conversion for astronomical units either. If the reasons for not providing a conversions for gals can't be understood by anyone lacking a degree in physics, it's useless as an example. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 20:25, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

  • which of Nobody uses s-2 and 11.5 s-2 is not intuitive require a physics degree? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:40, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
    • If one understands accelleration and the concept of a gradient, one can see why μGal/cm is an intuitive unit of measure for the change in gravitational accelleration with position, and can also see why s-2 does not suggest accelleration. If one is unfamiliar with accelleration and gradients, the reason for the appeal of μGal/cm is not apparent, and so one will not prepared to deal with other units, where the same line of reasoning does not apply. For example, calories and joules are both recognized as energy units, so it would be more natural to provide a conversion to joules when calories are mentioned. --Gerry Ashton (talk) 21:04, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
      • But it doesn't need vector calculus to understand "the rate at which acceleration varies from place to place" or to see the units (unit acceleration)/(unit length) as natural. What requires training is the idea of restating these as L/T2 and L, and cancelling the Ls. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:36, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

I now see those bullets. Thanks. Will they be put in a green box as a proposal on this page? Lightmouse (talk) 20:38, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Feel free to do so. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:40, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Has your proposal got support of anyone besides yourself? Lightmouse (talk) 20:46, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

It's not a proposal. It's a stub. But since it says nothing that isn't in the green box, it should be at least as widely supported as it was. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:52, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

What is a stub? Lightmouse (talk) 20:54, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

That is to say, those few bullets stand to a proposal as a Wikipedia:stub is to an article. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:58, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

I am getting confused now just when I thought I was beginning to understand you better. A stub article is an article that happens to contain few words. Are you saying that your text in bullet form is a proposal that happens to contain few words? Lightmouse (talk) 21:05, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

No; nor is a stub article only defined by being short. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:42, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Well regardless of definition, I thought a stub article is still an article. I will take your word that it is not. I am having trouble understanding why you wrote the bullet text. Are you proposing that bullet text should be put into wp:mosnum? Lightmouse (talk) 21:54, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
We could do worse; but I wrote them because you demanded bullet-points. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:58, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
OK. So if it is a proposal, it is a lot easier to understand. If it has support of Fnagatron and GregL (and any other proposer), then put it in a green box in a new section. I think it shows progress. Lightmouse (talk) 22:04, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
All: Real life calls. I only want to add that “barrels of oil” seems to be a perfect example to use (among others) because it can be understood by anyone and perfectly illustrates the principle of Follow current literature since it illustrates a not-so-clear-cut principle that there is often no need for a parenthetical conversion, but sometimes there is if the topic is dealing with Canadian oil production. Though seemingly complex on the surface, the gal seemed like a good choice because it is a non-SI unit that is universally used in a particular field. If someone else wants to suggest another example to replace it because it’s too complex, that’s fine by me. But, if the suggested replacement appropriately comes with a parenthetical conversion, I would still advocate keeping the gal because it is an example of a unit that universally needs no parenthetical conversions. Greg L (talk) 21:38, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Let us deal with the bullet first. Work on the example can come second. Lightmouse (talk) 21:40, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

  • Nonsense. Examples are what matter; if we agreed on them, refining bullet points would be a triviality; but this entire page is a triviality. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:48, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Has anyone actually done a yahoo/google search for "Canadian oil production"? Check out the returns, especially the ones from Canadian sources here. Not one mention of cubic metres—not one in all those articles. They were all in barrels. Some like this one from Canadian News Wire used barrels and cubic feet to describe Imperial Oil's oil and nature gas production. A quick search of Imperial Oil's website found the use of barrels. And just in case anyone was wondering, the French word for barrels is barils, which can be found on the French version of that page ici. Saying that cubic metres are the common way that the Canadian literature states Canadian oil production just doesn't hold water and should be removed. —MJCdetroit (yak) 02:15, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Thanks MJCdetroit. I’ll go revise the fourth draft per your teachings. We’ll see if that’s “one-and-a-half steps forward” or backwards ;-). Greg L (talk) 06:29, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

"The objective of technical writing is to communicate with minimal confusion so that readers can learn about a subject and are primed as well as possible to learn even more in their studies elsewhere." Aren't these objectives of all writing? Why presume that a reader wants to learn even more in their studies elsewhere? Are non-students and non-researchers unwelcome? TONY (talk) 08:18, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
  • We are talking to editors here on MOSNUM. General encyclopedias convey information on topics in every field of knowledge and are where all readers come to learn about something. The above words are to get every would-be editor on the proper page with the rest of us: you don’t put Wikipedia in the position of being way out in left field, using weird units of measure while using Wikipedia as a forum for the promotion of the SI if SI units are consistently not used in a given discipline. By improperly doing so, editors don’t help the reader in their studies of the subject. Not one iota. Why? Because the reader is being presented with information that 1) a reader who is already somewhat familiar with the subject hasn’t seen before and will never see again, and 2) a complete novice will never see again after leaving Wikipedia. Greg L (talk) 22:14, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
I was led to believe that the official unit of measurement for oil in Canada was the cubic metre. Canadian publications may indeed use barrels. If it's barrels in the source, by all means we should be giving these first, Canadian oil or otherwise. Let's not discourage conversions to cubic metres, though, not all of us have a feel for how big 9702 cubic inches are. Whether it be by intent or otherwise, the current text does appear to forbid conversion. So let's have the example read more like this.
  • "'Saudi Arabia exported 9.0 million barrels (1.43×10^6 m3) of crude', but not 'Saudi Arabia exported 1.43 million cubic meters (9.0 Mbbl) of crude';"
Our aim is at effective communication, on this we can agree. Adding conversions which will be comprehensible to a wider range of readers can only help ... even if other published material fails to do so.
If the gals are causing strife, why not go for something more straightforward like hectares or millilitres, they're common metric units but not SI nor should they generally be converted to SI?
JIMp talk·cont 17:30, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
  • We should stick with barrels of oil because it hits the nail precisely on the head and demonstrates why Follow current literature should settle the issue in all but the rarest cases. Everyone else: newspapers, magazines like Newsweek, the CIA fact book, oil company annual reports, commodities trading, etc., etc., report in barrels. Note further that the green-div policy is silent on the issue of conversions of barrels of oil—it only speaks to the issue of what primary unit should be used. I see no reason to specifically say that parenthetical conversion of oil to cubic meters should be discouraged; it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if English-language current literature on that subject in Europe provides conversions to cube meters.

    As for lightyears: Well, in current literature you see those converted to kilometers and miles all the time. Ergo, in keeping with follow current literature, editors should convert lightyears parenthetically where appropriate. Simple. Why is this being made so complex? Wikipedia is not the private reserve of editors to use as a soap box to promote the adoption of the SI in hopes of changing the way the world makes measurements and how people communicate those measurements.

    The gree-div basically says this: Wikipedia prefers international systems of measurement unless the subject is a discipline that consistently does otherwise. Usually, a Wikipedia editor will be sufficiently expert in the subject to know what units are used in an industry; a Suzuki motorcycle enthusiast knows that it’s a “450 cc engine.” If there is doubt for some reason, look to current literature. The motorcycle enthusiast will have zero problem demonstrating to some kookie SI fanatic what is the proper way to denote a Suzuki engine and will have the backing of MOSNUM when the feathers fly. Greg L (talk) 23:04, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

There's a certain geographic common denominator to Newsweek, CIA, and CNN. Looking outside the US POV for global sources we find the OECD/International Energy Agency uses "thousand metric tons" throughout their reports, such as this one from January 2008.LeadSongDog (talk) 03:23, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
  • That’s interesting as far as what an appropriate conversion might be for certain articles. But throughout the world, most oil production and trade use barrels of oil and that’s why Wikipedia’s articles appropriately already use barrels as their primary measure. That’s one of the reasons I chose oil to use as an example: what we are already doing on Wikipedia is appropriate because it follows current literature. Wikipedia’s own articles on Japanese motorcycle engines also correctly follow current literature for the primary unit of measure (cc) and are also in conformance with current literature as far as not bothering with a blathering parenthetical conversion to milliliters or something similar. That’s why I chose it as an example to use. Nevertheless, that still didn’t stop an editor here from advocating a parenthetical conversion like (250 cm3). At least the proposal advocates linking the first use of “cc” to Cubic centimeter; that’s something that few, if any, of Wikipedia’s motorcycle-related articles currently bother to do. Greg L (talk) 04:23, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
"Converting" cc to cm³ is just silly—it's the same unit. Greg, you write "I see no reason to specifically say that parenthetical conversion of oil to cubic meters should be discouraged;" no, nor do I but you continue "it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if English-language current literature on that subject in Europe provides conversions to cube meters." and what if it doesn't? The current version reads "Parenthetical conversions should be given where appropriate and should generally also follow the practices in current literature on that subject unless there is good reason to do otherwise." Comprehensibility is always a good reason. Our audience is the general reader, we'd be doing him a disservice if we were to expect him to swallow barrels of oil just because the "literature" fails to give a conversion to something he can more easily relate to. We're not talking about some phantasy reader interested in oil production but who's never heard of the barrel. We're talking about an everyday person who's more at home with the metric system than with the US customary system. Conversions should generally be given inspite of the literature. "Why is this being made so complex?" ... one may well ask. Greg, you write "Wikipedia is not the private reserve of editors to use as a soap box to promote the adoption of the SI in hopes of changing the way the world makes measurements and how people communicate those measurements." No, it is not, none of us are attempting anything of that sort. JIMp talk·cont 16:57, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • I really don’t see where your position is at odds with what Fourth draft actually says. Yet your wording suggests that you think Fourth draft doesn’t support your desires. Fourth draft fully endorses the practices you see here on Crude_oil_production#Concerns_over_stated_reserves, which uses the unit used in current literature (barrels), and also provides a conversion to cubic meters. Are you suggesting that Wikipedia’s current practices on Japanese motorcycle engines and oil production are in error? Given that current literature on Canadian oil production is often expressed in cubic meters, and given that English-language, European publications on oil production likely do the same, Wikipedia’s current practices with regard to articles on oil are currently in perfect conformance with Fourth draft. If you think Fourth draft somehow says that permissible conversions are highly limited, go read it again; it says precisely the opposite. Greg L (talk) 17:24, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

LeadSongDog: Your edit suggestion (via strike-text) to delete the entire “Level of difficulty (Do not write over the heads of the readership)” section probably isn’t an edit that could reasonably be considered as ‘one-and-a-half steps forward and only a half-step backwards.’ In your edit summary, you wrote “Strike whole Level of difficulty para - doesn't belong here.” I would argue that it is very much part of the central issue; and on two counts no less: 1) The entire section is about “Follow current literature” and the Level of difficulty sub-section clearly is about precisely that very issue. And 2) the paragraph also pertains squarely to the choice of units.

You also added a hidden editors note alongside the struck text that said “<!-- This is a generality for all writing that shouldn't be buried in a dates and numbers guideline. -->”. However, as experienced editors, we’ve all seen numerous instances where novice editors, perhaps a little too anxious to apply the power of scientific notation, for instance, have employed the practice inappropriately. Your describing this advise as a “generality” is accurate; it is common sense. But just because it’s common sense, Wikipedia has the extra challenge that absolutely anyone can be an editor on Wikipedia; the fundamentals need to be spelled out so these editors get the “aha” of the basics and so disputes can be settled as easily as possible. Greg L (talk) 19:19, 4 May 2008 (UTC)

I figured someone was bound to react, but I had to find out who it would be. ;/) I see this as an application of the KISS principle, and WP:KISS. "Avoid writing over the reader's head" belongs up front in WP:MOS, not buried in MOSNUM. If it is there, it will be redundant here. If that intent were hypothetically to be seriously opposed in MOS, it would be unsustainable here. Either way, I considered that MOSNUM is the wrong place for it. Want to go sell its insertion there? LeadSongDog (talk) 05:17, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
  • KISS is a broad principle that could affect many aspects of editing, LeadSongDog. Unfortunately, neither KISS principle nor WP:KISS are part of MOSNUM, let alone MOS. Further, KISS doesn’t have “Look to current literature” as part of its philosophy.

    This particular paragraph (Level of difficulty—Do not write over the heads of the readership) that you’ve said is a “generality for all writing”, is a specific guideline to help editors better understand the nuances of choosing units of measure. We’ve been discussing units of measure here for a long time and it is difficult even for us to agree on what it says ( {1} {2} ). It can be much more difficult for a new editor to divine what Wikipedia guidelines are regarding the units of measure that should be used in articles. When you throw in a new editor’s bias or personal desire (“scientific notation is way-cool”), editors can—and frequently do—do the wrong thing. The last paragraph of Follow current literature provides extra guidance to help reduce occurrences of this.

    As far as your statement that this last paragraph should be on MOS, and not “buried in MOSNUM”, I would counter that it clearly should be in both. The “numbers” section has a Main tag directing readers here to MOSNUM. The principle should be mentioned on MOS for those readers who are disinclined to click on the Main tag to come here as well as here to ensure editors are properly provided this guidance. Given that this particular paragraph’s wording is common sense, good advise, is relatively uncontroversial, and has wide support, it makes no sense to delete it now. When things have settled down, it can always be removed later if it becomes clear that it serves no purpose whatsoever. I rather doubt, however, that this will prove to be the case. Greg L (talk) 15:55, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

In my statement above, about Canadian oil production, I did not mean to imply that barrels should not have a conversion to cubic meters next to it. Sorry if that seemed unclear. —MJCdetroit (yak) 20:48, 7 May 2008 (UTC)

I think the sentence "Wikipedia's mission is to..." makes a valid point in the original version, but that "preference for international units" in the fourth-draft version is more encyclopædic in tone than "preference for modern units." Other than that, both versions seem fine to me. As for whether there is a "consensus"– clearly, there is none. Instead of the current "This page's designation as a policy or guideline is disputed or under discussion" template, however, is there one that is less obtrusive (e.g., without a big red question mark), that maybe says something like "this guideline is currently under active development. Please visit the talk page to view the discussion"? 69.140.152.55 (talk) 03:20, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Example of Follow current literature

My local library has the Encyclopedia Britannica Online Edition and patrons can access it from their home computers. The Britannica articles have word links to other topics just like Wikipedia. I looked up motorcycle and found a 900 word articles. Here is a paragraph that covers engine displacement. It looks like the "follow current literature" proposal. Note the conversion of fuel economy.

Motorcycles are produced with both two-stroke- and four-stroke-cycle engines and with up to four cylinders. Most are air-cooled, though a few are water-cooled. Engines are generally limited to displacements of about 1,800 cc. The smallest designs, termed mopeds (from “motor pedal”), have very small engines (50 cc) with fuel economies of as much as 2.4 litres per 100 km (100 miles per gallon). Such units are not permitted on limited-access public roads because of their low speed capability. In order of increasing power capacity and engine displacements, the other five classifications are child bikes, trail bikes, road bikes, touring bikes, and racing bikes. A subcategory of racing bikes is known as superbikes. These are motorcycles that displace more than 900 cc and in which the seat is tilted forward so that the rider is hunched over the frame, creating a more aerodynamic profile.

motorcycle. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 7, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition: http://www.library.eb.com/eb/article-64093


This quote from the petroleum article shows oil measured in barrels. Also note the large number does not use scientific notation.

The discovery that transformed Saudi Arabia into a leading oil country was the Al-Ghawar field. Discovered in 1948, this field has proved to be the world's largest, containing 82,000,000,000 barrels.

petroleum. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 8, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition: http://www.library.eb.com/eb/article-50724

This quote is from the gravitation article.

Because gravity changes are far less than 1 metre per second per second, it is convenient to have a smaller unit for relative measurements. The gal (named after Galileo) has been adopted for this purpose; a gal is one-hundredth metre per second per second. The unit most commonly used is the milligal, which equals 10-5 metre per second per second—i.e., about one-millionth of the average value of g.

gravitation. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 8, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition: http://www.library.eb.com/eb/article-61476

Here is megabyte used to measure the size of computer memory

The main memory of a modern computer consists of a number of memory chips, each of which might hold many megabytes (millions of bytes), and still further addressing circuitry selects the appropriate chip for each address.

computer memory. (2008). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 8, 2008, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online Library Edition: http://www.library.eb.com/eb/article-252736

SWTPC6800 (talk) 04:28, 9 May 2008 (UTC)


  • Thanks Swtpc6800. All the above are examples of good technical writing practices observed by professional editors at Encyclopedia Britannica in order to communicate to a general-interest audience with minimal confusion, to educate them on what they need to know about a given subject, and best prepare them for any further studies on the subject they may pursue. All the above—including not showing off how damn smart we are as editors by using scientific notation inappropriately—are points covered in Follow current literature. When I once said ‘this is the way Encyclopedia Britannica does it’, one of the “oppose” editors responded with “There's no reason for us to stoop to Encyclopædia Britannica standards.” Yes, some of the editors here on Wikipedia have very high self esteem, but it was high time on MOSNUM that we memorialized in writing, some of the basic fundamentals of how encyclopedias communicate. This is after all, a forum for would-be novice editors to try their hands at authoring. Even more troubling is that otherwise experienced editors can weigh in here with a philosophy about the SI and how it’s a wonderful thing and should actively be promoted—even to the extent of making Wikipedia the only place around that observes certain practices. Yes, it’s time to “stoop” to Encyclopedia Britannica’s standards. Greg L (talk) 02:01, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • In fact, they EncyBrit article is a perfect example of why we shouldn't blindly follow their practices: It's simply wrong. Although it is certainly defensible that "MB" or "megabytes" means 220, and certainly true that computer chip capacities come in binary multiples, "millions of bytes" absolutely unambiguously means multiples of 1,000,000. They are therefore not only wrong; they are adding to the confusion on this matter. We can, and should, do better (and it won't take much!). To put it another way: Yes, I perfectly well do think I know better than any writer typist who would produce such copy, and also better than any editor who would approve it. (Aside: I had no idea Britannica had degraded to "World Book" levels.) Jeh (talk) 07:37, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Then it would be wrong to add to the confusion by mentioning IEC prefixes because they are unfamiliar to our target readership and are virtually unused. Using more precise disambiguation by specifying the number of bytes is preferable because it uses already familiar ways as seen in other popular operating systems and software. And this is what the Encyclopedia Britannica do [4]. Fnagaton 07:47, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Yes, on that page, they say 1 megabyte = 220 bytes (written out). Now what of the cases (as on hard drives) where a megabyte = 1,000,000 bytes? See, the problem with always using and disambiguating MB is that you have to keep disambiguating, because some of your disambiguations say one thing and some say another. Whereas if you stick to MB = 1,000,000 bytes and MiB = 220 bytes, you only have to explain the latter term once (that is, each reader only has to look it up once). In my opinion that advantage overrides the MiB's initial, temporary, and extremely short-lived unfamiliarity to the reader. Jeh (talk) 08:25, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • The problem is that IEC prefixes don't just have to be explained once, they are unfamiliar to our readers so they need constant wikilinking and explanation as to why they are used instead of the terms and familiar methods used in the sources relevant to an article. Also, using IEC in such is contrary to the real world consensus and as such is contrary to the aims of WP:NPOV, WP:OR and WP:Verifiability. Anyway, this argument has already been refuted by one of my earlier comments so I'll link that instead. Fnagaton 08:47, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • No, they only have to be explained once in that each reader only has to read the explanation once. Wheres megabyte or MB, if IEC prefixes are not used, has to be disambiguated everywhere if confusion is to be avoided. WP:NPOV and WP:OR don't apply here (a choice of unit is neither a POV on the subject matter, nor is it OR on the subject matter of an article that merely happens to use them; you might as well claim that a preference for certain choices of words is "pushing a POV". "Verifiability" is your weakest argument yet; the IEC prefixes most certainly are verifiable as recommended by several recognized standards bodies. And you can't "refute" an opinion that one advantage ("explain just once per reader") outweighs the IEC units' initial unfamiliarity. That's a value judgment. Of course that means that I can't prove it correct either, but the point is that neither side here enjoys a "provably correct" position. Lastly, I will note that you have not attempted to comment on my pointing out that EncyBrit's usage is confusing, wrong, and inconsistent with themselves, stating that megabytes equals "million bytes" in one place and 220 bytes in another. Heck of an example to follow. Jeh (talk) 09:24, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • The disambiguation of KB/MB/GB with exact numbers of bytes also has to only be read once to understand what is being used and has the benefit of not using unfamiliar virtually unused prefixes which benefits the reader. As already refuted by the link I posted above, WP:NPOV and WP:OR do apply because it is pushing a point of view to use IEC prefixes against real world consensus. I refuted the argument presented above by providing logical reasons, trying to then claim it is a "value judgement and cannot be refuted" is in itself a weak argument. If there are any substantive arguments that have not already been refuted then I would like to see them. The example of the Encyclopedia Britannica is a good example because it shows for general articles an approximate number of byte is good enough to convey what needs to be shown in the article and then it includes a more exact example as disambiguation for people who want to know more. It is also a good example because it doesn't introduce confusing, unfamiliar and virtually unused IEC prefixes. The cited source does not say "million bytes", it says "millions of bytes" and that means the argument ""millions of bytes" absolutely unambiguously means multiples of 1,000,000." is fallacious because in English when it is said "This building cost millions of pounds" it does not mean the building cost a total of an exact multiple of one million pounds, instead it means any number which is approximately a multiple of a million which can also mean 7.1 million, 7.2 million etc. The EB are therefore not being "inconsistent with themselves". Fnagaton 09:34, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Disambiguating MB, etc., with exact numbers of bytes has to be done every time these so-called units are used. I agree that unfamiliarity of IEC prefixes is a problem - but it is a highly temporary problem. Using a standard establised by IEC, NIST, etc., is hardly pushing a non-neutral POV and it is miles (excuse me, km :) ) away from OR; OR would be to invent one's own units or prefixes! You are simply incorrect in your claim that you "refuted" anything I have written; you simply stated your (same old) opinions yet again in a tone that made it clear that you thought they were facts. Re your defense of EB... Oh, so now "megabyte" doesn't mean 1,000,000 OR 1,048,576; it means whatever the writer wants it to mean, maybe even more than the latter figure! Do you not see how you are undermining your own arguments here? I agree that in some usages "millions of dollars" or similar is good enough. Even hard drive capacity does not have to be specified to the last byte (as I have written elsewhere, hard drives are neither neat multiples of GiB or even MiB, nor of GB or MB; the most you can say is that they're moultiples of 512) and in some places the errors you describe are indeed tolerable. The problem though is that by the time we get to TB the error nears 10% (1,000,000,000,000 vs. 1,099,511,627,776) and this is not acceptable for SOME uses. As I said above, I believe that the editors of individual articles should have the right to decide by consensus on those articles which units are to be used and how they are to be disambiguated. Jeh (talk) 09:55, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Disambiguation is generally once or twice for each new term used in an article, not "every time". In the hypothetical situation described above the IEC prefixes would also have to be wikilinked or supplied with footnotes to explain why they differ to the articles sources in each article. The IEC prefixes conflict with the reliable sources used for an article and are not familiar and are virtually unused. Therefore it is incorrect to write "You are simply incorrect in your claim that you "refuted" anything I have written" and it is also incorrect to write "you simply stated your (same old) opinions yet again in a tone that made it clear that you thought they were facts." since those points of views have already been refuted by earlier posts by much stronger arguments using evidence about the real world instead of the quoted weaker attempts of just trying to claim the opposite while not using any evidence. If it is thought that the situation with TB is so bad then expressing the exact number of bytes instead of introducing unfamiliar IEC prefixes is a better solution for the average reader to understand. Wikipedia is not a crystal ball and since the situation in the majority of cases in the computing industry and with the sources used for writing articles is clearly to not use IEC prefixes then adding IEC prefixes to articles is against WP:NPOV, WP:OR and WP:Verifiability. The argument above is also refuted by the link I posted above in sections 1, 3a, 3b, 3c, 3d, 3e. Like I have said many times now, if there are substantive unrefuted arguments against the guideline text then please show the diffs because as of now that has not been done. There isn't anything in the guideline text that prohibits editors getting together to decide by consensus what should be used on a per article basis therefore to state otherwise is incorrect. What the guideline text does do is make sure individual editors are aware of the wider consensus for what to do when writing articles and to give guideance. This of course means that an individual editor is going to need to present a stronger argument that is not based on personal preference. Fnagaton 12:06, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
A definition by IEC that is not followed by the industry or by the sources we use is not a standard and should not be pushed by a minority of editors into articles.DavidPaulHamilton (talk) 11:08, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Agreed. It’s just that simple. All counter arguments amount to nothing more than how the IEC prefixes are a good idea that address genuine shortcomings with the conventional prefixes. Well… so sad/too bad; after nine years, the IEC prefixes just didn’t catch on in the industry and press. That’s the reality of the situation. Encyclopedias don’t use terminology that is virtually unused in a discipline and is unknown to the typical reader. Why the hell are you still arguing this point Jeh?!? There have been ten archives dedicated exclusively to arguments over Wikipedia’s use of the IEC prefixes. Do you really think this problem will go away if this practice were allowed to continue? If this issue was dropped here, there would be a “B20” archive two years from now. Whether you like it or not, the conventional binary prefixes are here to stay and Wikipedia needs to recognize that reality and go with the flow with the rest of the world. Greg L (talk) 16:24, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
FWIW, I'm prepared to accept that we will never find concensus to recommend the IEC binary prefixes. I'm not prepared to accept that we make no attempt to disambiguate large, medium, small, (or uncertain) megabytes (by whatever name or description). Just because some sources, even EB, are ambiguous in their usage does not mean that we need to be. I do not think it is necessary to be prescriptive in the method of disambiguation. Different methods will suit different topics, but saying what you mean should trump the principle of least astonishment. LeadSongDog (talk) 17:48, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • LeadSongDog: The majority here are not buying into the arguments of the “oppose” elements that Wikipedia shouldn’t or can’t communicate to its readership using the very same terminology and methods of disambiguation used by every single general-interest computer magazine and all general encyclopedias. In keeping with Follow current literature, if there is a computer article directed to an advanced readership where the majority of the cited sources used the IEC prefixes, then it will be fine to use them. Otherwise, not. If we really have to, we can begin a new poll. Note the following, which is from Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (binary prefixes)#Ambiguity and understandability:

Which we could certainly do, agr, if we can all agree that the shortcomings in the conventional options for disambiguating are so severe and so compelling, that our use of protologisms justifies violating the spirit of WP:SOAP, WP:NEO, MOSNUM:Which system to use, and WP:V so that Wikipedia can be justified in using terminology that no other general-interest computer magazine in the observable universe has seen fit to use.

I submit further, we should all have a show of hands as to who else here thinks we Wikipedia contributing editors are somehow more *enlightened* and somehow know better than the editors at all the general-interest computer magazines and all the professional print encyclopedias like Encyclopedia Britannica and World Book. I know this may seem combative. But there’s no ducking it; this is precisely what is underlying this debate. So let’s see an honest show of hands.

No, I am not more enlightened than the editors at all the general-interest computer magazines and professional print encyclopedias.
       1.  Greg L (my talk) 23:19, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
       2.  SWTPC6800 (talk) 00:18, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
       3.  Fnagaton 11:42, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
       4.  Thunderbird2 (talk) 14:21, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
As a matter of fact, yes, I am more enlightened than all the editors at all the general-interest computer magazines and professional print encyclopedias.
       1.  [Your name here]
I'm not about to answer a leading question.
       1.  JIMp talk·cont 00:07, 12 May 2008 (UTC)


Note that not a single editor wanted to admit to that logical reality of their arguments. If you want to continue to argue that you want Wikipedia to do things differently from everyone else, I do wish you had the fortitude to at least stand up and vote “yes” on the the declaration below:
Declaration of enlightenment
As a matter of fact, yes, I am more enlightened ON THIS TOPIC than the professional, paid editors at all the general-interest computer magazines and print encyclopedias.
  1. Headbomb (ταλκ · κοντριβς) 01:42, 10 May 2008 (UTC)


I'm not afraid to say it. Professional editors (and regular joes) aren't versed in units systems, and especially not of the rather subtle things like the differences between MB and MiB. I wish the mentality of wikipedia was not "Let's mimic everything every other encyclopedia out there do even if it's wrong (either out of incompetence or ignorance or being afraid of "being different") rather than "Let's lead a movement, and let's do things differently if they should be done differently)." It's one thing to quote a RAM maker that advertises its RAM as 512MB (when really it's 512MiB, or 536.870 912MB) and then disambiguate because the maker said something he didn't mean, but it's another to refuse to use a unit consistently because some people don't know what they are saying. In the same way that people will click on avoirdupois ounce and troy ounce the first time they encounter them, people click on MiB because they are in WTF-mode, and they'll be taken to a page that explains in great detail that the proper unit should be MiB. So there I've said it.Headbomb (ταλκ · κοντριβς) 01:42, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
  • There! There is a position I can respect. I think you are wrong, but at least you ‘fessed up to the logical consequences of your position. Greg L (talk) 03:39, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
Greg L (talk) 19:18, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
That was uncalled for. I don't believe you're responding to my post here. Please re-read it. It did not advocate continuing the struggle to use IEC prefixes. Just the opposite. I endeavoured to find a reasonable compromise, something that you seem to react badly to. "Fortitude" doesn't help build concensus, logic does. I do not choose to be goaded into accepting the false dichotomy posed by the "show of hands". We know perfectly well that "all the editors at all the general-interest computer magazines and professional print encyclopedias" wouldn't agree on anything, mostly worked on articles completely unrelated to the subject, and (by and large) were nonetheless very enlightened about their specific topics. If you want to say megabyte, fill your boots. Just don't have MOSNUM tell editors they shouldn't or can't somehow disambiguate the three common meanings of 1,000,000 vs 1,024,000 vs 1,048,576. That's a sure fire way to cause editors to invoke WP:IGNORE. LeadSongDog (talk) 20:15, 9 May 2008 (UTC)
  • First, I didn’t ignore you. You wrote “Just because some sources, even [Encyclopedia Britannica], are ambiguous in their usage does not mean that we need to be.” You now alleged that MOSNUM says that “editors … shouldn't or can't somehow disambiguate” so you must not have read what Follow current literature really says. It clearly says “…and clarify [the conventional byte prefix] meaning where necessary using familiar techniques…”. Follow current literature also is clear as glass that there are a wide variety of suitable methods to give parenthetical disambiguations and conversions. The only restriction is that they be “familiar” techniques (IEC prefixes are not “familiar”). If you are going to distort the facts, you can climb down out of my butt after I call you on it.

    Usually articles in general-interest computer magazines don’t bother with even a one-time disambiguation when one writes “the XYX Computer ships stock with 2 GB of RAM”; it’s clear enough. But if a Wikipedia author perceives the need for disambiguation, then a one-time footnote or two, as seen on Mac Pro, is all that should be necessary without having to resort to “gibibytes”.

    As for your statement: “We know perfectly well that "all the editors at all the general-interest computer magazines and professional print encyclopedias" wouldn't agree on anything, mostly worked on articles completely unrelated to the subject…”, all I have to say to that statement is Wow!  FYI, when I refer to “professional, paid editors at all the general-interest computer magazines and print encyclopedias”, I’m referring to the “editors”—not the contributing authors. Editors, like those who work at Encyclopedia Britannica or PC World, typically have advanced journalism degrees and know their subject matter extraordinarily well.

    Finally, if you really mean what you just wrote above (“[My post] did not advocate continuing the struggle to use IEC prefixes. Just the opposite”), then I just don’t understand why we are arguing about anything at all; Follow current literature is just a bunch of common sense guidelines that affords authors a huge amount of latitude to do the right thing; you shouldn’t have a problem with any of it if you read what is really there. Greg L (talk) 23:45, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

No need to keep torquing up the temperature. I've got absolutely no interest in your butt. Your words were "every single general-interest computer magazine and all general encyclopedias" (YOUR bold italics). Not some. Not most. All. That is a lot of publications, (see [http://www.compinfo-center.com/itmags.htm this list for instance) with editors in a lot of countries with a lot of differing practices. So no, no matter how professional they are, they won't All agree on much. I never "alleged that MOSNUM says that “editors … shouldn't or can't somehow disambiguate” ", I said "Just don't have MOSNUM tell editors …" which is quite different. That's not a distortion of the existing MOSNUM: it's just my explanation that I wish to ensure that such is not going to be introduced, as that seemed to me to be the tenor of some of the above editors positions. If you don't understand why we're arguing, I suggest you re-examine the tone of your above post, wherein you chose to imply that personal shortcoming such as lack of "fortitude" were behind my choice to not answer. That was simply offensive and unnecessary. LeadSongDog (talk) 04:35, 10 May 2008 (UTC)
  • LeadSongDog: In the context of using “mebibyte” or not, you focused too much on the “all” and insufficiently on the “general-interest”, which adds quite a bit of specificity. “General interest magazines” means magazines such as PC World and Mac World, which are directed to a general-interest readership. For encyclopedias, that pretty much comprises Encyclopedia Britannica and World Book.

    And when I refer to the editors at these publications, I am talking about the editors, not the contributing authors. Encyclopedias hire experts in any given field to write individual articles. But it is the editors who ensure that all copy is edited to have a harmonious writing style throughout and enforce many, many rules of style. In all the above literature, you will not find “mebibytes” and “450 ml” motorcycle engine because they don’t allow people who think the SI should be actively promoted push them into using units of measure that are effectively unheard of in a given discipline and for that level of readership. When I refer to the “editors” or “authors” on Wikipedia, I’m referring to anyone else, which includes complete novices who’ve never before tried their hand at technical writing. They need guidance and sensible rules to help ensure Wikipedia is a high-quality product.

    The rest of your arguments—such as those over my “tone and tenor”—amount to nothing more than “sport” arguing. The battles over SI and IEC-prefix promotion raged for two years; getting this crap fixed did not come about by anyone being timid here. So please don’t presume you can tell me how I may think or express my thoughts. Greg L (talk) 18:14, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

That's a bit rich. You bold and italicize the words, then claim to expect readers not to focus on them? What turnip truck do you think I fell off of? As for your "“mebibytes” and “450 ml” motorcycle engine" points, you'll note that I started off by saying "FWIW, I'm prepared to accept that we will never find concensus to recommend the IEC binary prefixes", and yet you quickly sprang into vehement protest. Do you actually think that behaviour helps gain support for your positions or speeds resolution to disputes? No wonder it "raged for two years". Insulting people is not a "sport", it's just rude and counterproductive. I'm perfectly aware of the distinction between usages of "editor" as in professional publishing and in Wikipedia. That's why it's called "the encyclopedia that anyone can edit". Of course you are perfectly free to think what you wish or express your thoughts as you wish. But when your choice is to be rude, it shouldn't surprise you that people take offence. LeadSongDog (talk) 03:10, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Headbomb signed on to the “as a matter of fact” poll. You feel it was “uncalled for”. Very well. Greg L (talk) 07:06, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

Dispute over disputed disputed tag

A post about the dispute, claiming consensus for the disputed text, has appeared at Wikiquette_alerts. Please comment there. Thunderbird2 (talk) 12:33, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Clarification of disputed tag

There is currently a 'disputed' banner for the whole Units of Measurement. I just wonder whether we really need that. The contents read like this

Units of measurement

  • 4.1 Which system to use
  • 4.2 Follow current literature
  • 4.3 Conversions
  • 4.4 Unit symbols
    • 4.4.1 Binary prefixes
  • 4.5 Unnecessary vagueness

It seems to me that the main disputed parts are 4.2 (which has never had consensus), and 4.4.1 (which used to have consensus but is now disputed). And then I suppose 4.1 is automatically disputed by the presence of 4.2.

Are there any other disputed parts? If not, I propose that we put the disputed tags where they really belong, namely 4.1, 4.2 and 4.4.1. Thunderbird2 (talk) 08:54, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

It is clear from reading this page the current wording does have consensus for section 4.2. I notice you've started to make IEC related edits [5] despite you previously in the same article using different ways to disambiguate. Also especially since the earlier revisions of this article use non-IEC. Why are you now inserting IEC into articles? Especially since I've just checked your recent edit history compared to your older edits and you've switched from using "1GB = 1024 MB ; 1 MB = 1024 KB ; 1 KB = 1024 B" style to now using IEC. It has been agreed that IEC is unfamiliar and more familiar methods are preferable. Fnagaton 09:06, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Thunderbird2: Your above post is purely specious garbage. You’re now running around to articles and mucking them up with stupid edits in a vain attempt to “prove” how cumbersome it is to have clarity in byte counts without being able to use the IEC prefixes. Just look at what you did to Bondwell (“The Bondwell-14 had 131,072 byte of memory”). You are now being disruptive to Wikipedia to make your fallacious point. There is no damned reason in the world you couldn’t have gone in and edited “Bondwell” as I had demonstrated in Mac Pro, which you acknowledged as being well done (“You did a good job at Mac Pro, and I admire the effort and energy you put into your writing”) but now conveniently ignore.

    Next, I’ll address your allegation that 4.2 (Follow current literature) “never had a consensus” and I will do so by simply repeating what I wrote above: Only on Wikipedia does one ever find such a ridiculous amount of mollycoddling to a vocal minority. One can change the U.S. Constitution, convict the U.S. President in a Senate impeachment trial, and find a party culpable to the tune of millions of dollars in a civil trial with vote balances like this. What’s at stake here is a hell of a lot less important than those examples: whether or not Wikipedia should better conform itself to the practices of professional, print encyclopedias like Encyclopedia Britannica, and use the units overwhelmingly used in the real world on relevant articles. Encyclopedia Britannica uses “megabyte” exclusively in computer articles. Why? Because the rest of the world does too. Encyclopedia Britannica uses “barrels” exclusively in articles about crude oil. The rest of the world does too.

    The minority “oppose” element that objects to Follow current literature use arguments like “it opens the door to…”, and “influx of perplexing non-standard…”, and “willy-nilly…”. These arguments are specious and do not withstand the sanitizing scrutiny of the majority of the editors here. There is clearly a general consensus on this issue, and the “support” editors have leaned over backwards to give a full and fair hearing and to solicit the input from those who had anything remotely approaching a constructive suggestion or addressable concern.

    If you want to place a {{disputed}} tag on a section, put it on 4.4.1 (“Binary prefixes”), which is now out of compliance with the will of the clear majority of editors here. You have lost any of the moral high ground here as a result of the childish crap you did to Bondwell. I was going to ignore what you did to that article when I discovered it yesterday until I came here and found this shot across the bow. Stop acting like a stubborn child, go with the flow of the level-headed majority here that has spoken clearly, and grow up! Greg L (talk) 17:39, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

  • P.S. It seems to me that {{disputed}} tags are being abused by editors here. They are not supposed to be slapped onto an article by every malcontent who feels he didn’t getting his way and simply wants to protest an outcome and now threatens to hold his breath until he turns blue to get his way. Before a {{disputed}} tag is employed, there is supposed to be an active, good-faith, lengthy discussion involving a significant number of editors on both side of a specific issue. Further, the dispute should prove intractable—maybe even administrators should have intervened. Then the tag should be posted to the relevant section as the issue is actively worked. They are not someone’s personal flag to plant everywhere they have an “issue” with as a means to provoke discussion on something. I’ve seen {{disputed}} tags on articles and there was no active discussion on them in nearly a year. Greg L (talk) 18:28, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Thunderbird2's "purely specious garbage". Thunderbird's assessment of what's disputed and what has consensus is accurate. How he may have edited Bondwell does not change the fact. One might suggest that before a major change in policy is made, there is supposed to be an active, good-faith, lengthy discussion involving a significant number of editors on both side of a specific issue. JIMp talk·cont 18:34, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
  • More stubborn childishness. Your argument lacks that necessary virtue of being remotely grounded in reality. This issue had been debated for months by well over a dozen editors. Go take it up with an administrator. Greg L (talk) 18:38, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
The reality is that the binary prefix war has raged for years without consensus; now this war has spread to all units of measurement on WP, still without consensus; and there now exists a conflict between the new "policy" and a previously established policy. There is a dispute. JIMp talk·cont 18:49, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
No, Greg. The reality is that you moved the binary prefix discussion into a larger scope, using it as an example of a more general point on which you could get wider agreement. And then you admittedly canvassed votes, canvassing ONLY those who had voted for strong wording opposing binary prefixes. And you blithely ignored all requests to even consider removing the binary prefix example from your proposed text, declaring all arguments "refuted" or "invalid", having promoted yourself to the position of arbiter and final judge on the issue even though you clearly have an interest in the outcome. That isn't a legitimate conssensus. Jeh (talk) 18:54, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia would grind to a halt if {disputed} tags were slapped up everywhere any editor refused to agree with a clear majority after thorough debate had transpired. There is one thing above in Jimp’s post I agree with: “there is dispute.” Tough. Arguments have to end and some point and can’t be allowed to rage forever by caving to a intransigent minority. The very basis of your position starts out on thin ice since you are advocating that Wikipedia communicate like no other general-interest computer magazine nor any other encyclopedia. The notion that Wikipedia should be unique in this regard has been rejected by a clear majority of editors here. Greg L (talk) 19:08, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
  • So now your argument is "the argument has to end sometime, so I'll declare it ended now while I have a temporary majority for my side"? You know perfectly well you rounded up that majority through canvassing. You SAID so. And you continue to overlook the previous poll results in which a clear majority REJECTED deprecation of binary prefixes. Jeh (talk) 20:38, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

er … that tag was placed there by User:Happy-melon at the unopposed request of User:Pmanderson. Whoever removed it might wish to consider putting it back. Thunderbird2 (talk) 19:40, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

  • You’re missing the point Tbird. It doesn’t matter who put it there. Always, the first question is whether something is appropriately being done per Wikipedia policy. As I stated above, before a {{disputed}} tag is employed, there is supposed to be an active, good-faith, lengthy discussion involving a significant number of editors on both side of a specific issue. Further, the dispute should prove intractable—maybe even administrators should have intervened. Then the tag can be posted to the relevant section as the issue is actively worked upon. {{Disputed}} tags are not someone’s personal flag to plant everywhere they have an “issue” with something as a means to provoke discussion on something. Saying, “well, I’ve long hated this portion of MOSNUM and still don’t agree with it” isn’t good enough. Hard work must transpire and dispute resolution efforts begun here before Wikipedia’s main pages get mucked up with “I don’t agree” tags.

    Do you think Happy-melon thought the {{disputed}} tag was going to stay on MOSNUM until every single “opposer” was happy as a clam? If an administrator takes a look at the current situation and concludes a {{disputed}} tag is warranted, that’s fine. But it was certainly not within your providence to propose duplicating that tag to wherever the “oppose” crowd had a dispute with one issue or another; it doesn’t work that way. Greg L (talk) 20:25, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

No. You are missing the point, which is that there is a raging dispute all over this page that shows no signs of abating. Your endless tirade of rude and unjustified accusations (against me as well as other editors who happen to disagree with you) is tiresome and unconducive to any kind of compromise. I find your tone distasteful and am not prepared to stoop to your level of childishness by responding to the accusations further. I will, however, ask a rhetorical question in the vain hope that it might help you to see sense: how do expect to achieve consensus when you set yourself up as the sole arbiter of what may or may not appear on MOSNUM? Thunderbird2 (talk) 21:22, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

MOSNUM rarely sees as heated a dispute as this ... there is the binary prefix war but, well, this is merely the new frontline of that war. If this does not warrant a disputed tag, it's time to take the tag to WP:TFD. By the way, Greg, I'd advise against accusations of vandalism; it won't help you nor will it intimidate me. JIMp talk·cont 23:35, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

I have moved the disputed banner so that it does not affect those parts that have not been challenged (ie 4.4 except for 4.4.1 and the whole of 4.3 and 4.5). Please leave it like this until the dispute is resolved. Thunderbird2 (talk) 18:20, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Improper interference by involved administrator

  • Now has “resolved” checkmark. Greg L (talk) 03:04, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
The resolution sure seems in favour of Omegatron to me. Note also, DavidPaulHamilton, that the resolution of the issue as to whether Omegatron was in the wrong doesn't change the fact that the section is disputed. The issue of whether the tag should be replaced is still unresolved. JIMp talk·cont 05:17, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Well, that’s your interpretation(s). Greg L (talk) 06:05, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
I did use the words "seems ... to me". The tag was added with the statement "And your response will be much the same." directed towards you, Greg, with respect to your suggestion of "kick it up to a more suitable forum". And the response in question was: case-closed without any action taken against Omegatron. Now, assuming Omegatron had been in the wrong, does that change the fact that "Follow current literature" is disputed? There is a dispute, surely you recognise that. That there exists a dispute is sufficient cause to have the tag there—the tag does nothing more than acknowledge this fact. These are two different issues. This is my interpretation is it not accurate? JIMp talk·cont 06:33, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Omegatron not being punished does not mean the section is disputed. The case for adding a disputed tag has not been demonstrated. DavidPaulHamilton (talk) 18:00, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Absolutely and on the same token, had Omegatron been punished, that would not mean the section were undisputed. These are two different questions, that's just what I'm saying. There is a dispute, you've been involved in it, DavidPaulHamilton, ever since you joined WP (assuming you're not a sock). There's your case for adding the tag, plain and simple. Of course, you'll want to argue that the points raised against the proposal are insubstantial ... show us your counter arguments. JIMp talk·cont 23:30, 14 May 2008 (UTC)


  1. Consensus is not decided by majority rule or votes. I don't know how many times we need to say this to get it across. An "8:3" majority does not demonstrate consensus, especially when most of the people opposing the policy refused to participate in the vote, or have been avoiding the discussion altogether due to the increasingly hostile atmosphere fostered by Greg L. A few days of voting between a handful of sympathetic people is not sufficient to decide something that's been debated for years by dozens of people.

    "It is very easy to create the appearance of a changing consensus simply by asking again and hoping that a different and more sympathetic group of people will discuss the issue. This, however, is a poor example of changing consensus, and is antithetical to the way that Wikipedia works. Wikipedia's decisions are not based on the number of people who showed up and voted a particular way on a particular day; they are based on a system of good reasons."

  2. The vote was stacked. Greg L specifically invited only people who had voted "Support" in the past. This is very improper behavior, and goes against all our notions of consensus and cooperation. Even if votes were a valid way of creating guidelines (they aren't), the vote would be invalidated by this.
  3. The fact that all of these people are still discussing this demonstrates that it's still under heavy dispute and should not be in the guideline at all. In fact, I'd say the discussion is hopelessly polarized, and I don't see it coming to any kind of resolution without formal mediation. — Omegatron (talk) 01:10, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

If Greg has now "Accepted" this advice from User:Seicer perhaps others can too? LeadSongDog (talk) 03:42, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

lb or lbs?

It has been suggested here that in the UK the plural of lb (for pound) should be lbs. It seems to me that this contravenes MOSNUM. Please comment on the article talk page. Thunderbird2 (talk) 16:21, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Enough is enough

It is clear that a minority of editors will not agree there is consensus despite the strong arguments and evidence for the consensus. Do not place disputed tags unless it is supported by substantive reasoning and do not replace the tag unless everyone involved is willing to agree to formal mediation. If anyone places back the tag in the near future then they will be demonstrating they are not interested in formal mediation.DavidPaulHamilton (talk) 19:41, 14 May 2008 (UTC)


The other solution is for everyone involved to agree they will not add any further disputed tags unless it really is shown there is clear consensus for having the tag added. Repeatedly adding the tag without strong reason to do so is counterproductive. DavidPaulHamilton (talk) 20:03, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Have you ever considered looking around you? The “substantive evidence” you are looking for is all over this page. Jeh, Jimp, Lightmouse, Thunderbird2 and Tony have voted against the text and a further 3 (Gene Nygaard, Jim77742 and LeadSongDog) have argued against it but have not voted. Finally, from Greg L’s edit summary (his emphasis) "and this section is STILL disputed". That makes 9 editors disputing the content of the section. How much more evidence do you need? Thunderbird2 (talk) 20:43, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Prove it instead of just making claims. On this page the oppose votes are just "I hate it" votes and those are not substantive reasons.DavidPaulHamilton (talk) 22:37, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
  • Like SHEFFIELDSTEELTALK wrote on the Wikiquette alert: “Consensus is not all editors in 100% happy agreement, and never has been.” And as Francis Schonken (talk) wrote on my talk page: “A rough consensus seems to have formed.” {here} And that was before we went through the whole exercise with “Fourth draft”. All progress on Wikipedia would grind to a halt if “consensus” meant 100% buy-in. One editor, Crissov, wrote “I support metric-only with the exception of defining source units –, I indeed consider all articles that are (or, rather, should be) in Wikipedia to be scientific, because science is not just physics and chemistry. (By the way, there is no justification for the use of imperial units in WP at all, where they differ from their US counterparts.)” {here}. Now isn’t that a slick little loophole: simply state that you consider all articles to be intrinsically scientific in nature in order to exploit an existing MOSNUM guideline and continue to do things your own way. How is anyone supposed to get 100% buy-in when there are editors with such divergent views? The answer is: it often can’t happen. That’s the simple reality and sometimes you go when a clear majority agree on the basic principle. The important thing is to make sure the process by which a new policy was developed gave everyone a full chance to participate and have their input full and fairly considered by all. In this case we did—in spades. And then went the extra mile (1.6 km) with “Fourth draft”. Greg L (talk) 22:06, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

Concern: commas and dates

MOS:DATE#Dates (or any other section I'm aware of) does not clarify that commas have to be inserted for full dates which are wiki-linked. Example; a comma automatically appears in February 14 2008 (see the linked [[February 14]] [[2008]] here, note that it does not for February 14 2008 and February 14 2008). In other words, if the date is linked, the comma is visible to viewers even though it is not edited into the context. So, can someone see the logic in this revert? To me, this is like placing the |right| to an image which already has a mark-up like |frame| or |thumb| which sets the image to the right by default. My proposal — the guideline should say that a comma does not need to be inserted for a correctly linked date. Is this understandable? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 02:52, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

See also Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style_(dates_and_numbers)/Archive_94#Commas_in_linked_dates. Some people still don't realize a comma is added in [[February 14]] [[2008]] (February 14 2008), and removed in [[14 February]], [[2008]] (14 February, 2008), even for IP editing. The revert was based on a misunderstanding. Gimmetrow 03:03, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
So you agree that these things should be mentioned in the guideline? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 03:08, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
I can agree with saying a comma does not need to be inserted with the [[February 14]] [[2008]] format, but I'm less clear on recommending it. No comma seems to confuse editors. With [[14 February]], [[2008]], I think the comma should be removed and not restored, since MediaWiki removes it anyway for viewing, but editing solely for this would be a trivial edit. Gimmetrow 03:30, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
The guideline doesn't say that is HAS to be added, but it also doesn't say it HAS to be removed. If the comma is optional, the guideline probably should note that, but I don't think that should be a justification to remove them. Does having the comma there cause any actual problems? If not, when doing February 14, 2008, why remove the comma? It seems like a personal editing preference, and not one that needs to be "corrected" unless there is an actual reason to do so. AnmaFinotera (talk) 03:35, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
This argument is a bit pointless. When a complete date is wikilinked, it will always display correctly—for the American style the comma will be inserted where it is not present. The opposite applies for British style, where the comma is deleted if present. This applies also for unregistered users. But mention should be made of this somewhere to prevent unnecessary editing. I had a discussion about this before (here) and still have the test in my sandbox (if anyone's interested be sure to switch of dates preferences beforehand). TINYMARK 04:07, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
It's just like the image sample I cited: why add |right| if |thumbnail|, |frame|, etc., already does the job? It's past redundant. Therefore, the guideline should make note of this. Do we have an agreement? Can this be indicated in the guideline now? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 04:17, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
I'd link to see an alternative way of formatting dates than using double brackets ([[ ]]). The problem I see lies in there not being consensus on how dates should appear (American vs international), leading to a system where user preferences can be set to recognise and format all dates marked in a certain way. Fine, up to a point. However, in using the article linking mechanism, dates are being linked left right and centre, when there is no real reason to - many dates in articles have no great historical significance, and do not even warrant a mention in the linked date article. Nevertheless, there appear to be editors who spend most of their time manually making these links. This labour-intensive and overlinking to dates and years articles (just check their backlinks and you will see what I mean - there are well in excess of 20,000 articles linked to January 1 alone), and the paranoïa apparently associated with it drives me nuts. Ohconfucius (talk) 05:15, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
You're absolutely right. There should as well be a section on which layout is preferred. That'll be hard to decide, albeit there really isn't a standard preference, it'll have to be one or the other. Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 05:34, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
What we should not be doing is what you did in your original post, Sesshomaru. Don't link February to the article on the month, link 14 (meant to be the day of the month) to article on the year AD 14 and 2008 to article on the year AD 2008. That's already covered in the MoS, isn't it?
Our standard "look and feel" is the results we get from dates properly formatted for user preferences. There is no preference from among those options, if that's what you are talking about. It is best to enter it the way it appears, but the missing or extra comma we are talking about there won't make much difference in the results, and in not in itself reason to edit an article.
Yes, the software will fix some of the problems even for users who are not logged in. I used to think, after the software started acting that way, that it no longer mattered if a linked-for-preferences date was linked as "[[January 15]], [[1961]" or "[[January 15]], [[1961]", but if I recall correctly, somebody pointed out some case in which it does make a difference. But maybe I just imagined that, I cannot tell you what it would be. Gene Nygaard (talk) 15:18, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Not quite sure if you're upset or bothered by anything Gene. I was making a simple point about the comma in those samples. In any case, shall I update this page per discussion or are there any opposing? Seems to be legit. However, I'll refrain from mentioning how dates should appear, American vs international-wise, since that would require a separate section. Agreed by all parties? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 16:55, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
If I understand your point, and going by what you were edit-warring about, we most certainly should not be saying not to use commas on the edit page, in places where they would normally appear in what readers see on the article page. Why in the world are you even asking for that? Gene Nygaard (talk) 17:51, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Edit warring? What in the world are you talking about? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 18:04, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Okay, I take that back; not edit-warring. It was just a first impression, when you were complaining about someone's reversion of your edit removing commas from the Month DD, Year format. I don't think you have any cause for complaint; we should not be running around removing the commas. That's the point I'm trying to get across. Gene Nygaard (talk) 18:31, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Compromise: how about having the guideline say something like, "commas for the [[February 14]] [[2008]] format do not need to be inserted since they are visible even without them in the edit."? Implying not to use commas no matter the circumstance is a tiny bit irrational, I guess. This makes sense? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 18:52, 5 March 2008 (UTC)
Okay. I'll do the compromised edit to the guideline tommorrow. Any additional comments? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 06:04, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

(deindent) Make sure to note that just because they are not needed is no reason to run around removing them from existing articles. AnmaFinotera (talk) 21:13, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

I think I know why you're saying this. You don't want the commas removed in pages that you heavily edited, like List of Star Ocean EX episodes? Can I ask why? If someone has enough spare time on their hands, I don't see why they should not run around and get the job done. It's optional. Thoughts? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 21:28, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
I'd have thought the reason is obvious. Do you want to see your watchlist explode ?? ;-) TINYMARK 21:34, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
You're right, I don't. I see no point to it. I find it rather annoying, as it isn't needed or useful at all. If people have time on their hands, I'd rather them do something that actually improves the articles rather than just do such an extremely meaningless edit. It would be one thing if removing the commas actually fixes anything, but it doesn't. Even tag and go is more useful than stripping out the commas. Its about as pointless an edit as one can get. And, as TinyMark notes, it is another watchlist addition that gets to be doubly annoying when someone comes along, is editing, noticing there are none, and feels they need to fix it. I also find the code looks very ugly without the commas and I think it would be very confusing to anyone who doesn't understand that the commas are not needed (a good chunk of editors, I'd suspect). Maybe I'm an anal web developer, but I seriously abhor ugly code :P AnmaFinotera (talk) 21:51, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
I don't really think the layman will assume that a comma is missing (that's what the preview button is for). But I see both of your points. What about the dates in pages that already have no commas? Are you two suggesting that the commas should be inserted because the layman will think they are missing and will "explode" one's watchlst? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 22:10, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
If any article is already without commas, then no need to insert either. So my basic position is, if they are there, leave them there, if they aren't, leave them out, though if a newbie editor comes alongs and adds them because they think they are missing, no need to yell either (though feel free to undo and explain). Its kind of like referencing, I guess. If a valid referencing style is already in heavy use (such as Harvard referencing), don't run through and completely redo to your preferred referencing style (maybe using templates). In the case of citation styles, Wikipedia:Citing sources includes language regarding that:
"Any style or system is acceptable on Wikipedia so long as articles are internally consistent. You should follow the style already established in an article, if it has one; where there is disagreement, the style or system used by the first editor to use one should be respected."
Perhaps something similar would work here? AnmaFinotera (talk) 22:26, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

I guess that could work, but what about Death Note? Some dates there have a comma, others do not. And if someone comes along and removes the commas while doing other good faith edits, like I did here, one should not revert blindly or undo only the removal of the commas, as that seems to be a case of Wikipedia:Ownership. So can we integrate what I just said into the guideline as well? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 22:37, 10 March 2008 (UTC)

For Death Note, if we use the citation guideline, then whichever was used first should be kept and the rest changed to match. As for the Star Ocean issue, well, as has already been noted, removing wasn't necessary. The list was created with them (first editor to use), and that shouldn't have been changed. Your other good faith edit (only one other thing) was put back. AnmaFinotera (talk) 01:09, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
So how should it be written in the guideline? I know what to include, but don't know how to phrase it. Any thoughts or suggestions? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 01:18, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I think a slight modification of the quote from cite, retooled to dates, would be fine. So something like: "Commas are not required to be used in full format American dates. Their inclusion or exclusion is a stylistic and editorial preference. Either style is acceptable so long as articles are internally consistent. You should follow the method already established in an article, so that if the article has dates with commas, then the commas should be left alone and new dates added to the article should have commas. If the dates in the article do not have commas, then they should not be added to existing dates and new dates should not have them. Where there is disagreement or the article currently has a mix of commas and no commas, then the earliest format used should be respected and the article changed to be consistent with that format." AnmaFinotera (talk) 20:02, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Sounds great! I noted that the Death Note page first used commas, then some were removed. I shall correct this problem soon. Okay, go ahead and update the guideline, would you? Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 20:08, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
The page is currently edit protected, so before I put in an editprotected request, does anyone else want to comment on this? AnmaFinotera (talk) 04:04, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Go for it. Seems we have concluded. Lord Sesshomaru (talkedits) 20:09, 12 March 2008 (UTC)
Added. I wasn't completely sure where to put it, so I put it in the section on full date formatting. If someone feels it should be positioned differently, feel free to shift around.AnmaFinotera (talk) 17:57, 13 March 2008 (UTC)

Section break

This has not been thought through. It is not necessary or even useful to have a different standard for articles that pertain to American topics. If I am editing a section of an article on a clearly British topic to correct a misspelled word, and then also see a mess like "happened on the 14<sup>th</sup> of Sept [[1777]]", I can simply change it to "happened on [[14 September]] [[1777]]". If I see this in a section of an article on a clearly American topic, I would, according to these new instructions. need to:

  • get out of edit mode on that section.
  • view or edit the entire article, examining it to see if there are any dates in either of 2 formats, [[July 4]], [[1776]] or [[July 4]] [[1776]].
  • if there are none, pick one format and use it for the mess I found.
  • if all other dates are in one of those 2 formats, use that format to fix the messy date.
  • if there are several dates in each format, spend half the afternoon digging through the revision history trying to find the revision that first introduced one of these 2 formats, and use that format to fix the other dates that were added since, and the messy date.

If this strikes anyone as an unrealistic burden to throw on the back of editors who are trying to clean up articles on American topics, I agree and sympathize with you completely. Before the manga edit skirmish began, we had 2 formats: [[July 4]], [[1776]] or [[4 July]] [[1776]], for west of the Atlantic and east of it. I feel that adding a 3rd format and encouraging its use (just because it is known that the software will fix it for general display) detracts from Wikipedia. I will remove that recommendation from the guideline. An agreement between two editors doesn't constitute much of a consensus. Chris the speller (talk) 18:19, 19 March 2008 (UTC)

No one is saying anything about adding a 3rd format. The article already says you can use [[July 4]], [[1776]] or [[July 4]] [[1776]]. The paragraph just clarifies that people shouldn't go around removing all the commas in an article because the comma isn't needed, nor should they be added in, rather as with sources, stick with the method already in use in the article. AnmaFinotera (talk) 18:35, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
Your statement is completely incorrect. Nowhere does the guideline say that [[July 4]] [[1776]] is an acceptable format. Please remove that paragraph or allow me to remove it again. Chris the speller (talk) 20:40, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
It is shown in the table lower in the page. Personally, I agree, but as other editors have used this guideline to say commas are not required and have removed them (and not just the case noted here), something should be added to clarify. The paragraph is an attempt to do so. Do you have another suggestion for a better way to deal with it? AnmaFinotera (talk) 20:46, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
I think you will see that I am on your side if you read the discussion "Commas in linked dates" in Archive 94 of this talk page. Back then I was afraid that including "[[May 15]] [[2005]]" in the table would lead to some editors to think that it was an acceptable format, but there was an insistence on leaving it in to provide a complete list of formats that the autoformatting software could or could not handle. You have shown that my fears were justified. The omission of the comma has come up several times, but a consensus to allow dropping it has never been achieved. My last comment in that discussion clearly shows that I opposed editing just to remove a comma from the British-style dates, so I wholeheartedly oppose removing them from American-style dates. The removal of commas from the manga article was not only a waste of time for that editor and a waste of Wikipedia resources, but turned into a further burden on those taking part in discussions here. I kept getting beat up about that table and the green check marks and red X's. If you want to support adding a couple of red X's to that table instead of the 2 wimpy asterisks, maybe we can get this cleared up. Chris the speller (talk) 21:55, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
That might be a good idea, and I could see it being cleaner than the paragraph addition. I'd support making it clearer for sure. AnmaFinotera (talk) 22:22, 19 March 2008 (UTC)
What do you think of the green checks and red X's that were in the table here? Never mind that the legend below it is inaccurate in this version. Would something like this work to show what formats are acceptable? Chris the speller (talk) 01:20, 20 March 2008 (UTC)
I think that would work. It makes it clearer what formats are acceptable and much easier to quick read. AnmaFinotera (talk) 01:23, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

How about adding green check marks on the left of the table, just for the two formats that are accepted by the MOS? Red X's are already used on the right to indicate what will display as a dead link. Chris the speller (talk) 15:30, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Section break 2

Totally different perspective (on original issue raised in this thread): The comma absolutely must be used in the [[February 29]], [[2007]] format (and never in the other). The geeky reason is that the entire web has been evolving for over a decade now toward the complete separation of content and presentation markup, and this violates that principle. The more practical and immediate WP reason is that, as most of you know, Tony1 and others have been working hard to raise awareness of the absolute suckitude of the current date formatting system, with the eventual badly-desired result of removing the [[...]] markup that causes the dates to be wikilinked for no reader-useful reason, to be replaced by something as yet undetermined. It is very likely in my opinion that the developers will eventually fix this with an "intelligent" solution that auto-parses correctly formatted dates on-the-fly, in precisely the same way that it auto-parses correctly formatted cases of ISBN followed by an ISBN number, rather than introduce some wacky new markup that no one understands ($#$February 27 2008$#$ or whatever). I'd bet real-world money on it. If I'm right, potentially millions of dates will not be auto-formatted because MOSNUM will have told editors they can be lazy and omit the commas, resulting in malformed dates when the square-brackets are removed for implementation of the new date coding system. For this reason, I correct cases of [[February 29]] [[2007]] on sight. PS: The idea of "oh, well, the smart autoparser can just recognize that format too" does not fly, because WP is open content, meaning that it can be reused in any way that people want, including selectively downloading the wiki, not HTML source and stripping out what they don't like and reworking it; we have no guarantee at all that the MediaWiki parser will be used in any particular case of legitimate re-use of WP content. We cannot permit invalid content just because we're lazy and we assume (in some cases falsely) that tricky aspects of the MediaWiki code transmogrification process will compensate for our errors. By way of analogy, it would be trivial for the MW developers to install code that corrected on-the-fly all instances of "hte" and "corect" so that they were spelled correctly by the time the code was rendered in the browser window, without actually correcting these errors in the source code. No way, José. We have bots (and humans) correcting the source for a reason. This is why you will probably notice plenty of people going around and correcting cases of <br> to <br />. It simply doesn't matter that MW is smart enough to send the latter to the browser on-the-fly without correcting the source. The source has to be clean. A very probable (maybe already common!) use case for repurposing WP content is to get the WP database, load it into a customized instance of MW, remove all unwanted templates, subst all the rest of them with a bot, and replace all wikimarkup with its XHTML equivalents, then export the resulting lovely, validating XHTML code to a completely different kind of server. Not correcting <br> and not fixing [[February 29]] [[2007]] in the wiki code itself is going to really screw up that kind of WP content re-use. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:07, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

I agree with SMcCandlish that dates formatted like February 29, 2008 should have a comma, because to drop the comma is incorrect, and dates should appear correct to those who do not set any date format preference. I do not agree that dates which totally lack markup will ever be formatted automatically. One obstacle is dates within direct quotations; these should not be reformatted. Another obstacle is cases where the number following the month and day is not a year, but some other quantity. To make up an example, "The number of prisoners taken on February 28 was 2000, and on February 29, 2500." --Gerry Ashton (talk) 01:31, 5 April 2008 (UTC)
Trivial. Unusual cases like that would be handled in exactly the same way as us not wanting to autowikilink in a quotation that read "...I thought it was ISBN 978-1-59874-011-0 but it wasn't...". Just do this: "...I thought it was <nowiki>ISBN 978-1-59874-011-0</nowiki> but it wasn't...", which renders as "...I thought it was ISBN 978-1-59874-011-0 but it wasn't...", as it should. We do this stuff all the time, like when you need to italicize something that begins with an apostrophe, etc., etc., etc. — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 05:50, 5 April 2008 (UTC)

SMcCandlish is right on the mark: we should not count on questionable MW software to correct our sloppiness. I have added green check marks to the table to show what is approved by this manual. Chris the speller (talk) 18:05, 7 April 2008 (UTC)

My clarification of the table has been reverted twice, on aesthetic grounds. Apparently, not offending one editor's tastes is more important than having a guideline that avoids confusing many editors. I am walking away from this one. In fact, I will now unwatch this discussion page, which has had the benefit of a few very thoughtful and eloquent editors, but has also seen them nearly drowned out by hordes of people intent only on pushing their own personal tastes. This has taken far too much of my time, and I will be happier improving Wikipedia articles than trying to wade through all the bickering. Those who stay and continue trying to make this guideline useful have my best wishes. Chris the speller (talk) 04:12, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
  • Chris the speller: I’m sorry to see you go. I haven’t been involved in this discussion thread. I only became interested because of the post at the very bottom of this page (∆ here) talking of “awful kindergarten graphics”. That of course, made me curious. Which page? This discussion page? I had to search to find out that the “kindergarten graphics” being referred to was check marks: Yes check.svg …which you used in a table. They didn’t seem bad to me and you certainly didn’t deserve the smack down you received.

    I encourage you, Chris, to come on back and get back into the saddle soon after the sting wears off. I really think MOSNUM needs an infusion of new blood. I’m not suggesting that there is anything wrong with the current “regulars”—not at all; we need old-timers to help keep us on track and explain history to us so we aren’t doomed to repeat past mistakes. On the other hand, I think it was wrong for a new arrival to get so soundly stomped on over such a trivial issue as the relative aesthetics of a checkmark. One of the editors posted this for their edit comment when he/she deleted your check marks: “removing yet more ugly check marks; approved by who?” Someone please correct me if I’m wrong here, but anyone can make minor edits on MOSNUM. Yes, like anything else on Wikipedia, those changes can always be reverted when another editor disagrees. But I don’t think Chris needed “approval” from one of the regulars around here to add them.

    May I suggest we try to be a bit more accommodating to outsiders here? I think Chris the speller is feeling a bit like the first female firefighter to try to join the NY City Fire Department: more than a bit unwelcome. Only, what is at stake here isn’t as important as the physical ability of a firefighter to “carry a 200-lb mayor out of a burning building”. Talk:MOSNUM is a market for the exchange of thought. I hate to sound like a University poster-boy for politically correct slogans, but some extra diversity of opinion can be very helpful on MOSNUM and we need to help newcomers to feel welcome. If there was more “history” to this spat than is apparent and this issue was just a “straw that broke the camel’s back” so to speak, I apologize for interceding without having researched this better. But at this point, I’m just not seeing a good justification for what lead up to Chris calling it quits on MOSNUM. Greg L (my talk) 05:04, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

We already had this discussion in early February after I pointed out the table showed the wrong rendered formats for the comma cases. Chris the speller then placed red checkmarks with the comma cases, which I removed since they do render to one of the standard date formats, and we came to an agreement to have the double-asterisk ** note. Or so I thought. Sorry for being a bit abrupt, but I was surprised when the same edit appeared a couple days ago claiming some forms were now "approved".

I think it's a bad idea to list "approved forms" for wikitext. If it doesn't concern appearance, it shouldn't concern the Manual of Style, which is a guide for the style and formatting of articles as they are read. The MoS discusses wikitext occasionally to note alternatives producing the same rendered page, such as either one or two spaces after a period. As far as I know, we don't have MoS pages telling people to only use one space, or to write <br />, or to format cite templates with one field per line, or to use cite templates rather than hand-written references. Or do we now? Gimmetrow 07:26, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

  • No, you didn’t come across as abrupt at all Gimmetrow; thanks for taking the time to fully explain this. As I feared, this was a “tip of the iceberg” issue. It seemed a lot more trivial than that due to SandyGeorgia’s post, which read “I just tried to remove some awful kindergarten graphics from this page, but edit conflicted with Gimmetrow, who beat me to it. Please, this isn't a picture book, and we don't need these illustrative gimmicks.”. As you can imagine, given that post, and your recent edit summary statement, the conflict seemed much more superficial—and unwaranted—than it really was. Greg L (my talk) 16:07, 9 April 2008 (UTC)
I really wish I hadn't dewatched listed this now. Can't this be made clearer in the guideline, some how. The issue of comma stripping is again coming up, now on Ballad of a Shinigami in which an editor decided he needed to "clean up" the article by stripping out all of the commas from the dates. It isn't superficial and it is increasingly becoming a problem as editors claim they are unnecessary due to auto-formatting while others point to the MOS and say they should be included, but the MOS is so ambiguous they argue it isn't said explicitly and just keep doing it. AnmaFinotera (talk) 01:44, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Looking at Ballad of a Shinigami, I want to know why American format dates are used for a non-American subject. International format would appear far more appropriate. --Pete (talk) 02:19, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Per the MOS, Japan uses both, so its up to the editor. "Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should generally use the more common date format for that nation; articles related to Canada may use either format consistently. Articles related to other countries that commonly use one of the two acceptable guidelines above should use that format." The consensus in the project (and this MOS) is to use whichever format was first used, either American or International. In almost all cases, American is first used for articles on anime and manga, so that is what almost all use. AnmaFinotera (talk) 02:22, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
Not to mention that the primary material (light novels) and anime are released internationally, the novels in North America, the anime via online (though only available to Australia/New Zealand I believe).-- 02:26, 11 April 2008 (UTC)
It's silly to edit just to change the wikitext when it has no effect on display. It might have been best if the MediaWiki software had never started adding/removing commas and spaces automatically. Gimmetrow 18:38, 12 April 2008 (UTC)

Next try

It's been a while so perhaps things have settled, and I've asked Chris the speller back. I think our goals are not incompatible. I mainly want these edits (switching commas around in wikilinked dates) to stop, and I think the solution is to redesign the table more substantially.

We should just list the basic forms which produce autolinking. When discussing the redlink forms there is no need to show how they look under different format prefs since they don't change. Finally, observe that some variations in commas and spacing in the wikitext produce the same rendered forms, and there is no need to add or remove commas. I would even go so far as to say if there is any dispute about the wikitext, it should match the displayed form. I'm seeimg some editors even removing *spaces*: [[1 January]][[2001]] and [[January 1]][[2001]] render as 1 January2001 and January 12001. This needs to stop. Gimmetrow 04:26, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Can you make the suggested changes to the table and put it in a subpage, maybe one of yours, so we can take a look? Chris the speller (talk) 04:53, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Adding below. The table currently live on the page is mistaken in how [[15 May]] is rendered under different preferences. Gimmetrow 05:26, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

The table looks fine. The note that it will "display [[May 15]] [[2005]] as May 15, 2005 even for users not logged in" seems one-sided, as it does not point out that it will also "display [[15 May]], [[2005]] as 15 May 2005 even for users not logged in." The extra comma on one side of the Atlantic is equal and opposite to the missing comma across the pond. And saying that the "comma is optional in this case" gives too much encouragement to editors who would like to depart from the formats that have been approved. As pointed out above by SMcCandlish, "we have no guarantee at all that the MediaWiki parser will be used in any particular case of legitimate re-use of WP content". Chris the speller (talk) 15:58, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
That's because it's just one example. If you don't like it, suggest a different way to phrase it. Gimmetrow 23:00, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
OK, see my proposed wording below. Chris the speller (talk) 00:56, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
Chris, you seemed to argue that the comma was needed because there's no guarantee that any re-use will use the MediaWiki parser; are you saying you now don't like Stanton's argument at #Section break 2? - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 03:05, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
(moved Dank55 comment from draft section to consolidate the discussion) - I don't see any comment by Stanton in that section. Chris the speller (talk) 14:46, 29 April 2008 (UTC)
Sorry; Stanton is SMcCandlish. P.S. Glad to see you back, I always enjoyed your comments. - Dan Dank55 (talk)(mistakes) 21:36, 29 April 2008 (UTC)

(outdent) I totally agree with SMcCandlish on the matter of commas in dates, unless I'm missing something. My wording in the draft below does not conflict with his comments, as far as I can see. Chris the speller (talk) 20:32, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

It runs against my views to make suggestion about wikitext which has no affect on displayed form, and it was about as far as I could go to say the comma in [[May 15]], [[2005]] "should not be removed over objections", which is now gone. That statement was quite enough to stop silly edit fights, no? That treats the issue as a courtesy to fellow editors, so if there are any objections the default is wikitext matching the displayed form (ie, comma in May 15, 2005, no comma in 15 May 2005). But since it has no effect on displayed form it's not a style issue per se, and the MoS shouldn't be saying what's proper and improper. Gimmetrow 19:29, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
This is dragging on. I'm going to assume no objection to the draft below if there is no further response for a few days. Gimmetrow 00:54, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
There is never a case where WP is improved by removing the comma from [[May 15]], [[2005]], so I disapprove of adding "if there is any objection"; I object in all cases. Yes, it would stop most edit fights after they start, but why start? Chris the speller (talk) 00:17, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
So you're saying under no circumstances whatsoever could the editors of an article agree to use a wikitext that renders correctly according to the MoS, even if no editor objects? If you really don't like this, then lobby the developers to change the rendering algorithm; then it will be a moot point. Gimmetrow 05:55, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

Draft

What you type What logged-in registered users see (settings on first row) What others will see*
-- January 15, 2001 15 January 2001 2001 January 15 2001-01-15 No preference --
[[May 15]] May 15 15 May May 15 May 15 May 15 May 15
[[15 May]] May 15 15 May 15 May 15 May 15 May 15 May
[[May 15]], [[2005]] May 15, 2005 15 May 2005 2005 May 15 2005-05-15 May 15, 2005 May 15, 2005
[[15 May]] [[2005]] May 15, 2005 15 May 2005 2005 May 15 2005-05-15 15 May 2005 15 May 2005
[[2005-05-15]] May 15, 2005 15 May 2005 2005 May 15 2005-05-15 2005-05-15 2005-05-15
* Non-registered users and registered users not logged in
  • The year should be wikilinked separate from the date except for dates in ISO 8601 format. Other full date formats will not autoformat when wikilinked, and are likely to produce a redlink: [[2005 May 15]] produces 2005 May 15.
  • MediaWiki allows some variation in spacing and comma. For example, [[May 15]] [[2005]] will display as May 15, 2005 even for users not logged in. Although the comma is supplied by the MediaWiki software in this case, the comma need not and should not be removed from the wikitext if there is any objection. Wikitext which differs from the displayed form can be confusing to editors. Likewise do not write [[15 May]], [[2005]] or [[15 May]][[2005]].