Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 57

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ft/lbf

I note a change from ft/lbs (foot pounds) in my Daimler Conquest article. I have no doubt that myself and many other car enthusiasts have never heard of ft/lbf. According to Google it is a US measurement, and isn't a Conquest a British car? Unless you can show that it is somehow Wikipedia policy that car articles are to conform to this measurement standard, I would like to revert it. As far as I am concerned, it makes it look like I cannot spell. (Unsigned comment by User:Seasalt)

Thanks for the feedback. You may wish to look at:
Feel free to comment in their talk pages.
I use a 'unitformatter' tool. If you would like to use it, let me know.
Incidentally, the '/' symbol is misleading because it looks like division. The article looks great otherwise, keep up the good work. bobblewik 10:40, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
I have difficulties with an American system of notation being imposed that is not used in the automotive industry, and was not used for those vehicles. The talk pages look useless. One would never be heard above the typewriting of others thoughts. (Sheer volume of discussion) Have already searched those pages, and see no discussion whatsoever of adopting ft whatever lbf, just a declaration that that it is the standard. I know not entirely why it bothers me that much but it does. I am not going to bother bleating about it on the talk pages, as I suspect no one there would be bothered about such a detail. Pedantic scientific notation enforcement outside of scientific documentation is a deterrent to an antipodean automotive notation convention pedant. Seasalt 11:21, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
You sound frustrated. Make it easy for yourself. Just copy this discussion to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers).
bobblewik 11:48, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

I note that on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Automobiles/Conventions#Order_of_components_of_torque_units there is a lofty debate about which way round the units go....the automotive industry has an established, accepted way of presenting these figures thats been in use for 100 years, while people into the professional jargon are still arguing which figure goes first. Only a well educated person would even know what an lbf was, and it didn't make any intuitive sense on first reading. I had vainly thought myself educated, but crashed at the first lbf barrier....not everyone is an engineer, and I suspect engineers have zero confusion over what car manufacturers and car fanatics mean by ft/lbs...

Is there any hope of allowing automobiles and motorcycles to keep the ft/lbs they were born with?

Certainly not. For one thing, there is no division involved here. There should be no slash whatsoever. It is a multiplication. It should be a centered dot, or alternatively a space (non-breaking is a lot more important in that case than in the silly, unconventional rule perhaps still stated here in the MoS that we should have a nonbreaking space between the number and the units).
Furthermore, no symbols for units of measure should be changed in the plural, so "lbs" is bad.
Then there is the need to distinguish pounds with the symbol "lb" from pounds-force with the symbol lbf. They are different units.
Furthermore, even within the automobile industry, the uniformity in the order of the units is a figment of your imagination. Yes, the notion of distinguishing torque from energy by using pound-feet for the former and foot-pounds for the latter may be more common outside the automotive industry, but it is not absent within that community.
In every case I have seen in Wikipedia, automobiles and motorcycles and whatever have kept the English units—often with a correction of silly notations such as the one you used. Even meter-kilograms occur in some cases where they are the original measurements. But all of them should have the value in newton meters. Gene Nygaard 13:35, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
BTW, just as some people distinguish the units of energy from the units of torque by using ft·lbf for the former and lbf·ft for the latter, the units are distinguished in SI by using joules (J) for the former and newton meters (N·m) for the latter. And no, I don't care how sloppy car magazines are with their "ft/lbs" and "Nm" and the like, I'll continue fixing them when I find those notations. Gene Nygaard 13:42, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

There is no useful response to the "silly" description. The no, at least, is clear. (Unsigned comment by User:Seasalt)

Seasalt, if you use 4 tildas ~~~~, you will add a signature. Trying to help. bobblewik 19:56, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Just to add some more context... Many Wikipedia editors (including yourself) are working hard to ensure that Wikipedia is a high standard international resource. Part of this is trying to make units consistent, international, domain independent, and language independent. Since it is an encyclopedia, not a specialist/regional publication, Wikipedia may sometimes look odd to domain specialists. I agree that 'lbf' is not the most common form, but I got used to it very quickly. I agree with the conclusion that Wikipedia should use it to distinguish between lbf (N) and lb (kg). This is particularly useful when it comes to aviation articles.
If you actually look around (I am sure you will now), you will see that the vehicle publications are inconsistent. Petrol-heads cope with inconsistency because they know what the writer means, and they are likely to have the same first language as the writer. They know that '/' does not mean division in 'ft/lb' but it does in hp/lb. They know that the 's' in 'lbs' is not 'second' but it is in 'm/s'. English speaking car enthusiasts often use terms like 'kph' (I think you used it on Phelon & Moore), 'kmph', 'km/hr' 'kmh' and may regard any of them as acceptable. But the Wikipedia standard is 'km/h'. If you look on your speedometer, you will see that car manufacturers also use 'km/h' because of the international readership of speedos. You don't have to agree with any of this, of course. bobblewik 20:52, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
Seasalt, I find it hard to beleive that as a 'car enthusiasts' you 'have never heard of ft/lbf' [correct symbol is ft·lbf]. I work in the automotive industry (tier 1) and deal with most of the American, German, and Japanese automakers. The SAE international publication that I am currently looking at gives all measurements in both SI and U.S. customary. The one exception being engine names that have a measurement in them, e.g. 6.1L hemi — but that has more to do with proper names than engine displacement; displacement is normaly given in both exact cm³ and cubic inches. The SAE publication that I am looking at gives torque in newton metres (Nm) and foot-pounds force (ft·lbf). As an engineer, I can tell you that many automotive specs are written using a mix of both systems. For example, the Ford ESS-M11P24-A1-A2 specifacation asks that all tests be performed at 23°C ± 2°C but then goes on to ask for torque of inch fasteners be given in inch-pounds force (a smaller unit of foot pound force) and metric fasteners reported in newton-meters. Furthermore, in our test laboratory, all torque measuring devices are set to read in inch-pounds force and in most cases that is the only option. If newtwon-meters are to be reported (as required per many specs) they must be converted. So to say that ft·lbf are not used in the automotive industry is just not correct. My 2¢. —MJCdetroit 18:30, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

You can find it hard to believe if you like, but that notation had never registered on me, and I note that you are an engineer with access to associated publications, whereas I have no technical qualifications (other than in IT), so from my side, its embarrassingly believable. Anyway, as Bobblewick said, I only had to go and look, and I found. Temporarily disconcerting. Sorry for the bother. I'll use ft·lbf. Moving on. Thank you for your patience.Seasalt 11:24, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Do we need to link really common units in each article?

Discussion moved to Wikipedia talk:Only make links that are relevant to the context. bobblewik 08:18, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

To spell units out

I apologize for asking this here. I could find an example in an existing meritous Wikipedia article, but am unsure how to look for such an example. I came to read the Manual of Style for scientific units of measurement with the aim of standardizing (improving?) the solar system article. I have a few particular questions.

  1. Must an editor "spell out units in the text" in every instance that they are used? Or at the first instance, may an editor add in parentheses the standard abbreviation for the unit, and then use the abbreviation for the rest of the article?
  2. Also since astronomical units merit a contextual definition of their length in kilometres and in miles (i.e. that one AU is the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), may an editor define astronomical units in a footnote attached to the original introduction, and abbreviation, of the word?

Thank you.
--Iamunknown 03:11, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

  1. In general, unit should be spelled out; it is the professional, formal style warranted in an encyclopedia and more accessible to average readers—many readers, also, will not be reading from the beginning of the article, they might read only certain sections or skim or search to find certain information. There exist, however, scientific and technical uses that warrant abbreviation.
  2. Using a footnote in this instance depends on whether you think readers should be overtly introduced to the term or whether it is not essential to understanding the other information in the article.
In some cases the manual of style can be open to the judgement of editors at a particular article. Many intelligent people knowledgeable in the language and such matters have devised this styleguide over the course of years, and there are good reasons for each recommendation, but nevertheless it is general to all cases in all Wikipedia articles; if a variation or a relaxation of a particular recommendation is necessary in order to make the article clearer and easier to read, then that should probably be done—keeping in mind that the styleguide recommendations have good reason behind them and should usually be followed. "AU" may be one such case. —Centrxtalk • 03:46, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
The guidance Spell out units in the text is widely ignored. Just look at how many articles use: 'rpm', 'mph', 'BTU', 'kWh', 'GB', 'cc', 'psi', 'm/s²', 'kJ/kg' in text without spelling them out. bobblewik 19:33, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
But I may end up spelling out 'AU' in every instance, because it is a unit less likely to be recognized by the lay-man. --Iamunknown 22:40, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
I strongly disagree with the inflexible rule that all units should always be spelt out, and do not see why editors should not be given the option to abbreviate terms, at their discretion, after first appearance in an article. I propose that the manual be modified thus. Tony 01:25, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree with Tony that this should be handled case by case. It's no big deal if you write out "foot" every time, but something like "meters per second per second" should be abbreviated if it comes up frequently in the article. If the number is written out, though, the unit almost certainly should be as well. Christopher Parham (talk) 21:20, 7 September 2006 (UTC)
Nah, I don't think you'd need to spell out "AU" in that article all the time. It'd have to be explained somewhere, somehow, definitely... If you want to define it on the first occurance (and only there) then I'd say okay. People might want start reading halfway down the article, but part of reading skills is being able to skim upwards if you need something defined (okay, that was poorly explained but you get the idea... you've told readers what it is, and you're using it about two hundred times in the article... to be fair, spelling out all the time is too much to ask.) Neonumbers 10:25, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

Date Links?!

is there any policy on linking dates?. [or linking stuff, in particular what NOT to link] if so could someone point me in the right direction. its absolutely rediculous that thousands of pages are littered with links to years and dates, when those days have very little to do with the page. so a PS3 is released on november 11th '06.. does that mean anyone viewing the page will find a link to information about all the stuff thats happened on november 11th throughout history? NO!. nor are they likely to be interested in a 2006 page. Its not like there isn't a search feature if you are really interested in it. IMO its link spamming and only serves as self promotion for the date pages and WP. link spamming is so prevelant in WP its just accepted, and it shouldn't be.</rant> ~ Bungalowbill

That is covered in the Dates section of this guideline. -- Donald Albury 14:43, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Unfortunately, the techs who programmed the auto-formatting for dates thought it would be a great idea to use the same procedure and visual appearance as the general linking system in WP. That is one reason that the whole project suffers from linking disease, where trivial chronological links are made for no good reason at all, and with considerable disadvantage WRT readability, visual appearance, and the dilution of high-value links. I think that you're confusing the two functions. I'm now inclined not to use the autoformatting function for this reason. Tony 14:44, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
Linking full dates to enable preference settings is a courtesy to other readers, and I heartily support it until a better solution is offered. There are been attempts to discourage linking of bare years (which I have also supported), but there are sufficient editors supporting such links to leave the guideline in a neutral position on the subject. You can always try again to change the guidelines, and I would be happy to see bare year links discouraged in the guideline, but I'm not going to take that fight on again so soon. I'm too busy with other things. -- Donald Albury 15:14, 6 September 2006 (UTC)
See also: http://bugzilla.wikimedia.org/show_bug.cgi?id=4582 --MattWright (talk) 15:19, 6 September 2006 (UTC)