Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Archive 81

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Proposal for a minor change in the requirement for unit conversions

Conversions clutter the text, making it slightly less readable. While there are reasons for persisting with the requirement to convert main units to the other system in non-scientific articles, I contend that and exception be made for scientific articles. These articles must already use metrics as their main units, and given that:

  • US scientific text typically uses metrics;
  • US readers who consult scientific articles on WP are likely to be familiar with metrics, or at least are unlikely to be flummoxed by them;
  • school students in the US are nowadays introduced to metrics;
  • key institutions, including the military, use metrics exclusively;
  • a sizeable minority of Americans grew up with metrics (including Latinos);
  • links to metric units can easily be provided on their first occurrence.

The current text is:

  • Conversions to and from metric and imperial/US units are generally provided, except where inserting a conversion would make a common expression awkward (“The four-minute mile”).

The proposal is that this be:

  • Conversions to and from metric and imperial/US units are generally provided. There are two exceptions:
    • where inserting a conversion would make a common expression awkward (“The four-minute mile”);
    • scientific articles, where there is consensus among the contributors not to convert the metric units, in which case the first occurrence of each unit should be linked.

We'd need to change the example for precision, two points down, to a non-scientific one, to be consistent with this change.

I seek consensus for this alteration. Tony 14:58, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

NO, forgive the pun, but you are just trying to "inch" your way toward making wikipedia metric only as you proposed above. The MOS as written is more than adequate and you are just trying to get a license to start removing conversions from articles. And some of your observations from across the ocean on the state of use of metric measurements in the United States are a little off. —MJCdetroit 15:35, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
While I can see your point, I think that this is a point where it's appropriate to address the suggestion, rather than the editor making it, much as we are enjoined to address contributions rather than contributors. If this is an attempt to inch towards an unacceptable goal, it's not actually likely to help that goal much (see comment below from Wikidemo). On the other hand, taken on its own, it does make sense. SamBC(talk) 18:20, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
YES, if you remove the comma after "articles" to make clear that is a condition and not an editorial comment. If the article is in a field where metric measurements are universally used and any other source people read even in America would be metric, no point converting. E.g. nobody would ever say that the daily recommended intake of a certain mineral is xx mg (0.0000yy ounce). You may also consider "technical" or "technical and scientific" articles. Proposals like this should be judged on their merit, not the identity or intent of the contributor. Wikidemo 18:11, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
BTW, it's already the de-facto rule. See, for example, the articles Niacin and Rocket engine. Wikidemo 18:17, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
I'd support wikidemo's version, partly because it makes sense (coming from a scientific background), and partly because it's a de facto rule already (and policy/guidelines are meant to describe what currently happens, that is, be descriptive rather than prescriptive). SamBC(talk) 18:18, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
My proposal was/is merely to make an explicit statement that the metric system is encouraged. Frankly, I am surprised that we do not already have this. This might have a minor benefit on FA and other article reviews. It might reduce metric-hostile edits. However, beyond that, the MOS has little influence. The major influences are FA reviews and Wikiprojects (as has been demonstrated by the non-metric FA examples from Wikiproject ships mentioned on this page).
In addition, I think the rules could be simplified (many current rules appear to address rare and small issues). Thus (using Tony's revision of my wording) I propose that we replace the current 'Which system to use' and 'Conversions' sections with:
  • Conversions
    • Editors are encouraged to use the metric system.
    • Non-metric may be primary and metric secondary where:
      • The article is both US-related and non-scientific
      • There are compelling historical or pragmatic reasons why metric units should not be the main units.
    • In general, spell out the main units and use unit symbols or abbreviations for conversions in parentheses. For example, “a pipe 4 inches (100 mm) in diameter and 10 miles (16 km) long”. By consensus, the main units may also be abbreviated in the main text after the first occurrence.
    • Converted values should use a level of precision similar to that of the source value; for example, “the highway is 32 miles (51 km) long”, not “(51.2 km) long”.
    • Category:Conversion templates can be used to convert and format many common units, including {{convert}}, which includes non-breaking spaces.
    • In a direct quotation, consider providing conversions outside the text of the quotation.
Lightmouse 19:19, 24 August 2007 (UTC)
As I said above, I think that the MOSNUM as written is more than adequate and does encourage use of the metric system. However, in certain highly scientific articles (like Wikidemo's drug/vitamin example) I can understand the point that having conversions for drug dosage amounts would not be the norm as all drugs have been standardized to mg globally (even the ones like aspirin that were traditionally weighed in grains). If Tony could reword his statement to in "highly scientific articles"...and maybe use Wikidemo's drug article as an example, I would drop my objection. What I don't want to do is leave the word scientific open to interpretation, whereas articles like Moon, Lake and Ant or even Toluene are striped of any conversions because they involve astronomy, geography and zoology and those are sciences, therefore they are scientific so they should be metric only. —MJCdetroit 19:49, 24 August 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) MJC, I'll insert "highly" ("highly scientific") into the text if it's going to be a deal-breaker, but the epithet is fuzzy—where exactly is the boundary between highly and non-highly scientific, just as where is the boundary between scientific and non-scientific? I reiterate that the word "scientific" (alone) is already used in the section. No one has complained about that distinction. I don't think that the explicit use of the "drug" article will solve the boundary problem, so I'd rather not clutter the text. I put it to you that a case-by-case consensus (which may be easily generated in many cases) is your safeguard.

Let's examine the implications of the short proposal in further detail. The need to treat each article for which this might be an issue (a small minority) separately is why the proposal requires the consensus of contributors, even where it's clearly a scientific article. SandyGeorgia has raised the issue of a volcano in Hawaii: height in metres, or in feet with conversion? Contributors who want unconverted metrics would have to overcome two hurdles:

  • First, the article has to be scientific: if it's framed as a geotechnical topic, that's easy. On the other side, if it's the article on Hawaii itself, or its about the religious significance of a volcano to local culture, it's almost certainly not scientific. If that classification is in contention, it comes down to consensus, just like a lot of other things. That would be necessary, but rarely, I suspect.
  • Second, there has to be evidence of consensus, even if it is agreed that the article is scientific.

I put to you all that these are significant safeguards. No one will be mass-removing conversions in scientific articles without gaining consensus to do so on the talk page. All of this is implicit in the short text of the proposal.

Wikidemo, you're quite right about the comma—my blooper.

I see no reason to add a point "encouraging" the use of metrics. We've already set out precisely the circumstances where metrics and imperial are the main units. Lightmouse, I now think your proposal is too radical, except that your point about direct quotations has merit. May I offer an alternative wording?

"Conversions required for units cited within direct quotations should appear within square brackets in the quote."

Here's the proposal again. I'm posting a note at MOS with a link to this discussion.

*Conversions to and from metric and imperial/US units are generally provided. There are two exceptions:

    • scientific articles where there is consensus among the contributors not to convert the metric units, in which case the first occurrence of each unit should be linked;
    • where inserting a conversion would make a common expression awkward (“The four-minute mile”);

And no, it's not conceived as the start of a slippery slope to ban imperial units from WP; that clearly will not gain consensus. This is an overdue modification for a subgroup of articles. Tony 02:12, 25 August 2007 (UTC) PS Does the addition of "technical and" before "scientific articles" add anything? Needs advice. Tony 02:22, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

I must admit I'm quite amazed about the reaction here. The suggestion that an article must be highly scientific I just don't get. Take the Moon for example. That article should not have imperial units in it at all. The moon is 384,403 km from the earth. Why list it in miles at all? It's a big number and even I cannot visualise how big that is. Listing it in miles doesn't help anyone. Now on the other hand if I need a number to do a calculation then that's a different story - and in that case the number you'll need will be the metric unit. Now other units like light-second and astronomical unit are much more relevant (as they are used by astronomers) and editors may want them there - even though they are not SI (but certainly derived from SI). Any article that is remotely scientific should not have imperial units and any articles on medicines it could be dangerous to. For example, if the maximum dose of some drug is some volume expressed in millilitres and someone from the UK converts that to Fluid ounces then that would be an overdose for someone in the US because the UK Fluid ounce and the UK Fluid ounce differ. By the way - which imperial unit do you use? The UK, the US, troy, avoirdupois, apothecary?

For the average person it takes one hour to get an understanding of the units of the metric system (see http://www.metricationmatters.com). This is quicker than getting to use Wikipedia itself! To say that it is too hard really dumbs down your audience. People come here to learn. If you have links on your metric units people will pick them up very quickly. Jim77742 02:44, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Yes, didn't a US satellite costing squillions crash into Mars because someone mixed up imperial and metrics? Same for the lens on the Hubble telescope? Tony 03:48, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Tony, I accept your modification about direct quotes.
As MJC says, there are examples of metric-only in the USA. US military personnel use unconverted metric units. Drugs and food use grams (e.g. 'fat grams') and mg. Metric dimensions are accepted in weaponry and the military. Engine capacity is now in liters and cc without converting. Similarly, metric engine bolt dimensions are not converted. Unconverted metric is used in some regulatory situations, i.e. 'tons' of carbon are apparently always metric. We have reached the stage where the US Presidential State of the Union address quotes liters and kilometers without conversion. That would have been unthinkable a few decades back. In summary, it is not just American scientists that accept information when presented in metric-only.
We also need to note an important distinction: some people accept text in metric (as in the State of the Union example) but would not write in metric. So just because an American might instinctively write BTU/h for power does not mean that they cannot cope with unconverted watts in Wikipedia.
I look forward to another proposal. Lightmouse 12:34, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
Watts are metric and imperial. Try again. Tony 12:59, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
Please try to be polite. I am actually on the pro-metric side, although that should not matter when it comes to civility. Lightmouse 14:43, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
I was being polite. Now, I really don't understand your conclusion—"accept text in metric ... but would not write in metric"? And then the watts example, which confuses me. And it wasn't clear why you're looking forward to another example, or what kind of modification you had in mind. Can you reword, because I really want to understand what you're saying. Tony 15:03, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
I accept now that you did not intend to be rude.
The first paragraph addresses the idea linking metric and science. It is true that scientists use metric. Unfortunately, some people use 'metric is for science' as an idea that confines metric to science only. The scope of metric usage in America is now well beyond science. I do not think anyone here was suggesting such a constraint but I wanted to make the point. How scope translates into MOS text is another matter.
The second paragraph makes the point that understanding metric is not the same as using it. Compare language and metric:
  • You can often understand a language better than you can speak it. Similarly with metric, many Americans function very well when given information in metric units yet may not be so proficient at writing text in metric units.
  • Sometimes people feel a bit silly using a foreign language, particularly when in their home country. Similarly with metric, some people feel a bit silly using metric units when in America.
The watts example was actually a BTU/h example. Look at the example I gave of the State of the Union address; Americans would not naturally use kilometers but accepted being presented with a distance of 150 kilometers.
I mentioned another proposal because it looked to me like you and MJC were getting close to agreement. My original proposal was very much less ambitious but the addition of encouragement for metric was an advance. I will support your proposal or any other that advances metrication. Lightmouse 16:26, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
No. This is a usability issue disguised as a style concern. Conversions are provided to make articles accessible to readers with limited or no familiarity to an article's primary units. As a result their removal from appropriate locations will reduce the usability of an article while providing no functional improvement in return. --Allen3 talk 12:44, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
It's both; this is a tradeoff between usability and the clumsiness inherent in conversion, which is why it should not be mandated in either direction. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:26, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Allen, you seem to have ignored the requirement for the first occurrence to be linked. If that is not good enough, what is? And why do you accuse me of disguising something? Please explain yourself. Tony 12:59, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

What is, is using both systems - as the Manual states. You really have to understand the lack of depth of understanding of the metric system in the U.S. Yes, we use 2 liter bottles of pop - because that's what they sell. But if you ask how many 500 ml bottles one could fill from a 2 liter most people wouldn't know (and I expect most couldn't immediately answer which is larger a two-liter or a gallon.) Most Americans wouldn't know which had a larger engine - a 2000 cc motorcycle or a 2 L car. Understanding is the key we are trying to give when we write encyclopedia articles. It is not useful to restrict that only to those with knowledge of the metric system. Even medicine in the U.S. does not use metric exclusively (nor does the military). For instance my newborn is measured: weight in pounds, length in inches and head diameter in centimeters while there were metric conversion charts posted around the hospital nursery. Rmhermen 15:18, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
Most people in metric areas, including me, wouldn't know the difference between 2000 cc and 2 L; that's not a reasonable argument. Most people in the US wouldn't know how many feet there are in a mile, either. First, this involves only readers of scientific articles, so you'd expect a modicum of openness on their part to metric units, if they're interested enough to consult a scientific article here; second, the units would be linked on first occurrence, for full explanation/conversion, if necessary; third, WP has an educational function, doesn't it?, and fourth, only scientific articles where there's consensus to do so would be free of conversion clutter. Are you taking all of these issues into account, and can you use a more reasonable argument? Tony 15:31, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
Reminds me of the old engineering joke: "How many thousandths are in an inch?" Colin°Talk 17:25, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

(outdent) I came here following Tony's request for input at wikiproject Physics. I support this, it is already the de facto position for many (most?) science articles (because science is metric globally). Also, any changes to MOS to give editors more discretion is a good thing. PaddyLeahy 15:46, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

The current policy should not be changed. We should strive to make scientific articles accessible to people who are not members of the scientific community and who are not familiar with metric units. Having imperial alternative units helps make articles more accessible at very little cost to readability.
Wikipedia should not favor one system of units over another. Cultural considerations are as important as technical ones and favoring one system is pushing a point of view about such considerations. The deciding factor on which unit to use in an article should be what units are used significant sources of the article and not the writers' personal preferences.
By the way, where else were people invited to this discussion? -- Patleahy (talk) 16:21, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
I invited them at WP:VPR. Chris the speller 20:22, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
The point is that there are situations where converting to imperial is not helpful and doesn't make the article more accessible. If there are topics where imperial measurements are no longer used, we shouldn't insist on their usage (measuring drugs in mg is one example). Colin°Talk 17:25, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
There are very few cases where not including alternative units is the better thing to do (I'm not sure if drug articles are one of these cases). We should not write policy that is motivated by such edge cases. Since this is a guideline infrequent exceptions are already allowed where appropriate. -- PatLeahy (talk) 17:49, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

We should simply do whatever is customary in the literature. The metric system is preferred, simply because that's the case in the real world. However, in many fields this is not the case like e.g. in engineering. Also, I've noticed that many wiki science articles use SI units in a way that is i.m.o. not a good reflection of what the real world practice is. E.g., in theoretical physics it is customary to use CGS units and not SI units. The reason is that this simplifies equations for electromagnetism. But in the wiki elecromagnetism and special relativity articles SI units are used. Especially for the special relaivity article this is extremely awkward.

Also, in particle physics it is customary to use natural units (h-bar = c = 1). Masses are almost always given in units of GeV or MeV and not in GeV/c^2. The latter would be dimensionally equivalent to the kg, but in high energy physics people don't care about that. Assigning different dimensions to Length, Time and Mass is ultimately a convention that is not useful in fundamental physics. Count Iblis 18:56, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

I'd support this idea as it is what we do already. For instance in articles on protein structure or microbiology all measurements are in either angstroms, nanometers or micrometers, not millionths of an inch. Tim Vickers 19:49, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

I believe this proposal would be appropriate. The units that are appropriate to one article are not necessarily appropriate to the next. In some articles, like four minute mile, there is an obvious need for miles and minutes to be the appropriate unit. However, nobody wants to measure the speed of light in miles per minute, even if the conversion could be made. I think conversions should be included on a per-article basis, and the "default" when no consensus has been developed (articles with few active editors) should be as proposed here. --Cheeser1 20:50, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Although we should include the figure in furlongs per fortnight; some readers will look for it. ;-> Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:23, 25 August 2007 (UTC)\

Quite seriously, we should not give more than advice about metric. It's appropriate for some articles to use metric alone. It's not clear to me that the conversion helps four-minute mile, and it may be worse than a link would be. One of the first steps in improving grain (measure) would be to start it with a definition in terms of the Anglo-American system; conversion to metric belongs in the second paragraph. Also, there have been other values, both quite close to this and much further. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:31, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

  • This whole conversation forgets that MOS is a guideline. It can be, and often should be, ignored by consensus, whether it says so or not. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:51, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

I support this proposal as long as it's clear that it's for science articles, determined by talk page consensus. SandyGeorgia (Talk) 23:19, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Support: As stated above, this is the de facto standard anyway - and I firmly believe that the style guide should reflect current practice. I wrote dozens of new articles on chemical compounds using purely metric units 2-3 years ago, and no one has even suggested adding in non-metric units to any of them - no one reading an article like praseodymium(III) chloride would expect anything non-metric. There must be tens of thousands of articles like this. If an article is likely be read by a non-scientist (e.g., sulfuric acid), it may be appropriate to include some non-metric units, but that's what the "consensus" part allows for IMHO. (I presume that was what was meant by the "scientific vs highly scientific" distinction above.) Walkerma 04:18, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Like Walkerma says, this has been the de facto rule for years anyway. This is just a tempest in a teapot. In some cases, especially for "popular science" topics, conversions may help. But in others they are utterly unnecessary. Use editorial discretion/common sense/consensus on a case-by-case basis. --Itub 06:44, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

  • I agree perfectly; and this page is the teapot. The entire MOS is a guideline; consensus can ignore it whether MOS approves or not. The only reason it's worth making sense out of it is that bullies behave as though the MOS came down from Mount Sinai, and become obnoxious citing it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:26, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

In scientific articles, priority order should be the standard units of the domain (for instance, eV instead of J in nuclear physics, parsec in astronomy, etc.) then the SI system (if universally used in the domain), then the different non-standard commonly used units with conversions (for instance, who would use Kelvin degrees in meteorology? In such a context it would probably preferable to present values both in °F and °C). It seems to me that the problem in Science is different from Imperial vs Metrics, that it will not only appear in the 'English language' context only and that it would be solved by easy consensus on any real example. pom 16:59, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

I support the change, especially since this is often the case now. Scientific articles should be written differently, and different standards should apply. CRGreathouse (t | c) 20:34, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

I'll support this. However, conversions seem to be one of those inputs that people like to insert (at least in astronomy articles). So it may be difficult to "enforce" consistently. — RJH (talk) 20:35, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

I pretty much agree with Jim77742's comment some way above: Any article that is remotely scientific should not have imperial units.... Except, I'd say, to the degree that it's historic and quotes texts or remarks in which the units were originally given in an old system. And here, antique anglophone units needn't be privileged over any other (degrees Réamur, etc).
Quite aside from science, WP's "accessibility" measures for people in/from the US (or Liberia or Burma?) often seem grotesque. Take Borobudur, for example.It's littered with conversions from metric (though we're told that a seven-year restoration project cost 6,901,243 USD of the time, period). Never having lived in the US or Burma, and never having even visited Liberia, I'm unfamiliar with the correlation there of (a) familiarity with the metric system with (b) curiosity about other cultures. But somehow I find it hard to imagine that those people who want to read about Borobudur wouldn't know their way around metres. (Tip: multiply by three and call them feet; tip for elderly Brits: don't multiply at all and call them yards. Bonus: If you encounter "tonnes", call them tons.) Yet metres are repeatedly translated for the reader. True, conversion can get slightly more complicated with areas and volumes. My favorite snippet from the article: Approximately 55,000 m^(3) (almost 2 million cubic feet) of stones were taken from neighbouring rivers to build the monument. Yes, complete with that link: So it's acknowledged that readers might need help to understand the helpful "cubic feet" translation.
And therefore I'd provide a third exception. A first stab at phrasing this would be articles that are about places, people, things or events outside the US, Burma or Liberia, and whose main text includes numerous measurements, where there is consensus among the contributors not to convert the metric units. -- Hoary 23:57, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
Hoary, this is a radical step compared with the proposal at hand, which concerns only scientific articles. I am almost certain it wouldn't gain consensus; in any case, it cuts across the scientific criterion (what scientific topics '"don't concern things outside Burma, Liberia and the US?). I'm uncomfortable about the specification of "places, people, things or events". And what is "numerous" is unclear, and I don't think numerousness is a reasonable criterion once editors agree that an article is "scientific". Tony 11:37, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Support the proposal by Tony. Lightmouse 16:11, 28 August 2007 (UTC)

Support the proposal by Tony. Jim77742 10:17, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Summary and conclusion

YES:

  • Tony1 (local consensus, scientific classification, and the linking of the first occurrences are sufficient safeguards)
  • SamBC
  • Wikidmo (already de-facto rule)
  • Lightmouse (US already partly metricated inter alia)
  • Jim77742
  • PaddyLeahy (already the de facto position for many/most science articles)
  • Colin (often conversions are unhelpful and don't improve accessibility)
  • Tim Vickers (it's what we do already)
  • Cheeser1
  • SandyGeorgia (as long as for science alone and by consensus)
  • Walkerma (de facto standard already)
  • ltub (has been the de facto rule for years; conversions may help in pop science articles)
  • CRGreathouse (often already the case; different standards apply to scientific articles)
  • RJH (but fears hard to "enforce" consistently)
  • Hoary (however, proposed more radical pro-metric change)

APPEAR NOT TO OBJECT:

  • Count Iblis (metric preferred; queried use of SI units in WP)
  • Septentrionalis (appropriate for some articles to use metric alone)
  • pom (use standard units of the scientific area)

NO:

  • MJCdetroit (fears slippery slope to total ban of imperial units, and overly broad interpretations of scientific)
  • Allen3 (will reduce usability for no functional improvement)
  • Rmhermen (lack of metric understanding in US)
  • PatLeahy (very few cases where not converting is better)
  • SMcCandlish – I object to most of the rationales raised: US students are aware of metric units enough that they know a cm is kinda like an in., a liter is kinda like a qt., and a km is kinda like a mi., and that's about it - they have not internalized them in any meaningful way with the possible exception of the liter due to soft drink bottles; the US military emphatically does not exclusively use the metric system, though it is using it more and more (I grew up in two military families, on both the officer and enlisted side, and bunch of my social circle are still miltary); US Latinos did not grow up with metrics any more than any other ethnicity here did, since we all used the same school system (I live in a 70% Hispanic area, and not a single Latino I know uses the metric system in ways that any other American would not); and finally, no one actually bothers putting links to metric (or most other) units at first occurrence, and some even revert them, so that is red herring. I agree on the science article points, and agree with some elements of the proposal, but not all of it, nor with the basis for the "package deal". — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:43, 15 December 2007 (UTC)


Fifteen editors have declared support, many of them American and some in favour of a more substantial change; three more appear not to object. Four Five are opposed. The participation on opposite sides of a PaddyLeahy and a PatLeahy is strange, but I take it at face value.

Although this is not a raw vote, an 18–45 margin is significant. IMV, the "de facto already" argument is substantive, and I believe that there are sufficient safeguards to allay the fears of those who are uneasy about the change. Unanimity would have been desirable, but I think that WPians would generally consider that this represents reasonable consensus in favour of the proposal.

Unless the situation changes dramatically, I'll implement the change at MOSNUM and MOS next Saturday, after eight days. Tony 13:04, 30 August 2007 (UTC)

Although I disagree with user:MJCdetroit in general – i.e. I support metric-only with the exception of defining source units –, I indeed consider all artices 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.) Christoph Päper 13:54, 30 August 2007 (UTC)
Yes, imperial units are obsolete. Disagree on the semantics about "scientific"; Tony clearly means "articles about science", not "articles written based on established facts instead of supposition". "Science" != "scientific". — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:43, 15 December 2007 (UTC)
I think this change is too radical to make without an RfC, as this would affect hundreds of thousands of articles in a significant way, and the wider WP community isn't expecting "sumbarine" changes from MoS, which is supposed to be stable and reliable and unsurprising. The scope of the effects of such a change is far too wide for a "consensus" of less than 3/4 of a mere 23 editors to make it. A bit like only 23 members of the US Congress showing up to vote, and deciding 18-5 that the US henceforth will officially use the metric system. NB: I have nothing against the metric system (it does make more sense), but we are in transitional generations in the US (the bulk of the en.WP readership by probably at least an order of magnitude), where even if we have a notion of what a particular metric unit is, we have no "feel" for it. The average American cannot even vaguely accurately visualize how far away 87 km is or how big something is if it is described as 87cm tall, but they know exactly how long it takes, given favorable conditions, to drive 87 mi. and that 87 in. is just over 1.5 ft. taller than they are if they are 6 ft. talk as in my case, without even having to think about it. (And no I don't do "ft." with a period in articles; I'm not bound by the MoS on talk pages. >;-) — SMcCandlish [talk] [cont] ‹(-¿-)› 01:43, 15 December 2007 (UTC)