Wikipedia talk:Wikipedia is not a dictionary

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Is this a dead letter?[edit]

WP:NOTDIC is routinely ignored for articles that are simply long dictionary entries. See, for just one of the latest examples, Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Go (verb) (2nd nomination). There is a long-standing conflict between the plain reading of this guideline and actual practice among the community. For whatever reason, the community refuses to delete dictionary entries that look like encyclopedia articles. How to resolve this conflict? Powers T 15:08, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

This is key: "That is, such articles must go beyond what would be found in a dictionary entry (definition, pronunciation, etymology, use information, etc.), and include information on the social or historical significance of the term.". FWIW, even though I've fought to keep certain word articles, I would have probably !voted to Delete that example as it doesn't seem to meet the criteria. --NeilN talk to me 15:18, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
I have no problem keeping articles that include significant information on social and historical significance. But AfDs where such an argument holds sway are vanishingly rare. Powers T 15:42, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
This discussion was had not even two months ago, or probably just one month. Do we need to go over it again?Camelbinky (talk) 19:36, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
Yup. See Wikipedia:Village pump (policy)/Archive 106#Time to get rid of WP is not a dictionary? for the May/June 2013 discussion. (Note, we do still need to re-examine/rewrite aspects of this policy, to avoid the confusion that this recurring discussion is a symptom of. That should be in a new thread though). –Quiddity (talk) 22:55, 2 July 2013 (UTC)
The problem is that the policy recommendation is sound. But many editors still seem to think that this policy only prohibits dictionary definitions. I see it constantly. "This is more than a dicdef". Well, yes, it also has pronunciation, usage notes, etymology, etc. But all of that belongs in dictionaries. Encyclopedias don't need articles on mundane words that only have the usual lexical research as sources. Powers T 00:13, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Go (verb) is a good example, though, when considering any revisions. Does this type of article (with the current content) belong on Wikipedia? --NeilN talk to me 00:16, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
Go (verb) definitely needs to be deleted. I think someone once asked if it was possible to make these types of articles into redirects to the wikidictionary article. So, is that possible? Can we just change ones like that Go article and maybe preemptively create redirects for certain words?Camelbinky (talk) 18:24, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
The next step for that would be to take it to Deletion review.
One core issue is: Wiktionary doesn't want "encyclopedic dictionary" style content - if there's a consensus amongst Wikipedians that the content isn't wanted here either, then we can make some kind of decision. However, I disagree that there is a consensus. I would also point at this table of evidence that currently suggests there is a precedent amongst other encylopedias for containing "encyclopedic dictionary" content, and also point to Wikipedia:Five pillars which says that Wikipedia "combines many features of general and specialized encyclopedias, almanacs, and gazetteers." I agree that it's a grey area, but I believe it should remain a grey area because articles often grow from unlikely beginnings. If an article is bad or misleading, then delete it, but purging an entire subset requires a vast amount of forethought by many people. An RfC would be indicated. –Quiddity (talk) 19:48, 3 July 2013 (UTC)
I respect your ideas Quiddity, but have some philosophical issues- 1)who cares what Wiktionary wants in their universe? Not our concern, I still believe preemptively linking certain words to their project would be best, words that have had their articles already deleted or have not been made yet. No RfC would be required. 2)We're not a democracy and consensus or not clearly Go (verb) is not what should be in Wikipedia under even the biggest stretch of an imaginative use of WP:IAR. How is it not an orphan, who would link the word go in an existing article to this article?! An RfC for deleting articles that clearly should not be there is surely taking democracy to the extreme in Wikipedia. Talk is cheap and accomplishes nothing. Be bold. 3)WP:5P has nothing to do with... anything, especially policy. It's an essay and even as an essay it mentions how Wikipedia has features of an almanac, gazetteer, etc, which I might point out are features common to a general purpose encyclopedia anyways. An article on the letter A, is common to encyclopedias, the word go however is not.Camelbinky (talk) 20:51, 3 July 2013 (UTC)

So what can we do? Do we need to reinforce the tenets of this policy, or modify it to reflect current practice? Powers T 19:08, 6 July 2013 (UTC)

Sometimes it *acts* like a bad dictionary (and bad history)[edit]

Sometimes it seems Wikipedia and Wicktionary by nature having a fixation on most popular or recent material leads them to into acting as a revisionist dictionary and confused history. The specification of the most common usage can come off as defining the English language and that also gets the story chronology conflated. For example, I've been bouncing at Teleological argument. Wikis give the most common usage of the phrase, but then constrain the article to be the definition and only possible meaning, and tend to redo history to suit. To some extent that is offset by other wiki articles being in there and some where higher catgeories have been put into place. For example:

  • Bad dictionary: It is only by the specification "(for the existance of God)" apparent that Teleological argument has the English language meaning an argument using teleology, a style of argument formation. The article itself presents it as implicitly and only meaning an argument for the existence of God, and worse it also seems to give the view that all arguments for God are based on teleology. If you click the second link [Existence of God]] or the box about Philosophy of Religion you'll be able to see the wider meanings, but we've still lost any ability to write about Teleological arguments alone, and it would seem better to be explicit with distinction in the article start that it is a sub-set 'argument based on teleology, most famously the argument for existence of God' and not 'is the argument for the existence of God' use of is.
  • Bad dictionary pt 2: I understand that it's hard to hold until later in the article the conclusions, but the effect of the second sentence in Teleological argument "The argument is central to creation science which has promulgated the term "intelligent design theory" as a "scientific" version of the argument from design since 1988." is bad presentation and bad format. It's still in the entry paragraph so this seems showing a conclusion as part of defining the article topic. Alternatively it's coming across that the rest of the article will be selections of data that follow and support this point, which does not really seem any better.
  • Bad history: I understand that it's harder to find and cite texts before 2000, but that second sentance is also confused chronology mixing 2000's cite from a hostile article, a 1990s label, and a 1960s label. That all that are external to the phrase the article is supposedly about, or that they are subset examples of the concept instead of definitional "is" the concept all seems to get lost.

Markbassett (talk) 17:01, 9 September 2013 (UTC)

Literal translations from other languages[edit]

Hi there. I'm currently moderating (and participating in) a discussion about literal translations from words and names in other languages - specifically using the {{nihongo}} template, but I imagine there are other cases as well. I have a question about this policy/guideline that I think might clarify things and help us come to a consensus over there, so any help would be appreciated.

Basically, the question is whether literal translations are helpful in the scope of an article, when the actual name used in the country of origin is different from the literal translation. As a contrived example, I pointed out what I thought would be an inappropriate inclusion of a literal: If the Japanese text for "Mega Drive" was officially translated as "Mega Drive", but literally translates to "Enormous Engine", I can see how the literal could be interesting to some, but would not ultimately be helpful to understanding the article. User:Ryulong very helpfully illustrated how that would look in an article lead:

The Sega Genesis, originally released in Japan as the Mega Drive (kanji romaji?, literally "Enormous Engine") ...

User:Despatche contends that many of the literal translations we have are either incorrect or made-up, and I partially agree with him in that they're difficult for the average Wikipedia reader to verify mainly because it requires special domain knowledge (in this case, enough understanding of Japanese to either directly translate the text or to know how to use a dictionary or translation service to do it - and I don't count Google Translate in that set of tools). But moreover, even if we can be sure that the literals are always correct, are they necessarily meaningful? In my example above, nobody anywhere in any of our sources would refer to the game console as the "Enormous Engine" - it would be entirely unreferenced, and thus might fall afoul of WP:OR, WP:TRIVIA, and/or WP:NOT#DICT (which is what I'm here to ask about).

Basically, I'm wondering if there is (or should be) a provision in this guideline about handling translations of foreign words - the goal of an article like Sega Genesis is not to define the Japanese term, but to describe the subject. On the other hand, Ryulong pointed out that it does no particular harm (and in fact could be interesting information), which I can't really argue with other than asking if it's necessary information for understanding the subject.

Thanks - looking forward to your input. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 03:39, 2 October 2013 (UTC)

I know I'm not going to be much help, but I'd like to point out that this is precisely my problem. These translations are almost always misinformation by default, border on meaningless trivia, and are bloat to the lede. If we really want to have these translations, I would suggest an "Etymology" section explaining what each title may mean, like with so many other articles. But even then, it's really hard to source half of these translations, while it's really easy to source the actual title (though not necessarily the romaji that goes with it, but that's for another time).
I will say what I always will say: problems like these only exist because of an obsession with "localizing" everything, and we need to fight this obsession wherever it appears. We are an English-language encyclopedia about potentially everything, and nothing more or less; there is no reason why we should localize things that cannot be, such as names and titles. If we prioritize original titles and provide redirects for everything else, we will have a good balance of accuracy and accessibility. Only one point, but just because the United States has so many people for a single country does not mean we should use them as a metric of what name we should be using to refer to things that have very little to do with the country or any of those people.
Wikipedia influences everyone else far more than everyone else influences Wikipedia; that's fact. Titles and even words are made of three separate parts--the physical object versus the sounds assigned to it, and the meaning behind one or the other--that's also fact. I cannot wait for the day that people realize these two things, because it's going to make my job a lot easier, everyone a little more correct, and thus me a lot happier.
(I've got to start using "Enormous Engine" for something, it's too good :V) Despatche (talk) 04:32, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
A literal translation is not "misinformation". It is never being presented as anything other than a literal translation. Just because there are a handful of trademarked titles that differ from the literal translation does not mean it's "fake" or "wrong" or "being localized". It's just not official. It is providing misinformation by omitting the literal reading, which can be easily acquired by anyone by reading any translingual dictionary (or using Google or Babelfish or whatever) to confirm this information. The level of verification you are requiring for this information is bordering on obsessive. It's mindsets like this that kept the video games Wikiproject from even including the romanization of the Japanese text in the first place (it's not sourced so it shouldn't be included, it is not relevant to the article to include the way the characters are phonetically read, etc.).
And really, if this is all because one company decided to trademark several names in English (a language that their nation does not primarily speak) that do not match the very literal reading of the name used in their home nation then this is getting way out of hand. "ポケモン" is "Pokémon". "ポケットモンスター" is "Pocket Monster(s)". Just because a couple of video games switched those around for their domestic trademarks does not mean the literal reading should be completely ignored.—Ryulong (琉竜) 07:56, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
On the topic of things that can be "easily verified": Yes, someone could use a translation dictionary to look up the literal meaning of a phrase in Japanese, but that doesn't mean we're obligated to provide it. My point is not whether we're providing false information with the translation, but rather whether that translation provides any actual benefit to the reader. The point of the lede is not to push as much information as possible about the subject to the reader, but to introduce it to the reader so they can see at a glance what the essential details are. Even if "Enormous Engine" were a perfectly good literal, I would argue that since it's not essential (or even important) to the topic, it wouldn't belong in the lede. Moreover, if it has no meaning in the context of the article at all, I don't think there's any point in putting it there, correct as it may be. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 20:20, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
Here's another facet to "information overload": Last I checked, they were still arguing about this, but I was involved in a discussion a while back over at Pac-Man about the part that describes why Midway changed the game's name from the original Puck Man to Pac-Man when bringing it to the US: Because they realized the P could be easily changed to an F to form the word "Fuck". We went through several revisions, and at the time, the one we accepted was to simply state that the original title "could be easily vandalized", linking to the vandalism article in case people wanted to read up on that topic in general. We'd decided that the exact change (P to F) and the resulting word were unnecessary - the point of that section was that vandalism could be a problem, not exactly how it would happen or what offensive word would result. That also addressed concerns that we were censoring the topic ("OMG, you're using the word 'fuck'! You might offend somebody!") by bypassing the issue of censorship entirely. The root of the question, then, was "What is actually necessary here?", and it's a good question to ask in many other cases (I posit that this discussion is one of them). — KieferSkunk (talk) — 20:20, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
Also, I just wanted to address one other bit from your reply, Ryu: I've seen many, many cases of the {{nihongo}} template providing literal translations that I didn't think made any sense or added any usefulness to the article, both in and out of the VGProject, so it's not just about the usage in Pokemon. I see this as having a much broader scope, which is why I chose to bring it to a general policy/guideline page. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 20:25, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
You're still using the same arguments that people used for even including the Japanese language text on video game articles in the first place. This is the English Wikipedia, we do not need to include non-English names. This is an article on a video game, it is not necessary to include the transliterated reading of the Japanese text. And so on. It's two or more unobtrusive words added to the first line of the page. It's not harming anything and provides more real world context to the subject.—Ryulong (琉竜) 20:36, 2 October 2013 (UTC)
Fair enough, and I want to be clear that I'm not just being a deletionist. I just want to be sure that we know where the line should be drawn on "too much information" - by the opposite argument, we could say that once we tell the reader what the literal is, we might also interpret it or explain it somehow to show the full context by which it appears. Personally, I *do* think showing the actual Japanese text for a Japanese title is appropriate. POSSIBLY also showing the romanization so people know how to pronounce the Japanese text. I'm just not sure I agree on the "does no harm" for also doing the translation. But again, it's not purely my call - I would like to get some input from other users as well. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 01:42, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
WP:UE already states that if the original language text is provided and it's not in a Latin alphabet then you have to include the romanization so there's no budging on that fact.—Ryulong (琉竜) 03:10, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
As Masem already pointed out, that only applies if there is no English name. The examples you've pointed out (Final Fantasy, Pokemon Platinum, etc.) all have English names. Japanese-only titles are where that rule strictly applies. Here's the quote from that page that I think you're misinterpreting:
KieferSkunk (talk) — 18:19, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
I'm talking of the romanization issue. Beijing includes pinyin for Mandarin Chinese. Athens includes romanizations of modern and ancient Greek. There's nothing that should make Japanese unique amongst these such that certain information is excluded just because a small area of editors doesn't think it's relevant to the discussion of their articles.—Ryulong (琉竜) 19:20, 3 October 2013 (UTC)
I think you're missing my point. There is a difference between a transliteration (showing what the foreign script says - as in, how it's pronounced, and if applicable, how it would be spelled using Roman characters), and a translation (telling the user what it means). Overall, I have less of an issue with a transliteration, and that policy does make it clear that if we're going to use foreign script, we should consistently show the romanized equivalent, so I'm not going to keep arguing on that. But my original request for feedback here was on translations - first off, do they fall into WP:DICT at all? And do we have guidance on when and when not to include them? I would ask that you give other people who aren't directly involved in the VG debate a chance to respond to those questions. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 19:31, 3 October 2013 (UTC)

I am still interested to see what others have to say on this issue, but Ryulong pointed me to WP:VG/JP, which shows the result of prior consensus discussions on this topic specifically in the videogames space. I'm satisfied that at least for that project, translations are agreed-upon to be useful. — KieferSkunk (talk) — 19:49, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

Hello? Anyone? Bueller?KieferSkunk (talk) — 01:30, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

I had not read the talk page before I made my edit to this page, but I think I have partially addressed this issue with the addition of "Care should be taken when translating text into English that a term common in the host language does not create a neologism in English." This sentence existed in Wikipedia:Avoid neologisms prior to the merge on 26 April 2010. This is wording I added to the guideline Wikipedia:Avoid neologisms back in 2008. I originally placed that sentence into the guidance after a number of pages were shown to be words taken from a foreign language and used in English either directly by a Wikipedia editor or by a few academics in a country using a term in their own language in papers published in English, but not taken up by English authors. EG Macedonism which after a long debate (see Talk:Macedonian nationalism/Archive 2) was merged into Macedonian nationalism‎ -- PBS (talk) 11:26, 14 December 2013 (UTC)

Wikipedia is a one-stop solution[edit]

When someone says, "I'm looking to find something", they "google" it. When someone is looking to "know something", they "check wikipedia". They don't check Wiktionary. They don't necessarily go to They check wikipedia.

What that tells me is that Wikipedia needs to be the one-stop place for all knowledge, not the least of which are word definitions. After all, today, I can open one of my old encyclopedias and look for word definitions too (which the added benefit of information about etymology, use and history of the word). Then why do we expect any less from Wikipedia?

Finally, in defense of a more specific case, my page for Ptochocracy is up for deletion. I have only found the word in dictionaries and not much in use. It's a rare word with a complex use and history, much of which is not available to me directly, but via few passages present in old Google Books. I do believe the word has a place in Wikipedia, specifically if we aim to be the most thorough encyclopedia and cover literally every single form of government that has, can or might exist. (Ptochocracy is a form of government that is run by the poor of the society, almost the opposite of Plutocracy.) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nitinkhanna (talkcontribs) 19:50, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

If there is no encyclopedic information available about the concept of ptochocracy then there shouldn't be a wp article about it. Nor does the word seem notable enough for WP:WORDISSUBJECT. Why not have a WP:Soft redirect from Wikipedia to Wiktionary? DexDor (talk) 19:58, 30 July 2014 (UTC)

Proposal: permit warranted uses of dictionary definitions in relation to national culture and the provision of context to items on disambiguation pages[edit]

I have recently produced an article: English rose (personal description) which, at its root, has a purely dictionary style content. In this particular case, however, the article presents a dictionary content that may be argued to have provided inspiration to many of the items on the English rose disambiguation page and and that provides a significant reference in English culture.

The English Rose page, in an earlier form, had contained a content that strongly featured the primary definition/s of the phrase:
Over time this reference to the primary definition of the term was progressively edited away and this may have been partly due to Wikipedia's obsession with not being a dictionary.

In the case of disambiguation pages that contain items that are named due to a meaning conveyed by their name then I think that Wikipedia is lessened when it ignores the option of presenting dictionary content in the same space as a listing of disambiguation titles. Gregkaye (talk) 03:08, 6 August 2014 (UTC)