Talk:Aggie Bonfire

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Featured article Aggie Bonfire is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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I've seen a few people change the references to "t.u." to "U.T.", but that is not correct in this context. Yes, the official abbreviation for the University of Texas at Austin is U.T. At Texas A&M, however, the rival school is referred to in a derogatory manner as "t.u.", because Aggies think UT is "just another texas university" and not "THE university of texas". The choice was made to include the derogatory term in this article because a) it is used in the motto for Bonfire, and b) the University of Texas newspaper has even made note of the term without appearing offended. The choice of when to use t.u. and when to use UT or spell out the name was made very carefully based on the context of the paragraphs and is the result of a consenus of page editors and WP:FA reviewers. If you disagree with the usage, please discuss here before changing the article. Karanacs (talk) 03:25, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

  • Congratulations to everyone ! Now it's a featured article.--NAHID 06:19, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
    Actually it's been featured for almost four months. But you're right, it's featured on the Main Page today only! BigBlueFish (talk) 15:53, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

one of the best articles I've seen in ages[edit]

congrats to the editors. (talk) 07:29, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

Featured article for good reason... Great! Qevlarr (talk) 09:51, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
Very thorough and well designed article, even if the event it reports barely counts as encyclopedic material. A fire to highlight rivalry, how childish. --rubenerd (talk) 12:28, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
Some people think wars are childish. Some people think others are childish. However these things happen and WP tries to ensure every notable person, event, and thing we can verify using reliable sources is covered. While somethings are more notable than others, the others sometimes are well documented. And congrats to the FA writers here. At least this one did not generate as much "interest" as FTAB. spryde | talk 12:31, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

10th Texas Court of Appeals ruling[edit]

Should we include this information in the article, in the related paragraph in the controversy section? Is it relevant? BlueAg09 (Talk) 00:06, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

Here is another source. BlueAg09 (Talk) 00:10, 30 May 2008 (UTC)
I think that definitely deserves at least a sentence in the article. It likely means more lawsuits will be coming. Karanacs (talk) 13:12, 30 May 2008 (UTC)

John Comstock[edit]

The source referenced saying that Comstock returned to TAMU and graduated, but the article merely states that Comstock returned to TAMU and says nothing about him graduating. Without another source to verify that information; the wiki should be altered. Megyn (talk) 22:14, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Megyn, usually comments are put at the bottom of the page, not the top.
You are absolutely correct and, given that it has been only 4 years and the article states he was a junior in 2004, but restricted to taking 5-6 hours per semester, it is very likely he may not have yet graduated. I have reworded it accordingly.
That said, Be bold and make changes you feel are necessary! if we need to discuss them, that's what the talk page is for! :-) — BQZip01 — talk 03:31, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

strange linking[edit]

So what is it exactly in 1999, or even more strangely, the anniversary article 18 November (wrongly formatted for a US-related article) that makes these valuable links with anything more than a sea of facts related only by their occurrence in the same 12-month period or on the same day each year, respectively? I'm keen to know. Tony (talk) 03:37, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

1999: 1999#November
November 18: 18 November (see 1999)
As for the date formatting, WP:MOSNUM has been under so much flux lately, if you can show me where it shouldn't be in that format, I'd be happy to change it...but let's wait until the dust settles. — BQZip01 — talk 03:45, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
MOSNUM hasn't at all been in flux about date autoformatting (I presume you meant). Deprecation has been quite clear since August and is widely accepted. If you cite the linked 18 November (again, non-US format?) as being useful as a link, I think you're mistaking the mechanics. Autoformatting wasn't designed to link, and the 18 November page is akin to a "what happened on this day" diversionary, general interest section in a newspaper or WP's main page. It's unsuitable in a serious article, where it dilutes high-value links. I don't understand why you've section-linked to November 1999 here, but not in the article. Did you mean to change it in the article? But even then, when we interrupt our reading to go there, it's circular: we're simply told that "November 18 - The Aggie Bonfire collapses in College Station, TX, killing 12." Haven't we already been told that in the article? This is not only a low-value link; it's likely to irritate serious readers unless the other events listed in that month have some relevance and are not stated within the article on the topic. There seems no logic at all to this. Tony (talk) 04:00, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
According to WP:DATE, the non-U.S. format used in the article is acceptable as long as all dates use it. That said, linking of dates is deprecated and I see no advantage to preserving any date links in the article. They add nothing. They are not high-quality links. →Wordbuilder (talk) 04:07, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
"Dates in article body text should all have the same format." and "Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation. For the U.S. this is month before day; for most others it is day before month. Articles related to Canada may use either format consistently.". Tony (talk) 04:33, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
That's a suggestion, not a rule. But, I'm not opposed to it being changed. I've always thought it looked odd. →Wordbuilder (talk) 04:45, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
And this is why we had date formats at the discretion of the user, not the article.
The dates are linked because they were important events that occurred on that date/year. I find it to be useful to see what else happened on that date/year when reading an article. There is no specific "U.S." format. As an example, the military uses the way I do while some banks use the other way. Either way is acceptable. Why not make some sort of function that allows you to have dates in whichever format YOU desire but without linking? — BQZip01 — talk 06:26, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Why? Because other American editors may become very upset about it. For me, it's no big deal, and I'd prefer everything to be in dmy format, but the politics of it are that we have to have rules for this binary system or there will be edit wars. I also find the managing of the variations in a mature, orderly fashion one of the most satisfying things about WP. The rules for WP:ENGVAR, which is also, more or less, a binary system, work extremely well.

On your other point, you seem to be confusing autoformatting (which is deprecated) with linking. "The dates are linked because they were important events that occurred on that date/year. I find it to be useful to see what else happened on that date/year when reading an article." These are not good reasons to link a solitary year. Please see this style-guide rule; the onus is on you to justify why they significantly add to the reader's (not your) understanding of the topic. You may like to go on fishing trips wandering through a branched tree of links, but the community has been evolving towards a more selective approach to linking, given that each link adds to the sea of blue. The most damaging aspect is that it weakens the focus on the high-value links that you'd like the readers to follow. I'm not going to debate this endlessly, since it's old news; all I ask you do to is to observe WP changing around you. Tony (talk) 07:56, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Ah, I've just noticed that it's a featured article; you have no choice in the matter, since they are bound to follow the style guides. Please change it, or I will within a day. Tony (talk) 07:58, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Tony is right. The guidelines say:
  • ...use the more common date format for that nation. For the U.S. this is month before day...
  • Stand-alone chronological links should generally not be linked, unless they are demonstrably likely to deepen readers' understanding of a topic.
  • The linking of dates purely for the purpose of autoformatting is now deprecated.
Given a choice, I would accept the dmy format throughout Wikipedia but I don't have a choice. The style guide was specifically created to reduce choice in order to increase harmony. Constraining choice is a specific function of a style guide. Wikipedia claims:
  • Featured content represents the best that Wikipedia has to offer.
Featured Articles need to be compatible with the Manual of Style. I hope that helps. It is an interesting article and people have done good work. Lightmouse (talk) 10:38, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
  1. WP:ENGVAR says nothing about dates
  2. I am not saying the dates are linked for purposes of autoformatting (you'll notice I didn't change any other dates). I'm saying they are linked for purposes of deepening readers' understanding of a topic (in this case it is a significant event in 1999. Other news-making events occurred that year and this provides context)
  3. Please don't cherrypick your quotes:
    • "Articles on topics with strong ties to a particular English-speaking country should generally use the more common date format for that nation."
    • "In certain subject areas 'the customary format may differ from the usual national one: for example, articles on the modern U.S. military often use day before month, in accordance with usage in that field."
    Texas A&M is indeed a University (and a University system) within the U.S., but it also has extensions of the main campus in Qatar and Italy. Their fleet of naval research vessels would be the 4th largest Navy in the world, if it were a Navy. It also has a significant international population at the school. Their own style guidelines within the University state that the dmy format is preferred.
  4. My point on autoformatting was not to justify my changes, but to point out new flaws in the "system".
— BQZip01 — talk 15:05, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps I didn't make it sufficiently clear that engvar was by analogy as another binary system that needs rules—quite tight ones. You've convinced me in your argument about the institution's preferences; please consider putting an editorial not at the top to that effect, or you'll have trouble later, I'm sure. Please specify some of these other events that, once extracted from the sea of factoids at 1999, may have relevance and are unsuitable for inclusion in the focused article itself. I can see none, aside from the circular one I pointed out (MOSLINK recommends against them, I'm pretty sure). Can you explain why a list of what happened on some date in November every year since the year dot has remote relevance? Tony (talk) 15:59, 11 October 2008 (UTC)

I'd be more convinced of the institution's preference on using DMY if it was consistent across related articles. However, Texas A&M University (another featured article) uses MDY. I think the same format should be used here. →Wordbuilder (talk) 16:25, 11 October 2008 (UTC)
As I said, I prefer international dates myself, but it does look odd in an overtly US topic (that is not military). Moreover, I discovered inconsistency on that count, which is even worse. BQZ, don't tell me you have date prefs switched on? That would explain your inability to see the inconsistency. Now that we've got over the engvar issue here, please note that FAs must adhere to both CONTEXT and MOSLINK on the matter of not autorformatting dates and not linking single years. Again, I find nothing relevant in November 1999 except the circular back-reference to what is said in this article. It is a waste of readers' time and a reinforcement of the principle that whole-year article should not generally be linked. If you are still insistent on the linking of this item, I recommend that you insert it into "See also" at the bottom, without piping it as a solitary year; something like "Other notable events in November 1999". Then, at least, your readers know what it is. Tony (talk) 05:36, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
Can you cite a single instance in which a date should be linked? What you are seeming to talk about is banning all dates.
"I discovered inconsistency on that count, which is even worse." How is it "worse" and not just a single inconsistency.
"BQZ, don't tell me you have date prefs switched on? That would explain your inability to see the inconsistency." Actually, now that the date autformatting has been removed across Wikipedia, the date preferences are moot and don't work unless dates are wikilinked. Whether I have them turned on or off is immaterial.
All in all, at this point it really isn't worth fighting about. If you want to change the order (MDY vs DMY), be my guest; I won't fight it. As for the links, let's see what you mean first. Convince me. :-) — BQZip01 — talk 06:40, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
  • It is indeed important that you turn off your prefs: we rely on people like you to pick up inconsistencies or wrong global choices (US dates for the British Prime Minister; international dates for September 11, 2001), and either change them or report them. The important thing is that our readers have only ever seen the raw date formats; the date autoformatting mechanism is now widely regarded as having been a major mistake, and will take a year or two to rectify gradually. You can ask for any article to be date-audited in a number of places; let me know if you want a link. Cheers Tony (talk) 06:44, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
    Yeah, but didn't the preferences only work when the dates were wikilinked? Remove the link and they revert to their normal format, right? — BQZip01 — talk 06:51, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
Your readers have always seen what you saw as preferenced dates in their raw format only (blue, yes, but unformatted). This was the strongest argument for the deprecation of the practice. If you choose "no pref", you'll see what your readers see when dates are autoformatted (most still are on WP; it will take a while for them to be adjusted). Yes, the preference works/worked ony when the syntax is there in the edit-mode. Tony (talk) 06:55, 19 October 2008 (UTC)
Please realize that when you de-linked them, the consistency in date formatting went away and now someone has to go back through manually and fix them all. Please don't undo just to make the date change and then leave it looking like that. You said you were going to fix the dates. Please do so. If you want someone else to do it, just say so, but please don't leave it halfway done.
Now as for the other dates, why did you remove them. I stated before that I was willing to discuss/acquiesce, but you just made an arbitrary change. Why? — BQZip01 — talk 03:51, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
  • Where is the inconsistency? What date(s) have I removed? Tony (talk) 05:47, 20 October 2008 (UTC)
    1. You didn't remove dates, but you removed the links which formatted them the same way. I'm not saying that the basic wikimagic shouldn't be removed, but shouldn't you do more than just remove the fix the dates so they are all the same? This is a featured article and is required to meet MOS standards. You changed the date, but didn't fix them. Now, these dates at least were the in the same format for some users. Now they are in different formats for all users. If you are going to "fix" a problem, shouldn't you fix it?
    2. I thought we were discussing the reasons that you should/shouldn't link a date as a notable item in history. You never answered my original questions. When would it be acceptable to ever link to 1999 or March 15? I thought we were working towards consensus, but you just went ahead and changed everything. Please explain what I'm missing here. — BQZip01 — talk 02:55, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

<sigh> Again, I can see no inconsistencies. The script does ensure that all dmy and mdy dates are ironed out into the chosen format of the two. "Links that formatted them in the same way"—are you still using a preference? WPians are advised to choose "no pref" so they see what their readers see; this is basic housecleaning. IMO, it is never acceptable to link date fragments such as solitary years and dm/md items. If it means so much to you, why not highlight a selected chronological link in the "See also" section, preferably piped to attract readers: "Notable events in 1999" or some such. Tony (talk) 03:45, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

  1. I never said my preferences were on. You made that assumption. What I said was that the way it was, not the way it is. The way it was at least had some consistency. As it is now, you've changed the article in such a way that the dates are now inconsistent:
  2. "I can see no inconsistencies." References 56 and 58 contain 3 different date formats as do many of the other references. My problem is not that you changed it from the deprecated wikilinking, but that you didn't fix them so they were all the same. It's as if you didn't do the job completely.
  3. "IMO, it is never acceptable to link date fragments such as solitary years and dm/md items." That is your opinion and it is not in line with Wikipedia guidelines (note that it isn't even policy): Stand-alone chronological links should generally not be linked, unless they are demonstrably likely to deepen readers' understanding of a topic.
  4. Your last suggestion is intriguing and potentially useful, but I'd still like to understand your rationale about linking to dates. Near as I can tell it is acceptable, but not a general rule. You won't find this in many articles I have written/contributed and is not something I generally do. I think this is one of those cases (a notable accident that was center stage for a few days in the media worldwide). Placing it beside those events gives it context and I think merits the exception. — BQZip01 — talk 04:17, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

1. It was certainly inconsistent beforehand.

2. Now you've provided a little detail: no, refs are explicitly excluded from the requirement at MOSNUM for consistency. This is because they usually are beholden to the whims of disconnected developers who can and do change formatting without notification. It's a systemic problem that will be addressed, I hope, over the next months or year. Certainly, the deprecation of date autoformatting has brought that issue to a head, but it was there ever since WPians were sold a pup in those dreadful citation templates (yes, my opinion).

3. Everything that drops from my lips is my opinion. Substantive rather than personal arguments will get us further. It is indeed consistent with MOSLINK: you haven't justified how on earth November 1999 will deepen the reader's understanding of the topic. It's just a collection of a few disparate fragments, plus the mirror/circular reference to what we've already been told in this article (irritating to readers).

4. What is it about the crash of a Mexican airplane, an earthquake in Turkey, the launching of a Chinese spacecraft, another earthquake in Vanuatu, a change of government in NZ, and a corporate merger, that has anything to do with the topic at hand? Tony (talk) 05:30, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

  1. My point is that it was at least somewhat consistent beforehand to those who had preferences on. Now it is inconsistent to everyone. I don't see this as an improvement.
  2. Are you reading the same MOSNUM I am? "Dates in article references should all have the same format."
  3. What is so dreadful about the citation templates?
  4. My point is that your opinion (and anyone else's opinion, including my own, for that matter) is irrelevant when policy and/or guidelines state the contrary.
  5. I have justified how it related to the crash of a Mexican airplane, an earthquake in Turkey, the launching of a Chinese spacecraft, another earthquake in Vanuatu, a change of government in NZ, and a certain corporate merger. These were all major news events in 1999, hence, they are all related.
— BQZip01 — talk 14:31, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

It's good to engage with people about this, but there's a limit to the amount of time I want to spend with a single person who has missed the major debates on public pages earlier this year. You may wish to look at some of the archives. This page has some useful information, but I haven't touched it for some time and it seems like old news now. You might note the importance of being able to see the raw formats in display mode to avoid and correct inconsistencies. Our management of date formatting has been scandalously bad, largely because of the concealing function of DA.

1. I don't care much about editors: the readers are the primary concern. At least now you can see the inconsistencies they have to put up with and it's more likely you and other WPians will fix them.

2. Same.

3. They're inflexible, take control of formatting away from article editors, and mostly force a sea of blue. They were made for people who've never created a reference list before. I would ban them today if I had a magic wand.

4. Contrary? I don't think so. This is going around in circles.

5. Really, that's lame to suggest that occurrence in the same month is worth highlighting for readers. Very lame. This is supposed to be a professional-standard outfit, not a plaything for readers who want to engage in diversionary browsing at their leisure. Every link dilutes its siblings—they come at a cost that must be balanced against their usefulness.

Tony (talk) 15:53, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

  1. I'm sorry you don't care about the editors, but my point remains that you've actually done nothing other than change the color of text from black to blue for the readers (the ones you are most concerned about).
  2. You too are a wikipedian and you have an obligation to fix these as well. You've only done it halfway and my point is that you aren't improving anything other than de-linking things
  3. I don't see how it is inflexible at all. Most citations follow a simple format in any handbook (like APA or MLA). Allowing free-range citations only takes away from consistency. Make a simple change on the template format and you can make a change wikipedia-wide. This kind of centralized formatting is standard for all computer science and makes sweeping changes easier. As an example: de-linking the dates could be done by modifying the template.
  4. An exception is noted and is not absolute, ergo, your desires are not in line with WP policy/guidelines. Please go there and change them before coming back and telling ppl hat the must or must not do.
  5. Newsworthy events in a year put things in context. Instead of insulting me by calling my ideas "very lame", why not come up with some more constructive criticism?

Don't personalise it: I called the defence lame, not you. Tony (talk) 03:31, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Don't make it personal. Your words, not mine: "that's lame to suggest..." — BQZip01 — talk 03:41, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

Litigation by the Families[edit]

The article does a great job of discussing Bonfire.

One item of interest concerning the eventual litigation is that the families originally made no effort to seek damages or initiate litigation. The settlement is mentioned but not the fact that the families tried hard to avoid litigation. They were seeking to have the university release the information on what happened so that the tragedy could be avoided in the future.

After trying to get the university administrators to talk with them for a good while and getting no where, the families initiated litigation. The families felt they had no choice. They believed the university administrators were attempting to delay information being made public about the tragedy. Meetings scheduled with the university were repeatedly cancelled. The families were faced with the statute of limitations deadline on filing litigation. Once it had passed, they would have no way of forcing the university administrators to provide the information. They did not want money. They wanted disclosure of the information on what happened in hopes that it would never happen again. Facing the expiration of the statute of limitation, they filed a last minute suit to force the university to deal with them.

The above is based on both public statements and private statements made by the families of those killed. Prcox1963 (talk) 01:56, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

If you can find a reliable source to back up some of this (preferably a newspaper article, most preferably not The Battalion), then we can include some of that in the article. Right now, the article reflects what we found in the sources. Karanacs (talk) 15:04, 19 February 2009 (UTC)

Why the linked dates?[edit]

So, I see the discussion two headers above from about 5 months ago. Now, I see that dates have been relinked. I must ask, what is the purpose of linking November 18 and 1999? What in those articles aid readers' understanding? Dabomb87 (talk) 21:54, 26 March 2009 (UTC)

All, the date and year have been independently wikilinked to provide context with other newsmaking events that occurred that year and on that date in history. There has been a recent ArbCom decision regarding dates such as this and no dates should be either additionally linked or delinked until a workable, agreed-upon guideline/policy can be implemented. I strongly caution everyone to review the case and its outcome before making any date link-related changes as a block is likely to follow shortly thereafter. — BQZip01 — talk 17:01, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
Mass date delinking is banned for 6 months, but not individual date delinking. Per the last RfC on the matter, the following text was added to MOSNUM: Such links should share an important connection with that subject other than that the events occurred on the same date. It's pretty clear that consensus is against linking dates in articles just because the event is listed on the date page. I think that the date links ought to be removed. Karanacs (talk) 20:42, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Concur, unless it can be shown that the link clearly aids readers' understanding. Dabomb87 (talk) 23:45, 24 August 2009 (UTC)
Unless somebody comes up with a reason for the linked dates, I will remove the links in a couple of days. Dabomb87 (talk) 22:43, 29 August 2009 (UTC)
No reason was provided, so I removed the links. Please discuss here first before reinstating them. Dabomb87 (talk) 23:39, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

New Source for info[edit]

It covers a lot of the organizational components of Bonfire. Also a good read. — BQZip01 — talk 21:43, 22 October 2009 (UTC)

punct with closing quotes[edit]

Since this article is about an American university, it makes sense to me that punctuation would follow American standards. Therefore, I took the liberty to change instances of periods and commas that were outside closing quotation marks and put them inside according to standards for American written English. OK? Ed8r (talk) 17:08, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

MOS:LQ advocates against that, so I'm going to revert the change. Karanacs (talk) 21:06, 18 November 2010 (UTC)

1999 collapse[edit]

The picture showing daylight recovery operations has a dead link. It is now on a different site, at , on p. 38. This needs to be changed when the url can be replaced. Fconaway (talk) 03:29, 18 November 2011 (UTC)

1999 Bonfire Stack Height[edit]

While the section under "1999 Collapse" currently indicates that the ultimate height of the Bonfire stack was 40 feet, in reality the stack at the 4th tier had reached 59 feet with the 5th and 6th stacks yet to be constructed (a task reserved for the Redpots and Brownpots).

The source currently cited for the incorrect height of 40 feet is "Cook, John Lee, Jr.. "Bonfire Collapse" (PDF). U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Retrieved 2009-09-29." This is a result of early reports in which the height was erroneously set at 40 feet. However, on page 20 of "Bonfire Collapse" documentation of the actual height can be found. It refers to the findings of an unnamed professor "of mechanical engineering appointed as the head of the A&M staff team to assist the commission in their inquiry".

The name of that investigator is Dr. John A. Weese. "His memo to the Commission reported the height, which does not include the seven-foot outhouse on top, as being eighteen feet on the first tier, sixteen feet on the second, fourteen feet on the third, and eleven feet on the fourth."(page 20). Even studying photos of the '99 Bonfire is enough to determine that the stated height of 40 feet is incorrect.

Also, I was working atop the second tier the night Bonfire collapsed and was injured. I have firsthand knowledge that at that level the stack was already nearing a height of 40 feet with 2 tiers still above it. While I wish to maintain neutrality, I am personally invested in seeing the facts surrounding the 1999 Bonfire and its collapse strictly maintained and although I have previously edited details of its final height those changes have since been incorrectly reverted. --Brewchief (talk) 03:20, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Is there a weblink to that source so I can format it properly? If so I'll make the change. Karanacs (talk) 19:38, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

The same source that is already being used states the correct height on page 20. Brewchief (talk) 23:23, 11 March 2013 (UTC)