Talk:Albert Ball

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Featured article Albert Ball 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.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on May 7, 2014.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
October 5, 2011 Good article nominee Listed
October 22, 2011 WikiProject A-class review Approved
November 3, 2013 Featured article candidate Promoted
Current status: Featured article

Attitude to S.E.5[edit]

Hi SoM, to avoid us tweaking and re-tweaking, which might be (incorrectly) seen by outsiders as an edit war, I thought I'd just discuss here. Your recent edit is fine by me except for "hardly surprising", which I expect will be interpreted by reviewers as editorialising, even if supported by the source. Not having Pengelly at hand I can't necessarily suggest another way of putting it that's both accurate and dispassionate, so let's work it out here and then one of us can make the final edit (remembering George may also have an opinion). If Pengelly has made his own observation that it was "hardly surprising" or words to that effect, we could perhaps even quote him. Similarly, if he's reporting a general impression among Ball scholars or aviation writers, we could attribute it to that. In fact if you have a quote from a reliable source saying straight out that Ball was "pig-headed" about the plane in some ways (but justified in others) then I'd be happy to discuss quoting/attributing that too. He is such an admirable bloke in the main that I have no issue whatsoever pointing out that he was blinkered in some ways, as long as it's based on reliable sources and expressed in neutral (i.e. FAC-proof) language, or that if we use more opinionated wording then we quote and/or clearly attribute. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 03:15, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

One last attempt at something that avoids (as it should of course) any hint of OR or "editorialising". Hope this will let you and George get on with more important stuff rather than agonise too much about exact wording. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 04:52, 16 October 2013 (UTC)
Okay, fortune favours the bold, I'm perfectly happy with your new improved version! Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 06:29, 16 October 2013 (UTC)

Hi SoM, don't know if you had more to do after this last edit but you eliminated a section heading... I'd really rather keep this article's structure intact while the FAC is going on -- stability is part of the FA criteria and with two reviewers offering their support in the previous version, unless something is outright wrong we should keep alterations to the minimum. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 03:16, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

Thanks Ian - don't know quite what happened with the section heading - that certainly wasn't intentional! The para breaks I did were based on subject (like I was taught in grade 4 English composition) rather than length - but certainly not going to debate you on this, especially at this stage of the game. There actually seems to be a lot of snippets of information inserted at random in various places in the article... NOT going to go through it line by line, (especially at this stage) but it may be productive for someone to. Paragraphs that don't have a clear, single subject or theme can make writing (especially an encyclopedia article) very hard to follow. One thing I am a little concerned about are the references - some are "template-type" some plain - a few duplicate references (i.e. references to the same page of the same source) are properly consolidated, some not. Makes adding new refs a real pain. Bzuk did a nice job standardising and consolidating the refs. to my Fokker scourge rewrite back in March this year - might we ask him to have a look at this one? really makes a big difference. If the refs all make sense, are are all in the same format. Point taken about in being a bit late for changes - will lay off altogether now, at least until we have a definite verdict. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 12:37, 18 October 2013 (UTC)
No prob -- I liked the additional info you added, by the way. Re. the refs, yes I noticed there was some variation there and was planning to go through them myself to standardise. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 16:09, 18 October 2013 (UTC)

Wording queried at FAC[edit]

Putting more detail here about the wording that was queried at the FAC. The sentence in question (towards the end of the 'Second fighter posting' section) currently reads: "After the last of these victims nearly rammed him in a head-on firing pass, Ball anxiously flew his seriously damaged plane home.". I've dug through the editing history and located when this sentence was added and modified (apologies for the length of this, but I think it is important to be clear what happened here and how easy it is to inadvertently change meaning without intending to):

This sort of gradual changing of the text to the extent that the original meaning was lost is not good. I'm pinging George, Ian and Dank (as the three who made those edits) to get their views on this (Dank, George has said more about this back at the FAC, and I think that shows that the change you made did need checking and does need reverting, would you agree?). Correcting this one is easily done, I'm more concerned about whether this is an isolated case, or should spot checks of the other citations be done to ensure they are accurate, both for page numbers and for phrasing? I think some of Dank's other copy-edits had 'please check' in the edit summary - has anyone been checking those? I think the only other one is this one, which looks fine to me, but George or Ian may be better placed to assess that change. Carcharoth (talk) 22:55, 23 October 2013 (UTC)


I searched the FAR feedback for unanswered questions about cites, and found only the above example. Neverthess, I have begun to check all the cites I can, beginning with Pengelly.

I also regard the near-ramming two days before Ball's death as consequential. Because of that, I am copying over my observations about the incident. From the FAR page for Ball:

(iii) Okay, I have corrected the page numbers within the Bowyer cite.

(iii) Either term above would be British understatement to a fault. Ball was temporarily blinded by oil spraying from a holed tank, and left flying helplessly with an engine about to seize.

(iii) After landing, Ball could not at first dictate his combat report because he "...was in so overwrought a state...." After thanking God, Ball admitted he thought a dying German pilot might ram him.

(iii) The squadron's Recording Officer, Lieutenant T. B. Marson, remarked, "In that event, his nerve failed him in the last."

I do believe the incident deserves more ink than it has received, but the mere recitation of events makes it sound a lot like "peacocking".

Georgejdorner (talk) 16:35, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

Albert Ball's grave[edit]

Copying out here the text of the source:

  • Gibson; Kingsley Ward. 'Victoria Cross and George Cross recipients who died in the war periods'. Courage Remembered. p. 173:

    "His father [...] wanted his son's remains to be repatriated but, by then, repatriation had been forbidden. Hearing this, Sir Albert insisted that his son's grave be undisturbed and, when the remains of the other 23 Britons were moved to Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, his wishes were respected."

That is the justification for the 'His father [...] to remain' text added here. What is there in the 'Bowyer. Albert Ball VC. pp. 227–228' source that justifies the removal of "His father wanted the remains brought back to England for reburial, but the policy put in place by the Imperial War Graves Commission meant that this was not possible"? Carcharoth (talk) 01:52, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Mate, this article has had a huge number of edits since you got involved in it and I can't check every one. I actually had no recollection of who added that info or when and, as I couldn't access the source to check and it seemed to contradict the claim that Ball Sr wanted the grave left undisturbed and Bowyer didn't mention it, I felt we could afford to lose it. Now that you've vouched for it and provided the actual info, which offers some clarification of why Ball first wanted repatriation and then wanted the grave left undisturbed, I don't have an issue with it being returned (although I still find it curious Bowyer doesn't highlight it). Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 04:10, 29 October 2013 (UTC)

Hyperlink references[edit]

What about using the Sfn template (hyperlinked last names & year numbers) instead of last names & titles? Thus the references will be linked to the respective bibliography entries. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:54, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

I would like to start adding reference anchors in the Bibliography titles (ref = harv), and then converting current references to Sfn (last names and year numbers). Should I take the current silence as agreement?
― Lgfcd 22:08, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
Remembering that most people don't stay up 24 hours straight, and interested parties may be on the opposite side of the world to you, I wouldn't take less than a day's silence as tacit agreement to do anything on WP... :-) The earlier ref=harv additions to the references caused Harv errors to appear, I assume because the job was not done properly. Now I don't use the Sfn/harv citation method myself as I think it's too easy to do badly, or to break when it's been done properly, but I'm just one of the main editors on this article and certainly don't own it, so if you'd like to the job thoroughly, from top to bottom, it doesn't worry me particularly, though some of the other main editors may have an opinion. Per your question on my talk page as to how I knew there were formatting errors, many editors including myself have installed this script to highlight such problems in red, and it highlighted all the references as in error after the earlier change. So if you get agreement to pursue this ref change, I'd definitely install the script yourself so you can see how you're going... Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 23:05, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
I see, the article reports unused anchors as errors. That is, in itself, an error. The anchors are not errors; they are just infrastructure. Please do not act on such reports unless you understand why they were raised.
— [Lgfcd 00:51, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
This was a Featured Article on the main page of Wikipedia, and anyone using that script would see the errors. Pls do not use the anchors unless you do the entire job, and have consensus to change the citation style in the first place. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 02:10, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
The decision to use a script that flags unused anchors as errors in entirely arbitrary. The error is in the script.
― Lgfcd 13:53, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
It seems to me that the many people whose find the script helpful may not agree with you, but you could always start a discussion on its talk page. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 14:23, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
Indeed, it is the right thing to do.
― Lgfcd 19:28, 8 May 2014 (UTC)
Well, now the silence is conspicuous. How should silence be interpreted?
― Lgfcd 12:11, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
Well it certainly shouldn't be interpreted as consensus to change the citation style for this article -- all of the main editors and the reviewers who saw it through GAN, MilHist ACR and FAC appear to have been happy enough with the current method. Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 13:51, 12 May 2014 (UTC)
Sad. (talk) 00:34, 16 May 2014 (UTC)