Talk:Ancient Roman pottery

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Pic sizes (copied from my talk)[edit]

I was just doing new page patrol, and came across your article. (It's about to roll off the end of the patrol window, so I dared assess something out of my historical area!) As I suspected, when examining the images, the original photos are much higher resolution. Is there any rule against making some, say 50 pixels wider, so that the images on the pottery can be discerned without the need for clicking to magnify them? Congradulations on your article! Piano non troppo (talk) 19:04, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

Thanks! I've done some - what size is set on your preferences? Fixing at much over 300px is discouraged - it's in the images guideline somewhere. Personally I think the default size should be larger. I'm moving this to talk there. Johnbod (talk) 20:06, 18 February 2009 (UTC)


I have taken the liberty of modifying the sentence in the lead section that stated that Romans did not deposit grave-goods, because it was incorrect. Customs governing burial ritual, including the deposition of grave-goods, varied widely in different provinces of the Empire, and at different periods, but there are plenty of Roman inhumation burials that contain pots and other possessions, as well as cremations that are placed within pottery containers. It is perfectly true that complete vessels nearly always come from burial contexts, so I have stressed that, and added that sherd material (from which types, fabrics and techniques can be fully studied) is very abundant on Roman sites. I will add another sentence or two in the lead section at some point to emphasise that the study of pottery is one of the cornerstones of archaeological dating, but it has to be carefully worded; it's all too easy to write 1000 words on that theme before one has noticed what one is doing. AgTigress (talk) 12:23, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Sections and sub-sections[edit]

In general, I would say that moulded terracotta figures should be separated from functional pottery, and therefore not discussed here, though of course they can be referred to. Lamps, though many are mould-made, are functional utensils, so though Roman archaeologists don't lump them in with 'pots', I see no reason why they shouldn't have a sub-section under the general heading of Roman pottery.

Techniques, e.g. wheel-made, mould-made, relief-decorated in moulds, and the many different surface treatments, including lead-glazed wares, which many people do not associate with the Roman period, should have a separate section, too.

I'll tinker with some other aspects of this soon, probably starting with a sub-section on Western terra sigillata, that is, Arretine and Gaulish samian wares. I'll also start to get together some useful general references. The trouble about R. pottery studies is that references tend to be very much for the specialist reader alone, and in a variety of languages.

The article has got off to a good start, but there is a lot more to do. ;-) AgTigress (talk) 12:23, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks very much. Personally I'd rather keep the figurines in - unless they get a decent sized article to themselves. Would a rename to Ancient Roman ceramics help? Johnbod (talk) 13:17, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Let's just leave the terracottas in for the moment, then, and also leave the title as it is. If the pottery article ever reaches anything like the size and complexity required by the subject, people will probably be happy enough to hive them off! One could make a good case for a separate article on 'Greek and Roman terracottas', actually, which would be pretty extensive, with a date-range from about 8thC BC to 5thC AD, taking in many different styles, varying functions, a geographical range of the whole Roman Empire, with some important Roman regional types (e.g. Gaulish pipeclay figurines; Ptolemaic and Roman figurines from Egypt) and very complex iconography. So let's leave 'em alone for now!  :-) AgTigress (talk) 14:56, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Fine! The Greeks (as in most areas of ceramics) are better catered for already, with short articles on Greek terracotta figurines, and Tanagra figurine. Johnbod (talk) 15:30, 17 August 2010 (UTC)

Lead section[edit]

I'd really like to start this off with a text something like the following:

Pottery is a key material in the dating and interpretation of archaeological sites from the Neolithic period onwards, and has been minutely studied by archaeologists for generations. In the Roman period, ceramics were produced and used in enormous quantities, and the literature on the subject, in numerous languages, is very extensive.
It is usual to divide Roman domestic pottery broadly into coarse wares and fine wares, the former being the everyday pottery jars, dishes and bowls that were used for cooking or the storage and transport of foods and other goods, and which were often made and bought locally, while the latter were the serving vessels or tableware, usually of more decorative and elegant appearance, which were made at specialised pottery workshops, and were often traded over substantial distances, not only within, but also between, different provinces of the Roman Empire. The manufacture of fine wares such as terra sigillata took place in large workshop complexes that were organised along industrial lines and produced highly standardised products that lend themselves well to precise and systematic classification.
Fired clay was also widely employed in the Roman period for architectural purposes, as structural bricks and tiles, and occasionally as architectural decoration, and for the manufacture of small statuettes and lamps. These are not normally classified under the heading ‘pottery’ by archaeologists, but the terracottas and lamps will be included in this article.

However, if I were to insert those paragraphs as the lead-in, I would need to change quite a bit in the existing lead section to remove repetitions, at least, and I don't quite like to do that without asking first. AgTigress (talk) 12:34, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

I've done a hybrid version, keeping all the text above, but mixing it in differently. Does this work for you? I think the main article on such a large topic should keep a somewhat more populist approach than more detailed specific articles. You'll see I've put the 1st para above last, for example. Johnbod (talk) 13:04, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

Neatly done, Johnbod! Thank you. I think that is already an improvement. The general point about pottery as an archaeological dating tool is fine near the end. AgTigress (talk) 14:21, 18 August 2010 (UTC)

'Other ceramics' section[edit]

Would it be okay for me to subdivide this clearly under 'Lamps', 'Terracottas' and 'Brick and Tile' (in that order), and start to expand some of them? I can do that more quickly than I can do the Fine wares/tablewares section. :-) We may eventually need a separate section on technical matters (clays, hand-made, thrown, moulded, decorative techiniques, firing techniques, kilns (built kilns, bonfire kilns...), temperatures, finishes, e.g. slips, vitreous glazes, burnishing, etc. etc., but I won't start that one yet, because some of it will come into the 'fine wares' section anyway. Above all, under both TS and similar types, and lamps, we need to emphasise the ceramic mass-production on an industrial scale that got under way in the Roman period, the known names of factories, their trading distributions. Oh dear, I feel faint. It all reminds me of why I turned away from Roman pottery studies about 30 years ago, towards jewellery and silverware! AgTigress (talk) 19:23, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

Of course! We do have various very stubby articles in Category:Ancient Roman pottery. At some point it might be better to expand these with detailed stuff, but this article is still pretty short so it can all go here for now, maybew duplicated at the others as appropriate. Johnbod (talk) 00:37, 20 August 2010 (UTC)


I have made a start on this sub-section. More detail, and more specific references to come. :-) AgTigress (talk) 20:00, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Refs formatted. Can one give a typical figure for the diameter, or range, for the discus? Johnbod (talk) 21:06, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for that. Discus diameters are on average about 5-6 cm, but there are individual lamps that are a good deal bigger. AgTigress (talk) 21:37, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

Hmm, no, thinking about it again, more like 4-6 cm. Depends on the type.  :-) I'll try to expand the architectural section or the terracottas next. Anything to avoid the actual pottery... AgTigress (talk) 11:20, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

I have now tidied up 'Lamps' a bit more. It could be expanded, of course, but it would be better to work on one of the other sections first. AgTigress (talk) 13:13, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Brick, tile, architectural uses[edit]


I have only just started on this -- needs more work. Where I have said (ref. pending) in connection with legionary antefixes, I want to insert a link to this relevant British Museum example from the BM database:,0206.1&currentPage=1 But that's a monstrous URL. Advice needed! There are also another couple of references in this section that are still sitting in the text in round brackets. I'm sorry I still need so much help. AgTigress (talk) 14:34, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

One can get it down to just by chopping. Doesn't always work, but did this time. They should add stable url's like the MMA. Johnbod (talk) 20:00, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
I see we have this pic on Commons btw. Johnbod (talk) 20:34, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Thank you. The pic taken in the showcase isn't great, but it would do.  :-) AgTigress (talk) 21:22, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

As mentioned under 'Pictures' below, I have now taken a good pic of the BM Legio XX antefix, but I haven't succeeded in uploading it yet. :-( AgTigress (talk) 17:32, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Terracotta figurines[edit]

I have started to expand this section, too. There are a couple of references that need formatting. Really one needs to do separate paragraphs for the Italian, Greek, Asia Minor, Egyptian, Central Gaulish and Rhineland industries, but I can't face that just yet. AgTigress (talk) 17:41, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

Fine wares[edit]

I have started on this section, and have a long way to go. AgTigress (talk) 12:55, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

I have now got the basic shape of the fine wares section together, but I ought to tackle some of the Eastern Empire problems and some of the non-sigillata types. Later. AgTigress (talk) 14:48, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Coarse wares[edit]

The rather defeatist sentence recorded in this section at the moment is not all I am going to write! I have to work out how to subdivide -- typological, chronological or geographical, or some mind-bending combination of the three. Nobody has written a general reference work on Roman coarse pottery, probably because it can't be done, so I shall have to cite some of the regional and typological studies. Why on earth am I doing this? I must be mad. AgTigress (talk) 14:48, 22 August 2010 (UTC)


I do have some 35 mm slides (my own copyright) which might be helpful for some sections, but although I know how to scan and digitise them, I have no idea how to upload them to Wikipedia. AgTigress (talk) 19:42, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Go to [1] - it's not too bad when you get used to it. Yours would be "entirely my own work". Let me know if you upload any (just link to one) & I'll check the categories etc. Johnbod (talk) 19:50, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Johnbod, what is the best sort of size for a jpg image for uploading? In terms of DPI when scanning a 35 mm image, rather than pixel widths, that is. I'm sorry that I am asking you to tell me how to do everything: you are very patient, and I am really grateful. I won't get into scanning slides just yet: I need to tackle some of those ghastly coarse ware pots first!  :) AgTigress (talk) 21:45, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure - I think they automatically reduce it to a maximum file size as part of the upload process, but I'm not sure what the figure is. I'll try to find out - ok does this make any sense to you? It doesn't make much to me - I'll ask User:Ealdgyth, who is a pro snapper. Commons is having some sort of technical bug just now, so its probably not the best time to upload anyway. Johnbod (talk) 21:56, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
When I do scans of things (rather than the stuff I shoot with a camera), I generall scan it at 300dpi (sometimes 600dpi if I think it might take it) and then upload the full size of the scan. I send up jpgs of the highest quality too. Some of the stuff uploaded is huge, but bigger is better, in most cases. Ealdgyth - Talk 22:01, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
Thanks! Johnbod (talk) 22:03, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Okay, thanks to both of you. Not all of that link means much to me, Johnbod! For (paper) publication I have usually scanned 10 x 8 prints at 300 dpi, but the tiddly little 35 mm slides much higher, at 1200 dpi. Anyway, I have to find the little suckers first, so I'll try it out in due course. For now, I have done enough coarse wares for the day, and am going to bed... Thank you, everyone.  :-) AgTigress (talk) 22:32, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Ooh - while I think of it, Ealdgyth: if I took some museum pics, with a digital camera, to upload here, would 6 mill. pixels be all right? It's the most I can do, and I know those images publish fine on paper. AgTigress (talk) 22:32, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Images of things in any size are good. Generally most wikipedia pics are something like 400 pixels for most usage, so what you'd take would probably be fine. Ealdgyth - Talk 22:49, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Thanks very much. Still quite a lot of writing to do first, though! AgTigress (talk) 11:31, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Hmm. I have now taken quite a few pics of pottery in the British Museum displays which I think will work in this article, but I haven't quite got the hang of uploading yet. I took a much better image of the tile antefix above, by the way. AgTigress (talk) 17:33, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Where's the upload giving trouble? I recommend uploading using as little info as they will allow, & then adding the description etc later. Johnbod (talk) 18:39, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Okay, Johnbod: does this work? ? I was scared by all those codings for different kinds of licensing and stuff. If that's all right, do I just stick the URL into the 'Tiles etc.' section? I am going to write something about amphorae in a minute, but if that picture upload is all right, I'll do some more. Can one edit the picture description, because I forget whether the modern county for Denbighshire is Powys or Gwynedd — I'll have to look it up. AgTigress (talk) 20:07, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Hah, it's neither; it's Clwyd. I'll try editing it now! AgTigress (talk) 20:12, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

I worked out how to insert my tile picture — but it appeared full size! Yikes! Hastily removed it again. AgTigress (talk) 20:51, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

I have now uploaded another: AgTigress (talk) 20:59, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Those two are fine. I've added categories - that antefix is "Department of Prehistory and Europe, British Museum", yes? We have a whole category of antefixes tucked away, I now see [2]. You can edit the description - it's good to add a location where appropriate. I just use the reccomended license category, but be aware that by uploading to commons you effectively make the uploaded version public domain. Johnbod (talk) 21:23, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, both P&E Dept. Some of the ones I took today, and will upload, are Greek & Roman Dept. How do I make 'em smaller to put into the article? I did try to look it up on Wikipedia's screeds of instructions, but failed. :-) AgTigress (talk) 21:48, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

On Commons they can (& should) be as big as you like, but in articles insert |thumb| after the filename, and then eg |200px| to force the size. See the examples in the article here; all that is fairly straightforward. Btw you can set the default size you see pics at in your "preferences" (top right of screen). I have mine set to 300px. There's much more at Wikipedia:Images, and other pages linked to there. Johnbod (talk) 23:37, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

It worked! Prepare yourselves for several new pics in this article! Would you mind very much if I were eventually to remove one that is currently there, the showcase of pottery and kiln furniture in a German museum? It is a bit small to be informative, anyway. I want to get in at least one other pic into the 'architectural' section, one into the terracottas (Gaulish pipeclay ones), a couple at least into the terra sigillata section, and the group of pots from Britain that you have already seen somewhere or other. AgTigress (talk) 08:32, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

No, sure. There are lots of good photos on Commons too, but finding them involves the mazes of the category system there. Johnbod (talk) 11:50, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm still pretty confused by the process of uploading pics to Wikimedia commons. Some, but not all, that I have uploaded so far have a thing on the page saying that they are not categorised. And I got into difficulties with one by apparently forgetting to put the licence thingy in, though I thought I did. I may have succeeded in adding it, but I'm not sure about anything. :-( It's this one: AgTigress (talk) 19:43, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Oh, maybe the first ones have categories because you added them. I'm sorry I am giving you so much work.  :-( AgTigress (talk) 19:44, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

T'was me! All categories done as (dble bkts)Category:Ancient Roman pottery in Britain]]

(dble bkts)Category:Department of Prehistory and Europe, British Museum]]. Licence looks ok now. Johnbod (talk) 20:05, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

Once again, thank you. I am still not quite clear where one puts the 'category' in to the picture file. Does it go in the 'other information' window? The new picture of the East Gaulish moulds at Rheinzabern is good. I still want to put in a few more pictures (African red slip dish, one of the glazed vessels, the little barbotine cup that gave me the licence trouble), and there are still more things I ought to write. How can one format pics to be in a position other than at the right side of the text? In due course, even more pics can be accommodated if I do a 'technology' section, but don't hold your breath. Again, thanks for all the help. AgTigress (talk) 09:36, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

right-aligned is the default; for left add |left. We can also add pictures to the gallery at the bottom - see those there already for the simple syntax. Or add "mini-galleries" with sections - as used for example in Medieval art. Johnbod (talk) 13:32, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Aha. I suppose I could add a couple of images to the gallery, anyway. There isn't really room for them in the text until I have written some more. AgTigress (talk) 14:42, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Categories for images[edit]

I found out where the 'categories' goes, after the 'licensing' bit. But some of my pics are Greek and Roman Dept, not Prehistory and Europe. This came up in red 'page does not exist' when I corrected it (on the African Red slip dish'. As you know, the names of BM departments keep being meddled with. I put 'Dept. of Greece and Rome', which is the current name, though it has been called 'Greek and Roman Antiquities' since 1860, when it first became a separate dept. I'm rambling. But at least I can now add the 'Ancient Roman Pottery' category myself if I upload any more.  :-) AgTigress (talk) 09:53, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

The commons categories are a maze, but in cases like this you should be able to find the right categories by tracing the tree: "Category:Department of Prehistory and Europe, British Museum" is parented by "Category:British Museum collections by department", which, rightly or wrongly, contains "Category:Department of Graeco-Roman Antiquities, British Museum" and then "Category:Greek antiquities in the British Museum", parent of "Category:Ancient Greek pottery in the British Museum", plus a terracottas cat etc. NB also the by room categories, which imo should be used as well as, not instead of, a by type category. Most files don't use these, but they have a use I suppose. Ideally note the room no in the file description anyway, though these are all gilding the lily. It's easiest to keep multiple windows on wikipedia open, one or more to edit, others to research that sort of stuff & copy the category names from. Johnbod (talk) 13:32, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Crumbs. That all sounds rather mind-bending. But thanks! AgTigress (talk) 14:39, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

It sounds worse than it is - you just poke around the categories to see what's there. Johnbod (talk) 14:47, 25 August 2010 (UTC)


I have noticed that one of my references (ref. no.19) has been altered to put the name of the paper in italics, and the name of the journal (Antiquaries Journal) in ordinary type. The style I always follow for a paper in a journal is that the title goes in quotes, and the journal name in italics. Does Wikipedia have different rules? AgTigress (talk) 20:35, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Sorry, I usually put both in italics, but there is no standard WP approach AFAIK, but they should be consistent within the article. Actually you originally put: "...the decoration. (ref. C.Johns, ‘Gaulish potters’ stamps’, Antoqiaries Journal 43 (1963), pp.288-28)." [3] & I was too thrown by the typo (perhaps there should be antoqiaries...) to italicise! Johnbod (talk) 21:37, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Oops! Don't blame you!  :-) AgTigress (talk) 21:43, 23 August 2010 (UTC)

Incidentally, there are still some footnote references stuck in the more recently-written pieces of text. I thought I had learned how to do the reference tags, but then it got complicated when I was adding things that were not yet in the list of references, so I gave up. Just explaining why I haven't done them properly. AgTigress (talk) 14:57, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

I'll tidy them later. It doesn't affect the way you add each footnote whether the book is in references or not - but obviously they aren't useful to most readers if the book is not there. Adding the book to "References" is a conventional edit you can do before, after, or at the same time as adding the footnote (at least using the relatively simple method used here). Johnbod (talk) 17:55, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Well, that's what I thought, but I tried to add to the 'References' list a couple of days ago and it didn't work properly, so I lost heart. I am easily discouraged by computer things. AgTigress (talk) 21:56, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Done them all I think. Do more need to be at the bottom, rather than just in the notes? We don't normally have comments on books in the references section, so I've just taken the ones with pp numbers quoted to the bottom. On adding them youirself, try doing in 2 edits. It's nearly always the < stuff that causes trouble. Nb in WP refs always come after a punctuation mark. Johnbod (talk) 13:32, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Thank you for tidying up the references again. I am an instinctive footnote-writer (which is why I detest Harvard-style in-text references), so I am inclined to waffle and comment on books —though I think this can be helpful for readers. I'll try to get a grip of the referencing challenge, and remember about the positioning of punctuation. I was being sloppy because I knew you would come along and sort it out for me. :D AgTigress (talk) 22:24, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Further improvements?[edit]

Johnbod, and anyone else reading this, what improvements strike you as desirable at this point? I am keenly aware of the several hundred (at least) types of Roman pottery, especially from the Eastern Empire, that I have blithely ignored because I don't know enough about them, and I could easily expand the sigillata section to about 5 times its present length even from what I do know, but I suspect that this would unbalance the article at the moment. I probably ought to add that to the Terra sigillata article instead.

There are some more pics I must take/get, notably a Gaulish pipeclay figurine to put under 'terracottas', and a Romano-Egyptian one would be nice, too. I can do that. On the 'illustrations' side, I wonder about including something like a typical page of Roman pot-drawings: I have my own slides of Dragendorff's typology, as published in 1895, and could scan one. Would that be safe in terms of copyright? Or is it a bad idea?

Other thoughts that occur to me for the future are a section on technology, which I don't feel quite up to doing at the moment, what with all that stuff about kiln-types and experimental firings, and one on the way archaeologists study pottery and why, a sort of 'significance of Roman pottery' section, though those issues are alluded to throughout the article.

Anyway, pointers on things that need work would be great. I'm not the best person to do this article, really. I'm having to dredge a lot out of my memory from 30 years ago, when I did know a bit about pots.  :) AgTigress (talk) 22:11, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

I can't think of any particular lacunae beyond what you mention, but then the article as it was before pretty much reflected all I knew on the subject, most of it found out writing it, so I'm not the best judge! It is now at least three times as long as before, and I think a good length & balance for a main article on the subject. The Dragendorff pic might or might not be ok. He died in 1941, so is still in EU copyright. Not sure how the law works for book illustrations. There are some drawings of his types on Commons already, in here.

Thanks enormously for this, & I hope it's shown you that you can certainly start an article yourself; I'm very willing to be ready with help when needed. Have you seen Fibula (brooch), btw? That seems to be about the extent of our coverage of AR jewellery. Johnbod (talk) 15:06, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

The 'fibula' article is very good, giving the long history of the form, both pre- and post-Roman. One would have to give brooches slightly shorter shrift in an article dealing with hairpins, finger-rings, bracelets, necklaces etc. as well.  :) I'll avoid the Dragendorff types in this pottery article, but I think when I get back to terra sigillata in its own article, we must have at least one image showing type drawings. I have some more pictures to upload and add now. Again, thank you for helping me so much. I'm sure I shall continue to need assistance in the future! AgTigress (talk) 15:33, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I didn't think much of the last sections - really it might have been better cut off earlier, though I've just added a bit. I'm working on this on flash Insular brooches, but it's early days. Johnbod (talk) 16:24, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Well, I tend to skim over the post-Roman things a bit! Don't forget that the pennanular brooch, in a rather small and simple form, was already current in the Roman period. If you have access to (ahem) C.Johns, The Jewellery of Roman Britain, London 1996 , pp. 150-151, there's a summary. I think that it is a development of the separate pin-and-ring fastening technique, which goes back into the mists of antiquity. Well, the Bronze Age, anyway. It's easy enough to fasten a penannular, but I have always been a bit mystified by those completely annular Medieval brooches. :) AgTigress (talk) 16:42, 26 August 2010 (UTC) Oops,just noticed that you do have the Roman background in! Should have read more carefully. It looks like a really nice potential article. I shall never forgive myself for failing to photograph a woman wearing a magnificent pair of silver penannulars, joined with a chain, in Tunisia in 1987. One doesn't want to give offence, and I couldn't very well chase after her... AgTigress (talk) 16:42, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I'm looking out for a decent photo, even on a link, and better info, for modern Mahgreb use. I've seen some where they look very impressive. It seems to be Berber mountain villages in recent times - does that seem right? I'm glad to see you endorse "It is fair to say that scholars remain slightly puzzled that the effective and simple penannular brooch developed in this direction"! I'll ask you to give it a look over when I've got further on. Johnbod (talk) 17:03, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Definitely Berber ladies, yes. The one I saw, admired and failed to photograph was dressed in lovely, colourful clothing, not at all the black bundle that some ladies are in Islamic countries (though the black bundles were mostly less in evidence in 1987 than they are now, and anyway, North Africa has its own traditions). I would say that she was probably dressed in a traditional Berber style. I forget what city it was in, but it may have been Kairouan. But as I didn't get a pic, this speculation is pointless... AgTigress (talk) 22:30, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Johnbod, here is a possible link for you: Tunisian Berber women wearing the basic, simple penannulars I saw in 1987. There are other pics on the same site with the more elaborate ones that have decorated triangular plates. Sorry, I know this is off-topic here. Should I have posted on your user 'talk' page? AgTigress (talk) 19:39, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Ooh, thanks! I'll link to that. I've seen modern "designer" triangular ones. There was a wonderful photo c 1907 I saw somewhere. Johnbod (talk) 19:45, 27 August 2010 (UTC)


I see that the article is currently rated 'B' class. I know that there could be more detail about various wares and fabrics, but is there anything else that I could do to improve that standard at the moment? I know it isn't quite like getting a beta for an essay, but I'd still like to do better.  :) AgTigress (talk) 16:05, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Some projects have an "A" class, but neither of the ones here, & it is not much used. After B the next step is WP:Good article, which is like a mini-Featured article, with to my mind most of the hassle but much less prestige. The trouble is it depends on a single assessor, who will probably know little of the subject. It might fly through, or attract endless formatting points. See the ongoing one at Talk:Sutton Hoo, which I nominated as part of the BM effort, in the belief that it was already fairly comfortably of GA standard. It was not written by me, but by the author of the NT guide to the site. You will see the assessor does not yet share my view! One could just put this up & see. It's best to wait a while, as GAs are supposed to be "stable". It might be easier to get FA, like Hoxne hoard, but that will certainly mean lots & lots of spit & polish on WP:Manual of style points. Johnbod (talk) 17:45, 28 August 2010 (UTC)
If you want to take it to GA, I'd be happy to do the review; I'd also be glad to help with an FA run if you want to try that. Mike Christie (talk) 18:21, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Sounds as if it would be wise to wait. I know that there are some lacunae on the purely academic side, because I am no longer a pot person, and never was an eastern-Empire person. I'll have a look at what is happening with the Sutton Hoo one, and keep my head down for now!  :) AgTigress (talk) 19:14, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Good heavens. The WP Manual of Style is more intimidating than some publishers' house-style rules! And the Sutton Hoo article looks excellent to me. I don't really understand the reservations about it at all. AgTigress (talk) 19:46, 28 August 2010 (UTC)


I've added one for the figurines. These can go up to 2 rows of 5 without disrupting the test, or that's my view anyway. Others could be done for other sections. Let me know what you think. Johnbod (talk) 18:28, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I hadn't realised one could do that. Yes, it works fine. Maybe I could add some samian pics that way, too. AgTigress (talk) 19:01, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

I added another pipeclay figurine to the gallery, but put the Gaulish mother-goddess back in the text.  :) I don't seem to know that Hercules figure — are we sure it's a terracotta and not a small marble? I must check it, as it's apparently in the BM. AgTigress (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 19:15, 26 August 2010 (UTC).

Hmmm. Don't know. It was categorized as ceramic, but I can see it might not be. Merlin searches are no help either way, but I find them very eccentric in their results. If you think it looks stone, take it out; I'm sure there are others we can use. Johnbod (talk) 10:28, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

I'll check next time I'm in, next week. My husband, who worked in the GR dept. for more than 40 years, couldn't remember for sure either!  :) AgTigress (talk) 11:17, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Got him! Reg. no. 1881.7-1.1 (I searched on the number 1726, visible in the pic, which is obviously a Sculpture Catalogue number.) He is made of limestone. And look at the provenance! Greek statue, 2nd/3rd AD, found at Nineveh! Weird. I'll remove the pic.  :) AgTigress (talk) 11:39, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Well done - that only leaves the mystery of why a database search on "Herakles limestone", which I think I'd tried, picks up something else but not him! I'll add the link to the photo & recategorize on Commons. Johnbod (talk) 12:55, 27 August 2010 (UTC)
You'll see I've added a few more pics to round out the galleries, but do substitute anything else. We can also create more mini-galleries, & the final one could go to 3 or four rows at least. Johnbod (talk) 13:36, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

I like the Dr.38 bowl and profile drawing: at least that gets in an illustration of a pot-drawing. I have some more of my own to upload, too. I am only putting 'Ancient Roman Pottery' in the categories so far, but probably most of them should have additional ones. AgTigress (talk) 14:23, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

No stopping me with mini-galleries now... I ought to turn my attention to the Terra sigillata article, I suppose, where some of the pics could go into the text and would therefore be easier to see. :) AgTigress (talk) 15:29, 27 August 2010 (UTC)

Disappearing picture[edit]

I uploaded a picture of a small Oxfordshire-ware painted beaker to Wikimedia Commons a couple of days ago, and put it into the 'other fine wares' section of the article. Then later I moved it into the mini-gallery of that section. It has now vanished, and while that could simply be someone editing it out for reasons of their own, I can no longer find it on Wikimedia either, nor, even odder, can I find the 'favourites' link to it on my own computer! Any theories? I haven't had any e-mails about it. The only category I had put it into was 'ancient Roman pottery'. AgTigress (talk) 11:46, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Okay, I found the file again, because the link for it is still there on the page when one goes into edit:

A late-Roman painted beaker made in Britain.

But it doesn't show up on the page in the article, though it shows here. What's wrong? AgTigress (talk) 11:57, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

This is the full URL: AgTigress (talk) 12:00, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

I've fixed it. The problem was that the syntax is slightly different for a gallery than a regular picture. For a regular picture in the article, you use square brackets, and give the pixel size. For a gallery, you don't need to do that; when you included the square brackets it confused the gallery so that it didn't show the picture. You should be able to see it now. Mike Christie (talk) 12:37, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Thank you so much. How stupid of me not to spot that! AgTigress (talk) 15:00, 28 August 2010 (UTC)

Small change in para.2[edit]

I have made a little change in the second para. of the lead section to remove the suggestion that 'poorer' people owned only coarse wares for both cooking and serving, while the 'better-off' had fine pottery for use at table, because I think it is questionable. Gaulish samian ware, for example, was present in such vast quantities on provincial Roman sites in the 1st and 2nd centuries that much of it was undoubtedly owned by people who were not particularly well-off. Whilst the very poor might well have eaten off wooden platters, the majority of people would have had pottery that included coarse cooking wares and fine tablewares, and I suspect that the fairly poor just had less of the latter, and used it only on special occasions rather than every day. The truly expensive, luxury Roman tablewares were made of metal — bronze, silver, and for the super-rich, gold — and sometimes of minerals like quartz or fluorspar, not pottery of any kind. AgTigress (talk) 11:50, 9 September 2010 (UTC)

External links[edit]

I have just had a look at the link to Ceramics in the Roman World cited at the end of the list, and while I agree that it is 'readable' and attractively set out, perhaps one should express a note of caution (which I have done), since there are several errors in it which could mislead the uninitiated. For example, plain samian forms such as Dr.27 were not mould-made ('press-moulded', as the author has it) in the way that the relief-decorated forms were: they were wheel-thrown and the profiles were finished using templates. I am also very unhappy about the use of the term 'Romano-Celtic' in relation to ceramics. The oft-repeated theory that the curvilinear designs of barbotine decoration arose from a 'Celtic' predilection for curves rather than angles is at best dubious: try doing freehand piped decoration with royal icing, and you'll understand. The technique itself favours curves rather than straight lines and angles. In that both sigillata and coarse wares with painted and barbotine ornamentation were Roman ceramics made by provincial craftsmen, they undoubtedly express a synthesis of native and Classical traditions, but the terms normally used by archaeologists are 'Romano-British' and 'Gallo-Roman', according to province. The little aside about silver tableware contains several errors, too, notably the assumption (picked up later on) that all relief decoration on Roman silver was done by the repoussé technique: he even thinks the Mildenhall Great Dish is repoussé. In fact, that kind of work is a type of chasing, worked from the front of the silver. The author has used the BM displays a lot, but hasn't read all the labels very carefully. He has a muddle about faience, which is understandable, since the terminology is a nightmare. 'Egyptian faience' is an accepted and traditional archaeological/Egyptological term for glazed composition / frit, which is nothing to do with the post-medieval ceramic meanings of the word. He also has some trouble distinguishing between findspot and place of manufacture: for example, the black Lezoux-ware handled cup from Bath is described as 'British', but it was made in Gaul, and is very clearly labelled as such in the showcase.

Anyway, I have entered a caveat, but I do wonder whether it would be better to remove the link altogether. AgTigress (talk) 10:21, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Agreed, whatever you think best. The article is much fuller now than when it was added. Johnbod (talk) 12:47, 23 September 2010 (UTC)

Archaeological point of view[edit]

This article is obviously strong on technical detail, but I don't feel that I come away with an understanding of Ancient Roman pottery in its cultural context. It's written as if it deals with a culture we know only from archaeology. That is, it seems strangely detached from cultural concerns, as if we're studying the artifacts of an otherwise unknown people. Perhaps this is why the intro seems long, yet not really focussed. I admire all the work that went into the article, and it tells me a lot about pottery qua pottery. But it reads like a softcore article for an archaeology journal, when usually a general treatment of the subject of Roman pottery will also incorporate some observations from the literature of the people who produced it: I'm thinking of Pliny, or the poets who give clues about certain types as status items. Or for instance Vitruvius in the section on "Brick, tile and other architectural ceramics", which also doesn't make any connections to specific buildings known to have employed any of these features. Just a suggestion for broadening the usefulness and appeal for readers. Cynwolfe (talk) 02:22, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

I have removed your tags - I didn't even know we had a "lead too long" one, but the lead here is entirely in accordance with WP:LEAD. You may feel there are too many images, but it is a visual subject. As the article says, nearly everyone except the very wealthy and possibly the very poor used pottery all the time, and AFAIK there were no really high status types, though there are clearly some very fine individual pieces. Equally almost all buildings used ceramics in some form, so I'm not sure what help quoting individual examples is. The main author of the MK2 version doesn't seem active recently. If you feel you want to add, go ahead. Johnbod (talk) 04:43, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
I read on a laptop, so I have a probably averaged-sized viewing screen: I'm getting some bad text layout where there's overcrowding from images, so I can only guess what someone reading on a smaller or handheld device would see. The pdf version is fine. I usually tackle this kind of problem myself, because usually it's evident that the logjam occurred because editors just threw in images willy-nilly. Here, the article is well-developed and I'm assuming the images were chosen thoughtfully to represent the content. It seemed best to make active editors aware of the potential problem.
As for the lede, the first graf contains details that don't really orient the reader to the overall topic and don't contribute to placing "the subject … in a context with which many readers could be expected to be familiar" (WP:MOSBEGIN), hence also my comments about the article seeming strangely divorced from ancient Roman culture. What you say here about how pottery was used in everyday life and how it could function as a status marker (buried deeper in the article), seems much more like a first paragraph than the specifics on a waste mound of amphorae that had transported Spanish olive oil. The intro does strike me as bogged down a bit in detail and assuming a reader who's familiar with an archaeological approach. But the reader who comes here is unlikely to be an advanced student specializing in the history of ceramics (who will use the actual scholarship on the topic), and more likely to be a 17-year-old researching a school project. This comment applies only to orienting the reader in the introductory section, and not to the body. My other suggestion is simply that an article on any aspect of ancient Rome that doesn't name a single Roman, including those such as Vitruvius and Pliny who have things to say on the subject, is bound to seem detached from its cultural context. Hence my feeling that it reads as if ancient Rome is one of those cultures we know only from archaeology. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:02, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
I wrote the much shorter Mk1 version with very little previous knowledge indeed; the Mk2 was written by a professional. I did a fair amount of reading for my version & don't recall literary references coming up much. The fact is for every stray & ambiguous literary mention there is - sometimes literally, as at Monte Testaccio - a mountain of archaeological evidence, and that is naturally what the subject tends to concentrate on. The "cultural context" was so universal I'm not really sure what more can be done without listing endless types of kitchenware, tableware & other uses. But you're welcome to have a go yourself. Johnbod (talk) 14:54, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I know, everyone can edit, I appreciate your receptivity. But as I said, this is obviously compiled by knowledgable editors whose work I didn't want to tamper with thoughtlessly, and instead made a suggestion based on the impression of someone coming to it cold. I think my remarks on the first graf are not amiss. And the issue with the images is again not something I want to address without intimate knowledge of why the selections were made and how their placement relates to the text. I'm not shy about barging in, but I know the difference between an article that is sound and thoroughly researched, as this one is, and one that can be incrementally improved by even a hasty going-over by a more informed editor, which is not the case here. So if our pottery editors are unconcerned about the graphics question, or whether the first graf actually represents a "context with which many readers could be expected to be familiar," then who am I to insist? Cynwolfe (talk) 15:47, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
I'll have a look, but I'm also reluctant to tamper with the work of someone with infinitely more expertise than myself. I know several of the photos were taken specially for the article by AgTigress. Johnbod (talk) 15:56, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
This might be as simple as sizing or l/r placement, without deleting any. Since there's such variety in how a page might be displayed on a screen, I sometimes hesitate with graphics fixes for fear of making it worse, and there may be "align" or "anchor" functions unknown to me. Cynwolfe (talk) 16:59, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Hello, Johnbod and Cynwolfe. I have, as Johnbod says, been out of touch for some time. Real life has not been very kind to me recently. Cynwolfe, I hear what you say about the lack of literary/documentary sources or references, but I honestly don't believe they add significantly to the understanding of the subject as material culture. But please feel free to add and tinker. I would be the last person to claim that this is a perfect article: I simply tried to convey the scope of the subject, and illustrated examples of the important classes and types. I do think we need all the pictures. It is a waste of time discussing pottery without adequate visual references.  :-) AgTigress (talk) 10:57, 1 August 2011 (UTC)

Reference format[edit]

Johnbod, I'm sure that there are arguments in favour of the old referencing system, but you have not made those arguments. You cannot make edits that claim support for a position, when there is no such support. You referred to this talk page, but there were no edits made here in the relevant time frame and none on that subject. That is simply dishonest. I have dealt with all your concerns on my talk page, meaning that the only reason for undoing my edit would be personal taste, which is not a good enough reason to overturn the numerous constructive changes that my edit introduced. The image formatting was atrocious until I changed it to a standard form. The references were incomplete, until I furnished all additional details. I fixed bad spelling, punctuation, and so on. There can be no doubt that my edit was constructive, and simply reverting it is therefore detrimental to the encyclopaedia. Do not let your personal preferences damage the project. --Stemonitis (talk) 09:03, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

I looked through the changes and I agree with some of them. For example, I think it's a good idea to split out substantive notes from footnotes that merely give citations. I also think the expansion of the bibliography is an improvement. However, adding the use of the citation templates is something that is sufficiently likely to be contentious that consensus should be reached first -- see WP:CT. I am not particularly an opponent of the templates myself but I do think that that part of the change should be reversed, and in general I don't think this is something that should be changed in an article unless there is clear support, which there doesn't appear to be. I'd suggest reversing your last edit and redoing the other parts of it that are not controversial, and then we can discuss the rest. I haven't looked at every aspect of the change -- it seems quite a bit was changed in a single edit -- so I can't easily say what is not controversial, but perhaps Johnbod can. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 10:29, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't like splitting out notes & citations in most circumstances either. This appears to be standard in scientific subjects, on & off WP (papers anyway), but in the humanities academics still, even in papers, typically prefer to combine the two. There is a regrettable trend by editors who don't apparently realize this to impose hard science norms on the humanities. As I've told Stemonitis, he is welcome to remake the few constructive elements in his edits (which I'm not sure include the image formatting) within the established citation format. Obviously it would have been an unreasonable effort to unpick the reversion to keep these. With the variety of screens readers use these days there is often no longer any single "right answer" for image formatting & placement, something our little-changed pages on the issues don't really reflect. The much longer discussion on his talk page is here. Throughout he fails to show the slightest recognition of WP:CITE policy on changing citation styles without prior discussion. Johnbod (talk) 12:27, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Not at all. I merely think that the copious improvements I made should not be thrown away in order to restore a citation style which is no better. WP:IAR covers this well (and is indeed a policy, whereas WP:CITE is a mere guideline). You, Johnbod, are edit warring, and making the article demonstrably worse. Why are you removing citation details? Why are you de-standardising the image formatting? Why are you introducing spelling mistakes and bad grammar? Why are you causing obvious harm? These are the effects of your hasty reversion; if I saw someone doing that to any other article, I would block them for vandalism. Is a different citation method worth that cost? Does your preference overrule easy verifiability? Given that my edit stood for weeks without further complaint, I don't think either state can be considered the natural one to revert to, so the argument that you're undoing a controversial edit cannot now be applied. The (perfectly standard) use of citation templates could easily be removed without undoing the rest of the edit, but you show no interest in doing that, or even in allowing it. You have been nothing but belligerent and obstructive from the start, and your strategy of waiting to undo my work until you thought I wasn't looking is despicable. --Stemonitis (talk) 13:09, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I put you on notice that I was considering reverting your changes, and was extremely busy at the time. Some of us go on holiday. Anyone who follows the edits and discussion and edits will see what to make of your attitude. You have had no support either, whereas I now do, and it came within hours of my first edit to the article on this issue, and your first edit to this talk page. The argument that just because something has stood unchallenged on WP for a few weeks it must be right or reflect consensus is patently absurd. With hindsight I should have initially raised the matter on this talk page rather than your one; most watchers (if not on holiday themselves) might well have concluded there were no objections to your changes. If you are collecting policies, you might look at the editing policy. I note that you manage to both call my reversion "hasty", and complain that it took me several weeks to do it! Evidently WP:NPA is another rule you have decided to ignore. Curious as to how you ever became an admin, I looked at your RFA, where I see you said, on conflicts, "Basically, discussion and calmness seem to be the best approaches", and, on diacritics "It seems unlikely that a good consensus will ever be reached on the issue, so all sides, myself included, have adopted a live-and-let-live policy, whereby neither the pro-diacritics users nor the anti-diacritics editors move articles created by the other side to a title that the creators would disaprove of." You should take your own advice. Johnbod (talk) 13:20, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
None of that seemed to touch on the content of the edit, which is the crux of this issue. My important questions, as to why you have deliberately damaged this article, remain unanswered. --Stemonitis (talk) 14:08, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
A look at the edit history shows that Johnbod and AnTigress are overwhelmingly the major contributors to this article, which is well-developed and of high scholarly quality. I strongly support whatever acceptable citation style these two editors prefer. It's outrageous to assert that Johnbod's "damaged" the article.Cynwolfe (talk) 14:12, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I agree, regarding citation style. The other points I think we can debate separately, but it seems clear to me that the citation style should not change without consensus, which is clearly not there. I don't want to denigrate Stemonitis's work, some of which seems very helpful to me; I think a good next step would be a short bullet list of the other changes introduced so that any obviously beneficial changes could be agreed upon and reimplemented. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 14:19, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
[EC] I do that not on the basis of the citation format change, but because of the hundred other improvements that were thrown away at the same time. I consider the citation formats (but not the contents) to be interchangeable – of equal value. The rest – and there's quite a lot of it – has been simply discarded despite being obviously good. (Who can argue with the addition of ISBNs, publishers, and other citation details? Who can argue with fixing dashes in numerical ranges?) Examine my edit in detail, and you will find it is far a more complex set of changes than some caricatures may lead you to believe. Johnbod has undone many unambiguous improvements. Or, seen from a different angle, he has actively made many detrimental changes; it comes to the same. --Stemonitis (talk) 14:20, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Well, let's just say that I myself am unlikely to send Johnbod any kittens or brownies, but the information Stemonitis added to the citations themselves can be added regardless of the preferred format. I like this simpler format myself, because my footnotes are often discursive and I prefer to group concurring scholarship within a single footnote rather than stacking five footnote numbers in a row. As I reader I find it quite non-functional to click on a numerical footnote link, find abcde when I get there, and have no clue which one to click in order to return to my place in the text. I've encountered graphics and alignment problems with this article, though, so I agree that Stemonitis might not want to tackle separate issues in the same editing session. Would it be acceptable to take one task at a time? Cynwolfe (talk) 14:38, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
That would be sensible. I've already said I have no objection to the various minor punctuation fixes and adding of citation information within the current style. If he finds it easy to do this, then he's welcome to do so. To summarize what I've already said (and others above), I don't like splitting notes and references, especially here, and I think the image changes need further discussion - I don't say either version looks ideal, as there are necessarily lots of pictures. Any version may look much better or worse on a different screen or device, and at a different preference setting, but the "multiple" method he went to is increasingly rare, for good reasons, as I explained on his talk page, and cannot be described as "standard". Typos, dashes etc I have no problem with. Johnbod (talk) 14:54, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Your claim about image formatting is simply untrue. You provided no evidence in favour of that supposition on my talk page, nor have you done so now. Using upright= (which seems to be what you are talking about) is increasingly common, and deals better with different browsers and user settings than your favoured fixed image widths. The use of upright= is useful, and is to be recommended. The previous manually-set image widths were a disaster on all screen widths; after my edit the images were greatly improved. --Stemonitis (talk) 15:07, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
As I think I've already told you, "multiples" are now rare at FAC, & some noms have switched away from them during FAC after their problems were explained. You have no evidence they are "increasingly common", and I don't believe it. I am open to discussing other ways of changing the image placement, though you will find lots of things were tried when the article was being written. Johnbod (talk) 15:15, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Really? And this is the best you could do? That rather makes my point for me. My survey of FAC (documented in my talk archives) found no such thing, and you have still presented no evidence. Since there can be no useful outcome to discussion in such circumstances, I will not be watching this page any longer. Everyone knows where to find me if they want my opinion. I will concentrate my work on areas where I know it will not be obliterated on a reactionary whim. --Stemonitis (talk) 15:28, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
[Aside: Cynwolfe, you will find that the back button on your browser (or the backspace key) will get you back to where you were in the text, without having to click on anything.]
[EC] If, as it appears, the only problem is the citation format (separating notes from real references is not universally despised, and no-one is arguing for incomplete bibliographical data or bad formatting), then the simple, logical way forward is to allow my edit to stand, so that all the information, and all the improvements, are available, and then reformat the citations. That's pretty straightforward. The old formatting of the references will still be available in the history, should they be required (although you will have to remember that they are often woefully incomplete). I personally see no advantage to the outcome of that, but apparently there is a strong feeling here in favour of manually formatted citations. Doing it the other way (trying to work stepwise from Johnbod's version towards mine) is very likely to be error-prone and needlessly time-consuming. --Stemonitis (talk) 14:56, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
But that isn't the only problem! You said above picking the edit apart was easy. Johnbod (talk) 14:59, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I'll commit to the work involved, so there should be no concern about that. I vote to work forward from the reverted version and take the changes one by one; there's no question that much of what Stemonitis has done is very valuable and should be preserved. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:01, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
[EC] Then what else? I said restoring the reference format without undoing the rest was easy, and I have just about given a step-by-step guide to it above. I haven't seen any coherent argument against any other aspect of my edit, so that seemed to be the only point worth addressing. --Stemonitis (talk) 15:07, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, Mike, for the commitment. Could you clarify if by "the reverted version", you mean "my" version, or "Johnbod's" version (so named for ease of reference, not claiming ownership or anything). I wouldn't want to have to go through all the work again. --Stemonitis (talk) 15:07, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
That's very good of you! Johnbod (talk) 15:08, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Personally I'd prefer to start with Johnbod's version and work forward step by step, starting with the most obviously beneficial improvements. That way I can start a discussion on each separate change that seems like it might be controversial. I think there are only two or three controversial changes, but we can see as we go. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 15:10, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
I like Mike Christie's idea of listing by bullet points the areas of editing that are to be tackled, and taking them one at a time. I would do this from Johnbod's version. Stemonitis's work is still there to be retrieved and re-added in phases. In particular, I would separate: citations; general copyediting to the text, such as punctuation; layout. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:13, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Well, I think I've made it clear that I think that's the wrong method, so you'll forgive me if I don't join in. Still, I've shown you lots of ways of improving the article. I hope it will eventually be much improved from my input. When I found it, it was in a state (I don't normally edit outside my usual fields unless I find egregious problems), so it can only be improved from the increased attention. My opinions should be clear from the edits I have made, but if you need clarification at any point in the future – perhaps why I made a change, or clarification of a point I've made in discussions, or just advice – feel free to contact me on my talk page. --Stemonitis (talk) 15:20, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
[EC] Yes, I'd work forward, and do the text issues before the images. We have above here 2 for & 2 against splitting notes & citations, so should leave that for now. Otherwise the citation style should remain, the citations content be improved within that style, & I (yet again) don't think the "multiplier" image sizing is suitable. Other general tidying stuff, as mentioned above, should be ok, & I can't remember how I felt about his prose changes, but am happy to rely on Mike's judgement there. Stem obviously fogets that one strong reason he was given for retaining the citation style was that changing it was very likely to prevent the two main editors from doing further work on the article. Johnbod (talk) 15:22, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
Respecting content is surely the first priority, Stemonitis. Your efforts are not being disregarded, but the content of this article is of exceptionally high quality (despite my continuing reservation about treating the ancient Romans as if we know as little about them as the Thracians). The mechanics of an article should support the content, and not be imposed for the sake of it. I agree with Johnbod that as long as the mechanics of an article are not among those actively disparaged by the guidelines, mechanics should be responsive to the needs of active contributors. I'm sorry if this discourages you from improving the article: I don't see why it should. (As a side note, there are bound to be layout problems with such a high proportiom of images to text. This is why I wondered whether all the images are indeed essential; however, the main contributors insist that they are.) Cynwolfe (talk) 15:59, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

Breaking down Stemonitis's edits[edit]

This is going to be a fairly slow process, I'm afraid, just because I probably can't devote a huge amount of time to it. The first step is to enumerate the kinds of changes Stemonitis made. I'll start a list here, using this diff as the reference point. Please add/correct/expand as necessary. Because of the limitations of the diff I can't be sure I've caught everything.

  1. Switch images away from specified pixel sizes
  2. Add {{lang}} template to some words such as terra sigillata
    Done. I noticed a good deal of repeated wikilinks; we need to do a pass to look for dup links after this set of tasks is completed. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:53, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
  3. Split substantive comments from simple citations and group separately as notes vs. references.
  4. In-text descriptions of works cited inside the footnotes have been converted to references such as "Potter & Johns (2002)", instead of including the title
  5. Conversion of citations from plain text to templates -- everything in the bibliography is in template format
  6. Minor citation formatting such as placing parentheses around dates
  7. Some punctuation tweaking
    Done. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:34, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
  8. Regularize measurements and add non-breaking spaces
    Done. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:34, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
  9. Additional wikilinks
    Done. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:34, 13 October 2011 (UTC)
  10. I see one ENGVAR correction, to BrEng, which I take to be the right version
    Done. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 22:54, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
  11. References has been retitled "Bibliography"
  12. References (e.g. "Bibliography") now contains every work referenced
    Done. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:42, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
  13. All three footnote related sections have been given em-based column settings
  14. Add additional information to citations -- ISBNs, locations, etc.
    Done. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:40, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

I think that's fairly complete. Please add anything else you can see. For myself, I would suggest that 1, 3, and 5 are possibly controversial, and that discussion of them should be deferred till the other tasks are completed. Some others may not be to everyone's test (e.g. 4 or 11) so please comment, otherwise I'll start making these changes in a couple of days. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:56, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Sounds about right. There are I think 2 links & I'd be curious to know what the "engvar" changes are, as all major editors are Brits. If you only have to add a language template to the first use, that element will be greatly reduced - "terra sigillata" has about 8. Cutting & pasting from the newer onto the old version, it may not be that massive a job. I can live with 4 & 11, don't know about AgTigress. Johnbod (talk) 01:15, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
I just realized I missed one of the most helpful things Stemonitis did; added above as number 14, which I think is also uncontroversial. The ENGVAR fix I noticed was "commerciali(z/s)ed". Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:59, 11 October 2011 (UTC)
"commerciali(z/s)ed" isn't US/UK engvar - see Oxford spelling - but I suppose we should be consistent. "s" is most common. No objection to 14, though none of these works are likely to be hard to find in online catalogues - getting hold of an actual text will typically be a very different matter for most readers! Johnbod (talk) 12:57, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

I've just cut and pasted the output form of Stemonitis's version of the bibliography into the corresponding section of the article, and deleted all but one of the books listed -- the exception is Henig, which Stemonitis didn't list because the references are to articles individually listed. I think it's useful to list the "container" work in this case. I've reformatted the Henig a little but otherwise have left the works unformatted in case there is feedback that this doesn't look right for some reason. If this approach is OK I'll go ahead and add back the author links and italics and anything else that is now missing; let me know and I'll pick this up again. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:05, 11 October 2011 (UTC)

Looks fine, thanks - I added some initials. Johnbod (talk) 00:10, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
OK, I put back in the links, italics, and bolding; please fix any errors you see. I left in only the first link for each publisher. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:40, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Notes vs. footnotes[edit]

Time to start looking at some of the items in the list above that there is some disagreement on. Johnbod, you mentioned above that splitting substantive notes from citations is a habit you've seen in scientific topics, but it doesn't happen in academic papers in the humanities and you'd prefer not to see it in this article. The reason I like to do it in the articles I work on is because as a reader I much prefer to read articles with the notes divided in that way. I rarely want to go to a footnote to see a source (though it does happen) but I almost always want to follow the note to find out what the additional comment is. I think it's a real benefit to the reader. Can you comment? I'd also like to hear from Cynwolfe and Stemonitis, and of course anyone else who passes by. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 00:40, 13 October 2011 (UTC)

No comments yet -- I'll just leave this section here, but if there's no more input I'm inclined to let things sit as they are. The article is I think improved by the bibliography Stemonitis assembled; if there is support for other changes listed above we can discuss it. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:02, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
As I say above, all 4 of us have already commented above, & we are 2 for & 2 against splitting. I think we can assume AgTigress is against. Stem did not "assemble" any bibliography, he merely added missing ISBNs, cities of publication etc to AgTigress's careful and well-informed selection. This is "useful" but not dramatically so, especially as the books are only going to be acessible in a small minority of mostly university libraries; I should think the print runs of many were only in the hundreds. Thanks again for your work on this! Johnbod (talk) 16:06, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I got distracted. I too thank your for your work. I don't find ISBNs useful in the slightest, but if others do, I'm not opposed to them. Although I prefer to have a single unified notes section, I'm not opposed to separating them in theory. However, in humanities articles, any given note might benefit from expansion, or being made discursive to address some quibble among scholars who otherwise agree. I'm extremely opposed to stringing seven footnotes after a single sentence, because it makes the text harder to read, and isn't the best way to represent the scholarly conversation. This is avoided by placing all refs that support a point in a single footnote, which probably has the potential for expansion. Therefore I prefer the simplest, most flexible form of footnoting (the manual entry of bibliographical material between <ref></ref>). I'm a very strong believer in supporting content providers, and so when the main or active contributors to an article have a permissible style preference for anything, I'm not keen on changing that to please someone who has no interest in contributing content to the article, and perhaps no interest in the content at all. Johnbod actively monitors this article, and is one of the two main contributors. So in the matter of notes, I support what he wants. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:45, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
OK -- I too prefer to work with what the main contributors of an article prefer. If at some future point some of the other changes Stemonitis made seem worth reimplementing I'd be happy to work on that; otherwise I'm done. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 21:53, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
Hope you didn't take my remark as a criticism, Mike. I really do appreciate that you took the trouble not only to work on it, but to discuss it. I also didn't mean to suggest that editors shouldn't edit unless they're interested in the content or contributing content. My point was narrowly that if content contributors have a strong preference for something like footnote format, I think that should matter. Thanks again. Cynwolfe (talk) 23:25, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
Second all that. I might as well repeat that I'm happy to discuss changes to the image layout, but this will always be difficult, & lots of approaches were tried while the article was being created. Johnbod (talk) 23:31, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
Thanks; no, I didn't think it was criticism. I've never been a contributor to this article and am happy to defer; I don't agree on the notes split but that's absolutely fine -- that's what talk pages are for: to reach consensus. I appreciate the thanks for my work. I think the result is an improvement and there's no current reason to do more. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:58, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Really? That's it? You don't think point 1 needs addressing? No valid arguments were presented against it, and the article is currently a mess as a result. The current "Notes" section is a mish-mash of badly formatted and largely repeated information. There are hyphens in place of dashes, unpaired parentheses, years in different positions, and countless inconsistencies in various other aspects of formatting. And what about "Now in process of revision ... by the late Brian Hartley"? This simply doesn't make sense. I think it is a shame that the perceived ownership of this article by some editors has blinded them to the possible improvements, and to the real condition it's currently in. Why is the eponymous category no longer listed first, as mandated by WP:CAT? Why are there full stops in image captions which are not full sentences? Why have you used a capital letter after a semicolon? Why have you used a HTML entities ("&ndash;") instead of Unicode? I had fixed all these things, and you have undone them all, to the article's detriment. Similarly, I would be interested to hear how it benefits the reader to remove links from a footnote to the reference it refers to, forcing them to scan through a list manually, when it could have been highlighted in a single click. I strongly feel that you have collectively missed an opportunity to significantly improve this article, and I cannot understand why you have not grasped it. It's a real shame. --Stemonitis (talk) 07:13, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

Some of the issues you mention should certainly be fixed; I was simply not thorough enough in identified the uncontroversial aspects of your edits. You said above you would not be participating in any partial reimplementation of your changes, but if you would be willing to at least identify what's left to be done, I'll make the edits. I'll go ahead now with what I can identify from your comments above. I can find image caption errors but may miss some of the other things you mention.
I use html entities when I insert dashes because I have no other way of identifying whether a dash is a hyphen, an em dash or an en dash, so I can't tell what has been changed and what hasn't if I don't use them. I've tried using WikEd, which identifies the dashes, but found it unsatisfactory. I've no objection if someone runs a dashes script over the article and cleans them up.
 Done --Stemonitis (talk) 15:59, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
As for ownership, I don't believe that is what is going on here. Wikipedia's guidelines and policies don't mandate the universal adoption of whatever stylistic approach has majority support among its editors; instead they specifically allow variation, depending on the preference of the editors active on the talk page of each article. That's why WP:CITE says "If an article already has citations, adopt the method in use or seek consensus on the talk page before changing it." If other editors decide to work on this article, they will have their own preferences and the consensus could change.
I didn't make arguments about splitting notes because I know Johnbod to be a very experienced editor and the comments he had already made convinced me that his position was the result of sufficient consideration that I was unlikely to be able to change it. I don't think a recital of the pros and cons of the two approaches would have been constructive for the article or educational for either of us. For the images, I don't have a strong opinion either way. If you want to make specific arguments for any of the unimplemented changes, I'm sure the other editors here will make constructive comments. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:02, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
I've now removed periods from image captions that are sentence fragments. Some of the other captions could easily be changed to a form that would not require periods but I don't think that's necessary. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:11, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
What I must take issue with is the assertion that "the article is currently a mess." It isn't. It is thoroughly researched, well-written, amply illustrated (and therein lies the layout problem), and highly informative for the reader. It certainly has GA potential. The tiny editing points, such as capitalization, removing periods at the end of captions, or the order of categories, can be uncontroversially fixed. That's mere copyediting, and no one is standing in the way of it. Fix the categories, note "order of categories" in the edit summary, save; fix the captions, note "removed periods at end of captions" in the edit summary, save; and so on. This can be done without insulting the quality and usefulness of the article. The only point of contention is the handling of notes, which Mike has stated quite reasonably on the basis of WP:CITE: if others wanted to work on the article content, or if it were going through a GA process (in which case the resulting version could be considered stable), then the notes can be revisited. The abundance of images poses layout difficulties, particularly when considering the range of devices on which WP might be viewed, but that makes it a good test case. Unlike many articles, this article has been illustrated with images chosen specifically for it. Surely this is an asset. I think we'll get farther in the environment of mutual respect that Mike Christie is trying to cultivate. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:22, 16 October 2011 (UTC)
I was referring solely to the layout, not to the content. I have no objections at all with the main text; indeed, I lack the qualifications to criticise it. The layout is a mess. The text seems fine. Apologies if that was unclear. --Stemonitis (talk) 15:47, 16 October 2011 (UTC)

References still a mess[edit]

Let me be upfront about why I looked at this article: it was because of personal criticism of User:Stemonitis in a different context, which surprised me because I have a lot of respect for him as an editor and as an admin.

As a newcomer to this article, I have to say that the Notes section is still a mess after those who undid Stemonitis' edits have supposedly been working on it.

  • Some of the entries are in Harvard style notation, e.g. "Webster 1996, pp.5-7", but the notation used is wildly inconsistent: some have a space after "p." or "pp.", some don't, some have no "p." or "pp.", others have no dates (e.g. "Boardman, 276-77, Price 191-192").
  • Some entries appear to be full citations, e.g. "C.Johns, Gaulish potters’ stamps, Antiquaries Journal 43 (1963), pp.288-28" but are then repeated in the References section in a different format – in this case: Johns, Catherine (1963). "Gaulish potters' stamps". Antiquaries Journal 43: 288–289. The worst example is probably "Bruno La anfore da trasporto in La ceramica e i materiali di età romana a cura di D. Gandolfi, Bordighera, 2005, 369."

I'd expect a final year undergraduate student to make a better job; I'd certainly write all over this had it been presented to me as a draft for for marking.

Furthermore, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia; there's no need for people to have to manually look up a 'short form' reference like "Webster 1996" to find the full bibliographic details: that's what clickable links are for.

The precise style chosen is, of course, a matter for consensus by editors. Having no coherent style is not. The simplest way to get a coherent style is to use the templates which exist for this purpose. If you don't know how to do it, then I'm sure that either I or Stemonitis will be pleased to explain. You don't have to use templates, but then the onus is on you to show that you have got the same result manually.

At present the formatting of the Notes and References is just a mess. Peter coxhead (talk) 17:11, 5 November 2011 (UTC)

Feel free to tidy up, within the format agreed for this page, which you will find discussed above. You will realize that much of the "mess" was caused by the clear-up of Stemonitis' imposition of a new scheme without any discussion. Johnbod (talk) 17:29, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
Johnbod, could you link to the version in which the references reflected the needs of the content creators? I'm somewhat confused by this, because when I look at what I thought to be the version before Stemonitis's good-faith efforts, it seems to be the same as it is now. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:51, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
Johnbod, I've read the comments above, but I'm not clear what exactly you mean by "the format agreed for this page". Do you just mean that Stemonitis separated "notes" from "references" and that it's consensus not to do this? Or do you mean that in addition it's consensus not to use citation templates? If the latter, then I'll leave it to others to tidy up, because in my view by far the best way to achieve consistency is to agree on the use of a particular set of citation templates. (The nearest to the style you are using in the References section is produced by the various "Cite" templates, such as {{Cite book}} or {{Cite journal}}.) Also without using templates, it's very tedious to create HTML links between the short form in the note and the full form in the references list.
By the way, while looking at the style in use, I noticed that Leveque & Morel (2001) in this reference doesn't seem to be expanded anywhere: Panella, C. (2001). "Le anfore di età imperiale del Mediterraneo occidentale". In P. Leveque & J.-P. Morel. Céramiques . Peter coxhead (talk) 21:14, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, no templates. Johnbod (talk) 21:16, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Peter, if I were a cynical person, I would be tempted to think that reducing your enthusiasm to the point where you "leave it to others" might be the intended effect. Johnbod's claims that one is "free to tidy up" ring a little hollow, given that I have offered to do just that in the past (i.e. make all changes except the use of citation templates), and had that offer rejected. It is clear to me and to you that the current referencing system is awful, and that the way I left it is considerably better, in objective terms (the incomplete reference you mention was complete when I left it, for instance). I am finding it hard to believe that Johnbod's primary desire is to improve the article, and I am not surprised that you have tired of offering assistance too. It really is unfortunate that Johnbod's recalcitrance concerning the use of templates is enough to blind him to the many ways in which an article he clearly cares about could be improved. --Stemonitis (talk) 21:41, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Stemonitis, I'm willing to carry on a little longer assuming good faith on Johnbod's part.
Johnbod, you need to give reasons as to why templates shouldn't be used. The arguments for them are clear: they ensure consistency; they allow HTML links to be introduced between short and full citations. Wikipedia works by consensus, sure, but consensus is not just a matter of counting heads, it also involves considering the quality of the arguments. Why should this article not use the cite templates? It's not enough to say "because those who mainly edited it don't like them" (if that is the reason). Peter coxhead (talk) 22:25, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
I was involved in the earlier edits and would like to make it clear that I am not criticizing Stemonitis's efforts; he made a good faith effort to improve the article and some of his changes have been retained. Personally I am neither a fan nor an opponent of the templates, but I do believe that changing a citation style from or to templates is something that should only be done when there is a consensus to do so. I agree that consistency is the right goal; and I understand that templates can help achieve that, but given the prior discussion is there any reason why we can't strive for consistency without templates? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:28, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
Well, there are two reasons for using templates when arranging references into a "Notes" section plus a separate "References" section. One is to achieve consistency in both, and you can certainly strive to do this. The citation templates don't guarantee consistency as is very clear when editing other articles! The second is to achieve links between the short form in the "Notes" section and the longer form in the "References" section. This can be done without templates, by inserting manual links, but it's tedious and error prone. If you want this to reach "good article" status, which it surely should do, then I would strongly recommend creating such links. As I said above, this is not a paper encyclopaedia. Peter coxhead (talk) 12:41, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
There are many invitations above and on his talk page to Stemonitis to make edits respecting the established citation style, which he has always declined to do. There are also lengthy discussions of the arguments for and against the styles. I suggest you (PC) read them. Actually it is "enough to say "because those who mainly edited it don't like them"" when other editors have expressed the view, as here, that their views should be supported (regardless of how those editors may feel about templates themselves). You & Stemonitis have your views, but there are many who dislike templates, for the reasons aired above and others. Johnbod (talk) 23:59, 6 November 2011 (UTC)
I think Peter's point, Johnbod, is that people are entitled to their opinions, and to use their preferred methods, provided it is not to the detriment of the encyclopaedic content. In this case, it has been pointed out that your insistence on avoiding templates has been clearly detrimental. It a question of balancing the two desires – one to use a particular style of referencing, and one to produce the best possible article. Would you now be happy for someone to do what I suggested before, namely to restore my edit but work backwards from it just in order to remove the citation templates? I have offered this before, but it was rejected. I consider it a somewhat nonsensical position (Peter is right that the benefits of consistency from using templates are significant), but it was offered as a fair compromise, and it might yet work. --Stemonitis (talk) 07:22, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Johnbod, there are lengthy discussions above about various aspects of styles, which I've read, but I see NO discussion which EXPLAINS why templates should not be used. Wikipedia:CITE#Citation_style rightly says that there are different styles as to the ordering of the components of a citation which should be respected, and I accept this without reservation. I personally also prefer not to separate notes and references along with other editors here – and reasons have been provided for not making this separation. There are different ways of using citation templates; my preferences differ somewhat from Stemonitis' (I would always prefer {{Citation}} combined with templates such as {{Harvtxt}}), and I'd expect Stemonitis or any other editor to respect my preferences in articles I created or very substantially edited. But Wikipedia:CITE#Citation_style is not a blanket authorization not to use templates. I can only repeat that you need to EXPLAIN why templates in particular are a bad idea in this article, not simply say that you don't like them. If you cannot explain, then any editor is entitled to change the references to use templates, while keeping the other aspects of style which have a consensus here.
Let me quote from WP:Consensus: "Consensus discussion has a particular form: editors try to persuade others, using reasons based in policy, sources, and common sense." Peter coxhead (talk) 12:29, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Peter, I think the relevant guideline is WP:CITEVAR, which says "Points of difference include ... whether citations are produced using citation templates .... On all of these points, Wikipedia does not have a single house style. Editors may choose any option they want; it need not match what is done in other articles. However, citations within a given article should follow a consistent style. It is therefore considered helpful ... when adding citations, to try to follow the system and style already in use in the article (if any) .... If there is disagreement about which style is best, defer to the style used by the first major contributor; if you think another system or style would be more appropriate for the article than what is already in use, ... propose the change on the talk page, and wait for consensus to emerge. Editors should not attempt to change an article's established citation style merely on the grounds of personal preference, or without first seeking consensus for the change."
The bolding is in the original. I think this is what Johnbod feels is the issue; the first major contributors (he and AgTigress) did not use templates and he at least would prefer not to change. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:35, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. For AgTigress's feelings see earlier section here, especially #13 "References". Coxhead's interpretation of WP:CITE is clearly wrong - even Stem never attempted to argue this position. And there is ample explanation of reasons above - these issues do not have to be exhaustively set out in every discussion on a single article. And there is no requirement for GAs to use templates - like everything else at GA this depends entirely on the whim of an individual reviewer. At FAC templates are often complained about, and are certainly not required, as PH would know if he had, or had reviewed, as many as you or I. Johnbod (talk) 13:53, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm not talking about whether Stemonitis should or should not have made the changes in the first place; we are, I thought, discussing the article as it is now. No-one is here proposing changing the article's established citation style and method "merely on the grounds of personal preference, or without first seeking consensus for the change." The discussion here is – or should be – an attempt to reach consensus. What I believe – clearly we're not going to agree – is that you cannot claim to have reached "consensus" merely by saying that existing editors don't like templates. In some articles templates would make no difference to the appearance and functionality of the page, so that mere liking would be a good enough reason. Here the issue is whether not disliking blue links outweighs the convenience to readers of being able to connect the Notes with the References. Wikipedia should be written for the convenience of readers not editors. Anyway, the Notes and References are certainly better now than they were before Stemonitis' first edits, so at least something has been achieved. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:34, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Mike and Johnbod, ignoring for a moment the article's history and concentrating on the way it actually appears to readers at the moment, are you happy with the state of the references on this article (i.e. the "Notes" and "References" sections of the current version)? --Stemonitis (talk) 14:00, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

I might as well ask the follow-up question now as well. Ignoring the markup that was used to produce it (i.e. whether templates were used or not), and ignoring the separate issue of splitting notes from references, would you be happy with the references as they appear in this version (i.e. limiting ourselves to the "References" and "Bibliography" sections of that version)?

Absolutely not - we have gone over all this before, & again, see section #13 above, where AgTigress says:" I am an instinctive footnote-writer (which is why I detest Harvard-style in-text references), so I am inclined to waffle and comment on books —though I think this can be helpful for readers. I'll try to get a grip of the referencing challenge ...". This is a scientific style that is not appropriate here - humanities papers just don't look like this. Johnbod (talk) 15:17, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Oh, and here's a topical diff just now. Johnbod (talk) 15:25, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Amen to the diff. The citation templates may work for editors who are in the habit of adding a single sentence to an article, but not necessarily for those whose approach is to write an entire article on a conceptual topic, or one with a long history of scholarship, particularly in the humanities. I frequently have citations that look something like <ref>In [[Martial]], ''Epigrams'' 9.28, and [[Sextus Pompeius Festus|Festus]], referencing [[Verrius Flaccus]], 436 in the edition of Lindsay (= 326 Müller); Christer Henriksén, ''Martial, Book IX: A Commentary'' (Uppsala: S. Academiae Ubsaliensis, 1998), p. 153.</ref> Here the modern scholar produced the statement that's cited, based on the two ancient sources. One might also add a link to the original passages. Could those who find the current notes "a mess" offer some specific examples where they're uninformative or hard for a reader to use? (Or rather, since I do see some examples above, can't we just fix the problems with using templates that are unwanted by the major contributors?)Cynwolfe (talk) 15:57, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
I think you misunderstood me. I said ignoring the use of templates and ignoring the separation of the footnotes. I was trying to compare references like these:
  • Tyers 1996,161-166
  • Dressel 1879, Di un grande deposito di anfore rinvenuto nel nuovo quartiere del Castro Pretorio, in BullCom, VII, 36-112, 143-196.
  • Peacock and Williams, Amphorae and the Roman Economy, an introductory guide, London, 1986
  • Peacock, Williams 1986, 45.
with ones like these:
Just looking at the visible output, without reference to the means of their creation, which is better? --Stemonitis (talk) 16:08, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
When I reimplemented some of Stemonitis's changes earlier, I left out some of these because it wasn't clear to me what should be changed -- I had gathered that the change to separate notes and footnotes did not have consensus, for example. If it should turn out that some of these formatting changes do indeed have consensus, then I'll be glad to go ahead and do the work to implement them, if I can get a clear definition of which changes to make. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 16:14, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
As I've made clear several times, I have no objection to tidying parentheses etc, and linking authors names. But I think the small convenience of linking between notes & refs is outweighed, especially here, by the degree to which this will reduce the liklihood of extra content being added, either by the authors to date, or potential future ones. The vast majority of people find these styles intimidating, and I'm afraid I take the view that someone whose user page begins "Having 'retired', I currently have an Honorary position in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham, UK...." is unlikely to have an adequate understanding of this. Johnbod (talk) 21:00, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
And Wikipedia_talk:Citing_sources#Citation_styles_discouraging_new_editors another new relevant thread here - the backlash grows, and will continue to do so as new editor numbers keep falling. Johnbod (talk) 21:07, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
That ad hominem argument is beneath you, Johnbod. --Stemonitis (talk) 22:02, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
(outdenting sorta) I myself find the linking of citations to references which makes the citations a sea of little blue links ... very annoying. If the editors who contributed most of the content here do not wish them, there is no requirement for them, even at the FA level. None of my FAs have any such linking and I've yet to see anyone complain about the lack. There is also no requirement that more explanatory citations be separated from basic citations. Yes, it may be nice, but it's all a matter of editor preference. Ealdgyth - Talk 01:26, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Ealdgyth, I'm desperately trying to steer conversation away from the separation of notes from references, which is already a done deal. I'm also not really talking about the linking of references to the bibliography, although I would argue that functionality should trump aesthetics every time (ease of verifiability is very important). It's really about proper use of dashes, consistent use of full stops, not writing "p56", "p.56", "p 56" and "p. 56" all in the same article, giving bibliographic details in one inline note but not others (effectively ibid.-style referencing), duplicating bibliographic details from the References in the Notes – it's about all these many inconsistencies which were once fixed, but have been again reintroduced. When I fixed the references in this article, it took me a long time to work out what works were being cited where; the current referencing is by no means transparent. My point, and I think even Johnbod implicitly agreed with this, is that the way I left the citations was objectively better than the way they are now. That is an important concession for future discussion, which is why I'm trying hard to make progress on this one small point. No-one has yet argued that inconsistent, badly-formatted references are a good thing, and it seems, although no-one seems to have adressed the point directly, that most people would be happy if the sort of appearance I suggest were produced without using the {{cite}} family of templates. That would make the article's formatting less crap, in a way that most contributors might find acceptable. --Stemonitis (talk) 07:41, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
How many times do I need to say it?
  • On your talk: "...Adding those titles only given in the notes to references, plus any details missing, would have solved any issues without breaching policy. ... I suggest you don't make further changes for the moment, as I am still considering whether to revert, although I accept some minor improvements will be lost." Johnbod (talk) 14:51, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Here: "...As I've told Stemonitis, he is welcome to remake the few constructive elements in his edits (which I'm not sure include the image formatting) within the established citation format. Obviously it would have been an unreasonable effort to unpick the reversion to keep these....Johnbod (talk) 12:27, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
  • "...I've already said I have no objection to the various minor punctuation fixes and adding of citation information within the current style. If he finds it easy to do this, then he's welcome to do so. To summarize what I've already said (and others above), ... Typos, dashes etc I have no problem with. Johnbod (talk) 14:54, 10 October 2011 (UTC)"
  • "Otherwise the citation style should remain, the citations content be improved within that style, & I (yet again) don't think the "multiplier" image sizing is suitable. Other general tidying stuff, as mentioned above, should be ok, & I can't remember how I felt about his prose changes, but am happy to rely on Mike's judgement there..." Johnbod (talk) 15:22, 10 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Comments on Mike's list, 11 Oct
  • "Feel free to tidy up, within the format agreed for this page, which you will find discussed above..." Johnbod (talk) 17:29, 5 November 2011 (UTC)
  • "As I've made clear several times, I have no objection to tidying parentheses etc, and linking authors names...." Johnbod (talk) 21:00, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

Any questions? Johnbod (talk) 10:39, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Good. That's a start. You recognise that the references are not as good as they could be, and that they were better when I left them. Your argument for reverting that aspect of my edit is that it might restrict future contributions. That is an unquantifiable, potential detriment, to balance against a tangible improvement that we now all agree on. The next point: do you believe that your personal opinions outweigh the needs of the readers? -Stemonitis (talk) 11:46, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
We've been 7 laps round that one too. Despite all these invitations, you have not done any further tidying in 3 months. That's fine, but either do it or drop it. Johnbod (talk) 11:54, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
I'd prefer a straighforward answer, even if it seems repetitious – yes or no? --Stemonitis (talk) 11:57, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Oddly enough I don't see the matter in those terms. What readers need is above all good verifiable text, and promoting that should be our main priority. Having asked about it so many times, are you actually going to do any tidying up? Yes/no answer please. Johnbod (talk) 13:07, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm trying to reach prior agreement before making any changes. I am happy to help, but having been bitten once before I would like to be reassured that it will not be a waste of my time. I am having to break the matter down into small logical pieces in order to be absolutely clear that there is agreement. This seems to be difficult for some reason, so I will adopt a different approach. I therefore make the following proposal:
I will restore my original edit, with its many improvements, and then work backwards to remove the parts for which there is contrary, policy-compliant consensus on this talk page. Those are:
  • Notes will not be separated from citations.
  • Citation templates will not be used. Instead, equivalent formatting will be added manually.
If that is acceptable, I will gladly carry out the work myself. It may take several edits, so I would ask that it not be judged hastily – perhaps allow 24 hours for completion. --Stemonitis (talk) 13:16, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
  • That method has been discussed above, before Mike's work, & I & I think others were against it. You said yourself that making the tidying changes would easy, so I don't see the need. It is surely not the most efficient way now Mike has done most of it. Johnbod (talk) 13:25, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Not so. There were so many changes of different kinds that to try to identify them and re-do them is extremely error-prone (as has been practically demonstrated above). On the other hand, merging Notes back into References and recoding {{cite}}-style templates is straightforward. I said making those changing would be easy in this direction, not the one you propose. Anyway, why are you worrying about the amount of effort, since I have just offered to do it all? Can't you see that I'm trying to reach a compromise for the benefit of the article? Those are just rhetorical questions, but this is not: would the outcome of my proposal be acceptable? --Stemonitis (talk) 13:33, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Ealdgyth is now very kindly doing it, it seems. AgTigress in effect spread out "Further reading" through the notes (although she has certainly read them, several works are mentioned as that rather than references I think) and I think these should just be kept in the notes. Johnbod (talk) 13:52, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
It was a simple question. Would that approach be (or have been) acceptable? --Stemonitis (talk) 13:54, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
(I might add that Ealdgyth has apparently finished, and the refs. are still quite inconsistent and illogical, so the question is still valid.) --Stemonitis (talk) 14:16, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Thanks to Ealdgyth for rolling up her sleeves and helping; I don't know whether she's done or not. Stemonitis, in my years here at Wikipedia I've observed that any time an edit summary demands "please answer" to what is self-described as a "simple question," the discussion has already degenerated into mere head-butting. As a rhetorical tactic, it's an attempt to force other editors within your frame of reference. The consensus here is that citation templates not be used, and that there should be a single unified section for footnotes. The most effective thing you can do if you're trying to improve the article is to edit individual notes needing clarification or amplification. I believe you've been encouraged to do that; if you're uncertain what a particular note should say, bring the specific question here. The dead horse is sufficiently beaten (apologies to Ealdgyth for what must be a distressing metaphor for a horsewoman). Cynwolfe (talk) 14:21, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

I believe I'm done - although I won't claim I've caught every stray period or missing space. It's certainly consistent enough that folks can find the information they want. It's not my personal citation style, so if the last couple of changes went too far, feel free to revert, anything after here is probably extraneous. As for the metaphor, I'm used to it. I myself was thinking the whole conversation here was starting to resemble heads and brick walls, myself. Maybe bulls in china shops... Ealdgyth - Talk 14:28, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

Cynwolfe, my point is that in order to improve the references here, it really does only make sense to revert to my last version, and work from there. Doing it one by one is a recipe for disaster, one which has left the article in its current state – citations are still inconsistent, unclear, opaque. The citation templates issue is resolved. The issue of separating notes from references is resolved. I recognise the consensus, even if I disagree with it, and I will edit accordingly. All I need is the OK from the people here, and I can get to work on fixing this article up, but it will require that nod before I can begin. I'm sorry if it feels like head-butting, but I really am just looking for a simple yes or no. Until Johnbod, specifically, agrees to let me work towards our common goal, I cannot proceed. A single word from Johnbod, and there will be no need for any further discussion. --Stemonitis (talk) 15:05, 8 November 2011 (UTC)

How are they inconsistent? Perhaps they are not perfect, but this article isn't an FA either. I think you need to start proposing actual edits that you wish to make, rather than keep insisting on reverting to some other version. Efforts have been made to meet your demands half-way, now is the time for you to step up and show examples of what you find inconsistent and opaque. I've made a good faith effort to fix things to be more consistent, trying to find a compromise. That's the point of collaboration, isn't it? Working WITH rather than keep insisting that you do things your own way only. My edits are surely a nice place to start, suggest further improvements .. Ealdgyth - Talk 15:20, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm surprised you can't see it. Most of the citations are to entries in the Bibliography, some of which are referred to simply by author, year and page numbers (OK so far). Some also have the title and the ISBN. Some have the title but not the author. Some use hypheens in page ranges, while others us n-dashes. References that should be combined are repeated. Web cites are missing the (necessary) access dates. Full stops are missing. The list goes on... Your intentions are laudable, but I fear they will be wasted. This is merely further evidence that working in this direction is fundamentally flawed. You asked me to propose actual edits – my proposal is above, waiting for assent. Incidentally, I insist on reversion only as a stepping stone to a version everyone will accept, as I think my proposal made clear. --Stemonitis (talk) 15:32, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
There is no requirement for full stops at the end of references - I never put them in my FAs. If the citations themselves are consistent with each other, that is all that is needed. There is no requirement that references be combined with the ref name parameter - if folks want to relist the same refs, that's fine, so that is a non-starter. I've fixed the dashes - that's easy enough. At this point, stripping out the extraneous titles and ISBNs will be easy enough. Certainly, adding the accessdates for web pages is doable, but that doesn't need to revert to an old version. Look, it's halfway done, at this point to me it's looking like you are insisting on doing it YOUR way, rather than working with others. As I've pointed out, some of what you wanted to do isn't required - full stops and the combining of references aren't required (and the combining is probably something that was objected to so it shouldn't be done unless the main editors decide to do it.). Ealdgyth - Talk 15:38, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
The full stops are inconsistent, too. My only reason for promoting a method that works back from my version is to prevent excess work. I feel bad that you and Mike Christie, for instance, have put so much effort in, when it could have been easily avoided. I could have saved people a lot of time and effort, as I said a long time ago, had I been allowed to do so. The whole time I have been trying to help, trying to work within people's preferences, trying to reduce the workload, but I have been thwarted in that effort. I cannot understand why you would make life so difficult for yourselves. --Stemonitis (talk) 16:11, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it's been extra work. I can't speak for anyone else, but for myself I'm willing to do additional work like this because I think it's important to give weight to the preferences of the editors who contribute most of the content to a page. They shouldn't be able to overrule policies or guidelines, but even if WP:CITEVAR were less definitive I'd still be inclined to let the people doing the work do it their way. I agree that you found many inconsistencies and layout errors, and I am glad you found them and that they are getting fixed. The article is better off for that. So to answer your question, I'm willing to make life more difficult for myself if it makes life easier for content creation. I do think your contributions here have benefited the article; but if we had done what you asked we'd have had a difference in the editing window that would not affect the reader one way or the other, and that the main editors would have disliked. I think that would have been a poor exchange. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:05, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
[after edit conflict] It seems likely that Johnbod's consent will not be forthcoming. I have therefore left a draft showing how the problems could be fixed, at Talk:Ancient Roman pottery/Draft. It took me five minutes, involving little more than two search-and-replace actions and one copy-and-paste. My apologies to everyone who has been drawn into this farrago, and to everyone whose time has been wasted. --Stemonitis (talk) 17:08, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, perhaps I misunderstood. Are you saying that you proposed to go back to your version in order to establish what the (consistent) look should be, and then modify that with reference to the consensus here to, for example, not separate notes and footnotes, and not put certain links in citations, and also modify it so that it contains none of the formatting such as templates to which Johnbod has voiced an objection? If so, I misunderstood you, and I apologize. I can't see any objection at all to that; if the final result is something that would please everyone then I would expect everyone to agree. Having said that, why not make that draft page the subject of any further tweaking and then move it over the current page, if everyone agrees? Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 17:13, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Frankly, my enthusiasm for this little project has been drained quite severely by now. It isn't normally this difficult to make improvements to an article. Yes, I meant for the reversion to step 1 of the road to a universally acceptable version, to be followed immediately by the changes mandated by consensus. I think I have now done that in the draft, although I didn't change the image formatting, for instance, which I know Johnbod dislikes. I'm not sure where the consensus among other editors stands on that point. You may of course do whatever you like with my draft; if it serves as a starting point for further improvements, that would be excellent. If at some future point you want to combine its history with that of the main article (entirely your [collective] decision, of course), I will be happy to oblige, although if that's the plan, it will be best to restrict edits to one or the other. I apologise if I didn't make my intentions clear. --Stemonitis (talk) 17:22, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
As the rest of this is being worked out, I hope I'm not overly confident in saying that if you still see internal inconsistencies in the Bibliography, or missing info, there would be no controversy in fixing that section. I do appreciate that you've spent a lot of time working toward consensus and trying to make improvements. I myself quite like the linked refs as you have them, and may try out that system in my next article. (Sorry that you happened to wave one of the red capes that cause my horns to lower involuntarily.) Cynwolfe (talk) 18:12, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
You can stop that finger-drumming, Stemonitis! This is not a full-time job for me, believe it or not. I've taken a very quick look at yours, which is not without mistakes & oddities, & more significantly re-imposes all your image changes, which were set aside for further discussion way above. Like Ealdgyth I don't like notes to refs links, as explained above. At this point it seems better to carry on tidying up the existing version, but I'll look later. Johnbod (talk) 18:43, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
I think you'll find I explicitly ackowledged that the image formatting was not how you prefer it. Just concentrate on the rest – adding a few image widths is not a major task. --Stemonitis (talk) 18:48, 8 November 2011 (UTC)
Let's just stop now, shall we? I did a few corrections/adds on the article as is, then looked over to your draft for missing details. In fact they all seemed to be missing there too. One Potsherd page is not linking tonight, but no doubt will appear again. The publisher/place of publishing info is inconsistent and/or incomplete, but seems just the same in both versions. There's enough info for anyone wanting to check out these books to do a search on, before finding out the nearest copy is 300 miles away, or they can buy one for £500 (actually there's a s/h paperback of Peacock & Williams on Abebooks for only £120, & you can get a Dragendorff reprint for £10). I'll live with them now, but what are all these full stops about? Is that the latest at Citation Trendsetters Magazine? Anyway, if you want to add publishers etc to the one here, feel free, but starting over from the draft seems crazy frankly. Johnbod (talk) 03:10, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Please re-read my response to Eadgyld above. The inconsistencies are still rife in the current text, and it makes every sense to work from the draft I supplied. Why should some works be referred to by title, not by author? Why should some titles be repeated in both Notes and References? What on earth is "not only to Britain see Webster 1996" supposed to mean? The References section was copied and pasted from Mike Christie's work, which is why it appears the same. I can strip out the full stops from the Notes in a minute; concentrate on the big, time-consuming issues, please. --Stemonitis (talk) 07:39, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
"What on earth is "not only to Britain see Webster 1996" supposed to mean?" - now that, now corrected, was very easily solved by going back to 14th August, the last version before you began to edit. I'm sure it's not the only thing that remains garbled since then. Johnbod (talk) 18:11, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
I resent the suggestion that the lack of grammar or sense at that point was somehow my fault. The last version before I edited had "By far the most useful modern introduction in English to the study of Gaulish samian ware, applicable to all Roman provinces where it is found, not only to Britain, Roman samian pottery in Britain, by Peter Webster, (York 1996), ISBN 1872414567", which is also ungrammatical and ill-formatted, and repeats information from the References. When I left it, it said "By far the most useful modern introduction in English to the study of Gaulish samian ware, applicable to all Roman provinces where it is found, not only to Britain, is Webster (1996).", which is grammatical, well-formatted and isn't repetitious. You cannot shift the blame for that failing onto me. The change was actually introduced by Ealdgyth. --Stemonitis (talk) 18:37, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Well it was missing an "is" in August, that's all. As the originator of all the messing about with the referencing in the last four months, I certainly do hold you vicariously responsible. As explained above AgTigress effectively spread out a select bibliography with comments through the notes, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, which is perfectly consistent with academic practice. Johnbod (talk) 18:58, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
What you call "messing about", John, everybody else agrees is a nett improvement to the article. I can tell that you resent my presence here, but your attitude of blaming everything on me, including things which I did not do, is not helpful. You blamed me directly, three comments ago, and when I showed that that was not the case, you blamed me indirectly. The facts are that the formatting of the article has improved considerably since I first edited the article, and that those improvements have occurred despite your input rather than because of it. I would be happy to assume responsibility for the improvements (although not all are actually due to me), but you cannot blame the defects of the current version (relative to, say, my draft) on me. Don't let any personal feelings you may have about me detract from the task of making the article as good as it can be. --Stemonitis (talk) 19:27, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
Everybody agrees that some things were improvements, but there is a wide range of views expressed above about individual aspects. Frankly any net improvement, from August to either your original changed version or to where we are now, is pretty trivial, and has involved an inordinate amount of effort from several leading content editors. This is not an FAC, and the matter is now being pursued for purely pointy reasons, by an editor who has still never recognised that his first edits were inappropriate. Johnbod (talk) 23:39, 9 November 2011 (UTC)
No, John. I am still trying to make the article better, because I can still see flaws. It's unfortunate that you don't recognise that. --Stemonitis (talk) 07:38, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

Apologies and regrets[edit]

It may seem odd of me to come along more than two years after the last exchange here. I was completely unaware of the fact that so much heat had been generated, because checking WP pages was not a priority for me during a very difficult period in my Real Life. I should have taken part in these discussions, instead of leaving poor Johnbod to speak on my behalf, but it was simply not possible. However, after reading through the later, and deeply upsetting, sections of this talk page, I want to apologise for having innocently and unintentionally caused so many problems owing to my inexperience as a WP editor. In fact, after reading some of the comments, I feel I should apologise for having attempted to expand this article at all from its original brief form. I do know a fair amount about Roman pottery (and also, some may be surprised to know, a fair amount about about references and footnotes in printed archaeological publications, after publishing over 120 articles and thirteen books during my professional career). But I was, and remain, a complete novice as a Wikipedian. I am therefore immensely grateful to Johnbod and also to the other editors who had to labour over my apparently unacceptable notes and references. I can only add that I, too, worked very hard on this article back in 2011, even as my personal life started to implode, and I now genuinely regret that I did so. Clearly I should have left well alone. I could have saved all that time I spent photographing pots and editing picture files. I am also more frightened than ever of contributing to Wikipedia, and will only do so if I am extremely strongly motivated by the subject. This article is safe from any further intervention on my part. AgTigress (talk) 15:32, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

I must say I'd forgotten all about this! There was nothing "unacceptable" at all about the referencing style you used (although there were some small inconsistencies etc), which is why it is essentially still there. Different people have different styles, and WP policy is to accept any reasonable style. But some editors like to roam WP converting articles to their preferred style without any prior discussion, completely against WP:CITE, and will only desist (or more likely move off somewhere else) when they are firmly confronted. I might have just let it happen, but like most content writers I strongly resist the idea that (other) articles to which I was the only significant past editor and am likely to be the only significant future editor should suddenly be converted to a referencing style I am unable to use, and feel such editors need to be shown this is unacceptable. In the end, this was the net change, while these more drastic changes were what was originally intended by Stemonitis. I really hope this won't put you off from contributing in future. Johnbod (talk) 16:49, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

It really came as quite a shock to me, Johnbod, and I feel so guilty both for my own shortcomings and for being out of the loop so that you and other editors had to deal with it without any comment from me when it flared up. I really did put a lot of work into the expansion/revision at the time, and I am now wary of attempting anything like that on an academic subject in future, in case of similar upsets. I have been looking at other articles I have been involved with and their talk pages, and the whole thing is making me very nervous.  :-( Maybe I am just having a bad day. AgTigress (talk) 18:53, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

I hope so - really it was just unlucky that this particular article got hit on. What whoever it was said about academic rows being so intense because there is so little at stake applies to WP as well. The text sections remained unaffected by all this kerfuffle, which is the main thing. Johnbod (talk) 20:42, 3 May 2014 (UTC)