Talk:Bottlenose dolphin/Move discussion

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This was the discussion for a failed requested move. Do not edit this discussion. enochlau (talk) 01:09, 22 December 2005 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The issue of capitalization of common names of animals predates my arrival at Wikipedia. From time to time, I've tried to initiate or participate in discussion on changing this but it never really attracted enough participation to form a consensus. I hope that this will generate enough interest that the issue can be properly addressed.

Applicable guidelines include the following pages. Wikipedia:Naming conventions and Wikipedia:Naming conventions (common names) discuss the importance of using the most common name for the subject. Wikipedia:Naming conventions (fauna)#Capitalization of common names suggests "Some claim the name of an individual bird or mammal species is usually capitalised, but this is disputed. Various ornithological societies have made a strong case in favour of this convention for naming birds. The case is weaker for mammals." It also proposes this to allay confusion between a description of an animal and a common name for a specific species (that is, fuck youi any dolphin with a suitable shape could be described as a "bottlenose dolphin", but only members of Tursiops truncatus can be called "Bottlenose Dolphins"). Finally, Wikipedia:WikiProject Cetaceans#Things to be standardized suggests the avian standard of capitalization be adopted as they don't feel the issue of capitalization to be very important and would prefer to concentrate on article writing.

I believe that the lowercased form, bottlenose dolphin, should be used throughout the article, and that the article should therefore be moved to Bottlenose dolphin. Wikipedia:Naming conventions (fauna) mentions that the case for capitalization is weaker for mammals; I'd say it is virtually nonexistent. Books, especially scholarly ones, don't seem to capitalize it. Merriam-Webster lists it as "bottle-nosed dolphin" but likewise leaves it uncapitalized. Our colleague projects use the lowercase form as well. The Encyclopædia Britannica's entry is at bottlenose dolphin. Encarta's entry is at Bottlenose Dolphin, as their house style is to capitalize article titles, but the lowercase form is used throughout the article.

The use in scientific journals appears to be lowercase as well. Nature's web site is subscription-based, but pages I was able to access ([1] and [2], for instance), show the lowercase use. Further, searching for "bottlenose dolphin" on Google shows the twenty or so entries all using the lowercase form. Similarly, Science uses the lowercase form: for instance, see [3], [4], [5], and [6]. As with Nature, doing a Google search for bottlenose dolphins on Science shows all the entries to use the lowercase form. Other scientific literature shares the same approach. Entries in such diverse journals such as Marine Mammal Science, the Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences are but a few of the copious entries found on a Google Scholar search, all of which use a lowercase form. These citations help to confirm my memory and impression that a capitalized form is not used in formal literature outside Wikipedia.

There remains the concern that there could be confusion between a general descriptor and the common name of a specific species. I don't believe that this is much of a concern with bottlenose dolphins—I think it is unlikely that anyone would refer to a dolphin as a "bottlenose dolphin" intending that it was a dolphin with a bottle-shaped nose but that was not necessarily Tursiops truncatus. It is even less likely that Wikipedia would ever have an article on dolphins with bottlenoses in general.

But this specific case aside, while I understand this type of concern, I do not believe it should be used to guide our usage. The immediate impetus for me to reopen this conversation was regarding a requested move for poison ivy—there was an editor who felt that since the plant was not an ivy, it should be written poison-ivy (with a hyphen) to distinguish it. (The editor moved it there, the requested move was to bring it back; see Talk:Poison ivy#Requested move for more information.) Needless to say, the article ended up at the unhyphenated version. I don't think we should be creating capitalization or punctuation rules at Wikipedia. Nor should we be promoting little-used ones we'd like to see become more common. Wikipedia should follow standard usage, not be used to promote someone's preferred style in hopes it will gain wider acceptance. If capitalization becomes widely used, we could then switch to that spelling.

Bottlenose dolphins are my favorite animal, yet I hesitate to direct friends to this article since frankly, the capitalization looks unprofessional, in my opinion. There are some confliciting suggestions, but I feel that the precedence of the convention of using common names is clear—and capitalizing bottlenose dolphin is decidedly uncommon. — Knowledge Seeker 22:06, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

May I also add the recommendation of the fifteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, admittedly a North American work, It has the following to say: "8.136 Common names. For the correct capitalization of common names of plants and animals, consult a dictionary or the authoritative guides to nomenclature, the ICBN and the ICZN, mentioned in 8.127. In any one work, a single source should be followed. In general, Chicago recommends capitalizing only proper nouns and adjectives, as in the following examples, which conform to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary" (the examples given are Dutchman's-breeches, mayapple, jack-in-the-pulpit, rhesus monkey, Rocky Mountain sheep, and Cooper's hawk). — Knowledge Seeker 03:15, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one sentence explanation, then sign your vote with ~~~~
  • Support. I did a journal article search, and every journal I could find (at least 10) uses "bottlenose dolphin".--Commander Keane 22:20, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Supportjiy (talk) 01:22, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Strong support -- But then really this is more an issue of dealing with the outdated and illconceived guideline some unknown editors came up with in the past... it pretty much neeeds to be an all or nothing thing. I've not really gotten any discussion when I suggested changing the guideline, other than a few supportive comments, so perhaps we should change the guideline to see if anyone objects, deal with it there, and then hopefully from there create a project to fix all these screwed up capitalizations everywhere. DreamGuy 04:23, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
  • I heartily support the move, however be aware that it's going to be a big job. Does anyone mind if I start? - Randwicked 07:38, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
    • I hope you're not seriously suggesting that you only do Delphinidae? Presumably you meant to link to Mammalia? Pcb21 Pete 10:41, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
  • strongly oppose. See Wikipedia:Wikiproject Birds, which is where WP:CETA gets the basis for this decision from. There are legitimate concerns about some species. There is also the issue that the scientific community is mixed on the capitalizing, with some publications using all lower, others using initial capitals, while others avoid the issue entirely by using a different font (sometimes an all caps font) for names, while others use italics. For Wikipedia, some options, such as all italics, do not work, since the article titles are never italicized. Also, it is highly incorrect to make this decision on a single article and not, as DreamGuy suggests, on a policy page.The preceding unsigned comment was added by UtherSRG (talk • contribs) .. (Whops... yeah, that was me. - UtherSRG (talk) 22:36, 4 December 2005 (UTC))
    Since when does a bottlenose dolphin fall under the Wikiproject Birds? And since when does some people following some weird rules some minor group of people made up and trying to apply it on Wikipedia not only just for birds to begin with but all other animals make sense? Newsflash, we are already in the process of changing the policy, so this article should be moved to coincide with the new, sane policy, Wikibirds be damned. DreamGuy 23:45, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
    It's all right, Dream Guy; he has the right to vote as he pleases. If the capitalization rules really are unusual, then the discussion here should reflect that. UtherSRG, thanks for your comment. I do not dispute your vote, but if you have time, some examples of bottlenose dolphin appearing capitalized, or in italics, or in an alternate font would help those of us who have never seen such usage before. A scientific work would be preferable; ideally, a peer-reviewed journal. — Knowledge Seeker 23:58, 4 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose This issue of the capitalisation or lowercasing of mammal names, and fauna names was brought up and, while I was not involved (and have no idea even where it was discussed) I remember the most monumental row over it on the wikilist, on people's talk pages, etc. From what I can remember some people even quit WP over it. The problem is that sources base their capitalisation on a number of rules, one of which is the form of English used. American publications like Brittanica use AE and so lowercase almost everything. (Encarta, as the heap of s*** that it is — an academic opinion, that — does its own thing. They don't call it the IRE — Independent Republic of Encarta, or Ignorant Rubbish Enterprise is the other variant — for nothing!) At the time the point was made that many European and Australasian sources simply didn't, using standard International English uppercasing. But even that was confusing, with Australian publications owned by US owners (controversially in Australia) lowercasing everything, and British-owned American publishers (as if to annoy the Yanks) uppercasing things! Users amid the screaming matches accused those pushing for lowercasing of pushing an "americocentric agenda". Those seeking uppercasing were accused by lowercasers of "scientific ignorance". My advice would be to not to awaken the hornet's nest that is the capitalisation or lower casing of mammals or fauna. That sort of issue usually just produces the mother of all wars, accusations of scientific ignorance, americocentrism, yada yada. All it will do is produce an edit war that will lead to some people from whichever side loses to quit in protest. One only just has to read DreamGuy's regrettable tone to see what going down this road will produce on both sides. This is one issue I'd strongly advise be classified "do not touch" and buried in some time capsule. It is just not worth the hassle of revisiting. FearÉIREANNIreland-Capitals.PNG\(caint) 03:48, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose With my comments below. —Mike 05:52, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Oppose This should be decided on a policy level, not on an article-by-article basis. Kaldari 23:25, 9 December 2005 (UTC)


Add any additional comments

I particularly like this explanation made back in October 1984, from [7]:

Let's go back to basics. Proper nouns should be
capitalized. What is a proper noun? My favorite En-
glish handbook (Walsh and Walsh 1945) says a prop-
er noun is "the name of a particular person, place, or
thing." To me a Lincoln's Sparrow is just as much a
particular thing as a Lincoln Continental. We capi-
talize proper nouns to acknowledge their individu-
ality and to emphasize them. What is wrong with
emphasizing the English names of the plants and
animals we study? Nothing! It is good logic and good
style. Capitalizing the English name separates it from
adjacent limiting or descriptive words and indicates
whether the writer is referring to a single species
(three Carolina Wrens) or to several similar species
(three Carolina wrens). Without capitals or Latin
names, how does one distinguish between three
common black-headed gulls (three individuals of
Larus ridibundus) and three common black-headed gulls
(L. ridibundus, pipixcan, and atricilla)? Capitalization of-
fers an effective, space-saving means of eliminating
ambiguity in situations like these. Such distinctions
may not be meaningful to Atkins or to the compilers
of dictionaries, but most ornithologists appreciate the

And if this article is about the species, capitalizing is ok.—Mike 05:52, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

With respect, while I appreciate the logic of the argument, I don't believe Wikipedia should be creating its own style or spelling. I haven't seen "bottlenose dolphin" capitalized in any formal literature (or any adult literature for that matter) outside Wikipedia, not even from the ornithologists. Have you? — Knowledge Seeker 06:25, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes of course it is very common to capitalise in field guides, but much rarer to do so in forums where the binomial name is the preferred name anyway. Writing as if all the traffic is one way, when that is patently not the case, detracts from the value of the rest of your argument. Pcb21 Pete 10:55, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
Duly amended. Thank you. — Knowledge Seeker 15:43, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
I have rather let my heart rule my head in this latest iteration of the capitalisation debate, and haven't been as polite as I should have been. I crave your indulgence whilst I explain why:
To a large extent the coverage that Wikipedia has on cetaceans is due to me. I began the vast majority of cetacean articles and the vast majority of content is remains written be me (bottlenose dolphin is one exception, as it happens). All the diagrams and the dozens of maps were all created by me. Many of the GFDL photos were taken by me, and many of the PD photos were found and uploaded by me. References are rarely added by anyone other than me.
The content is widely recognised as good. All the articles are well above stub length, three of them are featured articles. Contributions in several other languages (including at least de:, pl: and ja:) have created project just to copy and translate the content. Many of those have become featured articles in those languages. De: even chose cetaceans to be the topic of their second WikiReader, and I have been approached several times about creating a en: Wikireader. To have all one hundred-articles in a category+subcats of a decent standard is actually pretty rare on Wikipedia I've received two barnstars for my work.
It is against this backdrop that I have let my heart rule my head. I know Wikipedia is a free-for-all, noone owns content and I know that when another user "parachutes in" and decapitializes one species article out of 80 they mean well. I also know that the argument for decapitalising is probably stronger than the one for capitalisation - my original decision to copy the birds project was a good way to get off the ground but the issues are not exactly the same and in retrospect decapitialisation was probably the way to go. However we are not starting from scratch now and I don't believe that the argument is *so* compelling that the gain from decapitialising one article here and there outweighs the cost of the subsequent inconsistency. If the plurality of ToLers want to decapitalise, I would be happy with a bot that achieves that - acceptably for just cetaceans but better for mammals. Pcb21 Pete 22:06, 6 December 2005 (UTC)minor edit by UtherSRG (talk) 22:15, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
  • My opinion is this. The capitalisation of titles of articles is a matter of opinion, and depends on one's capitalisation style (of which there are many). I personally do not care if the title is "Bottlenose Dolphin" or "Bottlenose dolphin". Within the text it is in my view incorrect to capitalise either word (unless of course at the beginning of the sentence). So, within the text, the animal should, IMO, be described as "bottlenose dolphin". HTH! Matt 00:49, 7 December 2005 (UTC).
    • Pete, thank you for your clear and well-thought-out remarks. I am pleased that we are able to discuss this matter coolly, and even amiably. I don't believe you were particularly impolite here. You make some very good points, and we will keep the discussion going. As User:Aranae has carefully documented at Wikipedia talk:Naming conventions (fauna), broadening what I have documented here, mammal literature appears to use lowercase quite consistently. Matt, your opinion certainly helps. I agree of course that "bottlenose dolphin" should be used within the text; since Wikipedia house style is to only capitalize the first word and any proper nouns, the title would then be Bottlenose dolphin. Thanks! — Knowledge Seeker 07:15, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
      • Actually, I thought later (sorry if this has been mentioned elsewhere, I haven't read all the comments)... another good reason for capitalising only the first word in article titles (unless they are proper names of course) is that it avoids this nonsense of having to create a separate redirect page so that people who type in, say, "bottlenose dolphin" in the search box get sent to the article. (This is really a design bug in the software (IMO), but I suppose it will never be fixed.) Matt 12:21, 7 December 2005 (UTC).
        • Not an issue, all the redirects have alredy been created, and if the pages were moved, they would remain created, for people who search with caps. Pcb21 Pete 13:29, 7 December 2005 (UTC)
        • I was making the general point that if you adopt an all-initial-caps heading style then every new page created has to have a dummy redirect page. I realise in this case it's already done. HOWEVER, FTR, I think I am in fact completely wrong about the way this works. I think that all-initial-caps articles are in fact NOT case-sensitive in article lookups (as I originally thought they were). Thus, I THINK that the article "Bottlenose Dolphin" will be succesfully found from "bottlenose dolphin", "BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN", "boTTlenosE Dolphin", or whatever else you like, WITHOUT the need for the redirect "Bottlenose dolphin" page. So the point I was making is invalid. Now my head hurts. Matt 22:42, 7 December 2005 (UTC).
          • There's still an issue when the given term represents a species (currently capitalized) and a larger grouping that may or may not include the species. If we decapitalize, we'll have to use various (generally uncontrolled) disambiguation terms more. - UtherSRG (talk) 14:53, 7 December 2005 (UTC)