Talk:British Empire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Featured article British Empire is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on June 13, 2009.

Not of featured article quality.[edit]

Here are some of the featured article criteria this article doesn't fulfill:

1b. comprehensive
it neglects no major facts or details and places the subject in context

The article leaves out huge amounts of detail. Despite its 11,000 words, it doesn't even discuss the Famines of India. It mentions that they happened in a single paragraph. But no discussion takes place about their cause and the natural vs man-made factors involved. The Belgian Congo deaths of 10 million or so people are well documented in that article. Similar mass killings by the British Empire are not mentioned at all. There should be an entire section discussing timeline of major famines in India during British rule (killing 29 million by one estimate) and other similar events throughout the Empire. Whether this particular estimate is accurate is moot. There should be a discussion of the estimates in the literature and what the consensus is for the cause and total deaths.

The ideology of the empire is not discussed. Racism is not mentioned once. The idea of the White Man's burden is not mentioned once. There is no mention of converting the heathens to Christianity. All of these were fashionable opinions at various points in time. It would be interesting to have a section explaining when and why these views were popular. The colonies where white British settlers totally exterminated and replaced the natives were given political power long before colonies where the people were non-white. This part of history should also be discussed.

Expansionist and racial policy was a major part of the British Empire throughout its entire history. An article about the British Empire that doesn't discuss who was privileged and who was persecuted, when, and why is not complete. There is a lot of literature debating this subject. The Empire also participated in ethnic cleansing throughout its existence, and has been accused of several genocides. Why isn't it summarized? We don't have to take a one sided view, but we do have to mention it.

Finally, it would also be worthwhile having a section to discuss how the article got into its current state. Some historians are extremely critical of the Empire, such as Henry Reynolds's critique of the peaceful settlement myth. Meanwhile "historians" like David Armitage have somehow convinced themselves that invading foreign countries was a selfless and benevolent exercise done for the sake of the "freedom" of those foreigners. Both of these views need to be discussed, and the latter view needs to be soundly rejected as nonsense as it already is by the majority of historians.===

1c. well-researched
it is a thorough and representative survey of the relevant literature. Claims are verifiable against high-quality reliable sources and are supported by inline citations where appropriate

This article does not discuss most of the literature about the British Empire. It surveys only a small window the literature and favors the view of a minority of scholars. It fails to discuss entire events that are considered the most important aspects of British Empire history by academics.

1d. neutral
it presents views fairly and without bias

The gaps in the articles coverage are not random. They are one-sided. The gaps are all things that could be considered negatives of the Empire.

The article needs to be completely rewritten in order to be of featured article quality. Most of the historical narrative can be moved to another article. Then several more sections like I've outlined need to be added.--Quality posts here (talk) 18:54, 11 December 2016 (UTC)

This article does not cover every single event in every corner of the world during the period it relates to; it is not an article on famine in India; it is not an article on racism; and it is not an article on historiography. Wikipedia has articles on all of those things (although the quality of some leaves a lot to be desired). You say it does not discuss most of the literature about the British Empire. How many books have been written about this subject over the years? How many journal articles? Of course it doesn't cover them all but it does represent a fair selection of balanced sources (i.e. not those presenting polarised opinions). And finally you say you want to take out the historical narrative and add in particular opinions on particular episodes that you feel are important. Have you considered that you might be on the wrong website? You are proposing replacing verifiable, neutral information with opinion pieces. Not how Wikipedia works. Wiki-Ed (talk) 22:06, 13 December 2016 (UTC)
Exactly. Articles can't be too long or they become unreadable. The article should be a high-level summary of the British Empire, going into detail only about major points. That's not how the article is now. It fails to discuss the most major actions of the British Empire. The Indian famines were the most notable thing the British Empire did in its entire existence, yet they don't even get their own section. Meanwhile "rivalry with the Netherlands in Asia" somehow gets its own section. It's totally false to claim this article presents a fair selection of balanced sources. The great thing about Wikipedia is we can work together to make sure the information added isn't an opinion piece. Wikipedia doesn't present opinions. Articles don't say anything about good or bad morality. They simply presents the facts of what happened (perhaps including the fact that some people consider them morally good or bad), and where the facts are unclear it summarizes the academic debate. That's what this article should do. Instead, it fails to present any facts or debate about controversial events in order to portray a falsely positive version of the British Empire.--Quality posts here (talk) 18:24, 23 December 2016 (UTC)
"The most major actions of the British Empire" - says who? That is your opinion. It is not a view reflected by the majority of reliable sources. Famine in India is (rightly) treated as footnote - something that happened during the same period/space as the British Empire, but not a defining characteristic nor something which made a significant differences to its evolution as a political entity. Presenting facts out of context is the same as expressing a non-neutral opinion in a neutral space - it lends weight to something that ought not to have it. Rivalry with the Netherlands in Asia, on the other hand, directly affected how the BE took shape and rightly deserves a (small) section outlining the consequences.Wiki-Ed (talk) 21:54, 23 December 2016 (UTC)
More people fell victim to the British India famines during Ghandi's lifetime than to the Nazis. Here are two broadsheet British newspapers backing me up on that: The Independent and The Guardian. These articles compare people who don't believe it to holocaust and the Armenian genocide denial. If you look at the Ottoman Empire article, you'll see its atrocities are mentioned right in the introduction. Shouldn't the British Empire's also be there, considering it managed crimes of a greater magnitude? I particularly like this article, which ends "As evidence from the manufactured Indian famines of the 1870s and from the treatment of other colonies accumulates, British imperialism emerges as no better and in some cases even worse than the imperialism practised by other nations. Yet the myth of the civilising mission remains untroubled by the evidence". Wikipedia's British Empire article is shamelessly spreading that myth despite being a "featured article" and must be changed at once.
Nobel-prize winner Amartya Sen has done quite a bit of work around the economics of the Indian famines. He blames the 18th century Bengal famine on the British in this article, "in a century that had seen no famine in the region before the rule of the East India Company began".--Quality posts here (talk) 23:21, 23 December 2016 (UTC)
This article is not a collection of factoids that you would "like" to see. Sources which use language like "manufactured famines" are not neutral, so if they are mentioned they have to be balanced; the article would then go off on a tangent about a niche issue. If it was so important that it defined the subject then it would feature more prominently in published sources that cover the whole subject. The fact that it doesn't should tell you something. What do the sources/articlese which you want to place undue weight on say about exploration, colonisation in America, conquest in Africa, or rivalry/war with other countries/empires? Nothing perhaps? They're too narrow for this subject. Wiki-Ed (talk) 00:13, 27 December 2016 (UTC)
But it does seem to be a collection of factoids that you would like to see. Manufactured famines are real things. The Russians inflicted one on Ukraine, and the Germans created another in the Netherlands. The British Empire committed several of those. Amartya Sen, who covers British Empire famines, argues that every famine since 1000 AD has been manufactured. By his reasoning every famine in the British Empire was manufactured. The Great Bengal famine of 1770 is perhaps the most obvious example of such a manufactured famine. The article fails to discuss this despite it being considered the most notable thing about the Empire by several authors.
This isn't an an article about Sen's views, and from what you've said, I can't imagine that those views would sit well in any historical article. You should also note that this article doesn't cover a number of events that "several authors" might consider to be notable. It is an overview and takes its steer from historians who write overviews, not from single-issue campaigners with a narrow focus on particular events/themes. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:34, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
You "can't imagine", and yet it's true. Sen is a Nobel prize winning economist and his work on Indian famines is highly respected. He is literally the most highly regarded author this article will cover if I cite him.--Quality posts here (talk) 15:25, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
It doesn't matter. If a writer sets out a particular view that places him or her at one end of a spectrum s/he will not be treated as neutral, regardless of how highly they are thought of within a like-minded peer group. The most important principle here is neutrality and weighting. The question is 'do historians (not economists) treat famine in India as a (or the) major theme of the British Empire?' The answer is no, so we don't go into detail on that issue. We give it equal weighting with lots of other important things that happened across the world over a period of 500 years. If this was an article on agriculture in India, government in India, the history of India (etc.) then it might be a different answer. Wiki-Ed (talk) 18:25, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
Inspired by the Norman conquest of England article, which is also featured, I am going to add two new sections to this article: "Historiography" and "Consequences". I will also try my hand at a section on Indian famines. I am sure they will improve the article.--Quality posts here (talk) 04:31, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
This article doesn't need any of those things. As we have pointed out already, there is an article on the Historiography of the British Empire. (It's currently in poor shape because one editor has taken it upon himself to use it - as you seem to be proposing - as a soap box to push his personal interpretation of the British Empire - all the bits that wouldn't make the cut here - rather than a balanced overview of historiograpical issues.) There is already an article on Famine in India. And there is already a section on the Legacy of the British Empire in this article. So, I would discourage you from bothering, but if you want to propose new text to this Featured Article then please test it on the talk page first. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:34, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
The "Legacy" section has 706 words, only 21 of which are about the negative legacy of the Empire and 685 on the things that make elderly British people happy. That isn't neutral. This is because this page is heavily impacted by Wikipedia's systemic bias in favour of the worldview of middle class English speakers at the cost of everyone else. The introduce bias where they edit by what they chose to include and what they chose to omit. The British Empire article is ripe for this because a large section of the British population loves the idea that their ancestors went out and lovingly and selflessly conquered and killed foreigners in order to help those foreigners. In an effort to attract uninvolved editors to this debate and see what they think, I am adding an NPOV tag to the page. After I draft those sections I will be bold and add them. Don't worry, there may have been quality problems when others previously tried to make such changes, but I intend them to be of a very high standard.--Quality posts here (talk) 15:15, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
Speaking of bias might be the above statement that "The Belgian Congo deaths of 10 million or so people are well documented", given that demographic studies on the estimated population of Central Africa at the time would give a population of 4 million at the most for the Belgian Congo. Expect the same "lack" of bias regarding any coverage of alleged British mass murders when the article will be "completely rewritten".--Lubiesque (talk) 02:29, 14 December 2016 (UTC)
I got that figure from the Wikipedia article about it, which seems to be well sourced. It's obvious why the British Empire article is in such bad shape when an editor watching it presents such denialism.--Quality posts here (talk) 18:22, 23 December 2016 (UTC)
Hi Quality posts here. This is an overview article, written in summary style. A mention of the Famines of India is appropriate; an in-depth discussion of "their cause and the natural vs man-made factors involved" is better suited to a more specific daughter article. You're welcome to suggest edits, sources, topics that should be mentioned, but please keep that in mind as you do so. Nikkimaria (talk) 18:34, 23 December 2016 (UTC)
It isn't an overview article because it fails to give an overview of the British Empire. It's a biased propaganda piece because it simply omits the unpopular events in the British Empire's history. If you go to the Nazi Germany article you'll see an entire section devoted to its politics, and another section devoted to its racial policy. That could be a good way to introduce the British Empire's crimes into this article, because they are currently not present. It's laughable the article can have such a gaping hole and be considered featured. We hear that at its height it controlled "412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time,[2] and by 1920 it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi),[3] 24% of the Earth's total land area". Yet there is no mention of how many aggressive wars it started or in what year its highest death rate was achieved. That isn't an overview.--Quality posts here (talk) 23:06, 23 December 2016 (UTC)
Certainly is an overview that a lot of editors have spent a long time here presenting a balanced overview of the British Empire so I dont think adding unblanced tabloid "year in which its highest death rate was achieved" is not something a good neutral encyclopedia does, we dont list all the lifes saved in India by the flood defences or most of the other things empire did to improve stuff over the few hundred years it existed. We have loads of sub-articles that deal with some of the detail you expect here, so as User:Nikkimaria has just said you are welcome to make suggestions and provide sources for discussion here but to condem the whole article is probably a bit unfair to previous editors who have worked hard to get it to featured article status. MilborneOne (talk) 23:31, 23 December 2016 (UTC)

Let's understand why we disagree about the article's neutrality[edit]

As far as I can tell, we are not in dispute over the facts of the British Empire. Everything either side proposes should be in the article is a historical fact supported by the majority of scholars. Wiki-Ed has called several sources I mentioned not-neutral. Non-neutral sources are acceptable for use on Wikipedia.

The main dispute seems to be around what proportion of the article should be devoted to each aspect of the British Empire. I believe that a Historiography section is certainly necessary to describe how coverage of the British Empire has changed in the literature. Since the late 20th century it has become much more critical, and there are a few notable historiographer articles on this subject. The "Legacy" section is totally biased, as I mentioned above, with only 21 words for the negative aspects of the Empire and 685 for what make elderly British people happy. I intend to rewrite it soon

Finally, I intend to make some changes to the narrative of the article, giving some more weight to things like the Indian famines. I am sure you will dispute these edits when I make them, but I am convinced that it will be a more balanced presentation of work about the British Empire. I am convinced of this because an entire section of the literature about racism, the white man's burden and how it impacted the former colonies has been completely excluded when it should be given its fair proportion of the article's words. There has been previous discussions about this: Talk:British_Empire/Archive_14#Racism.3F.--Quality posts here (talk) 15:59, 1 January 2017 (UTC)

I certainly think that with comments like what make elderly British people happy suggests a non-neutral point of view and perhaps not the best way to get other editors to respond kindly. Re-writing large sections without some agreement here is not the way to build an encyclopedia. As already suggested you are welcome to make suggestions and improvements rather than I dont like any of this so we need to replace it all. Also we have no requirement to achieve a 50/50 balance between good and bad but a balance as shown across reliable sources across the four hundred-odd years covered. So I would suggest take small steps and get the agreement or otherwise of others, thanks. MilborneOne (talk) 16:34, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
Quality posts here, all your statements indicate that you want to take a particular perspective on this. The questions you raise have been extensively discussed before. If you make a case for changes and you don't get agreement then you can call an RfC. But tagging an article when you are the only one advocating change, on a well reviewed and discussed article is disruptive. ----Snowded TALK 17:40, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
I'm tempted to remove it right away but let's see if he can produce quality posts. In the discussion he references the consensus was against making changes of the sort he described, for the very same reasons we have discussed above. However, the previous discussion allowed that there might be scope for a few single-sentence additions. Some of these appear to have been made at that time, but there might still be more that could be said (e.g. about famines to the effect that this was still a problem well into the 20th century). User Quality Posts Here should, I hope, be aware that s/he is going against consensus, but at least he is consulting before changing, so I'll assume good faith for now. (I wish other editors with a penchant for tinkering would take a similar approach.) However, I think it is worth drawing his attention to the purpose of this article - it one of only a thousand Level 3 overview articles. It is written in a narrative style: it does not go into detail on any one event, nor does it analyse - using anachronistic values (e.g. modern views of racism) - what happened. That is the purpose of wikilinking out to other articles. A single sentence here or there should be sufficient (if there is actually a problem). By all means test it, but don't expect to gain consensus for masses of new text. Wiki-Ed (talk) 17:59, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
I've waited to see what User:QPH comes up with. The draft on his user page currently consists of a few paragraphs of poorly written commentary, mis-attributed quotations, statistical factoids (casualty counts etc.) and some he said/she said material. It is either irrelevant, inappropriate or unbalanced (or all of the above). This appears to be another case of someone just not liking the neutral balance of the article and looking for a soap box. That is not sufficient justification for a POV tag so I've removed it. Wiki-Ed (talk) 16:27, 2 January 2017 (UTC)
QPH isn't alone in believing there are serious problems with the tone of this article. Alfie Gandon (talk) 17:55, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
I doubt they are "serious problems" looking at all the work and discussion that has been done before but you need to detail what you dont like in small chunks so it can be discussed, nobody is against discussion but to rubbish the whole article makes it difficult to work out what you actually dont like. Please bear in mind that this is an overview and as others have said more detailed information is present in other articles for readers that want to know more. MilborneOne (talk) 18:03, 1 January 2017 (UTC)
You're certainly entitled to your opinion. I remind you I already have detailed much of what I don't like into small chunks, all over this talk page. You're wrong in saying "nobody is against discussion", on the contrary, I find some proprietorial editors here are very much against it. I'm not rubbishing the whole article, again on the contrary most of it is of good quality and the changes I've made and tried to make are relatively minor. Whitewashing is no more tolerable in overviews than anywhere else, so that's no excuse. Alfie Gandon (talk) 16:18, 2 January 2017 (UTC)
If we were against discussion then we wouldn't be talking to you at all. Most of the changes you've tried (and failed) to make are factually wrong, poorly thought through, inappropriate and/or do not reflect the views expressed in the cited sources. But it is your attempts to 'correct' supposed 'whitewashing' that introduces POV into the article. That is the main reason you are continually reverted. Wiki-Ed (talk) 16:27, 2 January 2017 (UTC)
As I've repeatedly pointed out, you're wrong on all counts. While there is much that is good, there's far too much content on this page that is factually wrong, poorly thought through, inappropriate and/or does not reflect the views expressed in the cited sources. Also, I find it more than a little suspicious when you refer to your tag-team as "we", almost as if you co-ordinate your reverts. I've suspected this for a while. Have you let the mask slip? Alfie Gandon (talk) 16:55, 2 January 2017 (UTC)
Wrong on all counts? If that were so then other editors would be correcting me, not you. I should also point out that said editors (including me) don't always see eye to eye. If, despite that, we're all reverting your edits (without any co-ordination) that should tell you something about the standard of your contributions. Wiki-Ed (talk) 19:07, 2 January 2017 (UTC)
You're making a lot of leaps there. Far from "all" editors reverting my edits, your tag-team system seems to have stalled recently. Alfie Gandon (talk) 19:16, 2 January 2017 (UTC)
It doesn't look like they coordinate anything. Just like you, Bertdrunk and I happen to be on the same side in the NPOV dispute, but we have never discussed anything with each other.--Quality posts here (talk) 02:10, 4 January 2017 (UTC)
I didn't say they coordinated, and unlike these two, we three have had a short relationship. Alfie Gandon (talk) 02:26, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

Neutrality tag[edit]

In the last few days three different editors (Alfie Gandon, Bertdrunk and I) have added an NPOV warning template to the top of this article. Each time it was removed by the watchers of this page claiming that there is no neutrality dispute. If that's the case, then why are almost all the sections on this talk page about the NPOV dispute?

I've already promised I will take action regarding this dispute by inserting my proposed changes. You can see I've already started work on new sections for this article on my userpage (I encourage all watchers of this page to take a look). If you revert them, which I assume you will, we can discuss the changes further here. If we can't agree on anything during that discussion, we will have a featured article review. That's how the dispute will be solved. Right now it's still ongoing though, which is why the NPOV tag must remain. I will re-add the tag as soon as the page protection ends on 7 January.--Quality posts here (talk) 02:07, 4 January 2017 (UTC)

You haven't argued a case for the NPOV template and flyby tagging is not encouraged. I can see some dissatisfaction that edits to a stable article have been reverted but I don't see any attempt by those inserting the tag to argue their case. As another editor said in their edit summary you don't take an article every time there is a disagreement. You need to develop an argument on the talk page and if necessary call an RfC to engage other editors ----Snowded TALK 07:04, 4 January 2017 (UTC)
This entire section argues the case for an NPOV tag. Whether you agree there is a case isn't important. The fact that three different editors have written thousands of words about NPOV problems on the talk page means the tag is appropriate. I will re-add it when the page becomes unprotected again.
I took at look at your user page and suggest (i) you use a sandbox for drafts (ii) you read WP:RS, most the text you are creating is based on primary sources and would be considered synthesis and/or original research. I think there is a case to expand or modify the article's treatment of indigenous issues - but it needs third party sourcing and it has to be proportional to a summary article. ----Snowded TALK 07:10, 4 January 2017 (UTC)
Yup. One bit that is crying out for indigenous attention is the paragraph that ends "The American colonies were less financially successful than those of the Caribbean, but had large areas of good agricultural land and attracted far larger numbers of English emigrants who preferred their temperate climates." A sentence or two with suitable links (no more. because as Snowded says, it's a summary article) that discusses the fact that the land in question was already inhabited by native American tribes. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 22:46, 4 January 2017 (UTC)
In fact, my hidden comment is still in there in the article from 2009(?) suggesting something be added! The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 22:48, 4 January 2017 (UTC)
I haven't used a single primary source. I keep hearing this is a summary article, yet it spends an entire paragraph talking about cricket, measurements and left side driving, but does not mention the word "genocide" once. It's simply false to claim an accurate summary would do that. That paragraph ought to be removed and several paragraphs about genocide inserted--Quality posts here (talk) 08:11, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
Having seen what was written on Genocide of indigenous peoples, which is definitely an example of POV writing, we certainly do not need an agenda dictated section adding to this article. I've tagged that section for POV and kicked off a discussion on the talk page there. WCMemail 08:41, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
Well I will be adding a section regarding the British Empire's crimes as soon as I have completed it, which will hopefully be in the next few days. That this article mentions the spread of cricket but not that the Aboriginal population of Australia declined 84% after British arrival is evidence of extreme nationalistic bias in this article.--Quality posts here (talk) 10:00, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
I'm sure what you meant to say is that you will be consulting with other editors to establish whether any of the material you've been cherry picking would be suitable for inclusion. At the moment I think you're a long way off and I reinforce Snowded's points above. Even before we get to the question of neutrality, there are problems with your use of reliable sources and synthesis. For example, I see that you are still attributing (in at least two places) comments which are not reflected in the sources you're using - and I should note it has taken me some time to establish that is the case because you're not making specific references, just pointing readers towards journal articles or websites. That will not meet the standard for verifiability. Stylistically your approach seems to be 'he said this' 'she said that' etc. The rest of the article doesn't do that - for good reason - it's an indicator that the topic is contentious and that experts have different views. If you include one side of an argument then you had to include another; you don't seem to be proposing to do that and, in any case, to do so would inflate this article considerably, which won't work at this level. Once again, I would suggest you focus your effort on one or two neutral, verifiable sentences; not whole paragraphs. I can't speak for other editors, but I would imagine we, as a group, would be much more inclined to help you develop text if you do keep it focused. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:44, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
The British Empire's crimes no less! Personally, I think cricket is a crime against humanity, it's so bloody boring. But what about the Native American tribes that slaughtered babies and children in British settlements in America, who were not there by their own volition, was that a crime? Or how about the Black Hole of Calcutta? Was that a crime? What about indigenous peoples that sided with the British to get one up on their fellow indigenous enemies, were those crimes? Is suttee, that the British abolished, a crime? The Mughals that took over India by force, whose atrocities have been lost in the depths of time, did they commit a crime? African rulers who colluded in the selling of their own peoples to European slavers, a crime? [[Quality posts here]] you're judging another time by the moral standards of today. And note, the article does not say whether cricket is a good or a bad thing, it just says it. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 23:26, 5 January 2017 (UTC)
Note, the stuff being added at Genocide of indigenous peoples has been awful examples of writing. Its a classic example of WP:OR and WP:SYN, with the writer claiming that simply being sourced means its not OR, whereas he's taken multiple author's opinions, presented them as fact and synthesised his own conclusion asserting this to "sourced" eg [1]. His use of WP:SPS and attributing allegedly unpublished material cited by another author as the opinion of the supposed originator is also problematic. Luckily most of the more egregious examples have been moderated by other editors but if thats an example of his best work, I would suggest a change of username. WCMemail 08:37, 6 January 2017 (UTC)

I have reinserted the NPOV tag at the top of the article. Please do not remove it. Soon enough I will be adding my proposed new sections that cover what I previously argued has been left out.--Quality posts here (talk) 19:21, 7 January 2017 (UTC)

If you keep doing that the article will be locked again and/or you'll be blocked. I see from your user page that you're still quite a long way from writing text that could find its way on to Wikipedia. Might I suggest that by using narrow web-based journal articles as your sources you are forcing yourself to synthesise material; Wikipedia has a strict policy of no original research so that won't work. While I can't promise that any such material actually exists, you are more likely to find neutral wording in historical books that address the breadth of the subject of this article, not in specialist publications on niche topics. Wiki-Ed (talk) 21:10, 7 January 2017 (UTC)
"that discusses the fact that the land in question was already inhabited by native American tribes." We don't need this because most any European countries that took over other lands in Africa, America, Asia, etc., were settling or at least governing lands that were already inhabited. It's just extra words in an already-long article. BeenAroundAWhile (talk) 06:59, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

Perhaps we can have a summery here of what the NPOV issues are?Slatersteven (talk) 13:39, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

" ... were settling or at least governing lands that were already inhabited..." - I think you'll find that the British settlers/colonists in fact actually bought the land off the indigenous Americans. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:50, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

NPOV noticeboard[edit]

A post has been made regarding the NPOV tag at the NPOV noticeboard.--Quality posts here (talk) 00:07, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

New "settler colonialism" section[edit]

I have added a proposed new subsection on settler colonialism to the Legacy section. Tell me what you think of it. I'm certainly accepting of the idea that it needs improvement. I think the important part is the figures for indigenous population decline. That is definitely a major legacy of the British Empire that ought to be discussed. The rest of the section is up for debate. I have also put the rest of the Legacy section into two new subsections: "Culture" and "Politics".--Quality posts here (talk) 17:59, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

This could be shortened to
"One other aspect was the depopulation of native populations and the cultural assimilation of many of the remainder".18:03, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
What you did was largely synthesis of original sources based on a particular perspective. It was also an inappropriate level of detail for a summary article. You have already had this feedback so changing the main article without first getting agreement on the talk page is disruptive. I think there is an agreement in principle to possibly adding one or two well sourced sentences on this but no more. So please propose something we can look at. ----Snowded TALK 19:02, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
And here's the crux of our disagreement. How is it neutral to have 4 paragraphs on the cultural impact of the Empire, but only 2 sentences on its destruction of indigenous populations?
I don't believe there is any synthesis or primary sources in my addition. But, I am a human and it's possible I am incorrect. Please quote those sentences here for me.--Quality posts here (talk) 19:19, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
Because we have a whole article on the latter.Slatersteven (talk) 19:21, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
And where can I find that? If we do, that's extra evidence we ought to have a section here, and use the main article template to link to it.--Quality posts here (talk) 19:26, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
Sorry I meant we have an article on imperial genocides that includes the section you linked to, and that can be expanded and them linked to from here.Slatersteven (talk) 19:28, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
To illustrate why this is a problem, synthesis allows factual errors to creep in. So, for example: rights were not denied to native Americans - that they were treated equally by the Crown was one of the causes of the Revolutionary War; settler colonisation wasn't the only way disease spread from Europe to America - in Central America initial contact by Spanish conquistadors was enough to achieve this before any 'settlers' arrived; and the final quotation was not attributed to the British - this is misleading. Wiki-Ed (talk) 19:25, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
And there is some debate about the "deliberateness" of things like pox blankets.Slatersteven (talk) 19:28, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
The "Surviving indigenous groups continue to suffer from severe racially motivated discrimination in their the new colonial societies.[237]" sentence has a conclusion that is sourced. I did not make that conclusion myself. It is a conclusion made by a secondary source an not original research. Regarding disease we can clarify that the Canadian population decline figure is relative to pre-contact rather than pre-British colonialism clearing that up. We can remove "by the British" from that sentence and it still holds true, because earlier in that paper he argues that the British were one of the European empires that did that.
The technical debate around the writing isn't as important as the idea that we are giving too much coverage to Briain's cultural legacy compared to its legacy of settler colonialism: 4 paragraphs vs 2 sentences. What is your opinion of that?--Quality posts here (talk) 19:39, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
But not the only one, and this article is only about the British empire.Slatersteven (talk) 19:42, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
As to your amended comment. Balance the "benefits" with information about how the empire also destroyed much native culture (culture not lives). Point out how part of the empires legacy is that we outlawed Thugeee and Sutee and thus undermined the native culture (for example).Slatersteven (talk) 19:53, 8 January 2017 (UTC)
The whole formulation of the settler colonialism section is troubling. Most obviously, there is already a paragraph discussing population movements. Perhaps it could be expanded upon, but leaving such a thing unadjusted while creating partial duplication is a worrying sign that crafting good content is not the primary aim here. Other indications of the current writing reading like an attempt to make a point I hope do not have to be listed out here, given it manages to start before the actual text, with the main template.
Regarding the concept of the content itself, I am open to the idea of discussing a rebalancing of the legacy section. It was a longstanding global empire and the demographic changes it led to were huge, and no doubt played a role in the cultural legacies that currently appear prior to that in the article. If this is expanded however, it should not just focus on where white settlers moved to as the proposed addition did. The movement of non-white people made huge differences, not only to the UK but to other parts of the empire. And I am not saying this point needs to make it into the article, but this non-white settling created issues in many countries that last to this day as well. CMD (talk) 02:39, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
I think the problem with this is that it leads into cause and effect. To what extent was the British Empire - as an entity - responsible for these changes? (As opposed to activity by contemporaneous neighbouring empires or by natural disasters or by some other factor.) How many of these things would have happened anyway? How many were driven by government in London and how many by colonists acting on their own initiative? I'm not saying we shouldn't say something, but it's not easy. Wiki-Ed (talk) 22:11, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
Large political entities have always in some way encouraged migration if only due to the simple fact that a political connection facilitates movement. That said, while obviously there was some passive movement not driven by those in government, there are plenty of examples of movement encouraged by the government. These can always be talked about, even if it doesn't cover the entirety of migration. CMD (talk) 02:16, 10 January 2017 (UTC)

Proposed text[edit]

As well an many benefits the British empire also destroyed many native traditions and institutions. This included the wholesale conversion of natives to Christianity and the destruction of native religious institutions such as the cult of thugee. The Empire also forcibly stopped many native traditions it saw as unacceptable such Suttee and instituted laws preventing the inheritance of lands by adopted sons (in India). In addition it is charged with the slaughter of many native populations.

Of course this lacks sources, but they can be added this is just for discussion.Slatersteven (talk) 20:05, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

Is this satirical? Wiki-Ed (talk) 22:11, 9 January 2017 (UTC)
Not exactly, rather it is a demonstration of the problem, All of the above is a "legacy of empire" that was bitterly opposed at the time. So what do we even mean by "negative impacts", and why is only genocide the only concern?
In addition it is something that has not been done yet on this page, an offer of a text we can start to work with. So how about offering an alternative that covers the negative impact of cultural, linguistic and military imperialism by the British?Slatersteven (talk) 09:49, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
Because I don't think it is possible to write a neutral form of words that would meet Wikipedia's standards of verifiability and also avoid synthesis. Your proposal, whether intentionally or not, fails all three principles. Wiki-Ed (talk) 21:04, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
More then likely, which in a way is my point with the text above. It would be very hard to have a "criticism" section that would not end up breaching all kinds of rules. Moreover any such section is going to be rife with POV issues, synthesis and weasel wording. There is also the fact that simply put much of what the British destroyed (as I tried to demonstrate above) is hardly the sort of thing most people (even the natives) would like to see come back.
I agree any such text would be impossible to write (and keep stable).Slatersteven (talk) 21:18, 10 January 2017 (UTC)
"As well an many benefits the British empire also destroyed many native traditions and institutions. This included the wholesale conversion of natives to Christianity and the destruction of native religious institutions such as the cult of thugee. The Empire also forcibly stopped many native traditions it saw as unacceptable such Suttee and instituted laws preventing the inheritance of lands by adopted sons (in India) ... " - the British didn't forcibly convert 'natives' to Christianity, they converted of their own volition, missionaries being at no time endorsed by the British government, nor was conversion an official policy.
The Thuggee were thieves and murderers and are the source of the English word "Thug".
Suttee was banned because although supposed to be voluntary, many of the widows were forced by family pressures to submit to the tradition, and were visibly distressed by being burnt alive in public. Not a nice sight. In these circumstances it was effectively murder. Presumably if the current Indian government wishes to re-instate the custom/practice it is free to do so.
" ... laws preventing the inheritance of lands by adopted sons (in India) .. " - this was done because unscrupulous wives (some Indian men had more than one wife) would poison a wealthy husband after 'adopting' a very young boy who she could then control who she could then transfer ownership of the father's land to, thus cutting out his other legal offspring and relatives from the father's wealth. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:21, 17 March 2017 (UTC)
... and one may wonder why if the 'evil' British were so out to dominate and control their subject people they were the first to abolish slavery, and then to enforce it's abolition throughout their Empire, when other countries did little to do likewise in their own territories, or merely paid lip-service to doing so.
And not all native religions were Thuggee (as long as we accept the British empires version of it, and not everyone days claiming it was a British invention). Thus that one line will be a battlefield. That can be said for all but the outlawing of slavery (and one can argue they did not, they just changed it to indentured servitude).Slatersteven (talk) 14:39, 22 April 2017 (UTC)


British Empire
Colonial empire
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Top: Flag of the Kingdom of Great Britain (until 1801)
Bottom: Flag of the United Kingdom (from 1801)
All areas of the world that were ever part of the British Empire. Current British Overseas Territories have their names underlined in red.
Capital Administered from London, England, United Kingdom
Languages English (official)

French, Hindi, Arabic, Afrikaans, indigenous local languages

Religion Christianity (official)

Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, various other religious beliefs

Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
 •  1707 - 1714 Anne
 •  1727 - 1760 George II
 •  1760 - 1820 George III
 •  1837 - 1901 Victoria
 •  1910 - 1936 George V
 •  1936 - 1952 George VI
 •  1952 - 1997 Elizabeth II [3]
Prime Minister
 •  1721 - 1742 Sir Robert Walpole
 •  1757 - 1762 Duke of Newcastle
 •  1770 - 1782 Lord North
 •  1783 - 1801 William Pitt the Younger
 •  1945 - 1951 Clement Atlee
 •  1997 [4] Tony Blair
Legislature Parliament
Historical era Early Modern to Contemporary
 •  Anglo-Scottish Union 1707
 •  Seven Years' War 1763
 •  American Independence 1783
 •  Act of Union 1801
 •  Indian Rebellion 1857
 •  First Dominion created 1867
 •  Indian Independence 1947
 •  Transfer of Hong Kong 1997[1][2]
 •  1920 (maximal extent) 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi)
 •  1920 (maximal extent) est. 425,000,000 
     Density 12/km2 (31/sq mi)
Currency Pound Sterling and various other currencies
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kingdom of England
Kingdom of Scotland
Kingdom of Ireland
British overseas territories
Commonwealth of Nations

I've noticed, unlike most other empires, such as the Spanish Empire, French colonial empire and so forth, the British Empire is the only major one without a substantial infobox; and I can't really fathom a reason as to why, especially considering its historical importance. To rectify this, I propose we add the following. What are the thoughts of the community? (RockDrummerQ (talk) 13:12, 7 May 2017 (UTC))

For the record: The decision to have only the flag and the map in the infobox (as well as the comment in the infobox) dates back to November 2008. Pinging the users involved in the original discussion: @The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick, Daicaregos, Ghmyrtle, Wiki-Ed, Justin A Kuntz, Narson, and Rockybiggs:. TompaDompa (talk) 16:42, 7 May 2017 (UTC)
Re-pinging renamed user: @Wee Curry Monster:. TompaDompa (talk) 16:50, 7 May 2017 (UTC)

One issue, was English the official language of the empire? It may have been the defacto language, but was it actually ever codified as such?Slatersteven (talk) 16:52, 7 May 2017 (UTC)

Unlike other empires, the British Empire was not a legal entity and therefore did not have most of the things we put in an info-box. For example, it did not have an Emperor. It's not clear either when the Empire began or ended or its full extent. Hence your suggestion that we list Queen Anne as the first monarch and Tony Blair as the last PM is questionable. English was not codified as the official language because the Empire was not a legal entity with uniform laws. TFD (talk) 20:04, 7 May 2017 (UTC)
Was the French colonial empire a legal entity? Was the Spanish Empire a legal entity? Was the Portuguese Empire a legal entity? They didn't have Emperors either. I find the requirement of emperor dubious at best, when we consider all of those empires have detailed infoboxes. The Swedish Empire also has a detailed infobox, but never had an Emperor. The "British" Empire surely began when the country Britain came into existence as a legal entity; 1707. Even in the main text of the Empire page, it states 1997 is considered by many to be the end of the empire when rule of Hong Kong was transferred to China. I don't see how those are issues. English was not codified; fair enough, but it was the de facto official language of the empire, in the same vein as the United States. I would argue there seems to be a precedent for it. (RockDrummerQ (talk) 20:51, 7 May 2017 (UTC))
But "the country Britain" is not the same as "the British Empire". And we don't operate on precedent in cases like this. Nikkimaria (talk) 21:39, 7 May 2017 (UTC)
The "British Empire" couldn't have existed before the country Britain existed; that's a simple logical conclusion. The precedent therefore highlights a gross inconsistency across Wikipedia articles. My points were also not addressed. Were any of the empires I listed legal entities? If not, why do they have detailed infoboxes and this one does not? (RockDrummerQ (talk) 21:48, 7 May 2017 (UTC))
The "British Empire" couldn't have existed before the country Britain existed; that's a simple logical conclusion. But it's no "simple logical conclusion" to say that the British Empire existed as soon as the country Britain existed, if we agree that the two are not the same thing (and if we don't agree on that, we have bigger issues). What you see as an inconsistency across articles is very much deliberate. "Other stuff exists" is not an argument in this case - and those examples you cite fall into some of the same traps your proposal does. Nikkimaria (talk) 22:52, 7 May 2017 (UTC)----
It is when you consider that before that, the colonies and lands under the rule or administration of the English crown were known as the English colonial empire, or as the English overseas possessions. Ergo, the empire became known as the British empire once Britain as a legal entity came into being. It's not simply that "other stuff exists", which is a gross oversimplification of the point I'm trying to make. The empires I listed were also not legal entities, yet they have detailed infoboxes. If we agree that the British Empire is also not a legal entity, then either it should also have an infobox, or all of the examples I listed should have their infoboxes removed. (RockDrummerQ (talk) 00:01, 8 May 2017 (UTC))
either it should also have an infobox, or all of the examples I listed should have their infoboxes removed is entirely an "other stuff exists" argument, because it's not based on the advantages or disadvantages of including one here. Each article is considered independently, without reference to what other articles do or don't do. Nikkimaria (talk) 01:43, 8 May 2017 (UTC)

This draft won't work because the dates are arguable at best and there was no official language or official religion everywhere in the Empire (though there were in selected parts of it). Also, parameters like language and religion lose their value when so many major languages were spoken in the Empire and every major religion is listed. Celia Homeford (talk) 09:12, 8 May 2017 (UTC)

This is of course (at least with regards to the Spanish and Portuguese empires) a big difference, Spanish was the official language, and Christianty was (at the end of a sword) the official religion. Hell in some places languages (such as French in Canada) were official.Slatersteven (talk) 09:26, 8 May 2017 (UTC)
The proposed template illustrates perfectly why we don't have an infobox - every single box is contentious/debatable. It is original research - something Wikipedia does not need. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:11, 8 May 2017 (UTC)
So, if we ignore for the moment the excused inconsistencies across Wikipedia articles in the same vein (not particularly encyclopedic, is it?) it seems the only issues people seem to bring up is the official language and religion of the empire. So don't include those parameters? Or just include English and Christianity as de facto official religions; which they were. The British made active attempts to convert people to Christianity, and English largely became the language of official correspondence of the empire. Celia Homeford, you say the dates are "arguable at best" - why? Which dates? All of them? Why are they arguable? It seems to me that nobody is really making any effort at providing an efficient counter-argument, just stating points in a vacuum without much context or content to reinforce it. If you tell me why the dates are arguable, I'm willing to bet I can provide reasons why they are not arguable. Having points of contention so narrow seems like a rather flaccid reason to discard an entire infobox that could improve the information of the article. For example; capital, area, population and the preceded and succeeded by sections could all be included without contention. (RockDrummerQ (talk) 14:16, 8 May 2017 (UTC))

The start date is arguable because British colonisation of the Americas began before 1707, see the article sections 'Origins (1497-1583)' and '"First" British Empire (1583–1783)' and England and Scotland were united under one crown in 1603. The end date is arguable because there is no single agreed date. Decolonisation was a process that occurred over decades (see section 'Decolonisation and decline (1945–1997)') and the United Nations argue that it is still not complete because the remaining territories are not fully self-governing or represented in Parliament. We cannot claim that specific religions or languages were 'official' when there was no 'official' language or religion in the Empire as a whole. Celia Homeford (talk) 14:34, 8 May 2017 (UTC)

The start date is the date that Britain as a legal entity came into being. Thus, surely, there cannot have been a "BRITISH" Empire ruled by the British Crown before that? England and Scotland shared a crown, yes, but they were not a united legal entity yet. If we are willing to argue that, then would either 1497 or 1583 not be an acceptable starting date, given the history of colonisation? Is the end date really that arguable? The sources that reinforce that point are taken directly from the main article, that 1997 represents for many the end of the empire. The year of 1997 is also the date given in the same section you pointed me towards. As I have said repeatedly to the point of intense frustration and strain; Christianity and English were the de facto religion and language of the Empire.
Putting all that aside, I still see no arguments against why we cannot include more information in the infobox than is already there. If the dates are too contentious, then don't include them. Simply include those that are not contentious; the capital, area, population, and the preceded and succeeded by sections, none of which are contentious. (RockDrummerQ (talk) 15:10, 8 May 2017 (UTC))
If Great Britain came into being in 1707, then it ceased to exist in 1801, when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland came into being, which itself ceased to exist when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was formed. In fact none of these events had any effect on the administration of the Empire, except in Scotland and Ireland and no reliable sources use them to date the British Empire. TFD (talk) 19:09, 8 May 2017 (UTC)
This is rather tiresome, but if User:RockDrummerQ insists:
  1. Dates - this interpretation is not consistent with the article itself (!) or the sources (there is no consistent position so we have taken an editorial decision to cast the net wide)
  2. "Colonial empire" - not always and not applicable for all its territories.
  3. Flag - I don't think it should even include this - it's not accurate for the majority of the period - but was outvoted. But two flags just looks crap.
  4. Capital - there was no official capital and this implies a degree of co-ordination and control that did not exist until (at least) the introduction of the telegraph. Many territories were administered locally.
  5. Language - no official language and no presumption or law stating that everyone should speak a single language. This could be a very long list.
  6. Religion - no official religion - bit pointless to list all the religions practised in countries that formed part of the Empire at one time or another.
  7. Government - the summary is inaccurate - it varied over time/territory. The lists are misleading - e.g. there were different prime ministers in different territories.
  8. Legislature - again misleading - not applicable to the whole Empire or the whole period.
  9. "Historical era" - what is this supposed to be? Who chooses the 'highlights'?
  10. Area - Misleading to suggest that this is representative and the population density is absurdly misleading - good example of why an infobox is a bad idea. This is covered properly in the introduction.
  11. Currency - not applicable to the whole Empire.
  12. Preceded/succeeded by... and what about all the other countries? This would have to include all the countries that were part of the Empire. And no, they don't all fit into a neat category.
Historical articles are, by their nature, more open to interpretation than other subjects. We have made some editorial decisions (e.g. around periodisation), but these are explained properly in the narrative. Summarising these with an infobox removes the caveats and asserts things as bald facts; this is misleading. A lot of the other proposals can never be right; it's not worth trying to shoehorn factoids into arbitrarily designated boxes just to satisfy a strange penchant for organising complex information in simplistic form. Wiki-Ed (talk) 20:22, 8 May 2017 (UTC)
I think its a waste of time and one editor "insisting" is not a good enough reason ----Snowded TALK 20:24, 8 May 2017 (UTC)
I agree; it is tiresome when people don't bother to listen to the points you make. Since you've evidently not bothered to read the prior debate, or at least not bothered to represent it correctly, I'll address each point in turn:
  1. Dates - Isn't it? 1997 is given as the end date IN the article itself. I have even conceded that the start date can be altered to reflect consistency with the article.
  2. "Colonial empire" - So we don't include it. How catastrophic.
  3. Flag - That's why I have put two flags. "But two flags just looks crap" is your personal, subjective opinion. I didn't realise articles were to be influenced by one editor's subjective view?
  4. Capital - The empire was largely administered with direction from London. So you simply alter the wording to reflect this. It really is not difficult.
  5. Language - If you had read what I had said, you would see I said English was the de facto language of the Empire. Which it was.
  6. Religion - If you had read what I had said, you would see I said Christianity was the de facto religion of the Empire. Which it was.
  7. Government - Would constitutional monarchy work better? It would cover the government which administered the empire.
  8. Legislature - The British Parliament did make legislation to govern the whole empire.
  9. "Historical era" - Have you not seen any other article on Wikipedia pertaining to an empire? The community debate and agree upon the highlights. If you are willing to debate the selected highlights, I'm more than willing to defend them.
  10. Area - How is it misleading to suggest that it is representative? The Empire did cover that amount of area, as the introduction even reflects. The population density is worked out based on an average. How is that misleading? ALL population densities are an average.
  11. Currency - That's why "various other currencies" are listed.
  12. Preceded/succeeded by - Not entirely accurate. "Today part of" would be where all of those nations are listed. The structure of the empire was succeeded by the Commonwealth and British overseas territories. (RockDrummerQ (talk) 22:23, 8 May 2017 (UTC))
"The transfer of Hong Kong to China in 1997 marked for many the end of the British Empire.", no the article does not say 1997 was the end date, it says that some say it is.Slatersteven (talk) 09:15, 9 May 2017 (UTC)
That's not the only problem with what User:RockDrummerQ has said. Some basic mistakes make me wonder whether he's familiar with the subject. Reading the article would provide the answers, but I'll summarise below.
  1. Capital - I'll concede that London was economically, socially and politically the capital, but the problem with stating this is that it suggests it was a central hub for a structured entity. While it may have been crucial, the empire itself was not "largely administered with direction from London" - the most economically valuable and populous part was administered - largely independently - from Delhi.
  2. Language - English was not the de facto language of the Empire. Simple test: how many people lived in India (cf the English-speaking population of the Empire) at any one time?
  3. Religion - Christianity was not the de facto religion of the Empire. (Test as above.)
  4. Government - No. It wasn't a constitutional monarchy for the whole period and, even for the later years, to say that it was suggests a degree of benevolent democratic governance that simply wasn't applicable to large chunks of territory and their peoples.
  5. Legislature - Not as an entity. At a more localised level: there were a number of other Parliaments.
  6. "Historical era" - Have you not seen any of the discussion on this article's talk page about the selected topics/coverage? We can justify editorial choices about the structure of the narrative, but not a short list which would be highly subjective.
  7. Area - It is not representative (arguably never can be) because it is a snapshot of a particular period and carries none of the caveats listed in the body text. Average population density doesn't tell the reader anything useful - pointless factoid.
  8. Currency - So they used different currency in different places. How is this helpful or useful?
  9. Preceded/succeeded by - The "structure of the Empire was succeeded by the Commonwealth"?! Really? It doesn't even include all the countries that were part of the Empire, but to suggest some sort of centralised governance structure is wrong (and, of course, misleading). There are as many variations (actually quite a lot more) as there are countries that were part of the Empire.
I don't see a new and/or compelling argument for introducing misleading factoids to a featured article. And, finally, I note that there are six editors opposing one editor's proposal. Looking at the list of people Tompadompa pinged, I don't think the odds are going to improve.Wiki-Ed (talk) 11:46, 9 May 2017 (UTC)
  1. Capital - no de facto capital, then? Although you have said it was economically, socially and politically the capital, so therefore would London not be the de facto capital?
  2. Language - Yes, it was. If you consider that English was the language used by all official correspondences and was the language of the governing officials and legislation.
  3. Religion - Same as above. Christianity dominated British governance, and the Church of England had a major role in the coronation of monarchs - and still does.
  4. Government - Fair enough, I will concede that point.
  5. Legislature - I will also concede that point, though I still firmly stand by the historically accurate notion that the empire was administered through legislation passed through the British parliament.
  6. Historical era - No, I haven't. Perhaps you could enlighten me? A short list wouldn't be all that subjective, as such short lists generally encompass key points in the empire's history; which is what has been done here.
  7. Area - I still don't see a good reason for arguing that it is not representative. It is the maximum area covered by the empire at its height, which is even what it states it is a reflection of. As for the population density, that seems to be an automated in-built part of the coding of Wikipedia; as I didn't introduce that through manual editing. So take that up with someone else.
  8. Currency - Surely it is useful in defining that the empire had no set currency? Pounds shilling and pence was the most commonly used in terms of measuring official revenue streams, though.
  9. Preceded/succeeded by - Yes. In the same way the Roman Empire was preceded by the Roman Republic. Perhaps just overseas territories of Britain? As I stated before, "today part of" would be a better indicator of the actual countries the empire is now a part of.
They're not misleading, as I have demonstrated. "I note that there are six editors opposing one editor's proposal" - Fair enough. I suppose that is an example of how democracy allows ad populum to flourish. Some of what I have proposed is genuinely useful to the article. (RockDrummerQ (talk) 15:23, 9 May 2017 (UTC))
The British Monarch is still head of the commonwealth, and is still crowned by the CofE, that does not make Christianity the official religion of the commonwealth.Slatersteven (talk) 16:42, 9 May 2017 (UTC)
Since the British Empire was not a legal entity, every aspect of it is de facto. And each of the fields in the info-box would therefore require judgment on our part, which is contrary to "No original research." Was Hanover ever part of the British Empire? Its citizens were British subjects. What about Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, the Mandate of Palestine, the princely states of India, the [Channel Islands]], occupied Tibet or the Oregon Country? TFD (talk) 01:56, 10 May 2017 (UTC)
RockDrummerQ please don't make the mistake of believing that because people disagree with you, they simply haven't read material or don't understand you. The position is pretty clear ----Snowded TALK 05:49, 10 May 2017 (UTC)
It wasn't as simplistic as people disagreeing. It was people raising the exact same points I had addressed before. That's where it becomes tiresome, and, from my perspective, like people really aren't paying due attention. (RockDrummerQ (talk) 15:23, 10 May 2017 (UTC))
Or that you have made the self same points over and over again without explaining why the rebuttals are incorrect. It is clear this is going nowhere so can we drop it now?Slatersteven (talk) 15:26, 10 May 2017 (UTC)
I actually have explained if you bothered to read the conversation properly. I actually came back to say I'm relinquishing these proposed changes. I'm focusing my attention on the American Revolutionary War. (RockDrummerQ (talk) 13:48, 14 May 2017 (UTC))


  1. ^ Brendon, p. 660
  2. ^ Brown, p. 594
  3. ^ Last monarch of the British Empire, though continued to reign as Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Commonwealth Realms
  4. ^ Prime Minister who oversaw the final handover of Hong Kong. Though Blair served till 2007, 1997 represented the end of the Empire

Just throwing my two pence in here. I’m concerned by what I’ve read in the comments above, namely the users who are hell bent on denying the empire ever existed at all in a legal capacity simply because, by their own criteria, it doesn’t match their description of such a thing. And that therefore the largest empire in history and the global hegemon of the 19th century apparently never existed at all and was never owned or run by anyone in particular and was never based anywhere. I’m not going to waste words arguing about this for ages, I am simply here to inform said users that they are incorrect. Kudos to RockDrummerQ for trying to talk some sense though - I’ve had issues in the past with articles on this website being dominated by one or a group of individuals with an agenda.

The arguments being put forward that the empire doesn’t meet the criteria for having an infobox is curious more than anything else, if not completely bizarre. For instance one user at the beginning stating that simply because there have been numerous iterations of the UK as a sovereign nation over time that this is somehow an argument against the empire being considered a “thing”. Nonsense. There are articles on this website with infoboxes that aren't even countries that have that box as a reference point for readers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2A02:C7D:B390:6A00:6531:6689:118E:C4C6 (talk) 17:38, 28 June 2017 (UTC)

I guess most of this went over your head. This isn't about 'proving' something existed or did not, it is about introducing (or not) misleading information into an article by glossing over the many and significant complexities of the entity which it cover. Wiki-Ed (talk) 19:06, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
No one is hell-bent on proving the empire did not exist as a legal entity, it did not. That makes it impossible to populate the normal info-box fields since the information is either inapplicable or differs depending on how the empire is defined. There are several beginning and ending dates for example, and no agreement on the territorial extent or citizenship. TFD (talk) 22:36, 28 June 2017 (UTC)
It is as well to be aware that the British Empire arose in an ad hoc way and was almost never planned except in a few rare cases. Very few of the territorial gains or acquisitions arose by aggressive war and deliberate conquest, rather many 'just sort of happened' as a result of victorious wars against other colonial powers, e.g, France and Spain, and the others were a result of global exploration and coming into contact with 'savages' who were still effectively in the stone age. Post-WW I the Empire acquired a number of territories that Britain neither wanted nor had any interest in, and which, from the POV of the sitting governments in Westminster, were quite frankly, a PITA. I'm sure many of you could work out which ones those were.
It is also as well to remember that where a territory had its own recognisable native leadership and laws, the British tried to fit in with them where possible, and did in fact purchase land from the tribal owners, rather than simply steal it, as some other colonizers I (and am sure you) could name, did. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:00, 8 August 2017 (UTC)

So if the British Empire was never an 'official' legal entity that began and finished at a certain definable time....[edit]

...could this possibly be reflected in the introduction of the article itself? Something like, "The British Empire, though being a historic entity about which much can be said, was never legally defined, and as such never began or ended."

Why should one have to delve deep into the Talk Page to get this actually rather important bit of information? Isn't this why there's an article?

Seems valid.Slatersteven (talk) 15:29, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
Except it would need a source. We can't prove a negative. Wiki-Ed (talk) 20:30, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
You can mention an absence, can't you? That a thing never began officially is "proven" by the absence of an official beginnings, is it not? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:43, 15 June 2017 (UTC)
Yes and no, you need to establish weight, and that means RS say it. As an example The British empire was also never ruled by a small marmoset called Kevin, but we cannot include that. But as to a source [2].Slatersteven (talk) 09:50, 16 June 2017 (UTC)
I do think we can use a modicum of common sense here. Wikipedia is surely not unfriendly to the application of simple logic in its edits. I'm sure Kevin the Marmoset would agree.Gazzster (talk) 02:40, 18 June 2017 (UTC)
To a degree, but what you think may be common sense someone else may not |(and many arguments are founded on just that). But as wew have an RS saying it was not a legal entity that should be enough.Slatersteven (talk) 09:49, 18 June 2017 (UTC)


I've just removed some threads started by banned User:HarveyCarter per WP:DENY. I'd suggest doing the same if similar types of posts re-appear. Nick-D (talk) 10:37, 14 August 2017 (UTC)

I recall that you've done this before. Grateful if you could share the secret of how you identify him. I could see the sockpuppeting, but not sure how you linked it to a specific banned user. Wiki-Ed (talk) 19:01, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
Per WP:BEANS probably best not to give that away. But thanks Nick, I thought something was up. WCMemail 23:53, 14 August 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I'd prefer to not publicly post the methodology used to identify HarveyCarter, beyond noting that its largely due to the editing pattern and that accounts which start trolling-style discussions on the articles he favours are highly likely to be him. Nick-D (talk) 08:30, 15 August 2017 (UTC)