Talk:Gadsby (novel)

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This article has been mentioned by a media organization:
  • Tristan Miller (May 2015). "Gadsby: Wikip_dia's Lost Lipogram". Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics. Retrieved 2015-06-05. Ernest Vincent Wright's novel Gadsby is legendary among constrained writing enthusiasts. When it was first published in 1939, it was the single largest work of English literature not to contain the letter "e". It is hardly surprising, then, that the book's many reviewers and commentators have sought to pay tribute to it with some modest lipogrammatry of their own. This article tells the story of one such tribute and the years-long battle it sparked on the world's largest and most popular online encyclopedia.  (details)

Some friendly discussion[edit]

It is quite obvious what the current editing of this article is all about and I guess my views on the subject are also well known. There is still a desire amongst some editors to have this article as a lipogram. There is also vehement opposition to this by others.

Could we start a friendly discussion, with as little rhetoric and dogma as possible, on how we might improve the article in an appropriate manner. Martin Hogbin (talk) 12:50, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

Between you and I, probably (I wonder to myself what more could be said though). Between myself and JJB, they have worn out their welcome with me. They have proven to be petty and childish I don't have any inclination thus far to have a conversation with someone that refuses to use standard colloquial English simply out of spite. He can use standard English, I've seen him do it. His refusal on this page, if not on the actual article page, has passed beyond "cute" and into the tendentious. It's disruptive and WP:POINTy and they should know that. That JJB is using the fine line created by entertaining the notion that this article could live as a lipogram to sustain this farce speaks only to the holes in the system and JJB's creativity to exploit them. Padillah (talk) 13:04, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
There has been considerable support for this article being a lipogram, not just from JJB. I think you should assume some good faith on his part. Just that he wants one thing and you want another is not a fair fair reason to assume bad faith on hos part. So, why should this article not be a lipogram? Martin Hogbin (talk) 19:32, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
There has been considerable desire for this article to be a lipogram. Many, including myself truth be told, think it would be neat. But it doesn't have much support other than a coolness factor. There are several policies and procedures that would need to be skirted or, at times, outright violated, in order to make this a reality. As has been brought up numerous times, the simple fact that we could not communicate clearly what makes the novel unique and notable. In point of fact, we couldn't call the book a "novel", or describe it as "unique" or "notable". We couldn't mention the authors first or middle names nor the name of the publishing company (without significant verbal gymnastics). We would have to use a thesaurus to convey the circumstances of the loss of most of the initial run (a fire). We would be unable to refer to "characters" or even "people". And the loss of a good chunk of past tense verbs would not help describe how or when the author "died". These and many other issues arise when you try to exclude what has been estimated to be fully five-sixths of the usable words in the English language. Padillah (talk) 20:10, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
You mistook Ross's point according to Talk:Gadsby: Champion of Youth#Hi again: it's not a sixth but a half. JJB 16:54, 6 Oct 2010 (UTC)

[conflict] Sorry, Martin, it is now a WP:GOLDLOCK. By way of discussion, this is what I was about to put in. But naturally, WP shows again that it is not only about improving information on topics.


... Its goal is providing "information as to what Youth can do" if it has opportunity: <quotation of first graf>

Gadsby contains a natural division into two portions. Its first part (about a fourth of its total bulk) is strictly a municipal history of Branton Hills, with only an insignificant focus on any individual story but John Gadsby's. An abrupt transition ("I think that now you should know this charming Gadsby family") marks a dramatic shift to individualization, introduction of its cast, and narration of topical short-story accounts.

Branton Hills

Branton Hills's anonymous historian lists among its population: ....

Municipal history

.... Gadsby is said to grow Branton Hills's population from 2,000 to 60,000.

Topical narration

Following this history, Gadsby's narrator turns to a transitional introduction of Gadsby's family and, from that point on, jumps topically from story to story as particular townsfolk catch his fancy. Wright calls this portion a rollicking story of courtship and patriotism, a stand against liquor, and a portrayal of "amusing political aspirations in a small growing town".

JJB 13:29, 1 Oct 2010 (UTC)

Forgive me if this has already been suggested, but what about an e-free lead paragraph (only)? This should be of a decent length and meticu8lously well-written, it goes without saying. The second paragraph would explain the trick, using the above as an example. Beginning here, the discussion would continue with the full alphabet available. WHPratt (talk) 14:39, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

Oh, please, dear God, don't start. We've been over every angle of this and the long and short of it ends up with a Camel's nose argument. Especially when certain editors are involved. To set aside a quote from the book is one thing, but to have us venture into the creation of lipograms is not really necessary. Padillah (talk) 16:55, 22 February 2012 (UTC)
Okay, I didn't intend to pursue it anyway. WHPratt (talk) 17:17, 22 February 2012 (UTC)


I've protected the article for two weeks, owing to edit warring over whether or not the text should be a lipogram. Please use this talk page to find a consensus.

Please keep in mind that there is zero policy support for rendering the text of an article as a lipogram, for any reason. If there were overwhelming consensus to do so, there would likely be no harm in having the text as a lipogram, but lacking any consensus for either a lipogram or straightforward English, the latter (article text in straightforward English) will be the outcome. In other words, the "default" outcome of any discussion here will be "no lipogram."

Protection may be lifted early if the discussion reaches a foregone outcome before the two weeks are up. Gwen Gale (talk) 13:21, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

GG, you mistook this situation. JJB 13:29, 1 Oct 2010 (UTC)
I don't think so. If you have consensus for a lipogram, you'll have a lipogram for as long as that consensus holds. Lacking such a consensus, in two weeks or less this article will be rendered in plain English. Gwen Gale (talk) 13:32, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
Gwen, you may be a sysop but that does not give you the right to give your own view and more weight than any other editor. There is no requirement in WP for an overwhelming consensus, just a consensus. As you will see I have already suggested above that we discuss this issue sensibly. Martin Hogbin (talk) 19:26, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
As I told Padillah, I have no worries about lipograms in the article. As I said above, I protected the article owing to edit warring over the lipograms. You're welcome to use this talk page to gather consensus for your edits, that's what it's meant for. Gwen Gale (talk) 23:07, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
I've stricken the word overwhelming, didn't mean it as anything other than consensus.
Thanks. Martin Hogbin (talk) 19:06, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
Given the opinions proffered here I think it is important to remind editors that consensus is not a majority of !votes, but a winning argument. And there are several policy infractions that should be taken into account when measuring this consensus. Simply getting a couple dozen editors to agree that the lipogram is neat (and, for what it's worth, I do) is not enough to overcome the stilted phrasing and policy violations that will arise from it. Consensus is not a vote, and it shouldn't be treated like one. Padillah (talk) 13:03, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
I always go with arguing to win too, and staying within policy. If you find an actual infraction or poor phrasing, undo it. But kindly don't undo a word and put in a word and say it's improving, as it is too tiny for us to distinguish such an undo from, um, that anti-lipogram position again. I am totally OK with a WP:CON toward actual improving if you concur in providing a good-faith, rational summary as you go. JJB 17:04, 6 Oct 2010 (UTC)
I'm sorry but, you have exhausted the supply of good faith assumptions I have for any given editor. My apologies. Padillah (talk) 12:52, 7 October 2010 (UTC)


A couple of diffs, taken at random, from the page history during the time that it was entirely lipogrammed:

Soap 23:20, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

Discussion on a lipogram[edit]

Some editors think that it is a good idea to have the article as a lipogram, it captures the spirit of Wright's book far better than ordinary words can. What are the reasons that this cannot be done? Martin Hogbin (talk) 19:06, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

We have to think of the readers first, the people who for the most are just coming here to get information, and aren't interested in cute wordplay. I actually supported the lipogram back in 2008, on the rationale that those who were against the lipogram weren't interested in editing the article, but I changed my mind quickly because I realized I was putting "editors" ahead of "readers". Soap 20:54, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
I would say that's true, the readers do come first. My 2 pence: The trick would be, to write a lipogram that reads smooth and easily as straight English. Gwen Gale (talk) 21:02, 2 October 2010 (UTC)
Who determines this fluidity? I could not find a more subjective measure than fluidity of phrase. Even if we agreed not to confound British and American English there's still the case of people blatantly inventing words or retasking words to fit their needs (check the misuse of the redirect intrawar in the history to the definition for interwar). The vocabulary is simply too broad and awkward to attempt a lipogram in the article itself. To have a sample, sure. To link to several online copies of the work - I'd say "required". But to try and present an informative, simple, article that doesn't depend on violating policy to function correctly is too much to ask and almost impossible to measure. Padillah (talk) 12:57, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

It's not hard to do this. If a lipogram is not smooth, you fix it. Ditto for nonlipogram. Our paradigm is that anybody who works on it should only go about improving it. If, on a particular word, two prongs of a fork don't work (lipo and anti), you just find an additional path that builds out that point and trumps both prongs. This would not apply as thoroughly to a contribution that would undo Wright's words "his town" by saying "it's not his town" in that Gadsby did not own it, from a contributor who bows out (cf. "opus") about "assuming bad faith" and who is now back arguing about ABF again, who talks about co-contributors this way but who complains at WP:WQA if you ask him about his undo. Anyway, not couting such contributions, ordinary build-out work will fix it all. This compromising would bring back our prior WP:CON. Now can an admin kindly unprot this? Or was I warring? JJB 15:37, 3 Oct 2010 (UTC)

Yeah, we're not being childish at all, are we? To ignore the fallibility of Wright's own words given the constraints he placed on his work is simply burying your head in the sand. Ordinary build-out work will not fix the lexicon of the English vocabulary. There is no amount of hope that will make "dactyl" or "foot digit" more understandable to an average person than "toe". And the suggestion that we should use words such as this to replace words like "toe" simply because we think it's "cool" would be placing our desires above the goals of Wikipedia. Padillah (talk) 12:57, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
But what proportion of readers are really interested in reading the detailed of the plot and characters? The only reason that this article exists at all is the fact that the book is a lipogram. The most important and notable thing about the book by far is the fact that it omits the letter 'e'. That fact is easily enough stated but what a lipogrammatical article conveys is the spirit of the book. Martin Hogbin (talk) 17:44, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
I don't think we can really make any assumptions about what the readers want. They are not the same people as we who edit, after all. But I think we could both agree that people coming to the Finnegans Wake article don't want to presented with something as unreadable as Finnegans Wake itself. While that is a more extreme example than this (for those not familiar, has what I believe is the original text, with glosses), I think the principle is the same. Again, I wouldn't be against a lipogram if it were just as intelligible and informative as the non-lipo version, but if it isn't much different than the September 9, 2008 version I linked to above, I would be against it. Soap 17:54, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
We have to make some kind of assumption about what the readers want or we would not know what to write. There has also been some reader feedback on the talk page, I think generally on favour of the lipogram. Martin Hogbin (talk) 19:14, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Then the question becomes "Why do we feel the need to convey the spirit of the book?" Does the article on Finnegans Wake convey the spirit of that book? Does the article on The Dark Tower convey the spirit of that book? Why, for this particular article, is it incumbent upon us to convey the spirit? How will conveying this spirit help the reader understand the publication hardships? How will conveying this spirit help the reader understand how Wright tied the 'E' bar down to keep from typing it? Padillah (talk) 20:05, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Because there is not much else to the book, if had not been a lipogram there would not be a WP article on it. It is more important to understand why Wright tied his 'E' bar down than how he did it. Let me ask you a question. How much harder do you think being a lipogram makes the article to understand? Martin Hogbin (talk) 21:09, 6 October 2010 (UTC)
Honestly? Most of the time it is inconsequential. But the times it is required, it is required. I've had people argue that a quote from the author describing what you just pointed out as crucial, Why Wright wrote this, shouldn't be in the article because they could rephrase it as a lipogram. Sorry, but a quote from the author is that important. It should be in the article. Period. And that's the biggest problem with trying to impose a lipogram on the article - it's absolute and unmitigated. By definition you can't have 2/3 of a lipogram. And I know we've suggested the infobox approach, but it comes up short. Case-in-point, the example I just gave of having a quote from the author in the article. What do we do? Direct the reader to the InfoBox for quotes? No, due to the immutable definition of "lipogram" if it fails once it's failed, and it fails more than once. Another example is the circumlocution of what, exactly, is this book. To try and circle around the mention of the letter 'e' introduces complexities that we don't need to deal with in colloquial English. 'Glyph' isn't quite right because 'e' is two glyphs - 'e' and 'E'. Now a question for you - Why can't we describe Wright's motivations and difficulties while using common, colloquial English? Padillah (talk) 12:46, 7 October 2010 (UTC)
I did that. Also, your thought that your Wright quotation "is that important" is our only invocation of immutability. I'm not going for immutability, that's all you, I think. Typical minority approach. JJB 13:26, 7 Oct 2010 (UTC)
Immutability? What? I'm not proposing immutability. I have no idea what your argument is and I refuse to play guessing games. If you refuse to frame it in a sensible manner I can't be expected to reply to it. Padillah (talk) 14:48, 7 October 2010 (UTC)
@Padillah. Of course we can use normal English but the question is, should we? I fail to see why we must have a verbatim quote from the author, why not a paraphrase? Martin Hogbin (talk) 23:08, 7 October 2010 (UTC)
"Why not..?" Really? Com'on, quotations are pretty standard fare in a book review. The use of them and reasons behind them should be self-evident. WP:QUOTE provides the opinion that quotes "...can sometimes explain things better and less controversially than trying to do so ourselves." Maybe the person reading the article wants to know why Wright wrote the book, not why you think Wright wrote the book. By the same token, using out of context excerpts from the book is not the same thing. Wright was working under a self-imposed constraint that we don't (or shouldn't) have. There's no need for us to excerpt the book for every few lines (except to use that excuse in an attempt to re-lipogram the article). As for "should we?", yes, we should make every effort to communicate clearly and concisely with the reader. Take the note from JJB a few lines up from here - I honestly have no idea what point they are trying to make. I am not arguing for "immutability", in fact quite the opposite. I'm arguing that anybody be allowed to change the article in any way they see fit (as long as it's an improvement). I also have no idea what the allusion to "Typical minority speech" means. Not knowing which minority I'm supposed to be in nor what type of speech I'm supposed to be embodying... I just can't make sense of the note. And that is the danger of using a lipogram to communicate - loss of clarity and circumlocution. Wright himself made mention of this issue in his book bemoaning the fact that, given his current constraints he will have to resort to some pretty wild syntax to accomplish his goal. That is all we are trying to avoid. Padillah (talk) 12:58, 8 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Hello. I thought it might be worth adding the opinion of a passing anonymous user. Okay, here goes. Have your cake and eat it by presenting the article in text that uses all the letters of the alphabet and include a link to a version that omits "e"s. If I went to a (printed) encyclopedia to look up this topic, I'd be surprised to find it written under lipogrammatic constraints. (talk) 06:06, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your interest, I would go with that in reverse - have a link to a plain text version. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:43, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
As I pointed out 2 years ago it would violate the prohibition against "content forking". The closest I could see that would be within policy would be to have the lipo version in someone's userspace. Soap 12:07, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
You mean like User:Synchronism/Gadsby:_Champion_of_Youth_(book)? -Phoenixrod (talk) 16:45, 10 October 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think anyone would object to that. I did just remove the interwiki links, though, because a userpage is not really equivalent to an article. Soap 16:56, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

Article is off protection now, apparently without any change in the consensus here on the talk page. Soap 09:58, 16 October 2010 (UTC)

I'm lazy to read the entire discussion, but how can you have an article on a lipogram without the letter 'e' without mentioning e once? Do people really propose saying the letter between 'd' and 'f' or something? And before people ask, no I didn't gratuitiously use 'e' in this comment, at least not intentionally. Nil Einne (talk) 13:23, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Please do not write in a lipogram on the talk page[edit]

I've been watching the latest flare-up of discussion here and trying not to get involved again; my position certainly has not changed, and I doubt that a new consensus will be easily reached the way things have been going. So I'd like to make a suggestion that I believe would go a long way. It's one that has been brought up several times before (I know I asked repeatedly), but I'll put it out once more, in its own section. If I could apply highlighting or gold stars or a neon sign around it, I would.

John J. Bulten, please do not write in a lipogram on the talk page. I know you think you are being clever and showing how it is possible to communicate without the letter e. I do appreciate the skill you put into crafting your comments. But it really, truly does make it more difficult to understand what you mean. It would be a good faith gesture on your part to drop the charade and let discussion procede without taboo words. You would be able to quote other editors' exact words and not engage in circumlocution at every step. You would be able to say what you mean and be understood—which is, after all, an important part of talk page discussion. I may not agree with Martin Hogbin, for example, but I understand what he means and can have a reasonable discussion. John J. Bulten, it still seems painfully clear to me that when you write in lipograms on talk pages, it's a form of disrupting Wikipedia to illustrate a point. The problem is that writing all your comments here without the letter e is disruptive to other editors' understanding and has raised the level of rancor.

If you want the article to improve, as I hope we all do, then we all have to use the talk page for its intended purpose. So please consider this my impassioned plea to say more directly what you mean. That might well be the first step to actually improving the article. -Phoenixrod (talk) 19:33, 3 October 2010 (UTC)

Recent change[edit]

I've been keeping an eye on this talk page but not adding to the recent discussion, largely because my position (that a lipogram would be fine if it were easy to read, but every attempt to write this as a lipogram has resulted in something that was not easy to read) hasn't changed and because no one else's position has changed, either. Regardless, the recent attempt to change back part of the article to a lipogram results in the same messy state that this article was previously in. Is Gadsby's introduction shows plainly that Wright's primary difficulty was avoiding lipogrammatically invalid suffixation found in past conjugations of action words as easy to understand as The introduction explains that Wright's primary difficulty was avoiding the "-ed" suffix for past tense verbs? The first phrase is ridiculous. I wasn't even sure what it meant until I checked what it had been changed from. I cannot understand why people would be pushing to toss up a page of hard to read, poorly phrased English just because they think it makes the article "fun." Rnb (talk) 18:58, 23 October 2010 (UTC)

I reverted simply because an IP had reverted the whole new wording. This seemed to me to be more a matter of perverse principle (that the article must contain the letter 'e') than a readability issue. Reversion of just the incomprehensible wording would have been better and more in the collaborative spirit of WP. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:50, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
There's really no point in continuing to debate this, as it's been going on for years and nothing has been resolved. But I don't see how, if, the article must contain the letter e is a matter of perverse principle, that the article must not contain the letter e is not. I've tried to offer collaborative solutions before and nobody seemed interested. It seems apparent that both sides are just waiting for the other to get tired of arguing and move on. Rnb (talk) 20:33, 24 October 2010 (UTC)
To clarify, this phrasing was not my first pick, it was just a synonymous draft that nobody had difficulty with, which I spat out long prior to this topic lock. Now that Padillah is back and I can spot a form of "harmonious contributor club", I will adjust his draft on this point to work with what Wright actually said. JJB 13:04, 25 Oct 2010 (UTC) Oh, as to Rnb, I did not at any point say anything about holding a "must not contain" position, and I do not count this topic as a "must not". It is simply a fact that lipogram quality has a bit of a link to its quantity; but contributions should only focus on quality and that link would not apply univocally (as our last IP has just shown by a poor but good-faith draft alluding to "that fifth and most common of 26 writing symbols"). JJB 13:11, 25 Oct 2010 (UTC)

Example of Word Ways "tight" lipogram[edit]

Do we have an example of a "tight" lipogram, as mentioned by the Word Ways article? It would be more descriptive if we could present the reader with an actual "tight" constraint to compare to the "moderate" constraint Wright used. Padillah (talk) 13:20, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

Um, Carroll Bombaugh, which you cut from this topic in March 2009? JJB 13:51, 25 Oct 2010 (UTC)
Thank you. Now I'll put it where it belongs and explain why it's there. Then the next editor will have a freakin' clue about what's going on in the article. Good points you bring up, thanks. Padillah (talk) 14:04, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
OK, maybe I wasn't very clear... Does anyone have an example I CAN USE? I'm sorry JJB, I didn't mean to make blatant reference to the place I wanted to use the example and the manner in which I wanted to use it. That's what comes of my communicating in a clear and concise manner. Bearing no other example I'm putting back the qualifier/clarifier that states "Wright's vocabulary" is a reference to his vocabulary as constrained by the novel. You can add the comparison example when you find it. Padillah (talk) 14:21, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
I don't know why you would do that ... ... if you actually think that anybody might not know that it's his constraint vocabulary and not his vocabulary as shown in his introduction, you could just say "subvocabulary" for disambiguation, as prior. JJB 14:28, 25 Oct 2010 (UTC)
You don't know why I would do that? How about Clarity. When I read it I mistook it to mean something else. When three other editors read it THEY misunderstood the sentiment expressed... I think it's safe to say, this wording is not as clear as it could be. An example of the extreme might help even more. Considering most of the article is about how difficult it is/was to write a novel as an 'e' lipogram, it might be illuminating to see an extreme example. It also might help the reader compare the complexity to the scope (while Wright's lipogram may not have been as restrictive as some the novel is significantly longer than others). 16:09, 25 October 2010 (UTC)
Possibly 'pataphysician Christian Bok, but with a similar proviso. Plus, a nonparticular comparison might wind up moving to lipogram. Anyway, I'll wait until additional contributors today finish up prior to fixing any introduction of minor difficulty I catch in passing. JJB 16:34, 25 Oct 2010 (UTC)

Actual title of the book[edit]

It was published as "Gadsby" with the the subtitle "A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter "E". I'll move it there shortly unless a very strong reason is presented to ignore the sources.Bali ultimate (talk) 14:26, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

Are you sure? Wikisource uses Gadsby: Champion of Youth, and here's an image of a cover using that title as well. Was it published at different times with a different subtitle? -Phoenixrod (talk) 17:25, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Okay, now I see that the image was for a class project, but surely the class has a reason for using the Champion of Youth subtitle. What do the sources say? -Phoenixrod (talk) 17:30, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

They say: "Gadsby: A story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter "E."",,, and sometimes "Gadsby: A 50,000 Word Novel Without Using the Letter "E."" The only ones of this title seem to be wikipedia or wikipedia mirrors.Bali ultimate (talk) 17:42, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

(edit conflict)It's confusing because I cannot find a record of this book in the usual places... but Google Books and all the sources appear to refer to this simply as "Gadsby". I've not been able to locate anyone with a copy (sadly) to confirm either way --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 17:43, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Well, Amazon has it listed as just Gadsby. But the editorial does mention the subtitle that Bali mentiones above: [1] Padillah (talk) 17:44, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Worldcat shows 5 or so libraries holding a book of the title: Gadsby: A 50,000 Word Novel Without Using the Letter "E." and zero with the title Gadsby: Champion of Youth.Bali ultimate (talk) 17:46, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Amazon isn't always right; I highly suspect they use computers to do the majority of their categorization. Here's a book by the same author in which the illustrator's name is given as "30 b/w Illustrations". A minor oversight perhaps, but not unusual; another example is how they seem to believe Peter, Paul & Mary is a married couple whose names are "Paul Peter" and "Mary Peter", presumably because the comma in the name fools their categorization software into thinking that Peter is a last name. Also, one of the editions of the book available on Amazon goes on to list a customer complaining that it's just a re-print of a digitally scanned version of the original, and full of errors. If whoever published the book wasn't diligent enough to fix a bunch of rather obvious typos they might not have been worried too much about the title either. But even so, if we can't find anyone outside Wikipedia using the title Gadsby: Champion of Youth then I agree that it should definitely be changed. (We did, originally, have it as Gadsby (novel), which still redirects here.) I'm not sure about using Gadsby: A 50,000 Word Novel Without Using the Letter "E.", though, particularly since it has quote marks in it. Unless the Manual of Style forbids it, I would think the best title would be Gadsby (novel). Soap 18:01, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Weird, you argue against Amazon and then suggest we agree with Amazon. Hmm. Anyway, a google of "Gadsby" comes back with the spinelessbooks entry and the Amazon entry, as well as the Wikipedia entry. It doesn't look like "Gadsby" would conflict with anything so unless we find something else that needs to disambiguated, we could even leave it at Gadsby. But we should at least be able to rename it to Gadsby (novel). Padillah (talk) 18:41, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
Argh, I noticed as I reread the entry that Gadsby already goes to a DAB page. So Gadsby (novel) it is. Padillah (talk) 18:43, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
It's fine for the title. Will change the inline text.Bali ultimate (talk) 18:57, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

As I understand it WP policy for books is just to have the book title, as we currently do. Martin Hogbin (talk) 08:37, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Uh, there is quite overwhelming evidence that the current title is wrong. DO you have any other sources? --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 08:39, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
I believe the current title was an effort to maintain the article as a lipogram. the move discussion that resulted in the current tile may shed some light on this. --Rtrace (talk) 14:46, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
The weird bit of that move discussion is that it never engaged with the fundamental problem; the current name claimed for the book in the article title is not, in fact, its name (as shown, it's variously just Gadsby or with the subtitle A 50,000 word blah blah blah).Bali ultimate (talk) 19:32, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
That's what I think Rtrace is pointing out. The current title is not based on policy or MOS, it's based on not using the word "novel" to disambiguate. Since this restriction is no longer an issue the rename/move to the proper name "Gadsby (novel)" should be a no-brainer. Padillah (talk) 20:00, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
I think the original move you point to was based on Wikisource, which (apparently alone in the world) uses the Champion of Youth subtitle. -Phoenixrod (talk) 00:55, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
Yes, and the IP that made that novel edit to wikisource [2] (creating the whole "champion of youth" thing) can reasonably be assumed to belong to User:John_J._Bulten [3] [4]. At any rate, the IP responsible for the still extant wikisource edit admitted [5] that it made it up. I'm sure it's just all some big coincidence. Thank god the fake title hasn't been knocking around for over two years being scraped by lots of web crawlers.Bali ultimate (talk) 02:05, 28 October 2010 (UTC)


[6] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:59, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: page moved; no-brainer if there ever was one. No argument to keep a page at a title we know is fake could possibly hold, and twisting the convention to keep the title a lipogram is contrary to basic policy. — Coren (talk) 14:13, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Gadsby: Champion of YouthGadsby (novel) — The current title is misleading and inaccurate since it isn't the title of this book. Its title is simply "Gadsby" with the subtitle "A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter "E". The false name appears to have been used for the book to avoid having a word in the article title with the letter "e" in it. Accuracy should trump efforts to avoid using the letter "e."Gadsby (novel) is currently a redirect to this page. Bali ultimate (talk) 20:36, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

WP policy regarding articles on books is that they just have the book name as the title. If there is a move at all it should be to 'Gadsby'. Martin Hogbin (talk) 21:03, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
Gadsby is already a well-populated DAB page.Bali ultimate (talk) 21:13, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
Outside admin comment: the policy is that a page gets the simplest available title. The title of the book itself, alone, if that is available; or with the addition of a suitable disambiguating suffix, if the title alone is the object of disambiguation. The present discussion has three potential issues to address: (a) whether "... Champion of Youth" is the proper title of the book (I see the discussion above pointing in the direction that it isn't); (b) whether this page would be the WP:PRIMARYTOPIC for "Gadsby" alone (which nobody has argued for or against yet); and (c) which of the disambiguating suffixes, "novel" or "book", is more appropriate, if such a suffix is needed. Participants in the discussion should be aware that any argument based on the premise that the "lipogram" quality of the title should be preserved is self-evidently contrary to policy and therefore will be ignored in the closing of this discussion. Editors who persistently push for such arguments contrary to policy may be blocked for disruption. Fut.Perf. 21:34, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
I personally could live with (book) if i had to (though it's suboptimal because it doesn't say what kind of a book, i.e. a "novel"). My biggest problem is that the current title is false or misleading (worldcat makes that clear). Simply Gadsby seems a bad idea, since there's at least one town on that dab page of that name and 3-4 actual people named "Gadsby."Bali ultimate (talk) 21:53, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
FP, are you saying that you will block all editors who disagree with you over whether this article should be a lipogram. Martin Hogbin (talk) 22:33, 27 October 2010 (UTC)
He appears to be informing everyone that lipogrammatical work has been rejected by the community. And pushing for it on those grounds alone might be disruptive and blockable. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 08:30, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
Please look at the history of the article. There has never been a consensus on this subject, except for the recent unexplained flurry of new editors. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:15, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
Ah ok I see... this was discussed at AN/I. In this instance the MOS overrules article level preference (because it is such a drastic switch from policy) so writing the article as a lipogram is a non-starter. Apologies if that has not been made clear to people here on the talk page --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 09:21, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
There is a consensus, indeed a guideline that indicates that this should not be written as a lipogram. pablo 09:32, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Support a move to Gadsby (novel). I think we had it there at some point anyway. The (novel) disambig is more descriptive than simply Gadsby (book) would be, and the full subtitle is simply too long (and it seems to have variable wording in the sources). As an aside, I'm surprised Wikisource uses the "Champion of Youth" subtitle if it's incorrect, but such appears to be the case. -Phoenixrod (talk) 00:53, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
As to Wikisource, an IP belonging to JJB is the one that edited the wikisource article to have the champion of youth name, at the time his named account was campaigning for the name change here on wikipedia. Wikisource is not reliable for much.Bali ultimate (talk) 11:25, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Support moving to Gadsby (novel). Gadsby (book) has some implication that the book is non-fiction, which is not the case here. The name with subtitle, Gadsby: a story of over 50,000 words without using the letter "E", seems overly long for a page name. --Rtrace (talk) 02:30, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Thought: At risk of a block, I must supply a factual basis not found in your ongoing discussion and point out two citations of Wright's original titling Gadsby–Champion of Youth prior to anything going too far out of hand. It shows up both in Fiction mag and in that AP story Fifty Thousand Words Minus (look for "Wright 66 sat down" at this link and you should spot a draft of it in column two if you squint); my transcription of AP and how I got it show up in archiving. Googling works too. JJB 03:55, 28 Oct 2010 (UTC)
    • The problem with those sources is that they are 1937, the book appears to be published in 1939, so that is certainly no use as a source for its published title. Although it is certain interesting information to put in the article, perhaps. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 08:30, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
    • "supply a factual basis" do you mean "provide a reference"? Padillah (talk) 12:02, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Support moving this to Gadsby (novel). Given everything above, I think it makes the most sense. Rnb (talk) 04:55, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Support via all my previous comments. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 08:30, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I would support Gadsby (book) however, as suggested by Phoenixrod. Martin Hogbin (talk) 09:15, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment I'm not ignoring this topic, I am pointedly staying out of this. At this point it would be too easy to assume bad faith on my part. Padillah (talk) 12:02, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Support move to Gadsby (novel) as proposer.Bali ultimate (talk) 13:16, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Support move to Gadsby (novel) -- including the subtitle would be overkill. --SarekOfVulcan (talk) 13:31, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Support Gadsby (novel), it seems perfectly suitable. S.G.(GH) ping! 13:32, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Support move to Gadsby (novel). AFAIK, we typically don't include long subtitles (cf Slaughterhouse-Five, not [[Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death]]), and using "book" as a disambiguator when the more descriptive "novel" is available seems...obtuse. keɪɑtɪk flʌfi (talk) 13:50, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
  • Support Gadsby (novel) --John (talk) 14:08, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

And as an added note, I can't even think of a reasonable rationale to keep the old title redirect around any longer than is needed for people to find the article again. — Coren (talk) 14:13, 28 October 2010 (UTC)

Unfortunately, the deception has been around for a couple of years, the article has been scraped dozens of times... among the small community of people interested in this book, some probably do believe (thanks to wikipedia's low standards) that the name is "Champion of Youth" so I'd argue to keep the redirect. It does no harm as is.Bali ultimate (talk) 14:22, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
That's one right there.  :-) — Coren (talk) 15:49, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
However, there's also a redirect at Vin Wright which serves no useful purpose. I have listed it at RfD  pablo 15:53, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
And there's another at past conjugation, if you've got your deleting hat on. pablo 16:18, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
and short form (linguistics), a redirect invented by JJB to abbreviation. There were a couple of more of those tortured inventions i stumbled across in the clean up. Bali ultimate (talk) 16:32, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
Anyone want to RfD FaRO and D.R.H. too? (two more from the lipogrammatical version) Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 16:34, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
Both speedied as implausible redirects. OhNoitsJamie Talk 16:37, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
JJB also invented Manual typing as a redirect for Typewriter; Artistic constraint as a redirect to Constrained writing; Aught-six as a redirect to 1906; Harding's administration to Warren G. Harding; Gil Adair for Gilbert Adair; Typing bar for Typebar; and Cat in a Hat for The Cat in the Hat. I've probably missed a few.Bali ultimate (talk) 16:52, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
You would have loved intrawar which was blatanly wrong since it redirected to interwar. I'm trying to think of others. The easiest way would be to check the Sept. '09 version Soap linked to above. Padillah (talk) 16:56, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
There isn't much left. Francophonic could conceivably be used for Francophone, and vanity publication and vanity publishing for vanity press. I see less use for companyman as a redirect to firefighter, or structural conflagration for structural fire though; they will probably never be used again. Soap 17:49, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
It's unimportant, I guess, whether these redirects are left in place - no-one is likely to use any of them ever again, and they aren't exactly clogging up the servers. But it does point up what a shitpile this kind of pointy editing can lead to.  pablo 19:47, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
Anyone want to take a look at Past conjugation and Short form (linguistics)? ClovisPt (talk) 00:10, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
While not useful for anything, they don't really cause any harm. You could list them at wp:RfD for more input.  pablo 10:27, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

My position[edit]

Now that this contributor orgy (with admin assist) is finis and this topic is again without input, for 24 hours anyway, I wish to clarify my position to avoid anybody blocking without thinking first. I found this topic long ago and I wrought out a WP:CON draft that was fully in harmony with a longstanding wish of many contributors for portions or all to allow lipogrammaticity. During this work, opposition was sporadic, but favor for lipogram stuck at sixty-forty ratios up until this last influx. It is not obvious if this is changing, until it is known which contributors will stay in it for a long haul. But Martin and I (and who knows) in 2009 thought all contributors had said a paradigm was worthy of honor that allows that all of us should only work toward improving this topic. Both in 2009 and now, an occasional contribution would still work in favor of, or against, a local lipogram, that did not assist but hurt things. All of us slap down such right away. Pro-lipogram, a contributor still trying for "fifth symbol" or similar words did not stay long. Anti-lipogram, I got in a big fix by saying that changing "his" into T-H-you-know-what was gratuitous, though I obviously thought so, with good backup. This was not similar to, say, discussing what kind of work of fiction this is.

I also saw much discussion of my duplicity and distortions. I'm sorry I thought it was good compromising to go to 1937's "Gadsby: Champion of Youth", not noticing that I had no 1939 sourcing, in that an Amazon titling of "A story of 50,000 words" is so probably not what Wright said on any occasion. I hastily said that British Broadcasting Corporation had a link to David Crystal's book, but Bali's turndown was put uncivilly (not to discuss also Pablo's just-prior summary). I am always in favor of making additional links to topics, and, by 2008 standards of WP:IAR, my pointing from most such phrasings as "artistic constraint" and "aught-six" was fully compliant and in good faith, and phrasings such as "Vin Wright" did no harm, and did honor to this sixty-forty POV split on talk. I put good phrasing and sourcing into Wright, though, I admit at that point, it was not up to standard; but I was told that this assist, of supplying of basic start phrasing to our nonlipogram group influx, was disruption. Similar points apply ad infinitum.

In short, I ask all of us again to go about assuming good faith. Though not in COI, I will happily act as if I'm a contributor in conflict, and limit my contributions to what is unarguably improving things. As always, if anybody has difficulty with my work, I go to talk, but I will not push so hard if opposition shows up. But nobody should block a contributor for choosing not to say particular words. That is basic Bill of Rights. If I limit my contributions to a subvocabulary, but I still work in good faith toward improving, anybody who is proud of making "difficult blocks" should at minimum wait to jump until I can talk about a rational position for supplying such contributions. I will put back a handful of valid links such as "manual typing", and I will in good timing find out any inaccuracy or poor phrasing in this last rush and fix accordingly, in conjunction with a good-faith harmonious club. Thank you. JJB 01:58, 31 Oct 2010 (UTC)

If you do any of what you've just proposed (ignoring entirely the gibberish about the bill of rights; this is a private website, not an expirement in government by sophomoric wankery) you'll be blocked. Your barely comprehnsible post, wasting everyone's time with the deliberately tortured lanaguage, serves to send the message that you're a troll. Oh yeah, count on a block if you try it.Bali ultimate (talk) 02:18, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
This page needs some more of these. Please give generously.
(edit conflict)Of course they did harm.
Dr. Seuss' book is not called 'Cat In A Hat'
Ernest Vincent Wright was not called 'Vin Wright'
Douglas Hofstadter should not be hidden away behind the initials 'D.R.H'.
These are not constructive edits. You are sacrificing accuracy and clarity for the sake of "remaining true to the style of the book"– something which is neither necessary nor desirable in an encyclopaedia article (or indeed its talk page).  pablo 02:21, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
This is ridiculous. Please don't inconvenience other volunteer editors because of your hobby. Write coherently, and use all available letters. Dayewalker (talk) 03:05, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure if I should be amazed or horrified that after all of this, someone would return and assert (in a lipogram, no less) that they intend to start the article back down the road to being a lipogram and that, oh yeah, we should also assume good faith. Rnb (talk) 03:22, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
It's a little bit of both, RnB. Why would anyone bother doing that when almost every single editor who comes to the article afterwards will add an "e" in some way or another? It's WP:LAME at its finest. Dayewalker (talk) 03:26, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
I'm amazed that we're still discussing it. It's clearly disruptive for the many reasons listed about and blockable as such. OhNoitsJamie Talk 14:53, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Well another editor also thinks it merits still more discussion, and possibly an Arbcom case, so there may be more to come.  pablo 15:17, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

I'd be amazed if it wasn't tossed out of ArbCom. OhNoitsJamie Talk 15:26, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

I know WP:CCC and I don't fight it. If y'all don't think my contributions would assist in any way, I can always go on with my voluntary topic ban. But this topic as of today has much inaccuracy arising from this last contributor influx, and much is wrong with taking my 2008 contributions using a WP:CON IAR paradigm and now attributing antipolicy motivations to my input as if today's group was around in 2008. If you don't think I can assist by pointing out factual flaws, shalom. But this basic disputation about forcing a contributor to talk a particular way will show up again. JJB 18:10, 31 Oct 2010 (UTC)

I do suggest you try working in E-Prime; besides the irony of the name as applied to your style, it is a good mental experiment, and it's also good for reducing ego conflicts. --jpgordon::==( o ) 18:19, 31 October 2010 (UTC)

Is it?! JJB 18:37, 31 Oct 2010 (UTC)

JJB sports, Yukon tribute shuns Meinhof Benin gut fief, buttock aunt ELP thin king thereby cumin tent ent schuss  pablo 19:05, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Think of it like this. If I insisted in writing articles in cockney rhyming slang do you see that going down well? Do you think that would be useful? The issue here is not about people staying on topic, it is about basic policy. If you cannot write an article in reasonably coherent English then that creates work needing to be fixed - this is a current non-blockable problem. But when you insist on contributing in a particularly finicky way after being told not to. That is a blockable issue, just to prevent you creating more work. You damaged the coherence of this article for no useful reason and it has been explained that you should not do so again. But please! Correct factual inacuracies! Arbcom is beyond a no go - this is not what they rule on. I recommend the normal dispute resolution process (i.e. an RFC) - but it will have to be at the community level rather than article level because it is a huge divergence from the recommended article style. --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 19:24, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
E cen't pessebly cemprehend hew eseng censtreened lengeege weeld be preblem fer reedebelety? OhNoitsJamie Talk 20:01, 31 October 2010 (UTC)
Can someone start a user conduct RFC on JJB? He has been violating POINT for years, and we are all tired of it. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 04:38, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Having dealt with this editor for a couple of years I can tell you that I don't get the feeling they will stop their lunacy anytime soon. Even when the page was locked recently so that the pros and cons of the lipogram could be discussed they simply waited out the lock and started up on the other side. That is what I went to ANI for, not some RfC about the article but to get more admin eyes on the behavior of JJB and get someone to talk to them and explain that EVERY edit they have made to this talk page in the last 2 years (at least, if not more) has violated WP:POINT and if it weren't for the fact that no one is paying them any attention they would (and should) have been blocked years ago. I would like to submit that JJB is much more knowledgeable about this subjec6t than I am - at least I think they are, they've never managed to communicate with me so I can't really tell. Their input would be appreciated, if it could be understood. If they can contribute in a lucid and meaningful way I think they can add significantly to this topic. Padillah (talk) 14:15, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

If he persists (his pattern is to wait a week or two, as he did in this instance) I'll take it to AN/I and am fairly confident we'll get a restriction on him participating in any articles or talk pages about lipograms, broadly construed. Until then, just ignore him. His behavior is the very definition of acting in bad faith.Bali ultimate (talk) 14:19, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Novel's subtitle[edit]

There appears to be a conflict raised in the recent editing. Our article's text says the book is Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter "E", but the picture uses a slightly different wording for the subtitle: 50,000 Novel Without the Letter "E". Can we be consistent? -Phoenixrod (talk) 04:29, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Worldcat says the title is Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter "E", so I think we need to stick with that. Ed [talk] [majestic titan] 04:34, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
Okay, then we need a new picture, I assume. -Phoenixrod (talk) 04:55, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
Not really, no. Subtitles can be informal and change over time. currently lists this as Gadsby: A Lipogram Novel, for example. Tarc (talk) 12:57, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
I understand that subtitles can change, but I would think this article's picture should illustrate the most common one. -Phoenixrod (talk) 16:25, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
Well, i would say if one is available then, yeh, reasonable change to make. Is there one available? --Errant [tmorton166] (chat!) 16:37, 1 November 2010 (UTC)
Good point. I can't find many images of the book at all. Maybe someone could photograph one of the copies that Worldcat says use the same subtitle? -Phoenixrod (talk) 16:44, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

(outdent) Okay, this edit seems to solve the issue. -Phoenixrod (talk) 16:47, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

How many pages?[edit]

The lead claims it's a 136-page novel, but the infobox tells us the book is 260 pages. I see in Wright's introduction to the book here that he "had covered 138 pages of typewriter size paper", which gives us still another number. What's correct? -Phoenixrod (talk) 05:27, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

Different editions have different number of pages (including the online one since it's out of copyright). Maybe best to remove reference to number of pages, espcially since we know the number of words, which is less variable. I think that was my mistake.Bali ultimate (talk) 14:21, 1 November 2010 (UTC)

A proposed solution to the Great Lipogram Debate.[edit]

On the one hand we have the opinion that writing this article without the letter E would be cool. I doubt that anyone would disagree - if there were no downside such as decreased readability.

On the other hand we have the opinion that writing this article without the letter E makes it harder to read. Clearly there would be no objection if there existed an E-Free version that is better than the E-containing one.

I also note that Ernest Vincent Wright did not edit his novel in public, nor did anyone expect it to be readable while still being written and edited.

My proposed solution is that the No-E proponents create a parallel article in userspace (on a user talk page), and that when and if they think it is of high enough quality to replace the containing-E version, they seek consensus here.

You can start with trying to figure out a replacement for "Gadsby (novel)", "Gadsby: A Story of Over 50,000 Words Without Using the Letter 'E'", and "by Ernest Vincent Wright". If your best efforts can't create replacements for those three sections that everyone can agree are as good as the present versions, then you will never achieve consensus. But please, don't give up too soon! This sort of thing takes a lot of thought, and if you do manage to pull it off it will be a major accomplishment. Guy Macon (talk) 00:09, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

This is a perennially tiresome request that has received stern responses here and here. In short; "not going to happen". Tarc (talk) 02:34, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
Seconded. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a trove of "cool." OhNoitsJamie Talk 04:14, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
Proponents of writing without using the letter E can write versions of whatever articles they would like in their own user space. However, they should do so knowing full well that version has no place in the mainspace, and will never stand there without other editors changing the article for the sake of legibility. Dayewalker (talk) 04:21, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
So you are saying that even if they come up with a version that is more legible you will reject it in favor of an inferior version with "E"s?
IMO there is a near-zero chance that they will be able to accomplish such a thing, but if they do manage to pull it off, you shopuld welcome the improved version rather than rejecting it out of hand. Guy Macon (talk)
It's not near zero; it is zero. I've seen how Gadby adherents write prose, there was a guy who has been pestering about this topic for ages that only makes e-free responses to discussions here and elsewhere. The words are clunky, awkward, and personally, really flipping annoying. Writing in Gadsby-speak and writing a coherent encyclopedia articles are mutually exclusive actions. Tarc (talk) 14:36, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
The approach of "if you can improve it without Es, have at it" was tried before and it resulted in people writing difficult, clunky and legitimately less informative text, then claiming their work was easy to read and an improvement over what was already in the article. Then came the month long arguments. As someone who has watched that process repeat itself over and over for the past few years, I think the death of the e-less version really is the best result. Rnb (talk) 16:58, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
Guymacon, what I'm saying is that the odds of this article existing for very long with the word "the" or any other mention of the letter "e" are infinitesimally small. That letter is rather important. Dayewalker (talk) 18:44, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree with that, but then again, I thought that Wikipedia would not work when I first heard the concept. Clearly there are people who think that it can be done, but even if they are right they won't get there by editing the current article in place. That path leads to strife and conflict, and to any half-baked attempts annoying everybody and being reverted. Far better to carefully build the e-free version in userspace and only bring it up here when they think it is good enough. One of three things will then happen Either they never make it good enough, in which case nobody here gets bothered, or they get it to where they think it's better than the e-containing version but are wrong, in which case they post a pointer to it and consensus says no, or they get it to where they think it's better than the e-containing version and it actually is, in which case I and everyone else who doubted will see the superior version and gladly make it the official Wikipedia page. The alternative is for them to try to build it in mainspace, and we have seen how well that has worked in the past. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to say "the consensus here is that you should carefully construct your e-free version as a subpage to your user page and only come back when you think it is superior to the existing e-containing version." IOW keep them busy and out of trouble. Guy Macon (talk) 20:32, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

(OD) The problem with encouraging this behavior is that if there is a version of the article written without using the letter "e" that consensus dictates is good enough to actually use, no policy exists to keep it free of other editors adding words with the letter "e" at some point in the future. To have this article written in that style completely excludes collaborative editing. Dayewalker (talk) 20:44, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. I suggest everyone move away from the late horse. OhNoitsJamie Talk 20:51, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
I find Dayewalker's argument about excluding future collaborative editing to be compelling, and thus withdraw my suggestion. I hadn't though about it that way, but he is clearly correct. Guy Macon (talk) 21:14, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Dead Links[edit]

The links to the public domain novel text given in the "footnotes" section are mostly dead. Here is a link alive and well. Maybe omeone more educated than me with the editing stuff can update... Mainzelmann (talk) 07:00, 10 November 2011 (UTC)

Initial Printing Logistics[edit]

Was Wright's printer in on the gag? This would have been in the era when books were set in movable type, so one can imagine the typesetter plodding along setting up ther text, running low on many letter slugs while the "e" bin (the largest in the tray or rack) was still at capacity. (Of course, it wouldn't be an issue today.) WHPratt (talk) 15:39, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

It was 1939, so hand typesetting was long gone, and that issue wouldn't be noticeable on a linotype machine. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 13:43, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
I hadn't realized that movable type had been replaced that long ago. That would have been a heck of a trick to have played in Gutenberg and Co. WHPratt (talk) 16:53, 17 September 2012 (UTC)


I remember Dmitri Borgmann's book Language on Vacation discusses this book at some length, though I don't remember much of what it said, except that it claims La Disparition is a much better book. (talk) 10:23, 2 April 2012 (UTC)

There appears to be a little problem here...[edit]

Either it's untrue that "The novel's 50,110 words do not contain a single e" or the text on Wikisource has an issue. There is an 'e' here (second paragraph, first line) and here as well (second paragraph, third-last line). In both cases, the word is 'the'. The word wasn't typo'd by the Wikisource contributors, it's actually there in the scan image. Am I missing something? (talk) 15:11, 4 June 2013 (UTC) P.S. I checked, and those are the only 2 occurrences of letter 'e' in the entire text.

I noted this in the article. Hopefully a scanned copy of the book counts as an authoritative source. C. Scott Ananian (talk) 18:03, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
The publisher may have made the typos. I don't know much about book publishing today, let alone 70 years ago, but I get the impression that the manuscript the author sends in has to be re-typed manually by the publisher, and it's easy enough to make a few mistakes. I've seen typos in published academic books, after all, such as *ecomoic for "economic" and a children's book about a girl named Terri who suddenly becomes "Terry" on one page. Soap 22:26, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
  • I found the letter E at least 4 times in Kindle edition of the book. Twice for the word "the" and also the word "officers" and "elude"-- (talk) 00:26, 17 December 2016 (UTC)
The scanning process could have created some of those, by misinterpreting flawed letters. This can produce an "e" out of a "c" or an "o" or a semicolon or even a squashed bug on the page. Sometimes the OCR software tries to make another word once it has picked up a bad letter, and this could introduce more new letters. The process has improved, but there's not much it can do with indistinct copy, and human surveillance is still required. WHPratt (talk) 14:37, 21 May 2017 (UTC)
Scanning is unlikely to have created the word "the" or "officers" however. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 19:12, 21 May 2017 (UTC)
Right, in these cases, I agree. I was speaking generally. I could see a word like "official" with bad typography at the end being interpreted as "officer" by an OCR robot, or "this" or "thy" turning into "the" as the software tries to make the best match under the usual rules. WHPratt (talk) 13:01, 22 May 2017 (UTC)
I didn't realize OCR made decisions like that - I thought it was strictly letter-by-letter. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 14:57, 22 May 2017 (UTC)
I've encountered it here and there. There are lots of algorithms, and it depends upon how smart the program is trying to be as to how dumb it can get! WHPratt (talk) 13:01, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

Just for fun[edit]

Can someone point me to the last revision of this article which was still (within reasonable constraints) a lipogram (or your idea of the "best" lipogrammatic revision)? Thanks. Protonk (talk) 18:39, 3 November 2014 (UTC)

Possibly , which is as extreme as it ever got. Even the edit links were hidden, I believe, and <REF> was avoided, although it seems like {{cite news}} was allowed. Soap 22:37, 23 December 2014 (UTC)
Actually I realized I posted better links up above 4 years ago. I'll put them again here since I assume the other section will be archived eventually:
Soap 03:05, 25 December 2014 (UTC)

A call to civility[edit]

Looking through past discussion, it's obvious that folks discussing this topic strongly split into two camps. I say that folks should laugh about this all. It's fun. All of us should find ways to do silly things. I applaud the original author for going down this path. I strongly ask that all of us show said author civil and fair discussion. No attacks that focus on an individual or call an author annoying if said author acts in good faith.

If folks want to avoid a full-on word switch, a lipogrammatical introduction would accomplish it. It would accomplish a fair common ground. It's an optimal way to show what Gadsby is all about. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Resoru (talkcontribs) 11:54, 16 March 2015‎

Consensus was reached long ago that making the article harder to understand in the name of cuteness is a bad idea for wikipedia. There are lots of other websites where you can lipogram to your heart's content - but not here. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 12:06, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
This section was added by User:Resoru, who made several edits to remove the letter "e" from his comment. Trying anything like that in the article will result in a block. Jonathunder (talk) 19:05, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

Jonathunder changed the the title of my section then blocked me for changing it back. Truly astounding. You've lost a Wikipedia editor of seven years, but I suppose you see that as a plus. (talk) 21:34, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

I hope you will return to nondisruptive editing and you are welcome to do so when the block expires. Insisting on lipograms on this talk page, however, is disruptive. See the discussion from 2010. Jonathunder (talk) 22:38, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
Wow - blocking after two edits seems unnecessarily quick and nasty, especially if the edits were just to the title of his/her own talk section. Just because there's a long history of dispute on this article doesn't mean we have to be hyper-sensitive. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 00:19, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
User:Jonathunder, that was a gravely inappropriate use of the blocking tool. The user was only editing his own comment, and he wasn't doing anything that you warned him would result in a block. (You said he'd be blocked for writing a lipogram in the article, and he respected that warning.) Your post hoc justification for the block linked to a single user's suggestion (not restriction) to John J. Bulten that he stop posting lipograms on this talk page. This suggestion was not binding, carried no threat of a block, attracted no discussion or community consensus, and was directed to a user who (as far as I can tell) has no connection whatsoever to User:Resoru. (Besides this, it rests on a misunderstanding of WP:POINT.) I think you owe User:Resoru an immediate unblock and an apology. —Psychonaut (talk) 08:48, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
I think you are right. Jonathunder (talk) 17:05, 17 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for doing the right thing. —Psychonaut (talk) 17:23, 17 March 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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This is funny[edit]

Apparently there are some who feel that an article about a lipogramatic novel should, itself, be lipogramatic. Others clearly disagree.

I would just point out that Wikipedia has an article about the Voynich Manuscript, which is entirely written in an unknown, and thus far uninterpretable writing system. Yet no one seems to have felt behooved to rewrite the Voynich article in a similarly uninterpretable system.

Just sayin' :-) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:22, 29 March 2016 (UTC)


I cut this sentence which seems odd & unimportant:

He also notes great ideas in the publication of his work from no other than Thomas O'Neil, an advid writer and publicisor.

Ben Finn (talk) 13:06, 10 August 2016 (UTC)

A Proposed Compromise[edit]

Obviously we can't write the entire article in lipogram, especially parts concerning factual information or how the letter E was avoided. But can we at least write the plot summary in lipogram, so long as it is deemed to not be difficult to read, seeing as it concerns neither of those and reflects the actual contents of the book? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Hydro387 (talkcontribs) 19:46, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

It's clear from years of discussion that the consensus is that being clever with lipograms doesn't belong in a wikipedia article. You are more than welcome to do this on your User talk page or some other website - but don't muddy the article that way, please. - DavidWBrooks (talk) 15:01, 22 May 2017 (UTC)