Talk:List of Presidents of Benin

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Copy of Village-Pump Discussion[edit]

I would like to get some consensus on the format of lists of incumbents.

I have been working on standardised format for Heads of State and Heads of Government. However my work is regularly being reverted to a previous, more cluttered, less detailed and inaccurate version.

A case in point is List of Presidents of Benin where clearly very few of the listed incumbents were actually 'president'.

My version, which is now located at User:JohnArmagh/Heads of State of Benin clarifies the office of the imcumbent and details the political party of the incumbent whilst uncluttering the format.

It appears though, that I am not allowed to use it. The reason behind this is that it is duplication (or, as it has been called, quote:stupid duplication) of the List of Presidents of Benin. However whilst the names of the incumbents are essentially the same, the latter includes a description that is specific to the post of President, whilst including non-presidential incumbents in the list.

So it currently appears that lists of Heads of State which include at least one President must be titled Presidents of Xxxx, which can only serve to render the information held in the Wikipedia as amateurish.

If this is an enshrined policy of Wikipedia then the phrase You are encouraged to create, expand, and improve upon articles on the edit page should be removed as it is clearly untrue.

--JohnArmagh 16:45, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

There is no such policy (Presidents of Xxxx instead of Heads of State of Xxxx), AFAIK. It's just one user, probably. Personally, I would prefer your format, except for the explanation of the abbreviations at the top. Move that to the bottom, and I would be completely happy with it. Only User:Gzornenplatz knows what his objections to your format are; have you tried asking him, on his talk page or on Talk:List of Presidents of Benin? About the name: I prefer the (simpler) name "List of Presidents", but only if it is accurate. In this case, "List of Heads of State" would be my preference. Eugene van der Pijll 17:52, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for this Eugene - most welcome. I have discussed this on User:Gzornenplatz' talk-page, and his suggestion was to post it here for a consensus.
I am concerned that there is some kind of standardisation of the lists without making the detail at variance with the title.
There is no wikiwide standardisation. But it seems that the objection on User talk:Gzornenplatz' was about duplication: one article named "Heads of State", and one named "List of Presidents". That would be bad, and one of those should probably be made into a redirect. Of course, because of the lack of standardization, this kind of duplication will happen from time to time.
In this case, you could move the "List of Presidents" to "List of Heads of State". Or you could wait for a few more opinions, if you want.
I have been in two minds about the placing of the abbreviations at the foot of the list rather than the top. I can see that it detracts from the list of incumbents if it appears before it (especially if the listing is short), but then again if the abbreviations appear at the end of a long list of incumbents then it takes a lot of scrolling down to. I could put it on a separate page, but I don't really want the reader to have to go back-&-forth between pages. I think the remedy is to put a link above the list the abbreviations at the foot of the list - but I haven't tried it yet to see how well it works.
regards --JohnArmagh 18:09, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)
With the title of the page, you promise a list of presidents; it would be best if the reader sees that list as soon as possible, preferrably on the first screen. Perhaps put the list of parties at the bottom, and add "See below" to the heading of the "Affiliations" column. A separate page would be really bad, although a separate article on political parties in Benin would be great. Eugene van der Pijll 18:50, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I do agree with you, and User:Siroxo has provided assistance at User:JohnArmagh/Heads of State of Benin in making the Affiliation heading into a link to the list at the bottom of the page, which I like.
I had moved the page List of Presidents of Benin to Heads of State of Benin but User:Gzornenplatz didn't like it and as a measure of his disgust, reverted the data to the previous list and renamed the Head of State of.... page back to President of...
--JohnArmagh 19:01, 16 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Proposed new title and format for the article:-[edit]

Heads of State of Benin[edit]

List of Heads of State of Benin

(Dates in italics indicate de facto continuation of office)

Term Incumbent Affiliation Notes
Republic of Dahomey Autonomous
(République de Dahomé)
4 December 1958 to 1 August 1960 René Tirant, High Commissioner
1 August 1960 to 31 December 1960 Coutoucou Hubert Maga, Head of State RDD
Republic of Dahomey Independence from France
(République de Dahomé)
31 December 1960 to 27 October 1963 Coutoucou Hubert Maga, President RDD 1st Term
27 October 1963 to 28 October 1963 Provisional Government:-
Coutoucou Hubert Maga, Head of Provisional Government RDD
Sourou Migan Apithy PRD
Justin Ahomadegbé-Tomêtin UDD
28 October 1963 to 25 January 1964 Christophe Soglo, Head of Provisional Government Mil 1st Term
25 January 1964 to 27 November 1965 Sourou Migan Apithy, President PD
27 November 1965 to 29 November 1965 Justin Ahomadegbé-Tomêtin, acting President PD 1st Term
29 November 1965 to 22 December 1965 Tahirou Congacou, acting President PD
22 December 1965 to 19 December 1967 Christophe Soglo, President Mil 2nd Term
19 December 1967 to 20 December 1967 Jean-Baptiste Hachème, Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee Mil
20 December 1967 to 21 December 1967 Iropa Maurice Kouandété, Head of State Mil 1st Term
21 December 1967 to 17 July 1968 Alphonse Amadou Alley, Head of State Mil
17 July 1968 to 10 December 1969 Émile Derlin Henri Zinsou, President
10 December 1969 to 13 December 1969 Iropa Maurice Kouandété, Chief-of-Staff of the Army Mil 2nd Term
13 December 1969 to 7 May 1970 Paul-Émile de Souza, Chairman of the Directory Mil
7 May 1970 to 7 May 1972 Coutoucou Hubert Maga, Chairman of the Presidential Council RDD 2nd Term
7 May 1972 to 26 October 1972 Justin Ahomadegbé-Tomêtin, Chairman of the Presidential Council PD 2nd Term
26 October 1972 to 30 November 1975 Mathieu Kérékou, President Mil/PRPB 1st Term
People’s Republic of Benin
(République populaire du Benin)
30 November 1975 to 1 March 1990 Mathieu Kérékou, President Mil/PRPB 1st Term (contd.)
Republic of Benin
(République du Benin)
1 March 1990 to 4 April 1991 Mathieu Kérékou, President PRB 1st Term (contd.)
4 April 1991 to 4 April 1996 Nicéphore Dieudonné Soglo, President PRB
4 April 1996 to present Mathieu Kérékou, President FARD 2nd Term


FARD = Front d'Action pour le Rénouveau et le Développement (Action for Renewal and Development) – centrist
PD = Parti Démocratique (Democratic Party) - merger of PRD and UDD 1964
PRB = Parti de la Renaissance du Bénin (Party for the Rebirth of Benin) – centrist
UTRD = Union pour le Triomphe du Renouvellement Démocratique (Union for the Triumph of the Democratic Renewal)
PRD = Parti du Rénouveau Démocratique (Democratic Renewal Party)
PRPB = Parti du Revolutionare Popular du Benin (Popular Revolutionary Party of Benin) - communist only legal party 1979-1990
RDD = Rassemblement Démocratique du Dahomé (Dahomey Democratic Rally)
UDD = Union Démocratique du Dahomé (Dahomey Democratic Union)
Mil = Military
n-p = non-partisan

See also:-[edit]

[[Category:Lists of office-holders|Benin, List of Presidents of]]

Well, thanks for finally bringing this to talk, halfway through your attempt to create a fait accompli. Your format is questionable in many respects:

  1. First of all, as others have already told you, it makes no sense to have separate articles "Heads of state of X" and "Presidents of X" (or "Heads of government of X" and "Prime ministers of X"). The case can be made for using the "Heads of ..." format as being more precise in many cases, although I don't see much of a problem with using "Presidents of ..." when the country had only a few heads of state with different titles. In any case, there should be only one article, with the other title redirecting to it. One might consider that tons (literally, thousands) of links are pointing to the original "Presidents of ..." articles via the "List of state leaders in ..." pages.
  2. Your data is obviously taken directly from, which is a crappy site. I can find errors on virtually every single page of that site. Just take your Benin example above, where you give the name of the former ruling party as "Parti du Revolutionare Popular du Benin". Googling this leads to the single result of, proving what is already apparent to anyone with the slightest knowledge of French: almost every word there is wrong (the correct name is Parti de la Révolution Populaire du Bénin). This is just an example; if you want to dispute the crappiness of that source, just tell me how many examples of errors you want me to point out. So, for this reason alone, all your lists based on that source are better deleted - it is not worth going through this correcting just the errors. As a general lesson here, never take information from a single unauthoritative website. Information from the web is only valid if it either appears on multiple, mutually independent sites (i.e. sites which can be presumed not to have copied the information from each other), or if it is on a site that has proved reliable on careful scrutiny (of course that requires that one has minimal competence to judge that).
  3. As a consequence of the above, you are following the daft practice of that site of listing obscure full names without specifying what the common form is. Full names are only needed in the articles about the respective persons, in a list like this they are nothing but confusing. Example from Benin again: "Iropa Maurice Kouandété" (common name is Maurice Kouandété, but seeing just the full name people will more likely assume that the middle name is expendable and that the proper short form is Iropa Kouandété).
  4. You have a major misunderstanding of the word "term" as you are using it where the correct word is "time". A term in politics is a period for which one is appointed or elected, not a period one is continuously in office. For example, Clinton's continuous presidency from 1993 to 2001 was two terms, but in your format it would just figure as one, as you never differentiate consecutive terms, only non-consecutive periods in office. Using Benin again for example, Kérékou's period in office from 1972 to 1991 was of course more than one term!
  5. Your practice of listing the same person twice in succession, just because the person was knighted or the like, is not aiding readability, to say the least.
  6. Your use of bold/unbold text within one name (as in knights) and your use of different font sizes within one office title (as in "Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee" above) does not make any sense.
  7. The "Term" column wraps at least on some (probably most people's) window widths/font sizes - thanks to the generally unnecessary "Notes" column - making the whole thing even less readable.
  8. You are repeating the office title for each incumbent. There will be lists with 100 people in succession, all holding the same title - the standard title (such as president) should only be mentioned once, with only the exceptions noted individually.

So much for now; there are probably more problems on particular pages. Gzornenplatz 20:16, Aug 19, 2004 (UTC)

I am studying the comments above and will give a reply and/or justification to each point raised. --JohnArmagh 20:32, 19 Aug 2004 (UTC)

OK, here is my reply to each point.

1. A currently short list of presidents of an existing state will over time grow longer - and the incumbent or regime may not in the future bear the title assumed by the page name/heading. Therefore, the use of a generic label such as 'head of state' rather than a specific title, i.e. 'president' is a means of future-proofing so that the page heading does not, over time, become anachronistic.

2(a) As you point out I am using, though not exclusively. I am researching other sources for corroboration where it is available. If the data I have included is incorrect then the mechanism of the Wikipedia is that someone with access to, or knowledge of, more reliable data is able to correct the details.

(b) I have indeed noticed many errors in the site (not least typographical) and those I have spotted I have been rectifying, Those I have missed will be corrected by other Wikipedians.

(c) Although I have tried to find other sources, it is becoming increasingly difficult as data becomes repeatedly spread from a single source (witness, for example, the number of on-line encyclopaedias taking their data from the Wikipedia)

3 I would contend that the full name of the incumbent, where known, is important. Otherwise the list may as well just consist of surnames. I use the style of text to show the common name by which the individual is known (which I come onto at 6, below.

4 Contrary to your assumption, I fully understand the word term in the political, etymological and vernacular senses. However I chose the word in preference to time because the latter word does not per se convey a contiguous period of time, whereas term does.

5 I would much rather have only one entry per individual per term – but I am uncomfortable where a person is referred to as one thing at the beginning of a tenure that it is held that they are to be referred to as that throughout, (and the same is true of the name/title of a person at the end of their tenure). I am not keen on sidenotes or notes in parentheses denoting such changes, as such texts, where they exist at all, should be kept to the minimum relevant to that tenure. Also in some instances the use of style varies so much that it can be quite difficult to work out what is happening and when. Take, for instance the following from the reviled

8 Nov 1982 - 4 Aug 1983 Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo (b. 1942) Mil

                           (chairman Provisional Committee 
                            of Popular Salvation [provisional 
                            to 11 Nov 1982] to 26 Nov 1982, 
                            then Head of State)  
4 Aug 1983 - 15 Oct 1987  Thomas Sankara                     (b. 1949 - d. 1987)  Mil 
                           (chairman National Revolutionary  
                            Council and Head of State) 

15 Oct 1987 - Blaise Compaoré (b. 1951) Mil/FP;Dec 1991

                            (President of Popular Front [from 31 Oct 1987     ODP-MT;1996 CDP 
                            also Head of State] to 24 Dec 1991) 

I had to write it down and juggle it about to make sense of it. Doubtless you would contend though that I have wasted my time.

6 The use of font weight and style in the name is to allow prominent display the common name at-a-glance, separate from the titles, qualifications, etc. The small text is to shorten the length of titles as I would like to avoid any one incumbent going onto a second line and spreading the data out wherever practical.

7 My view of lists where titles of office are used against the name only where they differ from the generally used title is that it makes the list look untidy and incomplete. Also, having the mainly-used title at the top (or at the point in the list where it changes) means that in a long list one has to scroll up to see what the incumbent's office was – whereas the repetitious use obviates this.

In summary, each of your comments is, of course, very valid, and this is the reason I felt you deserved a considered response. I am doubtful that you will be swayed by any of my reasoning. But then this is a subjective matter and there is no reason why you should be.

The lists as they stand however vary considerably in style, format, content and level of detail. I feel this is a matter which should be addressed. Clearly though, you are of the opinion that it should be addressed by someone other than myself.

Regards --JohnArmagh 06:05, 20 Aug 2004 (UTC)