Talk:New Mexico

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Former good article nomineeNew Mexico was a Geography and places good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
Article milestones
DateProcessResult
April 14, 2010Good article nomineeNot listed
June 13, 2010Peer reviewReviewed
Current status: Former good article nominee

Naming New Mexico II; Towards a Lasting Consensus[edit]

I would like to address some thoughtful edits and comments by User:Uto-Aztecan. I've already addressed (and acknowledged the correctness of) some of his points on his talk page [1], but some matters require a more general airing. I would like here to address his assertion [2] that the information I returned to and he removed from the lede was already extant in the lede. I think his statement is sincerely held, and that he simply does not understand where so many of us are coming from. I will first address what I see as the facts and then discuss our obligation as an encylopedia.

First of all, it is critical to recognize that the nation of Mexico was not called that until 1821, upon its declaration of independence from Spain. There was certainly a city and a region/state with that name, and had been for many, many years, but the name "Mexico" was understood to be either the city or the nearby region/valley—not the area that we today think of as Mexico. It is common to read articles that refer to pre-independence Mexico as "Mexico", but those articles are written (many of them, unknowingly) from an almost retronymic perspective. Simply put, there was no general practice to call the entire area from the Yucatan to the Rockies by the appellation "Mexico", until the 19th century. New Mexico, on the other hand, had been called by that name for nearly 300 years before it occurred to Iturbide to name his new country after the city that would be its capital. True, both the country of Mexico and the US state of New Mexico received their name from the same source, the Valley of Mexico and/or the city of Mexico, but the point is, the US state did not take its name from the country of Mexico.

Which brings me to the second point; our obligations as an encyclopedia. As WP:LEDE points out, most people spend only a few minutes on an article, and that time is likely to be spent on the lede. Of course, WP:LEDE also states that only the most important content should be in the lede, but this is either nebulously defined or enforced, and it is indeed commonplace for what might appear to be tangential material to be included in the lede, in anticipation of the reader's question. So, for example, the lede section of John Quincy Adams (indeed, the first paragraph of the lede) mentions not once, but twice, that JQA was the son of President John Adams. Why? Is it critical to understanding JQA's policies or his presidency that we know that his father was also president? Of course not--in fact, the two men were very different, politically. Yet this information is included because we as an encyclopedia anticipate that the reader comes to the article with preconceptions or pre-existing questions which we are obligated to either confirm or dismiss (in this case, the question being, "Are these two Presidents named "John Adams" related to one another?") We have at least some obligation to anticipate our readers needs, so even though this might be considered mere trivia, we include the information in the part of the article most likely to be read by most readers.

Well, one thing that denizens of New Mexico will gladly share is that misunderstandings about the state's history are more common than accurate knowledge. There are several webpages that have for years documented the fact that great numbers of Americans believe that "New Mexico" is a part of "Mexico". Packages returned for lack of foreign postage, and that sort of thing, remain common, more than a century after New Mexico became a state. But even more common (and also, more understandable) is that probably 99% of all Americans simply assume that "New Mexico" is named for the country of "Mexico". This is, of course understandable, given that New Hampshire was named after the English county of Hampshire and that New Jersey was named for the Isle of Jersey. But note that the US state, New York is not named for the city of York in England, and that this fact is made clear in the lead of that state's article—in the second paragraph—, where it points out that it was named for King James II of England, who had been the Duke of York. This is an important clarification, as it is something that someone would be highly likely to assume. Well, in the case of New Mexico, such clarification is also needed, even more so. Given the proximity of Mexico to New Mexico, given the fact that, for a very brief period (25 years) that Mexico owned New Mexico, such assumptions are only natural. But they are also wrong.

Now User:Uto-Aztecan asserts that this information is already in the lede, even with his deletion. I'm fairly certain that he refers to this passage, from the third paragraph of the lede:

it was colonized by the Spanish in 1598 as part of the Imperial Spanish viceroyalty of New Spain. It was named Nuevo México after the Aztec Valley of Mexico by Spanish settlers, 223 years before the establishment of the present-day country of Mexico.

Now this paragraph is completely accurate, but it does not address the confusion that most people have about the title. Yes, it points out that New Mexico was named after the Valley, and that this was two centuries before Mexico was established, but it continues to confuse because the reader is highly likely to believe that incorrect notion that pre-independence Mexico was called Mexico, which it was not. Thus, the reader has no reason to not continue to believe that New Mexico was named after Mexico. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon us as an encyclopedia to make clear in this article that the name "Mexico" did not apply to New Spain prior to independence, outside of the small territory of the Valley of Mexico. Unschool 00:45, 12 February 2018 (UTC)

Unschool, I agree. The information you have laid out is so important to the article and the lead. However, I worry that the way it was crafted was a bit un-encyclopedic. We should include the information with a lot of good sources in the body and then carefully craft it so it is concise and easy to read in the lead. I formatted the lede very carefully in order to summarize the body's contents in a clear and effective way. The way it is formatted now, makes it seem like chest beating and out-of-place. If you could re-word my paragraph better, please do. All I am trying to do is make the lead closer to that of a Good Article. Uto-Aztecan (talk) 01:20, 12 February 2018 (UTC)
It will probably be several days, maybe even over a week, before I can address this issue, but I appreciate your comments. Unschool 15:16, 12 February 2018 (UTC)

External links modified (February 2018)[edit]

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