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Didn't realize a 1RR swapping the order of sections was "edit-warring" when all other changes were left in place after my edits were the ones initially reverted (?) But now it's discussion time. The change was done to make this article (and other donkey breed articles) consistent with the standard layout of the other breed articles (mostly on horse breeds and there are over 300 of those) at WikiProject Equine. Consensus can always change, but the logic is straightforward: What does the "generic" reader want to know? Generally, at least for extant breeds, it is what the animal looks like, its characteristics, how it is different from other breeds, i.e. basic knowledge. History comes next, partly because knowing what an animal looks like is a good segue into the WHY it looks that way (e.g. animals that are hardy and tough usually got that way because they were developed in a tough climate) particularly because for the major breeds, the history can be a long and extensive (i.e. boring to the generic reader) section that the casual reader must wade through to get to the basic info. Then, "Uses" usually follows history, mostly because it usually cross-pollenates with the historical chronology, which usually goes up to the present day. All that said, if this is a moral issue or something I am not going to waste my time and energy on it, I merely was attempting to assist an apparently new editor who did up a bunch of donkey breed articles by adding templates, navboxes, and putting sections in the "normal" order. Obviously, there is an argument to putting history first (that argument being "it's chronological", I guess) but I don't find that argument very compelling. But whatever. Montanabw(talk) 21:50, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
Well, thanks for starting a discussion, anyway. I don't agree that there's any logic in the arguments above. I personally prefer those stories that, in the words of the King of Hearts, "begin at the beginning, go on ... to the end: then stop", not the ones with all those damned flashbacks. But that's just my personal taste, as what you written seems mostly to represent yours. The idiotic structure of the category tree successfully prevents me from discovering easily how many animal breed articles we have in WP:Farm, but there seem to be a lot of them; I think I've possibly written more than a hundred of them myself. I looked at some. It seems to me, without doing a detailed search, that the majority of those that have enough content to be divided into sections follow roughly the same schema as this article; a single example of a well-written article by an experienced editor that does this is Sebright chicken; of course it's very easy to find counter-examples. In general, a similar approach is taken in biographies, of which we have many more; usually something like Lead – Early life – Education - Career - Achievements, awards and recognition. Some project guidelines, such as WP:UNIV, actually specify that the History section should follow the lead; and yeah, donkeys don't go to university, so it's only of passing relevance. Anyway, if you want to take this further, I suggest opening it up to a wider audience, either at WT:FARM or via an RfC. Justlettersandnumbers (talk) 23:19, 8 July 2014 (UTC)
We agree that wikipedia's category tree structure is a mess; one thing I feel pretty good about is convincing the category folks to keep the list of horse breeds non-diffusing so I can at least figure out how many of those we have! I see you did the same for the donkeys. Now, if only the cleanup could occur for chickens, ducks, sheep, cattle.... Montanabw(talk) 05:57, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
An RfC is a waste of bandwidth, as it is apt to just be you and I sniping at each other with a few others who have little involvement in the topic chiming in for kicks and giggles. WP:FARM is not particularly active, either. You are probably correct that individual taste is the major contributing factor. So really, taking it to a drama board just means we will just scream WP:IDONTLIKEIT at each other until the cows come home. (Ag pun intended). Not worth it, particularly as we seem to be finding common ground in other areas lately. Montanabw(talk) 05:57, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
As for the point of this discussion, "biographies" of named animals, of course, are a different story and there I agree with you that a chronological sequence is best. That said, I take the animal breed articles from more of a biology viewpoint than a historical one and favor descriptions before background. FA and GA generally list animal articles under Wikipedia:Featured_articles#Biology, so from a science viewpoint, a visual description early on seems apt. The horse breed articles that are FAs and GAs are, I think to a one, all characteristics first. (As are nearly all the horse breed articles in general) I took a look at other animals that have breeds and some articles at GA or FA, notably the dog breeds and found the only two dog FAs (that I could locate) were Australian Cattle Dog, which has characteristics first, while Beagle has history first. There are a fair number of dog breed GAs, they appear to lean more toward history first, but plenty are the other way. (I think I checked them all at Wikipedia:Good_articles/Natural_sciences): 22 were history first, 10 were description first, and one was a mishmash and probably ripe for a GAR, but not my drama. Montanabw(talk) 05:57, 9 July 2014 (UTC)
So, conclusion? I suppose as before, you can have it your way with these donkey articles, I guess, as it really isn't actually a moral issue. But where you run into a very long history section, you may want to consider putting a pretty good description summary in the lead, at least. Montanabw(talk) 05:57, 9 July 2014 (UTC)