Talk:Wilts & Berks Canal

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Some of this article appears to have been written in an overly positive light, to support the restoration society.

Whilst I personally agree with their aims, a Wikipedia article is not the place for advocacy. Mayalld (talk) 13:39, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Most of this text was added by Lucy Cassidy (talk · contribs). Examining the version prior to her changes shows that most of the 'contentious' content is not there. EdJogg (talk) 17:48, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

I completely agree, speaking as the guilty party: this article should be more neutral.

The previous version was brought to my attention by another member of the restoration group (yes, of course I am a member) who was outraged by the defamatory comments showing at that time.

In haste, I changed the article to remove some of the phrases described by other members of our group as "ignorant and ludicrous" and as "spiteful".

The plan was to remove the inaccuracies, and to rewrite the article in more depth - thus far, my version is still standing as no-one else has undertaken to provide a "better" version.

I stand by my corrections, and the previous version can of course be scrutinised by checking the history section. Pete, did you mean that the contentious content "is" there, or "is not" there? It's not quite clear from your comment. Most of the comments with which I have problems were added by Bassetonian (talk · contribs) who appeared to have a major chip on his shoulder about the canal. I was not aware that an article could be flagged for discussion regarding it's neutrality otherwise I would certainly have flagged his version, which was derogatory in the extreme.

As is the case with all Wikipedia articles, you and all others are most welcome to make any changes that you consider to be suitable, just as I am at liberty to change them again, if they should revert to being "spiteful" and inaccurate once more!

Oh and Dave - 100% with you, regarding apostrophe mis-use.

Lucy Cassidy (talk) 14:41, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Note - for ease of access user link above should be to Bassettonian (talk · contribs). DBaK (talk) 07:55, 16 April 2013 (UTC)
Frankly, I don't really remember, although on re-reading it is clear that before your changes there was some very negative text -- now it is completely the opposite! The entire Restoration section is unreferenced and hence there are no sources to support the paragraphs which mention 'contentious', 'controversy', 'concern', etc. Much of the text is very defensive in nature, and really doesn't belong here.
I haven't tackled this section as I know little about this particular canal (except that its course runs close to the Swindon and Cricklade Railway :o) ), and the article is not towards the top of my ToDo list. We could do worse than to revert the Restoration section to what it was when I last edited the page (in Jan 08 !!) -- before any of this other material was added -- and then start adding content that can be backed-up from reliable sources.
I'm sorry if this sounds a bit harsh/rude. This is only because I am writing quickly. I am 'pro' canals, and I want the best for this article...but the longer I spend at WP the more I recognise when text is not appropriate.
As a first step I have move the two page-top banners inside the Restoration section, as they belong there.
EdJogg (talk) 17:21, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

The main problem here IMO is that nothing in the restoration section is referenced. I have slapped a notice on that section. I would also question the notability of much of this section, and would vote for severe cropping. Much is fairly trivial and could apply to any restoration project. Derek Andrews (talk) 17:27, 7 November 2008 (UTC)

Pete, thank you for responding, I think you are completely right. Going back to a version before the negative stuff would be perfectly acceptable to me.

Derek, thank you for your comments, I am laughing merrily at being labelled "trivial"! You are of course quite right, much of my stuff is so generalised as to be quite inappropriate for this page. I'm a bit of a waffler, must admit. If you are happy with Pete's idea of going back to a version before Mr Bassetonian put the boot it, please do so.

Thanks also, Pete, for moving the banners downwards. I take it that my alterations to the upper sections were acceptable: I thought the comment about the canal failing commercially because the locks were too narrow - they were of course the standard width - just had to go!

I admire all of you guys tremendously for your dedication, wish I had more time to learn the ins and outs and contribute more sensibly. As per my earlier comments, mine was an emergency fix and was never intended to stand for long. So thanks for your input, and apologies for causing you more work.

Lucy Cassidy (talk) 12:41, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Hey Lucy, no offence intended:) Hats off to those that are making this restoration a reality. When I was last involved in restoration, W&B was still a bit of a joke, at least in the circles I was in.
Best way to honor the folks doing all this work is to write a great section about the restoration. So what we need in my estimation is a list of the major achievements thus far, and then find some references to back them up. Newspapers and council archives are probably best as they should be fairly neutral. Navvies or other waterways magazines second best, then W&B website as last resort, as they may not be so neutral in some cases. As for the controversies, then they might be included too, if they have made it into the newspapers, or been debated in council meetings. But the key thing are the references. So if you can find anything that will back up the paragraphs about habitat loss / management, or the potential relief from flooding, then lets have it. Also references about which locks are restored and which sections are in water would be great. The thing is, with a nicely referenced article it is easier to remove any negative comments if they aren't referenced:)
Lets work together and fix this up. I have added a few lines about the proposed route through Swindon, aided by Google News. What is the latest on getting past the M4? I saw some references to it being tied into a proposed housing development, but could never figure where that idea went. Derek Andrews (talk) 20:41, 8 November 2008 (UTC)
The whole article is in a much better shape than when this thread was started, following copy-editing by myself and other editors. However, I think the tags need to remain at the top of the "Restoration issues" section as there are so many important facts unreferenced.
The Swindon Advertiser would seem to be a goldmine as a source, but it needs someone to really get stuck-in to the article to find the references and bring it up a level (and allow removal of these tags).
In the meantime I have found a ref to the flooding concerns, which may be of some use:
EdJogg (talk) 12:14, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
A second ref to flooding concerns may be found in the Halcrow report on the proposed Swindon canal link. (See section 3.7 "Flood Risk" of the Halcrow report.
EdJogg (talk) 00:58, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Restoration progress[edit]

I still find the sentence beginning "As of 2006" very frustrating. If after all this work someone cannot list the locks and bridges and update it to 2008 perhaps it is time for it to go. Good work everyone otherwise. Regards Motmit (talk) 12:33, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

It is frustrating, isn't it? Having just been on a trawl around the Trust website and the Branch websites, the coverage of the restoration is very patchy. Obviously, the websites are maintained by volunteers, but these days it is likely that the website will be the first point-of-contact (after Wikipedia ??) by members of the public. The Melksham/Calne Branch site is an exception, as their webmaster is very active, and it is quite clear that work is continuing currently. I always compare coverage against the Wey and Arun Canal website, which is very comprehensive and rarely out-of-date. (I need to take heed of this myself, having just started looking after a railway society website -- gulp!!)
EdJogg (talk) 14:05, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Membership of W&BCT=frustration. In all directions! Describing coverage as "patchy" is tactful in the extreme: it's always tricky with volunteers.

I'd love to update the excellent "map" at the top of the article, especially Jubilee Junction at the Abingdon end, and Childrey Wharf, site of a massive amount of restoration, but I have no idea how to do it. Are the maps maintained by an individual? I can't find a way to edit it. Advice, anyone?

Motmit, I agree with you, that sentence needs upating - as a side issue, is there any value in linking "As of 2006" to a page comprised of general 2006 events?? - although it's a bit disappointing that we still seem to have only 8 miles in water. (Source: W&BCT mag Dragonfly No 110 Autumn 2008.) Thought it was more than that. I'll have a look at getting a list: although if I can update the "map", I could just add the bridge etc names there, and make the entries into links to individual pages for each bridge etc. Would that be acceptable? Lucy Cassidy (talk) 16:18, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Sounds a good idea - 8 miles of blue on the map would be something. User:Bob1960evens is brilliant at maps. Regards Motmit (talk) 16:32, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
It would be good to have a 'complete' map -- I found it quite difficult correlating some of the locations mentioned in the Branch websites with our map here. (eg Where's Wantage?)
Editing the maps can be good fun, but if you're not into arcane programming then it might not be for you (I'm a software engineer, so the picky syntax doesn't bother me). If you wanted to have a go I would suggest you take a copy of the map to your sandbox where you can play with it to your heart's content. You can then add the bridge (etc) detail to your diagram and if the formatting is not quite right, someone like Bob will help you sort it out. If you're going to have a go yourself, have a look at some of the other canal articles to see what else you can do.
EdJogg (talk) 17:18, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

I've had a first chop at the route map: not too hard, once I'd figured out that the prefix does not actually go at the beginning (laughs hollowly) and I haven't got the aqueducts quite right. It's in my sandbox if anyone would care to have a look. I am concerned that I'm adding too much detail: where do I stop? And I'm only doing the East Vale section!

Re maps and locating these places: would map references help? Does Wiki have a licence to use OS maps? Lucy Cassidy (talk) 14:39, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

I've commented on the sandbox talk page. As for the detail vs length, compare the Kennet and Avon Canal article, which has FOUR routemaps. As a good start, every lock and junction should be listed, of course, and (by the K&A example) every numbered bridge too. Beyond that, features that are mentioned in the text should be shown. You're looking at sixty miles of canal: when the article describing it is complete it will be very large (see Manchester Bolton and Bury Canal -- a recently Main Page Featured Article -- scroll down a long way to find the map).
OS Maps - no, unless they were printed before about 1940 (not sure of the date) as they are Crown Copyright. So, if you can find any, OLD OS maps can be included! As for features, it is common (?) practice to include a hidden table full of geo goords (not my thing) -- see Bridgwater and Taunton Canal for an example.
EdJogg (talk) 15:22, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

Cricklade Country Way[edit]

No mention of this yet?

I remember that this was a joint initiative involving restoration of the canal, the Swindon and Cricklade Railway and much besides, and was the focus of a recent (unsuccessful) Lottery Bid. This would probably be another good search term for online research.

EdJogg (talk) 12:41, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Motives for restoration[edit]

Having been involved in a couple of other canal articles recently (one was Featured on the main page recently!) I am aware that it is essential to know why restoration of a particular canal is important. Fortunately the W&BCT have provided the information here. I don't think this is really covered in the article yet, so this is a useful find.

EdJogg (talk) 13:49, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Pete, quick question from an amateur : am I (as a member of the W&BCT) allowed to reference our own website as support for the Wiki article? I assumed that I wasn't, on the grounds that it could well be considered to be, er, self-referencing.
(I've enjoyed being a member of this group for several years now, and I'd forgotten that others might need a motive - I just thrown on me wellies and get on with it!) Lucy Cassidy (talkcontribs) 16:00, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
Hi Lucy -- you are wise to be wary of this point. According to WP:COI you should be very careful about editing either the canal or trust articles as you will inevitably be biased in favour of both -- but then, as a canal restoration 'enthusiast', so am I, and I'm not a member! I would guess that you're relatively new to WP (eg please use ~~~~ when you sign your posts!) but essentially, as long as you are careful what language you use (ie you try to write with a Neutral Point-of-View (NPOV)) and essentially just write-up the facts then you should be OK (especially when supported by suitable sources).
As for referencing the Trust's website, there are a couple of issues to consider. If it was a commercial entity, then you would be on very thin ice, but as a charitable foundation you would not be criticsed for 'advertising' (and the site is not plastered with adverts, thankfully!) The other issue is that it is preferred to obtain references from a number of different sources -- an article about an organisation that only uses the organisation's website is frowned upon. Again, it should not be a problem here as we have many other sources already. However, I would encourage you to seek Reliable Sources from elsewhere to support the facts presented on the Trust's website. Although the Trust is likely to be viewed as 'expert' in the history/restoration of the canal, it's always good to have this information backed-up from elsewhere.
The reason for stating the motives is rather wider in scope. The canal partnership is in the process of spending many millions of pounds and thousands of man-hours creating a 60-mile water-filled ditch (not NPOV!) across the British countryside. Readers not familiar with the glories (not NPOV again!) of canals are bound to want to know why. I didn't read the page in detail, but I could see that the new cruising options created show a VERY strong argument for restoring the canal -- hence it's worth explaining here. What's more it will act as a passive advert for the canal, even if written in a neutral tone.
EdJogg (talk) 17:00, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

Restoration Issues[edit]

I just reverted a major deletion of this section, which was apparently done at the request of a director of the trust. Sorry, but we can't do this just because someone is unhappy with the content. Whilst I agree that the whole section could be edited and re-worded to be more encyclopaedic and neutral in tone, some of the material does seem to be referenced (I haven't had time to check their validity), and as such would seem to be perfectly legitimate. If there are reasons within WP rules why this material should be cut or modified, please do so, and state the reasons, but not because some other individual or organization doesn't like what is written there. --Derek Andrews (talk) 20:42, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

This section is the subject of most of the talk on this page! If you traced the history you'd probably find that I added those references, and you should find that they are valid and support the text. We could, quite legitimately, remove the parts that are not referenced, which will probably also remove the sections that the director dislikes. I don't think that it is unreasonable to remove text which casts the Trust in a negative light if it is not supported by references. This would be done as a matter of course, and quickly, for a BLP article, so I see no reason to use different standards for an active charitable organisation. -- EdJogg (talk) 21:04, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Firstly I agree that it was wrong to remove this section just because some bloke or blokess with an interest in the trust doesn't like it. That is not to denigrate the sterling efforts of those who are working to make it a reality. Secondly a considerable amount of effort (myself included) has been put into making it more balanced and in the process it has become highly informative about the issues associated with restoring canals. Strikes me it would be a shame to lose any of it. Motmit (talk) 21:23, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
I stand by what I wrote above, but having re-read the section in question (which I hadn't before!) I don't see what the problems are. I think we long since removed anything that was genuinely contentious. I cannot see that any of the paragraphs (that isn't already referenced) would cast the Trust in a bad light, and therefore there are no grounds for removal. I have asked the editor in question to explain what the director's concerns were, to see if they can be addressed.
EdJogg (talk) 23:08, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Deleting the section was discussed offline at the canalside many moons ago, and the general consensus in the group of people then was that it was emotive and quite negative (it wasn't just a director who objected, I only quoted the director as being the senior person present) Recently, when adding the 'current projects' from my copy of Dragonfly (which I hope you'll agreee is appropriate) I noticed the section was still there, and thought that it should have been deleted long ago, but in my haste I didn't take note that the improvements had been made. Having now re-read the section that I deleted, it doesn't give the negative un-referenced impression as I seem to remember it did, so apologies to those who've been working to maintain/improve it for being a bit heavy handed. Cap in hand, can I say "Hi"? I'm a member of the WBCT myself, a work party member doing the restoration with the MCC branch. --Wessexmario (talk) 15:20, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for the explanation. There's probably a moral in there somewhere, but at least it's all resolved now. Your contributions will be most welcome, especially if they can be referenced (are Dragonfly archives available on-line?). Considering the vast area that the Wilts & Berks covers, this article should be much, much longer! -- EdJogg (talk) 17:50, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
(are Dragonfly archives available on-line?) Yes, but not directly linkable, and a little out of date, the latest editions haven't been added. Go to the WBCT website and click on 'Publications'. There is plenty of restoration information available on the WBCT site and the many 'unofficial' websites belonging to each WBCT branch. I put links to all the ones I know on the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust page. I think those of us that contribute directly to the WBCT sites tend to not want to keep duplicating information, hence the 'Restoration Progress' links at the bottom of the page. -- Wessexmario (talk) 20:52, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for providing the progress updates - it is important to have a concise interpretation of the jumble on the web sites and your info is a vast improvement of the uninformative "As if of 2006" statement which is all we had a month or so back. It is still hard to relate it all to the map though and it would be nice if that could be updated.Motmit (talk) 21:43, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
"hard to relate it to the map" - good point. I did a major update to the map today, adding a lot of missing features, including all the current projects. To manage the increaing size I have made the historic/proposed routes and the branches collapsable. -- Wessexmario (talk) 22:47, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

On another note, I notice the reference far above to non-copyrighted maps for use in Wikipedia. A up-to-date map we can use is on OpenStreetMap. it's a Creative Commons (free as in beer) license. I've recently checked and updated most of the line of the Wilts & Berks on OSM. It's not perfect yet, but considering it's mapping something that in places isn't even visible on the ground, it's mostly there and usable. I've updated both the historical/abandoned and the new/proposed lines of the canal for the main line and Calne branch of the canal, The North Wilts branch and Swindon town area still needs some work. OSM is very adaptable for emphasising different map features, it should be possible to create a canal map with similar highlighting (in blue of course) as this cycle map based on OSM does for cycleways (in red). --Wessexmario (talk) 15:20, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Page Formating and Rendering bugs[edit]

I have finished adding the mapping information for now, but what remains is the formatting of the page, which is different between IE and FF. I haven't tried any other browsers, maybe folk with others might indicate how the page renders with them compared with IE and FF. I solved the route diagram rendering problem in IE, by shortening some of the route captions.

The coordinates table in the Route section, is positioned correctly in FF (Firefox 3.0.12 Linux), but IE (IE 7.0 XP) leaves a blank space on the left hand side and renders after the end of the route map. The two left-aligned images and the 'edit' links for the Operation, Abandonment and Restoration sections, are positioned correctly in IE, but FF bunches them together after the end of the route map. It looks like whatever does the formatting is a bit buggy, as it isn't taking account of the differences between the browsers, and for each, getting it right in some cases and not for others. Is this fixable? -- Wessexmario (talk) 15:03, 30 July 2009 (UTC)

Well done for all your good work. I will try the Nobunching parameter, if I can remember how it works, which I believe is designed for this. Regards Motmit (talk) 19:08, 30 July 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for the mention of 'NoBunching', that eventually led me to Template:stack, only that would work as expected in both IE and FF, and then only when I replaced the PoIgb with a normal table and pushed the Google box down the bottom into the links. I hope they fix the bug before anyone wants to change the layout again! Cheers. Wessexmario (talk) 17:25, 31 July 2009 (UTC)