Template talk:Incoherent

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This template ought to place articles into a category, for example, category:all articles needing copy edit. 22:46, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Unmerge request due to inconsistent template name, banner, and usage[edit]

This template used to be correct, but became confused following a 2011 merge. As a result, this template now lacks a single coherent topic (oh, irony!) as the banner says one thing, and the usage quite another, each one a legacy of a different source template. As it stands, it isn't really possible to use this template in a consistent way. Imho, the two templates never should have been merged in the first place, and the proper resolution now is to unmerge back to two templates (with a possible Template rename on one of them, to avoid confusion going forward).

There used to be two related templates with the word Incoherent in the name, one dealing with articles that had text that was incoherent in the normal sense of the word, i.e., incomprehensible, and a second template indicating that the article lacked a single topic, i.e., it didn't "cohere" in that sense. These two situations are not at all the same thing. These two templates were merged in 2011, with unfortunate results.


Template:Incoherent-topic was created in 2008 with the content This article may lack a single coherent topic. (See template history.) The content and banner remained substantially the same until 2011; articles containing {{Incoherent-topic}} were categorized in Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic. (version of Oct 2010) It is now a redirect.

Template:Incoherent was created in 2006 with usage note This template is used to signal that some of the sentences or the text as a whole in a section of an article do not relay an understandable message. By the end of day one the banner read It has been claimed that some or all of this section is incoherent and not understandable, and should possibly be reworded if the intended meaning can be determined.

At 13:21, 20 December 2011 Template:Incoherent-topic was merged (diff) with Template:Incoherent (the former is now a redirect; see template history, user contribs from Dec 2011), with the result that Template:Incoherent is now, well, no longer about a single topic, or at least is self-contradictory. The banner now begins, This article or section lacks a single coherent topic..." but the usage begins, "This template is used to signal that some of the sentences in a section or the text as a whole in that section do not relay an understandable message. Categorization is into the category previously used by Template:Incoherent-topic.

Original merge motivation

Imho the 2011 merge was a mistake. The remaining template is a self-contradictory jumble, and there is a void now where the other template used to be (or rather, the void is the original meaning of this template, which now attempts to carry both meanings with the result that it carries neither one effectively).

I believe that the motivation for the merge may have been partly due to the fact that the word coherent has several meanings in English, but the antonym incoherent does not negate all of them: In particular, while "coherent" has (at least) two meanings, 1) "speaking clearly and logically", and 2) "united as or forming a whole", the antonym "incoherent" however, only negates the first sense, and not the second:

in.co.her.ent: adj. 1. (of spoken or written language) expressed in an incomprehensible or confusing way; unclear (he screamed some incoherent threat)

(Of a person) Unable to speak intelligibly: I splutter several more times before becoming incoherent. (Of an ideology, policy, or system) internally inconsistent, illogical: the film is ideologically incoherent.
2. Physics (of waves) having no definite or stable wave relationship.

--New Oxford American Dictionary, 2001, Oxf. U. Press, NY, p. 859.

Note that (except for "ideology", etc., but not for speech) the definiton of incoherent does not include the antonym of the sense "united and forming a whole" of coherent . (NOAD, coherent, def. 3 p. 332).

Putting it another way: "lacking a single coherent topic" is not a valid meaning of "incoherent". And that is the crux of the problem here, and misunderstanding that point was likely the springboard for the original intent to merge.


But whatever the original motivation was, we now have a problem. As for a resolution, here's what I would recommend:

  • for Template:Incoherent - keep it, with changes:
    • Restore the banner of Template:Incoherent to its original wording (or similar) of "incomprehensible text".
    • The current usage note ("does not relay an understandable message") is okay, possibly beef it up to distinguish between confusing, unclear, and gibberish (see WP:NONSENSE)
    • Remove the code that categorizes articles with this template into Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic.
    • Regarding the template name: either keep it as is, or change it to Template:Incomprehensible (with appropriate redirect added, whatever the resolution)
  • for Template:Incoherent-topic (currently does not exist)
    • Restore this template, or create a new one in its place
    • The goal of this template will be to generate a banner that says, "lacks a single coherent topic" or similar
    • This template should categorize articles with this template into Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic, just as the original template already did
    • The template should be renamed and called, Template:Inconsistent, or Template:Lacks unifying theme or some such, but the word coherent or incoherent should be no part of the name, as that's not what incoherent means, and what led to the unfortunate merge in the first place.
  • The WP:NONSENSE essay should be beefed up:
    • The top section should distinguish better between poorly worded text, stuff that looks like machine translation, "word salad" (already mentioned), gibberiAsh, and other kinds of nonsense. The point is to distinguish what needs copyediting, and what needs to be deleted.
    • It would be good to add a section that would reference all the different templates available for this situation, or perhaps add them in a bullet list at the end of "Dealing with" section.

I'll have to rummage about and see if there's a particular place to signal an unmerge request. In the meanwhile, I'd like to hear others' opinions. Mathglot (talk) 21:46, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

Added a new section to Wikipedia:Requested templates. Mathglot (talk) 23:55, 12 April 2015 (UTC)
As an additional comment: the doc page says that the template categorizes pages into Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic but I don't believe that it does so, as the code does not have an Ambox|cat= argument, and a sandbox test showed no categorization. Mathglot (talk) 00:28, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
  • I like "Unfocused" (or "Lacks focus") better than my original suggestion. The single-word suggestion also made it possible to consult a thesaurus for more possibilities; of the alternatives, ill-defined might be the best one listed, but I still prefer Unfocused. Mathglot (talk) 22:02, 13 April 2015 (UTC)
@JJMC89 and PamD: Thanks, will get back to you within the week with some suggested language. Mathglot (talk) 15:37, 6 October 2015 (UTC)
See below at Suggested template language. Mathglot (talk) 06:16, 8 October 2015 (UTC)

suggested template language[edit]

Hello @JJMC89, PamD, Jeraphine Gryphon, and This, that and the other:: here's my first cut at template language for the two templates. If it makes it easier or faster for the template writer, I could add actual, draft /doc pages either here as subpages or in my sandbox; let me know if that would help. What follows is more of a meta-description with comments attached. Double-angle bracket notation <<thus>> is my shorthand for a link to be supplied. I'd like to hear some feedback from other interested editors before we proceed with template creation.

Template one[edit]

Template Name: Incomprehensible? (Need feedback on this)

What this template is about: An article, or section, which contains incomprehensible text. This is the resurrection and improvement of old template Incoherent of 02:56, 26 August 2011.

Possible redirects: Incoherent (or is this too confusing, given the history? Or a disambig page?)

Banner text: As a starting point, return to version of 02:56, 26 August 2011, then upgrade it. Perhaps to:

The text in this article or section may be incomprehensible or very hard to understand, and should be reworded if the intended meaning can be determined. The <<talk page>> may have details.

Since some incomprehensible text can be due to machine translation, a alternate banner could be selected under param control that might read:

The text in this article or section may be incomprehensible or very hard to understand, and should be reworded if the intended meaning can be determined. Sometimes this can be due to machine translation. The <<talk page>> may have details.

Usage notes: As a starting point, return usage notes to the version of 02:56, 26 August 2011 (except "do not convey (not relay) an understandable message") and then upgrade it on the model of Template:Confusing including various banner examples, use of |reason= param, a Template parameter table, and a See also similar to the one in {{Confusing}}. There could be some text about possibly using Template:Rough translation banner instead which labels articles or sections that may be machine-translated, if it seems more appropriate. The See also should include a link to Template:Rough translation.

Auto-categorization: into Category:Wikipedia articles needing clarification (just like for {{Clarify}}, {{Confusing}}, and {{Ambiguous}}).

Params: section, reason, date, small (maybe), 1, Talk, xlate-banner.

Similar to Template:Confusing. Would be nice to have optional |talk= pointing to the Talk section where the matter is discussed. Also, would like to see param |xlate-banner=yes|no (default=no) whose only effect would be the selection of the banner with the appropriate wording. No picks the short banner, yes selects the long banner with mention of possible machine translation.


  1. Do we want a hatnote like {{For}} here, pointing to the other one? Or something point to the other template in a usage note? Or, since we're unmerging because they're not similar topics, is it better to say nothing?
  2. The template should be listed at Wikipedia:Template messages/Cleanup#Contradiction and confusion.
  3. Possibly there should also be an *-inline version of the template as well, to highlight shorter passages (analogous to the relation of {{Contradiction-inline}} to {{Contradict}}), but this is of lower priority, and could be taken up as a separate request)

Template two[edit]

Template name: Unfocused

What this template is about: Articles that lack a single topic of focus. This is the resurrection and improvement of old Template Incoherent-topic of 13:18 11 Oct 2010.

Possible Redirects: Unfocussed, Lacks focus, Incoherent-topic

Banner text:

This article may lack focus, or may be about one more than one topic. Please help improve this article, probably by splitting the article and/or by introducing a disambiguation page, or discuss this issue on the <<talk page>>. (help)

Usage notes: This template will categorize tagged articles into Category:Wikipedia articles lacking focus. This template is a self-reference. This template is not useful for Subst.

Auto-categorization: Into category as noted in Usage notes above. Note: this requires a concomittant category move—see below.

Params: date, small (maybe), Talk.


  1. The Category Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic should be RENAME/MOVEd to Category:Wikipedia articles lacking focus as part of this operation (with a REDIRECT from the old category to this one). To save the Template editor work, I am happy to do this upon request at the appropriate time.
  2. Regarding the usage note: I copied the text from the 11 Oct 2010 version, and am not sure what all this stuff about self-reference is all about, and whether it should be included or not in the new template usage notes, and would welcome guidance from a Template editor or anyone on this.
  3. Probably should not have a |section= param here, as lack of focus applies to the article as a whole. It makes even less sense to have an *-inline version of this template.

Cordially, Mathglot (talk) 06:14, 8 October 2015 (UTC)


Please discuss Mathglot's suggestions below.

@PamD, Jeraphine Gryphon, and This, that and the other: Pinging since I didn't get a notification for this. — JJMC89(T·C) 02:31, 9 October 2015 (UTC)
@Jeraphine Gryphon: @This, that and the other: @JJMC89: the above ping didn't work for me, so re-pinging! PamD 07:45, 9 October 2015 (UTC)
I agree with the proposals above and encourage you to be bold, assuming no-one comes along here and disagrees. Hatnotes can go at the top of the template documentation. — This, that and the other (talk) 09:33, 9 October 2015 (UTC)

Template one[edit]


|reason  = 
|date    = 
|small   = 
|sect    = <!-- Changes 'article' to the value or sets it to 'section' if 'y', 'yes', '1', or 'true' -->
|section = <!-- [alias for sect] -->
|1       = <!-- [alias for sect] -->
|talk    = <!-- Talk page section -->
|2       = <!-- [alias for talk] -->
|machine = <!-- If 'y', 'yes', '1', or 'true' adds "Sometimes this can be due to machine translation." -->

The first draft is ready. — JJMC89(T·C) 22:09, 11 October 2015 (UTC)

I like it! (And |machine is better than |xlate-banner, thanks for that.) Mathglot (talk) 04:48, 12 October 2015 (UTC)
@JJMC89: I tried a test at User:Mathglot/sandbox/Test_pages/Valencian/step_one and it puts the banner up but is red-linking the 'talk page', I'm not sure why. First I tried '|talk=Template_talk:Incoherent#Template_one_2' but that failed and then '|talk=Template_talk:Incoherent#suggested template language' and then the latter with underscores replacing the embedded blanks, but they all red link in the banner. Feel free to play with it in my sandbox if it helps. Mathglot (talk) 00:10, 13 October 2015 (UTC)
@Mathglot: Currently it links to the talk page of the page it is used on (User talk:Mathglot/sandbox/Test pages/Valencian/step one in your case) with the parameter specifying the section (|talk=Template one 2 for User talk:Mathglot/sandbox/Test pages/Valencian/step one#Template one 2). — JJMC89(T·C) 00:29, 13 October 2015 (UTC)
@JJMC89: Ah okay, I fixed the test page param value to point to the local Talk page, and now it's blue and links properly. I thought I had seen "talk" parameters in some templates where they linked to a discussion section elsewhere, but perhaps my memory is playing tricks. It seems by far most likely that someone would want to link to the Talk page of the article where the template was placed. I appreciate your work on this, and trust your judgment. Mathglot (talk) 02:41, 13 October 2015 (UTC)
@JJMC89: Is this one ready to be moved from sandbox to Template space? Mathglot (talk) 07:16, 28 October 2015 (UTC)
@Mathglot: I will move it tomorrow. Would you like an inline version of this one? — JJMC89(T·C) 02:24, 29 October 2015 (UTC)
I think it would be useful, as a tag for a single totally garbled sentence. (Currently I use {{clarify}} and have to specify a reason like "What does this mean?") PamD 10:39, 29 October 2015 (UTC)
@JJMC89:: Yes, please. Agree with @PamD: that an *-inline version would be useful (for single sentence or sentence fragment). For cut/pastable ideas, see for example, {{Contradiction-inline}} vs. {{Contradict}}. I would add it to Template:Inline cleanup tags section Clarity. Mathglot (talk) 01:07, 30 October 2015 (UTC)
@Mathglot and PamD: The template has been created in template space. Please add to the doc. I will create the inline version this weekend. — JJMC89(T·C) 01:57, 30 October 2015 (UTC)
@JJMC89 and PamD: Thanks, will do! :-) Mathglot (talk) 02:02, 30 October 2015 (UTC)
Template one testing[edit]

@JJMC89 and PamD: So I added what I thought would be a simple example to the doc (modeled after an example at Template:Confusing/doc) to the */doc page showing the code and the small banner it generates, but it omits the optional 'machine translation' boilerplate if params small and machine are both used simultaneously. You ought to be able to see it at the bottom of the Examples section in the live template.[Note T 1] I've included a courtesy copy below:

{{Incomprehensible|small=left|machine=yes}} generates:[Note T 2]

Notes for T1 testing:

  1. ^ but you don't see it; you can see it on the doc page if viewed directly; but for some reason, I don't see any of the new doc text which should be transcluded onto the Template if you view the Template page.
  2. ^ The live template call which generates the banner below includes a nocat=1 not shown in the didactic illustration, but I tried it without that param and it doesn't seem to be the cause of the problem.

Mathglot (talk) 04:31, 30 October 2015 (UTC)

@Mathglot: Fixed. — JJMC89(T·C) 04:03, 31 October 2015 (UTC)
@JJMC89: Looks good to me! Mathglot (talk) 06:05, 31 October 2015 (UTC)
@JJMC89: I added a couple of links to Template:Incomprehensible#See also which I don't see when I view Template:Incomprehensible but I do see when viewing the /doc page itself; something similar happened before, which is now fixed, but here is the same problem back again from a different edit. I don't understand this, why doesn't the template view with the transcluded doc section render the changes I just made to the doc page?
@PamD, Jeraphine Gryphon, and This, that and the other: I've added both templates to Wikipedia:Template messages/Cleanup#Contradiction and confusion, please review and change as needed. Mathglot (talk) 07:21, 31 October 2015 (UTC)
@Mathglot: It is due to caching. You just need to purge the server's cache. — JJMC89(T·C) 17:24, 31 October 2015 (UTC)

{{Incomprehensible-inline}} is done and has been added to {{Inline cleanup tags}}. — JJMC89(T·C) 22:16, 1 November 2015 (UTC)

Template two[edit]


|reason  = 
|date    = 
|talk    = <!-- Talk page section -->
|1       = <!-- [alias for talk] -->

Template:Incoherent-topic has been moved and updated. I will add documentation later. — JJMC89(T·C) 15:14, 18 October 2015 (UTC)

I have added some documentation. Please add usage and anything else you feel is missing. — JJMC89(T·C) 17:26, 18 October 2015 (UTC)
Looks great, thanks! I've added a Usage section, also a category, and other minor tweaks. Requesting feedback on doc changes from interested parties (@JJMC89, PamD, Jeraphine Gryphon, and This, that and the other:). Note: the changes only show up if you look directly at the doc page at Template:Unfocused/doc and not if you view the template itself, not sure why.
Mathglot (talk) 07:07, 19 October 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for pinging me, sorry I haven't joined in the discussion, but both templates look good. Thanks for your work on this. PamD 07:44, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @JJMC89:What happens now with Template:Incoherent and its associated talk page (this page)? I originally assumed that Template:Incoherent would be renamed to Template:Unfocused but both templates exist now. The former should be a redirect to the latter. Perhaps this talk page could be simply renamed to Template talk:Unfocused. Mathglot (talk) 23:49, 27 October 2015 (UTC)

Oops, that Talk page blue-linked already, looks like someone has left a message there already. Merge this page with that one, then? Mathglot (talk) 23:51, 27 October 2015 (UTC)
Also, when the REDIRECT happens, we shouldn't forget to rename the maintenance Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic to Category:Wikipedia articles lacking focus. Mathglot (talk) 00:02, 28 October 2015 (UTC)
Unfocused was created from Incoherent-topic. This template can be redirected or taken to WP:TFD as you see fit. (If redirecting, leave the talk page as is.) Once redirected or deleted the categories can be deleted (WP:G8). — JJMC89(T·C) 01:25, 28 October 2015 (UTC)
Okay, Template:Incoherent is now redirected to Template:Unfocused. If all looks good, I'll figure out how to delete the old category, and thanks for that WP:G8 link, I wasn't aware of that. Mathglot (talk) 07:12, 28 October 2015 (UTC)

Cutover, and template two category[edit]

I assume that at some point we "cut over" from use of the old templates, to using the new ones. Not sure how this happens exactly, is there a formal mechanism? Or is it simply the fact that the old names disappear, perhaps redirected to new ones, and categories get renamed?

However it all happens, there's an issue with a maintenance category to address.

The category for template two will be Category:Wikipedia articles lacking focus (as currently specified). There are currently 136 articles in existing Category:Wikipedia articles without coherent topic, and I was assuming that we would simply rename it to the new category name at cut-over.

Because of the confusion in the two templates, I wanted to get an idea how many of the articles in the existing category are correctly tagged, such that renaming the category would do right by the articles contained therein. To get a feel for this, I examined 10% (13) of them, and here's what I found: Correctly tagged: 2 (bc); probably correct: 5 (defjk); probably incorrect: 2 (gh); incorrect: 4 (ailm). Here are the ones I examined, and a brief comment about each:

  • Australian native bees - wrongly tagged; removed it
  • Brussels - correctly tagged (city vs. capital region)
  • Chalkface - correct; textbook example
  • Dexel - technical, but article seems to be about two diff things
  • Expert network - probably correct; should also have {{Confusing}}
  • Fetion - prob correct; about a Chinese IM client, but also unrelated issues concerning the company that created it
  • Ghotki District - mistagged? seems to be about one topic, a district of Pakistan
  • Hungarophobia - only one section (Slovakia) is tagged; the article is controverial (3 Afd's) and likely misnamed but is about a single concept, so probably mistagged
  • Irish Recorded Music Association - mistagged; removed it
  • Jail Guitar Doors - possibly correctly tagged, as isn't clear whether it's about the Clash song, or the song as perf'd by various artists; perhaps better tagged as {{confusing}} and needing some rewrite
  • Kumbhaka - overall confusingly written, and probably correctly tagged; seems to be all over the place; might benefit from copyediting
  • Carlos Cirne Lima - mistagged; removed it
  • Tarcisio Merati - mistagged; removed it and tagged with {{cleanup}} as it's focused but poorly written

If this is typical, only a minority would be incorrectly categorized by a category rename, so probably we should carry out the category name at cutover. (And that leaves 120, which is not too many to review one by one.) Mathglot (talk) 10:11, 19 October 2015 (UTC)

By the way, the use of the old {{Incoherent}} template with the section optional param in the Slovakia section of the Hungarophobia article made me have some second thoughts about whether {{Unfocused}} should allow an optional section param or not. I still think it should not, as it would muddy the waters about what the template was primarily for—although expository writing instructors might and should insist that each section or even paragraph about an essay be clearly about one topic, how far do we want to take this in WP? I think the {{Unfocused}} template would be clearer as an Article-level banner only, but I did want to raise the issue, in case anyone wanted to comment. Mathglot (talk) 10:21, 19 October 2015 (UTC)