Template talk:Infobox former country/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2


Please send all suggestions and feedback to my talk page52 Pickup 15:42, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

I will send you a notice that I posted here but for continuity and for histroical reasons all suggestions and feedback should be posted on this page.

I think it looks pretty good so far. I tweaked it a little. Here's what I did:

  • Removed the {{{foot5}}} field. This is in the Template:Infobox Country to satisify a need in the France article.
  • Fixed a minor typo — kmv -> km². Looks like you forgot to press ctrl.
  • Added (optionally) pop density per sq mile. Per WP:MOSNUM and for other non-metric folks like me! :-)


1.) You should have an empty syntax field either here or on the template page.

2.) The year of the area need to be displayed. In your German Empire example, the area is from 1914 but is not displayed. Also, maybe a notation stating the height of the empire, e.g.
 -1891 (at it's zeinth)     5,000,000 km²

Regards, MJCdetroit 16:59, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for the comments, and for making those changes, both here and on my province template. Regarding your points
  1. Good idea - I had made some syntax notes within the template (commented), but perhaps they should be put somewhere more visible.
  2. Adding the year for the area is already there in the template (identical setup to the population fields), but I had commented it out and forgot to turn it on again. Pointing out the zenith is also a good idea.
I'll have the changes done in a day or so. — 52 Pickup 17:28, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Known area, unknown date

Sometimes only one area value is known. If you only have one area, this can be for two reasons:

  1. The area never changed during its existance.
  2. The area did change, but it is unknown which date corresponds to this area. This makes it impossible to calculate population density.

In both cases, it makes the infobox look a little funny, having the area values below the "Area" heading, instead of directly next to it. My coding skills aren't too great (only started on Wikipedia just over a week ago), so if anyone can fix this (both here and for the Historical Province template), I would be very grateful. — 52 Pickup 11:21, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

I am not sure what you mean. Can you supply an example? Maybe place it in a sandbox like User:52 Pickup/Sandbox. It better if it can be seen. —MJCdetroit 17:20, 21 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't have a state example, but I do have a province example. The Prussian Province of Hanover did not (as far as I know) change in size during its existence. So any population density can be calculated for any date (so far i have 1939 values from the German site). But since the area did not change, it does not make much sense to give a date when supplying the area. Giving a date implies that the area did change, which can cause confusion. But without a date, the area section of the infobox looks a bit odd, with the are values below the "Area" title instead of next to it. When I was talking about "fixing this problem", I meant something like placing the area values next to the "Area" title instead of below it if only one area value is given and no accompanying date.
After thinking about it, I guess the solution for not knowing the date when giving the area is either to state that it is unknown, or to not give the area at all. — 52 Pickup 11:53, 22 September 2006 (UTC)
I see what you mean now. I'll look into it but I think it is something that you'll have to live with. —MJCdetroit 15:32, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

I think I have it. The logic now goes like this: if you give a value for "area_year1", it will fill in the area with the year as before. But if no value for "area_year1" is given but a value for "area1" IS given, it will then display the area next to the "Area" heading. If only "areami²1" is given, nothing will be displayed - coding that as well would be far too confusing.

The area for Hanover Province now sits correctly. I have made the chanes to both templates. So far, this seems to work, but there could always be a bug somewhere. — 52 Pickup 20:59, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

WikiProject Former countries

In order to clarify the connection to Wikipedia:WikiProject Former countries the template has been moved to Template:Infobox Former Country. This was done in order to preserve the edit history and the work that has been done with the template so far. -- Domino theory 06:16, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Problems with "width"

There seems to be some form of problem with the "width" of the infobox. Without an image of 275px present it seems to collapse to the left side. -- Domino theory 22:08, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

Yes, I found that too. After trying countless things, the only way that worked for me was to have an image of 275px width. Perhaps a dummy immage is required? A matching grey image that is 1px high and 275px wide should do the trick. - 52 Pickup 07:52, 15 October 2006 (UTC)
I found one possible sollution it seems and it was to set the width of a table inside the box to 275. Since that worked I was able to reduce the width of the images when displaying a single flag or single coat of arms. It also removed the need for a mandatory blank map, which was good since the existing actual location maps only have a width of 250. -- Domino theory 06:33, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

Date navigation issue

The idea of streamlining the preceding and succeeding entries to generate the flags is a very good one, but there leaves one problem. Not a very common problem, but it still happens. If there are a lot of preceding or succeeding entities, the 1-column list of entries will look a bit silly. For example, the Province of Westphalia, which was formed from no less than 11 states. One column of 11 entries in the date navigation box would look pretty silly. At the moment, nothing has been entered in the date navigation box because I do not have the flags or coats of arms for them all. But if I did, I would want to place them in multiple columns so the appearance of the infobox remains satisfactory. For cases like this, my older infoboxes (Historical State and Historical Province) are still needed - of course with the other improvements that you have made to this infobox. Nice work with the automatic generation of categories, too. - 52 Pickup 08:04, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

I feel that the infoboxes we use are still in their formative stages and I'm trying to apply them to various articles in order to find out what is lacking and how they need to be improved.
The number of preceding and succeeding entities with the flag navigation is currently limited to five, but this is of course scaleable and it wouldn't be problem to raise that number to a dozen. That is not the problem however, as you mention it is rather a design issue: How to best display many preceding or succeding entities.
I think there are several possible ways to solve this. My ideas range from limiting the number of flags and displaying the rest elsewhere, or hiding part of the infobox. Displaying two rows would be feasable, but it would probably need some form of table structure and this would make it cumbersome to work with. Also, while this sounds like an elegant sollution designwise, I'm still a bit worried about the users perception of the second column since it will point to another flag rather than out of the box.
The category generation is quite neat and I'm really surprised over how well it works. Good work by the way with relating to the portals regarding the maps, flags and heraldry, which is really important for the project.-- Domino theory 14:49, 15 October 2006 (UTC)

Nice work!

Excellent job on cleaning up the infobox. All of these new categories will make our work a lot easier in the long run.

Did you notice that someone has placed a succession box at the base of the Allied Occupation Zones in Germany entry? Since we already have that information in the infobox, this new box isn't really necessary. - 52 Pickup 18:56, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

There were a number of objectives that I wanted to achieve with the last effort that brought the template up to the 2.0 version:
  • A more robust and clear template design
  • A simpler and more systematic syntax
  • A consistent implementation of features through out the template
  • Introduce additional fields of information to enable new features
  • Extend the automatic generation of categories
During the process I also realized and implemented a number of additional functions that hadn't been envisioned when the drive started. The most important of this is the feature that either resolves fields of information to an existing article, or leaves the entry "as is" including possible wiki-links. This enables same fields of information both to appear wiki-linked and used for the various automated features.
Wanting to finish the different points and the entire undertaking, the focused effort also became a somewhat ardeous task. I have been since been away and been busy with other things, and I haven't been able to find time to do a proper documentation of the features and how they work. It is forthcoming.
The categories generation is a work in progress, and probably will be for some time. There are so many aspects to consider and ultimately it is also a question if all the features that are possible to implement can be managed in an efficient manner. -- Domino theory 11:31, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

I've added a few more categories and a few extra fields for the status/empire section. These were needed for unusual examples such as Ducal Prussia - 52 Pickup 17:08, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

I saw the use of two variables for empire as extravagantly excessive and I was not really satisfied with that solution. Especially since it didn't solve all problems. Your fix seems to handle many of the situations, but unfortunately it has added two additional variables. I would like bring it down to a single variable again and use a more flexible solution. It's important to keep the template flexible and open for new additions, but that doesn't mean that additional variables should be added frivolously. Preferably any kind of supporting variables should be eliminated and the function automated as far as possible. I want to keep the template simple and easy to use for the editors. Making it less complicated makes it less prone for error and misapplication, which means less maintenance from the project side where it is implemented. There are already now several examples of misapplication of the template. I would like to simplify it even further for the editors while maintaining overall functionality.
Specifically regarding Ducal Prussia: Is there any reason why it should not be called the Duchy of Prussia? -- Domino theory 18:18, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
Reducing the number of variables would be good. The empire_extra_text variable seemed to be a good idea at the time when doing Ducal Prussia (the naming was not my idea - that had been long decided upon), but it can probably be dropped. But without the empire_article variable, many entries don't read so well - there really is no default value for this variable that fits so well, but I'm not sure what to do about that. There is also a problem between the usage of status and government_type which is sometimes confusing. Not sure what to do about that either. - 52 Pickup 21:20, 11 November 2006 (UTC)
Or for the empire line, how about just this: status (empire_common_name)? - 52 Pickup
Solving a problem is good, and there really was a problem worth solving. All good and well, but that should not be a limitation to better solutions.
Sometimes it may be tempting to implement a solution that fixes a specific problem, but on the whole it would be better to find a generic solution, even if this often requires an exhaustive review over all the instances where it's been implemented.
What is different with this template from many others is that it generates categories, and as such it requires variable values that are clean enough for this processing. One idea that I had was to mark these variables to make them easier to spot, but since they are also used for automated functions in the template as such they are not dedicated just for categories. On the other hand there are also variables that accepts free text with wikilinks. This means that a certain amount of discipline is required to make benefit of the automated functions, but typically even when these rules are violated the template still performs according to its basic functions.
I'm aware of the dichotomy between the status and the government_type variable. The original idea was to let suzerain entities like colonies and vassals retain a specific government type, just like other entities. The status variable should also be used to declare unions, federal states and empires as such to separate them from ordinary sovereign states. --Domino theory 10:52, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Dates for intermediate events

There are two problems with displaying the date for event1, event2, etc.

  1. These dates have commas but the start/end dates do not. I tried to correct this but I messed up somewhere and had to revert.
  2. If you know only the year but not the date, then it will not display. If you place the year in the date_event field, then it wants to know the year, placing a blankspace in the date field doesn't work either. For example Free City of Lübeck.

Any ideas on how to fix this? We will need to sort this out before we start applying the infobox in too many areas. - 52 Pickup 17:02, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Having separate date and year variables for intermediate events served no purpose, so I replaced them with a single date variable. Start and end years are still necessary as they are used for the template and to generate categories. If I remember correctly start and end dates can be used just like the intermediate dates. If they are not resolved they display as free text, meaning that you can write all "date" variables in the same format. I can look into this again. --Domino theory 11:00, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
No problem, I'll look for entries that still use year_event variables and phase them out. - 52 Pickup 10:30, 15 November 2006 (UTC)

Area in sq mi calculated

The area in square miles being calculated is pretty neat. However is there a way to insert commas to separate the numbers? I noticed the the calculation error it makes if a comma is inserted. I fixed it on one article. MJCdetroit 05:49, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

The people over at Metawiki just showed me how to insert commas afterwards: {{formatnum:123456}} → 123,456. This has now been implemented and so the numbers look much better now. - 52 Pickup 09:36, 10 November 2006 (UTC)
Sweet. It looks like there maybe some old fields (area1, areami², area_year1) that are not in use anymore and have not been updated in the articles with the lastest fields (i.e. area_stat1). I saw this at the Nazi Germany article. —MJCdetroit 13:28, 10 November 2006 (UTC)
I tweaked the template a little by removing the <small></small> in the conversions as it may them look a little odd. I found another oddity too, but I address that in a different new section below. —MJCdetroit 13:56, 10 November 2006 (UTC)
Nice. The template does need a bit of a clean-up. Also, since the template has become quite complex, perhaps a more detailed description of the syntax is needed - I've just put up a table to cover categories supported by the template at Template:Infobox Former Country/Categories, but I think more may be needed to explain all of the features. - 52 Pickup 20:51, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

I tried to solve the problem during implementation by not performing the calculation if the value was zero, but since it did not work as expected it was dropped. It looks really neat with the formatting! --Domino theory 11:13, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

Moved section

I moved the preceeding states etc. to the bottom, I think this looks much better. - Francis Tyers · 13:54, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

Alright. Let's try it like this for a while - maybe it will grow on me :) - 52 Pickup 14:01, 9 November 2006 (UTC)
Ok cool thanks :) - Francis Tyers · 14:16, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

I think that template navigation, including flag navigation, is an issue that we can discuss and how it may be solved in a better manner. However it is a central component to the function and design of the template and to this project. An alteration like this should not be made unless consensus is achieved.
Besides the navigation feature it has also disrupted a vital feature for the presentation of the entire infobox. Presenting the years of existence near the top of the infobox is one of the things that sets it out and differentiates it from extant entities. Changing this is not a good idea.
I am restoring the design and functionality. -- Domino theory 11:48, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

I disagree entirely and would dispute the use of the altered template. - Francis Tyers · 12:28, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
I will leave this for a day or so to be considered. - Francis Tyers · 12:29, 12 November 2006 (UTC)

I see that you have just moved the section to the bottom once again. The first time you did it was also without consultation or agreement with anyone else. I only let it pass the first time because I was genuinely curious to see how it would look. After a few days, I must stay with my original comments on WPFC and those of Domino theory above: the dates should be at the top since it is this section which distinguishes extinct states from current ones and it deserves a prominent location. Therefore, I agreed with the return of the box to the top. Domino was also right in that consensus is needed - something that I also said the first time before you simply went ahead and made these changes.

And now you have moved it back to the bottom, again without consensus. This is too much. Those of us who have been involved in the construction of this infobox have put a lot of work into it, and we are currently very busy with its further development. All steps that have been taken so far have been done after some level of agreement. Anyone is quite welcome to participate in the development of this infobox and its use, but to simply come along and make such major changes without some level of agreement is just not acceptable.

Admitted, the flag section does look a little unwieldly when there are too many entries used (even with the current limit of 5). That is something that we are currently working on - a number of major uprgrades and cleanups are currently underway. To make such major changes without agreement while we are in the middle of uprgading the template is not on - it is through things like this that major coding errors can be made which can ruin everything. Furthermore, no agreement has been made on change, so no change should be made.

And so I am moving this section back to the top. Please leave it there. Once we have finished the current round or upgrades, then we can discuss things further - and I would like everyone to have a say. But for now: it stays. - 52 Pickup 11:01, 13 November 2006 (UTC)

I will be happy to leave it there, but then you must get consensus for including it on various pages. I was happy to leave it on the pages with the compromise, but now I think it is better to leave the template off various pages. At least until its form has become more static and there is consensus on how it should look. Again, I'm trying to work with you, not against you :) - Francis Tyers · 11:04, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
In fact I have a better idea. - Francis Tyers · 11:04, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
An alternate template is now available, the same, but with the flags at the bottom {{Infobox Former Country 2}}. I don't see a problem in having two versions with different layouts -- as some pages are more appropriate with the flags at the top, and some with the flags at the bottom. Thoughts? - Francis Tyers · 11:08, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
Good compromise! With a lot of flags (eg SFRY), the flags do look better at the bottom (with the current layout) - although the dates should still be at the top. When only 1-3 flags are used on each side, they definitely look better at the top. The layout for a large number of flags has been a problem for me for some time. This has been partly addressed by limiting the number to 5 and having a space for up to 12 text entries at the bottom of the box (the pn and sn variables), but this is still not a complete solution. I think once we have fixed the presentation problem when a large number of flags are used, we can then come to a final version of the template.
It should be said that care (and a bit of common sense) should always be taken when using this feature. The purpose of the infobox is not to list every single entity that the county was or became. For example, the Confederation of the Rhine goes back to the Holy Roman Empire and forwards to the German Confederation. To display every single country involved here would be totally impractical. But sometimes, a large number of countries are required (eg. SFRY), which brings us to this layout problem. A more detailed "how to" for this template is in the works.
For now, the current developments on upgrading the template should be restricted to the original version. Upgrading two things at once is just too confusing. - 52 Pickup 12:02, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
Agree :) - Francis Tyers · 12:12, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry that I have to disagree with this, but opening up development of a second parallel infobox template is a really, really bad idea.
From what I understand the case is that Francis Tyers is not happy with the current design of the project infobox, which is fine since anyone is entitled to their opinion. Francis also has a suggestion of how to improve the design, which also is good since we need more ideas of how to improve the infobox.
What is bad is that the same user repeatedly has tried to enforce changes either without consulting members of the project, or expressly against being told to wait for a consensus opinion before going ahead with alterations. I believe that this is a good opportunity to say that I think we would all appreciate a little bit more of cooperation from your side.
Still, I would like to welcome you to the project and your input is likewise welcome, all providing you that understand the necessity of working with the project in a cooperative spirit.
Apart from disagreeing with how you have attempted to deal with this issue so far, I'm also trying to listen to the actual concern that you have. As I have understood it: you have an opinion regarding the placement of the flag navigation features inside the infobox, but you also particularly dislike how this is affecting certain articles at the moment. Is that a more or less correct assessment of what you are trying to put forward?
  • Regarding the placement of the flag navigation inside the infobox, you are welcome to participate in the discussion on how we might improve that feature. However the discussion will take place with-in the framework of the project and consensus is required for major changes. If you would like to try out different solutions or illustrate your suggestions you should feel free and encouraged to do so, but that is something that needs to be kept under your own user pages. This means that you need to move the version of the infobox that you created and conduct further experimenting there, and not on regular pages.
  • The instances where the infobox has been implemented so far should be viewed as tentative, since both the project and the infobox are still at their formative stages. This means that the infobox is not ready for full scale deployment and likely won't be for some time, which also means that there is plenty of time for viewpoints and suggestions to be put forward and to be considered. In the mean time, if there should be single cases where the effects of the current design of infobox is considered particularly adverse, the tentative implementation could be reverted and the article restored to its previous state in order to let additional views be heard and taken into account for the development of the infobox. Regarding SFRY, I believe that the template was introduced by a someone who is not an active member of this project and as such it has not had any significant impact towards the development of the infobox. If this particular case should be a big issue, I personally don't see any problem in returning to the infobox used before November 4. The template could be reintroduced at a later stage when it has undergone more development or is ready for full deployment.
Apart from this feel free to suggest improvements and contributing to the project. And again, welcome! -- Domino theory 23:47, 13 November 2006 (UTC)
I never said anything about development of a second infobox, only allowing the temporary existance of one until we sort out this display problem. That's why I said that all development work should be confined to the original infobox. When using too many flags (which sometimes is necessary), I'm not happy with the current layout either. It was interesting to see how it would look as Francis proposed, but that did not solve everything either. If anything, the dates must still be at the top.
So long as the use of this 2nd infobox is kept to a minimum, and used on the understanding that it is not the final solution and will not be further developed until a final infobox is ready, then I do not have any real objections. - 52 Pickup 10:29, 15 November 2006 (UTC)
I don't wish having to experience a situation where we suddenly would have ended up with a project version and a Francis Tyer version of the infobox. It's important to welcome new members, but it doesn't mean that anyone who joins is free to ignore other members, disregard consensus and employ their own agenda. We want new members who are willing to cooperate.
If testing was the question, it should have been done like with your very good example of SFRY, and we would all have welcomed new suggestions regardless of who produced them.
As it is it does only minor harm, providing its use isn't extended. It's use shouldn't be encouraged or advertised. -- 13:56, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

The use doesn't do any harm. As a note I am happy with the current infobox on SFRJ (as of "(cur) (last) 14:18, 18 November 2006 Domino theory (Talk | contribs) m (Edit temporary infobox location and readd static categories)" this edit). The positioning is just right. Thanks for your consideration :) - Francis Tyers · 17:46, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

I'm happy that we temporarily have resolved this issue, even if it was acommodated by a special sollution. I also wish to give a reminder on the opportunity to participate and give opinion regarding the general design of the infobox, which is the long term sollution. Thanks for your participation. Kindly -- Domino theory 20:23, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

Using two different references with the same stat_year

In the Nazi Germany article there are two different references for the same stat_year; one for the population and the other for the area. I managed to get both references in there. It would be nice if there was separate fields for this so that the reference for the area for that year matched and the vice versa with the population. Just an observation. —MJCdetroit 14:20, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

So far I hadn't really given much thought to referencing (i get enough of that at work...). I've added two new test fields - ref_area1 and ref_pop1 (only these two, not for year 2,3...) - and implemented them in the Nazi Germany article. It seems to work. It is best if the ref tags are not hard-coded into the template in case one wants to add multiple references. What do you think? - 52 Pickup 21:08, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

It looks good; seems to work well. I wouldn't hard-code the <ref></ref> tags into the template either. —MJCdetroit 21:34, 10 November 2006 (UTC)

I think references are good. They should be used by contributors and they should be presented in a format readily available to the reader. However I see a number of problems in utilizing this mediawiki functionality from inside the infobox. It creates double standards and make references to separate collections of footnotes. If implemented it would also create an entire score of new supporting variables, which are contrary to the effort of keeping the template simple and easy to use.
  • Footnotes used in the infobox should reference the footnote list in the infobox and the limited space for these footnotes has to be considered.
  • In detail statistics on geography and demographics has its place in the article proper, or even in their own sub articles where the regular referencing system may be used.
I guess a variable specifically for statistical reference could be added. However this would potentially open up for supporting reference variables to any kind of data, since any kind of data could be referenced. Strictly speaking, what is the compelling argument that statistics would need this kind of referencing in the infobox, but other data doesn't? -- Domino theory 12:45, 12 November 2006 (UTC)
Looking at how this is done for modern countries, there does not appear to be a standard way of doing things. Some refer to the base of the infobox with regards to population and area data, some in the references section at the bottom of the page. But wherever the location, the footnote/reference is called to from within the infobox and so we should try to do the same. The existance of separate references for the area and population is not, so far, fully supported by this infobox, leading to the highlighted problem. The creation of separate variables to mark the requirement for a footnote or reference (not sure which we should choose) is the only way to overcome this problem without compromising the functionality of the area/population calculation.
This does create more variables, but I don't see a problem with the addition of "advanced parameters" if it does not adversely affect the functionality of the infobox and if people know how to use them properly. They can be displayed separate from the main syntax. Actually, I've been thinking about preparing a "lite" version of the syntax, so new users can implement it without error. As it is at the moment, the syntax is potentially confusing to unexperienced users. - 52 Pickup 10:10, 15 November 2006 (UTC)