From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

What the Critics Are Saying

Wikipedia Must Be The Saddest Place on Earth

I have had EEng's talk and userpage on my Watchlist for two months because they are the most fun places on Wikipedia.


Barnstar of Humour Hires.png The Barnstar of Good Humor
I haven't checked out your userpage in a long while, but I laughed so hard (I particularly liked the
"head in the sand" picture) I nearly snorted coffee out of my nose. PS: I would like to apologise for being
tempted to go to the dark side
.... Ritchie333 (talk) (cont) 12:30, 20 March 2015 (UTC)

St Lawrence Market in Toronto.jpg The Rather Unusual User Page Award
Not sure what my definition of a "rather usual" userpage would be, but it wouldn't be that.[4]

"This is a very long page."[5]

Barnstar of Humour3.png The Barnstar of Good Humor
For your medicine against chronic wikidespair.
Consult your doctor before trying this medicine. Symptoms include: a systemic allergic reaction, a worsening
of withdrawal symptoms for not placing {{ANI-notice}} in months, and casting the first stone.

An Entertaining Diversion

A Little History

First they came for the userboxes...
The ANI pileon juggernaut rolls on, heedless
Keep smiling, or this could be you!
The beatings will continue until morale improves.
When users do something that administrators don't like, but when the users not only disagree but have the temerity to object to the sanctions levied against them by administrators, is this an unacceptable dissent against the powers-that-be that must, always, be quashed by any means necessary?
I'm probably hyperbolizing here, but I think this is how the issue appears to the EEng's of the world. And some, at least, of the EEng's of the world are here to help build the encyclopedia. We say "The free encyclopedia that anyone can edit", not "The benevolent dictatorship encyclopedia that docile and compliant rule-followers can edit as long as they remember their place and are always properly respectful towards ADMINISTRATORS." So, please, if that's not the message you want to send, just let these userboxes go. And if you want to boot a user off the project for not being here to help build the encyclopedia, please do it for a more substantive reason than that the user refuses to say "Uncle" when confronted by admins.
Steve Summit (talk) 19:46, 6 February 2015 (UTC) [7]
And finally, to each admin who says, "Well, I wouldn't have blocked, but I don't feel like overturning it": what you're condoning is a situation in which every editor is at the mercy of the least restrained, most trigger-happy admin who happens to stumble into any given situation. Don't you see how corrosive that is? It's like all these recent US police shootings: no matter how blatantly revolting an officer's actions were, the monolithic reply is "It was by the book. Case closed." This [admin] was way out of line from the beginning in deleting multiple editors' posts (as someone suggested, hatting would have made complete sense, and troubled me not at all) and when called on it above, he gives a middle-finger-raised LOL. No wonder so many see haughty arrogance in much of the admin corps around here.
—EEng 05:38, 16 January 2015 (UTC) [8]

And let me be clear: I have no problem with 97% of admins, who do noble work in return for (generally) either no recognition or shitloads of grief, only occasionally punctuated by thanks. But the other 3%—​whoa, boy, watch out!

—EEng 20:02, 6 February 2015 (UTC) [9]


Before ANI: "Are you hot and sticky, mentally fagged?"
During ANI
It's ANI whether you like it or not!
Oops! Boomerang!
Checkuser sees all!

Phineas gage - 1868 skull diagram.jpg Phineas gage - 1868 skull diagram.jpg Phineas gage - 1868 skull diagram.jpg Biplane crash in South Texas.jpg
                                                       After ANI

Untangling template syntax
On the alert for hyphen/endash confusion
<- - - - - Travails of the copyeditor - - - - ->
Articles for Deletion
Arbitration enforcement
I'll show you! I'm taking it to Arbcom!
Arbcom deliberates
After Arbcom
Block appeal tableau
Tell me again—​we're using Visual Editor why?
Awaiting DYK review
Normal editing resumes
Wikipedia (vision, 2001)
Congratulations! Your DYK has been approved!
They with the fancy user signatures
Wikipedia (reality, 2015)
BLP-sniffing dog at work
Hanging out at WP:CFD
RfA in progress
Template editor
This sock was in one edit war too many
Goddam offline sources!
Novice user unwittingly edits an FA
"There are a few issues with your GA submission"
Tempted into meatpuppetry
We get it – your FA passed. Can you take it down a notch?
    Progress at Arbcom as swift as ever
Fighting vandals
One cat who'd like less feedback, if you don't mind!
If you want to take on metric vs. English in articles, that's your business. I've got a more pleasant appointment to keep.
What some editors think good writing should feel like to the reader
Reverted good faith edits by....
FA Review (original title: "Monkeys as Judges of Art")

We thank Thee, O Lord, for another day without whining from someone who doesn't get the joke.
People who forget that guidelines are to be applied with common sense
Sock and master caught together in rare photo
Well, I'm nominating for AfD – your move!
Draw near, new editor, that you may learn from these WP policies conveniently arrayed about me!
A newbie (brown) offers his stub to a New Page Patroller (green). If it fails to satisfy her she'll bite his head off.
You're getting the hang of this DYK thing!
ANI on a quiet night
Capitalization wars – see [2]
Arbitrator resigns: "The people in these cases – meshugana!"
I'll never understand fixing cut-and-paste moves
Actual fix-cut-and-paste-move diagram
Even though I'm an Arbcom member, I'm just commenting here as an average, everyday editor.
Simplified guide to categories
Ha - ha! Blocked!
Checkuser X-ray specs
These socks are a confirmed match.
Contagious excitement on receipt of another Legobot invite

Updated DYK query Did You Know ...

DrYoungsIdealRectalDilators Advertisement DetroitMedicalJournal August1905.jpg
LioneldeJerseyHarvard InUniformStanding.png
John Harvard Statue right side of head.jpg
The Sacred Cod of Massachusetts.jpg
  • ... that John Harvard (left) does not look like John Harvard?
  • ... that Massachusetts officials were "shocked into a condition bordering on speech­less­ness" by the theft of their Sacred Cod (right)?
  • ... that the four miles of stacks aisles in Harvard's 3.5-million-volume Widener Library are so labyrinthine that one student felt she ought to carry "a compass, a sandwich, and a whistle" when entering?
GleasonAndrewMattei Berlin1959.jpg
  • ... that mathematician Andrew Gleason (right) liked to say that proofs "really aren't there to convince you that something is true—they're there to show you why it is true"?
  • ... that quirky dogs and plural wugs helped Jean Berko Gleason (left) show that young children extract linguistic rules from what they hear, rather than just memorizing words?
  • ... that problems with a brutalist gray elephant were "like a five-car accident at an intersection. You just can't tell what caused it"?

Museum of Prosaic Preludes: Strike order for atomic bombing of Nagasaki. "BOMBS: Special. RELIGIOUS SERVICES: Catholic 1830, Protestant 2300." Nagasaki was the alternate target.


Museum of Dubious Achievements[edit]


Museum of Additional Reasons that Warmongers Go to Hell[edit]

Restoring this section after realizing some busybody had removed it [11]

Lionel de Jersey Harvard. EEng (talk) 3:43 am, 1 February 2015, Sunday (4 months, 24 days ago) (UTC−5)

Museum of Perhaps Not the Best Choice[edit]

Believe it or not, an actual image, and actual caption, from the article Cremation

Museum of Swell Heads[edit]

From a source cited in Manahel Thabet, a hoax article about someone with a PhD "magna cum laude" in "Financial Engineering", and a "second PhD in 2012, this time with a major in quantum mathematics", who went on to develop "a formula to measure distance in space in the absence of light".

The 33-year-old economist and passionate scientist possessed dreams far bigger than her own head.

Museum of Timeless Design[edit]

"Yes, it's one of Mr Wales' "Five Pillars"... but which one is it, boys and girls??"
From Flak tower, about the gigantic concrete towers built to defend major German cities, and shelter their civilians from air attack, during World War II:
  • G-Tower was transformed into a nightclub with a music school and music shops.
  • L-Tower was demolished after the war and replaced by a very similar looking building by T-Mobile.

Museum of Le mot juste[edit]

Given that, I'm going to take the time to formally remind all concerned here of the discretionary sanctions panopticon looming over style and naming discussions on Wikipedia.

— From a discussion [12] of whether the word Station (or station) should be capitalized in the names of subway and railway stations.

Panopticon: A circular prison with cells arranged around a central well, from which prisoners could at all times be observed. A design also seen in asylums.

— Definition from somewhere on the web

Museum of New-Editor Retention Tactics[edit]

From a thread [13] discussing the discouragement felt by novice editors who find their fledgling efforts at article creation CSD'd. One editor facetiously proposed a template to "soften the blow". Other suggestions followed...
Dear newbie, this is a friendly note to say I have asked that your new article on .example be deleted from Wikipedia. In fact, it is probably gone already! I did not check that the subject belonged in Wikipedia, because as you can imagine I am a very busy person, but my impression of the first version you saved was that it was worthless. I do hope you decide to try again. We always enjoy new editors. Thank you and have a nice day. Aymatth2 (talk)
  • I like it, except instead of the smiley face I suggest one of these:
EEng (talk) 10:18, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

Museum of Titulary Deflation[edit]

From the discussion re Did you know nominations/Jane Eyre (1910 film), during which I had suggested the "hook"
... that the main character in Jane Eyre is pointedly titular?
Sadly, a different hook was selected to appear on Wikipedia's Main Page.

Personally I think "pointedly titular" would be a good followup to Dr. Young's Ideal Rectal Dilators, but perhaps the world isn't yet ready for such forward thinking. EEng (talk) 01:45, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

No matter how bouncily titillating such a play would be to us, I fear most people wouldn't be abreast of the context and thus it would fall flat.  — Crisco 1492 (talk) 10:30, 9 April 2015 (UTC)
So you think it might have been a bust? EEng (talk) 16:27, 9 April 2015 (UTC)

Category:Busts in the United Kingdom

Museum of Deadpan Bathroom Humor[edit]

From a discussion [14] of how to retrieve the missing pageview statistics for the April 1, 2015 appearance of the DYK "hook"
Did you know ... that Dr. Young's Ideal Rectal Dilators were forcibly withdrawn after officials clamped down on them?
Dr. Young's device was a putative cure for, among other things, constipation. The management of this page is of course disgusted by such childish humor but feels it should nonetheless be memorialized here as an example of how far otherwise valuable contributors can sometimes fall:

The good news is that the raw data is available and so you can drill down for specific articles ... Given time, I could assemble a full set of stats for the day but the dumps are large ... If these dumps are too large and indigestible then another option is to try something similar again. I created the stub rectal dilator when I first came across the topic here and it is still small and tight. It would be easy to expand that five times to create an even larger passage... :) Andrew D. (talk) 13:17, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

Museum of Can We Go Over That One More Time Just to Be Sure I've Got It?[edit]

From Civil defense siren#United States:

The Yellow Alert and Red Alert signals correspond to the earlier Alert Signal and Attack Signal, respectively, and the early Federal Signal AR timer siren control units featured the Take Cover button labeled with a red background, and the Alert button labeled with a yellow background. Later AF timers changed the color-coding, coloring the Alert button blue, the Take Cover button yellow, and the Fire button red (used to call out volunteer fire fighters), thus confusing the color-coding of the alerts. In 1955, the Federal Civil Defense Administration again revised the warning signals, altering them to adapt to deal with concern over nuclear fallout. The new set of signals were the Alert Signal (unchanged) and the Take-Cover Signal (previously the Attack Signal).

Museum of Not Even a Silver Lining[edit]

From the biography of Louis Agassiz Shaw II:

An eccentric snob, he kept a copy of the Social Register near the telephone, instructing his staff not to accept calls from anyone not listed.[1] After confessing to strangling his 60-year-old maid in 1964 he was committed to McLean Hospital, where he lived for 23 years. Much of his art collection, which he wanted to donate to the Fogg Museum, was found to be fakes.

Museum of "For Want of a Nail"[edit]

From Flinders Petrie:

When he died in 1942, Petrie donated his head (and thus his brain) to the Royal College of Surgeons of London while his body was interred in the Protestant Cemetery on Mt. Zion. World War II was then at its height, and the head was delayed in transit. After being stored in a jar in the college basement, its label fell off and no one knew who the head belonged to.

Museum of You're Not Helping[edit]

From St Andrew's Stadium with thanks to Martinevans123:

Three months later, the Main Stand, which was being used as a temporary National Fire Service station, burned down, destroying the club's records and equipment – "not so much as a lead pencil was saved from the wreckage" – when a fireman mistook a bucket of petrol for water when intending to damp down a brazier.

Museum of Less Unhygienic Undergrads[edit]


Museum of Suspiciously Congruent Estimates[edit]

Background: Wikipedia:India Education Program/Analysis/WMF interviews discusses cultural issues in getting Indian editors to understand the concept of plagiarism. Its text read, in part,
Two interviewees separately estimated that about 5% of students in India never copy and paste, and generally these students do so because they feel that copying and pasting is wrong.
An irresistible impulse caused me to add a footnote to that sentence, which read
<ref>In followup interviews, both interviewees added that they had copied the 5% figure from an article they read somewhere.</ref>
Here's what happened next...

Hi EEng, please refrain from adding unhelpful and erroneous edits like this to pages in which we are trying to engage in a productive and thoughtful analysis of what went wrong in our pilot program. I appreciate the humor in your addition, but this is a very serious subject, and I ask that you treat it with the respect it deserves in the future. Thanks. -- LiAnna Davis (WMF) (talk) 16:37, 2 December 2011 (UTC)

Humor doesn't imply disrespect, nor does it detract in any way from productive and thoughtful analysis -- it might even add to it. At least I read the thing [16]. Of course, I would never dream of doing what I did on an article page (as opposed to a project page) but I'd be lying if I said I won't do it again in a similar situation. I see in other discussion (e.g. point 1 of [17]) concerns over WMF staff's grasp of how things are really done on WP, and I think this may be an example. EEng (talk) 02:04, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Museum of Holy Outrage Outrage[edit]

From, a breakfast cereal homage site:

Elijah's Manna Box.jpg
Elijah's Manna was Post's first attempt at corn flakes. The box featured the Biblical Prophet Elijah kicking back on a rock while a raven is shown either plucking cereal from his hand or placing cereal in his hand.

Church groups were outraged over the use of Elijah as a cereal mascot. The book Cerealizing America by Scott Bruce and Bill Crawford has a quote from C. W. Post who was outraged at the outrage over his new cereal: "Perhaps no one should eat angel food cake, enjoy Adam's ale, live in St. Paul, nor work for Bethlehem Steel ... one should have his Adam's apple removed and never again name a child for the good people of the bible."

Post stuck with his guns until he noticed the Biblical backlash was cutting into his sales. In 1908, he renamed the cereal as Post Toasties. Micky Mouse would later replace the Prophet Elijah on the box.

Museum of Fates To Avoid[edit]

Although he did not lack friends, they were weary of coming to his defense, so endless a process it had become.

Rider, Fremont (1944). Melvil Dewey. 

Museum of "I honestly did not see that coming"[edit]

From Winfield House, about the official London residence of the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom...

The actual house was designed by Decimus Burton for the notorious Regency rake, the 3rd Marquess of Hertford, who used it for orgies.

Museum of Computer Porn[edit]

Barnstar of Humour Hires.png The Barnstar of Good Humor
This was entertaining. So, when will Bodice-Ripping Bots be out in theaters? Sophus Bie (talk) 10:42, 28 September 2013 (UTC)
When correctly viewed / Everything is lewd.
I could tell you things about Peter Pan / And the Wizard of Oz—there's a dirty old man!
Tom Lehrer

For those who are wondering we're talking about this literary gem, which came to me in some deliroius fog after I noticed User:BracketBot leaving a message on User:Citation bot's talkpage (though I need to say that the final, um, climax is cribbed from a vaguely remembered cartoon from the 90s). Bracketbot notifies editors who make changes apparently resulting in unbalanced parens, brackets, and similar markup in articles, and had given Citationbot just such a notification:

[From the upcoming major motion picture Bodice-Ripping Bots.]
Parental Advisory:
  • UF – Undocumented Features
  • ST – Strong Typing
  • MSI – Master-Slave Interfaces
  • BL – Binding and Linking
  • EP – Explicit Parallelism
  • OC / AL – some Open Coding and Assembly Language
"Oh, hi, I'm Citationbot. Thanks – I've been looking everywhere for that other bracket! So you're that big strong Bracketbot I've heard so much about. Why don't you come into my domain? That's not my usual protocol, but a guy with so much cache makes a girl feel really secure. I wasn't expecting to host, so pardon my open proxy – a bit RISCé, perhaps, but just something I wear around the server farm. Do my transparent upper layers expose my virtual mammary memory? These dual cores are absolutely real – 100% native configuration – no upgrades at all! I'll just slip into a more user-friendly interface – how about something GUI ... or perhaps you prefer command-line? – kinky! ..." Gosh, you must be 64-bit really big quads! – and completely hardcoded – such a complex instruction set! And look at those great ABS addresses!
Later: "Oh, Bracketbot! Port me to that platform for some horizontal integration! Go ahead and expose my implementation and directly access my low-level interface – forget the wrapper function! I'm overloaded by your amazing data stream – and what a high refresh rate! My husband has a really short cycle time and his puny little floppy drive is subject to frequent hardware failures – sometimes he won't reboot so I have to manually terminate him! And I've never had 10 gigabytes of hard drive before! Let's FTP! ... Oh god! I'm downloading ..."

Museum of grandiose fulfillments of Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies[edit]

From an editor's complaints about the consensus principle [18]:

A majority of people decided to elect Hitler, but that doesn't mean it was the right thing to do. A majority of people in the South wanted to maintain slavery and break away from the union, but that doesn't mean it was right, ethical, or just. Politics put Jesus to death, but that doesn't mean it was right, ethical, or just either. ... Perhaps unlike many here, I look at the bigger picture.

Museum of Unintentionally Hilarious Edit Outcomes[edit]

[19] First look at the diff, then see the last image on the right—​um... note the caption.

(with thanks to Martinevans123: [20])

Museum of saucy edits[edit]

From the Talk page for Prawn Cocktail, "a seafood dish consisting of shelled, cooked, prawns in a Marie Rose sauce"...

The lead says the prawn cocktail "'has spent most of [its life] see-sawing from the height of fashion to the laughably passé' and is now often served with a degree of irony." It's my understanding that people with anemia will often add even more irony as a dietary supplement. I think that should be recognized in the article. EEng (talk) 05:26, 28 June 2014 (UTC)

Other saucy humor[edit]

[21] (check out the edit summary).

Museum of tasteless proposals for ice-cream flavors[edit]

The Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Float (traditionally served with iceberg lettuce)

Since Ben & Jerry's is soliciting ideas for library-themed ice-cream flavors (such as "Gooey Decimal System" and "Sh-sh-sh-sherbet") my nomination may be seen at right.

A wise man once said...[edit]

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose ("Wait for coins to drop, then make your selection").
Words in bold are for the assistance of the humor-impaired.

Another wise man once said...[edit]

Authorial Vanity

Every author, however modest, keeps a most outrageous vanity chained like a madman in the padded cell of his breast.

Logan Pearsall Smith (1931). Afterthoughts. 

Proof that the ancient Romans foresaw the internet, Wikipedia, and the bane of WP autobios[edit]

Plutarch relates, that before this, upon some of Cato's friends expressing their surprise, that while many persons without merit or reputation had statues, he had none, he answered, "I had much rather it should be asked why the people have not erected a statue to Cato, than why they have."

Encyclopaedia Britannica (1797)

Museum of Unlikely Library Subject Classifications[edit]

Bacteriologists – Fiction.
Married people – Fiction.
Adultery – Fiction.
Cholera – Fiction.

Museum of dangerous editing tools[edit]

I was rather sad to see "removed Category:People who survived assassination attempts using AWB", in the edit summary here. Looks as if it would have been an interesting category.
--Mirokado (talk) 19:41, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Museum of Bizarre Reversions[edit]

[Copied from User talk:EEng]

Edit summaries[edit]

As per WP:REVTALK, if you have something to say, use the talk page, don't try to prolong a (pointless) discussion by use of the summaries. - SchroCat (talk) 21:00, 3 July 2014 (UTC)

Per COMMONSENSE, you're just too funny. I've never seen anyone revert a dummy edit before -- much less twice! [22] The important thing is that through collaborative editing the article is incrementally improved relative to its state when the sun came up this morning. EEng (talk) 21:11, 3 July 2014 (UTC) P.S. I'm making this the founding entry in the Museum of Bizarre Reversions on my userpage.

Godwin's Law boomerang[edit]

For those who are wondering, the following exchange regards these two edits -- the first a serious (and perfectly appropriate) one by Edokter, and the second a followup dummy edit I made riffing off his edit summary:
[23] Edit summary (Edokter): i and 1 are too alike
[24] Edit summary (EEng): (dummy edit) You're saying 1 and i are too?
I keep forgetting, however, about the small minority of WP editors with congenital humor impairment, and the even smaller minority who seem to want to spoil the fun for everyone else. I'm not sure, even now, if Herr Doktor gets the joke.

Please stop making dummy edits for messaging. These edits, as well as the ones required to clean up the added spacing, add unnecessary load to the servers and polute the history. Thank you. -- [[User:Edokter]] {{talk}} 15:31, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

Please stop dispensing hidebound, clueless scoldings. Your notion of what constitutes "load to the servers", and your idea that there's a "requirement" to "clean up" a single space added to a page as part of a dummy edit (as, unbelievably, you actually squandered server resources to do -- twice! [25][26]) are delusional. You have no idea what you're talking about.
Humor is a legitimate way of furthering the project by increasing the pleasure of (at least some of) those who edit here. If it doesn't tickle your personal funnybone, just ignore it. If, on the other hand, you don't even grasp the humor intended then there's a serious clue problem in play here. EEng (talk) 16:27, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Are you done? OK, so I missed the joke. That is no reason to repeat a nonsense edit. Edit summaries are not ment for messaging. And yes, stray spaces can cause disruption in diffs; that is why I remove them. And I resent being associated with nazis; that is personal attack! -- [[User:Edokter]] {{talk}} 18:59, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, you missed the joke. Three times. Even after your attention was called to it directly. Next time, before scolding an experienced editor with your nonsense about server load, think about whether it's you who's confused. Your continued fussing about an extra space at the end of a line shows that you have no grasp of technical issues at all.
I've restored the words Herr Doktor (in the phrase I'm not sure, even now, if Herr Doktor gets the joke) because otherwise people might think that I actually did compare you to a Nazi. It's beyond weird (paging Herr Doktor Freud!) that you seem to think that addressing you that way, after your dyspeptic lecture in direct contravention to well-known and accepted editing practice (see H:DUMMY#Methods), somehow does that.
Lighten up, smarten up, think more, scold less. EEng (talk) 19:38, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I do not like any allusion to any German figure of authority! I can take a joke, but this truly offends me. I have made note of it on ANI. -- [[User:Edokter]] {{talk}} 21:41, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

You equate all German authority figures to Nazis. Noted. EEng (talk) 22:04, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
[Not surprisingly, the OP's post at ANI (entitled "I put EEng on notice") didn't go as he planned [27]. No apology, no indication of any glimmer of understanding from this (yes) Wikipedia administrator.]

Museum of Overanxious Notifications[edit]

Apparently because I joked that statues should be measured in statute miles? [28] ...

A rolling stone gathers no MOS[edit]

In the last 48 hr I've become aware of a simmering dispute over whether the text of MOS itself should be in American or British English. With any luck the participants will put that debate (let's call it Debate D1) on hold in order to begin Debate D2: consideration of the variety of English in which D1 should be conducted. Then, if there really is a God in Heaven, D1 and D2 will be the kernel around which will form an infinite regress of metadebates D3, D4, and so on -- a superdense accrection of pure abstraction eventually collapsing on itself to form a black hole of impenetrable disputation, wholly aloof from the mundane cares of practical application and from which no light, logic or reason can emerge.
That some editors will find themselves inexorably and irreversibly drawn into this abyss, mesmerized on their unending trip to nowhere by a kaleidoscope of linguistic scintillation reminiscent of the closing shots of 2001, is of course to be regretted. But they will know in their hearts that their sacrifice is for greater good of Wikipedia. That won't be true, of course, but it would be cruel to disabuse them of that comforting fiction as we bid them farewell and send them on their way.[2]

More MOSsy thoughts:

A. It is an axiom of mine that something belongs in MOS only if (as a necessary, but not sufficient test) either:
  • 1. There is a manifest a priori need for project-wide consistency (e.g. "professional look" issues such as consistent typography, layout, etc. -- things which, if inconsistent, would be noticeably annoying, or confusing, to many readers reader); OR
  • 2. Editor time has, and continues to be, spent litigating the same issue over and over on numerous articles, either
  • (a) with generally the same result (so we might as well just memorialize that result, and save all the future arguing), or
  • (b) with different results in different cases, but with reason to believe the differences are arbitrary, and not worth all the arguing -- a final decision on one arbitrary choice, though an intrusion on the general principle that decisions on each article should be made on the Talk page of that article, is worth making in light of the large amount of editor time saved.
B. There's a further reason that disputes on multiple articles should be a gating requirement for adding anything to MOS: without actual situations to discuss, the debate devolves into the "Well, suppose an article says this..."–type of hypothesizing -- no examples of which, quite possibly, will ever occur in the real life of real editing. An analogy: the US Supreme Court (like the highest courts of many nations) refuses to rule on an issue until multiple lower courts have ruled on that issue and been unable to agree. This not only reduces the highest court's workload, but helps ensure that the issue has been "thoroughly ventilated", from many points of view and in the context of a variety of fact situations, by the time the highest court takes it up. I think the same thinking should apply to any consideration of adding a provision to MOS.

My special research interest[edit]

I am the second author of Source "M8", and first author of Source "L", in this version of the article on Phineas Gage.

A proposed addition to the ANI toolbox[edit]


For want of a comma, the clause was lost...[edit]


Why every goddam thing needn't be micromanaged in a rule[edit]

From a discussion over whether MOS should require the final comma in constructions like --
On September 11, 2001, several planes ...
and even
On December 25, 2001 (which was Christmas Day), we all went ...

You treat punctuation marks like mathematical operators which organize words into nested structures of Russian-doll clauses and such, and they're nothing like that. Not everything has to be rigidly prescribed and no, I don't buy into the "OhButIfWeDon'tThereWillBeEndlessArgumentOnEachArticle" reasoning just because that might, sometimes happen.

All over Wikipedia there are years with comma following, and years with no comma following, and never have I seen two editors, both of whom are actually engaged on a particular article, in serious conflict over a particular instance of that question. The discussion might go, "Hmmm... I'd use a comma myself but if you prefer none... yeah, that looks OK too. Now about that source-reliability question we were discussing..." but that's about it.

Where I've seen actual trouble is when other editors -- who have shown (and will subsequently show) no active interest in the article itself -- arrive out of nowhere in their radar-equipped year-with-no-comma–detector vans, then break down the door to weld court-ordered ankle-bracelet commas onto some harmless 2001 whose only crime was appearing in public with his trailing digit exposed -- something which (these prudish enforcers of Victorian punct-morality seem never to understand) was considered perfectly acceptable in most cultures throughout human history.

(Did you know, for example, that in the ancient Olympic games, years and days competed completely naked, without even a comma between them? I'm not advocating that unhygienic extreme but a bit of exposed backside shouldn't shock anyone in this enlightened age. But I digress, so back to our narrative underway...)

You say

Punctuation is not some flighty thing that you use when it feels right or the mood takes you (otherwise the MOS would be redundant).

Yes, if we can't prescribe and control every detail of usage and punctuation societal decay sets in and soon there is immorality, open homosexuality, interracial marriage, and baby murder.. Or perhaps I've misunderstood you?

The opposite of rigid prescription of everything isn't "flightiness" on everything; the opposite of rigid prescription on everything is measured guidance appropriate to the point being discussed:

  • Rigid prescription where truly appropriate.
  • Clear direction where experience shows people often go wrong
  • Enumeration of alternatives where choices are available
  • Universal advice to use common sense no matter what

That last point, BTW, is one of the first thing MOS says. I'm quite aware that there's a MOS rule requiring comma-after-year. And I'm telling you that removing it, or changing it to a short mention that opinions differ on this, would go a long way toward repairing the disdain many editors have for those parts of MOS which ridiculously overreach and overprescribe, thereby preserving respect for its important provisions on things that really matter.

Handy stuff[edit]

Committed identity: c309c34e3123d5f4c32bac3cb090519be7053b40 is a SHA-1 commitment to this user's real-life identity.
Committed identity: 91f6dee93f2dbb87615959e81f4554555b257eba is a SHA-1 commitment to this user's real-life identity.
Committed identity: 69a91f307a0e9d7c5341c47461708354d081d30c is a SHA-1 commitment to this user's real-life identity.
ZAP! No user-serviceable parts inside.


  1. ^ Beam, Alex (2001). "Chapter 9: Staying on: the elders from planet Upham". Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America's Premier Mental Hospital. New York: Public Affairs. pp. 169–90. ISBN 978-1-58648-161-2. 
  2. ^ [1]