User talk:Giraffedata

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If you came here to discuss an edit related to the phrase "comprised of," please see my user subpage about these edits first. Bryan Henderson (talk)


I have deleted the talk for 2008. There is not much there of reference value, so I just summarize it here. Of course, you can see the original discussion in the history of this page: just look at the last revision of 2008.

All of the comments but one were about edits I made to the phrase "comprised of." In September, I created my user subpage covering that topic and the comments dropped off sharply.

Two comments simply asked for an explanation of the edit.

15 commenters objected in some way to the "comprised of" work. The objections ranged from pointing out that I had introduced a typo in the process, which the commenter had corrected, to open personal insults.

4 comments expressed support for the work, 3 strongly. One of them was from a former user of "comprised of."

I caution anyone who might be using these numbers to draw a conclusion about the consensus of English speakers on the validity of "comprised of" that this is in no way a representative sampling. The total number of commenters is a tiny, tiny fraction of the number of edits and the commenters self-select.

Objecting comments were almost entirely inspired by a particular edit someone noticed.

In 4 cases, the commenter says he reverted my edit. In 2 of those, there is no claim that the reversion improves the article, and I believe the point of the reversion, and telling me about it, was to make a point. In 2 additional cases, the commenter says he further edited my edit.

Several objections were based on the fact that dictionaries list the offending usage as one of the definitions of "comprise." I and one other commenter responded that a usage being listed in a dictionary doesn't mean you shouldn't avoid it. That's not what dictionaries are for.

One of the comments claimed the original "comprised of" phrasing was superior to my phrasing, but the commenter declined to explain. His response to my request for an explanation was a sarcastic insult, and my followup request was unanswered.

One objection seems to have been based on a misreading of the edit, but it isn't clear because the commenter concentrated on attacking me rather than discussing the article. The exchange ends with, "You are a silly, silly man who is simply incapable of ... Case closed."

One commenter took issue with my edit summary, "fix 'comprised of'," saying it implied "comprised of" is grammatically incorrect, while he believed it is not. I explained that I don't think "fix" implies grammatical incorrectness.

Another commenter thought my fix was an irresponsible hack job that corrupted the text, but after some discussion apologized and agreed that he had just misread what I wrote. And re-edited it to make it read better.

Three commenters discussed the futility of the work. They didn't say what they were assuming is the goal of the work, but it appears to be something like "eliminate 'comprised of' from the English language." I said that isn't my goal, but didn't say what my goal is.

The only comment not about "comprised of" was a question asking, since I was interested in grammar disputes, what I thought of "color" vs "colour." I said I think that is in a whole different category (and that I'm perfectly OK with them being used in their respective dialects, but that I would have opposed "color" when it was new).

Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk)


I have deleted the talk for 2009. There is not much there of reference value, so I just summarize it here. Of course, you can see the original discussion in the history of this page: just look at the last revision of 2009.

Like in the previous year, all the comments but two were about edits I made to the phrase "comprised of." There were fewer negative comments in 2009, though, and more positive ones. I believe this is because late in 2008, I created my user subpage covering the topic and would-be commenters read that first. It could also be that I stopped using an edit summary that may have evoked an emotional response in some: "fix 'comprised of'." There appears to have been some public call for participation that resulted in about half of the discussion.

10 comments objected in some way to the work. 7 comments (not counting mine) were favorable. As always, I caution anyone who might be using these numbers to draw a conclusion about the consensus of English speakers on the validity of "comprised of" that this is in no way a representative sampling. The total number of commenters is a tiny, tiny fraction of the number of edits and the commenters self-select.

One comment took issue specifically with the edit summary "fix 'comprised of'," taking it to mean that the original text was grammatically incorrect and saying that on that basis the commenter almost reverted the edit. I responded that I don't think "fix" implies a grammatical correction. I also said a false accusation of incorrect grammar isn't a reason to revert anyway. But I said that I would nonetheless stop using that phrasing in order to avoid such reversions. (I switched to simply "comprised of" in quotes for the edit summary).

One commenter asked my opinion on another questionable use of "to comprise": to make up or constitute as in "red balls comprise half the entire selection." I said I hate that too.

One commenter wanted to take issue with my description of my motivation in my user subpage about "comprised of," which said "I don't edit for personal preference." The commenter basically points out that I obviously prefer to edit than not to, so the edits are based on personal preference. I tried to explain the distinction I was trying to make, and ultimately said I would try a different wording.

Along the same lines, another commenter said because some people have no problem with "comprised of," then changing sentences to the wording I prefer is imposing my point of view on readers, in a way which is against Wikipedia policy. I said I don't believe the Wikipedia Neutral Point Of View (NPOV) policy applies to language issues and furthermore that I don't think the reader is imposed upon in any way by not having the opportunity to read "comprised of."

There was a discussion about which is better: "the band is composed of John Jones and Mary Mason" or "the band consists of John Jones and Mary Mason."

There were two comments not related to "comprised of":

An editor asked for my opinion on a dispute he was having with another editor about verbiage in an article dealing with who was Muhammad's true successor. This was interesting, because it is a very sensitive topic, and not one I have any particular interest or expertise in. The reason he asked is that I was one of the recent editors of the article. Why? Because it contained the phrase "comprised of"! Nonetheless, I researched the issue and rendered my opinion.

A commenter praised my extensive changes to the Restrictive Covenant article. This has no relation to the "comprised of" work -- it was just a topic I looked up because I was interested and happen to know a lot about.

Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk)


I have deleted the talk for 2010. There is not much there of reference value, so I just summarize it here. Of course, you can see the original discussion in the history of this page: just look at the last revision of 2010.

Like in previous years, all the comments but one were about edits I made to the phrase "comprised of." Continuing the trend, the distribution of positive and negative comments was more positive than the previous year. There were 9 positives and 7 negatives, and 5 of those negatives were only barely negative, many of them being combined with overall approval of the project.

3 comments pointed out that I had accidentally changed a quotation.

There was a short exchange with AnmaFinotera, who is strenuously against the project, to the point that she said her policy is to revert my edits even though she doesn't believe the reversion improves the article. She didn't go so far as to say what the point of those reversions is. This exchange includes various personal attacks on me (as distinct from discussion of my edits), and also a claim that consensus is against the project.

One comment says that "composed of" is better than "made up of" for geological composition, as in "the area is made up of granite and basalt." I said I'm OK with either, but still prefer "made up of" for that.

An editor reported three places that the "comprised of" project has been discussed. I added those references to my user subpage on the project.

An editor asked how I do the edits, technically. I explained and also added a section to the user subpage.

There was a brief discussion of the phrase "try and," which derived from a discussion of how people judge "comprised of" correct because they're used to hearing it, even if it doesn't make logical sense. "Try and" is a great example of the same thing because it's commonly used, but there is no logical sense in it at all.

The one comment not related to "comprised of" was a request from an editor for assistance in a Wikipedia technical matter -- getting a category to work. This editor came to me because I had done a "comprised of" edit on the article with which he was having the problem and assumed I was experienced in editing Wikipedia.

Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk)


I have deleted the talk for 2011. There is not much there of reference value, so I just summarize it here. Of course, you can see the original discussion in the history of this page: just look at the last revision of 2011.

Like in previous years, the great majority of the comments were about edits I made to the phrase "comprised of." But unlike previous years, there was very little criticism. There were two complaints, both essentially withdrawn later, after extensive discussion. There were four requests for more explanation or for advice. There were four compliments/thanks, including the Executive Director's Barnstar, awarded by the Executive Directory of Wikimedia The latter doesn't apply specifically to "comprised of" edits, but I know I was nominated, with the phrase, "The MOST AWESOME WikiGnome ever," based primarily on those edits. Five comments pointed out that I had inadvertently edited a quotation. I thanked the commenter.

One comment was about an edit I made to add "sic" to the phrase "chomping at the bit" in a quotation. The commenter wanted to know why I did it, and I explained that "chomping" is an error (the horse champs; it doesn't chomp). We also discussed the use of "sic" in general and the meaning of prescriptive grammar versus descriptive grammar.

One comment said simply, "do you have a life?" As silly as the comment is, I did answer (essentially, "yes").

One comment was a question about information I added to the Vortex86 article. I answered.

Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk)


I have deleted the talk for 2012. There is not much there of reference value, so I just summarize it here. Of course, you can see the original discussion in the history of this page: just look at the last revision of 2012.

This was the most positive year yet for comments on my project to remove the phrase "comprised of" from Wikipedia articles. There were 18 positive comments, compared to 2 negative. One of the negative comments just pointed out that I had inadvertently edited a quotation. The other negative comment stated (incorrectly) that "comprised of" is a matter of regional dialect and that it is fully accepted in the UK. I responded by saying I would try to get some numerical evidence one way or the other, and then that I had done so and the evidence showed the phrase is not more accepted in the UK. Many of the positive comments indicated that I had corrected the poster's work and the poster had learned something as a result and would refrain from making the mistake in the future. One of the positive comments, apparently referring to the fact that I live in California, was entitled, "A Californian lecturing people on English?" I asked what his point was (is there a stereotype of Californians being poor writers of English?), but didn't get a response.

One comment suggested that I add an "in a nutshell" summary to my "comprised of" article. I responded that I had done so.

One comment pointed out copious grammatical and other writing errors in my "comprised of" article. I responded that I had corrected them all and learned a few things.

There was one discussion that wandered into the topic of some other errors, including less/fewer and "irregardless."

An editor asked for help, from a grammatical point of view, translating the Afghan National Anthem into English. I offered a few corrections.

Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk)


I have deleted the talk for 2013. I summarize it here, and you can see the original discussion in the history of this page: just look at the last revision of 2013.

All of the discussion this year was at least tangentially related to my work on abuse of the verb "to comprise" in Wikipedia.

Most of the comments were praise. Other than people pointing out accidental edits of quotes, there were only two negative comments about the work this year.

One was from a person who watches the New Jersey articles and objected to receiving notifications of 30 changes I made in a day to them, adding a "sic" tag to footnotes. The New Jersey articles are a collection of a few hundred articles about municipalities and school districts in New Jersey that share some source that uses the phrase "comprised of," so that footnotes in all of these articles contain that phrase. These 30 articles were either recent additions to that collection or had recent updates to the footnote. The complaining editor apparently did not understand the function of the "sic" tag -- it doesn't affect the displayed text at all, but it prevents automated and semi-automated grammar editing processes from accidentally editing the quotation. I explained that.

The other negative comment was a fairly common request that I leave "comprised of" in a particular article alone because the requester functions as the owner of the article and doesn't believe there is anything wrong with "comprised of". The requester had apparently written "comprised of" in this article three times and each time I changed it about six months later and he changed it back immediately afterward. He argued that I don't have the right to decide unilaterally the grammar to be used in Wikipedia. I asked why that same argument doesn't apply to his insistence on having "comprised of" in the article, but did not get a response. I also pointed out that because the article read the way he wanted it all but a few days a year, he was already winning the battle to control the article. We both indicated we would continue our respective editing.

One comment suggested renaming my "comprised of" essay, for an interesting reason: The essay is widely cited and shows up in search results and reference lists and such, which increases the exposure of the phrase and will tend to cause people who see it to reuse the phrase themselves. I responded that while that effect probably does exist, I thought any alternative title for the essay would make it harder to understand what the essay is about and the cost of that would be higher than the cost of giving "comprised of" more exposure.

Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk)


I have deleted the talk for 2014. I summarize it here, and you can see the original discussion in the history of this page: Just look at the last revision of 2014.

All of the discussion this year was at least tangentially related to my work on abuse of the verb "to comprise" in Wikipedia.

The oversimplified positive/negative tally this year in the comments was 8 positive, 4 negative, 2 of which were just about an inadvertent edit of a quote. This is about the same as the previous year. The praise was actually less in absolute terms than in past years, and I suspect it is because of the advent of the "thanks" button in Wikipedia. I received a lot of feedback that way.

One of the true negative comments about the project (and the underlying grammar) was a thoughtful criticism of my essay explaining my reasoning for the edits. It offered rebuttals to "sources" in the essay that supposedly back up my opinion. I said those aren't sources, but just a collection of comments from other people. The comment also suggested switching my efforts to some other English usage that is more universally disliked.

The other negative comment simply rehashed the usual arguments: lots of people say it, at least some people have been saying it for a long time, the dictionary acknowledges that people say it, and language evolves.

There was a brief discussion of whether it accords respectability to a phrase that lawyers use it.

One of the positive comments was especially noteworthy, because it came from Andrew McMillan, not a regular Wikipedia editor, but someone who discovered my project in the process of researching the "comprised of" issue himself and was so impressed by it that he later wrote an article about it in Backchannel. That article seeded a weeklong flurry of publicity for the project and for me in February 2015.

One comment asked how I notice "comprised of" in an article almost as soon as it is written. I and another editor explained the Wikipedia search facility.

Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk)


I have deleted the talk for 2015. I summarize it here, and you can see the original discussion in the history of this page. Just look at the last revision of 2015.

There was far more talk in 2015 than in previous years because there was a flurry of press coverage of my work on Wikipedia, editing the phrase "comprised of", in February. Besides the talk about the media coverage itself, the talk was pretty much the same as in previous years, but with more participants and more extreme comments. The latter can probably be explained by the fact that in previous years, most people who discovered my work were regular Wikipedia editors, while this year, they were from all over.

Supporters far outnumbered detractors, more than in previous years. This is likely because this year participants weren't mostly people whose article I had changed.

A person asked what I think about "bored of" vs "bored with". I said "bored with" is more correct but "bored of" isn't exactly stupid.

A person asked whether it's "impressed with" or "impressed by". I said they mean different things, but usually "impressed by" is what you want.

A person asked for my advice concerning the article on The Jordan Institute, which was mostly a promotional brochure and which I had slightly improved by deleting one paragraph. I advised that someone should chop out everything else that isn't an encyclopedic fact from the article, but I hadn't had time to do it myself.

There was a discussion, which involved me by accident, of a bizarre use of "[sic]" in the article on the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. An editor had used it on a non-quote sentence in an article, to indicate that the sentence was nonsensical. And defended the use at length.

One comment questioned my changing of the number style in an article and pointed out that I had misunderstood the Wikipedia Manual of Style on that point (in particular, I had changed large numbers from words to figures because I thought MOS required it, but it does not).

Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk)

A kitten for you![edit]

Kitten in a helmet.jpg

For the correction you made on two of my "comprised of" edits on Nanga Parbat. (Blame my Australian background for it, sorry! :-) )

Qwrk (talk) 07:51, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

"is consisting of"?[edit]

I hope you will agree that the result here [1] is clumsy. Why not "consists of"? Philip Trueman (talk) 04:43, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

Yes, that is a typo. But "consists of" does not work; we need an adjective here (like the participle "comprised of"), not a verb. I meant to type the participle "consisting of". That at least fits the syntax. I'll fix it. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 04:50, 2 February 2016 (UTC)

February 2016[edit]

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  • An '''inorganic compound''' is a compound that is not [[Organic compound|organic]. The term is not well defined, but in its simplest definition refers

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Please be careful[edit]

In the Ishrat Jahan case article, your changes were inside of a block quote. Yes, your version was better, but it is not what the quoted source said. —BarrelProof (talk) 04:42, 15 February 2016 (UTC)

One reason I missed the fact that this is a quotation is that it is a large excerpt of a source, too big for an encyclopedia article; the article should instead paraphrase it and cite the source for people who want to see the original. Wikipedia:Do_not_include_the_full_text_of_lengthy_primary_sources. I won't do anything about that now, but I did tag the grammar problem that drew me to that article to prevent such a mistake in the future. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 08:08, 15 February 2016 (UTC)

A barnstar for you![edit]

Copyeditor Barnstar Hires.png The Copyeditor's Barnstar
Your many tireless edits constitute a body of very valuable work for this encyclopedia. LjL (talk) 22:01, 15 February 2016 (UTC)

Thank you[edit]

I've been a busy Wiki "Creator Elf", recently making whole pages while overlooking some grammar hiccups. Thank you, again, for your careful reading and editing.Rockenthusiast1979 (talk) 05:31, 13 March 2016 (UTC)

Comprised of: thank you[edit]

Thank you very much for editing the mistakes.

Khubbajechele (talk) 19:25, 16 May 2016 (UTC)

(Moved from user page -- Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 20:13, 16 May 2016 (UTC))

An article featuring you[edit]

I was wondering if you'd seen this:

Yes, I have. That was part of a flurry of media coverage. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 08:08, 13 June 2016 (UTC)

And todayTamfang (talk) 22:18, 21 November 2016 (UTC)

Thank you[edit]

Thank you for tirelessly working to fix the writing of hacks like me! :) Keilana (talk) 16:24, 4 July 2016 (UTC)

In case of...[edit]

Comprised of is an expression in English: X "is comprised of" Y means that X is composed or made up of Y, according to Wikipedia. Thanks. MusiCitizen (talk) 19:10, 10 August 2016 (UTC)

Yes, it is, but you should not use Wikipedia as a source for that fact; Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Instead, you should use one of the major English dictionaries, as you'll see in my essay on the topic.
And it should be noted that like many other English expressions, this one is not the best way to say something in most cases. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 19:58, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
Indeed, such should be noted Face-wink.svg. Lizard (talk) 01:43, 16 August 2016 (UTC)
I'm actually aware of that essay, and while I think its point is pretty weak, in deference to the folks who cared enough to write it, I try to follow it in Wikipedia articles. And I knew there was a good chance someone would bring it up and give me the chance to explain why it doesn't apply here!
It doesn't apply because I'm not really trying to say (right here, anyway) that "comprised of" isn't the best way to say "composed of". I'm saying that when one notes, as MusiCitizen does here, that the phrase exists in English, one should at the same time note that it's not the best way to say something. And by the way, dictionaries usually do just that. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 02:04, 16 August 2016 (UTC)

Please comment on Talk:Afro engineering[edit]

The feedback request service is asking for participation in this request for comment on Talk:Afro engineering. Legobot (talk) 04:26, 27 November 2016 (UTC)

Please comment on Talk:Jollof rice[edit]

The feedback request service is asking for participation in this request for comment on Talk:Jollof rice. Legobot (talk) 04:26, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

Comprised of[edit]

Hi, Giraffedata, I notice that your are replacing occurrences of "comprised of" with something else. Please note that, according to some, the expression is correct—see article Comprised of. But that's not the problem. The result of this change was "... a compilation CD, composed of unreleased compositions...", which was not an improvement, so I had undone your edit. On the other hand, as I don't like the expression either, I have now removed it altogether ([2]), resulting in "... a compilation CD with unreleased compositions..." Cheers. - DVdm (talk) 11:39, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

Yes, the essay linked in my edit summary notes that some people are OK with "comprised of". In fact, that's pretty obvious from all the people using it in Wikipedia.
"Was not an improvement" is the wrong standard, by the way. Since you know the person who made the edit considered it an improvement, you shouldn't undo it unless you believe it makes the article worse. And since you shouldn't simply place your opinion over that of another editor (the two of us have equal right to choose the wording of this article), even then a simple undo shouldn't be your first choice, so I'm glad you found something that satisfies us both. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 15:16, 8 December 2016 (UTC)

Comprised 23.7% of[edit]

You went for what appeared at first glance to be an instance of "comprised of" on the page for Marin County, California, but I think there was actually nothing wrong with the passage you corrected. The sentence said, "Immigrants from Asia comprised 23.7% of the county's foreign population." That is not an instance of "comprised of" but an instance of "comprised 23.7%" and "23.7% of." I have no issue with your replacement phrasing, but I think it was unnecessary, and I think you're being a little overzealous in your quest to stamp out the phrase "comprised of" Rlitwin (talk) 02:24, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

No, I didn't take that as an instance of "comprised of", but I do think that it's the same disfavored backwards use of comprise (i.e. synonymous with "compose"). In its primary and undisputed meaning, comprise means to include - the whole comprises the parts. I think this sentence wants to make a point about Asian immigrants being the parts and a 23.7% portion of the population being the whole. It doesn't make a lot of sense the other way, with the immigrants being the whole and 23.7% of the population being the included parts.
While "comprised of" is by far the most common use of comprise=compose, and the easiest to locate, "Xes comprise N% of Y" is also pretty common. So is "X, Y, and Z comprise C".
I know the edit summary is a little misleading. Bryan Henderson (giraffedata) (talk) 02:46, 24 March 2017 (UTC)