User talk:Sunray/Archive04

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Emptiness and nothingness

Thanks for your help in . I'm a newbie here. What should I do when someone reverted my changes wilfully? --ETTan 09:17, 30 July 2005 (UTC)

  • Ahhhhmm... Newbies are unlikely to know the term 'newbie'. So believe that if you want.
  • As to why I reverted him the other day, I thought I had marked it as a vandalism... primarily based on Mel's rationale, though that had been made possibly in the other contested article. IIRC, that's exactly only the second time I've reverted any article. As a rule I don't believe in it, but since the word switch was obviously hotly disputed, I felt it appropriate since it had passed under the notice of Gbog for some days.
  • I posted my reasons I thought it wise to warn Gbog on User Talk:ETTan that he might be a socket puppet to the notorious Mr Tan, only to visit the talk page where you have been so active and hence become convinced that he is indeed Mr Tan in disguise with little doubt in my mind whatever. There are simply too many similariites. Take a read of the Talk Archieves (3 or 4) for Talk:Tsushima Island.
  • Understand, I like Mr Tan as a kid -- I've invested a lot of time trying to help him improve his working with other editors See Paras 89-115 w/a few interleaved other matters. I'm just out of tolerance for behavior that adversely affects the time of other editors. For example, see message on User:JMBell for just one person he's driven from Wiki, and I suspect there are several others.
  • I'll leave this battle to you and Mel. I'm out of Wikitime for the near future save for dropin visits. Best Wishes,
FrankB 05:47, 2 August 2005 (UTC)

Style guide on eras

Hi, Sunray. About Jguk's change and the recent reversions -- I can see how it's open to differences of opinion. My main point is against the reversions. I generally think that after one or two reversions by anyone, an issue should go to the talk page.

Jguk's original change that spurred the "Clarification" discussion was more extensive than the more recent change that is spurring the reverts. In the original change, he added to the style guide something along the lines that "BCE" and "CE" are less well understood.

I realize that a few people, including myself, disagreed with the original change. But as the discussion evolved, he asked if there were any objections to a particular sentence. I suggested a change to that sentence. No one else said anything about that particular sentence.

Perhaps what he did change recently amounts to something between the two. Still, in my view, it would be best for all, at least in this specific case, not to revert but to discuss. In my view, reversions often (not always) have the main effect of making a situation more heated. Maurreen (talk) 16:47, 3 August 2005 (UTC)

Possibly enough has changed that a new arbitration case would be more conclusive and productive. I was very surprised by the result of the last case.
For whatever it's worth, although I don't agree with the reverts in general, I do see you as easily taking the higher road than Jguk, especially in general but also in this particular case, because you are discussing and he is not. Maurreen (talk) 17:11, 3 August 2005 (UTC)

Korean and Japanese characters

It is unfortunate that the Japanese and Korean translations/characters of Tao have been removed as these are cultures in which the concept of the Tao has had equal importance as that of China. This is an encyclopedia for the twenty-first century, international and ecumenical in scope and purpose. Such information is useful for a variety of reasons not least etymological. Thankyou. User: Langdell

[Cross posted to Langdell's talk page] Thanks for your note. I agree with you that Taoism has had a significant impact on these three countries and it would be good to reflect that. I'm not sure how best to do that, though (see my note on the Tao talk page). It seems to me to be somewhat cumbersome to include all those words in the lead sentence of the Tao article. Perhaps someone will have some suggestions as to an alternative. Sunray 05:12, August 8, 2005 (UTC)



Is there a general ceasefire on date notation or not? I remain confused. Recently someone tried to break the ceasefire on Fu Hsi, so I reverted them to the pre-ceasefire state. Then Sortan, who is a date notation troll (probably a sockpuppet of CDThieme, and certainly a sockpuppet of someone), intervened. You have now reverted my attempts to squash Sortan. If we are to have a ceasefire that means everyone has to respect it - even where they would rather not do so.

I would urge you to help me on Wikipedia:User preferences for BCE/CE notation, where I try to outline a specification that could then be given to a developer (assuming one was found) that would allow those users preferring BCE/CE notation to select it. This seems to be the only long-term solution (apart from, of course, guerilla warfare, which does nobody any good), jguk 07:45, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

[Copied from Jguk's Talk page] Thank you for your note about this. I was about to contact you to see if we could attempt a conciliation. Let me reply to your question first. You ask: "Is there a general ceasefire on date notation or not?" Maurreen suggested a ceasefire on July 29 and I think it is a creditable effort to bring some sanity to this absurd conflict over notation for eras.
You go on to say: "Recently someone tried to break the ceasefire on Fu Hsi, so I reverted them to the pre-ceasefire state." I think you are mistaken about the "pre-ceasefire state." The survey on the Fu Hsi talk page was completed on July 24, five days before Maurreen's call for a ceasefire. Based on the consensus, I made the change to BCE/CE that day and I believe it was in accordance with the Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Eras and Wikipedia: Consensus.
You reverted to BC/AD notation on July 25, stating that my change was contrary to the MoS. Jonathunder reverted back to BCE/CE on July 26. Meanwhile we discussed this on the talk page and I asked you to explain how my actions were inconsistent with the MoS. You didn't provide an explanation, but you did observe the consensus (at least to the extent of not reverting Jonathunder). Then on August 6, FeanorStar7 violated both the ceasefire and the consensus established on the talk page. He was reverted by Kaldari on August 7 and you waded back in with a series of five reverts on August 7 and 8. I won't comment on your battle with Sortan. If you think that Sortan is a troll, do you not see that by trading reverts with him, you place yourself on the same level?
That is what I would like to talk to you about. I've noticed what I think is a serious lowering of your standards in the past several months over this date notation business. You were once a respected editor with several featured articles to his credit. It seems you have let your POV get the better of you on this BCE/BC business. I'm not sure why that is. I've read all your posts carefully but I cannot figure out what is behind your actions. Your rationalization of "think of the readers" has, as Ambi has pointed out, nothing whatsoever to do with Wikipedia policy. I note that you are offended when people refer to what you are doing as a "crusade." Is that perhaps hitting too close to home? Is it a religious thing with you? Of course, you needn't feel you have to respond to such a personal question. But by all means please do reflect on this. If we could establish the basis of your POV, we might be able to work something out. Surely these cannot be happy times for you, can they? I can tell you I've been troubled by this problem. Wikipedia will only come out ahead if we can sort this out. How could we work on that? Sunray 09:18, August 9, 2005 (UTC)
You will note that I have never argued it's a religious thing - if I comment on that point at all it is to say that it is not a religious thing - it's about recognising that the vast majority of our potential audience does not use, is unfamiliar and/or does not understand BCE/CE notation. Of course, it goes further than this. Our potential audience are, generally-speaking, not professional historians (though no doubt a very small percentage are). They cannot be expected to understand historians' jargon generally (and this date notation thing is only a very small subset of this). I believe strongly in making WP accessible to as many people as possible - and that can be difficult. It is all too tempting to write in a style that people already familiar with a subject will understand, but not others. And once an article is written that way, on WP it very rarely recovers.
Maybe I can throw the question back to you - is it a religious thing for you? (and if not, why are you unwilling to go for what is the most common notation in use world wide by a long way?)
I'm very conscious of this on the cricket-related articles I write - and I'd very much welcome someone who is not as familiar with cricket as me to talk me through which bits are not as accessible to a wider audience than they could be. Unfortunately such a person has not appeared - but if they ever did, I have no doubt that the articles would improve greatly were that a case.
As an example, one of the articles I'm most pleased to get elevated to featured article status was United Kingdom corporation tax. Not a sexy subject, but one worth explaining to a wider audience in terms they can understand.
Returning to the BCE/CE point, I see the only likely permanent resolution to be an option to select user preferences - so that those who want to see BCE/CE can see that for all articles, whilst those who do not wish to see BCE/CE (which I believe to be a vast majority) will see BC/AD. That is why I have started Wikipedia:User preferences for BCE/CE notation - the idea being that if it is already set out for a developer what needs to be done, we're more likely to find a developer willing to program it in. And this will be particularly so if we can get a large number of people supporting the benefits of such an option.
Without such an option, the problem will remain - and will be continued, and by far wider a grouping of people than just you and me, jguk 09:49, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

My religion has nothing to do with this. Does yours? jguk 11:53, 9 August 2005 (UTC)

Returning Greetings

Thankyou for your message and pleased to make your acquaintance. In case I have deleted any of your work on the article Tao there was one point that I didn't mention in the relevant edit summary. There was a piece of text appended to the statement about Taoism as a unique stream of Chinese thought which stated that the School of Tao or the Tao Te Ching was concerned with 'metaphysical speculations' about the origin of the universe. The word 'speculation' seemed to me misleading since speculation was as foreign to Lao Zi as it was to the Buddha or Jesus. The sayings of Lao Zi are those of a realised sage not those of a philosopher in our Western sense of the word. Many thanks. User: Langdell. 20:22. 10th August 2005.

On copyediting

Jeff: I see that you have copyediting some of my copyedits. In future, you should be aware that I charge a small fee for my copyediting services to Wikipedia. That fee is that I get to put commas where I think they should go. :-) I use the Chicago Manual of Style which does not countenance commas outside of quotes. I think that the Wikipedia MoS is misguided to follow British, Australian and New Zealand usage on this. After all, North America constitutes about 70% of the English-speaking world. I suppose it is a reasonable trade-off to get some sanity with apostrophes, though. And of course, I won't fight over it. I will just ask that you please leave my commas alone so I don't have to try change Wikipedia's MoS (engendering endless discussion about which is fly spec and which pepper).
I'm more puzzled about your removal of my em dashes. You've got some technology that I don't believe I have. It would be handy to have, though, as the written "—" often confuses other editors.Sunray 23:03, August 13, 2005 (UTC)

Before I rant about Wikipedia:Manual of Style, let me address your second point, about em-dashes. With the installation of MediaWiki 1.5 software, Wikipedia converted from ISO 8859-1 page encoding to UTF-8 (Unicode). I'm no expert on this topic, but it's my understanding that changing HTML special characters to Unicode characters avoids some problems, and as you say, it helps editing readability. For easy input, a large selection of clickable characters is provided below page-edit boxes for those of us who don't have nice keys for these and who haven't finger-memorized the Unicode numbers. Em-dash, en-dash, and h-ellipsis are included in that set.

Now about Wikipedia style… If you wish to use CMoS style, I recommend you submit your résumé to the University of Chicago Press. Every publication and publisher in existence has a formal or informal set of style practices, and they are completely justified in enforcing it within their domain. Wikipedia's is Wikipedia:Manual of Style, and it is determine by its editors (i.e., the entire Wikipedia community). Many people who go to work at UCP or other publishers find themselves having to adopt style practices that are in variance with what they learned in school (and what they often believe, incorrectly, is "the" right way). This is true in both the U.S. and UK, with each having a mass of conflicting style practices even within their own borders. (It is only extreme parochialism, down to the specific schools in which they were taught, that causes people to think there is a single "right" way.) The only way to make a worldwide publication like Wikipedia work is to accept that your practices (and my practices) are not the "right" way for WP; only WP can decide what is right, in exactly the same fashion it establishes solid articles — through community revision and compromise. In all likelihood, any practice you cite can be traced to similar historical compromises made among earlier editing groups.

Like so many others, you assume that any style change in variance with your understanding is some kind of foreign conspiracy, while ignoring the fact that much of the style practices follow U.S. guidelines. That's what we call "compromise". (By the way, I'm American, so I learned many of the same practices you did, including the comma and period stuff.) One particular point which is always missed by folks on either side of the "pond" is that WP specifies American quote marks ("double quotes", with "single quotes" inside when needed), but specifies British exclusion of commas and periods in quotations except when forming a complete sentence. To quote the very first line of WP:MOS#Quotation marks: "With quotation marks we split the difference between American and British usage." (Note the inclusion in that last sentence of the period for a complete sentence. Wiki wars have been fought over this kind of detail.) Invariably, Yanks will whine about the comma placement, and Brits will whinge about the quote marks. Both will disingenously ignore the compromises made in their favor.

You cite a SWAG about how much of the English-speaking world is in North America without documentation. I've seen this all before. The folks that do provide such documentation frequently quote contradicting studies, so even sourced statistics cannot be trusted. Worse, you imply that North America has some kind of homogeneous writing style, which is absolutely absurd. If you'd take the trouble to read the virtual reams of discussion at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style and its archives (which I have), you'd find that not only do the U.S. and Canada vary considerably in details, but regions within the U.S. also have conflicting practices, to say nothing of the clear contradictions visible in any quick reading of the many competing U.S. authorities like CMoS, AP, NY Times, Strunk & White, U.S. Government, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

You threaten to change WP:MOS? I dare you to try! At any given time, you'll find dozens of vicious editors who will rip you to shreds for moving commas, changing spellings, altering cases, and even tweaking adjectives that describe how one should approach any topic. I know; I've participated in those battles. To quote John Lennon, "You tell me it's the institution / Well you know / You better free your mind instead". (Note the unpunctuated lyrical style, with period outside quotes. As far as I know, even WP:MOS hasn't addressed this topic yet.)

I know I've rambled for quite a bit, but this is nothing compared to the essays you'll find if you get involved in even the tiniest aspects of WP:MOS. To paraphrase Dante, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter there." It's better just to accept that hundreds (thousands?) of people have worked for many years on WP:MOS, and have come to a fairly stable compromise. Don't try to rock that boat unless you wish to make style revision a second career! ☺ ~ Jeff Q (talk) 00:08, 14 August 2005 (UTC)

Thank you for your response. As a Canadian editor, I am somewhat sensitive to the vagaries of English writing style, buffeted as we are between two, shall we say, "expansive" English-speaking nations. You assume that I believe that there is a "right" way to place commas and other punctuation. Well, yes and no. I rather like the admonition on the introduction page of the MoS (ironically from the Chicago Manual of Style):

Rules and regulations such as these, in the nature of the case, cannot be endowed with the fixity of rock-ribbed law. They are meant for the average case, and must be applied with a certain degree of elasticity.

The MoS is a guideline, not a policy. Yet it is remarkably resistant to change, as you point out. However, it is often not as authoritative as a good manual of style, like CMS. Here's an interesting commentary on the problem of wayward commas from CMS Online:
Q. Apparently Americans enclose periods commas inside quotation marks, but do the British do it that way too?
A. In what is sometimes called the British style (see paragraph 6.10), only those punctuation points that appeared in the original material should be included within the quotation marks; all others follow the closing quotation marks. This system works best with single quotation marks. (The British tend to use double quotation marks only for quotations within quotations.) [1] (Emphasis mine.)
From looking over your work, I note that you are a conscientious editor. If you've seen mine you will note that I also work hard at it. I think that we who seek to improve Wikipedia should be able to do so for the most part without conflict with others on the same path. So, I wish to reiterate my earlier request that you keep you hands off my commas. I use it as a teaching tool for young folk who quote me the Wikipedia MoS. We agree on many things, could we agree on that? Sunray 01:01, August 14, 2005 (UTC)


Sunray: Thank you for supporting my nomination for adminship. I am honoured that you and others think highly enough of my contributions here to support the nomination. The admin powers will enable me to patrol for vandals more effectively, amongst other things. I promise to use my new powers for good, and not to inflict the retribution on my enemies that they so richly deserve, as tempting as that may be. ;-) Thanks again, Kevin. Ground Zero 12:46, 22 August 2005 (UTC)

Jguk for admin?

You may be interested in this: Wikipedia:Requests for adminship/jguk CDThieme 20:33, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Strangely the page seems to have disappeared. Oh well. Kaldari 21:41, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Ditto that. Maurreen (talk) 03:11, 25 August 2005 (UTC)
Ditto again. It hasn't shown up on Wikipedia:Requests for adminship yet. I would hope that Jguk would spend a period of time correctly applying the guideline on consensus and the MoS guidelines on Eras before he accepted a nomination for admin. It has been pointed out to him a number of times that he was not applying the MoS correctly and he has certainly proven to have difficulty abiding by consensus decisions on talk pages (ref. Talk: Common Era and Talk: Fu Hsi to cite only two examples). In fact, given his six months campaign for BC/AD, it would be even better that he voluntarily commit to not making changes from BCE/CE to BC/AD for a like period of time and also commit to never again violating these policies. Sunray 19:44, August 25, 2005 (UTC)
Of course, the chance that this will happen is about as great as a that of a snowball rolling right through hell (as are his chances of becomming an admin if I'm right about that). Sunray 19:47, August 25, 2005 (UTC)
Sunray, I couldn't help but see this. I was a bit disappointed at your comments on CDThieme's talk page. I know we've had our differences on the BC v BCE issue, but, quite frankly, whether I'd had admin powers during it or not wouldn't have made any difference at all, and many admins did act on both sides of the debate without abuse of admin powers (I'm not sure how they would be useful here).
The only reason I'm even considering asking for the admin mop is that, especially now the cricket project is growing so fast, I come across a need for admin powers (such as deleting useless redirects or thwarting persistent vandals of cricket-related pages) than I did in the past. I've always been able to find someone to help in the past, but it would be more convenient not to. Do you think I'd abuse the admin powers if I had them, and if so, how? jguk 12:30, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
Jguk: I have to call it the way I see it. I'm sure you cannot deny that you let your POV rule your actions in the BC/BCE matter. Over 1,000 edits reverting other users is truly exceptional. Several times your reverts were contrary to policy. Several times I tried to engage you on talk pages about this. You rarely have engaged in an open discussion on talk pages. Starting with Talk: Common Era, where I first encountered you, on to the Persian pages and several pages on Chinese mythology or Taoist subjects you continued to lambaste us all with "think of the reader" as a reason for reverting changes to BCE/CE. Where you were right, I supported you. However, I saw you frequently acting contrary to policy, and I there I opposed you.
Through it all, I would say that I found you extremely heavy-handed (the example below about referring to Sortan as a sock puppet and troll is but one example). This is not the behaviour I would like to see in an admin. It is my view that an admin should be cool-headed and evenhanded in applying policy. You need to study the following policies and take them to heart: Wikipedia:Civility, Wikipedia:Assume good faith and above all the guideline Wikipedia: Consensus. If you show evidence that you can do this, I will support you for admin. Sunray 18:26, August 28, 2005 (UTC)

Accusations of "troll"

[Copied from Jguk's talk page]: On more than one occasion I have seen you give edit summaries such as the following: "Sortan is a troll (see his user contributions) - revert on sight)." I've looked at his contributions and am unable to see what you mean. I note that he has done a great deal of vandal patrolling and has obviously opposed you tit for tat in your BC/AD campaign. Other than that, he has made edits on a variety of subjects. Calling someone a troll is problematic. It's really just name calling, isn't it? Your accusations seem to me to not be in keeping with Wikipedia: Assume good faith and Wikipedia: Civility, but perhaps I've missed something. Could you please explain? Sunray 00:30, August 28, 2005 (UTC)

There is considerable, I think overwhelming, evidence that the Sortan account is a sock puppet account used mainly to edit war and troll in favour of changes to BCE/CE notation, and indeed it was not me who pointed this out first: User:Dbachmann noted his suspicions on User talk:Sortan as early as 8 July.
After six anodyne edits, the Sortan account immediately stumbled across a date notation argument on the Jesus article. (Not a likely early edit for a newbie, but of its own not a hanging offence.) The next edits were to Elam - this was the first page that SouthernComfort changed after the ArbCom decision, and gave rise to much discussion. Why would an innocent account suddenly stumble on it?
Later the Sortan account, knowing full well what had been discussed early, made numerous other edits - often with misleading edit summaries and most of his edits after have been on the same topic. The account has similarly been used to stir up date notation trouble on other articles that are already stable.
This is the account of an established WP user who wants a sock puppet to hide behind greater anonymity and the freedom of that anonymity to edit war to stir up trouble. This is the action of a troll, and there is no reason to continue to have good faith in the Sortan account. Its positive contributions to the project are negligible. It is not just me and Dbachmann that have noticed it, see also the correspondence on Sortan’s talk page with Wiglaf.
I do not know why you are surprised by my conclusions. What would you think if an account with a similar profile was making edits in the opposite direction?, jguk 06:50, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
The evidence you have presented is, at best, circumstantial. I see no proof of sockpuppetry. It is one thing to suspect a sockpuppet, quite another to make accusations. I would tend to take the individuals's contributions at face value. Sortan has, no doubt agravated you as he has been inimicably opposed to your project. But unless and until there is proof via some formal Wikipedia process, it is irrelevant, surely. As to calling him "a troll." As the article on that subject makes clear, to call someone a troll is simply an insult, like calling them "scum" or "riff-raff." I think it would be wise to avoid it. Would you be willing to cease referring to Sortan in these terms, Jguk? Sunray 07:09, August 28, 2005 (UTC)
I'm not quite sure what you are looking for in the way of proof: the circumstantial evidence about Sortan being a sockpuppet is beyond reasonable doubt. Men have been hanged on less. As far as wikiprocess is concerned, most sockpuppets are identified through acclaim - for example, see the recent circumstances under which User:NoPuzzleStranger was blocked indefinitely.
I'm not quite sure what you mean about Sortan being inimicable opposed to my project - the only project I'm on is the Cricket WikiProject, and his only (albeit very marginal) interaction with that project is to support moving Bill O'Reilly (commentator) over the current Bill O'Reilly disambiguation page. Nothing really to get worked up about. However, although "troll" is a factual term meaning someone who deliberately makes controversial edits in the expectation of a response, and the Sortan account fits clearly within that definition, I would be willing to describe Sortan as a "disruptive sockpuppet" instead of "troll". May I trust you're also take up with Sortan the issue of his abusive language towards me? jguk 07:41, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
You mention User:NoPuzzleStranger. That account went through a process and was blocked. I'm not saying don't pursue a similar process, if you wish. What I am saying is that until there has been some sort of due process, I don't think you should be justifying your edits by referring to someone as a "troll" or a "sockpuppet." I would respond the same way to Sortan. The project I was referring to is your BC/AD campaign. At times you changed date notation despite a consensus amongst users on a particular talk page. Sunray 08:01, August 28, 2005 (UTC)

I will continue to refer to Sortan as a sockpuppet, as there's evidence proving this beyond reasonable doubt - it's only proper to warn others. But I'm happy to add further justification in the edit summaries if I happen to revert him again.

If you look at Wikipedia:Sock puppet you will note that there is nothing illegal about a sock puppet per se. The main purpose of sock puppets is to stack voting results and this is not permitted. Using sock puppets to circumvent policy (e.g. avoid a ban) is likewise verbotten. Otherwise, a sock is judged by its behavior, like anyone else. Unless there is a formal process that establishes not only that it is a sock puppet, but that the sock puppet has contravened policy, it is uncivil to refer to someone as a sock puppet. It is thus wise to avoid referring to people as "sockpuppets" and "trolls," IMO.

The changes that I made to revert to BC/AD after others had changed them to BCE/CE notation were immediately after a very large vote on the subject rejected a proposal to change pages to BCE/CE notation. I was joined in supporting that community decision by others, most notably RickK and violetriga. SouthernComfort was knowingly trying to implement a failed proposal - of course he was going to be reverted. Also some of the consensuses you claim are a small majority amongst a very small number of participants - for instance, you argued there was a consensus that all Taoism related articles should use BCE/CE notation on the basis of there being two comments in favour of using BCE/CE notation on the Taoism article, and one against. This is not consensus. And anyway, the proposal for date notation discussions to happen on an article by article basis was not passed.

The guideline on consensus refers to ways of establishing consensus on talk pages. A two thirds majority is required for consensus. Two out of three thus meets that requirement. I try to stick to the rules.
No it doesn't. It identifies certain percentages that may be used as a gauge as to whether consensus is reached. Consensus (in the normal sense) requires there not to be too much dissent from anything - and certainly not widespread dissent. On a relatively non-controversial issue, where people are choosing mild preferences, it is ok to have smaller percentages: the vote will be generally accepted. Generally speaking the more controversial and bitter the dispute, the higher the percentages of support that are required - WP:Consensus is a guideline - the way I've just described it is a pragmatic way of interpreting it. The principle of "Votes are Evil" is probably more pertinent here, jguk 18:37, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
The problem is that such an interpretation allows for completely subjective judgments. An admin cannot deviate invariably from guidelines. The whole idea of guidelines is to provide guidance for the usual case. They are guidelines because it is impossible to apply them in every case. But an admin has to know exactly when he is applying them and when he is deviating. Deviations, then, need to be justified on a case-by-case basis. In practice, tabulating votes (e.g. VfD) is done with a very even hand. I do likewise on talk pages because people have to have a guide to go by. A sliding scale just makes folks mad.

Slrubenstein made the whole argument a lot more vicious by putting forward a purely religio-political argument, and steering all discussion away from other points. We've both been around long enough in this world to know that if you want to stir things up, start a discussion on religion or politics.

I agree the argument became highly charged.

This whole approach really lost touch with what we are doing: writing an encyclopaedia. When writing it is always important to think of your reader - being a good communicator means considering your audience and adapting your style and language to that reader. I work in a specialised area of UK tax law. I work with experts who know much more than me, and with juniors who are just beginning their careers and know nothing of tax law. I have clients who are tax experts, some who are accountants who don't want to know much about tax but want to learn something, and some who want to know nothing about tax - they just want to be told what they should do. I won't claim always to get it right - but I need adapt my language and style constantly. If I don't, I have confused colleagues or unhappy clients. I need to make sure that I convey my point in a way that gives my audience as little as work to do to understand it as possible. I work for my reader - I cannot expect my reader to work to understand what I say.

You have used that line "think of the reader" to justify your POV. I do not agree that BCE/CE is inconsiderate of the reader. We obviously have different perspectives on this. So I say: Let's just stick with the policies and guidelines.
My view is entirely "think of the reader". I have no POV here. I wouldn't be writing for an academic journal that always uses BCE/CE notation anyway, but I would certainly recommend going along with its practice to anyone submitting articles on it. It would be interesting to know whether you agree with the principle of "think of the reader" (even if you argue that thinking of the reader leads to a different conclusion here).
Come now. Your POV is not "think of the reader." That isn't a POV, it is an interest, and one that I share. Your POV is: "BCE/CE notation will not be understood by the reader and must not be used because it will cause confusion." (Correct me if I've got that wrong). Unfortunately, your POV has no basis in Wikipedia policy—the MoS simply says that either date notation may be used.
On the general point, remember that the policies and guidelines are useful, but are not rock-ribbed (and nor should they be). One reason why WP:Cricket is so successful is because the "rules" are bent around the edges. The aim is to present information in a way that will be read and will be interesting to the reader. I interpret WP:IAR, which is also a guideline, as meaning just that - we are not slaves to other policies and guidelines, although we do not ignore them willy-nilly either.
I've written a great deal of policy, so I know how policies and guidelines work. I've never said they are rock-ribbed. However, when there are disagreements, it becomes necessary to go back to the guideline and apply it more stringently. Otherwise things descend into chaos and Babel.

These are important points here. We are writing for a general worldwide audience - of all different backgrounds and knowledge. It's important that use language and style that they will understand - so we restrict the usage of jargon, and explain it where it is unavoidable; we write introductions that provide a useful lead in; we don't impose our personal preferences on them - eg we prefer a better understood word over a less well understood word. If we don't, our readers go elsewhere.

Again, while I agree with you that it is fundamentally important to think of the reader and I always try to write with the reader in mind, in an encyclopedia there are other considerations than readability. We cannot "dumb down" a complex matter, for example, as a broadsheet does. Their mission is purely to sell papers. In a worldwide encyclopedia, there are cross-cultural considerations which make it important to consider the perspective of a reader from another religion or culture. That is why I think it is important for Buddhists, Taoists and other non-Christians to be able to use BCE/CE notation if they wish, as provided for in the current policies.
What you are doing is not allowing Buddhists, Taoist and other non-Christians to be able to read BCE/CE notation if they wish. To do that we would need to set up user preferences for BCE/CE notation (which I understand you eschew, although I'd be in favour of). You are forcing everyone to read BCE/CE notation. Of course, conversely, using BC/AD notation also forces everyone to read that. This leaves the question of what is the lesser evil. At this point the sheer numerical superiority of BC/AD throughout the world becomes pertinent - to do otherwise severely restricts the potential readership.
If it were possible to implement a technological change, there would still be a need (perhaps even a greater need) to explain what BCE/CE is (how else could the user adjust his settings). With respect to "numerical superiority" (in usage), that would be an argument for keeping outdated racist or sexist terms as well. How would you justify that? Language would never change if usage were the criterion.
Also, I disagree that thinking of the reader means we "dumb down" a complex matter. For example, why shouldn't the article on chromosomes explain to a general reader what they are and why they are important. OK, perhaps the article may want have more complex info in there - but can't that go towards the end of the article, once the layman has had a chance to appreciate what you're going on about. I also believe strongly that most things can be explained to the layman. Einstein did it with his best-selling Theory of Special Relativity. Hawking did it with his Brief History of Time. I do it every day with complex UK tax law. This isn't dumbing down - all the information of the complex version is preserved - but it is presented in a fashion that many more people can understand.
Here I agree with you. I have written for various audiences throughout my life. I know how to make an article more readable. That is what I do around here. I just don't see the relevance of that argument when we come to BCE/CE.

This whole BC v BCE thing is but a very small subset of this. We have one generally understood term - and one that does not enjoy the same global reach amongst the general public (by a long, long way). We have jargon terms that academic historians may be familiar with, but the general public will not be - so we choose to avoid them, particularly when there are simple enough ways to use terminology that everyone will understand. I appreciate here that you may be more accustomed to using BCE than BC, but I would ask that you accept that amongst the worldwide general public you are in a very small minority, and that therefore when writing for the worldwide general public you change your style (or at least allow others to change it). Failure to think of the reader and appeal to a wide audience makes far too many of Wikipedia's articles inaccessible to the average potential reader as it is, jguk 08:30, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

It is not about "the general public" here. It is about the readership of a particular article in Wikipedia. Take Buddhism, for example. A reader who is interested in that subject may not know the terms BCE/CE. However, it really is not hard to figure out. If one is able to grasp the concepts in the Buddhism article (which after all, is written for a literate reader), one will easily be able to understand the use of BCE/CE upon looking it up. If one is a Buddhist, one may well appreciate the courtesy extended by not using the European/Christian terms. Looking at it another way: The terms BC/AD are well established worldwide because of European colonialism. Since the middle of the last century, many cultures have thrown off the yoke of colonialism. We should not impose aspects of that colonial legacy when other cultures or religions do not want them. That is my perspective on using BCE/CE. Sunray 17:44, August 28, 2005 (UTC)
I believe strongly that the writer should work hard to explain things to his reader - the reader should (ideally) have to do no work at all. It doesn't matter how much effort it takes the reader to work something out - it should be as straightforward as possible - and in this particular case there's no need to complicated the issue at all. There are also the points that introducing the BCE/CE notation hasn't gone down too well in a number of places and that people prefer language that is familiar to them over language which is not so familiar to them.
Here we differ somewhat. You say "the reader should (ideally) have to do no work at all." That is true for ad and newspaper writing. It is less true in an encyclopedia. People come to an encyclopedia to learn. Learning requires effort. People who are in that mode are able to pick things up relatively quickly (following links, etc). Our job is to facilitate that process, not to feed them pap. So there can be a degree of difficulty. Why do certain articles have this different date notation? Hummmm.
Finally, this has nothing to do with colonialism. (After all, without colonialism no-one outside England would be speaking English!) This has nothing to do with "impos[ing] aspects of...colonial legacy when other cultures or religions do not want them". Most people worldwide are just not concerned about whether "BC" and "AD" has any meaning other than as date notation. Indeed, it is an etymological fallacy to claim that they do have other meaning. As you know, things like this are seen as political correctness, which, although it has made a few inroads outside the United States, is opposed widely elsewhere in the world.
I've been interested in the opposition to the terms BCE/CE, as I am in the use of the term "political correctness." That was why I was querying you awhile back ("is it a religious thing?"). I'm none the wiser. However, I would suggest that the people who are resistant to these sorts of etymological shifts are probably not our readers. They would tend to be uninterested in learning much.
You're arguing your political viewpoint above, so I'm sure you'll allow me a small space to do the same (even though this is an aside that in my mind has nothing whatsoever to do with the issue at hand):
As far as I can see, political correctness does do more harm than good - the greatest evil in arguing for changes in language and having so called "positive discrimination" is that far too many people think that is enough. For all of its hold on certain parts of America, blacks are still economically poorest in America by a long, long way; ghettoes persist; the list of poorest states today is not too dissimilar to the list 20, 30, 40 years ago. Women continue to get discriminated against. The problem with PC is that it it hides the real problems - people think by changing their- without it America might have to actually do something about the discrimination inherent in its system. Compare this to the UK, which is far from perfect itself - but at least we've faced up to some of the key problems. The Stephen Lawrence inquiry, controversially at the time, concluded that the Metropolitan Police was "institutionally racist". This finding forced the Police to confront the issue for real, leading to many benefits for the whole of the London community. Had it gone instead for a "politically correct" approach, I'm quite sure our policing methods would be stuck in the early 1990s, jguk 18:37, 28 August 2005 (UTC)
I find your initial comments in the above two paragraphs somewhat judgmental. You begin by assuming that I am arguing my political viewpoint. How? Because I spoke of colonialism? I was simply stating a well-accepted set of facts along with some anthropoligical interpretation. It is only political in the sense that all things are political which so obvious as to not need to be said. I emphatically agree with you that the plight of the blacks in America is a product of systemic racism that cannot be eradicated within a generation or two by changing the language. Your example of the Metropolitan Police illustrates how human society goes for the quick fix and bandaid solution rather than confronting the causes of social problems. However, the term "PC" is simply an ephitet (like sock puppet). It should be used in moderation.
I see the Wikipedia project as being to foster communications and learning for all the world's peoples. I am pleased that you and I are communicating (I would even venture to say "communicating better"). I don't expect you to change your POV on BC/BCE, but if we can agree on how to apply the policies and keep the communications lines open, perhaps it won't be as serious a problem. Sunray 22:07, August 28, 2005 (UTC)


You advise Sortan on his talk page that "No action [is] necessary at this point". What action would there be in mind anyway - especially as Sortan is already well-versed in WP practice as he's been here under a different name for many months, jguk 19:10, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

I can't think of an action either. Perhaps I should have said: For your information only. What was in my mind was that I didn't want him to get excited and jump into the conversation I was having with you. Sunray 20:24, August 28, 2005 (UTC)