Wikipedia:BITERM guideline prospective non-forked or piped proposal draft 1 (sandbox working version)

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This is the sandbox version of the guidline for the prospective non-forked or piped proposal use of the term "British Isles". The full name of the guideline is as yet undecided. The main proposal page is at WP:BITASK - the British Isles terminology task force.

For ease of reference, the current version (without the comments etc) is here.

Introduction[edit]

"These guidelines cover the use of the term British Isles on Wikipedia. Although 'British Isles' is widely and most typically used as a geographical term (in the sense of physical geography), it must be recognised that many editors on Wikipedia consider it to be a politicised term too. British Isles is the term used to describe the two large island groups of Great Britain and Ireland as a wider archipelago. However, the term can cause confusion in relation to the island of 'Ireland', which is occupied by two countries, the sovereign state country of Ireland (also called Republic of Ireland) which is not British, and the smaller British constituent country of Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom. Although the republic of Ireland is technically part of the British Isles, many on Wikipedia do not wish for it to be misidentified as being British. Alongside general use of the term British Isles, this guideline specifically focuses on the accepted use of the term regarding the republic of Ireland.

Reliable sources can be found where the Channel Islands are said to be part of the British Isles (and this can be seen as a 'tradition' by some), however Wikipedia keeps to the strict geographical meaning of the archipelago in this guideline, and does not include those British islands off the coast of Europe in its definition.

In the wider world the term "British Isles" is often used in a colloquial and sometimes exaggerated sense, however a strict guideline-based use is recommended for the term on Wikipedia.

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Main articles[edit]

British Isles

Geographical components of the term 'British Isles':

  • Other islands:
    • Isle of Man (UK Crown Dependency)
    • Channel Islands (UK Crown Dependencies) - not geographically part of the British Isles, but by tradition are sometimes included

Political components of the term 'British Isles':

    • Ireland (sovereign state) - also called 'Republic of Ireland'
See also:[edit]

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Note on 'technical' use of the term British Isles[edit]

Shortcuts:

This guideline often refers to the 'technical' use of the term British Isles. Generally, the term 'technical' here covers the sciences and disciplines of physical geography, geology, natural history (including fauna but excluding flora) and archaeology. When used in a 'pure' technical sense the term is always acceptable.

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Note on reliable sources[edit]

Unless the term 'British Isles' is being used in a purely technical context (such as geology, archaeology or natural history), reliable sources should be found to support its use. If a reliable source exists that uses term 'British Isles' contrary to Wikipedia's guidelines, and is needed for the text of an article, the term should be re-phrased according to the intended meaning of the term, and not appropriated into the text as "British Isles". If the term is part of a wider quote, a disclaimer per accepted convention needs to be applied.

The amount of reliable sources needed to support the use of "British Isles" would be article-relevant.

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Note on comparative terms[edit]

Comparisons must pass notability, as well as being verifiable. It is not usually notable to say that something is greater than the third largest in the "British Isles" for any important geographical feature. If it is less significant, then second largest, or often just largest, would suffice. In articles about geographical subjects where comparisons hold a particular significance, wider comparisons can be made. Where there is specific relevancy to making the wider comparison in the text, this rule of thumb can also be broken.

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Disambiguating the word "Ireland"[edit]

The following terms and phrases are used to disambiguate the word "Ireland":

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Terms used in the guideline[edit]

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Guideline guide[edit]

Five separate guidelines (A-E) have been structured around the 'nationality weight' that can occur when the term 'British Isles' is in question. The term 'heavy' is used denote an over-riding importance of a specific factor (such as the UK) within the article/subject.

The following table is an aid to choosing one of the five guidelines. To best decide which is the most suitable guideline to follow, it is recommended that the table is followed sequentially. If in any doubt over which guideline to use, referring to the actual examples in each individual guidelines should help.

Step Issue (per weight) Refer to...
1 UK-heavy and Ireland-heavy issue Guideline A
2 UK-heavy issue Guideline B
3 Ireland-heavy issue Guideline C
4 Regional-specific issue Guideline D
5 Secondary usage (or none of the above) Guideline E

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What the term should encompass[edit]

In certain situations (especially regarding the Republic of Ireland), the term 'British Isles' can also be used for less than the entirety of the isles. As a rule of thumb, it is acceptable to use the term here when the subject covers three or more countries or islands within the British Isles - including the Republic of Ireland, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man and any smaller islands or areas. If only two places are concerned, just their two names should be used, and never "British Isles". Remember that the term 'British Isles' is always an optional expression, and there are always other ways to describe the situation.

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Do not mislead!

The island of Ireland and its surrounding isles is a principle part of the British Isles. If the reader would reasonably expect all or part of the island of Ireland to be included in the term, but the specific matter does not include the island of Ireland, the term should not be used.

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Guideline A - UK-heavy and Ireland-heavy issue[edit]

To avoid the word 'British' being mistakenly connected with Ireland in a political sense, various forms of phrasing can be used to help disambiguate. The use of 'United Kingdom' on some of these examples may acceptably be changed to 'British Isles' and vice versa, when neither is technically wrong.

The term should only be used in Ireland-heavy subjects when clearly relating to the whole of the British Isles. However, the meaning of the term in it's fullest sense can sometimes be implicit, rather than explicit. Remember that the term 'British Isles' is always an optional expression, and there are always other ways to describe the situation. It is strongly recommended that either the republic of Ireland or the island of Ireland is mentioned alongside the term "British Isles" in all Ireland-heavy cases that are not technical (ie not geology or archeaology etc), or when the technical relevance is shared - perhaps with a human geography, or a non-scientific matter.

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Collective use[edit]

Examples of correct use:

  • "Sam sailed around the British Isles"
Note: If Sam properly sailed around the islands of the Ireland and Great Britain, this term is acceptable.

Examples of alternative use:

  • "Sam sailed around Great Britain and Ireland"
Note: Alternative uses can be used.

Example of incorrect use:

  • "Sam sailed around the British Isles"
Note: When Sam only sailed around the Irish Sea (ie between the UK and the rupublic of Ireland). Using the "Irish Sea" would be correct here.
Note: The "Triple Crown" is a competition involving Ireland (as the combined island), England, Scotland and Wales. Using the term "British Isles" would not be recommended here, as it is a republic of Ireland-heavy issue, and rugby is a sport.

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Comparative use[edit]

Please also refer to #Note on comparative terms in the introduction.

Examples of correct use:

  • "X is the biggest farming convention in Ireland and the broader British Isles"
Note: In this example, the convention is part of an article that contains technical information, and relates to both the UK and the republic of Ireland. However, while it is not strictly inaccurate when used in this way, this usage nevertheless mixes a geographical with a geopolitical term (the republic of Ireland). To avoid possible mis-interpretation of "British Isles" as a political term, it is recommended that mixing terms is avoided.

Examples of non-mixed alternatives:

  • "X is the biggest farming convention in Ireland and the UK combined.".

Example of incorrect use:

Note: This does not mention 'Ireland' (the country or the island) in any manner.

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Further examples of comparative use:

Non-"British Isles" approach: "Ireland" (country) with "UK"[edit]

  • "is the longest X in both Ireland and the United Kingdom"
  • "is the (nth?) longest X in Ireland and the nth longest in the United Kingdom"

Examples of alternatives:

  • "is the longest X in both the republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom"
  • "is the (nth?) longest X in the republic Ireland and the nth longest in the United Kingdom" etc.

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Non-"British Isles" approach: "Ireland" (island) with "UK" or "Great Britain"[edit]

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"British Isles" approach[edit]

Please also refer to #Note on disambiguating the island of 'Ireland' in the introduction.

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i. With "Ireland" (country)[edit]

Examples of alternatives:

ii. With "Ireland (island)"[edit]
iiI. With "island of Ireland"[edit]

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Guideline B - UK-heavy issue[edit]

For UK-heavy issues, when the term clearly relates to both the main islands of Ireland and Great Britain to some degree (per WP:BIDONOTMISLEAD), the term can generally be used. Please note that there may often be a better alternative to the term, and to use discussion and follow consensus if the term is contested.

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Examples of correct phrases:

  • The band toured England and Northern Ireland
Note: In this example the band toured just those two countries. "British Isles" should not be used here.
  • The band toured the British Isles.
Note: In this example the band toured Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, in this particular case, naming the actual countries would be a better and more informative alternative, as only part of the British Isles was covered.
  • The band toured the British Isles.
Note: WIn this example the band toured all or most of the British Isles, including at least one the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • The band toured Britain / the UK”.
Note: In this example the band toured England, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. The use of ‘British Isles’ would be misleading here, as a reader could reasonably expect the island of Ireland to be involved when a touring band is the subject and the term ‘British Isles’ was used. "The Band toured Great Britain and the Isle of Man" would be a more informative line. Alternatively again, a simple list could be used here too.
  • "The tour of the British Isles eventually entailed a birdwatching trip around the islands of western Scotland, a nearby view of the summit of Snowdon (his fear of heights allowed him no nearer), and an accompanied flight in a glider over the Pennines. Sketches of seabirds became a series of celebrated paintings on his return, exhibited during.."
Note: Here there must be a reliable source that uses "British Isles" in the context of the trip. In this case the reader can accept that the British Isles as wider geographical entity (rather than a collection of national boundaries) is a significant aspect of the text. Without sources, the term would not normally be used by a Wikipedia editor here, as the reader would reasonably expect the island of Ireland to feature on such a tour. As fauna feature however (albeit not in a pure technical way), the source itself does not contravene the usage guidelines, so can be used.

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Comparative use[edit]

Please also refer to #Note on comparative terms in the introduction.

Example of correct phrases

  • "The nightclub is the largest in London."
  • "The nightclub is the largest in the UK."
  • "The nightclub is the largest in Europe."
  • "The nightclub is the largest in the world."

Example of incorrect use

  • "The nightclub is the largest in the British Isles."

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Guideline C - Ireland-heavy issue[edit]

If the UK itself has little weight, it is recommended that the term ‘British Isles’ is not used for subjects that are specifically related to the republic of Ireland. But bear in mind that many technical subjects have an intrinsic connection to the archipelagos itself, and so the term is often relevant for them (see Guideline B in these cases). Also remember that comparative terms should be restricted in amount according to weight and notability (see #Note on comparative terms).

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Collective use[edit]

Example of incorrect use

  • "Kelly of Donegal Rovers received attention throughout the British Isles for his ball playing skills."
Note: "British Isles" is likely to be a colloquial exaggeration, so can be seen as unencyclopedic language in Wikipedia's terms.

Examples of correct phrases

  • "Kelly of Donegal Rovers received attention throughout Ireland and Britain for his ball playing skills."
  • "Kelly of Donegal Rovers received attention throughout Ireland and the UK"
  • "Kelly of Donegal Rovers received attention throughout the republic of Ireland and the UK" etc.
Note: variations along these lines are acceptable.

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Comparative use[edit]

Example of correct use

Note: As height is of particular significance to a mountain, having the fourth highest status here is notable enough for inclusion. The comparative height when compared to mountains in Europe is not notable for the article's introduction, as it is too far down in the ranking to be significant.

Example of possibly correct use:

Note: Stadiums do not fall into a technical (geographical etc) category, so the use of "British Isles" is less exacting here. Though stadiums are often compared by size, it can be argued here that "fourth largest in the British Isles" is not notable enough. If this case is made in the relevant article's talk page, it is recommended that the consensus is followed first, but that non-use is the advisable option. As "Republic of Ireland" is the WP:COMMONNAME here (as it is the name of the football (soccer) team), it is recommended that this option is used above "Ireland" and its variations.
  • "On completion, X will be the largest football stadium in the republic of Ireland, and the fourth largest in Ireland and the UK combined.".
Note: This could be a compromise between the two.

Example of incorrect use:

Note: This does not mention 'Ireland' (the country or the island) in any manner.

For possible examples of use, see "Further examples of comparative use:" in Guideline A.

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Guideline D - Regional-specific use[edit]

When the significance of something is mainly regional, or country-specific, then there is no need to draw a wider comparison through using the term 'British Isles'

Example of a correct phrase

  • "The Morris dancing competition is the biggest in England."

Example of incorrect use

  • "The Morris dancing competition is the biggest in the British Isles."
Note: In this example the article focuses on Morris dancers in general. Morris dancing competitions may exist in Scotland etc, but would be very rare, and hence not notable. An exception would be if the subject was explicitly about Morris dancing across the area of the British Isles.
  • "Snowdon is the third biggest peak in the British Isles."
Note: In this example the article is focused only on Wales, and is not about Snowdon specifically. The term 'British Isles' is superfluous in this case - "Snowdon is the biggest mountain in Wales" would suffice. The article on Mount Snowdon itself, however, could mention its status in the British isles.

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Guideline E - Secondary usage[edit]

The term 'British Isles' can be used in articles not specifically related to the UK or the republic of Ireland, when its sense is a purely technical one.

Example of correct use

  • "This can also be observed in other northerly regions like the British Isles".
Note: In this example the subject must be purely technical (ie geographical, geological, architectural or relating to fauna etc.)

Example of incorrect use:

  • "The aid workers came to the poverty-striken country from the British Isles"
Note: In this example the aid workers came from the UK and the republic of Ireland. "The poverty-striken country" would over-ride the British Isles in subject importance, and there is no actual geographical meaning regarding the use of "British Isles" (only national identity), so a form of "UK and Ireland" (or "Britain and Ireland") would be needed here.

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Main articles[edit]

Related articles[edit]

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