Wikipedia:Version 1.0 Editorial Team/Style guide

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Style guide 1.0 is for discussion of appropriate style guidelines for the upcoming printed version of Wikipedia, Version 1.0, and for discussion of style-standardization bots, in Version 1.0 and otherwise. This project was created after discussion at the Village Pump (Policy), reproduced on the talk page. We will list here any requests or concerns of the Wikimedia Foundation and the publisher of the printed encyclopedia which seem to vary from current style consensus on Wikipedia. Because it is generally a bad idea to argue style guidelines, or anything else, in two different places at once, this project must have a narrow scope. All style-standardization bots are within the scope of this project, but if no bot is involved, then the scope is limited to:

  • formatting issues (including punctuation, line wrapping, and order of end sections, but specifically not language)
  • that seem to have wide acceptance (given that lots of editors would like to see their work get into the printed version, and given that most people concede that printed encyclopedias generally have a more standardized format than the online Wikipedia)
  • and for which Version 1.0 is a deciding factor (because formatting issues which can maintain consensus on the usual style guidelines pages as Version 1.0 approaches don't need our help in this project).

Concerns of the Wikimedia Foundation and publisher[edit]

Many people, including Jimbo (see the old Thread on Wikipedia 1.0 Paper plus), have previously concluded that it's a good idea for the printed and online versions of Wikipedia to stay largely synchronized. Basically, the argument is that storing roughly the same information in two different places using two different sets of rules is a Very Bad Thing: people have to learn to keep separate sets of rules straight, people think they're referring to one when they meant the other, the data gets out of sync and therefore pulls down the credibility of both, and it's much more work to update the data both places and continually check the two lists against each other.

We are planning to get feedback from the publisher during an upcoming online chat (date, time and channel to be announced).

Style-standardization bots[edit]

Please help us identify page layout issues that you think would be better handled by bots than by style guidelines. A common complaint is that there is too much to learn in style guidelines. Sometimes, a bot is the answer: instead of trying to review and "fix" non-controversial page layout issues in over 2,300,000 articles by hand, and instead of trying to educate many thousands of editors about, say, the right length of dashes, it may cause less trouble and take less time simply to fix the problems in an automated way. In this section, be as specific as possible about what it is you would like for a style-standardization bot to do.

The goal here is to make writing articles easier, not harder. Not all articles need to use the same conventions that Featured Articles do, and Wikiprojects don't need to all use the same conventions. Bots can and should respect the wishes of the editors. As an example, External links is currently the last end-section (when it exists) in almost every article, and in the few articles that have been discovered where it was not, the editors were unaware of the style guideline, and also unaware of the fact that people who patrol for bad external links are expecting the external links to be last, and might make a mistake if they are not. It might sense simply to move External links to the end in those few articles where it is not. But broad consensus is needed for a bot of any kind.

User:Gerry Ashton brought up a point at WT:MoS#Em dash that might be expressed as follows: if a bot finds an irregularity of any kind inside a quotation, it should flag it as such and make no change.

How to add an issue to this project page[edit]

It is generally best to discuss a problem in one place at a time, so if there has been a recent related discussion on a style guidelines talk page, try to keep the discussion there. Some of these conversations have stalled without consensus, and may require discussion in a context of Version 1.0 in order to gain consensus, and that is one of the purposes of this project. To move a discussion here, begin by asking permission on the style guidelines page of the previous discussion. That may be enough by itself to restart the discussion there; but if not, try to restart the discussion on this project's talk page, and keep a summary of the state of the former and current arguments on this project page, in the Current issues section.

We will poll widely to get people to participate in style guideline discussions here and elsewhere, so there's no need to speak for the "unrepresented", here or on any other style guidelines project or talk page; anyone who wants to show up will show up, so everyone should speak for themselves. Of course, random and representative samples of articles to demonstrate a point are very welcome.

Issues that may be suitable for this project[edit]

This project only concerns matters of formatting or look-and-feel, not language, which are normally standardized in printed encyclopedias. In general, we're looking for "boring" issues here: where the period goes, where the line breaks. If standards really do differ from one subject area to another or one country to another, or if people really do feel strongly about it, then there is no reason for all Wikipedia articles to be conformed to whatever standards are followed in the printed encyclopedia.

If some formatting practice is widely but not universally followed on Wikipedia, it may be that no harm would be done, and good things would be accomplished, by getting approval for a standardization bot. This is not a Version 1.0 issue per se, but Version 1.0 makes the need for standardization clearer. To people who object "you can't use a bot to conform articles to guidelines", you're right, and that's why we're handling this like any policy discussion. Creation of this project was discussed at WP:VPP, and when we've come up with a list of topics and invited everyone to give their input, we'll go back to WP:VPP to ask for permission on any policy matters, then over to WP:Bots to request approval for bots.

Current issues[edit]

None at this time.