Wikipedia talk:Article series/Archive 2

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

Should we even have these at all?

I have noticed a couple of "article series" recently, but I thought they were just produced by new people who didn't know how information was organised here, and I though they would be removed fairly quickly. Now it seems that the idea has caught on and spread all over the place. Is there a discussion anywhere about whether or not we should have "article series", and why?

Of course there are some articles that naturally fall into sequences, such as the year articles, and articles on successive holders of positions and titles and so on. But most of the ones that are popping up now seem to be totally arbitrary impositions of order onto sets of articles that have no intrinsic order to them at all. For example, of course History of Australia before 1901 is followed naturally by History of Australia since 1901, but Constitutional history of Australia certainly does not come after History of Australia since 1901 in any meaningful sense. What exactly is going on here? Readers should be made to feel that they are free to browse through articles in any order they want, depending on their interests, and shouldn't be told what order to read them in by anyone else! This looks like rich ground for people to impose their POVs about causal chains of events and all sorts of nasty things like that, too. Where will it all end? -- Oliver P. 06:10, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)

It is not always clear what is the exact chronological order in some historical series, such as History of China or History of Albania, so the table helps with navigation. Of course, readers are not forced to read articles in that order, but it aids them in the effort if they elect to do so. It's sometimes helpful to add a very relevant article at in the series, like the timeline in the Chinese history series. In these cases, it should be obvious that the relation is not chronological. I believe it should be separated from the other entries with a divisor though.
I deleted the poetry "series" today because I received no compelling reason to keep after a few weeks. See Wikipedia:Topics. Most of those should probably be deleted. --Jiang 06:17, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
The chronological order should be given in the general History of China (or whatever country) article. The articles on the separate periods should link to the general History of China article (possibly in the introduction: "The such-and-such was a period of the history of China", or possibly just as a "see also" at the end), and within the article text it should say how the period sits in the history. This is actually what seems to be done already. The article on the Jin Dynasty (265-420) begins, "The Jin Dynasty (晉 pinyin jìn, 265-420) followed the Three Kingdoms and preceded the Southern and Northern Dynasties in China." That's a good way of establishing the chronological context. What more is needed than that? It seems to me that anything else is just clutter - duplicating some links that are already provided in their proper context in the text itself, and providing lots of other links that are simply irrelevant to the article at hand. What reason is there for an article on the Jin Dynasty (265-420) to link to an article on the Republic of China, for example? -- Oliver P. 08:19, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
The 5-6 at Wikipedia:Topics are probably better served with a category feature. In the meantime, there is Lists of articles by category .. -- User:Docu
I'm not sure if the there is much use in linking predecessors and successors both as a series and in the infobox, e.g. Atal_Behari_Vajpayee, Bill Clinton. -- User:Docu
Some topics are simply too big for a single page, and thus a method is needed to organize them. Some topics are too complex for a simple linear (E.G. chronological) sequence, and thus some method is needed for organizing them. Thus the rationale for the article series.
Now as to History of Australia since 1901 and Constitutional history of Australia, it's quite likely they have different scopes, so I don't find it bothersome that two articles exist, even if they overlap somewhat in content. Keep in mind that NPOV is Neutral POV, not No POV.Elde 09:22, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)
"Some topics are simply too big for a single page". Right. So we have different pages for different subtopics, and link to them from the general page. There is no need to link the subtopics to each other unless they have a special connection, in which case that should be explained in the text. To link all the subtopics to all the other subtopics is over the top, and just confusing if there is no special connection between the subtopics other than the trivial point that they are subtopics of the same topic.
"Some topics are too complex for a simple linear (E.G. chronological) sequence". Exactly! That's precisely why these series are a bad idea for articles that don't naturally fall into a sequence! The method that should be used, and has always been used, for organising them is to explain the connections in NPOV text. Imposing one organisational system on subjects which can be organised in other ways is imposing one point of view about how they are connected, and is thus not NPOV.
As for the articles on History of Australia since 1901 and Constitutional history of Australia, no-one has argued that they shouldn't exist separately, as far as I am aware. My point was that one doesn't come after the other in any meaningful way, so it makes no sense to have them in a series. -- Oliver P. 01:33, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
To link all the subtopics to all the other subtopics is over the top, and just confusing if there is no special connection between the subtopics other than the trivial point that they are subtopics of the same topic. It's not confusing on any of 1X10^10 other pages on the web. What makes it more confusing here than there? What makes a solution that works in literally tens of thousands of webpages across the net unsatisfactory here?
Go on then, name 10^10 other pages on the Web that do anything similar to this. No, didn't think you could. ;) Many webpages have a standard set of links on each page to aid navigation around the site, just as Wikipedia has links on every page such as "Main Page", "Recent changes", "Edit this page", and so on and so forth. They reflect the way the site is organised, and direct the users of the site to pages that help them to use the site. The extra links within articles are not analogous to navigation links within a website, because they do not reflect the way the site is organised. They just impose a particular editor's (or set of editors') views on the organisation of a subject. -- Oliver P. 23:51, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)
That's precisely why these series are a bad idea for articles that don't naturally fall into a sequence! So what? If the articles can be linked together to form a coherent whole, yet do not form a natural sequence, then *any* arrangement of links to them, whether a series box, or links in text, will be arbitrary and POV. Keep in mind that NPOV is Neutral POV, not NO POV.
Frankly, following your arguments to their logical conclusions we shouldn't have any links in the articles because all links are inherently arbitrary and POV. Elde 08:37, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I am perfectly well aware of what the letters "NPOV" stand for, and have never said or even hinted that I thought it stood for "no point of view". Your parrot-like repetition of "NPOV is Neutral POV, not NO POV" is not helping anyone. Perhaps if you would like to say what you mean by it, that might help. Anyway, you're partly right: any arbitrary arrangement of content does suggest certain POV biases. By linking to one subtopic before another, unless some reason is given such as chronological or alphabetical order, you are hinting that maybe the first is somehow more important than the second, even if this hint is unintentional. It's probably true that slight biases are inevitable. But this is not an excuse to add more. Even if perfect neutrality is unattainable, we should still try to get as close to it as we can. Putting certain topics in a prominent box and relegating others to the text looks to me like we're saying, "these are the important topics; the others are of minor significance". -- Oliver P. 23:51, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Seriesboxes

The example above about the "electronic music series" is a good example of the pointlessnes of all of this. If you have an article about a type of electronic music, why on earth can't you just say, "this is a type of electronic music", and be done with it? Anyone interested in reading more about other types of electronic music will obviously go to the electronic music article. In that article, you can list all the types of electronic music in a plain and simple bullet-pointed list, under a plain and simple heading saying "== Types of electronic music ==". Can anyone tell me what's wrong with that? It seems to me that people are adding complexity purely for the sake of adding complexity. Is there any justification for it? -- Oliver P. 08:33, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)~

Because there are literally dozens of genres and subgenres of electronic music, divided into several broad categories. A complete and bulleted list would be more difficult on the eyes, more confusing because it would contain so many genres and would be difficult and tedious to maintain due to the amount of cross-fertilization between genres. I fail to see how a little box and {{msg:Electronic_music_top}} on the edit page makes the article much more complex or difficult to read -- all it does is provide an easy way to navigate between articles in a particular subject area. Tuf-Kat 09:37, Mar 14, 2004 (UTC)
I think I must be missing something here... If I've understood this "article series" concept correctly, you're suggesting having the same list, in a box, in every article in the series. I'm suggesting having the list, without the box, in just one article (the electronic music one). That's easier on the eyes (no boxes floating about), less confusing ("Why is synth pop being linked to from drum and bass?" people will ask), and easier to maintain (because it's only in one place, in an actual article, rather than being in some strange MediaWiki message zone that is difficult to find). What advantage does this system offer? -- Oliver P. 11:10, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I don't find floating boxes difficult on the eyes at all and don't regard the maintenance issue as too important because no seriesbox needs to be edited more than once in a blue moon. If somebody wants to study electronic music, the box makes it easier to find and navigate between articles. The box makes it clear why synth pop and drum and bass are linked -- because they are both types of electronic music. Tuf-Kat 18:22, Mar 14, 2004 (UTC)
Okay, so I find the boxes difficult on the eyes, and you don't. I suppose we can't really argue about that, since it's just a matter of aesthetics.
I think my other two points are valid, though. I think the ease-of-editing issue is especially important. It's the whole point of what a wiki is. It's what attracts people to Wikipedia, and what has enabled the encyclopaedia to grow so phenomenally quickly. To split articles up so that part of them is wiki-editable in the normal way, and part of them requires you to decipher the MediaWiki message system, go to a separate page in a different namespace, and edit that separate page makes editing enormously less easy to understand and learn to do, and for very little, if any, benefit. Such a drop in usability might conceivably be justifiable if it produced great benefits in other areas, but I still can't see even one benefit.
Even if the tables are moved out of the MediaWiki message area and back into individual articles, I still can't see the benefit in them. If someone wants to study electronic music (or the history of China, or any of these other subjects), they'll go to the main article on the subject. That will provide links to all the subtopics, with the added benefit of setting those subtopics in context in the main body of the text. In electronic music, that will enable people not only to see that synth pop and drum and bass are linked, but also explanatory text which has the potential to explain how they are linked. -- Oliver P. 20:50, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Keep in mind that the 'pedia exists not only for editors, but users. And no, one cannot be certain that if someone is interested in history of china that they will go to the main page on the topic, especially if a search lands them elsewhere. Even if they do go there, then text links in a large body of text have severe useability problems. Elde 08:45, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)

No one is forcing anyone to browse in a certain way. I hardly think anyone associated with Wikipedia feels beholden to it. And I'm pretty sure than instead of retarding browsing, they encourage it.

Things have dimension--a Wikipedia article is essential 2D, a flat reproduction of an object or idea. The article boxes add a 3d dimension--putting the topic into a relationship with other ideas and information. They can and should be understood as part of a collection of topics. Grouping topics is not a bad thing--information must be understood in context.

Last but not least, I think that the reason that "the idea has caught on and spread all over the place" is because people do intuitively understand them, they have organically integrated themselves into the wikisystem and people like them. jengod 21:36, Mar 14, 2004 (UTC)

It's interesting that you bring up the ideas of context and dimension, because I've been thinking in those terms, too - although in the opposite way from you! Briefly, article series give links without any context, and they impose a one-dimensional structure on what is most likely a complex multi-dimensional subject.
Wikipedia articles have always linked to each other, showing relationships between topics. But until these "series" came along, people tended to explain these connections in the context of the subject being written about, in nice neutrally written prose. (The "see also" sections have often contained unexplained out-of-context links to related topics, but I get the impression that they are mostly links to topics whose connection to the article topic hasn't been properly thought out yet. Links are often moved from the "see also" sections into the main body of the text as soon as a clear way of explaining the connection in the proper context is found.) Since the text is written neutrally, no one person's point of view on the relationship between topics is imposed. In an article on Movement Z, it might be explained that some people think it grew out of Movement X, and some people think it grew out of Movement Y, and both articles would be linked to within that context. Instead of linking articles in one-dimensional chains with unexplained links as the article series do, they are liked in complex graphs with the links explained, reflecting the complex nature of the connections and people's views of them in real life. By imposing a one-dimensional series onto a set of articles, people are imposing a single point of view of how they think the subjects are connected. Of course, people are not forced to take the series seriously, but they still exert some pressure on people to think in a certain rigid and one-dimensional way. The reason that they have caught on, in my view, is that there is comfort in simplicity. People would prefer that knowledge could be organised into neat little lines. But mostly it can't be, and we shouldn't be encouraging the idea that it can. -- Oliver P. 23:32, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
The tendency to explain everything in simple prose while providing links, is not something that seems to have ever been common, except in the earliest days. The See Also links common to many articles, and the many List of articles on topic X show a need for organization beyond intext links. Elde 08:45, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Okay, well how about articles you work on don't have article series or incumbent tables or any of those radical MediaWiki messages, and the rest of us can do whatever we want? It's our encyclopedia, too, and, and--"You're not the boss of me!" :) jengod 01:31, Mar 15, 2004 (UTC)
I only want what's best for you the encyclopaedia... :) -- Oliver P. 02:08, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I've noticed that I blatantly contradicted myself above, saying firstly that "It seems to me that people are adding complexity purely for the sake of adding complexity" and secondly that "The reason that they have caught on, in my view, is that there is comfort in simplicity." Excuse me while I go off and write a hundred lines: "I must not make assumptions about Wikipedians' motivations and make digs at them for it, because I'll only make a fool of myself..." That aside, I still stand by my claims: firstly that "msg" is a Bad Thing (see Wikipedia talk:MediaWiki namespace for that discussion), and secondly that article series are a bad idea anyway. They are:

  1. redundant (links to subtopics of a general topic should be in the article on the general topic)
  2. unhelpful (the links are presented with no context, and many links will be irrelevant anyway)
  3. contrived (unless there is some chronological or other natural ordering to the articles, that is. Otherwise the selection and ordering in series are arbitrary)
  4. difficult to edit (unnecessary introduction of tables, which are furthermore difficult to find if stored in a separate namespace)
  5. inherently non-NPOV (promoting a single point of view about what subjects people should be reading about, and how subjects are related)
  6. ugly (just my own POV)

I'm sure I could think of more bad things to say, but I think I'll stop there for now... -- Oliver P. 02:08, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I understand what you are saying, but ultimately... I simply disagree and can't say anything else without going around in circles. Maybe a poll is called for? Tuf-Kat 04:32, Mar 15, 2004 (UTC)
Certainly not! If people can counter my arguments, they should do so. If they can't, then my arguments stand, and we should get rid of article series! :) Polls don't help in resolving disputes. They just tell us what people's views are, without any rational justification for those views. If a view has no rational justification, it should not be taken seriously. -- Oliver P. 01:33, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Statement : Since I appear to be one of the prime culprits in using these for bastardine purposes, Ill ask the question: Hasnt this idea been long in the making? Wasnt it Brion, Erik, Magnus, etal who dreamed this up about a year and a half ago? The idea back then was to provide some context and categorization facility - to help facilitate consistency with the varied article topics that tend to drift apart at the seams. There are those who love that there can be a hundred and seventeen subarticles about the same damn thing, that any consistency between them be not based on logic, but the normal defacto consensus, a tedious posessive hold on certain article topics and their content... Consistency is a tool for NPOV, and I thought to use it in the way that I had always wanted to do, since trying to make a header for some article or another when I first joined. There are some cosmetic problems with the idea, and some lack of clarity (now Im getting a clearer picture myself) of the scope that such content sidebars might hold. More general means less links, (more specific means more links, for you conceptually inhibited) A balance between General (supertopics) and parallel topics is what I think people can agree on, for x reasons. Sleep now. -SV(talk) 11:39, 15 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I don't know how old the idea of article series is, but I only found out about it recently. I agree that consistency is good, but not some unthinking form of consistency like "let's have exactly the same set of links in every article in the same subject area". Links should be relevant to the article that they are in, and their relevance should be explained in text if it isn't obvious. Whatever links we have in an article, they should be customisable to that article, and that means having them as part of the wiki text of the article. The way things are done in articles like, say, George Younger, 4th Viscount Younger of Leckie, is a good example of how things should be done. This chap falls neatly into a natural sequence, being the fourth holder of a particular title. His article links to the general article on the title, to the article on his predecessor (not yet written), and to the article on his successor (also not yet written). Those are all connected in a natural way, and it makes sense to link them. There is also a link in the text itself to the article on the first holder of the title, in the clearly stated context of his family background, which can easily be edited out if it is decided that it's unnecessary. Anyone who wants to know the full list of holders of the title will just go to the article on the title itself, where the list is included. Having a box in each article listing all the holders of the title without context would just be redundant and unhelpful. -- Oliver P. 01:33, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
I'm confused. Are you opposed to all seriesboxes, all non-chronological boxes or using msg for boxes? Tuf-Kat
Okay, I'm opposed to lots of things, and I'm probably mixing issues up here. Firstly, I'm opposed to using "msg" at all. (See Wikipedia talk:MediaWiki namespace.) Secondly, I support organisation of articles into "series" if there is a generally agreed natural ordering (see below), but am opposed to it (regardless of how they are implemented) otherwise. Thirdly, even for valid series, I'm opposed to displaying links to every article in the series in every article in the series, unless they really are all relevant, regardless of how they are displayed. (Just relevant ones: that usually includes the previous and next articles in the series, but few others.) Fourthly, I'm opposed to floating boxes, and mav's words on these are better than mine, so see below (though I don't think this issue is as important as he does - it's only fourth on my list). Fifthly, I don't much like boxes wherever they are, but this is the weakest of my oppositions, which is why I didn't complain about the one in George Younger, 4th Viscount Younger of Leckie. -- Oliver P. 08:22, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
  1. redundant (links to subtopics of a general topic should be in the article on the general topic)
    1. When searching through Wikipedia, you and I probably type the article title into the URL because we know the naming conventions, and we know where we want to go. I think casual users don't know this, and we should make a few links stand out to make Wikipedia look more professional and more inviting as an information source. I think having the links to a broader set of articles encourages browsing, and earns a reputation for completeness. The reader might not know exactly what he wants -- he might not know which genre he's looking for precisely. By following links in the text, he has to search through all the verbiage and can't be sure he's seeing them all. Having links to broadly related subjects lets him know what kind of articles we have information on, and how to find it. Tuf-Kat
      1. A small selection of links in a box doesn't suggest completeness to me. If I were an expert on electronic music, I might look at the box for the electronic music series and think, "Are they the only genres they cover?" And how do you decide which links should stand out - which genres should get a place in the series? As far as I can tell, it's an editorial selection depending solely on the editor's view of which are important, which seems to me contrary to the policy of NPOV. Have you seen the controversy about Template:Religion? Someone made a list of what they thought were the "important" religions, and someone else added other religions, and the whole thing ended up absurdly long. Even if you don't accept the NPOV argument, there are always the "see also" sections which stand separately from the main text. Redundancy in one article is not as bad as redundancy in a whole series of articles, so you could put your links in the "see also" section (as well as in the main body) of electronic music to make them stand out. (See also my next point.) -- Oliver P. 08:22, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
        1. I agree regarding the religion box, but the fact that such a thing can be badly done does not it mean it can't be done well. WRT electronic music, the genres listed are sort-of "supergenres" which contain within them subgenres. I don't know enough about electronic music to be sure the table is well-done, but I don't know of any encyclopedic people (i.e. music critics) who would claim that the subgenres are unrelated to the supergenres in the box. It is how enthusiasts look at the subject -- just because it is possible for someone to consider futurepop or some other genre distinct from the ones in the box does not mean that Wikipedia should bend over backwards to accomodate this theoretical commentator. It's possible to dispute anything in the Wikipedia, and without any actual evidence of an actual dispute regarding these subjects, I find your argument unconvincing. As to your last point, placing the links in a see also instead is not as useful for two reasons -- they won't stand out as much, and thus won't promote ease of navigation as well, and would probably wind up being removed if they are linked from within the text. Tuf-Kat 02:38, Mar 17, 2004 (UTC)
  2. unhelpful (the links are presented with no context, and many links will be irrelevant anyway)
    1. Bullet point lists do not present any more context, unless they have captions (which are almost always done on stand-alone List of articles. As to the second point (irrelevance), remember it's very easy to find information on the Internet, but it's difficult to find the information you're looking for. A lot of readers will be stumbling across our information looking for something not present in the article. This lets them know (without trying to find the paragraph that google quoted) that Wikipedia is a broader resource and may contain the information he's looking for elsewhere. Tuf-Kat
      1. That's true about bullet point lists. But if they are just in the main article, readers would have the added bonus of being able to look at the main body of the text to see them introduced in context. (And yes, I think captions in "List of" articles are good.) I don't follow your other argument: relevant links should be provided in articles, but I can't think of a plausible situation in which a reader would end up in one article looking for information on a subject that isn't even relevant to it. And if they are, well, tough! Okay, maybe someone looking for information on the present Viscount Younger of Leckie might end up in the article on, say, the 3rd Viscount by mistake. But they can easily find the right one by going to the general article, Viscount Younger of Leckie, which is fairly prominently linked. Putting the links to all of them in all the articles just seems like overkill. It clutters the page, and I believe that it would confuse more than it would help. It would be better just to link in a standard way to the general article, and, if the article really is part of a natural series, also to the previous and next articles. -- Oliver P. 08:22, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
        1. Nobody's arguing that every Viscount Younger of Leckie should be linked to each other one (at least, I'm not). There is a big difference between that and, for example, the music of the United Kingdom, Music of Scotland, Music of Wales, etc, both in the number of links in the box and in the likely relevance of one subject to another. Maybe a footer would be just as useful, but I don't see this as a reason to ban seriesboxes. Tuf-Kat 02:38, Mar 17, 2004 (UTC)
  3. contrived (unless there is some chronological or other natural ordering to the articles, that is. Otherwise the selection and ordering in series are arbitrary)
    1. This is an issue to be addressed, but I think it is series-specific. There is a list of series on this meta-page, can you list which "other natural ordering" are acceptable to you? I agree that the links should not be contrived (I have reservations about the poetry box on these grounds, though not exactly objections), but I haven't noticed any egregious offenders on these grounds (with the possible exception of the topics boxes, which I haven't formed an opinion on yet). Tuf-Kat
      1. Okay, you're right that this applies to some series but not others. Other natural orderings that I can think of would be in the articles on the natural numbers, and articles on books that are published out of sequence (the Narnia books, for example). It makes sense to link each book to its prequel and to its sequel. The Pokémon characters also spring to mind, as other "numbered things", although that's probably a silly example. I'm not sure if it makes sense to link adjacent-numbered Pokémon characters to each other, actually... -- Oliver P. 08:22, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
  4. difficult to edit (unnecessary introduction of tables, which are furthermore difficult to find if stored in a separate namespace)
    1. Seriesboxes very rarely need editing. I would support placing a direct link to the MediaWiki page to edit the box somewhere on the article, which I think would make it plenty obvious. Tuf-Kat
      1. If these seriesboxes spread, people will be editing them all the time. And about the MediaWiki business: the thing that has made Wikipedia so successful is precisely that anyone can edit the whole text of any article (okay, with a few protected exceptions) whenever they want, with just a single click. "Edit this page" and away you go! I think it's a major step backwards to take that power away. (See Wikipedia talk:MediaWiki namespace.) And I wouldn't support any more "edit" links. There are quite enough already! -- Oliver P. 08:22, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
        1. There's not really anything more I can say besides I disagree. People may be adding new MediaWiki messages, but they are very rarely edited. It's not like new genres of heavy metal or electronic music spring up overnight on a regular basis. Tuf-Kat 02:38, Mar 17, 2004 (UTC)
  5. inherently non-NPOV (promoting a single point of view about what subjects people should be reading about, and how subjects are related)
    1. You said above that you don't mind chronological seriesboxes, so it can't be inherent in the form. The question is where to draw the line, which should be decided on a case-to-case basis until a consensus forms. You alluded to "other natural ordering" -- can you be more specific? Tuf-Kat
      1. Okay, "inherently" was wrong. Sorry. But I do think that putting articles that don't have a natural order (see above) into series is not possible to do in a NPOV way. It just presents a single point of view of what the significant areas of a topic are, and how to understand the relationship between those areas. -- Oliver P. 08:22, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
        1. I fail to see how changing seriesboxes to see alsos or footers solves this "problem". While I can imagine a biased seriesbox, I don't see how any of the ones that have been made so far actually are POV. The fact is that subjects are related and we have a responsibility to the reader to inform him of this without kowtowing to some theoretical commentator who thinks nu metal is not a relevant subject for researching heavy metal. Tuf-Kat 02:38, Mar 17, 2004 (UTC)
  6. ugly (just my own POV)
    1. And you are entitled to it. Tuf-Kat

IMO Oliver missed the most important point - these seriesboxes push real content (such as images and tables that add information to the subject) down and out of view of the very important first screenful of the article. For example: For a long time there was a "History of the United States" seriesbox at American Civil War. It added nothing to the article and was only good for navigation and categorization. Since its removal a table with *gasp* information about the civil war has replaced it. An image with both flags and/or a battle scene/map or something like it should also be put into the first cell of the table. There also can and should be a link to History of the United States somewhere in the table and perhaps even a "Previous period in American history" and "Next period in American History" navigation links. All those things would be very useful. However, only having the navigation part would be wrong. But there is little reason not to have a full footer on that page that played that role - a link from the TOC could also point to it. Footers are better due to this point - we should not be encouraging people to leave an article before they read it. Seriesboxes do that while footers will more likely be seen by people who finish reading the article and who might want to learn more about related topics (which is all the seriesboxes are - a more on-topic replacement of the ==Related articles== section). --mav 06:24, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I totally agree that seriesboxes should not be used at the expense of content. Are you proposing a ban of series in favor of footers in all articles, or only in those which have neat little boxes like American Civil War? (I might not be opposed to such a policy, but I still can't figure out who's arguing for what). Tuf-Kat 02:38, Mar 17, 2004 (UTC)
No policy - just working on adding real content and real WikiProjects to replace them in most situations. Footers can perform their role well. As much as I dislike them, there are also articles that really are series (meaning that they are little more than a huge article that has been chopped up). In those cases, there may not be a single table/image that would be appropriate for the spot opposite the TOC. So if that spot is going to be empty anyway... --mav
I went ahead and changed the Music of the United States box to make it more informative. Any thoughts? (I may tweak the box in other articles, but this expanded version is only for the overview article) Tuf-Kat 21:07, Mar 18, 2004 (UTC)
Looks much better! Are you pushing for a footer or a centralized table? It seems that a link to Music of the United States is all that would be needed, but as I said, footers don't push real content down so I'm not against them per se (just not for them). The only real issue is the extra download time for those poor souls still on dial-up. Oh and please nix the "This article.." stuff - it is self-referential metadata that has little to no business in the article proper - that is what the top of talk pages are for. --mav
Yes, that's it! One of the main problems with the "article series" business is that it's all made-up metadata. Telling readers, "This article is part of such-and-such a series," is like naming your left leg "Fred" and then telling people, "The name of my left leg is Fred." It leaves them no more knowledgeable about the world than they were before. Wikipedia's aim is to inform people about the world, not to make stuff up and then tell them what we've made up. -- Oliver P. 23:51, 24 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Change the style?

{{table suffixes}} This page talks about grey backgrounds and thick table borders, whereas most of the series boxes are usually small, elegant, have thin borders and light violet background (example on the right). Is the markup on this page in need of updation or is the grey thing the "new" markup standard ? Jay 13:07, 28 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I think the standard described in this page is obsolete. And I agree with the format at left. Any one objects? -- Taku 16:46, Mar 28, 2004 (UTC)
I've got a template at User:Zhen_Lin/Related_topics_box_template.
It's all good, but I'd ask not to use table markup as it is not a data table - try looking at what I did at Template:Evolution of the NHL -- User:kelvSYC
strongly agree with kelvSYC not to use table markup for non-tabulardata/purely for layout,

since wikipedia is a public space, akin to a public library, it should be customary to use 'accessible techniques' ... with regard to tables used for layout, it can cause problems for persons using audio or braille browsers , if you use tables as a layout tool.

very shortly it may become law, that accessible techniques be used in public webspaces, see:

http://www.w3.org/WAI/

there is an advice page on using css to create an acceptable accessible page:

http://www.w3.org/2002/03/csslayout-howto Pedant 21:16, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

As one of the original authors of this page, I agree that the default style needs to be updated. I will go ahead and do so. --Lexor|Talk 09:12, Jan 6, 2005 (UTC)

Series boxes and page footers

Is there any difference between a Wikipedia:page footers and series boxes apart from their positioning on the page ? Jay 09:56, 10 Apr 2004 (UTC)

More funny boxes

I stumbled over boxes of very questionable value only recently (I am more active on de:). The article Heteronormativity for example aquired two of them, and the debate is still going on. See this revision for the old boxes, and this one for the new ones; one is the Template:Lgbt box at the top and the other the WikiProject Critical Theory box at the bottom.

Not only are these boxes of no use I can see, their content is very questionable as well; I hope I don't bore you by being detailed, but I think the problems are symptomatic:

  • The LGBT box lists some lgbt articles. Unfortunately, there seems to be no particular reason why those articles were choosen over others; there are, after all, many articles on the subjects involved. Particularly, forgive me if I tend to use the these as example, but they are the ones I personally keep an exe on, the transgender articles don't make all that much sense. It lists "Transsexual, Transgender, Intersexual". But transsexual is part of transgender, so listing them seperately implies either hierarchy or both being distinctively different; neither would be correct. Also one might ask why TS and TG are named, but not Drag, Cross-Dressing and/or Transvestism. Not to mention that some transsexual people regularly explode when listed with LGB people.
    Trying to talk to the people distributing this box did not even produce an answer.
  • The Critical Theory box is even worse, because the first version declared the article (which had rather little contributions from the people involved in the CT-project anyway) as being part of project CT. Same happend in other articles, and that's a bit bold. The current version only lists it on their list of selected articles, but why should there be a box? The latest idea, since the people of the project have been told that project boxes can't go into articles is a series box. Unfortunately, the subject of critical theory is singularily unsuitable for a series box. And choosing some exemplary articles from the field and link to those with a box will also be a problem, because that is a very wide field.
    Another problem is: Heteronormativity certainly is relevant to critical theory - however, it is also relevant to other fields. Now if CT announces their field with a big box, people from those other fields might feel they need to do the same. So we already have a CT box, and a LBGT box. But transgender (without the lgb) is also a broad field, so how about a Transgender box too, instead of the link to the List of transgender-related topics which now is drowned by the box. And certainly intersex people feel their field is important enough, too, so let's have an Intersex box, too. And let's not forget feminism - not all feminists feel they belong necessarily to CT, so a Feminism box, maybe? Obviously, that is not a good thing, but bound to happen sooner or later.

There are probably more of those being thrown into articles; maybe a list of them would be usefull, since there is a general problem with them, I understand. Anyway, it would certainly not be a bad idea to reach a consensus about those boxes, especially the ones that are not even about things that can possibly be put into a sequential order and/or belong to a finite field. Otherwiese, the articles in the Wikipedia will soon look like one of those homepages where the ratio of advertising versus content is about 9:1. -- AlexR 19:42, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

See MediaWiki talk:CriticalTheory. The msg can be found on a series of articles. As I didn't get much feedback, I moved the one on Critical theory to Talk:Critical theory. -- User:Docu
I was thinking of a list of boxes, not just the one from project CT, because from what I heard on #wikipedia I understood that there are more of those around. But thanks for the new links. -- AlexR 23:24, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The two advantages to project and series boxes are:

  1. They can help to increase interest in editing articles on certain topics that seem to go unedited.
  2. They can help to group the links contained in the see also section in a consistent and topical manner.

As far as deciding which boxes get to be first when there are multiple boxes on a page, why not just list them alphabetically? -Seth Mahoney 22:35, 3 May 2004 (UTC)

They have different formats, oblong vs. wide. Besides, you don't think that people proposing article series about philosophical fields would listen to anything remotely reasonable, do you? Check the latest debate on Talk:Heteronormativity if you do, it might cure you. (It's only about boxes, not the article itself.) -- AlexR 23:15, 3 May 2004 (UTC)
Well, I am one of the people proposing article series about philosophical fields, and I have played a minor role in the heteronormativity debate, so perhaps that's not going to be the most convincing approach to take with me. I'm also not sure why you bring up the oblong vs. wide difference. The contents could still be listed alphabetically, they still can increase interest in editing articles on topics that go unedited, and they still help to group links often contained in the see also section in a consistent and topical manner, regardless of the shape of the box. -Seth Mahoney 01:57, 5 May 2004 (UTC)
I was not talking about the content of a particular box being sorted, but about how several boxes would be sorted if they appeared on a page. In that case, the format of the box would matter. But maybe it would be better to take that debate to Wikipedia talk:Article series boxes policy (proposed). -- AlexR 02:39, 5 May 2004 (UTC)

Cut the Nonsense, Please

As one of the original proliferators of the idea for making these sidebars (boxes is fine), Im dismissing (no offense to anyone) the senselessly exaggerated claims that Wikipedia will somehow become a repository for garbage or useless schemes. Didnt people say the same thing about the entire idea of creating an encyclopedia in the first place? Some consensus is good, and its good to see that, but this claim that somehow they will get out of hand is nonsense, for the same reason that we dont see any spam or porn here - it gets corrected. After all, the point of these is to make it easier to consolidate and cross reference articles, both for reading and for editing. -Stevertigo 17:28, 27 Apr 2004 (UTC)

The is absolutely nothing that these boxes do that cannot be done with see also links. And how would you keep the boxes from getting out of hand? Which one of the five boxes that I listed as an example for Heteronormativity would you correct, and for what reason? And who could possibly decide which of these boxes get the more prominent place, and which the less prominent one?
Sorry, but they neither help the reader who will be confused by the boxes, not helped, nor any editors, who ought to know anyway where to go from a particular article, and who, instead of writing or improving articles, will be compelled to build more useless boxes themselves so that cross-references don't get drowned by other boxes, and then fight for the positioning of these boxes.
I see the point why those boxes were invented, but the consequences were not very well thought through. -- AlexR 19:34, 27 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Yes, I agree with all of that - except that its far easier to add boxes with an msg:box tag than it is to make new ones each time. Thats the point of the Mediawiki namespace - to allow for insertable and editable text - box or not. There are limits to how these can be useful, but your arguments do not hold water, and are reminicent of m:deletionist-style ignoratio elenchi - an extreme exagerration of the possible potential negative behavior of imaginary hooligans. -Stevertigo 01:14, 2 May 2004 (UTC)
No - just create the list once, as as at biology, and link to that article. Presto! --mav 03:33, 2 May 2004 (UTC)

My opinion is that seriesbox (the ones located on the side at the top) should have some kind of an inherent grouping. I also rather like the hybrid infobox/seriesbox at Music of the United States, if I do say so myself. If the grouping is seriously disputable, it should include all the disputable entries and be a footer, or not exist if that is unfeasible. By seriously disputable, I mean not a token Flat Earth Societyish group. Wikipedia's NPOV does not mean that all possible views have to be appeased all the time. Tuf-Kat 05:23, May 2, 2004 (UTC)

General proposal on Article Series Boxes

After much debate on the subject, Hyacinth suggested creating clear guidelines for writing and placing boxes in Talk:Heteronormativity, which is a good idea, in my opinion. Here, therefore, my attempt can be found: User:AlexR/Article series boxes -- AlexR 16:48, 4 May 2004 (UTC)


My purely aesthetic opinion is that the boxes look good. As a result, many people want to use them. However, most fields do not lend themselves to a tidy box, and so the collective wiki-action ends up producing many boxes used badly.

An example, inspired by the Influential Western Philosophers box. Suppose I want to aid the browsing experience of people interested in English literature by including an Influential English Novelists series box at the foot of the articles on several English novelists. As a starter, I swipe the list of English novelists from List of novelists, and make it into a MediaWiki footer. (And this is the less obtrusive of the two popular ways of going about this...)

Now, because of it appearing on some 30-some pages rather than only at List of novelists, more people see it, and so more people edit it. (According to the wiki philosophy, this is a good thing.) In particular, more people note glaring omissions from it, like Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Tobias Smollett, Laurence Sterne, Sir Walter Scott, Charles Maturin, Mary Shelley, John Ruskin, Lewis Carroll, William Thackeray, G.K. Chesterton, Samuel Butler, Wilkie Collins, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, George Macdonald, W. Somerset Maugham, and D.H. Lawrence. They add them. If added to List of novelists, these make for a much stronger list, but when added to a hypothetical Influential English Novelists box, they make for a much larger box. And some will say that the box places too much emphasis on Dead White Men and add more women, not enough emphasis on pop culture and add J.K. Rowling et alia, and so forth.

The root problem is that far too many English people have been writing novels for far too long, and the "short list" of those of them that became particularly good at it is no longer short at all. The wiki method can eventually be counted on to produce a comprehensive list, but reaching consensus on the 15 most important English novelists can simply not be achieved.

The subjects that lend themselves to boxing are the ones that have a relatively small breadth of subtopics (and preferably a well-defined breadth) that can be indiscriminately interlinked, like Fatimid caliphs or States and territories of Australia. Things like novelists, musical genres, cucurbits, and topics in psychology are simply too prone to subdivision to lend themselves to a short-list. Shimmin 19:48, 4 May 2004 (UTC)

Watch your box

Some people may have a hard time understanding proper box heirarchy : In a case like biology, which has a very detailed list of subfields within biology there is no need to have a biology box there. If its the top link ("articles in the FOO series"), then if it is to have a box, it will have a MORE GENERAL ONE - one that links to higher categories. Biology, then would have a sciences box leading to other equivalent and related. Also, lets call these classification boxes, not series boxes - these arent linear - they are paralell, or related links.

Repeat/summary:

  • Top level articles should have a higher level classification box. Use the same Wikipedia:classbox if articles fit within the same classification. Some articles may fit under more than one category.
  • As an example, dont put the biology classbox on biology. Use the sciences classbox instead.

-Stevertigo 16:35, 6 May 2004 ((Copy this message everywhere that an understanding of this basic principle is lacking.)

I don't really understand the need to link my name with people above, especially since I never spoke at all about biology or science boxes, neither for nor against them. Also, if you had read the proposal, you might have noticed that I did make a clear distiction between series boxes which link linear and clearly defined and limited topics, and article series boxes, which are what you call classification boxes. So maybe you should try to get an understanding of another basic principle - read first, answer after you read and understood a text, and don't insult people unnecessarily. -- AlexR 18:07, 6 May 2004 (UTC)

Political succession boxes

Right now, political succession boxes just use the wiki table markup (or HTML table markup if they haven't been converted), and they are kind of bland. I liked the way the article series boxes looked and thought we might be able to use them for succession boxes as well; there are some examples on my sandbox page, and comments are welcome. (I'm not sure where exactly this should be discussed, so I hope this is the right place!) Adam Bishop 17:51, 1 Aug 2004 (UTC)


Article series boxes/succession boxes

originally at the village pump

I was fiddling around with the article series boxes and the political succession boxes to see if I could come up with a good mixture of the two...I'm not sure where the best place to discuss this would be, so I thought I would post it here where lots of people would see it (as opposed to the Wikipedia:Article series page where hardly anyone will see it). If anyone would like to comment on/discuss/improve what I've been doing, it is at User:Adam Bishop/sandbox. (If I should post examples here as well, just let me know.) Adam Bishop 06:16, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

I really like the second possibility listed. Ilγαηερ (Tαlκ) 06:21, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Looks quite good, especially the third version, which doesn't have the silly repetition of the title. (Co-rulers are uncommon anyway, so that problem could be treated separately.) How would you handle boxes like that in William III of the Netherlands? One box for each title? -- Jao 06:33, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)
That is what I was going to work on next - there are even more complicated examples, see Charles I of Sicily for example. Adam Bishop 06:37, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)
Everyone groan: Alexander_the_great#Alexander.27s_titles. (SEWilco 04:19, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC))
I'm quite partial to the ones The Tom has been adding for Canadian cabinet ministers. See for instance Mauril Bélanger. I've never been too fond of blue backgrounds for boxes. - SimonP 06:49, Aug 2, 2004 (UTC)
I dunno, I like the simpler tables used for things like the US Presidents (Bill Clinton is a good example). I dunno about colors. Is the main point of this exercise to create a template? --Golbez 08:42, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)
If you don't mind, I'll add a little variation on one of your tables to your sandbox page. Ilγαηερ (Tαlκ) 16:30, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Golbez - some of the succession boxes are already templates (the Byzantine emperors box, and some of the British peerage boxes, for example), but they don't all necessarily have to be templates. By the way, another possibility I have seen is some of the Roman emperors on fr: - such as fr:Auguste. Adam Bishop 17:14, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

After further attempts to make this work, I have noticed they aren't very useful for more complicated boxes like Charles of Anjou. So I guess the boxes should stay the way they are, or something else should be done. Ah well. Adam Bishop 19:19, 5 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Replace series boxes by templates of category-properties

(see also Wikipedia_talk:Categories,_lists,_and_series_boxes#Proposal:_Semantics.2C_properties_and_navigation) This issues of lists, navigation bars, article boxes, categories and such might be resolved all at once if we would have a category + property system combined with a proper template scheme. That way one could easily bulid a navigation bar right out of the database just by insering a lookup similar to an SQL query (imagine a single line of text, that automatically keeps your article series updated for ever). The formatting would be handled by a template and the code could be lean and tidy once again. IMHO are article series nothing else but a structured list, sorted by a specific property, and they are manipulated over and over again, just to give them a consistent look. Why can't we have this done by the system instead? --BoP 09:55:20, 2005-09-04 (UTC)