Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Wikipedia's Manual of Style contains some conventions that differ from those in some other, well-known style guides and from what is often taught in schools. Wikipedia's editors have discussed these conventions in great detail and have reached consensus that these conventions serve our purposes best. New contributors are advised to check the FAQ and the archives to see if their concern has already been discussed.

Information.svg To view an answer to a question, click the [show] link to the right of the question.

Why does the Manual of Style recommend straight (keyboard-style) instead of curly (typographic) quotation marks and apostrophes (i.e., the characters " and ', instead of , , , and )?
Users may only know how to type in straight quotes (such as " and ') when searching for text within a page or when editing. Not all Web browsers find curly quotes when users type straight quotes in search strings.
Why does the Manual of Style recommend logical quotation?
This system is preferred because Wikipedia, as an international and electronic encyclopedia, has specific needs better addressed by logical quotation than by the other styles, despite them being more frequent in externally published style guides. These include the distinct typesetters' style (often called American though not limited to the US), and the various British/Commonwealth styles, which are superficially similar to logical quotation but have some characteristics of typesetters' style. Logical quotation is more in keeping with the principle of minimal change to quotations, and is less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing, than the alternatives. Logical quotation was adopted in 2005, and has been the subject of perennial debate that has not changed this consensus.
Why does the Manual of Style differentiate the hyphen (-), en dash (), em dash (), and minus sign ()?
Appropriate use of hyphens and dashes is as much a part of literate, easy-to-read writing as are correct spelling and capitalization. The "Insert" editing tools directly below the Wikipedia editing window provide immediate access to all these characters.
Why doesn't the Manual of Style always follow specialized practice?
Although Wikipedia contains some highly technical content, it is written for a general audience. While specialized publications in a field, such as academic journals, are excellent sources for facts, they are not always the best sources for or examples of how to present those facts to non-experts. When adopting style recommendations from external sources, the Manual of Style incorporates a substantial number of practices from technical standards and field-specific academic style guides; however, Wikipedia defaults to preferring general-audience sources on style, especially when a specialized preference may conflict with most readers' expectations, and when different disciplines use conflicting styles.
WikiProject Manual of Style
WikiProject iconThis page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines.
 

Style discussions elsewhere[edit]

Add a link to new discussions at top of list and indicate what kind of discussion it is (move request, RfC, open discussion, deletion discussion, etc.). Follow the links to participate, if interested. Move to Concluded when decided and summarize conclusion. Please keep this section at the top of the page.

Current[edit]

(newest on top)

Concluded[edit]

Extended content

Addition to dash advice[edit]

I propose we slightly extend the section MOS:DASH#Instead of a hyphen, when applying a prefix or suffix to a compound that includes a space to say ... to a compound that includes a space or a dash, so in addition to ex–Prime Minister Thatcher and pre–World War II aircraft we'd have post–Hartree–Fock as opposed to the current article title Post-Hartree–Fock, which wrongly suggests a parallelism between post-Hartree and Fock. OK?

Also, when did "or suffix" get in there? Ah, here it is; did it get discussed? This was explicitly not part of the big 2011 powwow agreement. If we want to keep it, shouldn't we put back the example (or a better one than the one removed here)? Dicklyon (talk) 15:53, 10 November 2019 (UTC)

  • Agree with all of the above. Rather that the unusual example radiator cap–themed, a more common dash suffix would be New York–based or Los Angeles–based. Doremo (talk) 16:53, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
    I wish I could say that radiator cap–themed is one of the most unusual phrases I've come across in Wikipedia editing, but that would be a untrue. Instead of NY and LA getting all the glory all the time, let's go with... oh, I don't know... Turks and Caicos instead? EEng 17:12, 10 November 2019 (UTC)
    OK, let's see if anyone objects; I did the dash change and requested move to Post–Hartree–Fock. I don't know for sure about the suffix or whether we have existing examples to justify that. Dicklyon (talk) 03:03, 12 November 2019 (UTC)
    Well, a Turks and Caicos–based company seems like a good example of suffixing. Or if you insist that it literally be a suffix, not just suffixed in position, try a Rogers and Hammerstein–esque musical number.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  09:49, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    Good. This way we'll have good examples of both prefix- and suffix-ing. EEng 03:15, 28 November 2019 (UTC)

My feeble attempts at humor aside, do we really need this elaborate advice –

Use this punctuation when there are compelling grounds for retaining the construction. For example, from a speech that is simply transcribed and cannot be re-worded; or in a heading where it has been judged most natural as a common name; or for conciseness in a caption or table entry. Otherwise recasting is better.

– ? Try this instead [2]. EEng 04:53, 28 November 2019 (UTC)

Yep.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  15:49, 30 November 2019 (UTC)

"Omit needless words"[edit]

Regarding this sentence (in the MOS:TENSE section): Generally, do not use past tense except for past events and subjects that are dead or no longer meaningfully exist as such: I'm a little bothered by the phrase no longer meaningfully exist as such. ...Meaningfully and as such both feel like unnecessary verbosity to me, and I would cut one or both phrases. (I've been asked to bring this to the talk page.) (Note that this is not inspired by any article dispute or desire to change the practical effect of the section.) WanderingWanda (talk) 05:37, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

Verbosity isn't so much the issue, as ambiguity. "Past events" covers events, "are dead" covers people, and "no longer exist" is intended to cover inanimate objects. However the words "meaningfully" and "as such" add nothing except potential confusion and would be best deleted. MapReader (talk) 09:08, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
The later example corresponding to this phrase is "The Beatles were an English rock band...". Although McCartney and Starr are still living, the band effectively ("meaningfully") no longer exists. I don't have a problem with the current wording, except that I would say "subjects who are dead or that no longer meaningfully exist...". Jmar67 (talk) 11:06, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Do you have an example of something that would actually exist but not meaningfully exist, to justify the retention of the word “meaningfully” in the MoS? The Beatles isn’t such, since the band doesn’t exist at all MapReader (talk) 11:44, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
On this point, I think there has been discussion, but consider that transport wreckage might reasonably exist but not meaningfully exist (such as Peter Iredale). --Izno (talk) 23:12, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
I am not defending the word "meaningfully" at all costs and think it could be considered redundant with "as such" (and vice versa). But I would give the author of this phrase the benefit of the doubt in (apparently) formulating it with a view to the Beatles example. Sometimes we unconsciously prefer redundancy for emphasis. I might prefer to eliminate it in a standard article, however. Jmar67 (talk) 01:24, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
Lost works are another common example. An extant work, like an old film or an ancient manuscript which has survived, receives present tense, but one that RS tell us is lost gets past tense. (If a copy resurfaces, as has happened with a few of the lost episodes of Doctor Who, then the tense would be changed.)  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  09:45, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • I'm not sure that we have the best wording yet but The Beatles do meaningfully exist because they are commonly perceived via recordings which still exist. Other dead rock stars such as Michael Jackson and Freddy Mercury are recreated as acts by means of holographic projections and we are likely to see more of this as the technology advances. The past tense should be reserved for subjects who are considered more historical. Andrew D. (talk) 12:04, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

"She" vs. "it" for ships[edit]

In the spirit of the essay Wikipedia:Use modern language, I propose standardizing on "it" for ships instead of "she". This would mean removing the gender-neutral language exception at MOS:GNL and the copies at WP:GNL#Ships, WP:SHE4SHIPS, and WP:SHIPPRONOUNS. Rationale:

  • "She" for ships sounds "old-fashioned"[3][4], or "quaint or poetic"[5].
  • "She" for ships is uncommon and is becoming less common in the sources we cite. It is not found in mainstream media, and even the nautical publication Lloyds List abandoned "she" two decades ago.[6]
  • "She" for ships is disrecommended by reputable usage authorities, including The Chicago Manual of Style, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, The Associated Press Stylebook, and even the U.S. Navy style guide, which includes the AP Stylebook by reference.
  • "She" for ships is confusing, especially for readers with English as a second language. It violates the general English rule that inanimate objects are referred to by "it" because English has no grammatical gender. It is even more confusing when referring to ships with masculine names (like the USS John McCain).
  • "It" for ships is already an accepted Wikipedia style and does not have any of these disadvantages.

-- Beland (talk) 13:48, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

I have notified WP:MILHIST and WP:SHIPS.
Trappist the monk (talk) 13:57, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
I posted a link on WP:CENT, and SMcCandlish has notified the Village Pump as well as some WikiProjects. Wug·a·po·des​ 19:45, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I put an RfC tag on it, too, since people wanted this to be an RfC and it was already serving as one.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:56, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
Detail, solved
"accepmoted" is not a word, but for some wikilawyering reason it is not permitted to improve readability of nom's formal motivation [7]. -DePiep (talk) 15:10, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
Whoops, fixed. Yeah, it's not allowed to put words in other editors' mouths, despite the best of intentions, but thanks for pointing that out. -- Beland (talk) 16:11, 23 November 2019 (UTC)

Survey[edit]

  • Support "it". This makes sense to me. I'm always in favour of a more modern, plain-English style. Popcornduff (talk) 14:00, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Popcornduff's !vote Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Go slowly on this... and expect a LOT of pushback. While the style guides may favor “it”, “she” is still more commonly used in real life. Blueboar (talk) 14:06, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose. Absolutely not. Why go against common English usage? Nothing "old-fashioned" about it. -- Necrothesp (talk) 14:09, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Necrothesp's !vote Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose. Never come across an RS we use on ships articles which doesn't use the feminine form Lyndaship (talk) 14:11, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Lyndaship's !vote Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • We should use the pronouns the subject prefers, and if the subject hasn't expressed a preference use singular they. EEng 14:58, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Next time we'll have to remember to ask the ship their preference! -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:04, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Nowadays more and more vessels are openly transoceanic, and pronoun choice requires special sensitivity in these cases. EEng 16:41, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose. As someone whose mother tongue is not English, I can tell you that referring to ship as 'she' is not confusing at all. Ships also referred to as 'she' in foreign languages. Moreover, the statement implies that all foreigners are dumb and stupid and I have an issue with such a blanket statement. Since it is already optional to use either 'she' or 'it', the whole matter should be decided by people who actually spend time and resources writing such articles as seen fit. The usage of 'she' is historical and used in most sourcing materials in XIX or XX centuries. It is also plain, obvious and unambiguous.Crook1 (talk) 15:06, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Crook1's !vote Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment: We can't base our MoS entirely on how external sources write. For a start, sources usually write in different ways (some RSs use "she", some don't). Besides, we have to create a style that suits our own needs and goals, and is consistent across articles and Wikipedia's general tone of voice. As far as I know WP:RS is not a requirement to reflect the language choices of sources, only facts. Popcornduff (talk) 16:00, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Popcornduff's comment Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose. Plenty of good reasons why, given already. I also strongly defend use of the definite article in front of a ship's name as well. There is nothing archaic about it or difficult to understand. People who read the Wiki understand what they're reading, though some here think they are morons. We should retain it, If for no other reason, than to vary the script, rather than emulsifying it into bland porridge which is what you mean to do with it. I view this motion as a form of troll baiting and yet another reason why I should never have started on the project. The English language is fluid and this sort of thing seeks to limit it. This sort of style creationism is akin to original research. It's not the Wiki's job to change the language. I am here to put something constructive into articles not waste my energies on this. Broichmore (talk) 18:20, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    • I respect your opinion on this usage question, but I don't feel that accusing me of "troll baiting" is compatible with Wikipedia:Assume good faith. My aim was to have Wikipedia keep up with a documented language change, in what you rightly point out is a fluid language. I realize this is a controversial question, but we have to be able to have discussions about controversial subjects now and again, and to do so in a civil manner. -- Beland (talk) 18:39, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
      • What dismays and depresses me, is that the language took over 2000 years to get to this point, and yet topics like this, surface here, repeatedly (it seems) ad nauseum. This not a documented language change, far from it, there is no governing body and we are the last people on the planet that should be it, I refuse to sit back and watch style changes promoted by fifty cent and whoever he represents be allowed to diminish the language. Broichmore (talk) 05:20, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
        • I'm not sure what you mean by "this isn't a documented language change". Doesn't the evidence from Google ngrams, style guides, and various news media document that? Are you disagreeing that it is happening, or that it should happen? For people that think "she" for ships is sexist (and has been for hundreds of years while women had no say in this question), and those who would prefer less complicated rules for how to use pronouns, this change is arguably a major improvment. Language change is an ongoing and largely unstoppable process, which happens for better or worse. -- Beland (talk) 18:58, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose. (1) Looking at the essay WP:MODERNLANG, it says, for example: "... Note: Although they can safely be replaced with among and while, amongst and whilst are still commonly used in British English." So, if a form is becoming archaic, but is still in use, it is OK to use in Wikipedia. (2) To what extent is "she" (for ships) archaic? Lots of actual and implied cites from both sides of the argument here - so I suggest it has some way to go before it could be labelled archaic. As a cited form, I would add Practical Boat Owner, a widely respected magazine that uses "she" (e.g.[8]) - I suspect that doing otherwise would lose them readers. (3) The fact that both forms are to be found outside Wikipedia seems to be a good case for maintaining the status quo within Wikipedia - i.e. both "she" and "it" are acceptable, but you may not swap an article to the other form. (4) Is anyone offended by "she" for a ship? I don't know, but if they are, then they should be offended by (in Latin) mensa (f) (a table) or (in French) la plume (f) (the pen). (4) The argument: "but language evolves". This statement is correct, but it should be allowed to evolve at its natural rate. That allows us and future generations to understand reasonably fully William Shakespeare and the King James Bible, and with no difficulty William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and many others. I do not believe that the essay on which this proposal is based seeks to unnaturally accelerate language change. However, I think the proposal does. Therefore the proposal should be rejected. ThoughtIdRetired (talk) 20:07, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of ThoughtIdRetired's !vote Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Look, let's get one thing out of the way — saying that an argument is ILIKEIT or IDONTLIKEIT is not a refutation; not on style issues. Although we will never go too far from what other publications are doing, there is no "reliable source" for what our style should be. It is always, at some level, going to come down to preference.
    Popcornduff is "always in favour of a more modern, plain-English style", and is absolutely entitled to that preference and to push for WP to move closer to it. But others are just as entitled to favor a more traditional, elegant style, and to militate for that preference.
    One of the things Wikipedia does best, given this sort of dispute, is simply not choose between them. I think that's what we should do here. --Trovatore (talk) 22:07, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Trovatore's !vote Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose The spirit of WP:ENGVAR applies—a months-long battle forcing editors to change their ways would not benefit the encyclopedia. Johnuniq (talk) 23:08, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Who is proposing a months-long battle? Levivich 16:00, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    If this is enshrined in MOS, gnomes will systematically edit articles they have never previously seen and replace pronouns. When that happened for bird titles (replacing "Blue Tit" with "blue tit") there was a months-long battle which drove off some of the editors who maintain bird articles. Some say that's a good result, while I'm in the it-ain't-worth-it camp. It is inevitable that sources will swing to it and when that happens, Wikipedia should follow. I haven't seen the evidence that we are there yet. Johnuniq (talk) 00:01, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Question! Given the research editors have done in response to this question, it looks like there may be a strong divide between American usage, which seems to be against "she" for ships (haven't seen an exception so far) and British/Commonwealth usage, where the practice is disfavored in some general-audience publications but continues in some important ones like major broadcasters. How would editors feel about keeping the two varieties but more closely following national practice? Specifically, I mean changing the advice to say that articles written in American English should use "it" for ships, but articles in other varieties of English are free to use either variety as long as they do it consistently and aren't changed back and forth arbitrarily? -- Beland (talk) 23:22, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Beland's question Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - there is no need to change the accepted convention that it is the writer of the article's choice on whether to use "she" or "it". If you want more ship articles written in the neuter, then there are many thousands of ships that have redlinks and need articles writing on them. The solution is at your fingertips. Mjroots (talk) 03:51, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Mjroots's !vote Levivich 01:01, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Either "she" or "it" is acceptable. Best left to editorial discretion, with discussion on Talk pages, one argument being the pronoun used most prominently by the sources used to support the article. Bus stop (talk) 05:40, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support – It is shamefully sexist to continue this gendered language for ships. But anyone who dares to challenge the entitled old men who rule in parts of WP will be utterly savaged. They really need to be taken on, but it must be a concerted push by people who want to follow the increasing acknowledgement in English-language style that gendered pronoun usage is part of the sexist male pushback. We should not give a damn what the British or whatever navy says it wants. Tony (talk) 06:02, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    It might be sexist, but are we here to right great wrongs? (Before someone misunderstands—I find it hilarious that anyone would claim that she/her/hers is "sexist" when used in relation to ships. There is no sexism in that usage whatsoever. Furthermore Wikipedia should not be kowtowing to political correctness. And I also find it pretty arrogant of some to think they are going to "correct" the English language in this way. The English language uses the pronouns she/her/hers to refer to ships. The English language also uses the terms it/its to refer to ships. That latitude is an integral part of the English language. It is arrogant and compulsive that some editors fancy themselves crafters of a new language. Both forms are acceptable. Ships can be referred to as feminine and ships can be referred to as neuter.) Bus stop (talk) 06:21, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    The only shameful thing is how few people can distinguish between grammatical gender and biological sex. Calling a ship "she" relates to its historic gender and has very little to do with sex or sexism. As someone has pointed out elsewhere you can't speak French (for example) without ascribing a gender to biologically neuter objects; are all Frenchmen irredeemable and offensive sexists? Martin of Sheffield (talk) 15:18, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    I don't think it is sexist at all. "Techopedia" writes "A male connector is a type of connector with one or more uncovered or exposed pieces of conductor which can be inserted into a female connector to ensure a physical connection." Mature adults and even immature children can appreciate that language borrows analogously from related concepts. Maleness and femaleness spill over into unrelated areas where descriptiveness is called for. This is not necessarily sexist. I don't see how referring to a ship as "she" is sexist at all. Where is the sexism in referring to a ship as "she"? Bus stop (talk) 15:41, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it – Most of my life it has seemed to me that "she" is both old-fashioned and sexist. Most modern style guides seem to be against using she, and so should ours. Dicklyon (talk) 06:30, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Use it. (But we need not add a rule saying this, just remove the pseudo-rules calling for she, which I think are in three different pages here but were inserted without any consensus record we can find in the talk page archives). We've been over this many times before, seemingly about every year or so (mostly at article talk pages). I concur with various respondents above (and in every previous round of this recurrent discussion, and now below) that she is an archaic, pretentious affectation and rather sexist (or often perceived as such), as well as peculiar to a few narrow spheres of writing (and outside them to a few particular publishers who like to do some old-fashioned things as a branding mechanism), to the extent it's still used at all any longer beyond historical fiction. "Well, sailors and navy people do it" = WP:SSF. And we've also now seen sources disproving that navy people always do it, including in the UK where someone below asserts without evidence that she is a norm and it uncommon.

    Look, WP does not care what specialists do when writing for other specialists, because WP isn't a specialist publication, and it is not possible to account for every stylistic whim of every specialization, or WP would basically be unreadable, and editors would spend almost all their time fighting for control over articles that are within the scopes of multiple specialties. This is covered in the MoS FAQ at the top of this talk page.

    We developed an in-house style guide for very good reasons, and it follows contemporary, mainstream, formal English for very good reasons. WP isn't written in salty dialect, headache-inducing jargon, bleeding-edge slang, or quaint Victorianisms. When other major style guides are in favor of it, then so is WP, for the same reason we don't write ain't, refer to problems as ornery, conclude that positive reviews make a movie badass, introduce a quotation with sayeth, or refer to a hiccup as a synchronous diaphragmatic flutter. Maybe more to the sexism point and the inappropriateness of writing the encyclopedia in the in-group lingo of one of our subjects, WP does not refer to the girlfriend of a male rapper or a Hell's Angels biker as his "bitch". It does not matter that he does and that his fellows do, or even that hip-hop and biker magazines might also do it.

    Soon or later it just has to sink in that WP follows topical sources for facts pertaining to the topic not for how to write about the the facts and the topic for an encyclopedic audience. How can we still be having this kind of discussion after 18 years? And with the same few people who absolutely know better by now, but for some reason just will not give up trying to make WP write like insider publications, no matter how many times the answer is "no". It just boggles the mind.
     — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  09:24, 23 November 2019 (UTC); rev'd. 18:56, 28 November 2019 (UTC)

    PS: We should support it also from a WP:CREEP viewpoint: There simply is insufficient justification to make a special exception for ships. This RfC is not about making a new rule, its about removing a bogus one that we have in at least three places, and apparently inserted just to make two wikiprojects happier. Going the it route will also be more consonant with all the rest of MoS and with WP editing practices; the common thread running through the entire MoS is do not make an exception to a general rule unless that exception is overwhelmingly dominant across the reliable sources that are independent of the topic. That's just not the case here. The she style is still somewhat common (though decreasingly rapidly), and it is not dominant except in the materials put out in specific topical sources.
     — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:07, 28 November 2019 (UTC); rev'd. 18:40, 30 November 2019 (UTC)

    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of SMcCandlish's !vote Levivich 01:01, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. These days, when I hear non-mariners referring to ships as she, my general impression is that they are trying too hard to sound "in the know". It's not at all wrong to use it, it doesn't sound awkward or affected, and if it offends fewer people, I personally don't see the harm in it. CThomas3 (talk) 09:49, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it There is zero benefit using "she" for inanimate non-sentient vehicles. Wikipedia should strive to being as objective and neutral as possible. "She" and "it" are not equal whatsoever in this case.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 09:53, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it as the dominant pattern for the past 80 years. Doremo (talk) 10:14, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    • Interesting little twist if you extend the year end to 2008 (latest available) - and comparing American and British English is also illuminating. Davidships (talk) 13:48, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
      • Both modifications suggested above (extension to 2008 and limitation to British English) continue to show "it" as having been dominant for many decades. Doremo (talk) 15:07, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - support status quo. It is clear that there is still a significant amount of published writing using "she" (about a third, if I have understood the overall Ngram correctly, and not on an inexorable downward trend) - indeed limiting to "English Ficton", to reduce any dominance of specialist writers on shipping, gives an even more marked picture in recent years. There is no basis here for suggesting that the users of "she" has shrunk to a few inflexible old salts. I think that the present guidance in WP:SHE4SHIPS (either is OK, no mixed usage, and no reverting without talk-page consultation) still serves WP well, even if feels a little awkward sometimes, no doubt from editors with either preference. Davidships (talk) 14:31, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. She is outdated and sexist, a vestige of the days when women were not considered to be fully people. Sources have abandoned the usage, except apparently in Britain and some areas of the nautical community. Wikipedia is for an international audience and should follow the prevalent modern usage. Levivich 16:11, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Levivich's !vote Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Follow the sources. If most of the sources referencing a ship use "she", use "she". If most use "it", use "it". (This may in practice have results such as Masem's suggestion, but in any case follow our sources' lead, as we do in everything.) Seraphimblade Talk to me 16:46, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it per general agreement among contemporary style guides. Tdslk (talk) 20:58, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Use it per above, per the Google Books corpus, and per the Chicago Manual of Style. English lost grammatical gender over 600 years ago and, outside of pedants, gendering inanimate objects is uncommon in everyday English. A search of the Google Books corpus shows that usage of "ship and her" has been steadily decreasing for the past century and the gendered variant has not been the majority use since 1940. For books using the phrase "ship and its" or "ship and her", the non-gendered variant is the overwhelming majority in published works, with 70% using "it" since 1980. Modern style guides recommend using "it" rather than "she". The Chicago Manual of Style (17 ed.) gives the following example in 8.116 (bolding added) "USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was already on its way to the Red Sea." and gives explicit advice in 8.118: "When a pronoun is used to refer to a vessel, the neuter it or its (rather than she or her) is preferred." I see no real reason to encourage the use of "she" to refer to vessels when it is not common English usage and is not recommended by other style guides. No reason other than preference and anecdotal evidence has been given to support the continued use of "she" which is not persuasive. (edit conflict) Wug·a·po·des​ 21:13, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Both forms are in common use. Follow the principle at WP:RETAIN. Not sexist in any way - historically the sailor respects the ship and treats it like a wife because ultimately his life depends on it.  Stepho  talk  23:13, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    This archaic reasoning assumes only men can be sailors or captains.--WaltCip (talk) 16:58, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    No, it doesn't assume "only men can be sailors or captains." The only inbuilt assumption is that women like death by drowning no more nor less than men appreciate death by drowning. Bus stop (talk) 17:12, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    If women can be sailors and treat the ship like a spouse their life depends on or like a spouse in general, then ships should be "he" just as often as "she". Men can also have other men as spouses. -- Beland (talk) 06:21, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support using "it". English hasn't had grammatical gender for centuries. Any argument along those lines is a red herring. The continued but minority use of feminine pronouns for ships is just a bit of poetic style that is inappropriate for an encyclopedia. Ships are inanimate objects. Inanimante objects in English use the pronoun "it". No reason to make an exception based on poetic tradition. oknazevad (talk) 23:14, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose as this personification of ships is still common in British English, and to rule against it would be to contradict WP:ENGVAR and MOS:TIES for ships with strong ties with the UK. -- DeFacto (talk). 23:27, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    I'm not sure this is an ENGVAR issue. Using gender-neutral pronouns to refer to ships is reasonably common in the UK ([9], [10], [11] (mixed, "she" is mostly the quotes), [12], [13]). So in reality both "she" and "it" are considered valid usage in British English: one of them is increasingly viewed by some as potentially offensive, one isn't. I personally don't understand why we would consciously choose the former when we have an equally correct and uncontroversial (okay, less controversial) option available. CThomas3 (talk) 01:18, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    I think the question is: what is wrong with referring to ships as "she" and "her"? Just because we are uptight about sexism is no reason to believe sexism exists in this language. It really doesn't matter if an article has a British-English orientation or an American-English orientation. And it doesn't matter what form sources are using. The language (English) has variation. Even in the same article one sentence can refer to a ship as "she" and another sentence can refer to the same ship as "it". The language allows for variation. Some of us are imagining problems where none exist, such as the unfounded notion that there is something sexist about the pronouns "she" and "her" for ships. We should just use the full language as it exists and not narrow our options. Bus stop (talk) 02:29, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    You’re absolutely right, that is the question. But saying that some of us are imagining a problem where none exists is a pretty big presupposition. I don’t happen to be offended by it either, but I appreciate the fact that clearly some are. And because there’s a valid.choice available to us to alleviate that potential problem that does not impact the prose in the slightest, why not take advantage of it? Certainly quoted passages can still use “she”, but for encyclopedic prose I don’t think using “she” is a marked improvement. CThomas3 (talk) 03:13, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - support status quo where the choice is left to the editor regardless of which pronoun is used in the sources. Tupsumato (talk) 23:40, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support "it" per nom and the sexism rationale. Sdkb (talk) 08:25, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support "it" per nom. Modern, and plain general language against archaic industry jargon. – Ammarpad (talk) 09:55, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support "it". As others have outlined, using "she" has many possible disadvantages. Sure, maybe the opposers are correct and these disadvantages are minor – but there's already a neutral alternative with no downsides, so why not use it? – Teratix 10:16, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support "it" I did some research into this unsure why this was a discussion and apparently there's a current spat into what gender ships should have. My research, specifically "what is gramatically correct in this situation" entirely supports "it" (this is from 2010, for instance). We should not be encouraging improper grammar usage because anachronised jargon demands it - he and she are for people, it is for objects. SportingFlyer T·C 11:38, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    • Wanting to further elaborate on my support - Google searches below support that "she/her" for ships has never been technically gramatically correct even though it was once in common use, belonging to a metaphorical class of gendering. It's also a piece of jargon which is increasingly falling out of use as the language modernises as evidenced below by my Google searches. Few if any news organisations use "she" to refer to vessels anymore, the ones that do either appear to be in Britain or use "she" only in a poetic sense unsuited for editing an encyclopaedia. Easy support for a question I hadn't probably ever thought about before yesterday. SportingFlyer T·C 10:13, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose The modern fashion is that gender pronouns are a matter of choice and so we should not have a prescriptive rule. See also WP:CREEP. Andrew D. (talk) 11:52, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Andrew D.'s !vote Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support "it" - Don't even need to think twice about this one.--WaltCip (talk) 16:57, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. The majority of style guides show a preference for "it" and it's inline with common English referring to inanimate objects. El Millo (talk) 17:43, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose "she" is very commonly used in sources. It is obvious from the votes that the community is fairly evenly split on this matter, as it has been in previous discussions. Proponents just need to accept current guidance that either is permitted with the usual provisos. Peacemaker67 (click to talk to me) 22:48, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, to my eyes and ears the use of "it" for a ship is jarring and indicative of a poor command of English - but I wouldn't want to force the use of "she" on those who struggle with it. I do not see any need to force one particular usage across the encyclopaedia, we cope with differing varieties of English everyday. DuncanHill (talk) 22:53, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment - In my home area, she is used for ships, as ships are considered to be (like females) unpredictable. GoodDay (talk) 23:12, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    Shit like this is why people think it's sexist and why editors think people arguing for it's continued use are being disingenuous. Maybe women are unpredictable to you because you liken them to inanimate objects without feeling or free will? Wug·a·po·des​ 03:34, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. Should be common sense—we should follow the standard usage in modern reliable sources and style guides. Our articles that use "she" look antiquated and conspicuous. Usage in other languages, which is one argument that has been brought up in favor of "she", is not relevant because this is the English Wikipedia. —Granger (talk · contribs) 08:11, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Mx. Granger's !vote Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment. Note that when the Scottish Maritime Museum decided earlier this year to start using "it" to refer to vessels, it was hugely reported in the British media and caused quite a stir ([14], [15], [16], [17], [18], [19], [20]). That surely proves that "she" is still overwhelmingly used for vessels in Britain and attempts to use "it" are considered unusual. Our common usage policy and WP:ENGVAR therefore mandates that we do not enforce some misguided attempt to standardise usage on Wikipedia. -- Necrothesp (talk) 12:05, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Necrothesp's comment Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it I have looked over the comments above by several people supporting each side. and found the "it" argument to be more convincing. I endorse most of the supporting statements from the votes above, especially the ngram analysis showing the clear trend. --Jayron32 14:47, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - according to tradition (and superstition) "she" relates to a mother or goddess who guides and protects the ship and its crew. Atsme Talk 📧 18:25, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Atsme's !vote Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it – gender-neutral language is the obvious choice for an international project. Archon 2488 (talk) 19:01, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it mainly per Wugapodes and the countless dubunking by SportingFlyer. However, I think the language used in the MOS should be that usig "it" is strongly preferred, but not required, to avoid the wholesale changing of thousands of articles across Wikipedia. --Ahecht (TALK
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  • Support it I've been following the discussion with interest because I recently did an article on a ship and wasn't sure which to use. I found the arguments in favor of "it" more convincing. (Edit to add): Lloyd's List (British, one of the world's oldest continuously-running journals, having provided weekly shipping news in London as early as 1734) announced in 2002 they would use "it" rather than she/her. Schazjmd (talk) 20:55, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it per the excellent points made above about modern usage and our need to reflect it. Parabolist (talk) 21:16, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose per MOS:VAR. I think the same about this as I do about BC vs BCE, the "committed" vs "died by" suicide issue, and AmEng vs British spellings: both are widely used, and there's no need to mandate consistency. Cheers, gnu57 22:15, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it per modern usage and style guides, and to improve consistency across Wikipedia. buidhe 22:29, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it I find all the reasons given by Beland compelling. And I'll add one more reason to the list: removing a special case makes our guidelines just a little bit simpler and more consistent. MOS:GNL could be made 50% shorter if we remove the "...except for ships" paragraph. Colin M (talk) 23:36, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it: It's odd to refer to inanimate objects as "she" or "he". We don't do it for anything else. There is a history of sexism in the word choice and evidentially it's still there. Style in Wikipedia should reflect the choices made by the wider culture and the use of "she" to refer to ships has decreased significantly, especially in generalist sources. Why would we choose to use old fashioned language when better options are available? SchreiberBike | ⌨  01:27, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • We aren't here to right great wrongs. And perhaps you aren't looking hard enough; most sources I find still refer to ships as 'she'. Kirbanzo (userpage - talk - contribs) 22:54, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • The "right great wrongs" essay is about editing articles to focus on certain facts. I think everyone can agree Wikipedia's presentation of facts should be neutral, not trumpeting the righteous, whoever that might be in an editor's personal option. Nor should it adopt neologisms in the name of social justice. But in this case, Wikipedia would be avoiding offending some people by following a mainstream trend by subtly dropping one of two styles it already allows. That hardly seems radical or unwise if it's distracting some readers. -- Beland (talk) 02:52, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it per majority usage in modern literature (as demonstrated by many other editors). Renata (talk) 07:40, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it I'm not a ship buff, and I've recently had reason to read the article HMS Ark Royal (R07), where the use of she struck me (a British boomer) as dated, odd and mannered. William Avery (talk) 09:41, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it per nom and above rationals. Referring to inanimate objects with it, is the correct usage. I feel I don't need to repeat a lot of what was said above (and bellow), but if you feel I do, let me know. --Gonnym (talk) 10:11, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. This conforms to current style guides and increasing practice. It is also less surprising for readers who are unaware of the "she" convention, leaving them to wonder who this woman is we seem to refer to in ship articles. Sandstein 12:29, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Sandstein's !vote Ahecht (TALK
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  • The deprecation by external style guides is good guidance for us in general. I support it. --Izno (talk) 15:23, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it—the evidence that this has already been adopted by a goodly number of style guides makes it clear it's not a "righting great wrongs" situation but following the emerging contemporary usage. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs talk 18:05, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, from what I see both are allowed in modern language and WP:SHE4SHIPS is right in that regard. Furthermore, I didn't find the preference for it in the linked the U.S. Navy style guide. Instead, it also allows "she" ("her, she - Appropriate pronoun when referring to a ship"). EF Education First also allows both pronouns. In total, given that Royal Navy also opted for "she", it seems there's no urgent reason to abandon "she" universally. Brandmeistertalk 20:32, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Brandmeister's !vote Levivich 01:01, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support It - Because it's a boat [time]. (and per beland) — Rhododendrites talk \\ 20:36, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support It Per Beland and SMcCandlish. Galobtter (pingó mió) 21:59, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I see there's some dispute above about whether the US Navy style guide recommends using "she" or "it", but in practice it seems to use both. A quick check of its recent publications/press releases shows a few uses of each (example "her", "its"). Searches of recent (this decade) news corpora seem to show a moderate edge for "it"/"its", with "she"/"her" being used maybe ~40% less often. That said, much of this seems context-dependent. In some topic areas, as well as some dialects, common uses may differ. I'd recommend keeping the current policy allowing either form and prohibiting arbitrarily changing from one to the other. The arguments about sexism don't hold water, IMO. --Yair rand (talk) 22:42, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support "it" per SMcCandlish and the opening argument by Beland, particularly the style guide citations. We should use language requiring the least technical knowledge, especially when such terms are falling out of usage, and the loaded connotations of "she" are sensible to avoid when unnecessary. I'd also like to second Rhododendrites' pun (groan-worthy though it is). — Bilorv (talk) 00:39, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong Oppose This is extremly short-sighted. Most of the world doesn't use this term and will never use it and never used it, in its whole history, except in the pejorative. The worst thing about this, even if it is accepted, eventually everybody will drift back as the rest of the world will continue to use the old term and we will end up doing it as well. scope_creepTalk 01:38, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
    I'm sorry, are you seriously saying that most of the English-speaking world doesn't use the term "it" to refer to inanimate objects? --Ahecht (TALK
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  • Support "it", because "she" smacks of jargon to me. I appreciate the pun by Rhododendrites above, as well. Enterprisey (talk!) 09:19, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose As a speaker of US English, a language with no grammatical gender, T find the whole gender issue for words unbearably confusing in my efforts to end my status as a functional monoglot. Why would the word "bridge" have a gender and why on Earth would a bridge be masculine in Spanish and feminine in German? If there were a river crossing at an imaginary border between Spain and Germany, would the bridge need to undergo a gender change at its midpoint at the border? Sure, the use of "she" to refers to boats is anachronistic and often comes off as forced to me; "Isn't she a beauty?" But the gendered usage is a longstanding tradition and no ship has ever expressed an issue with being designated with the female gender or indicated am alternative preferred pronoun. Until we have far clearer consensus against the gendered usage or the ships start speaking for themselves, let's keep this quaint gender designation. Alansohn (talk) 19:08, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of Alansohn's !vote Levivich 01:01, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose mandating “it”, or “she”. Oppose revisionism of English to make English obey simpler rules. Follow the sources, even if this mean following a change in style for old ships to new ships. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 21:29, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
    @SmokeyJoe: English doesn't have "rules" (except in the strict descriptive linguistics sense; e.g. you can't meaningfully say "To I store going am", because the language doesn't have a word order that flexible); English has nothing like the Academie française to set formal rules for the language. More importantly, see WP:NOT#SOAPBOX and WP:GREATWRONGS. WP having its own style guide to make our content consistent, formal, and contemporary (and unlikely to offend people for no important reason), and to reduce recurrent editorial strife about "perennial" nit-picks like this one, has nothing to do with activism for "revisionism of English to make English obey" anything, which is an external-to-WP idea. You trying to sping this RfC in such straw-man terms, however, is language-related activism, just from a hardcore traditionalism viewpoint. It's not appropriate here and doesn't really pertain to the actual RfC question, which is about what editors should do here on WP (only here) for our audience (only our audience). Has nothing to do with how English "should" be used by others elsewhere. Finally, we are following the sources when we note that off-site style guides mostly advise it not she. You're engaging in the WP:Specialized-style fallacy, the incorrect supposition that topically limited sources (e.g. navy materials, or websites about the merchant marines) are somehow reliable sources for how to write English for a global, general encyclopedia audience, when they are in fact simply reliable sources for facts about navies and merchant marines the ships they use.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:07, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    SMcCandlish, you are not feeling like the usual you. English has no rules? “Except”? The proposal is to “standardise”, which I read as “make a rule”. English has no Academie française, no, but Wikipedia has a MOS, which would like to be that. Follow the sources, I am glad you agree, but external style guides are not sources. —SmokeyJoe (talk) 11:21, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    That's the strangest statement I think I've ever seen on Wikipedia. I'm skeptical a single other person reading this page doesn't understand that major reference works on English usage are the most reliable sources on English usage.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:39, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose any one umbrella pronoun for ships on all of Wikipedia. Remember that cultures are different, and in Australia/UK, we do commonly use "she" to refer to ships; I understand that the US does not, so perhaps either "she" or "it" for British English and "it" for US English might be justified instead. Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 23:33, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
    Extended discussion moved to #Discussion of TheDragonFire300's !vote Levivich 01:01, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. "She" is old-fashioned and sexist, and (per the provided evidence, via Google n-gram for instance) on its way out. Drmies (talk) 02:24, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Neutral - using "she" may be considered sexist (see, eg, The Guardian: And all who sail in … it? The language row over 'female' ships but "she" appears to be the commonly used pronoun. --DannyS712 (talk) 04:36, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    DannyS712, how is that different from "ain't is a commonly used word"? Using she for ships and other inanimate things is not actually common in contemporary sources, especially those that are topically broad and intended for a general audience. We really don't care what salty dogs like to write when communicating to other maritime people in specialized materials, especially when an increasing number of style guides advise against this she thing, and fewer and fewer mainstream publishers (news, etc.) continue the practice.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:07, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    @SMcCandlish: I have only seen "she" used, so my instinct was to prefer using "she", but am neutral for exactly the reasons you bring up. --DannyS712 (talk) 10:10, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose MOS:GNL states Ships may be referred to using either feminine forms ("she", "her", "hers") or neuter forms ("it", "its"). Either usage is acceptable, but each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively. It also states that unless there is substantial reason to do so (emphasis mine), whatever usage already exists in an article should not be changed. — Jkudlick ⚓ t ⚓ c ⚓ s 06:31, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    How does simply quoting the current guideline bear on the question of changing it? EEng 07:26, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    I was going to say the same thing. Jkudlick seems to have missed the point.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:07, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    @EEng and SMcCandlish: What is the substantial reason for this change? I am not opposed to changing the MOS to require "it" for any future articles, but any current articles should remain as is unless there is an absolute need to do so. — Jkudlick ⚓ t ⚓ c ⚓ s 00:33, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
    @Jkudlick: When either of two styles are [sic] acceptable it is inappropriate for a Wikipedia editor to change from one style to another unless there is some substantial reason for the change. That would apply if this discussion was about changing a specific article's style from she to it, which is not the case. This discussion is about deciding whether those two currently acceptable styles will continue to be acceptable or if one of them will no longer be. El Millo (talk) 01:04, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
    Right. And why on earth ask something like "what is the substantial reason?" when this entire thread is a debate about that obvious reason and how substantial it is? I get the distinct impression that Jkudlick saw that this thread existed, thought "I prefer she" and came here to just vote without reading the actual RfC or anything in it (except, I suppose, the ping to brings him back here). His initial and later comments show complete unawareness of the nature of the discussion or its content.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:42, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. No reader is going to be that offended or surprised whichever version they encounter. We can safely let the authors of articles decide which they prefer; they have earned that right. Jmchutchinson (talk) 22:17, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support not referring to cars as "she" and "her" on Wikipedia, regardless of modern gender issues. No, don't kick the wheel either, thanks xP ~ R.T.G 06:22, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • NOTE:WP:TONE says, "Articles and other encyclopedic content should be written in a formal tone. Standards for formal tone vary a bit depending upon the subject matter but should usually match the style used in Featured- and Good-class articles in the same category. Encyclopedic writing has a fairly academic approach, while remaining clear and understandable. Formal tone means that the article should not be written using argot, slang, colloquialisms, doublespeak, legalese, or jargon". Wikipedia:Writing_better_articles#Information_style_and_tone says, "Two styles, closely related and not mutually exclusive, tend to be used for Wikipedia articles. The tone, however, should always remain formal, impersonal, and dispassionate." Black circle.jpg It is easy to imagine this stuff is just some stuffy old rules for rules sake, but these rules do improve readability. One of the enemies of dissemination in this environment, believe it or not, is poetic license. Formalise the consideration of your vehicle as a her? Are you joking? You are joking aren't you? How about using words like yip and yah when writing about horses? ~ R.T.G 08:45, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
There is talk below about rivalling Google, but it is Yahoo! we can rival best. Steady as she goes there, Betsy, there's a good girl. ~ R.T.G 11:22, 5 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - ships have a long history of being referred to in the feminine. Possicause the largely male sailors liked to think that their vessel had a life of its own and the behaviour was often contrary. Whatever. There's centuries of tradition, it is strong usage in some communities, we're just going to have an almighty row if this becomes wikilaw. Perhaps WP:RETAIN might be in order; either usage is fine, and nobody is going to be confused. --Pete (talk) 06:41, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose to only allowing one or the other per WP:RETAIN - referring to ships as female is common practice in many places around the world. Wikipedia's purpose is not to change things, only to record them. Advocating change in language like this, without real-world usage that would make such change valid, falls into soapbox territory. We are also not here to right great wrongs - if the nomenclature is sexist, we cannot deal with it as we alone cannot change how lanugage evolves. If anything, we should just allow both to be used, like we already do with date formats. Kirbanzo (userpage - talk - contribs) 22:51, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
    • I agree but #List of style guides thoroughly convinces me that the change in real world usage has already happened over the last 20 years. Levivich 23:10, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Several of those style guides are attached with organizations with known biases. They also likely do not reflect public opinion, due to the limitations of data collection - and collected data is used to create these style guides. Therefore, unless someone turns up evidence suggesting that people in real life overwhelmingly support using 'it' versus 'she', we should either keep things as is or just make it an option to choose between referring to a ship as 'she' or 'it'. Kirbanzo (userpage - talk - contribs) 23:17, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Wouldn't the fact that some dictionaries mark this usage as "old fashioned" be good evidence about how this is perceived in real life? -- Beland (talk) 02:54, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
  • @Kirbanzo: Would you care to label the style guide sources with their "known biases"? I don't attribute any particular biases to any of them, but I'm not particularly familiar with the British press, and I'm curious if other editors would agree with your perceptions. -- Beland (talk) 02:58, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
  • The Guardian is the most obvious one, since they are known to have a left-leaning bias. Some have also argued that the BBC and New York Times also have a left-leaning bias, though not all of the arguments against them are credible. The rest appear neutral, at least to me. I tend to find that people on the left side of the political divide these days bandwagon on terms they deem the most non-offensive - even if the predecessor of it has no actual negative connotations. While I do agree that 'it' is acceptable, since ships are not living things (yet - depends on how things go with AI), we shouldn't use style guides to represent populations at large since, well, the amount of people working at the groups that make these style guides don't represent the average person. There is also the aforementioned issue of some style guides having potential biases. In short, there's no clear preference at this time, thus it is a bad idea to make a decision at least. It could end up being a change editors may resent in the future.
  • Well, if there are style guides from right-leaning media that would balance out the list, that would be informative. If the argument is "only cranky people on the far left use this language", the inclusion of outlets with disputed bias seem to indicate the usage has more or less reached the political center, if it is a strict left-to-right progression. New terminology comes from both the left and right, though - for example, conservative media in the U.S. were using homicide bomber for a while, though it never went mainstream enough to become a permanent part of the language. Wikipedia has already recognized the transition from "steward" and "stewardess" to "flight attendant", which would be another candidate for the "it came from the Left" theory. The fact that some dictionaries mark "she" for ships as "old fashioned" does seem like solid evidence the language has made a permanent shift, though not necessarily because the usage causes offense. If any news outlets were going to use slightly old-fashioned-sounding language, conservative-leaning ones would be the least surprising, since retaining traditions is one of the elements of that philosophy. -- Beland (talk) 06:26, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
Also, to expand on my original argument: This proposal is a common style fallacy, per the reasons I just discussed above. Kirbanzo (userpage - talk - contribs) 04:06, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
  • So, WP:CSF essentially says, don't pay too much attention to news source style, and pay more attention to academic style guides, and it specifically mentions New Hart's Rules, The Chicago Manual of Style, Garner's Modern English Usage, Fowler's Modern English Usage. The Chicago Manual explicitly says to use "it" for ships. I don't know about the other three, but so far that sounds like an argument for the opposite of what you're saying it supports. -- Beland (talk) 06:32, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose – I do not see this as an urgent question to be addressed. The use of "she" to refer to ships is longstanding, does not as grossly caricature women as naming destructive windstorms or unreasoning fear after them or their parts does, and is at a minimum at a time when you're apt to find "she" and "her" ostentatiously and confusingly used by the mainstream press where "he" and "his" was the norm to refer to mixed genders. Dhtwiki (talk) 23:36, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose: So, I decided to do a bit of digging about the provenance and history of WP:NCS, and this change in particular dates back to 2012; that linked back to WP:SHIPMOS, which has always referred to ships as "she" and "her". In that regard, then, along with WP:RETAIN, there is already a strong rationale against the proposed change: it would not only affect a great number of articles already on Wikipedia (as Johnuniq notes), it would also be a great change to a major portion of our current manual of style. Although this is the right place for that, I would like to offer a compromise, instead: perhaps, before 1990, or, given the sources so warrant, "she"/"her" is allowed, of course; after 1990, "it" is preferred or otherwise standardized. But now I'm basically reiterating what WP:SHE4SHIPS already says, so I don't believe a change to that is needed... Javert2113 (Siarad.|¤) 14:35, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
  • I'm curious why the age of the ship or what the sources from the ship's era say would make a difference to how current readers perceive Wikipedia's tone. We don't refer to movies from the 1920s as "talkies" and we don't write about Shakespeare in Early Modern English. Is it just to minimize the number of changes? A large number of changes can be done pretty easily with a semi-automated script, or we can just let them change to the new style slowly. -- Beland (talk) 03:02, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Use "it" in most situations. "It" should be the default, but "she" should be allowed if a clear preponderance of sources use that, and obviously allow it in direct quotes. "It" is simply the overwhelming contemporary style in general sources, and Wikipedia is contemporary general purpose source. However, don't edit war and don't mass-change articles. Thryduulf (talk) 15:16, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support It It is the most appropriate HAL333 19:16, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support It I really can't believe we're having this discussion. It is far and wide the normal usage for non-specialists. I agree with Thryduulf just above me, though; no need to edit war and mass-change, just update as and when the articles in questions get updated. I'm in support of WP:PLAINENGLISH, especially for foreign language users, who get taught that English has no gender for objects. - ChrisWar666 (talk) 03:46, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it - mostly per the rationale provided by SportingFlyer. It is used more often than she/her. The usage of it is more clear and less confusing. It also does not have the same implication she/her does, and the section on Why some people consider it sexist is worth considering. Clovermoss (talk) 22:09, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I don't agree that the term is sexist, and per WP:RETAIN, both forms should remain available for use (oppose mandating one form or another). There seems to be quite a bit of evidence that there is an WP:ENGVAR issue here too. In New Zealand people commonly use 'she' not 'it' for ships and boats. The NZ naval museum for example seems to use 'she' [21], as does BoatingNZ [22], as well as the New Zealand Police [23], and the NZ Navy [24]. Ships of the same model are even referred to as "'sister' ships". This should not be controversial. — Insertcleverphrasehere (or here)(click me!) 02:50, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it - 'She' could be/is considered sexist by some. Better to try and be as neutral as possible as 'it' is very unlikely to cause offense. N0nsensical.system(err0r?) 13:08, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Weak oppose Wikipedia is built on specialization, not standardization. It is very clear (in general and based on observation of the vote breakdown) that the maritime community has a strong preference for "she" in referring to ships. It is not the role of non-experts with an admitted agenda (standardizing gender-neutral language) to override this expert preference. Ergo Sum 17:43, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
  • @Ergo Sum: Even experts in the field of ships have been using "it". Using "she" is not a sign of expertise on the subject, just a sign of bias inclination. This isn't new. Russia is still referred to as it, even though a lot of sources want to call it "she" for those who claim to be an expert. I also want to say that Wikipedia is built on moderation of both standardization and specialization.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 17:50, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
  • @Blue Pumpkin Pie: I have a personal preference for "it", but I reiterate my above comments. I would want to see some actual evidence that those who deal in ships and the like are adopting "it" over "she." Ergo Sum 17:56, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
  • @Ergo Sum:, isn't the link to Lloyd's List that actual evidence? Lloyd's List (British, one of the world's oldest continuously-running journals, having provided weekly shipping news in London as early as 1734) announced in 2002 they would use "it" rather than she/her. Schazjmd (talk) 18:04, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Strong support for 'it' This is clearly and overwhelmingly the common English pronoun when discussing vessels, as with essentially all grammatical objects referencing non-living subject matter. The assertion that certain specialized communities continue to use an archaic (and rankly, at this moment in time, clumsy and silly) idiomatic construction is (in addition to being highly dubious, unsupported by evidence from those making the assertion here, and pretty counter to most observations of contemporary sources in the relevant fields) really of no moment; as others have already noted above, our objective on this project is not to ape vernacular usage but rather to present our coverage in a fashion which describes the subject matter in a fashion that is clear, accessible and unambiguous to the largest portion of readers, using standard English conventions derived from common usage.
Numerous of our core policies and the MoS itself make this priority clear, and even in instances where the sources in question use outdated idioms, we do not map our own usage accordingly unless it is a direct quote or in some way vital to describing the subject matter accurately and neutrally: we take our lead from reliable sources in which facts we present and how much weight to place on different perspectives, but we do not adopt their grammatical or idiomatic practices--clearly this is so, or any of our millions of articles on topics that are more than a couple hundred years old would be utterly unreadable by virtue of outdated terminology and grammatical conventions. Again, I'd reiterate that I find the argument that vaguely defined "specialists" continue to use 'she' to be highly questionable (I'm guessing that the average naval/maritime professional today would be emabrassed for a colleague who adopted this out-dated usage), but even if it is the case, it's really quite besides the point under all of our relevant policies, MoS standards in virtually all areas, common usage, and common sense. Snow let's rap 06:52, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Outside WP both are commonly used, both are accepted and both are widely understood. If it ain't broke, etc - and let's not try to micromanage every piece of language on WP. - SchroCat (talk) 23:27, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Support this change. "She" for an inanimate object sounds sexist, old-fashioned and flowery/poetic. A 21st-century online encyclopedia should not be any of these things. A ship is a machine, and should be referred to as "it", as reflected in modern educated usage. Otherwise our articles read as though written by a creepy uncle who calls his car "she". At this rate Wikipedia may be the last publication clinging on to this patriarchal usage. That would embarrass me. --The Huhsz (talk) 09:52, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
"patriarchal usage" Wikipedia is not here to right great wrongs but rather, in this case, to reflect language as it is actually used. Bus stop (talk) 13:50, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
I couldn't agree more. Which is why we should recommend "it" as do an enormous preponderance of real-world style guides. --The Huhsz (talk) 14:08, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
"real-world style guides" We should jump on the bandwagon? Bus stop (talk) 14:19, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
Oh shut the fuck up already. You can't simultaneously argue that we should follow real world usage and that following real world usage is jumping on the bandwagon. Levivich 14:37, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
Thank you. The sheer hypocracy and WP:BLUDGEONing is getting really fucking obnoxious. You've had your say, Bus Stop, now let others speak without your useless commentary. oknazevad (talk) 14:41, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
Levivich—you say "You can't simultaneously argue that we should follow real world usage and that following real world usage is jumping on the bandwagon." But I am not saying "following real world usage is jumping on the bandwagon". What I am saying is that following the style guides of other publications is similar to "jumping on a bandwagon", at least in this instance, with its overtones of political correctness. Bus stop (talk) 14:46, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
Oh just stop. We get it. You oppose the proposal. You said as much. We don't need to hear from you again. You're just being obnoxious. Let others state their opinions without speaking your own again for the hundredth time. oknazevad (talk) 15:05, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
Oknazevad—you say "The sheer hypocracy and WP:BLUDGEONing is getting really fucking obnoxious." What I'd be curious to know is what you see as "hypocracy", which by the way is spelled "hypocrisy". In what way am I being hypocritical? Bus stop (talk) 15:42, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
I'm far too polite to call your continual flip-flopping in this discussion "hypocrisy"; if pressed I would say that you have a deep emotional attachment to keeping "she" and are adapting your arguments on the fly each time someone counters them, as you just did to me above. I would say though, on the bludgeoning; did you know that was your 111th contribution to this discussion? I think everyone reading this knows by now that you want to keep "she" and that it's very important to you. I think by now that you have got that point across, and continued argumentation is not going to convince anyone. I'm certainly not going to argue with you when you have demonstrated that you are immune to logic. --The Huhsz (talk) 16:40, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
I am not "flip-flopping" at all and you are not saying how I'm "flip-flopping". Bus stop (talk) 18:00, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
Do you know the meaning of the term sea-lioning? Just wondering. EEng 22:23, 4 December 2019 (UTC) To save time, here's some handy text you can cut and paste for your response: I am not "sea-lioning" at all and you are not saying how I'm "sea-lioning".
Nice one. Hey, Bus stop, did you ever come across the No true Scotsman fallacy in argument? When we find ourselves resorting to this category of argument, we owe it to ourselves to acknowledge that it's a conviction, not a logical belief. Nothing wrong with that; I have a conviction that my children are the most beautiful and intelligent children ever. But because I know it's a conviction, I wouldn't waste my time, or that of others, in arguing it out, because I know nothing would change my mind on the subject. See also falsifiability. Best wishes, --The Huhsz (talk) 23:53, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it Standard English does not gender objects. Therefore there would have to be an clear consensus in non-specialist sources to justify treating ships as 'special'. The evidence presented here hasn't convinced me that this is the case, so let's use standard English. Scribolt (talk) 15:40, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. "She" is still part of standard English for ships and Wikipedia has been supportive of using varieties of English, not imposing one groups' grammar per WP:ENGVAR. To quote from the 16 Nov 2019 issue of The Economist's opening paragraph of an article about aircraft carriers: "She was returning from an ingominious tour of duty in the Mediterranean. One of the 15 warplanes with which she had been pounding Syria had crashed into the sea... When she finally docked near Murmansk a 70-tonne crane smashed into her deck." StarryGrandma (talk) 19:07, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
    That article is the exception, not the rule. Per Doremo's comment below, The Economist overwhelmingly uses it/its instead of she/her. --Ahecht (TALK
    PAGE
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Which reinforces my point that Wikipedia continue to follow WP:ENGVAR and not impose a grammar where there is difference of usage. The same article uses "its" when quoting an American navy captain - does the analysis account for that? StarryGrandma (talk) 20:31, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
Let us be realistic, Ahecht. The Economist avails itself of all 5 pronouns (she, her, hers, it, its) applicable to ships. In this article, for instance, The Economist uses "she", "her", and "its" in the same paragraph. Bus stop (talk) 20:36, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
(edit conflict) @StarryGrandma: here are my concerns: even if it was acceptable sentence outside of wikipedia, does it provide the encyclopedic and neutral tone that Wikipedia seeks? Is "She" a technical term, or just mariner tradition? There is no evidence that using "she" is considered appropriate pronoun to use outside of mariner lingo. Sources have the freedom to express themselves in whatever tone they desire, if they want to use "she" to sound more personally invested in the ship, or consider it a living entity, or for tradition, its hard to say. But the common and more appropriate term to use in Wikipedia when attempting to be nuetral and an actual encyclopedia is to use "it".Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 20:51, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Use it because it is used by most style guides --In actu (Guerillero) Parlez Moi 19:15, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it - This is an encyclopedia. We're not here to maintain the bizarre, esoteric tradition of referring to an inanimate object as a gendered living thing. The fact that it's a strong tradition in the maritime community is irrelevant, because we're not a member of the maritime community, nor are we governed by maritime tradition. We're governed by common sense. ~Swarm~ {sting} 19:58, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Support standardizing on "it" — There are many compelling reasons to use "it", but the most compelling reason to me is that Wikipedia is ultimately here to provide knowledge: Simpler writing helps readers, while sexism distracts them (regardless of whether the usage is historically/etymologically sexist; that question is a red herring in this discussion). The counterarguments of preserving tradition or the elegance of writing do not nearly outweigh the improved utility to readers. —{{u|Goldenshimmer}} (they/them)|TalkContributions 23:11, 4 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. The practice of referring to ships with "she" is both sexist and, as the nominator notes, recommended against in modern style guides, so I see no reason to continue it here. (Also, for the record, the multiple jokes I've seen in this discussion about a ship's preferred pronouns are both transphobic and unfunny.) TheCatalyst31 ReactionCreation 01:51, 5 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. Unlike some other languages, English neuter nouns use neuter pronouns, unless you are writing poetry and want to personify the noun. This is so obvious that contrary arguments defy common sense. BeenAroundAWhile (talk) 02:54, 5 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose the use of "it", but in the interests of peace will accept the status quo. See Ballard, Robert D (1987), The Discovery of the Titanic, Madison Publishing Inc, I could see the Titanic as she slipped nose first into the glassy water. He consistently refers to all ships as "she" throughout the book. For those that don't know Ballard is an American goeologist specialising in marine exploration technology. He holds a PhD and is most famous for the discovery of the wreck of the Titanic; so not a "crusty old salt", probably not "pretentious and stupid" or whatever the latest insult being hurled around is. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 14:49, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
    • Is Ballard claiming that he witnessed Titanic being launched? He must be extraordinarily old! --The Huhsz (talk) 17:33, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
    • A 30-year-old book written by a guy who's now in his 70s about a ship from over 100 years ago. Who would ever call it "crusty old salt"? Levivich 17:52, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
    • I would suspect that Mr. Ballard might even call himself a "crusty old salt". An old salt is an old sailor who is often a raconteur, or teller of sea stories. Mr. Ballard retired from United States Navy Reserve in 1995, achieving the rank of commander after a 25-year career. He dedicated his life's work to searching for and telling the final stories of many lost vessels, spending at least twelve years searching for Titanic.
      The fact that a then-active naval officer refers to ships as "she" in a 1987 book is not at all surprising. It should be just as unsurprising that in 2019 we choose a different pronoun. CThomas3 (talk) 18:36, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
    • I don't understand why opposers think that citing a single example means anything in the context of this conversation, especially a 32-year-old exmaple, and especially when there are far more modern examples that use "it" than that use "she". I can even provide quotes from Robert Ballard where he uses "it": "I want to demonstrate that the Titanic is easily accessible, and has a much stronger statement to make, where it is" "The Titanic, because of its status, serves as a forum for us to talk about even bigger things," said Ballard --Ahecht (TALK
      PAGE
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  • @Ahecht: In my humble opinion, the reason why this debate is so long is because we're allowing the conversation to drift into irrelevant discussions. If it doesn't matter how many examples of "she" is used, then we need to steer the conversation on what does matters. If it provides the appropriate tone necessary to be considered neutral and encyclopedic. As of now, not a single opposer has been able to proven that this is appropriate for encyclopedic tone. And i think that's the discussion we need to focus on. At the same time, i don't believe we should use the sexist point. It can be considered sexist, but there's a bigger and more obvious reasons why we should avoid "she".Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 18:58, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
  • It. "She" is figurative and poetic, and we're an encyclopedia, we're supposed to be literal, and dry as old paint. "Just the facts, ma'am." "She" is an interesting and historical usage, and I'd love it if we had an article about why ships were called she, whether it's nurturing, or goddess, or whatever. But I don't want it getting in the way of an article on the dimensions of the latest nuclear powered aircraft carrier. --GRuban (talk) 15:26, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment I'm wondering if those who support "She" are willing to compromise for the standardization of "it" in Wikipedia, but create an article on the history of adding female pronouns to Ships, where it's origins came from, and which regions practice it. Also include it's decline of it being standard use of course.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 15:36, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment While "she" sounds strange and archaic to me, it does seem from the BBC example that this usage is still somewhat widespread in UK/Commonwealth English. Now Americans outnumber Brits so we could just outvote them, but that seems impolite. Maybe we could compromise by saying to usually use "it", but for British/Commonwealth Ships that "she" is OK too. Some details about how to treat pre-1776 ships associated with America but technically British would need to be agreed to, but I think that could be addressed on a case-by-case basis. I'm not sure what to do about Canada though since usage is about halfway between American and British. I don't recall this usage from the times I've been to Canada, but it's possible the topic just never came up. Perhaps someone from Canada could shed light on this by providing links to Canadian media to show if "she" is still in use up there. Anyway, I prefer compromise to controversy, and it seems maybe this is something more people could get behind. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.77.98.118 (talk) 18:15, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
    Given that the BBC's own published style guide recommends "it", as well as every other primarily British style guide we've been able to find guidance from (save the Economist), this doesn't appear to be an ENGVAR issue. See the WT:MOS#List of style guides section below. CThomas3 (talk) 19:14, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it for consistency with the listed style guides. In a modern context, the use of she for ships is artistic, but not encyclopedic. — Newslinger talk 21:49, 6 December 2019 (UTC)

Extended discussion of !votes[edit]

Discussion of Popcornduff's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support "it". This makes sense to me. I'm always in favour of a more modern, plain-English style. Popcornduff (talk) 14:00, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Agree Keith-264 (talk) 14:03, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Another modern style guide, the Guardian style guide, does not use "she". Popcornduff (talk) 15:10, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
We are not The Guardian. It is a liberal, left wing publication. It is simply wrong for Wikipedia to tamper with the language we are operating within. It doesn't matter if certain other style guides would like to present their publications in such a way that they promote a philosophy that their publication represents. We don't have an underlying philosophy that I'm aware of. Except to provide citations in support of all assertions that we make. We aren't constrained by an overriding philosophy that we try to promote at every opportunity. In making assertions we simply use the language that is available to us. Bus stop (talk) 17:26, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Except we do have an underlying philosophy: we comprehensively describe notable subjects of history using neutral language. The neutral way to describe an inanimate object is to use a gender-neutral pronoun. Those with a strong connection to a vessel, such as a builder who puts his or her sweat and toil into creating it, or a sailor who depends on it for his or her life and livelihood, clearly have the right to refer to it as "she" (or whatever pronoun they prefer). We as an encyclopedia, however, should stick to the facts: "it" is a ship. "It" was built on this date, "it" served in during this time period, and "it" achieved notability because of these actions. We should not flourish, we should not embellish, and we should not editorialize. To my way of thinking, even if we discount the potentially offensive nature of "she" and agree that it is an accepted term of respect for the ship, that's promoting a non-neutral philosophy in and of itself. I agree that it's a generally positive one, but still, it's non-neutral.
To me this is a similar situation to capitalizing "He/Him/His" when referring to major deities. It has been traditionally taught as the "correct" style, and it is still widely done by members of associated professions/religions and in "expert" writings on the subject. However, Wikipedia has rejected this style in the name of neutrality. We should reject ships as "she" for the same reason. CThomas3 (talk) 21:40, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • And what exactly isn't neutral about using she? Consistent use of 'she' is still around, although 'it' has also taken popularity. Both are acceptable, one just has a gender connotation assigned to it due to tradition. Kirbanzo (userpage - talk - contribs) 23:03, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Arguably, the reasons listed in the section #Why some people consider it sexist. Though I'm not sure this is neutral in the same sense as NPOV, so much as it is neutral in the sense of not standing out like a bright spot of color because it's discordant with modern usage or because it's perceived as sexist. -- Beland (talk) 03:09, 1 December 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Necrothesp's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose. Absolutely not. Why go against common English usage? Nothing "old-fashioned" about it. -- Necrothesp (talk) 14:09, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    • @Necrothesp: Could you cite an English language authority that documents that? "Old-fashioned" is the label applied by the Cambridge Dictionary, which seems relatively objective and well-researched, so I'm wondering on what basis we'd doubt it? -- Beland (talk) 15:48, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
      • The Royal Navy, for a start. [25], [26], [27], [28]. Then we've got BBC News, ITV News, HMS Victory, HMS Unicorn, the Ministry of Defence, the National Museum of the Royal Navy, HMS Warrior, the Royal Australian Navy, the Port of London Authority, the Scottish Government, etc, etc. -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:18, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
        • Excellent; thanks for those! It looks like several of them are actually just various parts of the Royal Navy or UK government agencies, so are a bit duplicative. But certainly the BBC and ITV are general audience media outlets, so that's a strong argument. Though there are some UK sources (Lloyd's List, the Guardian) that are against "she", the other style guides and navies I've seen documented are American, and the sources you've cited are British and Australian. Perhaps this usage is less acceptable in American English compared to other varieties? A lot of times British usage does sound quaint or old-fashioned to American ears. Should we try making a distinction between articles about American ships vs. those from other English-speaking countries? -- Beland (talk) 16:32, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
          • You can also add in the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea which are published by the International Maritime Organisation which is a specialised agency of the United Nations with 174 countries as members. Any master of a vessel navigating "upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith navigable by seagoing vessels" is required to know and abide by the regulations. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 17:41, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
            • Which style do they follow? It's worth pointing out that this is a technical source and not meant for a general audience. -- Beland (talk) 18:51, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
              • Sorry, from the context I thought it clear that they used "she". We could discuss "general audience", but the mandated audience includes all power, sailing and manually propelled vessels from supertankers down to paddleboards, including dinghies, canoes, windsurfers and jetskis. The UN is also usually regarded as a fairly reliable source! Martin of Sheffield (talk) 22:44, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
                • Given sailboats and supertankers don't read, I assume you mean the audience for those UN regulations is all operators of those watercraft? The audience of people who operate boats on the sea is pretty specialized compared with the audience of everyone who might read about boats because they are curious how they work or their role in history or something. I've rowed a canoe and powered a paddleboat and steered a small dinghy but never had to read any UN regulations - or any regulations whatsoever - though perhaps that was because we were on rivers and lakes? -- Beland (talk) 23:08, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
                  • Oops, yes - clearly the masters and watchkeepers. The colregs apply to "the high seas and in all waters connected therewith navigable by seagoing vessels", so a lake or river into which a seagoing vessel could not navigate is not included in them. On the other hand, most national bodies extend a modified version of the international regs to include enclosed waters. Depending upon which country you are in, the regulations may be promulgated by the Coast Guard or a similar organisation and made into law by your national govenment. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 23:35, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
                  • I'm in the United States; there are lots of complicated and disputed rules about which water is subject to federal vs. state law, so I don't know if federal jurisdiction applied to my situation or not. But there's no one at the beach stopping me from putting my paddleboard into federal waters until I've read the relevant Coast Guard regulations, and no one expects me to have done so. Even for driving, where the roads are clearly governed under state law and I had to get a license and pass a test, hardly anyone actually reads the laws, which are written in legal jargon. The state produces a driver's manual which is written in language appropriate for a general audience. -- Beland (talk) 00:03, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
                    • This is getting way off topic. If you go to the US Coast Guard web site you'll find all the information you require. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 15:18, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
                      • My point is I don't require this information, nor do most people, even people on the water. I did poke around a bit on the USCG web site looking for traffic laws. I ended up in the US Code, which is not written in a style suitable for a general audience, unless you think English should capitalize all important nouns and number paragraphs. -- Beland (talk) 16:07, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
            • Per: This. ~ R.T.G 12:53, 5 December 2019 (UTC)
          • @Beland: A lot of times British usage does sound quaint or old-fashioned to American ears. Trust me, that works the other way around too! -- Necrothesp (talk) 11:47, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Lyndaship's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose. Never come across an RS we use on ships articles which doesn't use the feminine form Lyndaship (talk) 14:11, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    • @Lyndaship: Out of curiosity, do you write articles about military ships, civilian, or both? I'm curious if there's a difference in practice. Also curious if these sources are post-2000? There seems to have been a significant change in the acceptability of this usage from prior decades. -- Beland (talk) 15:48, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
      • That's an interesting point which I can't really answer as the vast majority of books I use were first published before 2000, looking in the few more recent ones they all use she. They are mostly on military ships Lyndaship (talk) 16:15, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    • These are easy to find - for example, coverage of ships in sources such as the Guardian.[29] Popcornduff (talk) 15:50, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
      • The Guardian bless its (her) cotton socks is not usually a source of first call for writing a ship article. The Guardian in another article quotes a Royal Navy spokesperson as saying they will always use she for ships Lyndaship (talk) 16:03, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
        • But the Guardian is written for a general audience, like Wikipedia, but the Royal Navy is more like a technical source that has its own jargon. Given the trend of language change, I doubt it will "always" use "she"; the US Navy in contrast has already declared a change. -- Beland (talk) 16:07, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
          • The Guardian tends to reflect its PC readership rather than been written for a general readership. Looking at sources online which we use in ships articles such as uboat.net and wrecksite.eu "she" is used, on other sites I see some of "the ship" but not "it". God bless it and all who sail in it? Lyndaship (talk) 16:47, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
            • The Guardian is just one example - the point is that many RSs aimed at a general readership use "it", so maybe we should do the same. Popcornduff (talk) 17:25, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
            • But only the Guardian has been given as an example. Hers some links to the Daily Telegraph [30], Daily Mail [31], The Times [32], Daily Express [33] and The Sun [34] who all use the feminine form and all have alarger circulation than the Guardian Lyndaship (talk) 18:08, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
              Hers some links – Funny how the mind plays tricks. EEng 19:09, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
            • I don't think leaning liberal or leaning conservative disqualifies a source from being intended for a general audience, as opposed to a technical audience. I wouldn't dismiss a public news outlet that uses "she" for ships because it was too conservative. -- Beland (talk) 17:48, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
              • "God bless her and all who sail in her" definitely sounds more old-fashioned to me compared to "God bless it and all who sail in it", but these are phrases that would be spoken in a formal, highly traditional and old-fashioned ship-blessing ceremony, not something that Wikipedia or the even the BBC would say in its own voice. A substantial portion of readers don't even believe in God, so it would not be neutral either. -- Beland (talk) 19:00, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Use the sourcing preference. I would expect that for most ships pre-1980/2000-ish, "she" and other female pronouns were used commonly, and would be used today for talking about older ships (eg Titanic), but for newer vessels, non-gender pronouns like "it" are more common. If it is not clear from sources, I would say if the vessel was launched post 2000, we should try to default to "it" over "she". --Masem (t) 14:31, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Crook1's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose. As someone whose mother tongue is not English, I can tell you that referring to ship as 'she' is not confusing at all. Ships also referred to as 'she' in foreign languages. Moreover, the statement implies that all foreigners are dumb and stupid and I have an issue with such a blanket statement. Since it is already optional to use either 'she' or 'it', the whole matter should be decided by people who actually spend time and resources writing such articles as seen fit. The usage of 'she' is historical and used in most sourcing materials in XIX or XX centuries. It is also plain, obvious and unambiguous.Crook1 (talk) 15:06, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    • Well, not all people who are learning English as a second language are foreigners of whatever country you're talking about. I'm a native English speaker, and on occasion I've been momentarily confused as to what the female pronoun is referring to. I would hope no one would feel stupid for being confused by bad writing that's not their fault. History articles about the 1800s don't use the grammar and vocabulary of the 1800s; that would be too difficult for modern readers to understand. I don't see why we'd make an exception just for ships. -- Beland (talk) 15:45, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
      • We don't. It's still common usage today. -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:05, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
        • @Necrothesp: Common where? I've seen sources documenting it's preferred by the Royal Navy and the British Marine Industries Federation, but all the sources I've seen seem to imply that it has become uncommon among the general public and written English in both mainstream and maritime publications outside these organizations. -- Beland (talk) 16:20, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
          • Given the citations that have been provided that the terminology is still being used in many places, this really does seem like a case of WP:IDONTLIKEIT. And what about terms like sister ship and mother ship? Maybe they should be renamed sibling ship and parent ship! -- Necrothesp (talk) 16:24, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
            Agree or disagree, in no way is this an IDONTLIKEIT argument. Beland has brought forward plenty of sources, like every single style guide. All the counter sources so far have been British. Levivich 15:53, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
            I think the most pertinent question is: what is sexist about referring to a ship as "she"? I don't think anyone has tried to address that question. Bus stop (talk) 16:04, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
            I don't think the question of whether or not this is sexist is a useful one to discuss. There's no general agreement on that point and there's no way we'd reach consensus. And frankly, if we agree it makes us sound like an old-timey sailor, or that it has just fallen out of common usage, the sexism question doesn't matter. -- Beland (talk) 16:15, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
          • To be fair, you just added those sources (thank you for that!) and I hadn't come across them in my research. -- Beland (talk) 16:26, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
            • Indeed I did, but to be fair a Google search beforehand could have uncovered them! That's all I did. -- Necrothesp (talk) 11:50, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
          • This is the first proposal in this discussion concerning "mother ship" or "sister ship". Do you see evidence of language change with regard to those terms or changing guidance from other style manuals? -- Beland (talk) 18:48, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
            • No, I wasn't being serious! But it is a fair point. These terms are derived from the fact that ships are traditionally referred to as "she". If one is "sexist", then surely the others must be too. -- Necrothesp (talk) 11:50, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
              • Sure, that's an entirely reasonable position. Some people do say "parent ship" which could be viewed as a non-sexist alternative, though if there is a language shift happening there, I don't think it's as clear as she/it. -- Beland (talk) 14:46, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
                • Meh. We talk in nuclear physics about daughter nuclei but I've never seen a physics book refer to a nucleus as "she". --The Huhsz (talk) 23:57, 4 December 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Popcornduff's comment[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment: We can't base our MoS entirely on how external sources write. For a start, sources usually write in different ways (some RSs use "she", some don't). Besides, we have to create a style that suits our own needs and goals, and is consistent across articles and Wikipedia's general tone of voice. As far as I know WP:RS is not a requirement to reflect the language choices of sources, only facts. Popcornduff (talk) 16:00, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Parts of the overall MOS defer to sources for guidance. MOS:TM particularly for things like stylized names, etc. Nothing different at play here. I know there's something comfy in an absolute MOS rule, but we have to be flexible. --Masem (t) 17:18, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    Yeah, I understand that we need localised consensus for different areas of the encyclopaedia, because it needs to write about different things. What I mean is that we also have many MoS standards that apply to the encyclopaedia as a whole. But that was probably an irrelevant point to raise - the thing I'm trying to get at is that we needn't slavishly reproduce the writing styles of RSs simply because they're RSs. Popcornduff (talk) 17:22, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    MOS:TM does the opposite of deferring to sources. It's quite clear that we choose, from among styles in use, the one that's closest to a normal-looking proper name. Hence Lego, not LEGO, even though the latter is more common in sources. Dicklyon (talk) 06:49, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    iPhone, eBay, etc. we do defer to sources as to deciding whether unusual capitalizations are widely used instead of "normal-looking" ones. (And I don't think the all-caps form of Lego is actually more common, except maybe in specialist magazines.) oknazevad (talk) 22:34, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I agree with Masem, also per WP:RETAIN if that usage was already established in the ship's article. For an older ship's article that is recently created, use the usage per the sources for that ship. Vaselineeeeeeee★★★ 16:12, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Our current policy and guidance would support this approach. Currently, BOTH usages are considered acceptable (with the caveat that we be consistent within any given article), and once a usage is established we should not change it without discussion and consensus. We could thus adopt Massem’s suggestion with minimum disruption. It can be seen as a clarification of current guidance, not a rejection of it. Blueboar (talk) 17:07, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Well, this is a discussion about changing the usage, so I'm not sure "we should not change it without discussion and consensus" is an argument one way or the other? -- Beland (talk) 18:44, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of ThoughtIdRetired's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly oppose. (1) Looking at the essay WP:MODERNLANG, it says, for example: "... Note: Although they can safely be replaced with among and while, amongst and whilst are still commonly used in British English." So, if a form is becoming archaic, but is still in use, it is OK to use in Wikipedia. (2) To what extent is "she" (for ships) archaic? Lots of actual and implied cites from both sides of the argument here - so I suggest it has some way to go before it could be labelled archaic. As a cited form, I would add Practical Boat Owner, a widely respected magazine that uses "she" (e.g.[35]) - I suspect that doing otherwise would lose them readers. (3) The fact that both forms are to be found outside Wikipedia seems to be a good case for maintaining the status quo within Wikipedia - i.e. both "she" and "it" are acceptable, but you may not swap an article to the other form. (4) Is anyone offended by "she" for a ship? I don't know, but if they are, then they should be offended by (in Latin) mensa (f) (a table) or (in French) la plume (f) (the pen). (4) The argument: "but language evolves". This statement is correct, but it should be allowed to evolve at its natural rate. That allows us and future generations to understand reasonably fully William Shakespeare and the King James Bible, and with no difficulty William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, and many others. I do not believe that the essay on which this proposal is based seeks to unnaturally accelerate language change. However, I think the proposal does. Therefore the proposal should be rejected. ThoughtIdRetired (talk) 20:07, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    • Yes, some people are offended about the use of "she" for ships to the point they are moved to repeatedly vandalizing the Scottish Maritime Museum, which is changing its signage in response. There are certainly movements to deal with some unfortunate implications of grammatical gender in other languages, but I don't see how those are relevant to an English usage question. I also haven't proposed "some people find it offensive" as a reason for changing the guideline, though that may be the reason the language is itself changing. -- Beland (talk) 23:13, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
      In considering offence, I was looking for any possible justification for following your proposal. I have to add that I react badly (i.e. a detuned sort of offence) to people trying to mess with the English language and the associated maritime heritage. Of course, you might well regard that as a little precious (most instances of anything approaching offence are susceptible to such an accusation). I am not alone in this sort of thinking - so being offended by the choice of usage is not just the preserve of those who advocate "it". Of course, I would hope never to vandalise a museum label and I can get along (I hope!) with any diversity of opinion within Wikipedia. What I am advocating is that we continue with the existing rule on "she for ships", which is acceptance of diversity of opinion.ThoughtIdRetired (talk) 23:54, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
    • Interesting that Practical Boat Owner is also British, which fits in with the American/Commonwealth differences cited above. -- Beland (talk) 23:15, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
      So is this a British English versus American English issue? What about the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea using "she/her" - surely this is an intergovernmental organisation?ThoughtIdRetired (talk) 23:31, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Trovatore's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Look, let's get one thing out of the way — saying that an argument is ILIKEIT or IDONTLIKEIT is not a refutation; not on style issues. Although we will never go too far from what other publications are doing, there is no "reliable source" for what our style should be. It is always, at some level, going to come down to preference.
    Popcornduff is "always in favour of a more modern, plain-English style", and is absolutely entitled to that preference and to push for WP to move closer to it. But others are just as entitled to favor a more traditional, elegant style, and to militate for
    that preference.
    One of the things Wikipedia does best, given this sort of dispute, is simply not choose between them. I think that's what we should do here. --Trovatore (talk) 22:07, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
I must object to the suggestion that a more modern style is less "elegant". ;P Popcornduff (talk) 22:47, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
You don't find it less elegant, but many do. I think this is necessarily going to come down to subjective questions like that, and we might as well accept that and get on with it. --Trovatore (talk) 23:43, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
It is a simple matter of logic that the "more modern" style is less "elegant", because a writer using the "older" style has available (in many situations) 2 pronouns to use ("it" and "she" or "its" and "her"), so allowing sentences that employ these pronouns to refer to 2 different entities (when one of them is a ship or a boat). In short, there are situations when use of "she/her" is easier to read.ThoughtIdRetired (talk) 23:15, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
That has to be some of the most desperate reasoning I’ve ever heard. EEng 04:55, 23 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Beland's question[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Question! Given the research editors have done in response to this question, it looks like there may be a strong divide between American usage, which seems to be against "she" for ships (haven't seen an exception so far) and British/Commonwealth usage, where the practice is disfavored in some general-audience publications but continues in some important ones like major broadcasters. How would editors feel about keeping the two varieties but more closely following national practice? Specifically, I mean changing the advice to say that articles written in American English should use "it" for ships, but articles in other varieties of English are free to use either variety as long as they do it consistently and aren't changed back and forth arbitrarily? -- Beland (talk) 23:22, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

This is just going over already very well-trampled ground. Links to the even longer previous discussions are needed. Johnbod (talk) 23:30, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
@Johnbod: Any pointers? The only previous discussion I found was from almost 20 years ago, and was arguing about whether or not this usage was offensive, which is a different question than whether or not it is archaic or regional or confusing or advised against by widely accepted style guides or general-audience publications. -- Beland (talk) 00:09, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
There was a huge one, I think in the last 2 years. I'm not a nautical editor - ask at the specialist pages, & MILHIST. This discussion shouldn't proceed without notifying specialist projects. Johnbod (talk) 00:12, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
@Johnbod: WP:MILHIST and WP:SHIPS have already been notified; I'm not sure what else you might be referring to? -- Beland (talk) 02:33, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
Ok, good. Well, it certainly wasn't 20 years ago (well before WP was online, btw). Let's hope someone with a link comes along. Johnbod (talk) 02:46, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
I did a search of MOS talk pages and found a bunch. Added a list to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive (ships as "she") and will add this one there when it's archived. -- Beland (talk) 16:32, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
Here is an example of US usage of "she" in Wooden Boat magazine[36]. I found this in less than a minute. I suspect there are plenty more.ThoughtIdRetired (talk) 00:02, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
The attribution at the bottom says the author is based in Nova Scotia, so that seems like an example of Canadian English, which tends to be partway between American and British. -- Beland (talk) 00:09, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
So try another article from Wooden Boat - here[37] is one written by an US writer who teaches teaches writing and literature at Phillips Academy, Andover. He also holds a 100-ton masters license and has logged over one hundred thousand miles at sea, mostly in traditional working vessels. Needless to say, he uses female pronouns for ships.ThoughtIdRetired (talk) 09:35, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
OK, that's interesting; it's not purely British. This is definitely a specialist publication though, so it doesn't bear on usage when writing for a general audience. -- Beland (talk) 16:32, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Levivich's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. She is outdated and sexist, a vestige of the days when women were not considered to be fully people. Sources have abandoned the usage, except apparently in Britain and some areas of the nautical community. Wikipedia is for an international audience and should follow the prevalent modern usage. Levivich 16:11, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    • ...a vestige of the days when women were not considered to be fully people. What a ridiculous notion. Of course it isn't. It's an acknowledgement that the ship was regarded as the seaman's mother (hence the term mothership for larger ships that looked after smaller ships and boats). What on earth could be sexist or offensive about that? How on earth is that implying that women were not considered to be "fully people"? Honestly, people really do need to get out more. -- Necrothesp (talk) 11:57, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
      • Having two sets of pronouns, one for men, and one for women and some inanimate objects, does raise the question why inanimate objects would be grouped with women and not men. It is true that women had far fewer rights in the England of previous centuries, so that seems like a reasonable inference. Regarding ships as mothers and not fathers does not make much sense in a society that doesn't have some sort of strong (arguably sexist) difference in gender roles that would make mothers and fathers worth distinguishing. -- Beland (talk) 14:51, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    I don't think many fathers have fully-developed placentas. Bus stop (talk) 15:20, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    That doesn't make fathers ineligible to be considered parents. Maybe that's the difference in perspective? Some people say "men and women should be treated differently because they have different roles in reproduction!" and other people say "men and women should be treated the same because they are all people with equal rights and capabilities!" I have to say "a boat can't be a man because men don't have wombs" does sound sexist when I say it out loud because it doesn't seem like a reasonable qualification for the job. In fact women have been excluded from navies for a long time because they have wombs. -- Beland (talk) 21:17, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    Ships were referred to in the female tense to acknowledge their power, importance, beauty, and attractiveness; hardly prejudicial notions against womankind. Broichmore (talk) 14:39, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
    A fair number of people would consider that sentiment sexist because it focuses on women's beauty more than attributes like intelligence, and because by choosing women and not people in general for these attributes, implies that beauty and attractiveness are not masculine attributes, essentially reinforcing stereotypes that are harmful to people of both of these genders. -- Beland (talk) 21:51, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
    Well then maybe it's prejudicial to man-kind. I can't believe people are still spouting this don't-you-enjoy-being-put-on-a-pedestal? dreck this late in the day. EEng 14:59, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
    You see, it's not that we were sexist, we just didn't want them to be burdened with the stress of voting and employment and entering into contracts without their husband's approval, because we care about women so much, because they are so important, powerful, and attractive, which we would show them with a friendly pat on the bum. Levivich 17:52, 6 December 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Andrew D.'s !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose The modern fashion is that gender pronouns are a matter of choice and so we should not have a prescriptive rule. See also WP:CREEP. Andrew D. (talk) 11:52, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    Good point. We should only refer to a ship as "she" if the ship tells us that’s the ship's preferred pronoun. Otherwise, we should default to "it". Agree? Levivich 14:13, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    I suppose I should have pointed out in my earlier post [38] that referring to a transoceanic vessel as “it” is highly offensive. EEng 12:13, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    Yikes. Just yikes. Please purge this atrocious, gratuitously offensive attempt at humour at the expense of trans people from Wikipedia. That is all. Archon 2488 (talk) 19:01, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    Lipstick on a submersible pig? Martinevans123 (talk) 12:22, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    Her Majesty's Ships are commonly christened by the Queen herself. For example, in the recent case of her namesake, the Queen said, "I name this ship QUEEN ELIZABETH. May God bless her and all who sail in her." The Queen's English should obviously apply to such a vessel, and as she uses female pronouns then so should we. Andrew D. (talk) 17:13, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    I’m American. Levivich 23:28, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    I don't think Wikipedia's voice should sound like the Queen of England; that would definitely be old-fashioned and overly formal, and would also involve using the royal "we". -- Beland (talk) 06:25, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    "Empire Wine"??. Martinevans123 (talk) 21:22, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Mx. Granger's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. Should be common sense—we should follow the standard usage in modern reliable sources and style guides. Our articles that use "she" look antiquated and conspicuous. Usage in other languages, which is one argument that has been brought up in favor of "she", is not relevant because this is the English Wikipedia. —Granger (talk · contribs) 08:11, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    • Yes, English Wikipedia, not American English Wikipedia! Plenty of evidence has been provided that common usage in Britain and the Commonwealth remains "she", and that many of us do not consider it to be "antiquated and conspicuous" in the slightest. Nor is it in any way sexist. -- Necrothesp (talk) 11:40, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
      • @Necrothesp: Given that, how would you feel about modifying the rule to say articles written in American English should use "it", and other dialects should follow this existing rule? -- Beland (talk) 14:54, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
        • I don't really think we need a "rule" at all. Wikipedia has never been about rules. -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:08, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
          • So you'd be in favor of deleting the Manual of Style entirely, or what? -- Beland (talk) 21:18, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Necrothesp's comment[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment. Note that when the Scottish Maritime Museum decided earlier this year to start using "it" to refer to vessels, it was hugely reported in the British media and caused quite a stir ([39], [40], [41], [42], [43], [44], [45]). That surely proves that "she" is still overwhelmingly used for vessels in Britain and attempts to use "it" are considered unusual. Our common usage policy and WP:ENGVAR therefore mandates that we do not enforce some misguided attempt to standardise usage on Wikipedia. -- Necrothesp (talk) 12:05, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    • That surely proves that "she" is still overwhelmingly used for vessels No, it doesn't. It only proves that there is a tradition of using it. Popcornduff (talk) 12:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
      • If that were the case and it wasn't the commonly used term then the media would hardly have bothered reporting on it! -- Necrothesp (talk) 14:26, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
        • That doesn't follow. This was reported exactly because a long-held tradition is being overturned. These examples are contrary to your argument. Popcornduff (talk) 14:33, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
          • No, my argument is that common British English usage is "she". Why on earth is a change of usage by one single, solitary museum undermining that argument? It was reported because it's unusual and therefore was felt worthy of attention, not because it signals some massive change. -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:11, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
            • The museum only brings the discussion up outside of Wikipedia. But the inconsistency should still be addressed. Also, can you prove that the common usage british is "She"? You'll have to find british sources that are not experts in ships use she instead of it. Even if that was true, you would only prove its regional, not universal. Does british english go against "it"? If not, i think it makes more sense to push for standardization to use it if most regions consider it acceptable for encyclopedic use.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 16:03, 5 December 2019 (UTC)
                • Every imagining of a boat may spark a conversation, but that does not mean Wikipedia should be appearing to join in the conversation, me hearties. ~ R.T.G 13:55, 6 December 2019 (UTC)
            • All of those articles are about ONE MAN (a retired navy chief) complaining about the change. You have links in there from Express and Daily Mail. Two of your links are duplicates. What's left is: the BBC quoting the complaining man as saying There is nothing wrong sometimes with being sort of dated - some things that are dated are there for very good reasons and I am very proud of that. [46] The Independent writing A maritime museum has begun referring to ships using gender-neutral terminology to recognise “changes in society” ... The museum is not the first maritime organisation to drop gendered pronouns. [47] Telegraph noting Lloyd's List, a weekly shipping publication which ran in print for more than 250 years, has already abandoned centuries of seafaring tradition by calling all vessels 'it'. Julian Bray, the former editor, wrote: "The shipping industry does need to move forward if it is not to risk becoming a backwater of international business. [48]. ITV noting Lloyd's List, a shipping publication, made moves to stop using female and feminine names in 2002. (emphasis added) [49]. I mean, damn, this really proves the point – society has moved on, and no longer calls ships "she".
              • I mean, damn, this really proves the point – society has moved on, and no longer calls ships "she". The only point proven is that some advocate for change. I think Wikipedia should be laggards in dropping the use of "she" and "her" in relation to ships. (By the way, please sign your posts, Levivich. And while you're at it could you please eliminate the odd, off-kilter aspect of your signature?) Bus stop (talk) 15:58, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
                • No. Levivich 06:00, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
                  So there! EEng 06:04, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Atsme's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Levivich 22:12, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - according to tradition (and superstition) "she" relates to a mother or goddess who guides and protects the ship and its crew. Atsme Talk 📧 18:25, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • @Atsme: but what does that have to do with anything relevant to the discussion? There's no denial there is a cultural reason for it, but why should we use it for encyclopedic reasons?Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 18:31, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Uhm...while this isn't about a specific human name or title, there are some useful parallels in WP:COMMONNAME. Since ships are inanimate objects that have no gender, we turn to traditional and common usage. Atsme Talk 📧 18:44, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I dont believe that ships are commonly referred to as "she" among the common readers. I understand tradition and those within the know will use "she" like jargon, but i don't think its beneficial in Wikipedia to be inconsistent about it. Either we use "she" all the time, or we use "it" all the time.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 18:51, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
No one thinks a ship is really female. And no one thinks that females are comparable to ships. We should not change language because some make unhinged arguments. Please tell me how referring to a ship as "she" or "her" is sexist. Bus stop (talk) 19:06, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
If you don't think it's actually female, you should have no problem following MOS:GNL. There's a whole damn section right below this entitled #Why some people consider it sexist in which you have comented. You don't want someone to explain why its sexist to you; it has been you just don't believe it and are being uncooperative. If you have some form of amnesia and legitimately do not remember reading, commenting in, or even the existence of that section: scroll down. No one is arguing to change language despite your hyperbole. Editors, including myself have shown corpus evidence that shows a century long decline in uses of "she" in reference to ships, I've shown that across millions of books for the past 30 years a supermajority of collocations with "ship" use the neuter pronoun. Multiple contemporary style guides recommend against the uses of "she" and the continued denial of these in order to push some superstition or historical pretension is annoying to say the least. Bludgeoning the process by repeating the same claims editors have rejected will not make them true. If your points are actually strong people will agree with them without you making the same tired arguments over and over again across threads. Wug·a·po·des​ 19:30, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
MOS:GNL says Ships may be referred to using either feminine forms ("she", "her", "hers") or neuter forms ("it", "its"). Either usage is acceptable, but each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively. Bus stop (talk) 19:44, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
It's safe to say the MOS is in question. So bringing up the MOS, isn't a valid reason to not change it.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 19:47, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I introduced the wording to this discussion only for informational purposes. It wasn't in this discussion previously. Bus stop (talk) 19:52, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
It also says, at the very beginning before the exception quoted, "Use gender-neutral language...where this can be done with clarity and precision" and the point here is that we can do so---following the spirit of the guideline---without some archaic exception for ships. (edit conflict) Wug·a·po·des​ 19:57, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
"some archaic exception for ships" Does anyone really think ships are female? Does anyone really think females are like ships? I think the answer to both questions is "no". The policy is fine as it is: "Either usage is acceptable, but each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively." Bus stop (talk) 20:28, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
You literally had an exchange below where in multiple comments you compared women and ships to each other. If ships were called "he" we would be implying that they were prone to sinking. We use "she" because we would like to think that a ship will stay afloat. This is analogous to our preference for liking to think that a female will carry a pregnancy to birth and that both will survive a hazardous journey. A ship is analogous to pregnancy in that it provides life-support to vulnerable inhabitants. When an editor pointed out how absurd that sounded, you switched to arguing about "refinement" and back tracking by claiming that no one thinks women are like ships despite editors above making such claims (e.g. GoodDay's comment: ships are considered to be (like females) unpredictable. If you really think (1) ships are not women (2) women are not ships (3) English does not have grammatical gender, then you should have no problem recommending the use of "it" makes clear that ships are not women, women are not ships, and follows the contemporary English grammar as shown by corpora and style guides. It's obvious you just like the gendered form and find the neuter "coarse" and "unrefined", but your delicate sensibilities do not change the century long trend in usage and obvious contemporary style. It's ironic that you're criticizing others for trying to change language and poor rationales when below you've cherry picked sources and here have resigned to simply claiming that you like it. I don't have any interest in arguing this point further because I doubt it will be productive, but I wanted to point out to you how poorly your arguments come across given your constant comments and changes of tack. I suggest you read this section of WP:BLUDGEON specifically You have already made your points clear and hammering them is disruptive....Each time you use an argument, it becomes weaker. Continuing to argue the same point doesn't reinforce it and can be annoying to others who have already considered your opinion. and consider how it applies to this situation. Wug·a·po·des​ 21:29, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Sandstein's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section Ahecht (TALK
PAGE
) 19:50, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it. This conforms to current style guides and increasing practice. It is also less surprising for readers who are unaware of the "she" convention, leaving them to wonder who this woman is we seem to refer to in ship articles. Sandstein 12:29, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    As an educational entity the encyclopedia should expose readers to a firmly entrenched facet of the English language rather than shield them from a grammatical nuance that they may find initially off-putting. I don't know that "less surprising" is a valid argument. Bus stop (talk) 14:56, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    WP:NOTTEXTBOOK is a good counter-point.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 15:14, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    Blue Pumpkin Pie—wouldn't we be sweeping under the rug a well-established practice by eliminating the pronouns "she" and "her" from ships? Isn't it irresponsible of us to suppress a standard aspect of the language? Bus stop (talk) 15:36, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    A well-established practice and a standard aspect of the language are two different situations in my eyes. I do see this as a common practice among those with inclinations to ships, but i do not see this as a standard aspect of the english language. To me, it is jargon and has more cultural roots and most definitely not universal.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 15:59, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    I can see little reason to dismiss those aspects that are firmly entrenched in the language. We do not make up the English language. The English language pre-exists before we set about writing an encyclopedia with it. We use the language as we find it. Any reconstructing of the language constitutes artificiality and contrivance, making us activists rather than simply impartial conveyors of reliably-sourced information, as we purport to be. Bus stop (talk) 16:24, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    If this was universal among all regions or even if it was universal among one specific region of english speakers, i would incline to agree that it is a standard. But the usage is not consistent enough to suggest this is "standard" english. If it was a standard, it wouldn't be so inconsistent. Using "it" is a standard across all english-speaking languages even if not all regions use it as consistent as others makes more sense to me than using an archaic form of describing ships that isn't accepted in all english-speaking regions. This has nothing to do with being an activist. i have no political view on this.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 16:36, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    You are splitting hairs. "She" and "her" is in widespread use for ships and even if its use is on the decline it is not our job to obviate its use. Bus stop (talk) 16:47, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    I'm not splitting hairs. I'm providing clarity on my stance on how i see this. I rather we be consistent than inconsistent, and using "it" just is the more logical sense. We lose nothing of encyclopedic value by choosing "it" over "she/her". It would be more beneficial because we will be consistent with other english-speaking regions that don't do this.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 16:50, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    "We lose nothing of encyclopedic value" You are pretending that the language is not of "encyclopedic value". In this instance I think the language is of encyclopedic value. We certainly should be conveying to the reader that ships are commonly referred to as "she" and "her". Bus stop (talk) 18:13, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    That information can and should be included in an article on nautical jargon. Your argument makes about as much sense as advocating that the article on Shakespeare should be in the form of a sonnet. EEng 19:42, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    Obviously I disagree. Ruling out normal language constitutes a dumbing-down of the project especially at those articles (on ships) that would naturally use that language. The problem here is the insistence on consistency across the project; we don't need a community-wide policy on normal language, and policy presently allows for this variation but only requires consistency of this sort within a given article. This will be my final word on this subject and in this discussion. Under discussion are not Shakespeare sonnets but rather fairly standard English. Bus stop (talk) 20:02, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Bus stop, yes, we do try not to surprise our readers with difficult or unusual language. We try to keep things simple. Many of our readers do not have English as their first language, or may have little formal education (or exposure to nautical literature). See WP:SURPRISE (not to be confused with HMS Surprise). Sandstein 17:28, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • I disagree. There is not a one-size-fits-all formula for when to "surprise" and when not to "surprise". That is because we are an educational institution. The problem with this solution is that it places the reader in the dark about an important practice, that being the practice of referring to ships as "she" and "her". Of course "its" works. It would be laughable to think that "its" does not serve this purpose, and current policy allows for both possibilities, but not in the same article. But when speaking about ships there is a longstanding practice to refer to ships as "she" and "her". The solution being debated in this discussion is to shield readers from that practice despite the subject matter of the article being specifically about ships. WP:SURPRISE has its applicability—editors writing about ships can alert readers that contrary to usual practice, ships are often referred to as "she" and "her". This preserves the language and avoids WP:SURPRISE. One reason some will not like that solution is that it preserves what they see as sexism, and I'm sure other reasons would be presented as well. Bus stop (talk) 18:04, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • I respect your view, but to point out the implications...if we follow the logic of allowing the full variation of the English language in order to demonstrate to readers the full range, that would also overturn the consensus in favor of using gender-neutral terms like "flight attendant" instead of "steward and stewardess". And also pretty much every other rule in the Manual of Style. Indeed, the whole point of a style guide is to constrain usage more narrowly than the constraints of generally accepted English usage; otherwise, any book on English grammar and usage would probably do. Professional organizations have style guides because using the full variation of English expression results in a publication that looks unprofessional, is slightly harder to read because readers need to know how to interpret all the variations, and distracts readers from the information we're trying to convey. There's widespread consensus that Wikipedia should have a Manual of Style, and if we want to reconsider that, it's a much bigger conversation. -- Beland (talk) 19:22, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
  • "There's widespread consensus that Wikipedia should have a Manual of Style, and if we want to reconsider that, it's a much bigger conversation. A straw man argument is a form of argument based on giving the impression of refuting an argument while actually refuting an argument that was never presented in the first place. Bus stop (talk) 03:19, 1 December 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Mjroots's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section. Levivich 01:04, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - there is no need to change the accepted convention that it is the writer of the article's choice on whether to use "she" or "it". If you want more ship articles written in the neuter, then there are many thousands of ships that have redlinks and need articles writing on them. The solution is at your fingertips. Mjroots (talk) 03:51, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    • That doesn't really solve the problem of existing articles sounding like old-fashioned sailors, to most Americans at least. -- Beland (talk) 16:20, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    What you are failing to understand is that sailors are associated with ships. Their language usage has bearing on this question. I'm American and I once traveled by ship. I heard the reference to the ship as "she" and at first I was startled. After a nanosecond's thinking about it, it made sense to me, and it did not sound old-fashioned. When you are on a ship at sea (or at least far from shore) it is your life-support. This is not dissimilar to the life-support provided by a female for a gestating young. These are just linguistic analogies. There is nothing remotely sexist about them. What you are trying to do is rewire the brain. It thinks in a certain way because some pieces of information are analogous to other pieces of information. Bus stop (talk) 16:49, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    Thank your for helping us understand that sailors are associated with ships. EEng 02:54, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    Sure, that narrow analogy is relatively defensible, and if that were the only implication of this choice and there were no other context, it might not be a big deal. It's far from the only explanation given as to why ships are "she", many of which are satirical and blatantly sexist. It still results in comparisons between women and inanimate objects without also comparing men to inanimate objects (unlike male and female connectors, or languages with grammatical gender), causing inanimate objects to share pronouns with only women - implying they have lower status. And among other things it results in the weirdness that ships can't be male, even if they have male names. -- Beland (talk) 16:08, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of SMcCandish's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section. Levivich 01:04, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Use it. (But we need not add a rule saying this, just remove the pseudo-rules calling for she, which I think are in three different pages here but were inserted without any consensus record we can find in the talk page archives). We've been over this many times before, seemingly about every year or so (mostly at article talk pages). I concur with various respondents above (and in every previous round of this recurrent discussion, and now below) that she is an archaic, pretentious affectation and rather sexist (or often perceived as such), as well as peculiar to a few narrow spheres of writing (and outside them to a few particular publishers who like to do some old-fashioned things as a branding mechanism), to the extent it's still used at all any longer beyond historical fiction. "Well, sailors and navy people do it" = WP:SSF. And we've also now seen sources disproving that navy people always do it, including in the UK where someone below asserts without evidence that she is a norm and it uncommon.

    Look, WP does not care what specialists do when writing for other specialists, because WP isn't a specialist publication, and it is not possible to account for every stylistic whim of every specialization, or WP would basically be unreadable, and editors would spend almost all their time fighting for control over articles that are within the scopes of multiple specialties. This is covered in the MoS FAQ at the top of this talk page.

    We developed an in-house style guide for very good reasons, and it follows contemporary, mainstream, formal English for very good reasons. WP isn't written in salty dialect, headache-inducing jargon, bleeding-edge slang, or quaint Victorianisms. When other major style guides are in favor of it, then so is WP, for the same reason we don't write ain't, refer to problems as ornery, conclude that positive reviews make a movie badass, introduce a quotation with sayeth, or refer to a hiccup as a synchronous diaphragmatic flutter. Maybe more to the sexism point and the inappropriateness of writing the encyclopedia in the in-group lingo of one of our subjects, WP does not refer to the girlfriend of a male rapper or a Hell's Angels biker as his "bitch". It does not matter that he does and that his fellows do, or even that hip-hop and biker magazines might also do it.

    Soon or later it just has to sink in that WP follows topical sources for facts pertaining to the topic not for how to write about the the facts and the topic for an encyclopedic audience. How can we still be having this kind of discussion after 18 years? And with the same few people who absolutely know better by now, but for some reason just will not give up trying to make WP write like insider publications, no matter how many times the answer is "no". It just boggles the mind.
     — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  09:24, 23 November 2019 (UTC); rev'd. 18:56, 28 November 2019 (UTC)

    PS: We should support it also from a WP:CREEP viewpoint: There simply is insufficient justification to make a special exception for ships. This RfC is not about making a new rule, its about removing a bogus one that we have in at least three places, and apparently inserted just to make two wikiprojects happier. Going the it route will also be more consonant with all the rest of MoS and with WP editing practices; the common thread running through the entire MoS is do not make an exception to a general rule unless that exception is overwhelmingly dominant across the reliable sources that are independent of the topic. That's just not the case here. The she style is still somewhat common (though decreasingly rapidly), and it is not dominant except in the materials put out in specific topical sources.
     — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:07, 28 November 2019 (UTC); rev'd. 18:40, 30 November 2019 (UTC)

    I don't think the use of "she" in reference to ships is sexist. But I would concede that the use of "bitch" in relation to "the girlfriend of a male rapper or a Hell's Angels biker" is sexist. Bus stop (talk) 13:49, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    Not if we balance things by describing Lindsay Graham, Devin Nunes, and Jim Jordan as Donald Trump’s bitches. EEng 15:03, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    @EEng: Ha ha! BTW, it's not lost on me how ironic it is that I'm here arguing in favor of it for gender-neutrality reasons, after not so long ago getting the torches-and-pitchforks treatment for using the same word in way that angered some people, over alleged gender insensitivity. [sigh]  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:38, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    It's not whether something "is" sexist, in some kind of magically objective way. The issue is that more and more off-site reliable sources tell us it is regarded that way, and more and more editors feel that it is. And it's not the dominant usage (except in topically specialized publications), so we have no reason to impose it on a general audience.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:07, 28 November 2019 (UTC)

Note to closer: Just head-counting is not going to be sufficient. Compare user IDs of respondents to those that appear on the participants lists of WikiProject Military History and WikiProject Ships, and you'll find that the vast majority of those in favor of she are a bloc vote all using the same weak reasoning and the same defiance of what the sources are telling us. Opposition to establishment of she as a convention on WP is much broader. This is important as a WP:CONLEVEL policy matter, and under a long string of ArbCom decisions that wikiprojects cannot control content in topics they'd like to WP:OWN. Wikiprojects have no authority and are not walled gardens; they are simply pages at which editors mingle for topical collaboration purposes, and the main reason they exist is article assessment and peer review. When they're used for wikipolitical lobbying to carve out special pleading exceptions from general principles, it leads to WP:FALSECONSENSUS problems. Please also note that there are essentially four views espoused in this RfC: 1) leave the MoS line items as-is (permitting and maybe loosely recommending she for ships); 2) remove that material as not having consensus to be a guideline (or, as some put it, not something MoS should have a rule about); 3) replace it with a clear recommendation to use it; 4) replace it with a clear recommendation to use she. Claims of a false dichotomy of just "require she" or "require it" are clearly off-base (and led to an attempt to start a redundant "anti-RfC" below this one, recycling the same arguments).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:02, 30 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Brandmeister's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section. Levivich 01:04, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose, from what I see both are allowed in modern language and WP:SHE4SHIPS is right in that regard. Furthermore, I didn't find the preference for it in the linked the U.S. Navy style guide. Instead, it also allows "she" ("her, she - Appropriate pronoun when referring to a ship"). EF Education First also allows both pronouns. In total, given that Royal Navy also opted for "she", it seems there's no urgent reason to abandon "she" universally. Brandmeistertalk 20:32, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Ah, good find on the Navy style guide! -- Beland (talk) 19:37, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
  • The EF Education First page is not the EF style guide; it's a page that's teaching readers about the full variety of the English language - like a dictionary does, but for grammar. It's not saying which pronoun EF would use in its own voice. Plenty of dictionaries document that "she" is used for ships sometimes; that's certainly not in dispute. -- Beland (talk) 19:55, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Comment the appropriate guidelines are going to be changed if consensus is reached for "it" to be universal. Using guidelines to prevent changing the very guidelines in question is not a good logical counterpoint. As for Education First, they accept "she" as a common form of referring to an object, but that's not a good excuse for Wikipedia to use she as well. The same can be said with the Guardian link. It doesn't surprise me that the Navy chooses to use she. It's just the way it is. Russian politicians may refer to their country as she, and some cars as well. Its commonly known to being jargon, just was standard use for a time. It's not standard use now, and the quotes you provided show that its been questioned before. The question is whether this is navy-lingo or is it standard use outside navy talk?Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 20:47, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
Brandmeister, Chicago Manual of Style's section 8.118 Pronouns referring to vessels says: When a pronoun is used to refer to a vessel, the neuter it or its (rather than she or her) is preferred. Schazjmd (talk) 20:44, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
Already noted. Brandmeistertalk 21:01, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of Alansohn's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section. Levivich 01:04, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose As a speaker of US English, a language with no grammatical gender, T find the whole gender issue for words unbearably confusing in my efforts to end my status as a functional monoglot. Why would the word "bridge" have a gender and why on Earth would a bridge be masculine in Spanish and feminine in German? If there were a river crossing at an imaginary border between Spain and Germany, would the bridge need to undergo a gender change at its midpoint at the border? Sure, the use of "she" to refers to boats is anachronistic and often comes off as forced to me; "Isn't she a beauty?" But the gendered usage is a longstanding tradition and no ship has ever expressed an issue with being designated with the female gender or indicated am alternative preferred pronoun. Until we have far clearer consensus against the gendered usage or the ships start speaking for themselves, let's keep this quaint gender designation. Alansohn (talk) 19:08, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
    I have a few questions about your rationale I was hoping you could clarify. It's true that no ship has ever expressed an issue with being designated with the female gender, but people have. Why don't their opinions matter? If I named my toilet "Alansohn", and then said I was going to keep calling my toilet "Alansohn" until my toilet starts speaking for itself (never mind what Alansohn thinks about it), wouldn't that be... shitty of me? Why don't the style guides convince you that there is a clear consensus–for 20 years, in the US and in the UK–against the gendered usage? Thanks in advance for clarifying. Levivich 21:47, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
    Levivich, your "arguments" undermine themselves. There is a longstanding usage of grammatical gender in languages worldwide; it was used in Old English and though this has largely faded away for Gender in English in the modern day, the use of of gender persists for ships. While I understand that you want to make the greatest possible WP:DICK of yourself, your decision on what to call your toilet offers nothing more than evidence of sheer argumentative dickishness at its worst. That ships are assigned a female gender in English is no less worthy of elimination than the fact that bridges are assigned a masculine gender in Spanish and a feminine gender in German; only a fool would argue that grammatical gender should be eliminated because there are actual people who are male or female. Alansohn (talk) 23:03, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
    This is why I shouldn't thank people in advance. Levivich 23:05, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
    Whether Alansohn is reasonably offended, his response was severely linguistically ignorant. But I think other posts here and at the other thread that's been soft-redirected here already have this covered.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:43, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    @Alansohn: The real question isn't whether its grammatically correct, it's whether using "she" provides the most encyclopedic tone that Wikipedia can provide.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 16:42, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
    Blue Pumpkin Pie, as long as we agree that there's no grammatical issue, of course it's encyclopedic in tone based on the thousands of reliable and verifiable sources that support the usage. Yes, there are other sources that oppose the usage, but that does not preclude the use of "she" nor does it justify a prohibition of the usage. Beyond the sheer WP:Dickishness of Levivich, it's equally sad to see SMcCandlish make a failed attempt to rebut an argument based on an unsupported claim that it was "severely linguistically ignorant". Alansohn (talk) 18:29, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
    Well that's where I disagree. Just because it is grammatically correct, does not mean we are using the appropriate tone for an encyclopedia. I believe sources are the proof that "she" isn't standard use anymore as others make it out to be. Especially in 2019 (i'm not making a stereotypical "this is current year". i'm literally saying that the term has been in questioned this year and recognized sources have stop using it as a standard". I have not seen a valid reason for "She". A lot of the reasons given convince me more to engage and educate people. Because they are opting for tradition and they confuse tradition as standardization.
Here are the facts: The usage of "she" for ships although grammatically accepted, is not standard usage. Some sources may choose to use as a standard, but its not a standard overall WP:JARGON is a good example of avoiding this, and there is no real exception to make ships an exception. Even if the majority of them used "she", i wouldn't have voted for "it", just because that's not a universally accepted way of describing a ship for the general audience. First time readers have found it odd and unnatural in Wikipedia. It used to be, but not anymore. In my opinion, it shifts the tone. Those that use she, makes it sound like Wikipedia is more emotionally inclined to ships.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 18:44, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
Blue Pumpkin Pie—words are generally not bad. Usages can be bad or good. Thus far this entire RfC is being conducted in the abstract. Present some actual example and let us discuss that actual example. Let us discuss how and in what ways the usage of "she" or "her" in relation to ships causes harm. Provide an example by linking to it or quoting it. You are referencing an "appropriate tone for an encyclopedia". Of course we should not have an inappropriate tone in an encyclopedia. But you are going about this the wrong way. You don't ban words and usages in order to avoid inappropriate tones in an encyclopedia. If the usage is grammatically correct, and used by the most erudite sources, then it seems to me we have justification to retain that usage for ourselves. Bus stop (talk) 18:57, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
I chose to drop the stick with you for a reason Bus stop, i think you know my point fairly well. I dont want to explain why you are exaggerating my reasoning. But i explained why "she" in this case, does not provide a nuetral encyclopedic tone. And we now have proven that in the modern age, "she" is not a standard academic term for ships anymore. Its now a preferred tradition. the fact that general reliable sources use it over she and the fact that experts are 50/50. i wouldn't even come close to calling that as "most".Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 19:03, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
Blue Pumpkin Pie—this RfC feels like McCarthyism. On the flimsiest evidence we are prepared to ban usages that are found in good quality sources. We don't have to get on the bandwagon of banning innocuous language. Bus stop (talk) 19:04, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
I have nothing else to say to you Bus stop. I'll continue to treat my point just as serious as others. but i'm not going to engage in attempts to de-value other people's point or counterpoint. If you don't take my point seriously, you don't have to respond. With you in particular, you know my stance completely, and i've respectfully provided counterpoints. If you can't do the same, there is no point continuing.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 19:40, 2 December 2019 (UTC)

Discussion of TheDragonFire300's !vote[edit]

Discussion moved from #Survey section. Levivich 01:04, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose any one umbrella pronoun for ships on all of Wikipedia. Remember that cultures are different, and in Australia/UK, we do commonly use "she" to refer to ships; I understand that the US does not, so perhaps either "she" or "it" for British English and "it" for US English might be justified instead. Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 23:33, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
    It would appear that the preponderance of British-English style guides found thus far prefer "it"; if you have know of others that haven't been included, you are welcome to add them below. CThomas3 (talk) 23:53, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
    @Cthomas3: From what I've heard, in Australia, she is more common to refer to ships; they're rarely referred to as it. But I'm not arguing for either pronoun; only opposing any umbrella pronoun for ships for all Wikipedia. Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 02:08, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    But why, TheDragonFire300? You've not provided any actual rationale, much less refuted the multiple rationales for using it. And this is not a WP:ENGVAR matter. There's no evidence presented of any kind that leads us to think that she is overwhelmingly dominant in any national variety of ENglish; rather, it's common among maritime and navy people (and the elderly), and uncommon otherwise (more so all the time). If we have a choice between using a pronoun, it, that even die-hard sailors know is frequently used for ships, or another pronoun, she, that editors and numerous reliable sources tells us is increasingly viewed as sexist and offensive, why on earth would WP pick the option guaranteed to offend an increasing number of our readers, and especially our female readers and editors who we already know feel marginalized (see WP:Systemic bias). I'm strongly reminded arguments 5 or 10 years ago along the lines of "What's wrong with transsexualism? It's a perfectly fine word with a long history.", and arguments a generation or two ago that went "What's wrong with Colored and Negro? The NAACP and the UNCF used them, so it's just not sane that anyone could be offended, and if they are well they can just go stick it where the sun don't shine."  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:07, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    @SMcCandlish: Do we have set spellings for color vs colour? Do we have set policies on whether we should use BC/AD or BCE/CE? No we don't, don't we? Why should we make an exception for ships? Remember that in the UK/Australia, she is still in quite common use. We do not base our MOS on other style guides, either. Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 18:00, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    See MOS:ENGVAR, and MOS:ERA. These are completely unrelated concerns. We do in fact have a rather strict guideline to use color/colour (and other very consistent dialect differences) appropriately: don't (for example) impose American spelling on British topics, and don't editwar over the English variety in an article with no strong national ties. Similarly, don't change BC/AD to BCE/CE or vice versa on a whim, since both systems are equivalent and have very widespread use, and it's just pisses people off for no gain either way (with some exceptions that actually relate, in being potentially offensive, like using BC/AD dating in articles about non-Christian religions). If you want to make a more apt comparison, between encyclopedically neutral and appropriate and contemporary use, versus potentially offensive old-fashioned-isms, try this instead: Do we write articles about the Ozarks in actual Ozark bumpkin dialect? Do we change contemporary wording like "150 AD" or "150 CE" to obfuscatory blather like "anno Domini 150" or "In the year of Our Lord 150"? The obvious answer is hell no.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:33, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    As an addendum, I've seen the sexism argument thrown around many times now. I'd like to hear your reasons why you have a problem with calling ships she, because I don't really have a problem with calling ships it nor she. I admit that maybe I am biased towards she, but my final vote is for neither. Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 18:03, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    Still not getting it. Whether I personally find it sexist or offensive is utterly irrelevant. The thing that matters is what you already said: "I've seen the sexism argument thrown around many times now". I.e., people find it sexist, and they are going to keep finding it sexist, and this means some (not exactly determinate, but obviously growing) percentage of our real-world readership are offended by it, and offending them buys us absolutely nothing. The article is not objectively better for using she, iit's just different, and pandering to a particular micro-audience (ship fans), and apt to piss off a much broader subset of our readers.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:33, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    @SMcCandlish: I apologise, I meant to remove that above reply but forgot to. I'll strike it now. Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 19:39, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    My bad, I think. Looks like I edit-conflicted you and didn't notice, or the software didn't. And you just edit-conflicted me and nuked a bunch of my comments. Fixed. Maybe this is one "those database days" where MW flips out on us.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:47, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    @SMcCandlish: MW didn't report any edit conflict for me either. Should I explain such to DIYeditor? Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 19:56, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    @TheDragonFire300: I 'magine that DIYeditor can read this, too. :-) Unless they're bugging you on your talk page, I think the issue has passed. I don't know why this happens, but am guessing it's when database and network latency (and maybe MW script processing latency) happen to coincide just so. When I'm editing frequently on a daily basis, I get unrecognized, unresolved edit conflicts (in which whatever I submitted just replaces the extant content despite a conflict, which goes unnoticed by the software) between one and three times per month. So, it's pretty rare but just common enough to be cause for concern. I think this is the first time I've ever seen it happen twice in a row to two different editors, and that suggests the problem has nothing to do with the user-agent side of things, only with the server side.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  13:48, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
    Re your "not ENGVAR" issue; it is an ENGVAR issue; remember that in the US "she" may be seen as sexist and disrespectful, but not in the UK/Australia (at least, not that I've seen). Many could argue that it's sexist; many can argue it's not. It's been discussed before, and I personally would prefer neither to be the predominant, but to make our decision on a case by case, country by country basis. Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 18:23, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    Just WP:OR and supposition. We have absolutely zero reliably sourced information suggesting there's a nationalistic split on this question. And your supposition is easy to disprove with a few seconds at Google Advanced Search: [50], [51]. Anyway, if you started with "I am biased towards she" and are now at "I personally would prefer neither to be the predominant", that's at least some progress. :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:33, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    For the record I never supported either of them for the purposes of forcing one for all WP; read my vote above. I take my reading from the #Why some people consider it sexist section below; from reading it I see that most sources using she are British English, so articles about UK ships should be allowed the choice between she and it. Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 19:42, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    Selection bias and a tiny sample size. The links I gave just above show plenty of UK and Au. criticism of she as sexist or insensitive. And US WP:MILHIST people have already cited American works using she. ENGVAR doesn't apply to faint and questionable trends or leanings, only to well-documented features of a dialect, like the colo[u]r distinction, and whilst/while, etc.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:51, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    Okay. I stand by my point; we do not need a policy mandating either pronoun for ships. Thanks, SMcCandlish. Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 19:56, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
    I agree. It's why I support removing the apparently three places that MILTHIST and SHIPS project people have injected WP:CREEP saying to use she for ships. Odd exceptionalism like that will just die off on its own if MoS stops explicitly endorsing it, since the usage off-site is already uncommon and is rapidly declining. That said, if we remove the "ships are special" crap but this leads to a year of knock-down-drag-out "style wars" at various articles, then we'd probably need to add a rule to not use she, just to forestall any more such conflict. Absent that problem, we don't need a specific rule at all. See also the axiom and corollary here (be patient; it takes a while to load that large page and then jump to that section link).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  15:45, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
SMcCandlish, it's so nice to have you back. For the convenience of all there's WP:MOSBLOAT. EEng 18:04, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
  • That said, if we remove the "ships are special" crap but this leads to a year of knock-down-drag-out "style wars" at various articles, then we'd probably need to add a rule to not use she, just to forestall any more such conflict. First of all, ships are special. You may call it "crap", but it is an integral part of the language, trendiness notwithstanding. Secondly this RfC is a "knock-down-drag-out style war". Are you trying to "forestall" conflict by sustaining conflict? Bus stop (talk) 16:10, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
    First of all, ships are special – Chirst, this is getting to a whole new level beyond ridiculous. Cars are things, screwdrivers are things, ships are things. George III is off the throne. The Empire is over. Subscriber trunk dialing. The pound is decimal now. The heir apparent has a brown daughter-in-law. It's the 21st century. Come join us. EEng 18:04, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
    Yeah, the entire point of this RfC is that it can and already has been conclusively proven that ships being called she is not "an integral part of the language". It's entirely optional and rapidly declining, largely because women tend to find it offensive. Whether any (probably male) editor on Wikipedia disagrees with why women (and male sexual egalitarians) find it offensive is basically irrelevant, since it can and has been reliably sourced that this negative view of "ship she" is common. Since it adds nothing communicative between WP editors/content and WP readers to use she for ships, and it's guaranteed to piss off a substantial number of readers, we have zero incentive to continue doing it. That's what this RfC is about, and if this logic cannot be refuted (good luck with that), there's only one way this RfC should conclude. EEng: Nice to be back, mostly. During my break, my ulcer receded, some of my hair grew back, and the heart attacks stopped. ;-) Back to Bus_stop: My point in bringing up MOSBLOAT is that MoS should not include line-items that are not necessary to prevent recurrent strife. An RfC is not recurrent strife (is not a "style war"). MoS pages having at least three spots where it says to use she for ships, (despite us not having a consensus record in favor of such line items) is self-evidently controversial – just read this RfC. Ergo they should be removed. Some here would like to see an opposite line-item inserted (to use it), while some of us say just leave it out entirely. If we leave it out entirely, and people editwar for months over this she/it [pun intended] then I would support adding an anti-she provision. We don't need one until we have evidence that people are going to fight a lot about it in the future despite this RfC already indicating that she does not enjoy much support outside of two wikiprojects.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  18:36, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
    an anti-she provision – Better hope no one takes that out of context. EEng 18:45, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
    Right! According to some of those with reading-comprehension problems, I'm already a sexist and a transphobe (maybe I also molest goats and eat babies; I haven't checked lately).  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:15, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
"women tend to find it offensive" I actually haven't seen the source for that. The often-repeated argument is that this is "sexist". But what is the origin of that? I would concede that it would be sexist if "women tend to find it offensive". And if women don't tend to find it offensive then I don't think I would say it is "sexist" and nor should Wikipedia be following lemming-like after fashion trends as may be identified in style guides associated with other publications. They may wish to curry favor with an audience that follows specious trends. But we should act independently and not proscribe language that is part and parcel of ordinary English usage. Bus stop (talk) 19:18, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
  • I disagree that something can only be sexist if women disproportionately label it as sexist. This presumes a.) that the usage in question is more offensive to women than to men, when something like "only women can be nurses" should be offensive to both men and women, and b.) that women are better at spotting sexism than men, which in a society that's trying desperately not to be sexist, shouldn't be true. So far I count at least half a dozen editors who have commented that they personally find this usage sexist, and I take that as reasonable evidence that some portion of the general population considers it so, because I can't think of a good reason for them to misrepresent their views. Some people I've spoken to in real life about this debate, who are great defenders of gender equality and freedom and whose opinions I respect, have also opined that they do not think this usage is sexist, though they do think it is old-fashioned. I don't think anyone is claiming that everyone find this to be sexist, as there are also plenty of editors who have said in this discussion that they personally don't. If you want to see some women explicitly calling this usage sexist, you can read a comment from Susan Deal who wrote to the Guardian or listen to a 15-minute explanation from Ella Tennant, an English Language Teaching Fellow at Keele University on Radio New Zealand.[52] -- Beland (talk) 03:56, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
  • I too asked for sources for this "negative view of ship she is common" view. We often say "follow the sources" but those sources are still missing.  Stepho  talk  23:18, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
    When Lloyd's List announced that they were moving to "it", the reason they gave was that they were coming into line with most other reputable international business titles. The Lloyd's editor further went on to say the shipping industry does need to move forward if it is not to risk becoming a backwater of international business. I decided that it was time to catch up with the rest of the world, and most other news organisations refer to ships as neuter. Clearly this was not something they felt was a pioneering decision: on the contrary, they felt as though they were being left behind as one of the few organizations still referring to ships as "she" (as I believe we have demonstrated by the style guide discussion below).
    I also find it interesting that the quoted spokesman for the Royal Navy (who was defending their choice to retain "she") said the following: If I remember my history, they are female because originally the ship was the only woman allowed at sea and was treated with deference and respect - and because they are expensive. If the best reason that they can come up with is as anachronistic as the only woman allowed at sea, if I'm being honest I would have to say that the time for "she" has long since passed. CThomas3 (talk) 01:29, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
    If the best reason that they can come up with is as anachronistic as "the only woman allowed at sea" – What are you talking about? They also gave "because they are expensive" as a reason. EEng 02:29, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
Also at that link I find: "A spokesman for the Royal Navy said it would continue to refer to ships as female ... The British Marine Industries Federation also said it had no plans to change ... Our owners have always referred to them as 'she' and will continue to do so because, to many, they are part of the family," a spokesman said." Bus stop (talk) 02:36, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
The British Marine Industries Federation also said it had no plans to change – Yes, but that was 2002; since then, Maritime Museum vows to remove all signs referring to ships as 'she' [53]. Better luck next time. EEng 02:56, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
And for those who own and care for a boat, I say by all means, continue to call it whatever you like. But, just as we would say to someone writing about a family member or close friend, keep the nicknames and romanticism out of your writing and stick to the facts. CThomas3 (talk) 02:59, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
Are you dismissing this as "nicknames and romanticism"? In it I find "She never reached her destination: in June that year she was sunk by a squadron of British ships. For more than three centuries her final resting place remained a mystery. But on December 4th 2015 Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s president, announced that a team of archaeologists had found the wreck 30 miles off the Colombian coast. He promised to recover the ship and its contents, worth as much as $17bn, and build a museum in Cartagena to house them." Bus stop (talk) 03:10, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
No, I'm dismissing the reasoning given by the British Marine Industries Federation, if they are doing so simply because the ships are "part of the family." They aren't "part of the family" for the general audience, so that guidance shouldn't apply to a general audience publication such as ours. But the fact that the pronoun changes mid-article does kind of undermine your point in my opinion; the Economist appears to be romanticizing the image ship of the courageously facing a British squadron, but unceremoniously referring to "it" and "its" contents on the ocean floor. CThomas3 (talk) 03:19, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
"But the fact that the pronoun changes mid-article does kind of undermine your point in my opinion". "She", "her", "hers", "it", "its" are all acceptable pronouns for use with ships. If anything, the usage provided by The Economist "undermines" our present guidance which says Ships may be referred to using either feminine forms ("she", "her", "hers") or neuter forms ("it", "its"). Either usage is acceptable, but each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively. There is no justification that I can think of for the "internal consistency" requirement our guidance is presently calling for. Why should we not mix feminine and neuter pronouns in relation to ships, in the same article? Bus stop (talk) 03:37, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
I'm confused...I was under the impression that you considered "it" for ships political correctness run amok, crude speech and coarse language. You've also advocated that the policy is fine as it is. Now you are saying that there is no justification that I can think of for "internal consistency." For someone who has been vociferously advocating for good speech, I'm honestly baffled as to what your point of view actually is, except for the fact that you seem to be insistent that "she" for ships remain in the MOS. CThomas3 (talk) 03:54, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
Cthomas3—retaining current language is fine with me. But if you are going to say "the fact that the pronoun changes mid-article does kind of undermine your point in my opinion", I have to fine-tune my stance on current language. I don't think a requirement for "internal consistency" makes sense, and let me point out that in your response you haven't said why it does make sense. As for your other points, there is little reason to rehash them, but yes, I perceive this as fallout from political correctness, and yes, I think good speech, at least in this instance, entails availing ourselves of all the pronouns available to us. My reasons for wanting editorial latitude are almost irrelevant, but for one thing, varying the terminology relieves monotony. The Economist is in my opinion an erudite publication. Aside from fact-checking I think they engage in a search for the best and most succinct way to express themselves. The Guardian on the other hand is not only left-leaning, making them more susceptible to political correctness pressures, but they actually have a reputation for garbled speech. Frequent typographical errors in the paper led Private Eye magazine to dub it the "Grauniad" in the 1960s, a nickname still used today. Bus stop (talk) 04:59, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
Given that half our readers are either left-leaning or right-leaning, I wouldn't dismiss offense to a usage alternative taken by readers on either side just because people on the other side generally aren't bothered by either alternative. Also, I wouldn't consider the Associated Press, Reuters, Chicago Manual of Style, or US Coast Guard to be left-leaning. -- Beland (talk) 06:42, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
I wonder if Beland can provide a particularly egregious example of the "offense" to which they refer. Must we only discuss this in the abstract? Let us examine and discuss an actual instance found to be offensive. Bus stop (talk) 13:45, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
I don't think anyone would consider "she" for ships egregiously offensive, and many people simply find it old-fashioned or grammatically dubious without being offensive. Sticking with pronouns, I can think of two examples from different ends of the political spectrum, if we're being reductionist. One is the generic he, which liberals tend to find sexist and semantically incorrect (referring to women by the wrong gender) and conservatives tend to find to be a normal part of traditional grammar with a gender-neutral meaning. The other is the singular they, which conservatives tend to find ungrammatical (referring to a single person with the wrong number) and possibly political correctness gone amok, and liberals tend to find to be a normal part of traditional grammar with a number-neutral meaning. Wikipedia doesn't use either of those because there are alternatives to which hardly anyone objects. -- Beland (talk) 14:22, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
Perhaps I misspoke by requesting an egregiously offensive example. Let me revise that. Just provide the best example to prove your point. Let us discuss something in its actual manifestation rather than in the abstract. Bus stop (talk) 14:33, 2 December 2019 (UTC)

Well, I gave a concrete illustrative pair that's probably most relevant to the she/it question for ships. Was there some particular aspect you were skeptical about? The point you make about using alternatives to relieve monotony is certainly valid, but we can and do rotate "it", "the ship", "the vessel", "USS Lincoln", etc. to do that. As for the argument about political correctness, if you're using that as a synonym for inclusive language, it seems that sometimes that movement does run amok because people find a proposed change unreasonable or unjustified, but sometimes it goes mainstream, like with gender-neutral terms for occupations. For example, some people find "women" offensive because it implies women are derivative of men, and propose alternatives like womyn. Sorting out "run amok" from "accepted alternative" from "preferred alternative" is a matter of degree, which can be relatively objectively established by researching usage patterns. As far as I know, there are no widely used English style guides and no wide-circulation publications - whether left-leaning or not - that use "womyn", so I'd agree that's clearly not appropriate for the encyclopedia. -- Beland (talk) 16:20, 2 December 2019 (UTC)

Provide any example. You have initiated a section below called "Why some people consider it sexist". In that section as well as elsewhere you go on at length about why this is sexist without providing any examples. Therefore you are discussing this in the abstract. Would it harm your case to actually look at examples of the so-called "offense" that you are referencing? Bus stop (talk) 18:30, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
I gave the examples of the generic he, singular they, and "womyn". Maybe I'm not understanding what you're looking for when you ask for "examples of the so-called offense"? Are you looking for specific articles that use "she" for ships, specific people who find that usage offensive, specific reasons why a specific person finds it offensive, or something else? -- Beland (talk) 18:39, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
Beland—I don't know if we are having a communication problem but I am asking you to link to or quote an instance in which you feel "she" or "her" in relation to ships causes harm. Bus stop (talk) 18:43, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
OK, so USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) says in part: "USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) is the fifth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in the United States Navy. She is the second Navy ship to have been named after the former President Abraham Lincoln." and continues to use "she" and "her" throughout the intro. I'm going to keep my personal opinion out of it, but Ella Tennant argues that all such instances are perceived by some women, including herself and her sailing captain friend, to be patronizing. If you consider a reader being distracted from the facts of the article by finding the article's tone to be patronizing to be "harm", there's that, and presumably this may also discourage some women from entering maritime industries or navies, which could be considered a harmful effect. Tennant also argues that all such instances contribute to stereotypes of women as mothers and nurturing, which she says helps exclude them from other social roles. If true, that could certainly harm someone's chances for a job or stunt someone's happiness if they choose a career or effect a personal based on gender stereotypes rather than their own individual preferences. I don't think anyone is arguing changing this one paragraph has a high probability of affecting any particular person's life, but constantly encountering this usage with respect to ships could be argued to have a cumulative or collective effect. At least one gender-neutrality activist quoted in one article was dismissive of this question, saying other types of sexist and transphobic language are having a much greater impact on people's lives. And plenty of people, including people whose opinions I respect, do not find this usage to be sexist or harmful beyond possibly confusing or annoying the reader with an old-fashioned-sounding phrasing. -- Beland (talk) 19:28, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
I've miscommunicated again. I am not asking for an example from Wikipedia. Can you link to a reliable source that you feel uses "she" or "her" in relation to ships in a way that you deem harmful, or offensive, or sexist? Bus stop (talk) 20:06, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
This BBC article has already been cited in this discussion, among many others. Though apparently it is against the current BBC style manual, it says things like "HMS Prince of Wales has been floated and moved to her fitting-out berth at Rosyth docks". Certainly this is included in the scope of the argument concerning sexism made by Ella Tennant and others. I'm neither endorsing nor criticizing that argument. -- Beland (talk) 20:44, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
Beland—there is nothing remotely sexist in that BBC source. Not even close. A ship is being construed as being of the female gender in that BBC source. How is that sexist? In fact the pronouns "she" and "her" do not even refer exclusively to human females. Insects have genders, not to mention dogs, cats, and alligators. The BBC source that you provide has nothing to do with women. It only speaks about ships. No one thinks that a woman is being "floated". Both of the sentences in that BBC article that use "she" and "her" also include the word "floated". Is any reader going to think this is about a woman or girl being "floated"? Bus stop (talk) 21:51, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
Sure, it sounds like you and Ella Tennant just disagree on whether or not referring to ships as "she" is in general sexist. I respect both opinions. -- Beland (talk) 22:00, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
Ella Tennant only discusses the topic in the abstract. Ella Tennant does not discuss this topic with reference to any actual examples. Do you see the BBC source as being sexist? If so, why? I just explained to you why I do not see the BBC source as being sexist, but if you disagree you can tell us why the BBC source is sexist. Bus stop (talk) 22:33, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
She criticized the practice categorically. I'm not sure what difference it makes if it's in BBC article A or Wikipedia article B or Economist article C, the reasons would be the same. Personally, I'm staying neutral on that question. -- Beland (talk) 22:48, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
Criticizing something categorically is not good enough for our purposes. We don't have to get on the bandwagon of those who criticize this categorically. We can think for ourselves. We are not restricted to discussing this in the abstract. Ella Tennant only discusses this in the abstract. We can look at concrete examples. The BBC source you provided is a concrete example. In your own words—why is it sexist? I tried to explain why it is not sexist. I'm not content to jump aboard a bandwagon. If the BBC source is sexist, please explain how you see it as being sexist. Bus stop (talk) 22:58, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't understand what the dispute is. Do you not believe that Ella Tennant would find this example to be sexist? Do you not believe that the editors who responded to the survey by saying using "she" for ships is sexist, would find this example of using "she" for ships to be sexist? I'm not trying to convince you that this is sexist; it seems you've considered the arguments in favor of that position and simply don't agree with them. -- Beland (talk) 23:14, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
You provided the BBC source—not me. I am saying it is not even remotely sexist. It references ships being "floated". What does that have to do with women? Are women and girls commonly "floated"? The source uses "she" and "her" to refer to those ships. Insects come in female varieties too. Why are you construing "she" and "her" as references to women? Bus stop (talk) 23:40, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
I have no new arguments to add beyond those that have already been made. I accept your conclusion that this usage is not sexist. If you find it unreasonable that any rational person could possibly come to a different conclusion, then you should not support this proposal on the basis that this usage is sexist. I did not propose that as a reason for supporting it, as there are plenty of others. -- Beland (talk) 23:56, 2 December 2019 (UTC)

General discussion[edit]

Why some people consider it sexist[edit]

I did some research on this question. It's worth noting not everyone considers it sexist, and many people consider the idea that it's sexist to be PC gone amok. The fact that some people think it's sexist is probably motivating those people as well as people who are neutral on the question not to use this language, making the language change faster. There are still other people who never thought about it being sexist but who just aren't exposed to it and it sounds like an old-timey sailor. I don't think we should try to get consensus on this question, but I think it's useful to explain why some people do have rational reasons to hold this position, even if you personally don't agree with them.

@Martin of Sheffield: Apparently the OED does not endorse the idea that this practice has anything to do with grammatical gender from the Old English system; it's unclear whether it was influenced by grammatical gender in French or Latin. Even if so, the fact that this specific usage has persisted despite the fact that English does not have grammatical gender for inanimate objects in general, could have happened for sexist reasons. But it seems more likely this practice arises from personification of an object with which people have an intimate relationship.

It's also unclear the practice derives from the practice of mounting a female figurehead on the front of the boat. That could easily be criticized as sexist, too, but men and animals have also been used as figureheads in various cultures.

  • Most of the satirical explanations widely circulated among sailors are blatantly sexist, like "it takes a lot of paint to make one look good".
  • It's a choice about women arising from an environment where women were excluded (and a time where they were considered property) - any language choice made about a group without their inclusion is usually received as or at least suspected to be mockery, offensive, or hateful.
  • Personifying an object is not offensive, but personifying all objects of a particular type with a particular gender inevitably raises the question, why that gender and not the other one, or why not both. This is not explained by saying "all nouns have an arbitrary gender" because in English inanimate ones don't. Any explanation has to involve "ships are like women because..." which inevitably must stereotype both women and men, which is sexist against one gender or the other, or "well, there were a bunch of men around so the choice of a female name or gender was appropriate because..." which while it might true in the sense that men have different interpersonal relationships with women than with other men, just underscores the sexist exclusion of women at the time, and also either ignores gay men or underscores that they were not tolerated at the time either.
  • It creates two groups of pronouns, one for men, and one for women and inanimate objects, which seems degrading to women.

-- Beland (talk) 17:03, 23 November 2019 (UTC)

Here's a 15-minute audio interview with an expert on the subject, Ella Tennant, an English Language Teaching Fellow at Keele University: Ella Tennant: Referring to ships as "she" is sexist

My summary for those that don't have the time to listen: Her view is that the usage is problematic because it categorizes women as objects that generally men are in control of, and "any inanimate object that is referred to in a gendered way ...can provoke quite strong reactions in people". She references a quote about the representations of the world being constructed by men who confuse them with the absolute truth. She finds the view that a ship has a female persona because it is a sailor or captain's mother (and that this is considered an honor) to be patronizing, and this view is shared by a female friend of hers who is a competitive sailor. In response to the idea that this is not explicitly derogatory: "Not every woman may be a mother, not every woman may have a nurturing tendency" despite the biological differences between men and women, and assigning mothering and nurturing as female attributes is sexist, marginalizing women and excluding them from other roles in society. "The language we use has the power to create gender determinism" and perpetuate authority over women by men. On the relative importance of this issue, she does acknowledge the many other crises of our time, but says "the language we use can reflect and construct our worldview in certain ways." She also points out that feminine forms have been added to languages with grammatical gender where there have previously only been male terms, for equality reasons. -- Beland (talk) 07:36, 1 December 2019 (UTC)

I find such analyses over-complex, preferring to simply point out that calling ships she is pretentious and stupid. EEng 14:05, 1 December 2019 (UTC)

Personifying an object is not offensive, but personifying all objects of a particular type with a particular gender inevitably raises the question, why that gender and not the other one, or why not both. That's easy. If ships were called "he" we would be implying that they were prone to sinking. We use "she" because we would like to think that a ship will stay afloat. This is analogous to our preference for liking to think that a female will carry a pregnancy to birth and that both will survive a hazardous journey. A ship is analogous to pregnancy in that it provides life-support to vulnerable inhabitants. This is purely linguistic. It is no more sexist than a "male" electrical plug and a "female" electric outlet. We make it easy on our mind by crafting linguistic analogies that aid memory. Bus stop (talk) 17:19, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
Implying that men are prone to sinking or women are prone to floating or men are not life-giving all seem incompatible with the notions of gender equality some people hold to be very important. -- Beland (talk) 03:19, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Yes, Beland, men don't literally sink, but the male of the species is notoriously bad at conceiving young of their kind and internally carrying and nourishing these fetuses until birth. The male of the species are just bad at it. Their heart may be in the right place but they simply can't seem to get the knack of doing it right. Bus stop (talk) 03:46, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Men can give life by providing food and shelter and medicine. They also provide half the genetic material necessary to make a baby. Women are often stereotyped as nurturing because of their anatomical role, and many find this offensive. -- Beland (talk) 06:31, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
If someone is looking for reasons to be offended, they may also find this analogy to be the product of a mindset that values women only for their ability to provide children, which does not align with modern notions of gender equality. -- Beland (talk) 14:33, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Comment - We may also note that the miller, as the sailor when referring to his ship, speaks of his mill as being of the feminine gender : "Ah! She's been a fine old mill in her time." The practice of using the feminine pronoun for ships is immemorial ; it may have arisen, I am told, from the resemblance of a ship in full sail to a graceful woman. - William Coles Finch (1933). Watermills and Windmills. p. 62. Mjroots (talk) 19:37, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
Wikipedia does not describe mills as gendered. -- Beland (talk) 03:19, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
...Because the WikiProject covering them decided not to. Mjroots (talk) 11:02, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Just a note... in German (and most Nordic languages) ships are deemed masculine and called “he”. This makes me think that the English usage derives from Latin via French usage. Blueboar (talk) 20:04, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    • Without evidence, this is merely speculation. But I think it's irrelevant to our readers where it came from; what's more important is whether or not people are still using the gendered form, and what people think about it now compared to the neuter alternative, not what they thought even fifty years ago. -- Beland (talk) 03:32, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Can anyone think of an inanimate object that is referred to in English as "he"? Levivich 20:32, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
    • "The enemy", as in "we have met the enemy and he is ours". Maybe not exactly an "inanimate object", but something that would not otherwise be referred to by a singular personal pronoun. --Trovatore (talk) 06:32, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
  • It’s unnecessary to decide whether she is or is not sexist. It’s sufficient that it’s pretentious and stupid. EEng 23:18, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
Nice point @EEng:—before we even get to the exclusionary aspect, it's pretentious. Tony (talk) 11:52, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
"it’s pretentious" This is tantamount to saying you just don't like it or that it offends your sensibilities. But you cannot explain why. So, no one should use "she" or "her" in relation to ships because in your opinion this aspect of the English language is "pretentious". And by the way, what is the "exclusionary aspect"? I must have missed that. Have we established that there is an "exclusionary aspect"? Bus stop (talk) 15:14, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Well, I've yet to find a dictionary that describes it as "pretentious", but at least one does describe it as "old fashioned", and that's a pretty objective source. -- Beland (talk) 06:33, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
That argument sounds like a teenager who responds to everything with "Lame!" There's no further debate because one side is saying that they don't want to have a mature discussion.  Stepho  talk  23:28, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
One side is simply stating the obvious. EEng 00:23, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
No, that side is simply stating their opinion as though it is a fact.  Stepho  talk  00:50, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
That’s just your opinion. EEng 02:36, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
So sayeth the dude. CThomas3 (talk) 03:06, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
I do not see a rational conclusion to this discussion or an answer to the question. The human need to genderize things is obvious in other languages like Spanish where even inanimate objects are genderized (mesa=table is female), whereas a sword is espada and a pen is bolígrafo. There does not appear to be any logic in whether an object has a female (a) or male (o) ending
Although I totally agree that bestowing gender on an inaminate object is ridiculous. humans do it. Some men will refer to their automobile as she and give it feminine name, some women will refer to it as he and give it a masculine name. I suggest that referring to a vessel as "she" is a form of endearment, after all sailors (including captains and navigators) spent more time aboard the vessel than they did with their wives and family, and who hasn't heard of being "married to the job".
On the other hand the whole business is archaic and harks back to a different era where the woman's role in society was diminutive and subordinate to the man's. Maybe it is time for a change, as society and gender roles are no longer as rigid, at least in much of the West, as they once were.Oldperson (talk) 23:57, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
That sounds like you are asking for Wikipedia to be a tool in a campaign to right great wrongs. That's not our job. HiLo48 (talk) 02:46, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
That essay is about editing of facts to support a POV; this is a bit different, though I could see someone taking English usage changes too far and trying to get neologistic language adopted for political reasons. In this case, though, we have two widely accepted styles, one of which offends some readers, and we could drop the controversial variant in favor of a neutral one that would distract some people less from conveying facts about ships. -- Beland (talk) 03:26, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
If we're going to consider this, then I would bring up WP:PRESENTISM as an argument to follow the sourcing. Yes, today, calling a modern vessel as if it were a female entity is disrespectful, but it wasn't the case decades ago and was standard practice looooong ago. As others have said, we're not here to right wrongs, and we should follow the use of female pronouns referring to ships when the sourcing clearly shows that to be common, but assume that a new vessel like most modern cruise ships, tanks, etc. will be neutral pronouns in the sources (eg Sinking of MV Conception one I helped with about a 2019 vessel disaster, I cannot ever recall seeing the boat or related vessels called by a female pronoun". --Masem (t) 03:56, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Here is a good quality source referring to the Costa Concordia disaster of 2012. "Her design service speed was 19.6 knots, but during sea trials, she achieved a speed of 23 knots." "This tore a 50 m gash on the port side of her hull, which soon flooded parts of the engine room resulting in power loss to her propulsion and electrical systems." "With water flooding in and listing, the ship drifted back to Giglio Island where she grounded 500 m north of the village of Giglio Porto, resting on her starboard side in shallow waters with most of her starboard side under water." Why shouldn't we be allowed to use standard English? Bus stop (talk) 04:30, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
I'm not saying you can't: I do not have an idea of how the whole of sources related to the Costa Concordia refer to the ship, but that's what I've advised: if the majority of sources use the female pronouns, there's no harm for our article to use that. If they don't as was definitely in the case of the MV Conception, then we should not be adding them. If there is an unclear split in the sources, then I would suggest we default to genderless particularly if it is a newer vessel. My point is that standardizing away from female pronouns particularly for older ships, simply because some see it as sexist, is not appropriate. --Masem (t) 04:44, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Think about this. The ludicrous situation. Calling the USS Ronald Reagan, USS George HW Bush, USS John McCain.."she". A transgendered naval vessel none the less. Do you think that these distinguished men would approve of being referred to as "She". (ship or not)20:56, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
That'll just result in inconsistent usage, sometimes even in the same article if its time scope is broad.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  09:39, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
I agree that we want to be consistent within an article... but there is no need to be consistent across the entire project. Our current guidance allows for BOTH “it” and “she”. And that is fine. Blueboar (talk) 14:52, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
One article is fine and dandy, but let's look at the aggregate thanks to Google: "Costa Concordia" "her side" → 7,340 results; "Costa Concordia" "its side" → 1,030,000 results; generally, only British papers used "her side" though on U.S. CNN writer used both "its" and "her" when referring to the ship, using only "her" in a poetic manner. SportingFlyer T·C 11:45, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
In an article titled "Ship in Oil Spill Recovering Where She Was Born" The New York Times, writing about the Exxon Valdez, writes "A year after she was involved in the worst oil spill in American history, the Exxon Valdez is 70 percent repaired and four months from being sent back to sea." "Three hundred workers have been on double shifts since August, repairing the damage that the 987-foot tanker suffered when she went aground on a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil." "'This repair has made shipbuilding history' because of the difficulty of repairs made in the water before the ship was put in the dry dock and because of her great size, said Fred N. Hallett, vice president of finance for the shipbuilding company, which built the tanker." "Although her stern shows her home port as Wilmington, Del., the Exxon Valdez was born here in San Diego six years ago in the same drydock where the repairs are being made." "'It was like your kid was coming home,' said Mike Bichoux, who helped build the $115 million tanker and now helps repair her. "When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska, her gashes, more than 650 feet long, required replacing 30 percent of the bow. Her hull needed shoring up. Repairs were necessary on half of her two dozen compartments." "Her arrival here last July was delayed for three weeks after it was discovered that seven big steel plates were hanging loose from her' flat bottom and there was a light 18-mile slick around her." Bus stop (talk) 23:15, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Another article on the Exxon Valdez oil spill, this time in Rolling Stone. Same thing. The ship is referred to as "she" or "her". Bus stop (talk) 23:32, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Those two articles are from 30 years ago. Levivich 03:07, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
"Exxon Valdez" "her hull" → 1,320 results, "its hull" → 4,810 results ("her/its arrival" was too tainted with talking about humans, "her/its gashes" brought up a total of five combined results, "her/its stern" was in favour of "her stern" but more recent results used "its stern" and there were only about 2,000 combined results, some of which had nothing to do with the ship.) The point is - of course you'll be able to keep cherry-picking sources that use her, but convention now not only uses its but its is the only grammatically correct option. SportingFlyer T·C 03:37, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
The United States Naval Institute writes about the USS John S. McCain and Alnic MC collision which took place in 2017 saying for instance "She has completed her maintenance period with the most up-to-date multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities, preparing her to successfully execute a multitude of high-end operations". We also read "During the at-sea testing, the ship and her crew will perform a series of demonstrations to evaluate that the ship’s onboard systems meet or exceed Navy performance specifications". We also read "The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) completed her necessary repairs and is underway to conduct comprehensive at-sea testing." Also "John S. McCain, assigned to Destroyer Squadron FIFTEEN (DESRON 15) and forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, completed her in-port phase of training, and will continue Basic Phase at-sea training in the upcoming months to certify in every mission area the ship is required to perform and prepare for return to operational tasking." We also find "The USS John S. McCain embodies the absolute fighting spirit of her namesakes, and shows the resiliency of our Sailors. She has completed her maintenance period with the most up-to-date multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities, preparing her to successfully execute a multitude of high-end operations". The use of "she" and "her" represents refinement. The use of "its" represents crudeness. This initiative to supplant "she" and "her" with "its" is wrongheaded. If anything we should prefer to use "she" and "her" when speaking about ships. But I'm not a member of the language police. So I say editors can use either form. It is not that "its" is unintelligible. But it is less refined. And I'm not "cherry-picking sources". Sources are too easy to find. Bus stop (talk) 04:13, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
”Refined” is a handy euphemism for “pretentious”, I’ll give you that. EEng 12:40, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
This is political correctness run amok. In English inanimate objects are not given gendered pronouns—except in this case. For ships we use the pronouns "she" and "her". Those just learning English can be forgiven tor using the pronoun "it" for ships. But it isn't an ideal to be striven for. The wrongheadedness of this discussion is that some are arguing for patently unrefined speech. Unrefined speech is acceptable, intelligible, and even sometimes desirable. But good speech is not supplanted by crude speech. We hold in abeyance good speech when we consciously choose to use coarse language. But we get back to speaking properly when the cause for using course language is no longer applicable. In this case there is no general, longstanding cause for using the more crude pronoun "it" in relation to ships. Sexism in "she" and "her" for ships? Don't make me laugh. I would consider this a funny conversation. If it were not for the fact that I know some people take the balderdash about sexism seriously. Referring to a ship as "she" or "her" is not sexist in any way. Nobody believes the ship is female. Nobody believes females are in some ways like ships. And even if anybody is of the conviction that these ludicrous ideas apply, we are not here to right great wrongs. Bus stop (talk) 14:46, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Referring to an inanimate object with the neuter pronoun would not be considered "coarse language" by any standard I am aware of. Archon 2488 (talk) 19:08, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Referring to an inanimate object with the neuter pronoun would not be considered "coarse language" by any standard I am aware of. Except in the case of ships. Ships are referred to as "she" and "her". Bus stop (talk) 19:31, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Using "it" is considered "coarse language" in the case of ships? As Beland pointed out in his initial post, "she" for ships is disrecommended by reputable usage authorities, including The Chicago Manual of Style, The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, The Associated Press Stylebook, and even the U.S. Navy style guide, which includes the AP Stylebook by reference.. Even our own MOS, which you quoted earlier, gives guidance that either form is acceptable. Please enlighten me with a reputable source that considers the usage of "it" for ships as "coarse language". It is eminently clear that you do not prefer it, but exceptional claims require exceptional sources. CThomas3 (talk) 20:30, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Have any female editors weighed in here arguing that it is sexist to refer to ships as "she", "her", and "hers"? Bus stop (talk) 20:44, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I'm not sure if any females have or not, but I don't see what that has to do with your statement that using "it" to refer to a ship is "coarse language", "crude speech", and not "good writing". I'm asking if you have a reputable source to back up that assertion. CThomas3 (talk) 21:09, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I don't have such a source. English uses gender-neutral pronouns except in the case of ships. The use of "she" and "her" for ships represents a special case. Running roughshod over that special case does not convey refinement; it represents crudeness. Again—I don't have a source for that. Bus stop (talk) 21:19, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Except many have pointed out that English use in this case is rapidly changing, and many modern style guides reflect this change. English continually evolves (indeed, as do all languages), or else we'd be still be using "ye" and "thou". This evolution isn't going to please everyone, as it clearly does not please you. But we'll have to agree to disagree on whether or not that represents crudeness. CThomas3 (talk) 21:24, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I think it's hilarious that after I've acknowledged some articles which use "she" exist but the vast majority of articles use "its," you still respond with "but this individual article uses "she!"" Googling "USS John McCain" "collision" and "its/her crew" - "its crew" comes up more than twice as often in the results as "her crew" and all reputable news agencies and the Navy use its. You've literally picked the one "article" which uses "her crew" that doesn't quote someone talking about the ship. SportingFlyer T·C 04:23, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
You've literally picked the one "article" which uses "her crew" that doesn't quote someone talking about the ship. It's a miracle. SportingFlyer—is there any reason we should not use "she" and "her" as pronouns in reference to ships? There is not only one way of speaking. Believe it or not the English language allows for saying things in more than one way. If there is no reason to prefer one way of speaking over the other, then why not leave it up to editorial discretion? Bus stop (talk) 04:33, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Only one is grammatically correct: "it". Levivich 04:39, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
And the grammatically correct version is used the vast majority of the time now. SportingFlyer T·C 04:48, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Levivich—you wrote "Those two articles are from 30 years ago." So I showed you a source dating from an incident that took place in 2017, the USS John S. McCain and Alnic MC collision. Your response to that now seems to be Only one is grammatically correct: "it". Please tell me—why is "it" the only grammatically correct choice? Bus stop (talk) 04:53, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
And I pointed out you found one of the few sources that uses "she" in 2017. Grammatically, unless you're specifically talking about a person, English is not a gendered language. A ship is an inanimate object, and inanimate objects take "it/its" as their pronoun. SportingFlyer T·C 05:00, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
JFGI. Levivich 05:01, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
SportingFlyer, Levivich—"English is not a gendered language." As concerns ships, English is a gendered language. The more refined way of referring to ships is to use the pronouns "she" and "her". But the pronoun "it" is not unacceptable. The use of the pronoun "it" in reference to ships simply results in a more crude form of speech. But it is entirely intelligible. Please feel free to use it if it suits your fancy. Bus stop (talk) 05:15, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
The idea that referring to objects as women is "refined" is a new one, I'll give you that. Levivich 05:23, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
No, it's not a gendered language. Using gendered pronouns for inanimate objects is metaphorical or poetic and has no place in an encyclopaedia. You can have the opinion that we should allow for the archaic minority usage, as if I were to start using "ain't" on specific articles referring to the American south - but sources generally agree the use is archaic, even sources from Quebec. The fact it hasn't died out completely yet doesn't mean we should encourage anachronistic grammar. SportingFlyer T·C 05:33, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
English is definitely not gendered. The only reason we have standing use of referring to ships as "she/her" is because of centuries-old maritime traditions, treating the ship as a woman as to anthropomorphize the vessel not only hoping to treat it with care and kindness to make sure the vessel got them where they needed to go, but that it would be blessed by the weather/gods/whatever as a fair maiden on the ocean. All attitudes that don't exist now, and why we more commonly use "it", but a reason to keep in mind the bulk of the sources used and use what is preferred from those, defaulting to "it" if it is not clear. This is not gendering the language as it is in German or French. --Masem (t) 06:48, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
We used to always use "he" to mean "he or she", and sometimes use "she" to mean "it". We used to call humankind "mankind" but we've never called it "womankind". When we refer to people as men, we're saying that men are people. When we refer to things as women, we're saying that women are things. Old sources used to refer to people as "negroid", "mongoloid", "lunatic" and "retard", but even when citing such sources, we would never use those words; instead, we'd use words like African, Asian, mentally ill, or developmentally disabled. If a word is a poor choice of word today, then we shouldn't use it today, even if some used it yesterday, even if some will still use it tomorrow. Levivich 06:15, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

I understand why some people want to use 'it' for grammar reasons. I also understand that some people want to be "modern" and "trendy" by ditching historical usage. But I don't understand why some people think it is explicitly sexist. What is denigrating about it? Are the people who are complaining the ones that are actually upset (eg most women, a minority of women, a group of ultra extreme feminists) or a group of social justice warriors who believe they are championing somebody's rights? I ask because I don't understand where this is coming from. I also notice that the discussion is mostly (all?) from men.  Stepho  talk  22:31, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

Welcome to the world of political correctness gone haywire. GoodDay (talk) 23:17, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

  • It also stems from the fact that some editors dislike flexible “rules”. When asking “what should we do in situation X” They want the answer to be “Do Y”... and they really dislike it when the answer is “Do either Y or Z, both are acceptable”. Blueboar (talk) 23:32, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
    • @GoodDay: I'm afraid I couldn't answer the question about the demographic of who is offended without more research, but I did start this section with a list of reasons. Did those not make sense as reasons someone might come to that conclusion? I'm sure many people in the end just disagree with the reasoning or don't consider it worth fretting about compared to many other gender issues, but I'm trying to help answer the question of why some people think it's sexist. I expect that most people, whether they use "it" or "she" for ships, just plain haven't considered whether "she" is sexist or not. -- Beland (talk) 06:42, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
@Masem: Responding to your point about avoiding describing the past in modern terms, I don't think that applies here. I often correct anachronisms like "that country didn't exist at the time" or "no one before the Scientific Revolution called themselves a scientist" so I very much support the spirit of that recommendation and awareness of how people actually spoke historically. But when speaking in Wikipedia's own voice, we use present-day language. We don't call movies from the 1920s "talkies" even though that might have been the dominant term at the time. When NASA decided to change its official style recommendation from "manned" to "crewed", it made that retroactive with the exception of proper nouns like the Manned Spaceflight Center. So when talking about Apollo program in the 1960s and 70s, those are now called human spaceflight missions or crewed missions even though everyone called them manned at the time; Wikipedia has mirrored that change. -- Beland (talk) 06:51, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
      • Goodday, what complete bullshit. Drmies (talk) 02:25, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Which raises a point that if we have new literature talking about old ships that ditch the "she" and that sourcing is more prevalent than the older sources that use "she", then maybe that's a fair point to use "it" for those ships. That NASA now uses "crewed" over "manned" to talk about historic missions is just a similar adoption of what I've been saying: reflect what the better sources uses, and in doubt, use the genderless approach. What I would suspect is that most of the older ship articles aren't going to have newer sourcing that use "it" over "she", and so there's going to be no driver for change there. (There's probably many many more ship articles than crewed space flight ones as well, so we're looking at the disruption factor as a concern too). The idea here is to minimize confusion to the reader reading our article and then the sources. I don't think "crewed" vs "manned" carries that much of an issue they are clearly close synonyms, but "she" vs "it" could. ("Who's "she"? The WP never mentioned any woman involved with this ship..."). --Masem (t) 13:37, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    • Thank you to those who replied to me. Unfortunately the root of the claim is till mired in mystery. The only cause resented so far that seems to have any bearing is "political correctness gone mad", although even its support is weak. Personally I suspect it is a case of "the moral majority is actually a very noisy minority", possibly driven by ultra-feminists or SJWs (although I have no proof). From the museum vandalism, "But the museum's surrender to the vandals — whose objection is believed to be linked to some within the LGBTQ community who do not like to be referred to as female, even though they are biologically female — drew widespread condemnation on social media." [54] seems to be a single radical person that brought outrage from large numbers of the public. I remain suspicious of anything being driven by an unknown cause.  Stepho  talk  21:53, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
      • Had never heard of Sputnik News, that's an interesting Wikipedia article if I've seen one. There's not a specific crusade against this, though - I think it's simple, as professions have become less gendered, we have moved away from language which implies gender. Spokesperson instead of spokesman, crewed instead of manned, flight attendant instead of stewardess, for instance, which, of course, not everyone is happy with, but I consider that respect that labor can be produced by someone of any gender more than "political correctness." I think this is likely the same. SportingFlyer T·C 04:28, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

We have an article USS Fitzgerald and MV ACX Crystal collision. It addresses a ship collision from 2017. Business Insider writes this article about the collision. In it we find "The containership suffered damage to her bow and port side forward." In it we find "The ACX Crystal had been steaming east (course approximately 090) at about 20 knots from Nagoya when, 15 miles west of Toshima, she turned slightly to port altering to a course northeast (088 degrees) which would have taken it between Oshima to the north and Toshima to the south." In it we find "Then, ACX Crystal altered course, turning hard starboard to nearly a due South heading and after one nautical mile she then turned to port heading east of south for approximately one nautical mile before changing course to a northeast for approximately seven nautical miles heading between Toshima and Oshima before she reversed course and headed back to a point nearly due north and slightly to the west of the collision site." As we can see "she" and "her" are pronouns of reference for ships. Bus stop (talk) 15:15, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

  • The Business Insider article is not consistent: "On multiple occasions, the Fitzgerald was deployed to the sea around Japan and other areas in response to North Korean ballistic missiles, and it has participated in numerous Japan-US joint training exercises and drills. At the end of April, the ship participated in a training exercise for ballistic missile response with a Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces Aegis destroyer in the Sea of Japan. At the beginning of June, it participated in a joint training exercise with the Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces in the area stretching between the Sea of Japan and the waters east of Okinawa." If there's anything everyone seems to agree on, it's that we don't want to mix styles in the same article like this. -- Beland (talk) 16:19, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
    "from the port of Valdez, Alaska, her belly freshly gorged"
    "Keep her off the rocks, Dad"
    "fifteen knots, her engines were thrown into idle"
    "astern to slow her, says Raymond, is a good command"
    "sending her careering uncontrollably"
    "back to her position, checked the red flashing"
    "the ship during loading, which was fortunate, since she proceeded to leak crude oil"
    Many more can be found. Yes, sometimes "it" is used. But undeniably "she" and "her" constitutes a special-use situation for ships. Bus stop (talk) 16:35, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Well, if you're using the fact that an article uses "she" to support a point, the fact that it also uses "it" (which you didn't mention), undermines that point. I don't dispute that "she" for ships is indeed used in the English language. The question is whether the tone that results from that usage is modern, encyclopedic, and unoffensive. Was the Rolling Stone article you are citing written in 1989? That was 30 years ago, and accepted language concerning gender and minorities has changed significantly since then. -- Beland (talk) 20:09, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
  • That's a much more relevant example, and apparently consistent with The Economist's style guide, as others have pointed out. -- Beland (talk) 02:42, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
  • I don't think this is a matter of sexism, although i can see the argument. I just think its culturally bias to use "She". The average reader will call a ship an "it". The idea of calling them "she" is personalized, and i can see that for sailors. I can even see literature using "She" as well because they're probably attempting to add a poetic spin on it. But i don't think it is appropriate for Wikipedia to use that tone.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 15:18, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    • The average reader will call a ship an "it". The average reader is ignorant of many things. I am ignorant of many things. I don't think it is a good idea for me to put my head in a hole in the ground and block out all that I am ignorant of. Let readers learn that in the English language the terms of reference for ships are "she" and "her". Bus stop (talk) 15:27, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
      • I understand your argument, but i still believe mine is valid despite your counterpoint.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 15:32, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
        • The evidence does not support your baseless assertion. Calling everyone who disagreees with you ignorant is rude and pretentious, and frankly the only crude behavior I see here. What you learned in grade school is not the be-all, end-all of the English language, and it's rather arrogant of you to assert that it is. oknazevad (talk) 15:51, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
          • "The evidence does not support your baseless assertion." Concerning language, "evidence" is "usage". If good quality sources currently use "she" and "her", isn't that evidence we should not concoct a rule that obviates the use of "she" and "her"? Bus stop (talk) 16:16, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
            • Because there are cultural biases that reliable sources can use. What about other reliable sources that are less attached to the culture of ships? How do they address ships? If it was universally referred to as "she" across all cultures, i would accept it. But it's not. Not everyone refers to ships as "she". There is no reason to be inconsistent about how Wikipedia refers to ships. There are cars and airplanes referred to as "she" sometimes too and i dont see them doing the same thing. I just dont agree with the argument that sources choose to refer to ships as "she" as a valid argument. Either we use she or it, but not both. And using it makes more sense, its easier to understand, and the only people upset with it are most likely the ones attached to the culture.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 17:53, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
              • I'm not attached to any culture. I'm attached to the culture of good writing. Replacing she/her with "it" degrades writing/speaking. I completely concede that English is non-gendered concerning inanimate objects—with the exception of ships. Ships get the gendered pronouns "she" and "her". We are not here to right great wrongs, and there is no "wrong" to be "righted". The argument that calling a ship "she" or "her" is sexist is about as silly as anything could be. How could calling a ship "she" or "her" be sexist? The initiative here is political correctness run amok. The language police need to take a break. Language use should be descriptive. Bus stop (talk) 18:54, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
                • This isn't a political correctness or a sexist issue. Some may see it that way, but i do not. It holds no grounds in this discussion at least to me. However, there are other more legitimate concerns. There is the problem of consistency. Why should we accept "it" and "she" at the same time? It can create a divide for those who are culturally inclined to use "She" over those who aren't. In my opinion, it would be best to use one or the other, but no reason to use both.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 19:07, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
                  • "Why should we accept 'it' and 'she' at the same time?" Well, for the same reason that we accept both "color" and "colour". There is simply no need for pedia-wide consistency on this issue. --Trovatore (talk) 22:04, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
                    • @Trovatore: The reason is because some articles are predominantly based on British english. It's not the same reason why we accept both. However, jumping from one ship. Although i do believe that every article that uses british english should have a notification at the top saying this article follows british english grammar. But pronouns are not the same as spelling.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 15:25, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
                      • That's an extra reason to accept different English varieties, but I'm not seeing any reason not to accept different pronouns. It's an optional style; Wikipedia has lots of them. For the most part it works fine. There is no value in consistency for its own sake. --Trovatore (talk) 18:17, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
                        • Others don't see it as an optional style. Others see it as jargon, and unnecessary pronoun that confuses first time readers and only those within the culture will call ships "She/her". Its not the most nuetral term we can use. It makes the most logical sense.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 18:37, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
                          • It's amazing that people aren't permitted to speak plain English anymore. You are rejecting it as jargon and non-neutral. It is the language used by entirely-acceptable sources. Bus stop (talk) 18:44, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
                            • You're using a logical fallacy by saying "because they speak english, therefore calling ships she is standard english". You have admitted that this can confuse first time readers, you have admitted that the practice of calling it "she" has died down over the course of time. You can't possibly call it plain english if you're admitting to these facts. This is a cultural reason. It's not universal. Its not widely accepted in all english-speaking regions. Maybe the bigger ones like Europe and North America, but does Bahamas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia do this as well? Will we call ships with male names. Its Jargon, plain and simple.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 19:00, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Sigh, not another "but there's an article that uses she!" argument to have to destroy. Per google, "USS Fitzgerald" "its bow": 1,230 results including all major US News orgs, the UK Daily Mail, Bangkok news, a maritime news website, and the Australian Herald Sun; "USS Fitzgerald" "her bow" brings only 365 results, a only a smattering of articles (the Diplomat, the UK Times) and then a bunch of maritime forums and blog posts. SportingFlyer T·C 04:34, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

Consensus[edit]

This discussion has strong advocates on both sides and, I venture to suggest, will not achieve consensus in any reasonable time frame. Without consensus the changes proposed cannot be made. Is it possible for both sides to WP:DROPTHESTICK and leave the discussion for a couple of years? Perhaps slate a second round for November 2021? Martin of Sheffield (talk) 15:30, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

What an appalling idea, return to this drivel in two years. Ridiculous arguments here, how can it possibly be sexist to name some beautiful object she when men are not complaining about it. The world sits back slack jawed at us embarrassing ourselves. Broichmore (talk) 05:38, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
It's polling 2:1 in favor of "it" right now. I'm counting 20 !votes for "it" and 10 !votes for "she". Levivich 15:46, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I also think its worth looking into the quality of the argument.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 15:48, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
If you consider the quality of the argument, it's 20-0. Good thing we have uninvolved editors close discussions instead of participants, eh? 718smiley.svg Levivich 15:55, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
What a truly arrogant statement. What you're basically saying is because some sources use and advocate "it" and some people have decided (without much apparent basis in the real world, I might add - some people will take offence at anything) that it's sexist, Wikipedia should be railroading all editors into using "it" on all articles, even though many sources still use "she". That's not how Wikipedia works. -- Necrothesp (talk) 17:28, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Some people will take offence at anything, some even mistake a joke for a truly arrogant statement. 718smiley.svg 718smiley.svg Levivich 20:36, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
No, I get it was light-hearted, but given your previous comments it's obviously clear that you think we should lay down some law that says we should always use "it" and that you think arguments against are invalid. -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:15, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

Please all read WP:NOTDEM. !votes don't count. The last three edits show that consensus has not been obtained, and is unlikely to be obtained. Martin of Sheffield (talk) 17:31, 25 November 2019 (UTC)C

I disagree with how you interpret consensus. This is a relatively recent discussion. Just three days ago. I dont think it is wise to just assume there is no consensus and wait a year. There's plenty of time for more editors to get involved.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 18:20, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
I agree, particularly where new voters are still weighing in regularly, and discussion is ongoing, with people posting sources for review, N-grams, and so on. Aside from there being plenty of time for more editors to get involved, it is also quite possible that some editors may change their !votes after seeing other editors' new evidence. In my view, it's much too soon to call it and declare a moratorium. Levivich 20:42, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

I'm curious if we'd be able to form consensus around a new compromise, since usage of "it" in non-specialist sources seems to be nearly universal in American English, but mixed in the UK where prominent sources like the BBC still use "she". I've proposed a change to something like '"it" in articles written in American English, either "she" or "it" in other varieties of English', but we could also consider something like 'status quo until the BBC stops using "she"', which I find a compelling counterargument to my original proposal. -- Beland (talk) 21:34, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Interestingly, the online BBC News style guide (last updated July 2013) says very emphatically: Ships should not be treated as feminine (eg: A US aircraft-carrier has disappeared in the Atlantic. It was carrying 400 men - and not "She was carrying..."). (emphasis in original). CThomas3 (talk) 01:47, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Even more interestingly, so does the Guardian, the Telegraph, and Reuters. The Economist as of 2015 does still list ships as an exception to using gender-neutral pronouns for things other than people. I couldn't access the Financial Times style guide online. CThomas3 (talk) 02:41, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
I would like to add a little more commentary concerning The Economist:
"he, she, they"
"You also have a duty to grammar. The struggle to be gender-neutral rests on a misconception about gender, a grammatical convention to make words masculine, feminine or neuter. Since English is unusual in assigning few genders to nouns other than those relating to people (ships are exceptions), feminists have come to argue that language should be gender-neutral."
The Economist is clear. This is a question of grammar. English does not assign gender except in the case of ships. And The Economist, it goes without saying, is the most erudite of the above publications. The bold above was added by me.
Quite simply, Wikipedia shouldn't be trying to steer the English language. That is not at all the purpose of Wikipedia. Arguably the opposite is our purpose—to expose the reader to the language as it is. The Economist recognizes in its style guide that "feminists" have come to argue that language should be gender-neutral. But their style guide is steadfast that ships are an exception. Correct grammar maintains that ships use gendered pronouns. Bus stop (talk) 05:32, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
I would like to thank Cthomas3 for pointing out that "The Economist as of 2015 does still list ships as an exception to using gender-neutral pronouns for things other than people." Bus stop (talk) 18:17, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
As pointed out below, The Economist writes "ship and its", not "ship and her", regardless of its style guide. Doremo (talk) 10:40, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Doremo—you are mistaken. If you follow through to the articles that your search turns up you will find many instances of ships referred to as she/her/hers. Your error is in searching for "ship and its". An Economist article can contain "ship and its" and still refer to the ship as she/her/hers. In other words The Economist does not even require internal (within one article) consistency. The topmost example returned by google using your search for "ship and its" is "The battle for Colombia’s sunken treasure". As expected we find within it "He promised to recover the ship and its contents, worth as much as $17bn, and build a museum in Cartagena to house them." But we also find "She never reached her destination: in June that year she was sunk by a squadron of British ships. For more than three centuries her final resting place remained a mystery." Our present policy is already too strict on this point because our present policy prohibits internal inconsistency. Our policy really should be saying "feel free to use she/her/hers or it/its anywhere that pleases you—because it doesn't matter; it is really no big deal." Instead our policy says Ships may be referred to using either feminine forms ("she", "her", "hers") or neuter forms ("it", "its"). Either usage is acceptable, but each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively. If we follow the example set by The Economist we can remove the language "each article should be internally consistent and employ one or the other exclusively." Bus stop (talk) 14:35, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Thank you for pointing out the inconsistency at The Economist. I can only compare one phrase at a time; in the case of the easily searchable "ship and its/her", "it" is clearly dominant in The Economist (apparent ratio 954:2). Individual instances don't indicate a trend. For the phrase "it/she was sunk by" the apparent ratio is 172:3 at The Economist site. The point here is that invoking usage in The Economist tends to support it rather than she—not that it is the exclusive usage. Doremo (talk) 14:56, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Doremo—"inconsistency" is a plus. There is no need for consistency. You are pointing out that The Economist uses "ship and its". But in the same Economist article in which we find "ship and its" we also find the ship referred to as "she" and "her" and "hers". The bottom line is that our discussion is pure drivel. It doesn't matter. Why agonize over something that is completely inconsequential? Bus stop (talk) 15:05, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Inconsistency is not a plus. Many consider it a minus in this case. Using she or it can affect the tone of the article, and i dont think inconsistent tone is good. Lets not try to devalue another person's argument by asking "Why agonize over something that is completely inconsequential?" because that question can be used in favor of "it" as well.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 15:19, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Blue Pumpkin Pie—you write "Using she or it can affect the tone of the article, and i dont think inconsistent tone is good." Inconsistent tone? Can you please provide an example of "inconsistent tone"? Wouldn't "tone" be determined by the information that needs to be conveyed? Bus stop (talk) 15:40, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Tone is determined by the editor and what information they want to convey. Whether it needs to be conveyed is the question.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 15:54, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
You are writing "Using she or it can affect the tone of the article, and i dont think inconsistent tone is good." Can you please provide an example of "inconsistent tone"? Bus stop (talk) 16:04, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Inconsistent tone between articles, not within a single article. But just to provide an example: Seawise Giant and RMS Titanic. The fact that a japanese ship is referred to as it and a western ship is referred as she further supports the idea that this isn't a standard practice universally, but between specific. It is commonly accepted, but it not the standard. And that's what important. Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 16:18, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Concerning Seawise Giant and RMS Titanic, is there anything wrong with either article vis-à-vis the use of pronouns for ships? I don't think anything is wrong at either article vis-à-vis the use of pronouns for ships—but maybe I'm overlooking something. Can you please point to the specific problem? Bus stop (talk) 16:35, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Well it goes back with how confusing it can be to first time readers. RMS Titanic for example, has usage of "it" and "she". It may be true that "it" may not be referring to the Titanic, but it is still confusing to what it is referring to. The problem with using "she" for inanimate objects still creates problems in the text. Is it appropriate to call it "the ship" and "she" in the same article? Or by name instead of "the ship". Again, to first time readers, it will look like Wikipedia is attempting to personalize the ship, and although sources may choose to do that, it may not be necessary for Wikipedia to do so.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 16:45, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Is it appropriate to call it "the ship" and "she" in the same article? Yes. "She" is as grammatically correct as "it" in reference to ships. As for "first time readers"—certainly they will have difficulty—that is part of the learning process. We should not shield readers from these basic speech variations in regard to the pronouns used to reference ships. Bus stop (talk) 17:17, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Is referring to "the ship" the same as calling it "It"? Thats the question i'm imposing. Again, for first time readers this can be difficult to understand, and i'm in the first belief that Wikipedia is there to inform, not educate. I'm not saying we should shield readers. I just think we should be more consistent about it. And yes, i'm in the firm belief that this is beneficial to Wikipedia by having a consistent tone. I do not believe that using "she" helps keeping the encyclopedic tone.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 17:24, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Wikipedia does not need to decide on ways of speaking as long as those ways of speaking fall within the realm of general acceptability. How difficult would it be for a first time reader to grasp that the female pronoun is being used for the ship they are reading about? Wouldn't a first time reader simply google "ship gender" for more information on this? Bus stop (talk) 18:03, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
There's no point discussing this further now is there? We stated everything we could possibly state. I'm choosing to drop the stick, at least with you. I may choose to speak with others about it, if i believe it is beneficial to clarify.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 18:06, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
I predict that Bus stop, with his snobbish, dismissive bludgeoning of this discussion, is going to single-handedly drive the outcome from the status quo of either-with-consistency to it-only. EEng 18:32, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Vintage cars and planes are also commonly call she, as is any piece of bespoke made equipment, usually lovingly tended. Broichmore (talk) 10:19, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Colloquially, yes, but I haven't seen it done in formal or encyclopedic writing. And in fact, cars are often referred to as "he", especially in the Midwest, according to a recent study by Shell [55]. CThomas3 (talk) 17:07, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Best we just leave it to individual pages. I support closing early. Kirbanzo (userpage - talk - contribs) 23:22, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
    A little late for that. EEng 04:49, 1 December 2019 (UTC)

Retain current guidance[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Closing this redundant !voting section again, per WP:MULTI and WP:TALKFORK. If you want to retain the current guidance, just say so in the RfC above. If you don't, then say what you'd prefer in the RfC above.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:44, 30 November 2019 (UTC)

Much of the above discussion presents the debate as being either always “it” OR always “she”... but our current guidance is actually more flexible. BOTH are allowed (although not in the same article). I would like to know how many people support this current guidance. How many are willing to continue to be flexible? Blueboar (talk) 21:25, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

  • oppose current guidance i dont think its flexible, and i find it inconsistent and confusing for readers. Why is one ship considered it while another she?Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 21:27, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    • Many other things are "inconsistent" in Wikipedia, and many of us don't consider that a problem. The unit of consistency is the article, not Wikipedia as a whole. --Trovatore (talk) 21:31, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
    • I know. I just dont think there is a good reason to be inconsistent about pronouns.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 21:33, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose I personally think it's time we moved forward with "it" across the board for ships, with the exception of direct quotes. CThomas3 (talk) 21:29, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • My opposition to the change was implicitly a !vote in favor of the current guidance. I don't think anyone has proposed that we start recommending she as a uniform rule. I agree it's possible that that's not clearly understood by some of the participants, though. --Trovatore (talk) 21:34, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose - I'd like to see the guidance at least reflect differences in American vs. UK English, and possibly civilian vs. military if that turns out to be consistent. -- Beland (talk) 21:35, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • I think it's quite obvious that I and others are opposed to current guidance; the opening statement makes clear exactly what guidelines will be changed with links, so any person doing their due diligence will be aware of what current guidance is. I believe SMcCandlish's notice on the Village Pump also contains (or in a comment below? I can't remember or be bothered to check) mentions what the current guidance is. I think this is something that does not need its own section to resolve and that an experienced closer will be able to assess consensus for existing guidelines from the above discussion without splitting the discussion. (edit conflict) Wug·a·po·des​ 21:38, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • I vote to close this since its redundant and only focus on the discussion above.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 21:40, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose and agree with Blue Pumpkin Pie above. Levivich 22:15, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Why is there a second poll? It confuses the issue and makes it more difficult for the closer to determine consensus. If the above proposal doesn't gain consensus to change the guidance, then by default the current guidance remains. There is zero reason to expliciltly propose such a course. Plainly put, this section is pointless and unneeded. oknazevad (talk) 22:23, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose current guidance Ships and boats should always be she, and the use of it ought to be corrected on first sight. That's my opinion, but in the interest of harmony I'll accept the current guidance and tolerate the it adherents. The question though is whether those seeking to change the use of English for political reasons are prepared to similarly compromise? Martin of Sheffield (talk) 22:50, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • I don't think its for political reasons. I think it was a bad way to start to calling it sexist (we can't change history). There are plenty of reasons outside of political reasons. And Although i disagree that "she" should be used, i at least admire that you want more consistency, not less.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 22:55, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose current guidance because (as Masem put it so well) Using gendered pronouns for inanimate objects is metaphorical or poetic and has no place in an encyclopaedia. I think we'll need an RfC. EEng 03:04, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose current guidance per EEng and my vote in the RfC above. Grammar should not be discretionary where no conflict exists. I also agree with Blue Pumpkin Pie, this is functionally a duplicate discussion. SportingFlyer T·C 04:14, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
  • We don't need a rule about this. Wikipedia is not required to be consistent. Please stop expanding the manual of style in this and every other respect because, firstly, I don't wish to have to watchlist MOS subpages in order to stop editors fucking up carefully-written content by using AWB at several thousand edits per hour, and secondly, a key thing that Wikipedia needs to reduce is the amount of people who think their role is to manage how other people can write.—S Marshall T/C 02:22, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support current guidance. Many variations exist of English, BC/AD vs BCE/CE, and many more. There isn't a need to force a pronoun for all of Wikipedia. Regards, User:TheDragonFire300. (Contact me | Contributions). This message was left at 23:37, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support current guidance. No reader is going to be that offended or surprised whichever version they encounter. We can safely let the authors of articles decide which they prefer; they have earned that right. Jmchutchinson (talk) 22:08, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
Just a gentle reminder that no one owns an article.--WaltCip (talk) 16:11, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • I think they mean that the creator generally determines what form of English is used, unless consensus emerges later to change that. Kirbanzo (userpage - talk - contribs) 23:19, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
    Except that isn't true. Please re-read MOS:ENGVAR and MOS:RETAIN. The choice between one major national variety of English (e.g. US, Canadian, British, New Zealand, etc.) is considered to be set at the first non-stub version of an article, and shouldn't be changed without good reason, which should be discussed on the talk page. If consensus cannot emerge from that process, then default back to what was chosen in the first non-stub version. Nothing about that suggests that whoever created the first non-stub version (much less the first stub) has more say than anyone else going forward (no one is a WP:VESTED editor, and no one can become one be misrepresenting a guideline, per WP:OWN policy). The process same goes for MOS:DATEVAR and WP:CITEVAR. And where the choice between one style matter and another (outside of ENGVAR, DATEVAR, CITEVAR issues) is simply arbitrary and either version is equivalent, don't change it just to change it (per MOS:RETAIN). In practice, not that many cases actually are arbitrary and equivalent, or most of our copyediting wouldn't be possible, especially at the GAN and FAC level after an article has already been shaped a lot.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:40, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
I think when Jmchutchinson says "they have earned that right", Jmchutchinson is simply referencing normal editorial discretion in how one expresses oneself. This is no big deal. We can express ourselves in a multitude of ways. As editors we are always weighing the pros and cons of expressing an idea one way or another way. Bus stop (talk) 17:20, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Support current guidance. Believe it or not we are talking about ships. There is nothing remotely "sexist" about referring to a ship as "she" or "her". Bus stop (talk) 01:26, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Strongly support current guidance - consensus on an individual page should determine if 'she' or 'it' is used, not some hardline rule that could cause backlash and controversy. Kirbanzo (userpage - talk - contribs) 23:19, 29 November 2019 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

List of style guides[edit]

This list is incomplete. You can help by expanding it. Please feel free to add to/edit the list below. Levivich 05:12, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
"it" - general audience
The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (1999) [56]
BBC News (2013) [57]
The Guardian (2015) [58]
AP Stylebook (2016) [59]
The Chicago Manual of Style (2017) [60]
Reuters (2017) [61]
The Daily Telegraph (2018) [62]
National Public Radio (2019) [63]
Medical Library Association (2019) [64]
Government of Tasmania (2012) [65]
"it" - specialty
Lloyd's List (2002) [66]
US Coast Guard (2009) [67]
"she" - general audience
The Economist (2015) [68]
Note: The Economist consistently writes "ship and its"; the construction "ship and her" appears in only two reader comments at the site. Doremo (talk) 06:06, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Incorrect, Doremo. You are searching for "ship and its". But The Economist writes articles containing "ship and its" and also refers in the same article to the ship as she/her/hers. The Economist is not requiring internal consistency—and why should they? The Economist aims for intelligibility, not punctilious observance of questionable rules. We should post this at our figurative door: "Welcome to Wikipedia, home of rule-mongering!" Bus stop (talk) 14:46, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
🙄  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:37, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
As already stated above, in the case of the easily searchable "ship and its/her", "it" is clearly dominant in The Economist (apparent ratio 954:2). Individual instances don't indicate a trend. For the phrase "it/she was sunk by" the apparent ratio is 172:3 at The Economist site. The point here is that invoking usage in The Economist tends to support it rather than she—not that it is the exclusive usage. Doremo (talk) 16:50, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Based on this archive.org link, the version using "she" dates at least as far back as December 2016, while the version using "its" is dated March 22, 2017. My thinking is that the version recommending "she" is probably a previous / older version of the style guide, although further investigation might be needed to definitively prove it. Master of Time (talk) 21:09, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
Master of Time—the style guide you are linking to says "her, she - Appropriate pronoun when referring to a ship." Therefore, according to the "U.S. Navy Style Guide", "her" and "she" are the appropriate pronouns when referring to ships. Bus stop (talk) 21:37, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
@Bus stop: I am confused as to how and why you referenced the (probably old) doc version while ignoring the version that does uses "it/its" throughout. Were you keeping track of the discussion? Perhaps reread it starting with Doremo's 27 November 2019 06:06 UTC comment. Master of Time (talk) 22:03, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
@Master of Time: The Economist writes in 2015 "You also have a duty to grammar. The struggle to be gender-neutral rests on a misconception about gender, a grammatical convention to make words masculine, feminine or neuter. Since English is unusual in assigning few genders to nouns other than those relating to people (ships are exceptions), feminists have come to argue that language should be gender-neutral." If you are trying to call my attention to something else could you please just link to it and/or quote from it? Bus stop (talk) 22:31, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
@Bus stop: Naw, I'm just an idiot and posted my original reply in the wrong location. Master of Time (talk) 03:39, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
"she" - specialty
US Navy Style Guide.doc (unclear date), implicitly contradicted by 2017 version which does not mention her/she [69] - this includes the AP Stylebook by reference, which advises against her/she for ships.
Not just implicitly contradicts it by referencing the AP style guide, it outright uses "it" in the entry discussing ship names on page 12. I would call this one unclear at best.oknazevad (talk) 20:27, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
(reposted) Based on this archive.org link, the version using "she" dates at least as far back as December 2016, while the version using "its" is dated March 22, 2017. My thinking is that the version recommending "she" is probably a previous / older version of the style guide, although further investigation might be needed to definitively prove it. Master of Time (talk) 21:09, 29 November 2019 (UTC)
not mentioned
New Hart's Rules
Garner's Modern English Usage

A note on MSM usage[edit]

It's all very well to look at newspaper articles as examples of common usage, but I so often find that newspaper articles get lots of things wrong when they talk about something more specialised than the average journo's skillset. For example, how often is a photograph of a tracked military vehicle referred to as a tank, when it might be a TLC, and APC, a SPG, a TD or something else? About 100%, it seems.

Just because something is in a style guide doesn't make it right. Newspapers and other media outlets might check facts, especially if there's a potential to be sued, but nobody is going to go to court over calling a ship "it", and having all your writers use uniform terminology rather than spend time naval-gazing is probably a more economic use of resources. What can happen? You might get a letter to the editor from some crusty old salt being pernicketty. You know, the sort of chap who obsessively edits Wikipedia fixing the grammar and such-like. --Pete (talk) 01:52, 30 November 2019 (UTC)

 *pernickety Levivich 04:05, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
Isn't that persnickety? Or does this have something to do with dragons?  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:22, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
It's "persnickety" on our side of the pond, "pernickety" on the other side, and "it" for ships on both sides. Levivich 03:28, 1 December 2019 (UTC)
This is kind of veering into WP:CSF and WP:SSF territory again. Skyring, you're commingling multiple unrelated questions: 1) whether a news source is a good source for specialized-topic details; 2) whether news sources [written by native English speakers] are good indicators of English-usage patterns; and 3) whether English-language style guides, which the world treats as reliable English-usage sources, are reliable enough sources for en.Wikipedia editors to use in internal consensus discussions to help shape our own style guide. These things simply don't have anything at all to do with each other. Point 1 often has an answer of "no, especially when specialized-topic sources contradict it". Point 2's answer is "generally yes, except where a broad news style (e.g. AP Stylebook, used by most American news publishers) or a particular news publisher's house style, e.g. Guardian and Observer style guide [sic]) is doing something at odds with most other style guides and thus most other English usage". Point 3's answer is "yes".  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:22, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
I think you've missed the point I was making. A house style guide is not necessarily aimed at correct facts or grammar or popular usage. It is a guide for common usage amongst those writing for that particular publication. WP:MOS is ours.
Is a newspaper going to get into trouble for using "it" instead of "she" when referring to a ship, or vice versa? No, or at the most some pedant will write a letter to the editor. There won't be mass howls of outrage. We can refer to outside style guides, but we don't have to treat them as unvarnished gospel, because their objectives won't necessarily equate to ours.
We cater for a general audience, but we also cater for pedantic editors coming from diverse backgrounds. If we use the "wrong" pronoun, we're going to get edit wars and lengthy talk page discussions, and I'm not sure that there's really any universally correct way to refer to a ship. If we pick one or the other, we're going to get people telling us we're wrong in certain cases. Or most cases. Or all cases.
Looking at discussion on this topic, I can certainly discern strong opinions both ways. There's no consensus that I can see, and if it comes down to who can shout the loudest or wear down their opponents, that's a poor way to run things. We're also going to get people who will be unaware of MOS, or just feel that MoS is wrong, and battle away to make all ships feminine - as they should be - or make them neuter as per the sadly loose usage of these latter days.
I think nobody is going to be confused if a ship is called it or her, and we can find alternative wording if there is any chance of confusion. My suggestion would be to allow both, and use WP:RETAIN to sort out disputes.
Accordingly, I don't think we need worry too much about finding a definitive style guide. We operate a shop where the words can get changed on a daily basis. Avoiding editorial friction is a useful aim for our publication. --Pete (talk) 08:29, 3 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Since discussion has died down somewhat I thought I'd enliven things with a consideration of the hilarious possibilities attendant on this quaint and peculiar she usage. We've had several references to the christening of the QE2; according to the ship's official website [70]:
It was the Queen herself who christened the liner: "I name this ship Queen Elizabeth the Second. May God bless her and all who sail in her." With the ceremonial shattering of a bottle of Australian wine against her huge bow, she began her first journey into the water.
Think about it.
Unhide for more
OK, I'm lying. The text actually reads:
With the ceremonial shattering of a bottle of Australian wine against the huge bow, the ship began her first journey into the water.
Almost as amusing as my faux version are the awkward locutions ("the huge bow", "the ship") required to avoid the unregal image I hope I created in your mind a moment ago.
EEng 22:32, 2 December 2019 (UTC)

Commentary on "follow the sources"[edit]

I see quite a few people here saying that we should simply "follow the sources" when it comes to choosing the language we use to describe subjects; so if an article on a ship that operated from 1928-1940, say, has seven sources, let's say published between 1934 and 1975, and if four of them use "she" and three use "it", we would just use "she", like the sources. That certainly sounds simple enough, doesn't it? And it's certainly what we do when selecting and writing content in articles; look at the best sources (which are often contemporary ones) and summarise what they say. But it isn't what we do for our language choices, and it never could be. If it was, we could:

We do not of course do any of these. We carefully choose the words that people use nowadays, as language changes over time and usages that were current only 20 and 30 years ago can be seen as unhelpful and even offensive. We might report and attribute these old-fashioned descriptors, but we would not use them, because there are better, more neutral, less offensive (to some) terms that mean exactly the same, and so do not lose us any meaning. This is not "political correctness", but good, neutral writing. If we have a choice between two exact synonyms, one of which is regarded as old-fashioned, pretentious and flowery, and offends a significant number of modern readers, it seems like quite an easy matter to choose to use the inoffensive one. --The Huhsz (talk) 12:03, 5 December 2019 (UTC)

MOS:TIES and local variations in usage[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Closing duplicate (later) thread, per WP:TALKFORK, WP:MULTI.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:51, 27 November 2019 (UTC)

There is a discussion taking place over whether references to features in Shetland - a group of many inhabited and uninhabited islands - should refer to being "on" or "in" the particular island. My view, as a speaker of (more or less) conventional British English, is that a feature should be described as "on" the relevant island (such as Foula, where this discussion began). However, Griceylipper, who is resident in Shetland, is of the view that that is locally seen as incorrect and "disrespectful", and the Shetland Scots usage of "in" rather than "on" should be used. There is discussion on this at User talk:Griceylipper#In/on islands. Should local usage outweigh conventional national usage in this way? Do editors here have a view? Ghmyrtle (talk) 19:56, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

I would split the difference by using “on” when speaking geographically, and “in” when speaking politically/culturally.

Thinking about this again... it isn’t quite so clear cut. For example, here in America we would say: “Central Park is IN Manhattan” ... yet “The Dutch city of New Amsterdam was founded ON Manhattan”.Blueboar (talk) 20:13, 22 November 2019 (UTC)

Maybe it would help if you could take a look at these edits and see what you think. Ghmyrtle (talk) 20:32, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Ghmyrtle Thanks for bringing some wider attention to this. For the sake of editors wanting my view on this - for pretty much every inhabited or previously inhabited island in Shetland, the usage here by locals is exclusively "in", e.g. "in Foula", "in Yell", etc. The two main local news sources - The Shetland Times and The Shetland News apply this usage, here are a couple examples. BBC Radio Shetland uses this usage in their (skip to 4:15 - with reference to Whalsay, "in the isle"). There far too numerous examples to link - just google "in [island name]" and you'll get tons of articles.
To those who think this sounds odd, just consider some other islands like Tenerife, Nantucket or Manhattan - I admit they are all varying degrees larger than the likes of Foula, but doing a Ctrl-F for "[in/on] [island name]" for any of these places shows both "in" and "on" in use without controversy, and I don't think you'd notice anything remotely odd about "in Tenerife", "in Nantucket" or "in Manhattan". Therefore I don't think it can be argued that the usage of "in" is inherently more confusing to general readers than any of the many other quirks that go unquestioned in English by native speakers.
I also can't see there being any means to determine a specific cutoff criteria by which any island must be classified to use either "in" or "on" by size, population, regional classification, etc. The only thing I think is fair to base it on is local usage by the islanders themselves - especially when in Shetland, the term "on" is deemed to create a sense of islanders of being "other" to those using this term. In my opinion, "on" seems to imply that you might get washed "off" by the sea at any moment, and you're clinging on for dear life! To islanders like myself, islands are our homes - you come "in", and you go "out", just like the front door of your home. I think we should respect islanders preferences on this matter. Griceylipper (talk) 20:45, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
I'm not sure the Manhattan usage here really connects with what you're speaking about, because generally when people are talking about in Manhattan they're talking about the borough, not the island. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs talk 21:14, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
David Fuchs Assuming the boundary of the island and the borough are the same, is it possible to discern whether the island or the borough is being referred to when "in" is used? It could be either equally. Griceylipper (talk) 21:37, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
I would consider "in Manhattan" to be referring to either the borough or the island as they're conterminous and "on Manhattan" to be referring to the island specifically and not the borough. Looking up a different example, O'ahu, "on Oahu" is correct and "in Oahu" is used roughly equally, though I think many of the latter results are from tourist sites, as "on Moloka'i" is used more than twice as often as "in Moloka'i", and for Ni'ihau, which is functionally closed off, "on" is used more than five times as much in Google results. SportingFlyer T·C 10:38, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Just as a point of order, the Borough of Manhattan and Manhattan Island are not conterminous. The borough includes various smaller islands, such as Roosevelt Island and Randalls Island, as well as the Marble Hill neighborhood that's attached to the Bronx. They are in Manhattan, but not on Manhattan. oknazevad (talk) 20:14, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
MOS:TIES does not allow "local variations in usage" and has never done so. Please use standard English (as standard as the language gets). Landmasses are "on" and administrative units are "in". (I'll let you consider all the "local variations" of English we definitely do not want to be used here.) --Izno (talk) 23:37, 22 November 2019 (UTC)
Izno So, for Shetland the following islands have their own community councils:
So according to what you say, you can be "in" any of these places. But because Burra and Trondra is part of a single community council, and are three islands (East Burra, West Burra and Trondra) in one administrative unit, you'd be "on" any one of those individual islands, despite the two Burras being some of the most well connected and densely-populated areas in Shetland? Whereas Fetlar, which is considered much more remote, and has a much smaller population can use "in". Can I just confirm this is what you are meaning? It's just this seems very bizarre and contrived to me. Griceylipper (talk) 00:24, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
For what it's worth, Google gives 253 results for "on East Burra" and 347 results for "in East Burra." "On Fetlar" has more than 7,000 and "in Fetlar" has fewer. SportingFlyer T·C 05:08, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Being on an island is parallel to long usage in English of being on the sea, distinct from being in the sea (i.e., partly or wholly submerged). I believe this arises from human experience of the sea and land relating to a mostly planar surface. Burroughs (and similar constructs) are typically characterized not by a surface, but by boundaries, such that one is "in" or "out". ♦ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 00:13, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
J. Johnson I would agree with you if islands floated, but I think there is probably more of the island "in" the sea than "on" it by virtue of it being attached to the seabed. And as for planar, well, you just need to look at Foula to see how un-planar it is! Seriously though, I appreciate the insight. Griceylipper (talk) 00:36, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
"Planar" is largely a matter of scale (consider the scaled height of the Himalaya Mtns. on a globe of the Earth), but the surface I have in mind is the mainly two-dimensional (or "2.5 D") of the air to land/sea interface where most human experience occurs. Note that while an island is considered "in" the sea, humans are usually "on" islands. Consider also icebergs: big difference in being on rather than in an iceberg. ♦ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 01:08, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
I am not familiar with this usage of "in" in Hjaltland although I bow to Griceylipper's expertise in the matter. The question for articles about thoise isles is (I think) simply which version of ENGVAR (British, Scottish or Shetlandic) should be applied. More generally in Scotland I wrote this [71] earlier today. Ben MacDui 15:40, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

NOTE: There is also discussion on this question at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Islands#RFC "on" v "in" categories - I wasn't aware of that discussion when I raised the issue here. Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:57, 24 November 2019 (UTC)


The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

1st sentence bolding details[edit]

Over at WT:ELEMENTS, #First_sentence, we have concluded about the id's in an isotope intro. Initial text should be

Technetium-99 (99Tc, Tc-99) is ...

All fine, all three elements are identifiers. My question is: should the bracketed id's be bolded? Being an ID would say yes, for readability I'd say no ("lede is important, but no don't bold the whole lede"). -DePiep (talk) 00:51, 23 November 2019 (UTC)

Seems like a reasonable application of MOS:BOLDSYN, since these are alternative titles which redirect to the article. The nearby placement of the bold terms does create a bit of a "sea of black" effect, where it might not be immediately obvious that these are three separate names. You could argue for breaking it up using wording such as:
Technetium-99 (abbreviated 99Tc or Tc-99) is ...
But that's a judgement call. Colin M (talk) 01:25, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
I would say a case like with Dr. Strangelove where you would have a huge chain of bold without the extra words makes sense to avoid. --Masem (t) 03:18, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, will add words (BTW it is a symbol/formula not an abbr) like
Technetium-99 (also 99Tc or Tc-99). -DePiep (talk) 13:56, 23 November 2019 (UTC)
Yep. This is just the same as "how to get around back-to-back wikilinks". And yes, it's not really an abbreviation as that term is typically used, so I concur with DePiep's version.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  09:00, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

Changes that are too radical[edit]

I would like to add the following to the Typographic conformity section. If this is already addressed elsewhere, please point me in the right direction.

Some changes are so radical that they cause our Wikipedia article(s), with the changed version, to no longer appear when searching for the phrase. This applies especially to exact quotes, article titles, and book names. (See Quotations, titles, etc.

Numbers in an exact quote should not be changed:(Modified per advice from Cullen328.)

  • Acceptable: "Here are 5 reasons..."
  • Unacceptable: "Here are five reasons..."

Numbers in an article title or book name are also exact quotes which should not be changed:(Modified per advice from Cullen328.)

  • Acceptable: "...looked at 4 Americans"
  • Unacceptable: "...looked at four Americans"

This isn't a hypothetical problem. It's happening. -- BullRangifer (talk) 08:21, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

I suggest that you come up with examples that do not involve the current Trump controversies, since that tends to overwhelm everything else. Cullen328 Let's discuss it 08:28, 24 November 2019 (UTC)
Cullen328, good suggestion, and so done. We don't want to awaken the ire of our more partisan editors who believe conspiracy theories. Face-wink.svg -- BullRangifer (talk) 17:10, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

Now that I have reworded my examples, and added the link provided by EEng, may I add them? -- BullRangifer (talk) 17:20, 24 November 2019 (UTC)

I would call that WP:MOSBLOAT. With SM's recent xref addition [72] it's plenty clear. EEng 03:44, 25 November 2019 (UTC)
Okay. -- BullRangifer (talk) 07:21, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Merge?[edit]

Uh... why does MOS:DIACRITICS still have a merge process tag after nearly two years? If you look at the linked discussion, you find that there are only two supports and no other opinions. It's also there here. UnnamedUser (open talk page) 03:53, 25 November 2019 (UTC)

Because pretty much no one does the MoS-merge work but me, and I've had other stuff on my plate. I changed the {{Merging from}} to a {{Merge from}} to remove the implication that the merge is "in process".  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:35, 27 November 2019 (UTC)

REFPUNCT[edit]

REFPUNCT says "Any punctuation (see exceptions below) must precede the ref tags." However, that may be misleading. Applied to a sentence like

Land concentration is currently increasing in the European Union[1] and the United States.[2]

it could be interpreted as saying that footnote 1 should be moved to the end of the sentence. But INTEGRITY requires the citation to remain beside the statement it supports. I propose that the sentence be changed to "Any adjacent punctuation ..." RockMagnetist(talk) 18:00, 26 November 2019 (UTC)

 Done, since it's hard to see a minor clarification like this being controversial. –Deacon Vorbis (carbon • videos) 18:06, 26 November 2019 (UTC)
with this? It's hard to see this achieves the point. A real change to this should certainly not be nodded through - it most certainly would be controversial. We don't like refs dotted around in the middle of text, and sentences need to be worded to avoid this, usually by finding the need for a comma. Removing this would significantly change the look of WP text, much for the worst. Johnbod (talk) 14:52, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
Honestly I don't know what you're saying. What's being removed? What's "dotted around" about? EEng 18:09, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
What nonsense! Removing the requirement to have refs after punctuation. Refs NOT after punctuation would be dotted around. Please let me know if further clarification is needed. Johnbod (talk) 22:26, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
Sorry... what is nonsense? I simply asked for clarification of what you’re saying. Are you saying that ref callouts (e.g. [99]) should occur only immediately after a piece of punctuation (or before, if the punctuation is a dash, or possibly before and possibly after, if the punctuation is a closing parenthesis)? EEng 22:55, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
Better; there's still the occasional use like word word (word word[1]).[2] where [1] is about the parenthetical and [2] about the whole statement. --Izno (talk) 02:29, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
To show things more realistically, your text would appear as
word word (word word[1]).[2]
Personally I think having [1] inside the parens looks awful. And what if parens aren't present to help delimit the scope of each ref i.e. what if the example was
worda wordb, wordy wordz[1].[2]
where [1] applies to only to worda wordb and [2] applies to the whole statement? I'd recommend instead
word word[2] (word word).[1][2] (your examples)
or
wordw wordx[2] wordy wordz.[1][2] (my example)
That's just my passing comment. Returning to the question at hand, I don't think there was any realistic confusion for adjacent to clear up, and the addition may create new confusion. EEng 18:09, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
Indeed. What would "unadjacent" punctuation be? Johnbod (talk) 22:26, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
Struck my comment above because I now see I wasn’t reading things right. I think adjacent helps. Non-adjacent punctuation would be punctuation elsewhere in the sentence, and (though to an experienced editor it may seem silly) it’s not beyond imagining that a novice might be confused in the way the OP hypothesizes. EEng 22:40, 28 November 2019 (UTC)
Perhaps it should say "other than parentheses". —BarrelProof (talk) 20:13, 27 November 2019 (UTC)
Parens are addressed in the guideline’s exceptions (though as mentioned above I disagree with its advice on parens). EEng 22:33, 28 November 2019 (UTC)

MOS:DONTHIDE is outdated[edit]

It totally makes sense to collapse part of an infobox by default. Doing so totally does not have to break format on a mobile phone. You could even set the format on a phone so that the infobox appeared as a tab to the side of the screen. Swipe in, infobox, swipe out, article. Infoboxes such as those on cities are important and useful. But they break the article frequently, especially the image placement. It's long overdue a refinement isn't it. ~ R.T.G 06:19, 29 November 2019 (UTC)

To clarify, I support changing DONTHIDE only with respect to infoboxes. Ergo Sum 17:51, 2 December 2019 (UTC)
  • Leaning toward oppose. Please build some sandboxed test-cases. I'm not entirely opposed to changing DONTHIDE, in theory, as long as any new permissiveness is constrained to infoboxes, and has some very clear and limited rationales. But we need to be certain this is not going to present usability and accessibility problems. We already make an exception for navboxes, which collapse by default if two or more are present, but they are not really article content, just a trivial navigation feature. Infoboxes are definitely part of the article content, so how usable and accessible they are matters more. However, as I said at the referenced other discussion, too often collapsing part of an infobox is just an excuse to dump more trivia into it. The fact that a parameter exists in an infobox template does not require that it be filled at every article using the template. Editors need to be more selective, and sometimes reduce an infobox to a reasonable size for the article in which it is found. We do this by trimming trivia from infoboxes, not by hiding it inside collapsing widgets that require various JS and CSS to operate. The whole point of an infobox is to provide key details in an at-a-glance manner. If the material can no longer be read at a glance then it probably shouldn't be in an infobox at all.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  15:58, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
    • Note that navboxes don't appear on mobile, while infoboxes do. If the objective here to make infoboxes not appear on mobile, I'm pretty sure there won't be any consensus for that. --Gonnym (talk) 16:01, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
      Indeed. I would think that the primary impetus for infoboxes is their convenience for mobile users.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:07, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose triggers also other technical issues, e.g. often makes section linking jump too low. Also the "image placement" is not a good reason: is it OK to mess up image layout when opening the infobox? – bad image layout is something that needs to be addressed as well for the open as for the closed infobox. A collapsed infobox would make editors mind less to sort out such layout issues (while the problem doesn't appear when saving the page without afterwards uncollapsing). --Francis Schonken (talk) 16:15, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
  • Solution: The solution here, instead of fixing programming language either on WP or on smartphones, which is a grand request, we change the code, so that it automatically never sends the collapse commands which cause content to collapse, to a smartphone, but still send it to a full size browser. There's less to worry about.  Done ~ R.T.G 23:38, 2 December 2019 (UTC)

"Between"[edit]

One question in the FAQ says:

Why does the Manual of Style distinguish between hyphens (-), en dashes (–), em dashes (—), and minus signs (−)?

I think it's a surprise that no one complains about the use of the word "between" rather than "among" despite there being 4 items rather than 2. Can anyone show me (anywhere in the MOS talk page archives) some threads that talk about the use of "between" in this question?? Georgia guy (talk) 15:40, 30 November 2019 (UTC)

No, because it's just a typo and no one would debate about it. [Guess I was wrong about that!] Already fixed.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  16:06, 30 November 2019 (UTC); updated 19:11, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
Is this an ENGVAR difference? "distinguish among ..." sounds very peculiar phrasing to my British ears while "distinguish between ..." more than two items feels completely unremarkable. Thryduulf (talk) 16:17, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
Perhaps "distinguish amongst" would sound more natural to your British ears? EEng 17:33, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
Slightly, but having thought about this more it's not simply "distinguished among" that is odd-sounding it's "distinguished among" not preceded by "to" and followed by a list - "little to distinguish among them" or "almost nothing to distinguish among the candidates." are OK sounding, but even the latter is borderline, "almost nothing to distinguish her among the candidates" being less so - "nothing to distinguish her from the other candidates" would be more typical phrasing. Thryduulf (talk) 17:57, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
Replace "distinguish" with "differentiate" and remove "between". Why does the Manual of Style differentiate hyphens (-), en dashes (–), em dashes (—), and minus signs (−)? Bus stop (talk) 18:04, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
Done.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  19:11, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
@Bus stop: that works, good suggestion. 19:31, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
thanky Bus stop (talk) 19:43, 30 November 2019 (UTC)
  • "Why are hyphens (-), en dashes (–), em dashes (—), and minus signs (−), not the same?" For the sake of alternatives? ~ R.T.G 23:48, 2 December 2019 (UTC)

Awards section on articles on companies[edit]

Is an awards and recognition section, such as that on the Chobani article, notable in line with the MoS or does it fall under WP:PROMO? I've been seeing multiple instances of lists of awards instead of them being integrated into other sections. Thank you. Daylen (talk) 17:55, 3 December 2019 (UTC)

IMHO, they're acceptable.Blue Pumpkin Pie (talk) 18:55, 3 December 2019 (UTC)
This page is not the ideal place to discuss this question, since the Manual of Style is more about form than content. You might want to try the NPOV noticeboard instead. IMO the answer to the general question, as in so many cases, is "it depends". In the specific case of Chobani, I would say most of the content in that Awards section is at best WP:UNDUE, and likely the product of astroturfing (the section was added by an IP with no other edits). I'd be inclined to nuke the whole section, and possibly integrate a subset of the content into the prose of the article, if any of the awards are discussed in sources that are independent of the awarding organization, or are notable per se. Colin M (talk) 04:40, 4 December 2019 (UTC)