Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style

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"winningest" in sports articles[edit]

Initial discussion[edit]

It seems that some sports writers like to use pet words like "winningest" which are not familiar to many readers, even American English readers. (I have lots of athlete friends from college and I have never heard them use that word. I am also a photographer who has worked for student newspapers at the University of Virginia.) To me, it's apparent that they should be redacted to standard form along the lines of "best-performing coach/team/etc. by [number of] wins" especially since winningest is often used for both absolute number of wins and winning percentage. For that matter, I note we have placed a filler boilerplate on the wikilink winningest, and that we do not use the word "winningest" in the titles of any articles. I would like to solicit consensus on the use of this word. Yanping Nora Soong (talk) 02:26, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

Note: Even the University of Virginia student newspaper for which you worked commonly uses the word. E.g., here, here, and here. Cbl62 (talk) 04:00, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
It's a perfectly cromulent word.oknazevad (talk) 02:45, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • "Winningest" is a well-established word in the American English language recognized by such sources as Merriam Webster (here), Los Angeles Times (e.g., here), The New York Times (e.g., here), The Wall Street Journal (e.g., here), Newsweek (e.g., here), Associated Press (e.g., here), Reuters (here), Chicago Tribune (e.g., here), The Boston Globe (e.g., here), The Washington Post (here), USA Today (here), The Dallas Morning News (here), Atlanta Journal-Constitution (e.g., here), The Philadelphia Inquirer (e.g., here), and Newsday (e.g., here). IMO, the word is appropriately used in articles about America sports topics, where the word is commonly recognized and used by dictionaries of American English and by the nation's most prestigious media outlets. Cbl62 (talk) 03:23, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • It's a perfectly legitimate word in formal American English. One person's personal lack of knowledge of a subject is not the grounds for rewriting the entire English language. As noted by Cbl, all major dictionaries and and reliable sources use it without any indication that it's anything except perfectly acceptable formal English. I have no reason to why the OP has never heard it until recently, but that's why we don't base Wikipedia guidelines on one person's personal experience. We base it on reliable sources. As noted by the sources cited above, it's a fine word and thus is perfectly acceptable in any article. --Jayron32 03:29, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Your claim of universal acceptance of this as "formal English" is flatly untrue. The American Heritage Dictionary [1], Oxford dictionaries [2], and dictionary.com [3] all show "winningest" as "informal". WP articles should be written in a formal WP:TONE.
"Winningest", like many informal words, is also potentially imprecise and ambiguous. Is the "winningest" coach or team the one with the highest average number of wins per season? Or the most lifetime wins, period? The "winningest" pro golfer or race driver could be the one with the most games or races won, or the highest total earnings won in a year's tour (or lifetime), or etc. This is another reason for avoiding it. Jeh (talk) 05:12, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
There is no ambiguity. It means "having the greatest number of wins" (see here), not having the highest winning percentage. This is how it is used on Wikipedia. The fact that it can also be used in other ways (e.g., "winningest smile") doesn't mean it must be stricken. Many words have alternate definitions. Cbl62 (talk) 05:18, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Winningest?!? I've never heard the word before and I can think of no situation in which it is not possible to convey the intended meaning with widely (and internationally) understood vocabulary. Remember the principle of least astonishment. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 06:01, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
"Most wins" when? Per season? Per career? (A strange and even meaningless way to compare people, since different people have different length careers.) Note that dictionary.com doesn't define it as "most wins" but rather "winning most often"; AHD says "more successful or winning most often"; Oxford simply says "Having achieved the most success", which again is vague (how do you define "success"?) Just because you haven't encountered uses other than the one you think of doesn't mean the other uses aren't prevalent. A sports commentary column in a newspaper is one thing, but an encyclopedia should always use the most precise, unambiguous wording possible, and "winningest" is very far from that. Nor have you answered the "informal" point. Jeh (talk) 07:20, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Without even looking it up (to see what it means), I'd judged it to be too informal for normal use in WP articles. Also has a cheap ring about it. Tony (talk) 08:05, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
That's a good approach. Let's just ban words "without even looking it up", because to one's ear, it has a "cheap ring about it." Forget about the fact that Encyclopedia Britannica and The New York Times use it, it sounds "cheap" to me. Brilliant analysis, Tony! Cbl62 (talk) 20:51, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
I generally try to avoid sarcasm and apologize if my comment appeared pointy, Tony. I actually felt that the term had a dissonant quality when I first began encountering it on Wikipedia, but when I learned that the word had gained widespread acceptance in virtually every major American media outlet, I concluded that the term is appropriate, at least when used in the context of American sporting topics where its usage has become common and accepted. Cbl62 (talk) 23:57, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Tony1: I agree completely. Jeh (talk) 08:48, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • It is clearly a valid word in American English, but per WP:COMMONALITY alternatives that work in all varieties of English should be used in place of it where possible (which I imagine would be most situations). Jenks24 (talk) 13:11, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • The word is used in an informal context in the US (where I live) but no way is it encyclopedic enough to use in Wikipedia articles - even sports articles. I support the removal of the term and replacement with more formal wording in all articles. Perhaps someday in the future it will be considered formal, but that's certainly not the case as of now. Rockypedia (talk) 15:53, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • I particularly appreciate the arguments and evidence provided by Cbl62 and Jeh and it would be helpful if others could provide similarly substantive contributions to support opinions on this topic. Thanks! ElKevbo (talk) 16:11, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Encyclopedic/unencyclopedic is too ill-defined be of any use. It's another way of saying "I like it/don't like it". The closest policy we have is Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not, which contains nothing suggesting we can't use words like "winningest". There is no policy or guideline saying formal English is mandatory. WP:FORMAL/WP:TONE is from a mere essay, that is, advice or opinion "for which consensus has not been established." We have citations saying this is standard [4] or informal [5] American English, not slang or a neologism. H.W. Fowler's A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, p. 146, says winningest is "without stylistic taint." The New York Times has used the word hundreds of times for the last ~100 years. The Columbia Encyclopedia uses "winningest" in its entries for Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Eddie Robinson Lenny Wilkens and Bill Belichick. Encyclopædia Britannica uses "winningest" on Bobby Bowden, Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, and sixteen other articles. Encyclopedia Americana uses the word in its Michael Phelps article. Surely actual encyclopedias can tell us what is encyclopedic, rather than mere opinion? For some six+ years (until this issue became a few editors' pet peeve) the Featured Articles 2005 ACC Championship Game, 2008 Orange Bowl, Roberto Luongo, plus 3 Featured Lists and 9 Good Articles used the word, with nobody complaining on the talk pages, "I don't understand what winningest means!" The meaning is unmistakable even if you've never seen it before (unlike petrol, lorry, or other UK English we use frequently). A couple talk pages have comments from UK editors who erroneously claim it's "not a word", but the suggestion it is ambiguous is not supported by any facts. Every proposed alternative is more wordy without offering any more precision. Words like "successful" and "victorious" have the same ambiguity as winningest, none of them telling us if it is best win/loss ratio, or most absolute wins. Successful also can imply commercial or other success, while winningest at least is about contest wins. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:47, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Some editors are continuing their campaign to excise the word from Wikipedia. This edit from today is an example that belies the professed concern over ambiguity, as the word "winningest" (a word with a clear meaning: having the most wins) is replaced with "most successful" (a word that is utterly unclear and completely muddies the meaning). I realize that many individuals "don't like" the word (especially Brits, where the word is not widely recognized), but it is a word that has wide acceptance in American media sources and is applied with clear meaning in sports context by the country's leading media outlets. I don't advocate trying to impose the word on other parts of the encyclopedia, but in the context of American sports, but it has a clear meaning there, and efforts to excise a perfectly valid and widely-used word from our Wikipedia vocabulary is simply a case of 'I don't like it'. Cbl62 (talk) 20:36, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
I want to add that we don't need an entry in Wikipedia:Manual of Style saying "You are allowed to say winningest". But when you note the fact that the encyclopedia that uses the word more than any other is the more British than British Brittanica itself, it underscores how much we need to ignore, and hopefully stop posting, mere opinion about what is a "proper word". Even if you're from the UK, I think Brittanica is a WP:RS, not some random editor. So we should be drafting language for the MOS which says that the tone and level of formality, and word choice, we use is guided by sources, like dictionaries, and style guides, and examples, like real encyclopedias and respectable media. A similar discussion at Talk:Volkswagen emissions scandal agreed that while the NYT, BBC, CNN, WSJ, etc are highly reliable for facts, many editors thought the actual words found in our best sources, "cheated", "caught" were mere "tabloid" and "slang". Why? Because they said so. The MOS should give respect to sources when it comes to word choice. Similarly, FAs and GAs carry some weight, since they represent consensus, far more than a mere essay. WP:OSE is releant to low-ranked articles, not Wikipeda's best content as judged by many editors, and this should be reflected in the MOS as well. At the very least, it should say we aren't going to toss a word under the bus because an editor with no reliable sources doesn't like it. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 20:50, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Just FYI, the Encyclopædia Britannica, despite its name, hasn't been a British publication, but an American one, since 1901 (or 1911, depending on whether you want the date of ownership change or the date of the first American edition).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  05:34, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Entirely reasonable. We Yanks have always been a little rough around the edges, and nobody is trying to impose the word outside of its accepted context (i.e., we shall not reference Tony Blair as the "winningest" Prime Minister). Cbl62 (talk) 21:00, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
I agree that it's a reasonable compromise if we can be assured that it is indeed a word whose use is limited to the U.S. context outside of Wikipedia. ElKevbo (talk) 21:40, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
    • "Winningest", while perfectly cromulent, is informal in usage.

      Wikipedia articles, and other encyclopedic content, should be written in a formal tone. Standards for formal tone vary depending upon the subject matter, but should follow the style used by reliable sources, while remaining clear and understandable. Formal tone means that the article should not be written using argot, slang, colloquialisms, doublespeak, legalese, or jargon that is unintelligible to an average reader; it means that the English language should be used in a businesslike manner.

      This may change for this particular word, but as we see from comments in various locations, attracts a lot of negativity right now. "Most successful" is too vague to be a good replacement, but "most victorious" is exactly right. There can be no complaints about usage or meaning. --Pete (talk) 20:59, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • As a count of victories potentially includes moral victories, you proposed phrase has a different meaning than the word you are attempting to replace. --Allen3 talk 04:28, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
Come on, now. It is not too informal for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Nor is it too informal for serious reporting (not just opinion pieces) in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and every other major American newspaper -- I didn't realize that Britannica and every major American newspaper were verbal ruffians. Cbl62 (talk) 21:06, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Also, Pete, the essay you quote concedes that we "should follow the style used by reliable sources". America's most reliable and respected media outlets use "winningest" (not "most victorious") in American sporting contexts. Cbl62 (talk) 21:10, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
If we look to specialist writing areas, we also encounter jargon. Sports articles are full of terms which are incomprehensible to an outsider. We should aim for clarity overall. --Pete (talk) 21:15, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Understandability is not the issue. Nobody has ever seriously asserted that they don't know what it means. The fact that everyone who dislikes the word was able to rewrite it, without having to ask what the original author meant, is proof that nobody has misunderstood the word. The real objection is that it "sounds wrong" based on a prescriptivist English point of view. We should look to style guides, like Fowler, and models like Brittanica and the NYT, to tell us what is an isn't "proper English".

I would be persuaded to change my mind if anyone could show evidene that this word is any harder to understand than the rest of Wikipedia. This isn't Simple English Wikipedia, after all, and even if it were, "winningest" would probably be the preferred word to achieve clarity for readers with smaller vocabularies. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:36, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

(edit conflict)"Winningest" only recently attracted attention as a sideshow to an unrelated conflict among editors. Prior to that, where is the evidence among these many, many articles that it attracts "a lot of negativity"? I've seen poorly written Wikipedia content that drew many questions from readers, but not this word. And while everyone is entitled to their opinion that Wikipedia should be formal, are you aware that no policy or guideline says formal English is required? No matter how much you quote WP:FORMAL, it still lacks widespread consensus. If it had such support, it would be a guideline.

And as Cbl62 suggests, what constitutes a proper tone has to come from somewhere, and I would think Brittanica, NYT, Columbia Encyclopedia, H.W. Fowler, etc are the reliable soruces we have always looked to to settle everything. Not opinion, not voting. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:12, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

That's what bothers me most: I don't know how much of this is (the edits, not the discussion here) is driven by a sincere objection to the word and how much is driven by a petty desire to foment conflict among editors who dislike one another. The fact that the word was recently raised in several ANI discussions between and about editors who apparently dislike one another and the fact that the word has been used in FAs and GAs for many years now without objection makes me suspicious and wary. ElKevbo (talk) 21:39, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm quite concerned at how many veteran editors are willing to argue with total confidence that we can't use a word (whether it's winningest, or cheated, or caught) based on totally unsourced, and demonstrably false opinions. I've edited for years grounded by the basic idea of verifiablity, "verifiabilty not truth" etc. Yet here none of these editors will cite a single thing, and they casually toss aside our most serious, most respected sources. Leaving us nothing to base our decisions on. That's why it matters, not this one word.

Ground your arguments in reliable sources and I will happily change my mind. I've been proven wrong many times before and I'm grateful to anyone who shows me evidence of my errors. But not to those who do nothing but cling to opinion and expect that to carry weight. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:51, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

Lewis Carroll used "curiouser" (s:Alice's Adventures Under Ground/Chapter 1), but "more curious" is correct in standard English. Likewise, "most victorious" is correct in standard English.
Wavelength (talk) 21:27, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Curiouser is a neologism -- nonstandard English, in isolated usage after being coined by one author. Winningest dates to 1804, over 200 years, according to our sources, and is in widespread use in serious writing. If you had sources saying winningest was a neologism like curiouser, you'd have a strong point. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:44, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
See "curiouser" (1865) at http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=curiouser.
Wavelength (talk) 22:10, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes, Lewis Carroll playfully made it up. The word is used almost exclusively in playful references to Carroll's work and ideas. Winningest is nothing like that. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 22:22, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • "... we do not use the word "winningest" in any articles": Contrary to Yanping Nora Soong's claim, a search on Wikipedia shows usage of winningest in American sports articles.[6] WP:PROPOSAL suggests that guidelines "documents existing practices, rather than proposing a change to them". While winningest is American English[7], it is acceptable per MOS:ENGVAR. Moreover, the term is specific to the sports domain, which seems too much of a niche for MOS to get involved. Instead of banning words, something like "Wile E. Coyote was the winningest coach in Acme history with 550 career wins" could help bridge any gap that might exist.—Bagumba (talk) 22:08, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
In the example you give, why not substitute 'most successful', which is universally understood. Am I being pedantic to point out that coaches, trainers, managers etc., don't actually have ANY wins, their teams/athletes do. Pincrete (talk) 19:21, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Sorry, I meant that we do not use it in the titles of any articles -- namely, any article or list "winningest" in the title always redirects to a more formal name. Yanping Nora Soong (talk) 22:12, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • User:Reyk is on a mass campaign today, during the pendency of this discussion, to remove the word from as many American sporting articles as he/she can find. The status quo ante should be maintained until this discussion has reached a conclusion. Accordingly, I intend to revert Reyk's mass edits pending the outcome here. Cbl62 (talk) 22:19, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
    • User:Skyring is doing the same thing. I wouldn't recommend to edit warring with these guys. It seems like bait for a 3RR trap. But if this has a clear resolution, we can probably return to the stable versions of these articles. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 22:26, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
      • I've notified Reyk and Skyring about this discussion.—Bagumba (talk) 22:33, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. It would be totally uncool for any editor who knows of this discussion to continue making edits that may or may not have consensus on such a non-time-sensitive issue. ElKevbo (talk) 22:57, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
I think some may have accidentally tacked their manhood to this word. It's almost painful to hear the yelps when someone has a contrary opinion. I agree. Discussion is far better than edit-warring, and a lot more fun. Perhaps we should look at an RfC: hard to find a consensus in what this is turning into: a rough tangle of short and curly posts. --Pete (talk) 23:33, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
You have made what, two hundred edits in the last week or so, on 30 or 40 different pages, all related to "winningest"? You claim it's WP:LAME, yet it's almost all you do now. But it's other editors who have a problem? Not you? Seems like quite a personal attack and violation of WP:AGF to (repeatedly) post that "some may have accidentally tacked their manhood to this word". Is that supposed to be helpful in this discussion?

Creating an RfC -- a whole NEW discussion of the same topic -- would be forum shopping. We're resolving this right here. We don't need to start over. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 23:46, 14 January 2016 (UTC)

Ah, but I'm enjoying the discussion. What I mean - and you should understand, after all you've been around since Wikipedia was in short pants - is that an RfC is a more structured mechanism than a discussion such as this. The way it's going, there are a range of intertwangled opinions, regrettably a few short fuses and bruised egos, and it's hard, very hard, to come up with a good result mutually satisfactory to all parties. An RfC has the advantage of a well-phrased question, structured responses, and a closing admin. Even if we don't all like the result, it's a bed we can all lie in. --Pete (talk) 23:58, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
At an appropriate time, someone can request closure. If the admin says there's no consensus, then perhaps an RfC is the next step. But first see if this reaches a good consensus, before shifting to a new forum. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 00:07, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  • I've been following this discussion for the last couple of days, and doing my best to avoid the massive time-sink that this discussion is sure to become before it concludes with more heat than light. Having made that disclaimer, I've got to say that I believe that the word "winningest" is awkward, inelegant and imprecise, and its exact meaning is ambiguous without further elaboration. It is a colorful Americanism that no doubt originated in American sports-writing, a genre well known for its often creative use of Shakespeare's English. Personally, I try to write my way around the word whenever possible because I know in my writer's heart of hearts that the good Professor Strunk would not approve. That said, the word is sometimes almost unavoidable in describing the win-loss history of career coaches and the like, and it is often part of the most concise wording available to express the intended meaning. Yeah, I know, that sounds like gibberish, but it's the truth. I've reconciled myself to using it only when absolutely necessary, and then only in sports articles. To my mind, it's a bit like the malapropism "normalcy," the use of which once led to a U.S. President being mocked in the mainstream media of the 1920s, but is now used more frequently in every day writing than the "correct" word "normality". That's the nature of the evolving language. I'm not particularly fond of the word, but I see no reason why MOS should try to micromanage its use by banning or restricting it, nor should individual editors make it a quest to purge it from Wikipeda. Our volunteer editing time is better spent elsewhere. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 22:58, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • I don't follow sports, but I'm perfectly familiar with the word and its well-established use in North America. The MoS should avoid this micromanagement of the language. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:25, 14 January 2016 (UTC)
  • At this point is it even about the validity of winningest or witch word better informs and educates the reader. Just like the fact that the word encyclopedia comes from the greeks. How do they express wining victory as in the greek goddess of victory nike. And are they not the first creators of sport as in the olympics. They also did not name a shoe after winning its nike victory . So how is winningest a better choice over victorious. 72bikers (talk) 04:58, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  • I've long been of the opinion that "winningest" is bad English, an annoying affectation, and too informal for an encyclopedia, and jarring for non North American readers. It's frequently vague. I have never yet come across a use where it could not be replaced by more elegant and precise English. I see it a lot in articles on college sports coaches, some of whom have even, or even losing, records overall and only have managed a lot of wins because they were there for a long time. Describing someone who loses more often than he wins as "winningest" is downright stupid and borderline misleading. This silly gimmicky thing should be taken out of articles and replaced with better language. Reyk YO! 07:48, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  • I agree with much of what's been said already. Even supposing that the word "winningest" is a perfectly cromulent word, take it out and replace it with its synonym, "most victorious," and what you have is a subjective and vague statement. I can't imagine a situation where either is the most appropriate:
By taking the fifth and sixth races at Woodbine, Emma-Jayne moved ahead of Villeneuve as Canada's all-time most victorious female jockey
By taking the fifth and sixth races at Woodbine, Emma-Jayne moved ahead of Villeneuve as Canada's all-time winningest female jockey
By taking the fifth and sixth races at Woodbine, Emma-Jayne moved ahead of Villenueve to hold the record for the most career victories of any Canadian female jockey.
The last one may not be the best wording possible, but it is at least clear why she is considered to be "the winningest." If someone wants to describe her that way, fine, but isn't that what we're about and why we're required to cite sources? Because we're not telling you what's true, but why it's believed to be true: the sources said X. Jm (talk | contribs) 14:46, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
  • On the question of WP:ENGVAR and WP:TIES. H. L. Mencken discuses the special use of -er and -est adjectives as a peculiarly US American language pattern in The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States. A.A. Knopf, 1921 Chapter: The Common Speech pages 308-309. This, along with the many dictionaries that say it's US English, is more evidence that this word winningist is part of the national variety of English of the US, and should be respected as such according to WP:RETAIN and WP:TIES.

7. The Adjective

The adjectives in English are inflected only for comparison, and the American commonly uses them correctly, with now and then a double comparative or superlative to ease his soul. More better is the commonest of these. It has a good deal of support in logic. A sick man is reported today to be better. Tomorrow he is further improved. Is he to be reported better again or best? The standard language gets around the difficulty by using still better. The American vulgate boldly employs more better. In the case of worse, worser is used as Charters shows. He also reports baddest, more queerer and beautifullest. Littler, which he notes, is still outlawed from standard English, but it has, with littlest a respectable place in American. The late Richard Harding Davis wrote a play called "The Littlest Girl" The American freely compares adjectives that are incapable of the inflection logically. Charters reports most principal, and I myself have heard uniquer and even more uniquer, as in "I have never saw nothing more uniquer." I have also heard more ultra, more worse, idealer, liver (that is more alive) and wellest as in "he was the wellest man you ever seen." In general the -er and -est terminations are used instead of the more and most prefixes as in beautiful, beautifuller, beautifullest. The fact that the comparative relates to two and the superlative to more than two is almost always forgotten. I have never heard "the better of the two," in the popular speech but always "the best of the two." Charters also reports "the hardest of the two" and "my brother and I measured and he was the tallest." I have frequently heard "it ain't so worse but here a humorous effect seems to have been intended.

H. L. Mencken

--Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:00, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

Gauging consensus[edit]

The above discussion has many tangles and opinion, but perhaps we might find some small parcels of common ground:

  1. "Winningest" is a perfectly cromulent word with some decades of use in American sportswriting.
  2. It is seen as awkward and informal by many. Some regard it as a nonsense word, slang at best.
  3. "Most successful" is a vague and ambiguous alternate wording.
  4. "Most victorious" is a precise and formal alternate wording, albeit five characters longer.

If I can ask editors to refrain from commenting on the motives of others, but to restrict their contributions to the word(s) and usage in Wikipedia articles in general, please. --Pete (talk) 00:51, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

My preferred alternative to "winningest X in Y" is "best-performing X in Y by [number of] wins" Yanping Nora Soong (talk) 08:43, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
However, "best-performing" is subjective, but winningest is objective i.e. most wins.—Bagumba (talk) 09:34, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
That's why it's "best-performing .... by wins". Yanping Nora Soong (talk) 09:53, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
I've seen it used in terms of most championships, best winning percentage, and winning frequency (per week or per month or whatever). Reyk YO! 10:16, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  • I favor precision, such as "highest win percentage" but it's a real word, and "most victorious" is actually vague - you can be "victorious" if you are valiant in defeat, for example. Montanabw(talk) 23:13, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

Poll: Is "winningest" a MOS issue?[edit]

I think a poll is in line to gauge if this is seen as an MOS issue or not.—Bagumba (talk) 02:38, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

What I meant to ask was whether the existing MOS needs any specific changes to handle winningest.—Bagumba (talk) 03:58, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
Support - Guideline changes for "winningest" are needed in MOS
  1. Support -- I think the project could definitely use some clarification on this issue. Perhaps an MoS update for a single word would be excessive, but it could be added to a subpolicy page (with other words included). Yanping Nora Soong (talk) 08:39, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  2. Suport There are enough sources to support claims that it is an informal term, to fall foul of WP:FORMAL unless used in the context of a direct quotation. While I agree that MOS:ENGVAR doesn't have preferences regarding variations of English, MOS:COMMONALITY makes it clear that when we have a suitable term that is universally understood, it should be used instead of terms that are less than universally understood. most victorious has the correct tone for an enclyclopedia, without any hint of informality and in universally understood. It's a far better choice than a term that has claims of informality and is not universally understood. However, I'm not sure if MOS needs to put this on a bad words list - it's no big deal, I think that WP:FORMAL & MOS:COMMONALITY make it pretty clear that in most cases, we should use something else. But either way, it's a horrible thing to read unless you want to give Wikipedia the tone of a cheap tabloid publication. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 06:52, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    I hope "most victorious" is not a serious contender for preferred alternative. Holy cripes. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 08:13, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    @Spacecowboy420: Yanping Nora Soong moved your response from the "Oppose" section below, presumably since you began with "Support". However, you appear to say the existing guidelines cover the case of winningest. Can you reaffirm your support !vote, and state what changes you are seeking. Thanks.—Bagumba (talk) 09:14, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  3. Suppport. It is our duty to ensure, in the average, two letters "p" per support in a MOS vote. Otherwise, such a MOS-singest discussion would become laughtingest. Pldx1 (talk) 08:06, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    @Pldx1: Yanping Nora Soong moved your response from the "Oppose" section below, presumably since you began with "Support". Can you reaffirm your support !vote, and state what changes you are seeking. Thanks.—Bagumba (talk) 09:14, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  4. Support/moot point- of course it is a MOS issue that universally understood English is preferred to slang terms and regional colloquialisms, but the MOS already makes this clear. Perhaps Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch needs a section on avoiding words that make Wikipedia sound like a low-brow tabloid. Reyk YO! 08:24, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    To be clear, and since "winningest" is commonly used in Encyclopedia Britannica, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, etc., I assume you consider these highly esteemed publications to be "low-brow tabloids"? Cbl62 (talk) 08:49, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    I think this sort of language is beneath them, yes. If they occasionally want to use a slang term for dramatic effect they can, but that does not mean we should follow. I also point out that a lot of these uses are direct quotations, or non sports-related uses like "he has the winningest smile". Reyk YO! 08:53, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    It's not slang. If you believe it is, then the onus is on you to provide evidence. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:10, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    I just checked a bunch of online dictionaries. Oxford dictionary describes it as "North American informal". In Wiktionary it's described as "US, sports". It has an entry in Marriam-Webster but Chambers, Longman, Collins American, and Cambridge do not recognise it at all. I think referring to it as regional slang is accurate. If you believe it is suitable in tone for an encyclopedia, you need to give some evidence for that claim. Reyk YO! 11:40, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    In other words, you've found nothing that looks like evidence that it's slang. Onus is still in your court. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:58, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    Um, yes I did. In fact, I showed that a majority of dictionaries seem not to think it's even a word. You seem not to be paying attention. The onus is on you to prove why a vague, informal regional term is better than more precise, less informal terminology understood by English speakers worldwide. Demonstrate why it would be a good idea for Wikipedia to adopt the tone of a low-brow tabloid newspaper. Reyk YO! 12:05, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    Okay, let's count the pieces of evidence you have that it's slang: ... uh ... zero. Right, that's right: zero—and your closing sentence is a non sequitur. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:19, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    Um, yes, er, a regional informal term not even recognised as a word by a majority of reputable dictionaries, is most definitely slang. I'm sorry that you don't like that, but the facts are what they are. Please don't respond. I have no time or patience for your continual "nuh-uh! nuh-uh! nuh-uh!", and you still have not even attempted to explain why you think Wikipedia needs to adopt the low tone of sports editorials when more precise, universally understood, and more elegant terms can be used. Reyk YO! 12:26, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    Nor do you have the patience to back up your claim, apparently. "nuh-uh! nuh-uh!" indeed. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:54, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    You asked for evidence, I provided it in the mistaken belief that you're here to discuss constructively, and you're just responding with "Lalala i cant hear you" and refusing to back up your own opinion with anything. There is no point continuing to talk to you. Good day. Reyk YO! 13:02, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    Not one source calling it "slang" equals zero evidence. That's empiricism. Whether you stop talking to me or "stop talking to me" will not make the evidence less nonexistent. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 13:20, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  5. To answer the question asked, no, no changes are needed. However, I find the use of the word on Wikipedia incorrect, per WP:JARGON. To quote, Do not introduce new and specialized words simply to teach them to the reader when more common alternatives will do. This phrase is invariably specialized to American sports writers. We are not writing for American sports readers but for all English readers, and so I find this word fails to meet the intent of the guideline. --Izno (talk) 13:06, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  6. Support I don't think it needs to be belaboured, nor banned outright, but given the number of pixels spilled here, I think it would be good as an example of the existing rules. While it's constructed following standard English rules and thus not confusing even on first encounter, it's an affectedly informal word intended to highlight the author's anti-intellectualism. (In the spirit of "I don't spell good.") 71.41.210.146 (talk) 14:00, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
    The "anti-intellectualism" is not in the use of "winningest" but where one refuses to consider the evidence presented. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:20, 17 January 2016 (UTC)

# Support for reasons made clear by Izno and others. I note that all the sources cited as 'RS' appear to be 'US'. English is spoken elsewhere (!) and why use a term not understood universally (contrary to comments, I genuinely have no idea what it means, its use is unknown in the UK and its meaning NOT self-evident as claimed, even having read this RfC, its meaning is unclear to me. Having the most/highest percentage of wins?). The term appears to be established in a US sports context, there are UK sports words, I hope they would be avoided on WP, where they are not likely to be easily understood, or where they are likely to 'jar' with some readers. Failing that, such terms should be confined to articles where they are likely to be understood by those conversant with the subject, though that is a less satisfactory approach than aspiring to universal understandability. Pincrete (talk) 23:06, 5 February 2016 (UTC)

Striking through my support, though have not changed my opinion of the term, nor of the preference for universally understandable English when achievable. If US sports articles wish to use it and regard it as clearly understood within that context, so be it. There is no good reason for a MOS ruling. I would still point out to users that the term is anomalous in a number of ways, the ing+est form is not standard and therefore not immediately understandable (the operatingest surgeon of his generation?). Here 'est' is being used not to denote, the degree of winning, (as fattest, richest etc. do) but the total number or percentage of wins. Also, other compar/superl-atives are usually capable of modification ('winninger than last season, but less winning than their rivals'?). Also point out that Mencken is discussing informal spoken English, every region has its local eccentricities of terminology and phrasing, if clarity is more important than 'local colour', WP generally avoids them. However treating this a MOS issue, is making a mountain out of a molehill, in fact it's probably the molehillingest RfC I've come across for a while. Oppose Pincrete (talk) 18:27, 6 February 2016 (UTC)

Oppose - Guideline changes for "winningest" are not needed in MOS

  1. Oppose: "Winningest" is an American sports phrase, probably used in Canada too,[8], and MOS does not have a preference on an English variety per MOS:ENGVAR. This also does not fall under Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch, as it does not violate the core content policies of Neutral point of view, No original research, and Verifiability. This word is used in the niche of (North) American sports, and is not otherwise generally used. At best, this can be dealt with outside MOS, perhaps among editors of (North) American sports articles and their respective WikiProjects to determine whether "winningest" is considered well written or not.—Bagumba (talk) 02:38, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  2. Oppose: perfectly common word in sports writing in North America (including Canada—the Montreal Canadiens are frequently referred to in print as the "winningest" team in the NHL, and have been as far back as my memory goes). It is not slang. The whole issue can result in no more than fatiguing editors without improving a line of prose. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 03:38, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  3. Oppose: Since there is no evidence the meaning of winningest is not obvious, it does not fall under the current MOS discouragement of jargon. We have reliable sources that it is an Americanism, and sources don't agree on whether it is standard or informal English, so it should be kept in US-related articles per WP:RETAIN. No sources support that it is a neologism or slang. The current MOS discourages "straining for formality" and "unnecessarily complex wording", thus discouraging awkward attempts to replace winningest, because "Plain English works best" according to the MOS. Essays subordinate to the MOS, specifically the "explanatory supplement" Wikipedia:Writing better articles#Tone, should be modified to correctly reflect that awkward writing in the service of formality is not desirable, and formal English is not mandatory. Claims that a word is or isn't "proper English" should be subject to verifiability. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 03:04, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  4. Oppose: It not a winning word in my book, but we can't put every losing concept into the MOS. Maybe it make sense in sports, if sources use it so much. Dicklyon (talk) 04:04, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  5. Oppose on the narrow question, on the basis that it's too small a point to be covered in the MoS. But strong exception to the sort of legalism that says we have to source every reaction to words. In my opinion it is clear that "winningest" is far too informal to appear in encyclopedic writing, and if others agree with me, that is enough. There has to be room to edit based on consensus of editors. Also, yes, formal English is mandatory in encyclopedic writing. --Trovatore (talk) 04:13, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  6. Oppose. As stated above, "winningest" is a recognized and proper word in American English and is routinely used in virtually every major America media outlet, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, etc. There is no valid basis for a rule proscribing its usage, as applied in the context of American sporting subjects where it is commonly used. Cbl62 (talk) 08:45, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  7. Oppose, it's a fine word. Just because some folks don't like doesn't make it bad English. olderwiser 11:51, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  8. Oppose, ENGVAR already covers it. There's no need to call out or itemize specific words which are valid in some dialects and reliable sources, but not in others. --Jayron32 17:26, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  9. Oppose per my comment above @22:58, 14 January 2015. MOS should not engage in this kind of selective micromanagement. Ample evidence has been presented of the word's common use and acceptance by mainstream American publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Attempts by non-American editors to dismiss or discredit use of the word by these highly respected publications is misguided, and some of the comments border on pseudo-intellectual with a less-than-subtle whiff of anti-Americanism. The word may not be preferred by some editors (including myself), but as long as its use is largely confined to sports-related subjects these attempts by a small handful of editors to remove the word en masse or use MOS to universally ban the word from Wikipedia should be denied. Enough. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 18:40, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    Sorry, your attempts to construe this whole thing as an "anti-American" effort is a bad faith accusation, given that many of the editors with objections (including myself) are American. Yanping Nora Soong (talk) 00:53, 16 January 2016 (UTC) I don't know if English is your first language or not, but I urge you to re-read my comment, and focus on the meaning of the words "some" and "small handful" in my comment. As for AGF, I don't need to make any assumptions; I only need to read the "anti" comments in this thread, several of which speak for themselves in terms of their own biases. As an American, you are certainly free to express your own preferences, as I and many others have already done. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 17:48, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
    Whereas all the unsourced pejoratives "stupid", "childish", "rubbish", "slang", "cheap", "abhorrence", "affectation", "jarring", "nonsense", "annoying stupid non-word", "low-brow"... that's not bad faith? That's some passionate invective to be using with zero sources' cited to support it. It's not totally implausible that nationalism is the real motive behind these unsourced attacks and insults, given that support for use of winningest has yielded a carpetbombing-level of citation overkill. It's almost like the less your sources support you, the louder you have to bleat. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 01:07, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
    The difference is that we're describing a disliked terminology- you and Dirtlawyer are attacking people. Reyk YO! 10:15, 16 January 2016 (UTC) Recant, Reyk: I attacked no one. And several of the "anti" comments are over the top, and their biases speak for themselves. Cheers. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 17:48, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
    "Childish", "stupid", "low-brow", and "abhorrent" are then personal attacks on the poor word. You owe it an apology. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:36, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
  10. Oppose per Dirtlawyer1. This is a tempest in a teapot. Let's move along. Montanabw(talk) 23:13, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  11. Oppose per Cbl62, Dirtlawyer1 and the fact that the proposed replacement language would sound absolutely ridiculous in the context of North American sports articles. Saying things like Joe Paterno is the "most victorious" coach in NCAA history sounds unbelievably pompous and affected. I really think we need to recognize this for what it is: a simple American English/British English issue, draw a line under it, and leave it at that. Ejgreen77 (talk) 23:55, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    That's why I've been using "most successful X in Y by wins". This seems elegant and non-problematic. Yanping Nora Soong (talk) 00:53, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
    Actually, it sounds kind of awkward to me, but to each his own. . . Ejgreen77 (talk) 01:26, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
  12. Oppose Winningest is a word used by all american sports fans, writers, and all media outlets as the most wins of whatever era, season, career, team, coach, or player. Success, victorious(which rarely hear), or best performing can be measured in many more different ways. Winningest is purely most wins in a given time period. Simple as that and is less confusing to the reader.Littlekelv (talk) 01:45, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
  13. Oppose per Dicklyon. It's enough to say that words recognisable by a majority of WP readers are preferred. This one clearly does not qualify as "preferred". Dondervogel 2 (talk) 11:05, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
  14. Oppose - There is neither a need for MOS to pontificate on this issue, nor a pressing need to remove it from articles tout de suite. Editors who are doing the latter need to stop, as they do not have a consensus to do so. BMK (talk) 07:19, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  15. Oppose—but could someone tell me what it means? That's reason enough to avoid usage, I think. Tony (talk) 08:08, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
    Merriam Webster defines it as "having achieved the most wins <the winningest coach in football>"[9] It's used primarily in sports (well, winning, so that figures)—Bagumba (talk) 08:19, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
    It sometimes appears outside of sports, and occasionally with a different meaning, but not in a way one would expect to see in an encyclopaedia ("winningest smile", for example). Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 09:24, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Neutral
  1. Comment – It's not a word that needs to be covered by MoS. I think our guidelines here aim higher than that. It is American sports jargon, about as informal a word as one can find, and phrases such as "winningest coach" are best replaced by "most victorious coach" which has the same meaning without the grating jargon and is not the contorted "straining for formality" that WP:FORMAL advises against. "The coach who wins the most" or "coach with the highest number of wins" is straining. Perhaps we can throw this to another forum, such as one dealing with sports in general? Otherwise, we can handle usage on a case by case basis. --Pete (talk) 07:02, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  2. Comment this all seems rather pointless and lame, Dennis has already argued against the use of this word on the relevant article talk page, and in ANI. It's a disputed word and there is a suitable alternative, why waste more time on this silly little word? Spacecowboy420 (talk) 08:36, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    It affects a wide swathe of articles, not just a single article. Yanping Nora Soong (talk) 08:39, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  3. I don't see why this isn't covered adequately by ENGVAR. If I saw this word used in a BritEng article, I would kill it on sight. However, I understand completely that this abhorrence is accepted in USEng. The Rambling Man (talk) 08:57, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    The whole discussion stems from the removal of this term in one article, (as did too much time wasting on ANI) - the "use another word" comment applies just as much to other articles, as it does to the article in question. It's pretty much the perfect example of making a mountain out of a molehill. If it was a case of removing an American term and replacing it with a British term, I would agree with the comments regarding ENGVAR - however it isn't, it's removing an American informal term, and replacing it with a universally understood formal term, as per MOS:COMMONALITY and WP:FORMAL Spacecowboy420 (talk) 09:07, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    oh. for anyone with doubts that it might not be an informal term: [1][2][3][4] Spacecowboy420 (talk) 09:11, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    While the word is vile, there's clear evidence that it is used broadly by US mainstream reliable publications. I can't really see how that can be disputed other than to offer a personal disliking of the term. The Rambling Man (talk) 09:12, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    I think that fact that it is used is not disputed. (well at least not by me) Usage does not equal formality, or suitability for inclusion in an encyclopedia. Also, the fact that there is an equally descriptive and unambiguous, less informal and more universally understood term available, makes it seem like a no-brainer to avoid "winningest" Spacecowboy420 (talk) 09:19, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    Yes, I'm an American, and I really don't buy ENGVAR arguments for the word. It's used in sportswriting in the United States, absolutely, I agree that is true. If people say it's not used in sportswriting in the UK, fine, I have no grounds on which to contradict that. But that doesn't make it an ENGVAR issue. We are not sportswriters; we are encyclopedists. A completely different linguistic register is called for here. --Trovatore (talk) 10:03, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    We are encyclopedists? You mean like Encyclopædia Britannica? The Columbia Encyclopedia? Encyclopedia Americana? We're supposed to act like encyclopedists, write like an encyclopedia, look like an encyclopedia, but not those encyclopedias? Because... reasons? What does 'encyclopedic' even mean if you're going to arbitrarily ignore actual encyclopedias whenever they don't serve your argument? --Dennis Bratland (talk) 16:41, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    Dennis, could you provide cited examples of the usages in these publications, please? It occurs to me that "winningest" can be used appropriately in some antique cases which have nothing to do with modern English. --Pete (talk) 16:56, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
    I listed the article titles above. They're all modern, North American sports topics: Tony La Russa, Greg Maddux, Eddie Robinson, Michael Phelps. You want to see quotes from all 19 Brittanica articles, 6 Columbia articles and the Americana one too?

    It's ironic to see this mountain of sources being challenged this way when those saying the word is a "childish invention", "nonsense", "not a word", etc. have not cited one single thing.

    I access paywalled encyclopedias like these via my public library's online system. Other editors who want to verify these can use the Wikipedia:Reference desk and Wikipedia:The Wikipedia Library. I will gather quotes if need be, but keep in mind the policy of WP:AGF when it comes to offline or paywalled citations. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 17:31, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

    Here is the list of quotes and citations. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 00:19, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
  4. Not the right question. All style and usage matters on WP are MOS matters in a general sense. But most potential ones are ones that MoS does not address in partiuclar, on purpose, because the consensus is to leave most usage matters up to editorial discretion, and to only be prescriptive/proscriptive about matters that cause problems. So, no, MOS does not need to specifically address this word. It doesn't even qualify for WP:Manual of Style/Words to watch. This is basically American sports jargon, and it's OK to use it in that context all other things being equal. We would never go to snooker articles and say "you can't refer to 'potting the black', but must instead write 'legally sent the black ball into a pocket'", or change all references to "the provenience of the artifact" (BrEng: "artefact") in archaeology articles to "the exact location of the discovery of the item in question". WP:JARGON is not license to exterminate all field-specific terminology. If people think that American sports articles have jargon in them understood fine by Americans who are into sports but not by all other readers, the solution is obviously to write a glossary article and link to it, just as I did with the snooker jargon, above. That said, "all other things being equal" doesn't appear to be satisfied. I agree with Dirtlawyer, Spacecowboy420, et al., that this term is amateurish and should probably be avoided. We just don't need a formal guideline saying so specifically about this word. WP:TONE and WP:COMMONSENSE cover this already, as a general principle. The fact that dictionaries descriptively include the word (usually labelled informal) does not magically make it encyclopedic. They all also include "ain't" and "motherfucker", after all, but we don't pepper our article with those character strings. As for the alleged ENGVAR matter, it's not one; no one is proposing replacing an American term with a British one or whatever, just replacing a silly and obtuse construction with a more encyclopedic one. "Winningest" isn't formal sports jargon, it's really sports slang, a "dude-bro" usage, and the fact that some sports journalists use it to appeal to that audience doesn't magically make it formal English. Sports journalism is very near the bottom of the totempole of writing quality in professionally produced journalism, slightly above tabloid gossip reporting and just below entertainment news. As yourself, would we ever parrot the slangish usage of people writing in those topical areas, e.g. "The leggy chanteuse was spied gnoshing with hunky star Foo Barly at NoHo's hottest new bistro ..." Of course not. There's no reason for us to import similar wanky wordplay from sports journalism. Seriously. Just go read the sports section of any major newspaper for five minutes and try to count the number of cases of emotive slangy gibberish WP would never use. But that has nothing to do with this one particular word.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:55, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
    It's "not the right question" to completely resolve this issue, but it seemed like a good intermediate step to determine whether MOS needed changing, or if it was sufficient to apply existing guidelines. It seems like the consensus is the latter, to use existing guidelines. The next step would be to present the relevant guidelines that have been argued, and see if there is a consensus on how they should be applied to winningest.—Bagumba (talk) 05:10, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
    Well, the question was whether the MOS needed changing to address the word "winningest". That's a completely different question from whether the MOS needs changing to address the question of informal or colloquial words in general. My view is that the word "winningest" does not need to be discussed at the MOS, and that was the basis on which I responded to the poll. You can't infer from that that existing guidelines are sufficient, just that there's a consensus not to make changes specifically for this individual word. --Trovatore (talk) 21:33, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
    The intent was to discuss the case of winningest, which was free to morph into a general discussion of winningest-like words, but it's possible some took the narrower view of the specific word only. Hindsight is 20/20. At any rate, it was a starting point, and another thread has already started.—Bagumba (talk) 22:59, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Discussion

Some who have acknowledged MOS:ENGVAR have brought up MOS:COMMONALITY. However, MOS:TIES states: "An article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should use the English of that nation." This would apply to subjects about North American sports, but perhaps less for a topic like Harley Davidson, an American-based company whose products are used worldwide. In American English, "most victorious" sounds decidedly British in relation to sports. There might be other alternatives, but that isn't it.—Bagumba (talk) 09:29, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

I just try to look at things from the perspective of the reader and understand that different articles attract different readers. Doing so, I think you have a good point, Bagumba. An American football article is unlikely to be read by many users of non-American English. While a Harley article (despite being an American company) has far more international appeal. I do however, have no opinion regarding "victorious" sounding British. It sounds pompous - agreed and Brits are known for being pompous at times. "Prize-winning" ? Spacecowboy420 (talk) 09:36, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
This isn't an issue about "American English" -- in fact, most American English speakers are unaware of this term. It's argot used by a very small subsection of AmE speakers. Yanping Nora Soong (talk) 09:55, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm not an expert on American English, I wouldn't know. Even more reason not to use it. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 09:58, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
We are talking about it's use in AE sports articles. WP:AUDIENCE advises: "When jargon is used in an article, a brief explanation should be given within the article." Personally, I'd use a more verbose phrasing in the lead, but don't see a problem using winningest in the body if the topic was already introduced in the lead and context is provided in the body e.g. "the winningest coach in Acme history with 550 career wins". Not to discourage the efforts of laypeople, but it's problematic in this specific case if a person unfamiliar with American sports doesn't collaborate with a domain expert to avoid replacing a single-word with a clumsy phrase.—Bagumba (talk) 10:21, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
Sportswriters have a completely different aim than we do. Their prose is meant to be, first and foremost, entertaining. They use informal terminology freely, "breezily" you might say. I am not criticizing; those are the conventions of the genre and what the readers expect and pay for.
The conventions of encyclopedic writing are completely different. While it's certainly a virtue for the writing to be interesting, it is not primarily aimed at entertainment, but at providing reference information. The writing is expected to be in a very high register; I think probably the only higher registers are formal society announcements and diplomatic communications.
So our sources may well use such terms, but we have to take into account how the nature of the sources differs from our nature. A word that is appropriate for a sports column, even in the New York Times, may not be appropriate (except maybe in a quotation) in Wikipedia. --Trovatore (talk) 10:38, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
Good point. There is also the context of usage. Headlines are a prime example. Language pared down to its most succinct and eye-catching. "Sticks nix hick pix" might be a great headline but appalling English. Sports articles are often one step up, dealing with repetitive descriptions of similar events; jargon and shorthand are used to avoid boring the regular reader who doesn't want shining prose or wordy explanations, just the facts, names and numbers. Some of these things are all but unreadable if you know nothing of the sport or its conventions. Americans reading about a ODI, for example. Without pictures, most would have no idea of which sport was even being played. (Cricket, for the seppos here.) A baseball article may be just perfect for USA Today, but jarringly inappropriate for Wikipedia. --Pete (talk) 17:07, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
You keep using terms like "tabloid" and examples like USA Today for vulgar writing. What is a proper model? You reject the New York Times and Encyclopedia Brittanica. What's left? I don't see how you can argue "that's good enough for X, but we have higher standards!" if you won't tell us where you're getting these standards. You seem to think everything from the Daily Mirror to the Wall Street Journal is tabloid trash. What publications do you respect? --Dennis Bratland (talk) 17:38, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
Dennis, please don't cram words into my mouth based on what you think I think. It is clear to me that either you don't have a clue, or are being deliberately obtuse. Either way, I reject your wild surmises above. Cheers. --Pete (talk) 09:17, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
It's not being obtuse. You talk of "context of usage", and have seen the evidence from Britannica et. al. You can't pretend the evidence away, so address it. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:25, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
Does Wikipedia want to cater to the lowest common denominator? If so, use "winningest" and while we're at it, we might as well recommend "kicked their ass" and "they sucked" for inclusion on sports articles. I would prefer to let the tabloid fed masses stick to their tabloid sources, and encourage those who are willing to learn a little to come to wikipedia. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 10:44, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
If you think that "winningest" is in the same register as "kicked their ass" then perhaps you should put a few more hours into your ESL classes. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:21, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
If you think that this is the place for personal attacks, then perhaps you should be editing reddit, rather than wikipedia. "winningest" and "kicked their ass" are both informal, ugly, lowbrow terms. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 11:28, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
One is a term with established usage in a large number of mainstream newssources, the other is vulgarity from the bleachers. One of us can tell the difference, the other cannot. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:03, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
Or perhaps one of us is aware of the phrase "thin end of the wedge" and the other is not. Use in tabloid news sources doesn't mean it's formal or suitable. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 12:22, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
You apparently think that "spaces" jibe makes you look the more intelligent. Then you follow up calling the NYT and Encylcopaedia Britannica "tabloids". I think we've heard enough from you. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:59, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

It seems surprising that the MOS doesn't seem to actually state anything like "Use formal language rather than informal". It does say (under "Vocabulary") Avoid words and phrases that give the impression of straining for formality, that are unnecessarily regional, or that are not widely accepted., of which the last element seems a good reason not to use "Winningest". There's also, under "Opportunites for Commonality", the wording Universally used terms are often preferable to less widely distributed terms, and as a Brit I'd certainly never heard of "Winningest", which sounds like a childish invention. Perhaps the MOS should start with a single paragraph defining the style it's aiming at: Clear above all; unlikely to be misunderstood by, or to antagonise, users of any variety of English; formal enough for a serious encyclopedia but not unnecessarily so; avoiding where possible, especially in the lead section, the use of jargon, technical language, regional terms, etc ...". It would be a challenge, but we seem to have a large collection of rules about specific elements of style but without an overall philosophy to which questions about individual words or other detailed issues not explicitly covered could be referred. PamD 11:14, 15 January 2016 (UTC)

  • It's too fine-grained for a MOS rule, and writing in definitions of acceptable windows on the formality–informatlity spectrum would be cumbersome and too restrictive. However, if encountering this tinsle made-up word in an article, I'd zap it. A major argument against its use is that if you're unfamiliar with it, the meaning is unclear. Trovatore: I agree that we should resist specious categorising into ENGVAR. TRM says: "While the word is vile, there's clear evidence that it is used broadly by US mainstream reliable publications." Indeed. We don't have to sink to the lowest level, do we? Tony (talk) 12:04, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
In addition to The New York Times, the word is also used, in articles about American sports, by the Columbia Encyclopedia, Encyclopædia Britannica, and Encyclopedia Americana. Accordingly, the contention that the use of the word would see us "sink to the lowest level" is baffling given its widespread use, including other major encyclopedias. Cbl62 (talk) 16:39, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
  • RE: "...but perhaps less for a topic like Harley Davidson, an American-based company whose products are used worldwide." I just want to point out that the Harley-Davidson XR-750 is strictly a North American racing motorcycle; it participates only in AMA Flat Track racing because of peculiarities int the rules that favor a peculiar design. The road racing version only competes in the US. The whole history and existence of the bike revolves around the politics US-made vs imported motorcycle brands. Flat track in Europe uses all sorts of other off-road bikes but never XR-750s because the XR-750 is too technologically primitive. While Harleys might be worldwide products, the XR-750 thoroughly American. The bikes other claim to fame is its use by Evel Knievel and Bubba Blackwell, who, well, literally dress in American flags. The XR-750 is a highly national topic. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 16:50, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
OK, so you've found 5 bloggers or website posters who don't like the word. Contrast those with Encyclopedia Britannica, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Columbia Encyclopedia, and dozens more mainstream sources (not blogs) which universally use the word and deem it perfectly appropriate in American sporting contexts. I would venture to say that the latter group is a better model for Wikipedia than 5 bloggers. Cbl62 (talk) 17:58, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
One of the blogs you cite simply offers the blogger's view that he finds these words disgusting: nugget, dilate, secretion, fondle, dangle, waft, chunks, lesion, sopping, ligament, and soiled. Here, here, let's just ban all these words on the ground that they are considered disgusting to the ear of an anonymous blogger. Cbl62 (talk) 18:05, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I have no idea what to make of this. Pete/Skyring dismissively says "that might be good enough for USA Today", but when asked for reliable sources, we get a bunch of bloggers that would never be citable. Fowler's disagrees with your august bloggers. This whole debate is not about one word, it's about whether we respect Wikipedia's core policy of verifiability or we use crowdsourcing and upvoting. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 18:12, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm off for more travel, so I don't have time. The examples above were a few from what is a huge collection of people expressing their dislike of that word. If I looked longer and harder I'd find columnists from major respected outlets in the list. As you can, if you look. Cheers, mate. --Pete (talk) 19:53, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── That Skyring/Pete would resort to the opinion of a blogger who would will away "dilate" confirms a cognitive dissonance that will not be penetrated, but for the benefit of the rest of us, here are samples from five of 23 hits at Encyclopaedia Britannica (which is paywalled only after the first hundred bytes):
Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 20:36, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
I've started Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/List of winningest citations so this page doesn't get too unweildy. Note that right at the top, as a gift and evidence of good faith, I'm sharing the one (1) and only reliable source that opposes using winningest, the AP Stylebook. For me, again, this a about verifiablity, and that means trusting reliable sources and ignoring opinion. I think it would be extremely disingenuous for anyone to seize on this single AP Stylebook citation and choose to ignore the obvious acceptance of the word at the NYT and many other prestige news media, as well as Fowler's and many encyclopedias. More to come. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 20:54, 15 January 2016 (UTC)
The AP Stylebook is odd in that AP articles routinely use the term at issue. Is the referenced Stylebook older? Cbl62 (talk) 00:23, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
It's "from Mount Pleasant, Iowa on Jun 07, 2014", so the AP was using the word both before and after this. It appears the editor was answering questions from the general public. Apparently the Stylebook itself doesn't mention winningest, even if the Q&A editor here dislikes the word. I could add a long list of books of new words and slang that don't mention winningest, indicating that the "controversy" or claimed opposition to this word doesn't exist beyond the handful of non-reliable bloggers cited. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 00:32, 16 January 2016 (UTC)
I have to admit I am a little baffled by all this discussion. On a word according to America's best-selling dictionary Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary eleventh edition an encyclopedia Britannica company page 1436 has only been around since 1972. Other sources also confirm early 70's. And if this discussion confirms nothing else it does confirm how controversial this word is. By contrast the very definition in some dictionary's winningest as More successful or winning as victory or superiority in a contest or competition; victorious. And victorious has been around since 14c used all around the world. But surly even if not this word we could come up with something better than winningest. A 44 year old informal American only word that looks as if it could be a misspelling or a made up word to convey the information to the world. 72bikers (talk) 06:11, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/List of winningest citations#Other. Zero independent sources have verified that the term is controversial. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 06:15, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
A 44 year old informal American only word—so how old does a word have to be before you'll persoanlly allow its use? We have to know so we can get on top of purging Wikipedia for you of all those that are younger. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 08:14, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
I just point out some simple facts and your response is sarcasm nice. And how is this word not controversial? 72bikers (talk) 18:29, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
If "controversial" equals "a handful of people squawking about a word they don't like", then the threshold for "controversial" is so low that it will guarantee deadlock on any word anyone ever disagrees with. In the real world, there's no controversy. By the way, you haven't answered the question: how long does a word have to exist before you give it your personal stamp of approval? You did, after all, make a great big stink about how "young" it is. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:09, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
They are not simple facts. They are blatant falsehoods. You've been given ample independent sources that show that winningest appeared spelled "winningst" in 1647 in The False One [11]. By 1804, the spelling was updated to winningest [12], and the word appeared in several other 19th century publications. In 1922, the first edition of the prominent usage guide Fowler's asserts unequivocally that winningest is acceptable [13]. The modern American English sports usage dates at least as far back as 1948.

And of course, even if the earliest use of this word were 1972, that would not be a valid argument against it. Encyclopedic articles are filled with standard and even formal English words whose coinage, or current usage, is far more recent than that. Ample evidence has been given that colloquial and informal English is often used in Wikipedia's best content, and prestigious encyclopedias. It's nonsensical on every level. This is now the third or forth time you've been handed these verifiable facts, yet for some reason you keep repeating the same falsehoods.

Google nGrams shows that the prominence and usage of winningest has only increased, while the archaic-sounding "most victorious" has faded into obsolescence. These are all verifiable facts. We all try to assume good faith and give your point of view due regard, but there's a limit to that; competence is required if you want to be taken seriously. The Snowball clause exists to tell those pushing hopelessly misguided falsehoods and mangled logic that they need to step back and defer to those who have a grasp of the facts and sound reasoning behind them. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:37, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

My references are not falsehoods [5][6]. You yourself have even chosen to use one. Is it not a contradiction to prop one reference up when it suits you to then throw it under the bus when it does not? Yours on the other hand are republication from the 2000's that give no actual reference to the date of the word or some obscure misspelled reference are full of falsehoods. And I only repeat these fact because you selectively choose to call them falsehoods. Pushing hopelessly misguided opinions and falsehoods and mangled logic that they need to step back and defer to those who have a grasp of the facts. You are clearly to emotionally involved to see things clearly your personal attacks on other editor is evidence of that. and it is not just on the date of the word. But also it is not precise in the context it is used. Did it win races or was it prize money as the term is used in gambling or in just the winning of money. On the other hand most successful or victorious are used to define this word in dictionaries. Do you claim this is a falsehood? But even if not these words there surely are other words or groups of words that can convey the information without looking like some misspelling or made ups word. surely this heated debate is enough evidence to the fact on its own that this word is controversial let alone other sources. and I see this was brought up back in 2011 as well. So please no more of just your references are factual. You are just giving weight to this statement. However, critics argue Wikipedia exhibits systemic bias, and its group dynamics hinder its goals. Many academics, historians, teachers, and journalists reject Wikipedia as a reliable source of information, primarily for being a mixture of truths, half truths, and some falsehoods, and that as a resource about many controversial topics, is notoriously subject to manipulation and spin 72bikers (talk) 23:10, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
You are clearly to emotionally involved—if only you could see how hysterically grasping your wall of text looks to others. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:19, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
And yet another personal attack lol. Way to look impartial or not to emotional involved your self. This is not controversial how? 72bikers (talk) 23:27, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
"Personal attack" my ass—the personal attack was accusing another editor of being "too emotionally involved". An issue doesn't become "controversial" just by squawking louder than others about it. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 00:39, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
You have some very strange logic. You act like a child claiming I am rubber you are glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you LOL!!! 72bikers (talk) 01:29, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
You don't appear to comprehend the words you use. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 03:36, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
And yet again another personal attack nice. Is this the sum of your argument to just personally attack someone who disagrees with you? This the best you can come up with. And you claim to not comprehend this really? 72bikers (talk) 19:07, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
If you're going to spout utter nonsense, like denying the reality of links to books scanned at Google Books, then you're going to have to get used to having your ass handed to you. There's a limit to how gentle and diplomatic anyone can be when you force them to point out that your claims fly in the face of verifiable fact. Competence is required. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:49, 21 January 2016
And again another personal attack nice. This seem to be the one thing you are good at no? If truly you are able to read those were republished in the 2000's. Is then Merriam-Webster's not to believed along with other dictionaries? It's interesting that you choose to include some of the information from this source on your little list but exclude the 1972 from this source why? You tout it's parent company as one to emulate but willfully just pick and choose witch of the information you like. Have you read what has been written about wiki I believe they had you in mind. However, critics argue Wikipedia exhibits systemic bias, and its group dynamics hinder its goals. Many academics, historians, teachers, and journalists reject Wikipedia as a reliable source of information, primarily for being a mixture of truths, half truths, and some falsehoods, and that as a resource about many controversial topics, is notoriously subject to manipulation and spin 72bikers (talk) 23:01, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
You keep whipping out this "1972" thing, but refuse to answer why that date should have any relevance. I believe this is the third time I've pressed you on this. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:09, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
I have already stated why. And I feel no obligation to repeat myself to someone who has only made rude and uncivil comment in a effort to bait me. I will give you this if you dispute this simple fact how can you be trusted on anything else. I will also invite you to reread this. However, critics argue Wikipedia exhibits systemic bias, and its group dynamics hinder its goals. Many academics, historians, teachers, and journalists reject Wikipedia as a reliable source of information, primarily for being a mixture of truths, half truths, and some falsehoods, and that as a resource about many controversial topics, is notoriously subject to manipulation and spin. 72bikers (talk) 23:26, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
You have nowhere stated why—you continue to dodge the question and spam us with boldface. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:37, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
Oh, not that facts matter to you, but the 1972 date is objectively inaccurate—there are even books with "winningest" in the title earlier than that date: Oswald Jacoby's Win At Bridge with Oswald Jacoby, America's Winningest Bridge Champion (1963) and Roger Worsley's Mesa's Power Attack: Football's Winningest Offense (1967). Add to that all the magazine and newspaper articles that predate those books ... and novels, such as Thomas Nelson Page' Gordon Keith (1903) which uses the word ... not that it makes any difference, as even if it were accurate, the 1972 date would've been a ludricous reason to reject the word. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 02:12, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Winningest is a perfectly cromulent word. There is no dispute. It is in current usage in sports articles. But that is beside the point. We can find any number of words that are in current use but are regarded as informal or slang. I would be more persuaded by sources from grammar or English language forums that list winningest as a word holding some gravitas. But none have been presented. --Pete (talk) 08:56, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Pete: You've missed the context—72bikers continues to repeat that MW claims the word dates to 1972. My response takes to task (a) the embarassing idea that a 44-year-old idea can't be legit; and (b) the fact that MW is very, verry wrong. I see, however, that this discussion is not the first place 72bikers has been told this—somebody showed him at ANI, and he ignored it there, too. Facts are bunk, apparently. As for "a word holding some gravitas"—you've been shown a whole subpage full of examples. Pretending they don't exist only reflects badly on you and your crew. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 09:33, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
I think you misunderstand, CT. I am in perfect agreement with you that the word is in current use, and many examples have been given. Mainly in sports articles, as I said. But there is no source stating that "winningest" holds the same weight, gravitas, or formality as (say) "victorious" or "successful". If you can find one, could you quote it, please? --Pete (talk) 11:07, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
If your argument is that a source must exist explicitly stating "winningest" holds the same weight, gravitas, or formality as (say) "victorious" or "successful", then you have no argument. The evidence demonstrates beyond any doubt that the word is used in a large number of respected, mainstream publications in articles with a fully formal tone. We are not beholden to the hoops you'd have us jump through. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:48, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
You repeat yourself. Nobody doubts that the word is used. But it appears to be American sports jargon. If you say that it is a word of formal nature in general circulation because it appears in a headline of a publication that also has respected opinions on other subjects, movies for example, or finance, or language, then you are awry in your reasoning. No authority supports the claim you make. Again I ask you to back up your statement. --Pete (talk) 17:57, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── You're grasping. All evidence is present, but you don't like it. Go jump through your own hoops. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:01, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

Your theories are just one sided opinions. You tout one reference when it suits you to be one to emulate. Then throw it under the bus when it does nothing to help your opinions. Then go on to attack other editors with increasingly uncivil behavior all the while acting like your better than others. With ever bolder claims that the word is older and older and now to the word being formal. I am interested to see what you come up with next LOL. Once again I invite you to read what has been written about wiki and its editors. Maybe this will bring you back to reality and not having you thinking you are writing for britannica encyclopedia or whatever delusions you are under. However, critics argue Wikipedia exhibits systemic bias, and its group dynamics hinder its goals. Many academics, historians, teachers, and journalists reject Wikipedia as a reliable source of information, primarily for being a mixture of truths, half truths, and some falsehoods, and that as a resource about many controversial topics, is notoriously subject to manipulation and spin 72bikers (talk) 23:59, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Would it help to read what Patricia T. O'Conner, NYT On Language columnist, author of Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English (Riverhead, 3rd ed., 2010, ISBN 978-1-57322-331-7), Origins of the Specious Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language, and other books, wrote about this in 2013 and in 2007 about winningest? "...in fact it's a legitimate word... The adjective 'winningest' has been around for hundreds of years, a lot longer than Richard Petty, but it meant the most alluring or attractive when the word first showed up in the 1600s... Our searches of Google databases indicate that the adjective “winningest” took on its sporting sense in the mid-20th century... We found thousands of other examples of 'winningest' used this way over the centuries in books, plays, newspapers, magazines, and so on." Pretty much the same things we've been trying to tell you. It's a real word, it's a normal word, it's a perfectly acceptable word.

I don't really see how it helps you at all to choose Merriam-Webster above all other sources; that means you're going to ignore all the ones saying it's colloquial or informal English, and insist that, per Merriam-Webster, winningest is standard English. Who cares if they think it was first used in 1972? There's no rule against words made in 1972, or any other particular year. If Webster's says it's standard English, so that settles it, right? --Dennis Bratland (talk) 01:05, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

Look as you are trying to correlate the legitimacy of this word by its date . I want to point out from the few I have looked at your references have all been republications. Is it not more likely that these are just latter editions witch means they would have been altered at some point with each edition. Than trying to state Merriam-Webster witch is a highly reputable source got it wrong as well as other dictionaries. This would make you guilty of manipulation and spin to suit your argument. And now to your claim that the word is formal is just laughable. Merriam-Webster and other dictionaries all state the word is informal. I would again encourage you to read this I don't think it is sinking in. However, critics argue Wikipedia exhibits systemic bias, and its group dynamics hinder its goals. Many academics, historians, teachers, and journalists reject Wikipedia as a reliable source of information, primarily for being a mixture of truths, half truths, and some falsehoods, and that as a resource about many controversial topics, is notoriously subject to manipulation and spin 72bikers (talk) 02:34, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
If any other editors think there's any merit to 72biker's unique theories and conjectures, and any need to respond further, please say so. If not, I don't think there's any need to go on refuting this stuff. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 03:15, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
They don't even rise to "unique theory" status—they are incoherent babbling at this point, padding with endlessly repeated bold spam. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 04:59, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

References

Summarizing issues raised[edit]

In an effort to make progress, I suggest that we itemize what the issues are, putting aside for the moment whether you personally believe they are relevant. Once the talking points are finalized, we should limit our discussion to these points when considering winningest or its alternatives. Here is an initial attempt to summarize the key guidelines and essays cited to date, with relevant quotes from each:

Wikipedia:Manual of Style guideline
  • Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Contested vocabulary:
    • "Avoid words and phrases that give the impression of straining for formality, that are unnecessarily regional, or that are not widely accepted."
  • MOS:ENGVAR
    • "The English Wikipedia prefers no major national variety of the language over any other."
  • MOS:COMMONALITY
    • "Wikipedia tries to find words that are common to all varieties of English.""
    • "Terms that differ between varieties of English, or that have divergent meanings, may be glossed to prevent confusion, for example, the trunk (American English) or boot (British English) of a car"
  • MOS:TIES
    • "An article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should use the English of that nation."
  • WP:RETAIN
    • "When an English variety's consistent usage has been established in an article, maintain it in the absence of consensus to the contrary."
  • MOS:JARGON:
    • "Some topics are intrinsically technical, but editors should try to make them understandable to as many readers as possible."
    • "Do not introduce new and specialized words simply to teach them to the reader when more common alternatives will do."
  • WP:W2W
    • "There are no forbidden words or expressions on Wikipedia, but certain expressions should be used with caution, because they may introduce bias."
    • "For example, some words have specific technical meanings in some contexts and are acceptable in those contexts (e.g. "claim" in law). "
    • "What matters is that articles should be well-written and consistent with the core content policies—Neutral point of view, No original research, and Verifiability."
  • WP:COMMONSENSE
    • "Instead of following every rule, it is acceptable to use common sense as you go about editing."
  • External style guides: "Wikipedians are encouraged to familiarize themselves with other guides to style and usage, which may cover details not included in this Manual of Style."
Wikipedia:Writing better articles essay
  • WP:FORMAL
    • "Wikipedia articles, and other encyclopedic content, should be written in a formal tone."
  • WP:AUDIENCE:
    • "Make your article accessible and understandable for as many readers as possible. Assume readers are reading the article to learn."
Wikipedia:Consensus policy
  • "Consensus on Wikipedia does not mean unanimity (which, although an ideal result, is not always achievable); nor is it the result of a vote. Decision-making involves an effort to incorporate all editors' legitimate concerns, while respecting Wikipedia's policies and guidelines."
  • WP:TALKDONTREVERT:
    • "The arguments 'I just don't like it' and 'I just like it' usually carry no weight whatsoever."
Wikipedia:Closing discussions information page
  • "Consensus is not determined by counting heads, but neither is it determined by the closer's own views about what is the most appropriate policy. The closer is there to judge the consensus of the community, after discarding irrelevant arguments: those that flatly contradict established policy, those based on personal opinion only, those that are logically fallacious, those that show no understanding of the matter of issue."

Feel free to identify any remaining quotes from a policy, guideline, or essay that you wish to be considered. Thanks.—Bagumba (talk) 09:02, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

These talking points seem adequate to me. Yanping Nora Soong (talk) 09:06, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
A few of those points contradict each other, but it's a fair representation. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 09:25, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
I added a couple relevant points about personal opinion, vs. arguments based on policy and sources. Several editors have been asked to explain what we should base the MOS on, and what 'encyclopedic' means, if they are unwilling to be guided by the models of Featured Articles, major encyclopedias and prestigious media, and reputable style and usage guides. These are the vital questions, far more critical than this one word winningest, and the answer so far has been *crickets*. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 17:26, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
For reference, here are Dennis' points he added above to my comments. I don't strongly object to his points for consideration, so I'll ignore the restrictions on editing other's comments in this case to make it simpler to build the list. Yanping Nora Soong or Spacecowboy420 can feel free to WP:REFACTOR if they prefer those comments are not commingled.—Bagumba (talk) 19:27, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
The community of editors decides the style. There is no outside agency or supervising committee. It is all done by consensus of those editors interested enough in the topic of style. It is therefore appropriate to build any lists of policy references etc. in a coöperative fashion —no one editor has the final say. --Pete (talk) 08:47, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

Analysis of issues[edit]

Analysis by User:Reyk[edit]

Let's go through these one by one.

Statement Summary Verdict
"Avoid words and phrases that give the impression of straining for formality, that are unnecessarily regional, or that are not widely accepted." "Winningest" is a regional (North America) term, and is clearly not widely accepted. Alternatives exist that do not "strain for formality" X mark.svg Do not use "winningest"
"The English Wikipedia prefers no major national variety of the language over any other." American English does not take precedence over e.g., UK English, and vice versa Symbol unsupport vote.svg Neutral
"Wikipedia tries to find words that are common to all varieties of English." Alternatives exist that are common to all English speakers X mark.svg Do not use "winningest"
Terms that differ between varieties of English, or that have divergent meanings, may be glossed to prevent confusion, for example, the trunk (American English) or boot (British English) of a car N/A. "Winningest" does not appear outside North America Symbol unsupport vote.svg Neutral
An article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation should use the English of that nation. "Winningest" is American, but so are most of the alternatives Symbol unsupport vote.svg Neutral
When an English variety's consistent usage has been established in an article, maintain it in the absence of consensus to the contrary. The point of this conversation is to establish consensus Symbol unsupport vote.svg Neutral
Some topics are intrinsically technical, but editors should try to make them understandable to as many readers as possible. The alternatives to "winningest" are universally understood X mark.svg Do not use "winningest"
Do not introduce new and specialized words simply to teach them to the reader when more common alternatives will do. "Winningest" is far less common than, say, "most career victories" or variations. X mark.svg Do not use "winningest"
There are no forbidden words or expressions on Wikipedia, but certain expressions should be used with caution, because they may introduce bias. See my point about people with overall losing records being misleadingly described as "winningest" X mark.svg Do not use "winningest"
For example, some words have specific technical meanings in some contexts and are acceptable in those contexts (e.g. "claim" in law). Not really relevant Symbol unsupport vote.svg Neutral
"What matters is that articles should be well-written and consistent with the core content policies—Neutral point of view, No original research, and Verifiability." While there exist a scant handful of featured articles that use "winningest", many more could have but didn't. It detracts from the quality of articles. X mark.svg Do not use "winningest"
Instead of following every rule, it is acceptable to use common sense as you go about editing. This is actually what we're here to discuss Symbol unsupport vote.svg Neutral
External style guides: "Wikipedians are encouraged to familiarize themselves with other guides to style and usage, which may cover details not included in this Manual of Style." Most style guides, dictionaries, thesauruses, etc I've seen either don't recognize it at all, or disapprove of it. Back in 2007, Wikipedia acknowledged that it is just a made-up word: Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Winningest football coach X mark.svg Do not use "winningest"
Wikipedia articles, and other encyclopedic content, should be written in a formal tone. "Winningest" is predominantly described as "informal" X mark.svg Do not use "winningest"
Make your article accessible and understandable for as many readers as possible. Assume readers are reading the article to learn. Our readers should be assumed to be potentially from anywhere on Earth and expecting to find an encyclopedia article- rather than necessarily a North American reader expecting to find a newspaper sports editorial X mark.svg Do not use "winningest"

This is all very clear. "Winningest" should not be used in encyclopedia articles. All the relevant guidelines are either silent on the issue, or recommend more formal, non-regional, and professional terminology. (I've skipped the last three sections as they pertain to editor behaviour and how to close debates, rather than giving guidance on the issue. ) Reyk YO! 18:06, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

I ask that we hold off on analysis of the issues until others have a chance to first agree on the actual issues we should be discussing at #Summarizing issues raised above. Until then, it's premature to offer a conclusion. Additionally, I've capped your above analysis because the format is not conducive for others to easily respond. I respect if "This is all very clear" to you, but please allow others to continue to discuss and reach their own conclusions. In the event you have already made up your mind, you can restate your opinion when we have reached the final !voting stage. Thank for your understanding,—Bagumba (talk) 19:07, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
Well now, you've dictated to me what articles I can and cannot edit, and now you're telling me what I can and cannot say, and how I'm allowed to say it. If you want to police this debate, then I'm going to have to ask you to police both sides of it. So far I've been accused of setting 3RR traps, of being a "pseudo-intellectual" and "anti-American", of edit-warring and disruption, and essentially of lying- without a shred of justification for any of it. Where were you to refactor and redact when I objected? It's no good to allow people to make personal attacks on me, and then hat me and shut me down when I state my opinion civilly. I think I've put up with the ad hominems with more grace than my attackers have dealt with mere disagreement, yet only my actions are under scrutiny. Please don't play favourites. Reyk YO! 19:34, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
I have no issue if you choose to offer the same analysis after #Summarizing issues raised is finalized. I honestly think it is premature right now, and other editors before you have commented on the issue list without offering their analysis. Is there a reason your case should be an exception? I'm a volunteer, and I am not capable, nor do I choose, to police everything. If you feel others have been uncivil, Wikipedia:Civility#Dealing_with_incivility offers guidance.—Bagumba (talk) 19:57, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
have dealt with mere disagreement—says the editor who has explicitly refused to stop making disputed edits until a consensus is reached. Your behaviour has been reprehensible and deserves to stay under the microscope. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:15, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
How often do I need to explain that I'm not going to be baited? You haven't been able to provide a single instance of me actually edit warring or disrupting anything, despite your inaccurate interpretation of my talk page (and if you did, WP:ANI would be the place to take it). Please stop with the insults and false accusations. You've been attacking several people in this discussion who disagree with you, and you need to drop the bad attitude. Reyk YO! 06:45, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
@Curly Turkey: I am agreeing with Reyk. There haven't been any recent winning reverts from them. I suggest that we stay on-topic here, and deal with any warring accusations on the appropriate noticeboards. Thanks.—Bagumba (talk) 07:10, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
I intend to keep him under the microscope to make sure it continues not to happen. The aggression and contempt he brought to this discussion (before I ever joined in) has not abated—can "have dealt with mere disagreement" or accusations of "baiting" be somehow interpreted as AGF or a reflection of the facts? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 08:39, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
Its funny you say this because you continually bait me with personal attacks contempt and aggression interesting. 72bikers (talk) 19:11, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
You continue to label calling you out as baiting. It would be "interesting" to see you engage with the facts that have been presented. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:05, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
Let's focus on content, please. Reyk's table is very useful in its format and should be visible to all. Attempting to muzzle other editors is not helpful.--Pete (talk) 08:41, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
No, we'll be keeping the behaviour of editors in the spotlight so we know what biases they're bringing to their analyses. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 09:18, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
No. We'll focus on content here, if you don't mind. --Pete (talk) 11:24, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
The behaviour problems have tainted the entire discussion, and you won't be burying the evidence. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:41, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Here's some more of that reprehensible behaviour, distorting the evidence in a fantastic manner. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:43, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes you might want to take a look at this deplorable behavior as well it seem to speak to a lack of character.If you think that "winningest" is in the same register as "kicked their ass" then perhaps you should put a few more hours into your ESL classes. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:21, 15 January 2016 (UTC)You apparently think that "spaces" jibe makes you look the more intelligent. Then you follow up calling the NYT and Encylcopaedia Britannica "tabloids". I think we've heard enough from you. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:59, 15 January 2016 (UTC)You are clearly to emotionally involved—if only you could see how hysterically grasping your wall of text looks to others. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:19, 20 January 2016 (UTC)You don't appear to comprehend the words you use. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 03:36, 21 January 2016 (UTC)If you're going to spout utter nonsense, like denying the reality of links to books scanned at Google Books, then you're going to have to get used to having your ass handed to you. There's a limit to how gentle and diplomatic anyone can be when you force them to point out that your claims fly in the face of verifiable fact. Competence is required. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:49, 21 January 2016The crap needing cutting is all in your yard. Are you going to take back this "could have used "winningest", but chose not to" horseshit? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:19, 17 January 2016 (UTC) The fact is (again) you're pulling shit out of a hat (that "contempt for evidence" thing that you're doing nothing to dispel) and are willing to editwar over it. You are a disruption. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:16, 18 January 2016 (UTC) No one's "baiting" you. If you don't like being called out on your horseshit, then cut it out. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:04, 18 January 2016 (UTC)pushing hopelessly misguided falsehoods and mangled logic that they need to step back and defer to those who have a grasp of the facts and sound reasoning behind them. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:37, 20 January 2016 (UTC) shameful 72bikers (talk) 04:16, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Here is a good one you should be proud of They don't even rise to "unique theory" status—they are incoherent babbling at this point, padding with endlessly repeated bold spam. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 04:59, 23 January 2016 (UTC) If this does not speak to your character or the lack there of I don't know what does. It seem like you are only here to make personal attacks in some lame effort to bait someone into some verbal battle. But what your idiocy fails to grasp is why would I care what you think? 72bikers (talk) 06:13, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
So why do you care, then? The comment I responded to was indeed incoherent, and "your idiocy" is an unambiguous personal attack. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:39, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Maybe when you fail to comprehend something instead of trying to lay blame with others you should look inward. Because what is clear is your repeated personal attacks in a attempted to belittle others does not speak to you having a very high intellect. 72bikers (talk) 03:41, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
You hurt my feelings.
... do it again! This time, in bold! Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:11, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
We can source "winningest" to various publications, some quite respected. But so what? We can source cartoons and comic verse to respected publications as well. That does not mean that Wikitext is written in the limerick form, nor that we illustrate our articles with stick figures and word bubbles. It would be amusing, but hardly encyclopaedic. Shakespeare wrote in blank verse, but despite the awesome contributions to the English language of our most respected dramatist, Wikipedia is not written in iambic pentameters. We can source all manner of amusing, inventive, and whimsical words to respected sources, but these sorts of things are best confined to quotations, not our actual text. So I find that listing sources for "winningest" carries little weight. It is misleading and false logic. What counts is the style of Wikipedia, as determined by the editors interested in such things. So far, Wikipedia is written in a serious and formal tone, not the sort of bright and breezy style favored by headline writers and jargon-using niche writers. --Pete (talk) 12:14, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
We can source "winningest" to various publications, some quite respected. But so what?—the key is context, and there's plenty of context in the sources cited. You've had Britannica articles quoted at you too many times for you to feign ignorance or to claim anything about a "bright and breezy style favored by headline writers and jargon-using niche writers", so how about you drop this charade? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:39, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm not sure of your point about context. Are you saying that because EB uses the word in a couple of articles, we should use it in hundreds? My point is that we right here determine the style we use, not some external body. --Pete (talk) 04:01, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
I was responding to your "bright and breezy style" non sequitur. Its usage is established in contexts that match ours—either you didn't bother to examine the evidence or you ignored both. Whichever it is, it doesn't make you look good.
Are you saying ... we should use it in hundreds?—I don't use the word myself and probably never will. I've said no more than that the word is legit and the purge has to stop.
we right here determine the style we use—"we" (as you "you") believe we decide which words our fellow editors are permitted to use based on our personal peeves? The word's legit—get over it. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:09, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
So you're not talking about newspapers and other mass media, which comprise the bulk of the cites listed. Fair enough. Just a handful, then. When I say we right here determine the style we use, not some external body, I mean the community of editors here on WP:MoS. Cheers. --Pete (talk) 10:11, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
CTRL+Fing will show just how many times I've made it explicit I've been talking about encyclopaedias, so I'm at a loss as to where any confusion came from.
When I say we right here determine the style we use ... I mean the community of editors here on WP:MoS—and the community has rejected this sort of micromanaging of the language. A large portion of the editing community despises the MoS because of these non-issues. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 10:50, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. I'm not sure you get the point being made. We (the community of editors) here on the Manual of Style determine the style. You agree on this?
Merely listing places where a word has been used does not mean that we must use it on Wikipedia. I previously used the examples of the popular limerick verse form, and Shakespeare's contribution to the English language. However, we do not choose to use either style of expression, regardless of how many excellent sources we can find. You do appreciate this? --Pete (talk) 10:59, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
The default is not exclude—those who would have the word excluded must demonstrate the case to convince the community. In the case of WP:NOCONSENSUS, the default is to allow it continued use of the word and to disallow mass deletion of it. Thus the onus is heavily on your side to make your case. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:04, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
I take it that you agree with me. Thanks. As discussion continues, we'll find a solution. Not necessarily on this forum, but I think you should have more faith in the community of editors, of which you are one. Cheers. --Pete (talk) 11:09, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
I hope to God that nobody in their right mind entertains for one second the daft notion that any editors continue this discussion in any other forum. We have expended an un-fucking-believable amount of time and effort on winningest. We have researched it to the nth degree. This discussion has been advertised on every conceivable noticeboard, and linked to from 140 article talk pages. Everybody had their say, and then had it again, and again and again. This has been hashed out.

The closing admin must concluded this in a definitive way, so that we never speak of it again. Nobody wants to see another discussion of winningest anywhere on Wikipedia. Nobody needs it. It has to stop here.

Any closing admin thinking of tossing this aside with a lazy "no consensus" should just keep walking until an admin with the balls to make a decision comes along. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 18:00, 24 January 2016 (UTC)

Dennis, you need to review WP:CONSENSUS, particularly the part about "consensus can change". It is simply not within the purview of a closing admin to say "we will never speak of this again". Jeh (talk) 19:40, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes, if you interpret my words that literally, then you are correct. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:45, 24 January 2016 (UTC)
Jeh, I don't think there will be any "closing admin". So far we are just chatting. There is no RfC to close. If there is any consensus, it is that using MoS to define behaviour over one particular word is inappropriate. As the word is only used in a few mainly sports articles, perhaps appropriate sports-related projects might be found to determine its use in particular areas. Otherwise we are going to have to hold the same debate over and over at each individual article. --Pete (talk) 19:56, 24 January 2016 (UTC)

Under construction essay[edit]

See Wikipedia:Winningest. --Francis Schonken (talk) 11:50, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

Don't want to wait until this is resolved right here, so you decide to take the matter elsewhere and see if you can get an outcome more to your liking. We call that forum shopping. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 16:33, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
The talk page of the tentative essay redirects here, as, as I indicated on the essay page, this is the place to discuss it. --Francis Schonken (talk) 16:52, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
A better use of your time might be to propose answers to the questions we have asked. What is the basis for 'encyclopedic'? Should we emulate featured articles? Are the examples in Encyclopedia Brittanica, Americana, Columbia, Grolier, etc., 'encyclopedic'? If encyclopedias are not encyclopedic, then what is? Should we pay any attention to prestigious media like the NYT, Reuters, BBC, The Economist, and so on? If we don't consider these examples, then what can we use? If we ignore the major style guides and dictionaries and encyclopedias, like the AP Stylebook and Fowler's and Garner's and so on, then how are editors supposed to decide questions like this? Nobody has given us any answer. You've written an essay with zero facts; you spout opinions, and link to more opinions. How would your essay look if you included some of the 200 years of examples of usage, and style guides saying the word is acceptable? Why doesn't your essay cite a single reliable source saying there's a problem with the word? Not even one?

Hardly anybody really cares whether we use 'winningest' or not. It's a lame debate. But it matters a great deal to everyone whether we base editorial decisions on verifiability and reliable sources, or on mere opinion. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 17:09, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────A major part of the cognitive dissonance surrounding this multi-thread argument over trivia is failure to distinguish content versus presentation, substance versus style. Whether the Cityville Players are or are not, as matter of fact, the winningest team in the National Sportsball League is a WP:CCPOL sourcing matter. That's the actual content. How we choose to phrase it is not, but a matter of simple editorial discretion because it's just presentation – absent any abuses of style that affect the content in a WP:CCPOL manner (e.g., PoV-pushing tone). It's completely valid to write this as "the Cityville team has more victories in the NSL that any other", "the league's record-holder for total wins is Cityville", or "the Players have won the most National Sportsball matches", among a large array of other approaches to conveying the exact same sourced fact. There are absolutely zero WP:CCPOL implications raised by using or not using "winningest".

Pretending there is no distinction between discretionary style and verifiability-required substance is the genesis of the majority, maybe even a supermajority, of MoS-related disputes (and many WP:AT-related ones), and is why the failed "source the MoS" campaigning was so pointless and disruptive (well, part of why; the tendentiousness was clearly a factor, too). If we're more mindful of making this distinction clearer in these discussions, especially when someone comes here to raise a presentation matter as if it were a content dispute, the fewer pointless threads we'll have generating heat but no light.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  05:00, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

Sorry, I don't believe it. I think it's utterly disingenuous to make any such claims. The fact is, if the likes of H.W. Fowler, H.L. Mencken, Patricia T. O'Conner, etc. had been going around saying "winningest is rubbish!" you can bet your ass every one of these editors would be shouting it from the rooftops. If there were zero instances of winningest in Brittanica, they'd be saying "Brittanica never uses the word, ergo, unencyclopedic". If any dictionary said it was slang, they'd be trumpeting that. The problem is, these guys picked the wrong word. They picked a word that is in fact not slang, not a neologism, and not poor English by any reasonable standard. Instead of simply admitting that they're wrong by any objective measure, they're spewing pernicious rhetoric about the MOS having no external basis. The notation about using well-known stylebooks disproves that nonsense, and the fact that the MOS links to Plain English in the lead. List of plain English words and phrases is well-defined; it's based on sources. Even though many of the same eidtors who hate winningest are busy replacing saw with witnessed and arrest with apprehend, in spite of the MOS. The MOS does not say what you think it says.

The truth is, prescriptive English is pseudoscience. The whole reason prescriptivism has been tossed in the bin by modern linguistics is the same reason we study astronomy, not astrology. Folk belief is no substitute for fact. All this "discretion" and "common sense" is just hand waving used to cover up the embarrassing "I don't like it" anti-intellectual, anti-reasoning. There's no reason we have to put up with that kind of anarchy. We can and should use verifiable facts, especially in such clear-cut cases as this, where our sources have virtually no dissent. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 05:13, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

The truth is, prescriptive English is pseudoscience—sorry, but while there is plenty of pseudo-thought in English prescription (so-called "split infinitives", et al), language prescription is not fundamentally supposed to be scientific at all, but best practices. Prescriptive English has unfortunately been infested with a lot of horeshit not aimed at improving clarity and communicativeness. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:23, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Well said.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:50, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Dennis, I wasn't trying to change your beliefs. I'm addressing the entire MoS editorial community (which is why I outdented and didn't respond point-by-point to your last post, and won't to this one either). Your beliefs about how sourcing and consensus operate on Wikipedia are not consistent with actual policy, in a pattern we've seen before here, and that pattern is what I'm concerned about, not your personal argument details in this round of it. There doesn't appear to be any actual dispute that the word "winningest" exists in various reliable sources. So you re-re-re-asserting that point endlessly isn't doing anything useful. There are a number of fallacies inherent in what you just posted, aside from the issue I actually care about, but I basically WP:DGAF to outline them in detail. It's clear that there will be no consensus to have MoS say anything pro or con about "winningest", so there's no real point in continuing to argue about it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:50, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
If that were the case, why does the MOS say "Wikipedians are encouraged to familiarize themselves with other guides to style and usage, which may cover details not included in this Manual of Style"? Why does it say "Plain English works best" and then actually links to Plain English? Plain English is not some arbitrary, contingent thing -- it is an objectively real, distinct form of English which has characteristics that many experts agree on. Not some set of random choices by whatever group of self-selected Wikipedia editors decide they like. List of plain English words and phrases is well-defined; it's based on sources. Even though many of the same editors who despise winningest are busy replacing saw with witnessed and arrest with apprehend, in spite of the MOS.

This is about power -- as Skyring just posted above "we right here determine the style we use, not some external body" -- people like him want to hold all the power to decide to remove "winningest" from any article they find it in, with no respect for the previous consensus established in WP:FA nominations, nor in encyclopedic sources like Britannica, nor style guides. These editors want it to be entirely arbitrary, or "because I say so", or "I like it/don't like it." I've already linked to several policies that show that sources do matter even in style questions. Those of you who want to pretend that in fact you are free do disregard sources and simply vote on whichever words they want to strike from Wikipedia without caring that the claims that it's "slang" or "not a real word" are true or false, fail again and again to do to one thing: Cite any policy or guideline which says what you want it to say. No policy or guideline says we should make MOS decisions without giving due consideration to external sources. Several policies and guidelines do indicate that we should give them consideration. This is why I don't buy your argument. I might believe you if you showed me a policy that said so. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 04:21, 24 January 2016 (UTC)

(edit conflict) I'm pretty sure you meant some other term than cognitive dissonance to refer to separation of concerns (distinguishing content and presentation). An example of "cognitive dissonance" is continuing to believe "winningest" to be an unsuitable word in an encyclopaedic context in the face of multiple examples of the word's actual use in encyclopaedic contexts. More to your above point—yes, but the existence of alternative wordings does not invalidate the original wording—can does not imply should. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:16, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
I agree with your last point, of course. However, I meant exactly what I said. Cognitive dissonance referred to mental confusion between conflicting priorities/assumptions, resulting in inability to keep it straight that our content policies apply to content, not to consensus discussions at guideline talk pages, nor to the wording of WP:POLICY pages, nor to editorial discretion about which of 100 different neutral and accurate ways to phrase a sentence might be the most useful. This dissonance is a result of the intellectual conflation of content and its presentation, and thus of our different actual rulesets for dealing with them, and the different policy domains into which they fit, and the rationales behind these domains, etc. It's regressive, and this accounts for the intensity of the angst it generates, as well as the conversion-like fervour and proselytism it inspires. This conflation (across all of these irrational "source the MoS" things) occurs through fixating exclusively and unduly on the notion that "everything must be sourced in Wikipedia" or "sources trump all other concerns" and applying it outside of mainspace content (the actual place in which sourcing is actually required and among the most important factors, though not the only one; WP:CCPOL is tripartite). The mistake treats the WP:CCPOL policies as they if were the only policies, with no tie to mainspace, and as if other policies like WP:CONSENSUS, WP:EDITING, and WP:NOT, which govern our internal decision-making processes outside of as well as within content editing, did not exist or were simply guidelines.

In particular, the issue this time is the absurd notion that because a word can be sourced to exist with a particular meaning that it must be permitted for someone to use it if they want to. Consensus does not work that way. I.e., your "can does not imply should" observation applies both ways. Dennis has repeatedly advanced the view that we have to use the same terms the sources do, simply because sources use them, even if they're determined by consensus to be biased or otherwise unsuitable. He's posted several long rants about this on this page and elsewhere, and insists that it's simply impermissible for us to determine by consensus that a usage isn't suitable in a WP article if external sources have used it. (Note how closely this mirrors various other "style must follow sources" activism efforts here, all of which have been dismal failures, and the most recent of which just got someone indefinitely topic-banned yesterday from the style focus of their advocacy.) This is a fundamental "Does not compute!" problem, and the cause of it is self-evidently the same in all these cases.

I'm not sure I agree that considering winningest to be unsuitable (at all? on wikipedia? outside of its conventional topical context? not sure what you mean) could qualify as cognitive dissonance; I think that would just be disagreement, since it doesn't evidence any internal mental conflict, e.g. between faulty understanding of two scopes of policy about it. Regardless, that is not the cognitive dissonance to which I was referring.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  07:50, 23 January 2016 (UTC)

Perhaps we're employing different definitions of "unsuitable". An example of cognitive dissonance is in the claim that a word is slang in the face of reams of examples that it is frequently used in formal contexts—CTRL+F for the argument that "winningest" resides in the same register as "kicked their ass", long after evidence to the contrary was presented. It requires enormous cognitive dissonance to maintain such a belief. Confusing content and presentation is not cognitive dissonance—it's confusion.
Dennis has repeatedly advanced the view that we have to use the same terms the sources do—I haven't read that into Dennis's remarks. Quotes, please? If it's true, then he's wrong, but that has no bearing on the appropriateness of the word. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:51, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Just because "winningest" isn't crude slang doesn't auto-make it encyclopedic in every context. The principle argument advanced is that it's regional and topically-specific jargon, even if (like much jargon) occasionally used outside its home context, often for effect. As I already said clearly, confusing content and presentation is not the cognitive dissonance to which I refer, but the cause of it. Repeat: "Cognitive dissonance referred to mental confusion between conflicting priorities/assumptions .... This dissonance is a result of the intellectual conflation of content and its presentation". An effect cannot be its own cause. I shouldn't need to explain it a fourth time; I wrote quite clearly. I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm not making the case that "winningest" is unsuitable on Wikipedia. I think it is suitable in the context of American sports articles for one, but remain skeptical about broader usage, because there are vociferous objections to it. It doesn't matter why consensus might conclude it is unsuitable for broader usage; the point is that its permissible for WP consensus to determine that (or to determine anything else about what will be done on WP, short of the small number of external legal requirements imposed on us by WP:OFFICE. No amount of shouting about how it turned up in this or that source outside of a sports context will ever trump that; the best it can do is cause a consensus against the broader usage to not form or to change later if it does. There a distinction between external sources being used to inform consensus and being used to attempt to thwart its formation. The loss of this distinction in the minds of a few people around here of late has resulted in a large number of MoS discussion being remarkably circular, pointless, frustrating and ridiculous.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:06, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
Just because "winningest" isn't crude slang doesn't auto-make it encyclopedic in every context ... No amount of shouting about how it turned up in this or that source outside of a sports context—no amount of shouting has been expended on trying to get "winningest" into Wikipedia outside of sports articles. I can't imagine what's driving you too keep banging away in this echo chamber.
You can stop quoting what you think "cognitive dissonance" is. You have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is and I'm not going to waste any more of my time arguing with you about such things. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:51, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
I've only advanced the view that we must give due consideration to our sources. The examples of Good Articles and especially Featured Articles must be given some weight. Our understanding of "encyclopedic" must be based on something. The obvious thing to base it on is actual encyclopedias. Our understanding of a "formal tone" must be based on something. We have experts, style guides, and prestigious media to guide us. If sources were contradictory or unclear, then we'd have to find our own way. But in cases like this, when there's nearly zero dissent and several experts saying a word is acceptable, then arguments that the word is "nonsense", "childish", "unencyclopedic" and so on must be rejected as uninformed opinion. We are not required to use a word, but any editors who go out of their way to ban a word without any sources -- when they are flatly contradicting our most prestigious sources -- are using Wikipedia as their personal soapbox to advance their peeves and proclivities, not building an encyclopedia. Any time our sources are unanimous and give us clear guidance, we should rejoice that there's no need to debate opinions; we have a functional verifiablity and identifying reliable sources process that we can use to resolve the question and move on. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 15:52, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
Given that you've injected the same sources and/or your arguments about them into pretty much every spot in two threads into which they can be put, they clearly have been given due consideration and then some. Just because not everyone is agreeing with you doesn't mean they have not seen the evidence you repeatedly bring up without adding more (if it wasn't convincing the first time, it won't be the fourth, either). It is not required that everyone approach the matter in precisely the way you want them to. You're also mix-and-matching "evidence" but treating it all as if it's the same. Use of the word in a US sports newspaper article is evidence of just that usage. Entries for the word in dictionaries is simply evidence that the word exists, which no one seems to be disputing now, and much of the detail in that evidence doesn't support anything but the view that this is informal N. Am. sports jargon (and once existed with a different meaning in Br. Eng., ca. a century ago), because these sources mostly label the word "informal", and it mostly only appears in American publications (both as to usage and as to being defined in an entry), and labeled N. Am. when it appears in non-N.Am. dictionaries at all. You're basically helping to source the argument that the term is regional, contextual jargon, but that didn't seem to be your intent, so I'm not sure what to tell you. GA/FA isn't a source, it's an internal consensus process, one geared primarily to WP:CCPOL compliance. It's frequently observed here that GAN and FAC do not actually "enforce" MoS compliance much; they simply don't have much time or concern for style matters.

MoS says nothing about this word, but does indicate that matters not covered by MoS are subject to editorial consensus at the articles. So, it's natural and reasonable that GAN and FAC have nothing at all to say about usage of "winningest", any more than they do about whether you describe an event as "the conference, attended by 2,500, was held in March" or "the conference was held in March, with 2,500 attendees". There doesn't seem to be an current move "to ban a word without any sources"; the only consensus that's emerged from these two threads is that MoS will not be changed to "ban" this word, and "word-banning" isn't its purpose, and even those advocating the idea had sources against the word, as being "informal". There are no "experts" who can say a word is acceptable on Wikipedia. That's the crux of the matter. No one makes that determination but Wikipedians, via consensus formation. Two threads of polarized debate (on this page alone; there were others earlier) is clear proof – if you want to talk about evidence – that "there's nearly zero dissent" is not an accurate claim. There is no unanimity in the sources; the closest they come to that is "North American, colloquial, sports".

Let's actually look at the external source evidence, starting at the top of the thread: 3 from Cbl62: North American sports (hereafter "NAS"); 15 from Cbl92: all American, 1 dictionary (not labelled colloquial, but examples are all sports), all 14 others are NAS; 3 from Jeh, all dictionaries, all three say informal, one says N.Am. only, two give sports examples only; 1 from Cbl92, but it's a repeat; 2 from you (both are repeats); 1 from you, a dict. showing 1804 date; 1 WP search from Bagumba, showing it's used almost exclusively in NAS articles (I didn't even see a case that wasn't, but I didn't look at every entry; maybe there's a couple of exceptions); 1 from you to The American Language: It undercuts your own argument, since it shows that such constructions are not "the standard language" but the colloquial speech of "the American vulgate" (I don't think "encyclopedic tone" and "vulgar tone" are the same thing) – you've totally misunderstood Mencken, who is not saying that this is standard American English, but mocking American abuse of the language, and this patently obviously from Mencken's own writing, which does not use any such constructions. Reaching the "Gauging consensus" section: 1 from Bagumba: NAS; 1 from Bagumba: a repeat dict. cite; 4 from Spacecowboy420: all dicts, 2 repeats, 2 new ones that say "N.Am." and "informal"; post by you mentioning but not directly citing 199 Britannica, 6 Columbia & 1 Americana encyc. articles "all modern, North American sports topics" but your own statement; 5 from Skyring (Pete): 4 webboards and blog concluding it's NAS and/or informal, but 2 real articles saying it's both and is jarring to non-North Americans – key quote: "it took the focus away from the achievement ... good language should never get in the way of what is being communicated"; 5 from Curly Turkey who purports to be disagreeing with Pete, but all 5 are also NAS; 1 from 72bikers, Britannica claiming 1972 date (which is wrong, but who cares?).; 5 from you, 3 showing that it was historically attested in British English in two spellings (but who cares?, and the modern editions of Fowler no longer give the advice you rely on, and we know from other sources that the word is now a disliked Americanism in BrEng), 1 NAM, 1 N-gram showing increase in use of the word (which no one had disputed anyway); 2 from 72bikers, repeat dicts.; 2 from CT showing use in book titles, 1 NAM, the other NA card gaming, which competitively is treated as a sport (whether we think that's silly or not...); 2 from you, again undermining your own argument: they show that the word in old BrEng meant "most attractive"; so they're not the same word, they're homophones with completely different meaning.

Conclusion: That's ZERO current non-North American sources, ZERO sources showing the word ever had this meaning outside N.Am. English, and only ONE source even in N.Am. English suggesting non-sport usage. Meanwhile, you've been name-dropping "the likes of H.W. Fowler, H.L. Mencken, Patricia T. O'Conner" as if they supported the position that "winningest" has broad application when they don't support that view at all. I rest my case: It's North American sports jargon, and acceptable in that context, and non-encyclopedic otherwise. I wasn't even certain that was the case until you proved it to me. The only good thing that has come of this mega-WP:LAME terminological dispute across 2 threads is that clarity, and the identification of some sources on the earlier origins, spelling, and meaning of the word/homophone, which can be used at the article about it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:06, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

You keep burning down this straw man that someone wants to "enforce" using winningest. If I've been saying that WP:TIES means the word belongs on US sports articles, then obviously you'd be unlikely to see it on non-US articles, especially not those related to sports. To make the word -- any word -- "mandatory"? Absurd. As far as repetition, would you really like to see a count of how many times you've re-posted the same argument? Should we tally them up? --Dennis Bratland (talk) 17:16, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
There is one easy test to see whether a word is regarded as mandatory in an article by an editor. Simply remove it from an article, replace it with something that means exactly the same, and see what efforts are taken to restore it, and what arguments are put forward in support. Looking at this article it is clear that one editor views the word "winningest" as mandatory and will go to extraordinary lengths to see it included. Including edit-warring while discussion is ongoing in three different places. --Pete (talk) 18:16, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
That's a remarkably dishonest way of interpretation of events. Would you resort to the same argument if someone were to go around systematically unsplitting infinitives and then, when people objected, declare split infitives "mandatory"? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:43, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict)I know, right? Let me tell you how bad it got -- you won't believe this -- this one editor he got so carried away with winningest he went on a spree across like, what? Thirty-seven articles? Whatever it was it was a lot. They told him to cool it but he couldn't stop himself and earned himself a harsh 60-hour block at 3RRN. Folks, you don't wanna be "that guy", am I right? --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:47, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

Losingest[edit]

☣ BIOHAZARD:

Closing this quarantine while an infestation with WP:EDITCOUNTITIS (in its even more infectuous "by namespace" variant) has become apparent.

With my apologies for the whimsical opening of this closure report, this is a serious sectioning off and closing of a subthread of the general discussion: all issues regarding "Losingest" appear to have been handled in mainspace, and contributors having nothing to say, really, about this topic any more they started filling Wikipedia talk namespace with off-topic remarks. --Francis Schonken (talk) 12:53, 26 January 2016 (UTC)

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Should this equally horrible word be dealt with at the same time? Are all of the pro-winningest editors, also pro-losingest? And yes, it is in Wikipedia articles - that I am trying damn hard not to edit. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 13:06, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

" In 2015, former Survivor contestant and reality TV podcaster Rob Cesternino ranked Palau as the 9th-greatest season, while a poll on his website saw his fans rank it 13th.[1] Joe Reid of The Wire ranked it 10th, stating that Westman "went pretty much wire-to-wire in barnstorming this season," and played "Perhaps a perfect game," while also noting that "Stephanie and Bobby Jon won our hearts by surviving the longest on the decimated Ulong tribe, the losingest tribe of all time."[2]"
May be not the crappyest one, but surely on the winning side.

There were only two of these where "losingest" was used outside of a direct quotation, and I have reworded them to improve the tone. Reyk YO! 15:28, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

It seems like the same arguments that apply to winningest would be applicable to losingest. Is there something different?—Bagumba (talk) 20:01, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
AFAIK even people defending "winningest" haven't said anything in favour of this one. Is there something wrong with removing it, or were you asking just out of curiosity? Reyk YO! 20:12, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
My question is, is someone going to put every word they don't like to a vote? Or is there any principle at work? What would be the verifiable basis for saying a word is not encyclopedic? Because coming to this talk page for a vote for every single word is not going to work, is it? --Dennis Bratland (talk) 20:28, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Well, no. I think this venue useful for settling genuine disputes. There should be no issue with removing it, if several people think it's silly and nobody is in favour of it. Or are you saying you'd like "losingest" to be put into WP articles? Reyk YO! 20:44, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
So you want to give veto power to any small group of editors who don't like a word? With no regard for sources? Because I think if we do actually pay attention to reliable sources, and the different way they treat winningest and losingest, then we will find ourselves standing on quite solid ground. We would be able to define verifiable rules that anyone could apply that would avert future disputes. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 20:50, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
There's a difference between unilaterally imposing a bunch of edits that you know will annoy people, and being afraid to make any changes on the off chance that someone will get their dander up. WP:BOLD exists for a reason, and I think consensus is against "losingest". Reyk YO! 20:59, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Unlike winningest, one source, American Heritage, goes so far as to call losingist slang. Losingest has no entry in Webster's. There are 3 versions of the OED that have entries for losingist, unlike the 10 or so for winningest, but they call both words either informal or colloquial. While winningest is found in several dozen examples in major encyclopedias, no such encyclopedic examples exist for losingest. Losingest has some spotty appearances in the NYT, but not the crushing weight of evidence that we see for winningest, nor elsewhere like Reuters or the BBC. Based on reliable sources, I wouldn't favor keeping losingest in many articles, not without significant citations showing that it is helpful in a given context. No need for hand waving or bluff or bluster. Just look it up and see what our sources have to say. But accepting the guidance of the sources means accepting that winningest is encyclopedic, especially in the context of American sports articles. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:39, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
As I just demonstrated about 5 minutes ago, the evidence actually shows that it's only in North American sports that it might be potentially encyclopedic, and even that's iffy, because virtually all current dictionaries (reliable sources on usage) that recognize it at all, even in the US, label it informal or colloquial. The fact that sports journalists love it is irrelevant, per WP:NOT#NEWS. If consensus goes against it's use, that's that. WP consensus about how to write WP trumps examples of usage in external publications (even if I personally think it's okay in those sports articles, too). You're just seriously overstating the case. I would think that recent events around here would really, really strongly discourage any promotional, advocacy, WP-must-follow-the-sources-I-like-and-how-I-interpret-them-dammmit approach to any topic related to this guideline.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:16, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
Seriously? WP:NOT#NEWS says nothing of the sort. It is entirely about WP articles not being required to be up-to-date reports of current events. It in no way denigrates sports reporting as of lesser value merely because the topic is sports. Patricia O'Connor and H.W. Fowler are not sportswriters; they're language usage and writing experts. Exactly the kind of experts who can help to settle this sort of question, by giving us actual facts to dispel the misconceptions.

You continue to cite nothing to support your opposition to what you disparage as "'style must follow sources' activism" -- those crazy, wacky weirdos at Wikipedia who care about reliable sources. Who knew? I've cited several parts of the accepted MOS that point to the fact that external sources are respected when making style decisions, and you cite no policy or guideline at all that even hints that "we editors alone" make up style while defying gravity, unbound by any external source. The WP:Consensus policy applies to all decisions, not solely the article namespace. "Consensus is Wikipedia's fundamental model for editorial decision-making" which is why WP:Closing discussions says we discard "irrelevant arguments: those that flatly contradict established policy, those based on personal opinion only, those that are logically fallacious, those that show no understanding of the matter of issue."

You complain that I keep repeating this but you keep repeating the same unfounded claim. True, no word is mandatory, no one source dictates style decisions, not every decision has relevant sources to guide it, but much of the time sources are there and policy says the arguments that use sources carry weight and those floating on imaginary facts alone are discarded.

The amazing thing about this test case winningest is the utter lack of any sources supporting the other side. This should have been a slam dunk: "I don't like winningest... but look at the dictionaries! Look at the encyclopedias! Guess I have to conceded that there's really nothing wrong with this word, WP:snowball clause and all". But no. Somehow the very lack of reliable sources gives fuel to this engine of arbitrary decision making. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 22:07, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

  • The motivation seems to be that if they can get "losingest" banned, it'll strengthen the case against "winningest". This is an act of desperation and an enormous waste of time. This thread should be ignored to death. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:05, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
I agree it does have a reductio ad absurdum and slippery slope feel to it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  16:16, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

Don't try to read minds, you didn't do very well. My motivation was curiosity on how people felt about the word "losingest", as I was somewhat surprised that people like that turd of a word "winningest". If consensus is that this word shouldn't be here, I would remove it from articles. I don't see any grounds for decisions on the word "winningest" being based on decisions on "losingest" and vice versa. *hint* when trying to ignore a thread, posting in it isn't the best method. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 10:19, 26 January 2016 (UTC)

Protest too much often? You're not going to convince anyone with that "mere curiosity" line. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:09, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
Sorry, I'm here to contribute to an encyclopedia, not to score points in a debate. So, in the immortal words of my hero, "そんなの関係ねぇ" Spacecowboy420 (talk) 11:19, 26 January 2016 (UTC)
If only your edit record showed you making more content contributions and fewer attempts at scoring points [14] — Preceding unsigned comment added by Curly Turkey (talkcontribs)

54.9% compared to your truly awesome 62.6% [[15]] - that's a huge world of difference, isn't it? Spacecowboy420 (talk) 12:30, 26 January 2016 (UTC)

References


The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Can we wrap this up?[edit]

This above debate and the one that forked off of it are just rambling on and on, and into various MoS-irrelevant ratholes. WP:ANRFC is totally swamped, so we need to close this (both threads of it) ourselves. Otherwise, it's simply going to eventually expire into the archive, unresolved.

I propose that we have in fact arrived at consensus on a few things (notes in small text). The first three of these are consensus of MoS editors about MoS itself, based primarily on internal WP common sense. The last two are advisory consensus of MoS editors about content disputes at articles, in which sourcing is an important factor.

  1. As a matter of policy, the status quo holds, if consensus doesn't change on something. The status quo is that a) the guideline is as it is, and b) editorial discretion and (if a discussion arises) editorial consensus at the article level are what determine the wording of articles, within the bounds of site-wide standards that constrain inappropriate results.
    This is just an overarching fact, not a potential consensus to evaluate. A side principle of the status quo rule is WP:COSMETICBOT – we do not use automated editing to make potentially disruptive changes for trivial reasons, and this applies to word choices when both choices are acceptable.
  1. There is consensus against the request that MoS include a rule explicitly against [or for] "winningest".
    Can there be any question about that?
  2. There is consensus that MoS and its talk page are not venues for lobbying to get specific terms either "banned" or declared "always-okay", more generally. This happens frequently, and is unproductive.
    These are contextual matters of WP:LOCALCONSENSUS (in the positive sense), for narrow content discussions, usually in article talk, though they could be raised here about particular articles or topics. Exception: When a term raises WP:Neutral point of view concerns in almost every case of its use, we do have MOS:WTW ("words to watch"), which is entirely a WP:NPOV supplementary guideline, not based on usage frequency and other NPOV-unrelated questions, but even it doesn't "ban" things, it just advises caution and rewording.
  3. There is no consensus to import any of the WP:TONE essay wording into MoS.
    There is some support for the idea of having MoS say a bit more on the matter, but we'll need to defer that for a discussion that drafts and proposes such an addition.
  4. There is no consensus against using "winningest" for North American sports contexts (and, by extension, some quasi-sports like competitive poker or pro gaming).
    Proponents of this use have very clearly demonstrated that the word exists and is conventional sports jargon in mainstream N.Am. publications in this context.
    Note that this "no consensus against" does not equate to consensus explicitly in favor of "winningest" at WT:MOS (see point 1 and 2 above).
    Sources also demonstrate that it is mostly found in American dictionaries or, in others, labelled [North] American. Whether consensus at particular articles accepts it will be the result of discussions there as necessary (or, often, at the wikiproject level for consistency across a topic), but our own search engine proves that it already has widespread editorial acceptance in that topical space, so there's clearly WP-wide consensus that it may be used in that topic, though it can always be rewritten in alternative form except when it occurs in a proper name (article title, award, etc.) or quotation. No compelling reason MoS should override that local consensus has been presented (e.g. PoV concerns). It is sensible to create either an article on this word, or an American sports journalism glossary with a linkable entry for this word, so that it can be linked at first occurrence for the term, for the benefit of non-N.Am. readers. Enough sources have been provided here already for either/both, and (as usual) the time spent trying to source style fights in projectspace should have been spent sourcing actual encyclopedia content.
  5. There is no consensus for using "winningest" more broadly, either in North Am. topics not related to competition, or non-N.Am. topics even if they're sport-related.
    Proponents of the expanded use have not demonstrated that the term is used regularly outside the N.Am. sports context.
    There is, furthermore, a notable level of resistance, including by American editors, against the idea of broadening the usage.
    The principal objection is that it is not widely recognized outside N.Am. sports. Potential examples of such broadening might include to American political and legal articles, or to South African football articles. This doesn't quite rise to the level of "consensus against", but it need not, because editors regularly revert any attempts to insert the word into articles outside N.Am. sports, almost uniformly, so there's already evidence of a general WP consensus against it – WT:MOS need not arrive at one here.

Some might feel that point #5 should be is consensus against, but I remain skeptical, based on the discussions above and below, and because the usage of word in the real world appears to be spreading. We don't want to be here five years from now with "winningest" a global buzzword and people still citing "this MoS consensus against it"; always be mindful of future effects of decisions in a project like this. A more-negative-than-neutral is no consensus for is sufficient, and is advisory to local consensus.

None of these would result in any changes to guideline wording [without some additional proposal, anyway]. Point #2 suggests a MOS:FAQ entry, however.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:05, 27 January 2016 (UTC) Notes update to account for points in WP:WINNINGEST; the do not affect the text of the proposed consensuses.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:55, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Supports and opposes of consensus points[edit]

  • Support all 5, as the drafter.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:05, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose the proposed closure, as it doesn't handle #Under construction essay very well. --Francis Schonken (talk) 15:47, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
    • @Francis Schonken: What would you have worked in? The opening line doesn't appear to have consensus, and would seem to amount to MoS banning the word. Rationale is old history, plus two individual arguments for why it should go a particular way, not decisions we would come to consensus on (both of them are straightforward facts – do you want them worked in? I'll do so.) The titles point is a WP:AT matter, and both the quotations and bots matters we already have general rules about.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:47, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
      Update: I added all the unquestionable points to the notes.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:55, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support all 5 — I might want to revisit #3 later (much later, when this has cooled down) in an appropriate venue. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 16:03, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support 5Point 3 is something that belongs in the relevant discussion thread, not this one. MoS is not the place to prescribe or proscribe individual (and uncommon) words. A more local forum can do that, possibly something connected to NAm sports, but in the meantime, consensus at article level will do. --Pete (talk) 16:13, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
    • The threads are redundant, and that one's productive discussion has died. It doesn't matter which exact location on the talk page we decide the consensus points. I could have posted this as a whole new thread and that would be valid, too. I posted a cross-reference from the bottom of that thread to this subthread; no one will be misled, and if people renew that separate discussion we can strike the item here. The point of #3 isn't to suppress discussion of that question, but to renew it later as a cleaner proposal when it's not polluted as "'winningest' debate (continued)", and people have some idea what the language should say after these other matters are concluded.
      • On reading down I found the mention. Fair enough. --Pete (talk) 20:39, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support all 5; no consensus except that this is not the place to argue about a word. No prejudice against editors developing an essay (or competing essays) that they can then seek broader support for. Dicklyon (talk) 16:24, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support 4 -- Item 3 isn't necessary to close this discussion (which specifically regards the word "winningest"). The question asked in each of the threads is not redundant, though the discussion direction below may have (been) veered (in)appropriately in a certain direction. --Izno (talk) 17:55, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment Propose to strike the following commentary from No. 4: "Whether consensus at particular articles accepts it will be the result of discussions there as necessary, but our own search engine proves that it already has widespread editorial acceptance in that topical space, so there's clearly WP-wide consensus that it may be used in that topic, though it can always be rewritten in alternative form except when it occurs in a proper name (article title, award, etc.) or quotation. No compelling reason MoS should override that local consensus has been presented (e.g. PoV concerns)." There is no consensus here to test long-standing consensus at an estimated 5,000 articles that already use the word, just because there was no prior formal discussion at a particular article. Do not need to risk anyone Wikilawyering that it was endorsed here to start a proof-by-assertion campaign on a per article basis. Consensus can change or the usual dispute resolution process policies exists already. A suggestion to take this up at a relevant WikiProject should be non-controversial. I've brought it up before, as has Pete at 19:56, 24 January 2016: "... perhaps appropriate sports-related projects might be found to determine its use in particular areas."—Bagumba (talk) 20:58, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
    • But it's a fact that, absent any rule against something, consensus (about whatever) is determined on a case by case basis at articles, and it's a fact that the construction can be worded differently even if not everyone likes every possible rewording. These facts are salient, and WT:MOS isn't in a position to contradict them. Consensus is decision about facts, not invention of counter-facts.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:02, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
      • People here know how consensus works, whether they follow it is another story. I still maintain the above text is not needed, anymore than we need to make a statement on the WP:NPA and WP:EW that's been prevalent in this whole matter. If there really is a belief that it must remain and a statement needs to made, we should at least advise that discussions should be at the relevant WikiProjects, and not shopping the issue from one article to the next.—Bagumba (talk) 01:34, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
        • I added it mention of that; good point. It's not like we're going to insert language to this effect directly into into the guideline anyway. The point was to not let the permissiveness of the conclusion be misinterpreted as license to fight about it topic by topic, either (relates to this "this shouldn't be automated" point, too, in spirit).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:14, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment I propose that the thread at #Summarizing_issues_raised are agreed upon talking points that should be used in assessing winningest compared to it's potential alternatives. I doubt any option will address all points, and people will assign different weights to which ones are more important.—Bagumba (talk) 20:58, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
    • I agree that a further examination of the tradeoffs between the various English Wikipedia guidelines is needed. The tenor of this discussion has unfortunately discouraged editors from pursuing this further. isaacl (talk) 21:10, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
      • Unfortunately, we as a community failed and did not self-police enough, allowing a few editors to get away with WP:WABBITSEASON and turning it into a WP:BATTLEGROUND.—Bagumba (talk) 21:22, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
        • Agreed. That's why I'm suggesting we close this with what we have so far, then open more specific discussions (like whether MoS needs to be clearer about encyclopedic tone) later, without all the emotion and baggage of this multiple-topics-at-one, two-headed pair of threads.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:02, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support all five in principal, though I could quibble about some of the wording (in particular where it seems to imply people might be trying to employ this word outside of NAm sports—though the MoS shouldn't police that, either). Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:57, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
    • Question the need for No. 5 also With all the text that has been generated, I can't actually remember that using winningest outside of NA sports was advocated by anyone, unless it was a scare tactic used to ban the word altogether.—Bagumba (talk) 23:06, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
      • It was, in the abstract. Aside from some early disbelief that it's a "real word" (since dispelled), the primary concern has been the spread of this word outside the N.Am. sports context, because it's not generally recognized or accepted by N.Am. English speakers in all contexts, or non-N.Am. speakers at all. Bringing it up could have been intended as a scare tactic, but the discussion happened. The point of this wrap-up is to cleary present what emerged from all this discussion.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:02, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
        • I can't imagine on what basis "the primary concern" can be interpreted as "the spread of this word outside the N.Am. sports context". Not only has that concern not been primary, it hasn't even been taken seriously as "a concern". Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 00:34, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
            • Maybe we're just looking at it differently, but the main source of angst once the "that's not a real word" stuff is dispensed seems to be "this is just American sports lingo" (i.e., it's not a recognized term in economics or physics or [everything else], and it's not a recognized usage at all in Australian or Irish or whatever).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:14, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
              • No, the main source of angst at that point was regarding register—insisting it was too colloquial (or even slang) to be considered usable in an encyclopaedic register. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 10:22, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
                • @Curly Turkey:: Ah, I see what you mean. I think we're converging on the same point. If we subtract "RS actually show it's okay in the N.Am. sports context" (which seems to be the case) from "too colloquial to be encyclopedic", we're left with something like "too colloquial for N.Am. non-sport topics, and for non-N.Am. topics, even sport." But there seems to be aggrement that it is not MoS's role to state such a thing as a rule, especially about some random particular word.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  01:35, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
                  • If nobody's making it an issue outside of NAm sports then there's no need to talk about non-NAm sports articles. If someone starts contributing prose to the Georg Solti article calling him the winningest conductor at the Grammys, that's something that's unlikely to stand regardless of any MoS consensus. Dealing with it here verges into WP:BEANS territory. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 04:46, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
          • I think we can have consensus for #5 being true, without saying there is a need to promulgate widely that there is no consensus for using the word outside the articles with WP:TIES. Per WP:BEANS, only those consensus outcomes that a given group of editors needs to know about should be published to them. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 01:10, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
I don't think any of this would directly change the guideline wording; it's just summing up the results of this sprawling, forked discussion, so that people can make sense of it when the look in the archives. It also helps us see what we can move forward on for additional resolution (like whether MOS needs more clarity on what it means by encyclopedic or formal tone) in a follow-up discussion. There's no BEANS problem here (the careful distinctions between, e.g. "consensus against" and "no consensus for" are specifically geared to avoid that problem).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  06:14, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support all 5 Was apprehensive about the notes for No. 4 being misconstrued to green light discussions at every page, but I acquiesce after the recent addition that this should be done at a higher level like a WikiProject.—Bagumba (talk) 01:45, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

Notes or discussion about consensus points[edit]

  • My personal opinion and prediction is that local consensus at articles would probably accept the usage at other N.Am. topics that are intrinsically competitive, but only future discussions will tell us. The further into the future they are, the more likely acceptance will be, as acceptance and context of the word spread in the real world (absent a sudden reversal in its memetic fortunes) Some likely-to-accept topics might be: elimination-based "reality" TV shows, a law firm for its acquittal and/or civil case success rate, a prosecutor for conviction rate, possibly even politicians for election or legislative victory rate. I would not expect this to extend to topics not primarily competitive in nature, topics competitive but not N.Am., nor topics with more global than national appeal (e.g. "winningest actress at the 2016 Oscars" is unlikely to be accepted at a American actor's article, for multiple reasons). I also predict that it will not be accepted even at sports articles, any time soon, that are non-N.Am. for the same reason we don't inject lorry, tyre and petrol into an article on the American auto industry. If the word becomes much more adopted internationally, that would change, of course, just as big pharma has entered American discourse on pharmaceuticals politics just in the last decade (by way of Canada; I was there for it and saw it happen. You could see the word sneaking across the border at night. :-) Three things that would obviously arouse dispute for no gain are using "winningest" at: a) articles written in some flavor of N.Am. English which are about sports in a non-English-speaking country (hockey in Russia, etc.), and b) articles on sports competitions that are international and involve N.Am. teams or individuals as competitors (regardless of what dialect is used in the article); and c) articles in any non-N.Am. English variety that refer to a N.Am. sports teams or figures number of victories. "Winningest" is liable to be accepted only if the ENGVAR is N.Am., and the topic of the article is N.Am. sports in N.Am. (or something intimately associated with it, like a politician also notable as a coach, a sports section at a N.Am. university article, etc.).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:05, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
    • You said above that people debate words here all the time. The MOS says we write in Plain English, yet WP:FORMAL overemphasizes "formal tone" which is something else entirely. There needs to be clearer guidance on this. Replacing but with however is seeking formality at the expense of plain English. We should avoid encouraging "formal" English, and replace that with "serious tone", "businesslike" tone. People debate words excessively because the guidelines are contradictory. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 18:03, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
      • We've already been over this above. It's equivocation. I find it unlikely that you don't understand that a term like "formal language" or "formal writing" or "formal tone" can have different meanings to different audiences in different contexts. You seems to be making the argument that it means and only can ever possibly mean something like "bureaucratese", but this is not a plausible argument. Few other editors in WP history have made a big deal about somehow confusing what WP means by a formal tone with writing like buzzword bingo language, or obtuse academic and governmental prose like Orwell attacked in "Politics and the English Language". Point #3 above is intended to lead to an un-"winningest"-clouded discussion of how WP should approach the tone question. Such a discussion may well result in less ambiguous language.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:10, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
        • So first you say you see too many editors coming here to debate a word, now you say few editors are confused about WP:FORMAL and Plain English? Which is it? Maybe all those editors coming here, are, like me, confused. Maybe the MOS, or WP:FORMAL, should be improved to end that confusion. Could be. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:16, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
          • False dichotomy. There's no binary choice between being confused about MoS's meaning with regard to encyclopedic/formal wording on the one hand, and confused about or otherwise objecting to a specific term on the other. The fact that the first of those could be a real issue is why I'm suggesting that a separate discussion, not hijacked by "winningest" arguments, should happen after this closes about what MoS should or shouldn't say in the regard (and not by copy-pasting from an essay; there was clearly consensus against that).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:05, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
  • I think I'm OK with this, all except slipping in once again the failed notion, "Sourcing the MoS is a non-WP:ENC waste of productivity." Consensus is Wikipedia's fundamental model for editorial decision-making and consensus is determined by weighing all legitimate concerns, disregarding those based on personal opinion only. This fundamental model applies everywhere, even discussions about the MOS, not just content. You link to Wikipedia:Wikipedia is an encyclopedia as if that supports this "we determine it alone, not external sources" fantasy? Where? Wikipedia is not for unverifiable material? Wikipedia is not a soapbox? Wikipedia is not a democracy? Wikipedia is not a place to publish your opinions? Wikipedia is not a place to publish your own ideas? How much more loud and clear must the message be given that "I don't like it" is a waste of everyone's time. Please don't come to any Wikipedia page and tell us what you like and don't like. Tell us what your reliable sources say, or keep moving.

    Every editor who wanted to carry on this discussion, armed with zero citations, should have stopped in their tracks. Imagine what would have happened if, way back when this issue was first raised, if they had said, "Gee, Dennis, the sources you've cited show that winningest is no more 'not a word' than cat? I'll take this up if I ever find sources saying it's unclear, or controversial, or bad English, but until then, I'll drop it!". --Dennis Bratland (talk) 15:56, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

    • You're misunderstanding the argument in several key ways, but as I've explained it several different ways already with you, I'm leaning toward shrugging and moving on. I don't need to convince you. It's simply a matter of policy that WP:CCPOL, including WP:V and WP:RS, apply only to the encyclopedia content. "We determine it alone, not external sources" is a false dichotomy. There is no choice between WP consensus determining something, and sources, which are virtually never consistent on style and other language matters, telling us something. Sources are always (when the consensus discussion has anything to do with the real world – there are no external sources for, say, how to deal with sockpuppetry on WP) a factor in how we determine something that's an internal matter. They're often nowhere near the most important. By contrast, sources dictate a great deal of the mainspace content (just not usually the exact wording; we write, we don't copy except brief quotations). See the difference? You're reacting as if someone said "you can never mention sources or use a source-based argument in projectspace". But one one's ever said anything like that. Large amounts of what I do at WT:MOS is source research, though I'm starting to decline to do it when it will not lead directly to improved article sourcing as well, because certain editors keep trying to battleground about why MoS can't say this or that because it wasn't cited to an external source (or must say it, because it's in a source they like). It's perennially disruptive nonsense I will no longer enable. I repeat that if you and others with strong opinions about this word would stop arguing and go write a proper article about it, just with the sources already cited on this page, so that we have something to link to, many of the disputes about its use here would just stop dead.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:04, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
      • The reason "it's simply a matter of policy" fails to convince me is that you have never once pointed out where this "simple a matter of policy" is written. You're adamant that this is policy, but how come policy doesn't say it? Policy does say mere opinions/likes/dislikes should be usually ignored, and every time I point that out, you reply with this "simply a matter of policy" nonsense. Can you admit, at long last, that no policy says what you want it to say? Either admit it, or show me the quote that says it. Many, many policies in fact say just the opposite. We ignore mere opinions, and look mostly to reliable sources. It's fundamental, not article-space only. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:14, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
        • Just read the policies. Quoting snippets of them is not always helpful. I can do it this time, but their meaning isn't always clear without absorbing their context and interrelation. It's like quoting parts of a James Joyce novel, or the Bible, out of context. WP:CCPOL: "Wikipedia's content is governed by three principal core content policies: neutral point of view, verifiability, and no original research." WP:NPOV: "All encyclopedic content on Wikipedia must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV)." WP:V: "All material in Wikipedia mainspace, including everything in articles, lists and captions, must be verifiable." WP:NOR: "Wikipedia articles must not contain original research ... all material added to articles must be attributable to a reliable, published source, even if not actually attributed." All three policies state: "Wikipedia's three core content policies ... jointly determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in Wikipedia articles". Note that all of these specifically apply to article (mainspace) encyclopedia content.

          Contrast this with WP:COPYRIGHT: "Generally, Wikipedia must have permission to use copyrighted works." (not limited to mainspace.=); and WP:BLP#Non-article space: An entire section explaining that the policy applies across all namespaces. When our policies cover both mainspace and other pages, they are clear about this. Our policies are intended to be interpreted at face value (see WP:WIKILAWYER and WP:GAMING). When they say they apply to mainspace, that means they apply to mainspace, not "and everything else, too, 'cause there's not a specific line in there saying 'and not everything else, too.'" We already know that CCPOL does not apply to projectspace, lawyering aside, because it never is interpreted that way in practice, and "the core content policies don't apply to projectpages" is a common and accepted rationale against deletion at WP:MFD. Community practice is what determines policy, not vice versa (see WP:POLICY, which says so). Because so much of what is decided in policypages literally cannot be thid-party sourced, because it is WP-unique, it was already a foregone conclusion that CCPOL does not appply to such pages to begin with, per WP:COMMONSENSE. Three avenues of proof should be sufficient to simply accept this as a truth of how WP operates.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:31, 5 February 2016 (UTC)

      • @SMcCandlish: AFAICS, WP:CORE is a team improving important articles on WP. How is this related?—Bagumba (talk) 21:03, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
        • D'oh! I mean WP:CCPOL; confusing my shortcuts. Fixed.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  00:11, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
          • OK, that correction helps clear up some questions, but only slightly. Wikipedia:Consensus and Wikipedia:Closing discussions, as I've said, don't only apply to the article namespace; they apply everywhere. The "fundamental model for editorial decision-making" says "legitimate concerns", and "personal opinion only" is generally discounted, given "no weight whatsoever". So you can't win a vote to declare tree a made-up word, or declare that "tree is controversial", because no matter how many editors in a particular discussion show up to say they think tree is a controversial word, it's pure opinion, lacking any sources. There are certainly many, many cases where we must simply take a poll and trust editors to vote, because reliable sources don't clearly point us where to go, but with tree, that's not the case, nor with that W— word I don't wish to type again for a very long time.

            Can you at least see that you have not quoted one single policy that says what you're so confident is true? Yes, it's true that WP:V and WP:NOR etc. definitely apply to the article namespace, but nothing says the only apply to the article namespace, and several parts of WP:5, WP:ENC and the ones I mentioned already clearly point to the principle that editor opinions, likes, and dislikes are inherently of low value, and ideally we don't use them when we have sources we can instead rely upon. I think the reason you keep running into "activists" who don't share your view is that your view is not written in policy. How can something this important not be explicitly stated anywhere? If you wish it to be so, please make a proposal. I wouldn't mind seeing that question settled. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 00:41, 29 January 2016 (UTC)

            • What fatuous nonsense! We Wikipedia editors write the Manual of Style and we make policy through discussion and consensus. Practicality, convenience, transparency and inspiration rule. Along with common sense. There was no manual for creating Wikipedia and all of its many policies - they happened in-house because editors agreed amongst themselves that this was the path to excellence. To use your example, sure we could outlaw "tree" or "nigger" or "woody" or any other word in wikitext. Put it up for an RfC and see what happens. Consensus will emerge and we will adopt the new policy. We don't need sources to make a decision - the community of editors will come up with a good result. These results might be a little rocky down at article level, if only a few editors participate, but as more eyes are dumped into discussion at noticeboard or topic or project level, the result improves. (WP:PROPOSAL and WP:GUIDANCE outline the process.) Have more faith in your fellow editors, brother! --Pete (talk) 01:06, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
              • "Fatuous nonsense"? What an intelligent point to add to this discussion. I asked (again) where in policy this "We don't need sources to make a decision" idea is even hinted at, and you have risen to the challenge and added 166 more much-needed words to this much too brief thread in which you have made sure as many people as possible are aware that some guy somewhere thinks it's "fatuous nonsense". A barnstar, for that, sir. You have often commended yourself, and been admired by others, for your dedication to the value of free and open discussion, and this is a shining example. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 01:31, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
                • See above. There are two links provided. You also mentioned WP:BEANS earlier. Throw that into the mix, if you please. --Pete (talk) 01:36, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
                  • Quote please? The quote saying anything that sounds even vaguely like "We don't need sources to make a decision". Indeed, I didn't hear that. Am I ever going to hear it? Will it ever be posted by anyone? --Dennis Bratland (talk) 01:42, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
Let's all just take it down a notch and avoid mischaracterizing each others' points. Dennis, you had yourself suggested in here somewhere that my own view was something like "we don't ever bother with sources at all to make a decision", when that's clearly not what I meant about projectspace not being subject to WP:CCPOL.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:23, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
I don't mean to imply that your view is anything like Skyring's. He thinks Wikipedia is a democracy: if half the editors + 1 vote to ban "tree" then "tree" is banned, no matter how inane the reasons. He is unable to supply any quotes that support anything he says; he is bluffing. I don't think all decisions must only rely on sources, models, and policy/guidelines; but they should, whenever possible, as much a possible. We should only make a decision without sources if we have no other choice. Wikipedia's best precedents, those most likely to have lasting influence, are those which take policy, high-quality role models and reliable sources into account. Decisions that count votes based on pure opinion are likely to be overturned, and sooner rather than later.

Your exact position on this? I'm not sure. I really would appreciate an exact quote in policy that is the basis for your argument. I've been wrong many times before and I'll be wrong again. I appreciate anybody who makes the effort to show me the errors in my ways. But just linking to WP:CCPOL or WP:V or WP:RS doesn't help me anything. I'm not that clever, I guess. If you can quote what exactly you're using and what you mean, I'd be grateful. It doesn't have to be here in this thread -- I know others would like this whole thing to be resolved and never speak of it again. I agree with that. (I don't need Skyring to keep refuting me, and nobody else is clamoring for him do do so.) --Dennis Bratland (talk) 02:41, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Here's another way to look at it: Decisions are made by consensus, but there's no firm rules on what !voters consider when deciding MOS issues. This is not articlespace content that is subject to policies like WP:V or WP:WEIGHT. Consensus could choose to consider those points, or it could decide to flip a coin and pick a style. It's entirely up to the participants and subject to persuasive arguments. Remember, one the WP:FIVEPILLARS is "Wikipedia has no firm rules".—Bagumba (talk) 03:07, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
That's a very different formulation from your earlier sources-related argument. It seems to amount to "decisions should not be based on nonsense from out of nowhere", and I don't think anyone disagree with that. I'll be happy to discuss this policy stuff in more detail off-MoS; my talk page is always open. The short version is that consensus isn't formed here just by counting votes based on pure opinion. This is a meritocracy based on cogency of argumentation with the material (internal and external) at hand; if you think the majority of people with a different viewpoint are just arguing from random opinion, you're almost certainly mistaking their argument, because it's statistically near-impossible that a large number of respondents to any issue, in an environment where arguments based on air are discounted, will do nothing but base all their arguments on air. For most WP-internal matters, the area no high-quality role models, and abandoning reliance on them is much of the point of WP:NOT#PAPER. I think you're meaning to tie this to MOS and style-specific sources, though. MOS is largely based on them. But WP has a right to throw them all in the trash and do our own thing when what they advise presents problem we don't want. About 99 times out 100, however, there is real-world disagreement between sources on style, so WP has no choice but to pick one side or the other, or adopt a compromise. Because that's almost always the case, it is also almost always the case that some set of editors feel "this part of MoS is wrong" because it's not what they were taught in school.

This is the MoS fallacy of tied hands: If a majority of reliable sources on style agree on a point, Wikipedia must adopt the same rule, no matter what; and if no majority of them agree on it, we must have no rule about it other than a pointless one saying there is no rule; meanwhile, if they divide on the matter along nationalistic grounds, we are obligated to join in the flag-waving by declaring it an ENGVAR matter, regardless of any other considerations. All three prongs of this fallacy suppose that WP has no control over itself, that it can't make any judgement calls. This fallacy is a sheer denial that NOT#PAPER and CONSENSUS are actual policies, yet it's very common around here, primarily among a) new editors unfamiliar with how WP really works; b) longer-term editors focused on content, who have only recently started participating in policy discussions; and c) even longer-term editors with a pet peeve they will not let go of. Group C know better, the others can be excused for it.  ;-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:31, 5 February 2016 (UTC)

That's it? WP:IAR could be used to justify literally anything. You could propose replacing every word in every article with the symbol Prince symbol in a beehive.svg and use WP:IAR as your rationale. Technically true, but compelling? We both agree that decisions that fly in the face of reliable sources are possible but are they desirable? Can you cite any examples of great or even good decisions that ignored reliable sources and went with mere opinion? Lots of groups use a process other than Robert's Rules of Order; there's plenty of WP:RS which have good arguemnts for why you might go that route. But a case where very nearly zero sources support it? Can we at least agree that Consensus and Closing discussions do apply everywhere, not only the article namespace? --Dennis Bratland (talk) 03:18, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
Nope. IAR requires that a rule be broken to improve the encyclopedia, and vandalizing with the TAFKaP symbols would not be an improvement. Bagumba's point has nothing to do with IAR anyway. Consensus arriving at a decision based on participant agreement about what's best for WP is not ignoring any rule, it is the rule.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:31, 5 February 2016 (UTC)
  • To get back to the "WP:Consensus and WP:Closing_discussions ... apply everywhere" thing: WP:CONLEVEL policy prevents localized [mis]interpretations of policy from globally affecting how policy is determined; for that to happen, the policy is changed. Dennis has arrived 15 years too late to suggest that WP:CCPOL should apply to all pages. It simply does not. Our policies are taken at face value, not wikilawyered over. If they say they apply to encyclopedia content, then that's what they apply to. If they apply to every page (as many of our policies, like Civil, AGF, NPA, etc., do), they say so explicitly. We even have a content policy that does, WP:BLP. You can't violate BLP by posting terrible unproven claims about someone on your wikiproject or user page, and admins have the power to rev-del those; same goes for copyvios. NOR and V, however, are not possible to apply outside actual encyclopedia content; every single WP-specific decision we ever come to would be unverifiable OR by definition (no external source can exist that tells WP how to make decisions about itself). Even NPOV cannot be applied here; every time we make a decision based on what is best for WP and its readers vs. what some external interest would do, we are making a biased decision. Neutrality matters with regard to internal weighing of two or more external interests generally involve external sources and their reliability when they come up in internal discussions, as a matter of WP:Common sense, but we still retain the right to decide what works best on WP for WP's editors and readers, even if a majority of external sources might disagree. An obvious example of this is that most external sources on how to run a nonprofit recommend democratic voting, with motions being determined by "ayes" or "nays" as a straight-up head count and various other Robert's Rules of Order procedures. WP has a different model, and it violates no policy or principle for us to do so. If CCPOL dictated everything, outside mainspace too, then WP would be required by its own policy to abandon our consensus model as "OR" and do strict voting on everything "per RS".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:23, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
I never said WP:CCPOL applied everywhere; that's your straw man. No offense. I said WP:CONSENSUS applies everywhere, and it's child, WP:Closing discussions applies everywhere. And not a democracy means that we do not simply take a vote and accept unreasonable, non-fact based arguments. A minority, with reliable sources on their side, should win consensus over a majority citing mere opinion alone. If that were not the case, then Wikipedia is a democracy. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 02:46, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
If I've mischaracterized your argument in any way, I retract that. However, I note above (second of 4 replies I'm makin the same diff) that your argument appears to have changed substantially over the course of the debate. I've addressed the rest of this in those posts.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  11:31, 5 February 2016 (UTC)
  • That fact-free, citation-free essay under construction Wikipedia:Winningest is DOA and was never helpful or relevant. Just another example of editors using Wikipedia as a soapbox to tell the world what they like and don't like. See WP:NOTWEBHOST, etc. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 16:05, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
It isn't fact-free, though; I just imported several actual facts from it into the notes after the consensus points. Hyperbole is not helpful here.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:04, 27 January 2016 (UTC) Clarified, 02:23, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
You imported what to where? I'm not seeing it at Wikipedia:Winningest. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:19, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
I suspect he mistakenly thought you were talking about the WP:TONE essay. The WP:WINNINGEST essay is pure disruption. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:59, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
I think SMcCandlish was referring to this edit. No prob with WP:COSMETICBOT, and I had already commented above about my objection to there being any consensus to rewrite existing NA-sports articles that already use winningest.—Bagumba (talk) 23:13, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Right, that's what I was referring to.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:23, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
Oh, I see. Bots editing winningest. Yeah, don't want that. Already covered under WP:BEANS. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 23:28, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, I don't see the benefit of warning people about all the disruptive things they should not do.—Bagumba (talk) 00:05, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
Well, it's all just dicta, and won't affect the guideline wording, or the wording of the actual consensus points. I was just trying to address Francis's concern that his essay was ignored. It's harmless to restated matters of policy like "don't abuse bots", in those notes, especially if it helps us move forward with no further objections.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:23, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
  • In response to Dicklyon's !vote, I want to comment, by way of clarifying what the consensus points are getting at, that people argue about words here all the time, by having debates like the "passers-by" one, below, in this forum instead of at the article's talk page, to get a more diverse audience that the article regulars (MOS is heavily watchlisted, by people who think about words, grammar, and punctuation a lot, not just article topics like birds or race cars). That type of transplanted article style consensus discussion might actually account for the majority of WT:MOS traffic. The issue that turned this one angry and lengthy was the suggestion that MoS itself should "ban" a word, compounded by the perennial idea to subject MoS to WP:CCPOL. SMcCandlish ¢

Poll: Should MOS include the wording from WP:TONE regarding "formal tone"?[edit]

WP:TONE begins as follows:

Wikipedia articles, and other encyclopedic content, should be written in a formal tone. Standards for formal tone vary depending upon the subject matter, but should follow the style used by reliable sources, while remaining clear and understandable. Formal tone means that the article should not be written using argot, slang, colloquialisms, doublespeak, legalese, or jargon that is unintelligible to an average reader; it means that the English language should be used in a businesslike manner.

In the preceding discussion over "winningest" it has been argued that WP:TONE is only an essay. Should this or similar language appear in MOS and hence have the status of "Guideline"?

Support - MOS should state unambiguously that Wikipedia articles should be written in a formal tone
  • Support as proposer. Language tone is an important part of credibility. "It's only an essay" should not be usable as an argument for admitting informal language to Wikipedia. Jeh (talk) 06:03, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
    • Alert: this is begging the question that "winningest" is informal. The majority of the supporters above are not arguing for "admitting informal language to Wikipedia". They have provided a flood of evedence that "winningest" is commonly used in formal writing, including professional encyclopaedias. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 06:25, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support. I am not all that interested in the "winningest" dispute per se. I do note in passing that almost all the dictionary refs that were found for "winningest" marked it as informal or colloquial, and I would expect that to be taken into account once we establish that we generally do not want to use informal or colloquial words — but that discussion should take place article-by-article; there is no need for a centralized decision on a single word. What's important here is the general principle that we do in fact desire a formal tone. --Trovatore (talk) 21:00, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support I'm generally in favor of anything that makes the rules easier to find, such as putting as many on the same page as is reasonably practical. However, I'd also support adding "Avoid words and phrases that give the impression of straining for formality" to that passage. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:46, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
    +1. --Trovatore (talk) 21:54, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support- It's obvious that we should prefer professional English to colloquial and informal language. As well as being a matter of tone, we need to ensure intelligibility. Colloquialisms, slang, and specialised jargon are not always understandable to someone who's not from the correct geographical area, or an expert in the right field, so we should aim to use alternatives that are correct and universally understood by all English speakers. Reyk YO! 22:19, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support - There is a place for breezy, chatty, informal language, but not in Wikivoice in the most used encyclopaedia in the world. Our writing may be flat and lifeless, but we seem to have been amazingly successful with this approach. If we begin "emoting" we lose an essential part of our success. Leave slang and informal language to direct quotes of colourful people, please! --Pete (talk) 09:04, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
Oppose - Guideline changes for "formal tone" are not needed in MOS
  • Oppose – The current recommendation to use formal tone is adequate. I see no case to work on making it more adamant. Dicklyon (talk) 06:48, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose – The encyclopaedic tone Wikipedia strives for is a given. It is implied throughout the MoS and has not been seriously challenged, nor is it likely to be. Despite protests to the contrary, this is all about "winningest". Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:29, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose — The real problem is WP:FORMAL which should be changed to reflect that MOS is not adamant in requiring formality, but rather sees formal tone as one goal among others, including avoiding, "straining for formality". Per the MOS, Plain English is valued above Formal English, narrowly defined. The dictionary word classification system "formal, informal, colloquial" is orthogonal to the idea of a "formal tone", i.e. businesslike, serious, transparent. Since Wikipedia:Writing better articles is an "explanatory supplement" to the MOS, it should stay within the bounds of the MOS itself. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 18:20, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose We need to understand the case with winningest a bit more, and be wary of the risk of a hasty reaction. MOS already states: "Avoid words and phrases that give the impression of straining for formality." I don't think anyone desires WP to be generally informal, so it's questionable if we need more rules to say it should be formal. If there is interest in re-enforcing it, it needs to be tempered together with the existing MOS text that we neither want to strain for formality. Applying winningest as a test case, the word might be deemed informal, but the alternatives to date are arguably straining for formality (from an AmE perspective). The formal and informal concerns need to be balanced. (Note: The related discussion thread below at 23:12, 17 January 2016 had not been rebutted at the time of this !vote) —Bagumba (talk) 21:40, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Oppose - Several of the "support" voters have now forced me to oppose a general statement of intent with which I generally agree because they have made it perfectly clear that they intend to use it to purge the word which began this discussion in the first instance. I have been participating in MOS discussion for over five years, and this is not the first time that I have witnessed other participants attempt to impose universally what are self-evidently their personal style choices. You have no idea how much distaste you engender for MOS by pursuing pointless personal crusades such as this one. Much good work is undone by such as this. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 10:35, 19 January 2016 (UTC)
    • It is a great shame that some have staked their ego to this word, and used so much space here. For the word, which on Wikipedia seems to be confined to sports-related articles, perhaps another forum could usefully be engaged. For the notion that Wikivoice be couched in tones of formality or informality, this is an appropriate forum. It would be a shame if Wikipedia were to be written in a way that facilitated contempt or ridicule. --Pete (talk) 11:19, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
      • "It is a great shame that some have staked their ego to this word, and used so much space here"? Good lord, man, review your own word count and take a look at the man in the mirror. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 11:29, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
        • Well said, but my statements on forum choices remain valid. --Pete (talk) 18:02, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Neutral
  • Support-ish: That wording has been stable long enough, and clearly reflects consensus long enough, that something like it could be merged into MoS proper, and would fit well here, but within the bounds of Dennis Bratland's concerns, above. I don't see this as related in any intimate way to "winningest" which is already its own RfC. I wouldn't see this as a change but as a reinforcement. However, I don't like copy-pasting wording verbatim from essays into guidelines. It gives the incorrect impression that one's goal as an essay writer here is to get it "promoted to guideline status" or some other form of chest-beating. That said, I don't think it's really plausible that a minor reinforcement of what formal style means to, for, and on Wikipedia would be a bad thing to work into MoS a little more clearly. I'm skeptical about any more "straining for formality" additions. Constructions that are more formal than typical journalistic writing are quite often the necessary result of particular WP:CCPOL care (especially with regard to biased implications, and/or in reference to controversial sources). MOS itself being seen as giving a green-light to alteration of carefully constructed formal expressions to sound more like news writing or student writing at the cost of treating primary sources as if secondary, or giving undue weight to one particular point of view, would not be acceptable.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:58, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Support-ish: Its already mentioned at Wikipedia:Make technical articles understandable....is this motion to move the info? --Moxy (talk) 13:23, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
    • @Moxy: It does kind of open the question of why what amounts to a style guideline is listed as an editing guideline to begin with.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:15, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
      • You all have not cited one shred of evidence that winningest is confusing or controversial. You could cite that hopefully or tabled or various other words are problematic. Can you explain why so many UK experts, including Britannica and Columbia encyclopedias, use this word if it is "jargon" that readers fail to comprehend? If the word is jargon, why don't any dictionaries call it jargon? I find it very frustrating that you keep making bald assertions of fact and when you are asked to support those facts with evidence, you have no reply. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:35, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
        • This is a consensus discussion, not an article; it's based on editorial community judgement. No one is ever going to write a book called "Winningest" Is Too Confusing or "Winningest": Why It's Not Confusing, there will not be any source to cite, pro or con. This is a good example of why "source the MoS!" activism is irrational.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:35, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── @Dennis Bratland: Why would I tell anything to an inanimate object like a list? You're still making the same confusion I just pointed out that you're making: MOS is not articles, so citing articles to try to prove that it's articles = circular reasoning. And you're again undermining your own point: "Winningest" should in fact be listed in the first article, because the N.Am. usage means "most victorious" and the traditional British/Commonwealth usage (which was never very common but is attested) means "most attractive/inviting" ("she had the winningest smile at the party"); second, it should be listed in the second article, because various sources have already been cited demonstrating that there is actually controversy about it in the real world, both a) among non-Americans concerned about the spread of American informalisms throughout all world Englishes via the influence of TV, film, and the Net, and b) among even American writers. (The third article doesn't seem to be relevant.) This rising WP:TE / WP:1AM / WP:GREATWRONGS approach your taking is likely to simply inspire someone to go add "winningest" and these sources to both of those articles! MOS:NEO contains advice to editors to use sources to make judgement calls when determining consensus at articles, which is what we're always supposed to do about everything at articles, anyway, as a matter of policy. Consensus at MOS also examines sources on usage in the course of determining consensus, but is not bound by them, because WP's own determination of what works and what fails on WP cannot possibly be sourced externally. What doesn't happen, in either namespace, is that some outlying sources that are favorable toward something trump all other concerns. Most dictionaries do not have this word in the sports sense if they have it at all. Those that do are all N. Am. publications, or describe the usage as Am. or N.Am.; among those, it is almost always labelled "informal", "colloquial", or some other such label that it's jargonish/slangish/unusual. So, we are following the sources, you're just ignoring the aspects of what they say that don't support your view (we call this original research; specifically, it's novel analysis and interpretation of sources to arrive at a new, personal conclusion about what the truth is). Dennis, you post so much invective on this non-issue, most of it repetitive, in so many places, that I did not even see your questions about style books and "Plain English", and I pore over this page in detail. I'm not inspired to go look for them, since I can tell by the referents that they're rehash of the same "I like my sources best" approach.

You keep making the same points that have already been refuted (refutations you have not rebutted, but ignored or hand-waved at), then just restating your original argument again as if it hadn't been addressed, in a new spot on the page, thumping the same sources over and over again that do not really indicate what you think they do, and not taking at face value the sources that contradict you. We had someone else around here for a long time, with whom most of us frequently agreed on most things, but who made a habit, regarding one issue they wanted to "win" on, that used the exact same combined pseudo-debate "technique", down to the last detail, that you are employing. And now we don't have that person's disruption any more, as of two days ago. If you see someone try to breathe underwater and drown as a result, this should be an inspiration to avoid attempting the feat, not to climb into the sea and succeed where the failed. WP needs no "language martyrs", thanks.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:05, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Discussion
  • Although this proposal was obviously suggested to me by the above discussion over "winningest", the wording from WP:TONE copied above would not necessarily preclude the use of "winningest" in Wikipedia articles, as it does note that Wikipedia "should follow the style used by reliable sources". Jeh (talk) 06:03, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • This is conflating two issues: WP:TONE as only an essay, and "winningest" as too informal for encyclopaedic writing (going so far as making the unsubstantiated claim that it is slang). As "winningest" actually is used in professional encyclopaedic writing, whether WP:TONE is merely an essay is irrelevant. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 06:25, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Informal language is already part of Wikipedia's best content. This poll question pointedly ignores the other thing the MOS says about formality: "Avoid words and phrases that give the impression of straining for formality". Formality has never been the be-all and end-all of a good Wikipedia article. Moreover, there is confusion about "formality" and the hierarchy most dictionaries use to classify words: 1) formal, 2) no notation, meaning normal or standard, 3) informal, 4) colloquial (sometimes interchangeable with informal), 5) slang, 6) vulgar, 7) obscene. These terms (which vary among dictionaries) are helpful hints in making an encyclopedia have a "formal tone", but that doesn't mean we are only allowed to use words marked as "formal" in their dictionary definition. We'd delete 90% of our words if we had to remove all those lacking the "formal" label. There's no basis for saying this means we're only allowed to use words marked as "formal" and then also throw in "standard" words. There's no basis for saying everything "informal" and below is banned. In fact, many articles use words that are informal, and even slang and obscene. It really depends on the topic. Look at our featured article writing. Consensus supports using a wide range of word types, while keeping a "formal tone".

    What we're really after is a serious tone. By this, we mean, we don't use easter eggs. We don't use double entendre, hidden meanings, jokes, sarcasm, irony or other esoteric forms of instruction. "Do not introduce new and specialized words simply to teach them to the reader" -- we don't try to teach the reader through misdirection; if we want to define a word, we define it explicitly, not slip it past the reader. That is a serious tone, or a businesslike tone which is very much like formality. But calling it "formal" introduces this confusion over word choice because it is a term dictionaries use for a different purpose.

    Wikipedia:Writing better articles#Tone should be adjusted to correct this misconception and be more consistent with the MOS itself, since "it is intended to be an explanatory supplement" to the MOS. Even if we don't change WP:TONE, if you want to raise its status from a mere essay, lacking in broad consensus, to a guideline that carries the same weight as the MOS, then make the necessary WP:PROPOSAL. You can't simply pretend it is more than an essay because you wish it so. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 06:44, 17 January 2016 (UTC)

    • No one is remotely suggesting that we can use only words marked specifically as "formal" in dictionaries. I do think, however, that it is better by and large to avoid using words marked as "informal" or "colloquial". I am not proposing that that should be a rigid rule, but I think it's a good indication.
      As to your claim that "many articles use words that are informal, and even slang and obscene", I would point out that there is a distinction between using a word and mentioning it (see use–mention distinction); I suspect that a lot of article talk about such words but do not use them in Wikipedia's voice. Those that do likely ought to be changed. And again, there are probably some scattered exceptions.
      Perhaps to focus the discussion you'd like to provide one or two examples of articles using (as opposed to mentioning) such words, that you feel ought to use them? --Trovatore (talk) 21:09, 17 January 2016 (UTC) Oh, let me just add that I think, for these purposes, occurrences in direct quotes should count as mentions rather than uses. It's not exactly the same issue, but still, an occurrence in a direct quote is not a use in Wikipedia's voice. --Trovatore (talk) 21:13, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Well, here's the FAs, FLs and GAs that use "winningest", which most of our dictionaries call either colloquial or informal:
Featured Articles
Featured Lists
Good Articles
You've seen the huge number of encyclopedias and prestigious publications that use the term at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/List of winningest citations? You are the one who said "we are encyclopedists". Great. Lets act like encyclopedists, e.g. Brittanica. E.g. Grolier. et. al. Encyclopedists use (not just mention) informal and colloquial English whenever they need do. The MOS is clear why: awkward language in service of formality is unhelpful. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:21, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
We are entitled to say that we do not want to use informal or colloquial words, even if Brittanica uses them. We are entitled to make this determination ourselves, based on consensus opinion. I support making that determination. Again, not as a rigid rule. --Trovatore (talk) 21:25, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
You are entitled to your opinions, and to your likes, and your dislikes. But when you falsely assert that "we" of Wikipedia have consensus that formal English is mandatory, or falsely claim that informal or colloquial words may never be used, or when you make demonstrably false claims such as "winningest is slang" or "winningest is not encyclopedic", don't be surprised when you are handed evidence that proves your assertions to be false. I think this is a big deal because you're attacking our foundation of verifiability, and you're not offering us anything to replace it with. If we can't trust the NYT or WSJ or The Economist, nor can we emulate Brittanica or Grolier, nor can we emulate FAs and GAs, then what does 'encyclopedic' even mean? Whatever some guy says it is? You're rejecting our basic models simply because they use one word which you simply don't like. That is unhelpful to us who wish to build an encyclopedia. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:55, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
we do not want to use informal or colloquial words, even if Brittanica uses them.—more begging the question. The evidence is that "winningest" is not restricted to "informal or colloquial" use. Brittannica is but one piece of evidence of this. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:34, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
See below. I am not talking about the word "winningest". The word "winningest" is not even under discussion in this poll. --Trovatore (talk) 22:58, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Verifiability is about content. This is not a content discussion. We are entitled to make arguments based on opinion. --Trovatore (talk) 21:57, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes, you're entitled to say things that are false, utterly lacking in sources, and which blithely contradict mountains of evidence. That is your right. Although, at the very least, the Snowball clause suggests that your fellow editors don't appreciate having to spend too much of their time reading long fact-free, citation-free, example-free screeds of peevish opinions. What if every Wikipedia guideline were made that way? It's difficult enough to learn how to edit without having all the rules so idiosyncratic and arbitrary. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 22:05, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Evidence? We are discussing prescriptive claims here, not descriptive ones. Prescriptive claims are supported by persuasive argument. The arguments may include factual claims, which can then be checked by citation and so on — but the main discussion is engaged at the level of persuasive argument, not factual citation. Listeners accept or reject the arguments based on whether they find them persuasive. Huge numbers of footnotes are mostly beside the point. --Trovatore (talk) 22:13, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
OK. You keep rationalizing without empirical evidence, if that's what you think will win consensus. Good luck with that. I'll keep on citing evidence, because that's how I roll. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 22:19, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
What evidence have you cited that we should use informal or colloquial words? You have certainly cited evidence that other publications do. I will grant you that I am surprised by that outcome, at least as regards Britannica. But I still don't see how it means we should do the same thing. --Trovatore (talk) 22:23, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
What evidence have you cited that we should use informal or colloquial words?—the argument is that it is not "informal or colloquial", as born out by the abundant evidence of its use in formal contexts. Demanding in this context "What evidence have you cited that we should use informal or colloquial words?" is a fallacy called begging the question. If you value your integrity I'd suggest you quit it. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:41, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Curly, as I've said over and over, I am really not very interested in what happens to the specific word "winningest" in sports articles. For that matter I am not very interested in sports articles. What I am interested in is the principle that we should keep a fairly formal tone, and at an even more "meta" level, the principle that these discussions are to be engaged at the level of persuasive argument.
If we adopt a guideline here that says we want a formal tone, with the specification that if a word is marked "informal" or "colloquial" in dictionaries it is usually to be avoided, and then editors who specialize in sports articles decide to keep "winningest" in particular articles, for me, that's just fine. --Trovatore (talk) 22:47, 17 January 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────- Although there are a handful of articles in other encyclopedias where this silly thing has slipped though, and it occurs in a scant handful of decent quality articles here, it's clear that the other encyclopedias don't really like using it. There are many more articles where they could have used "winningest", but chose not to. Similarly, there are countless sports FAs and GAs here where "winningest" could in principle have snuck in, but didn't. It's clear that, even with Wikipedia's inconsistent and aimless quality control, good articles tend to avoid "winningest". The intersection of articles that don't suck and articles which contain "winningest", is very small. This is not a coincidence. Reyk YO! 22:27, 17 January 2016 (UTC)

it's clear that the other encyclopedias don't really like using it—that's not even remotely clear, and these discussions are no place to push your fantasies. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:30, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
"There are many more articles where they could have used "winningest", but chose not to". It's all right there. Did you not read it? If "winningest" is a great word to use every time numbers of victories is talked about, then good articles in good encyclopedias would use it all the time. They don't. Reyk YO! 22:40, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Of course I read it—your bizarre fantasy about what went in the heads of these writers you claim to have made a conscious choice not to use "winningest". Another example of your contempt for evidence. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:45, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Stop with the personal attacks. You know what's bizarre fantasy? Being accused of setting 3RR traps, of being a "pseudo-intellectual" and "anti-American", of having "contempt for evidence". Pointing out that your interpretation of what is, after all, just a bare list of articles is not the only possible one does not even come close to the bullshit that's been flung my way. So cut the crap. Reyk YO! 22:55, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
The crap needing cutting is all in your yard. Are you going to take back this "could have used "winningest", but chose not to" horseshit? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:19, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
Holy shit—I just took a peak at Reyk's talk page. He clearly has no intention of "cutting the crap" and has basically declared himself above the law with regard to editwarring (justifying it with the delerium "I think consensus favours removing "winningest" and replacing it with English words.") Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:06, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
Drop the personal attacks. I'm not going to take the bait. The fact remains that these encyclopedias selected words other than "winningest" in almost every case, and our good and featured content uses alternatives to "winningest" in almost every case. There is an obvious anti-correlation between articles that use "winningest" and articles that don't suck. It might be possible to write feature-quality articles containing informal colloquialisms, but IMO they'd be even better without them. Reyk YO! 07:32, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
The fact is (again) you're pulling shit out of a hat (that "contempt for evidence" thing that you're doing nothing to dispel) and are willing to editwar over it. You are a disruption. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:16, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
The place to make accusations of disruption or edit warring is WP:ANI and WP:3RR respectively. Either take this up at the appropriate venue, or drop it. Making personal attacks on me just because you disagree with me on a MOS issue is not an option available to you. I have already said that I won't take the bait. Reyk YO! 11:30, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
No one's "baiting" you. If you don't like being called out on your horseshit, then cut it out. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 12:04, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
No, you're obviously trying to goad me into a rage and are becoming increasingly frustrated that it's not working. As I've repeatedly tried to tell you, I am not going to let you annoy me. It just isn't going to work. If you have a legitimate argument that anything I've said or done is disruptive, I've already told you the correct places to bring those up. Repeating "horseshit" over and over just because you disagree with me isn't helping your case, it's just making you look like an angry crank. Reyk YO! 12:21, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
You clearly don't like your misbehaviour on display. Case in point: when told to stop the mass reverts until the discussion on this page wrapped up, you respond with plain "No." You might want to be careful with your "just because you disagree with me"s—people will start wondering which pronouns refer to whom. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:46, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
What misbehaviour are you accusing me of, exactly? This is not clear from your repetitious infuriated rants. If I were worried about anything I'd said or done being "on display" I wouldn't encourage you to take your grievances to ANI. Shall I start that thread for you? Reyk YO! 23:00, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
Yes, we know, you ignore everything that's incovenient to you. You don't need to tell us again. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 00:29, 19 January 2016 (UTC)
OK, here is the first FL I looked at, List of tallest buildings in Las Vegas: "This building, however, is currently on hold." On hold, according to the OED, is figurative English, not standard or formal. On hold is used some 4 more times. The second lead paragraph uses Manhattanization, a neologism which is actually part on an article title. The American colloquialism "condo" is also used in List of tallest buildings in Las Vegas. Do I need to go on? We could do this for almost every Featured Article. Or any article in Brittanica. The claim that informal, colloquial, and even slang, English is forbidden in encyclopedic writing is false. Yes, we lean towards formality in the sense of being serious, or businesslike, but not stilted, pompous, wordy, or erudite. The MOS says "Use Plain English", not fancy English. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 23:05, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • The timing would be better if this was discussed after the above thread at #"winningest" in sports articles was resolved. Otherwise, this just feels like we're proposing solutions to winningest without having a fair discussion of all the issues and applicable guidelines in relation to winningest.—Bagumba (talk) 07:20, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
I have no problem delaying this or putting it on hold. There's no time limit. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:05, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
  • This is already in MOS: Avoid words and phrases that give the impression of straining for formality I suspect this is the core of the winningest debate. I'm guessing that winningest supporters generally agree that Wikipedia should be formal, but that the alternatives suggested to date are more awkward than winningest itself when it comes to North American sports-related articles.—Bagumba (talk) 23:12, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
    • Perhaps. As I say, I don't care much about the specific case of "winningest", and if local editors decide that all alternatives are worse, I'm OK with them making that decision.
      In the general case, though, I would assert that we should generally prefer, when reasonably possible, to avoid words that a substantial fraction of readers are likely to find jarring or inferior. Significant evidence has been adduced that "winningest" falls into that category.
      As a personal example, I learned only through Wikipedia that "overly" is often considered an Americanism. For myself, I have no problem with "overly", and use it freely in even the most formal contexts. But I don't use it in mainspace on Wikipedia, unless by mistake, not even in articles written in American English. It's too easily avoided, and I don't want to provoke that reaction in readers.
      Obviously this principle cannot be taken rigidly and generally; especially in political contexts, it would give a hecklers' veto to editors taking a particular POV. So it's more of a rule of thumb. --Trovatore (talk) 23:22, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
      • I agree that jarring words should be avoided, where feasible, but it's an art to balance it with words and phrases that are common and familiar to casual followers of a given domain (e.g. American sports). This isn't a simple "do this", "avoid that" case. It's even more complicated when a single word is in question, and the suggested replacement is not another single word that meets MOS:COMMONALITY, but rather a phrase that is also arguably awkward.—Bagumba (talk) 23:49, 17 January 2016 (UTC)
        • I do not object if editors who frequent those articles make that determination. I am more interested in the general case. One point that has come up about the general case but suggested by the specific one is, I think we should consider making a recommendation that words marked "informal" or "colloquial" in dictionaries should usually, preferentially be avoided. Then if sports editors decide that the specific word "winningest" is too hard to replace, even though dictionaries call it "informal" or "colloquial", that should be a determination for the local editors, not the MoS. --Trovatore (talk) 00:00, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
          • I am interest in the general case as well, but winningest provides a good test case (regardless of which side of the case anyone is on). It makes sense to avoid an informal word when there is a more formal, single-word alternative e.g. kid–child, smart–intelligent. One gray area is the case where an informal word is replaced by a phrase e.g. "high five" vs. "slapped the palms of one another's hands with their arms raised"—Bagumba (talk) 00:32, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
        • I imagine the most common phrase used is "most (career) wins", which also aligns with what would be used for other categories (hits, goals, touchdowns, and so forth). isaacl (talk) 00:05, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
          • Definitely not as grating to Americans as "most victorious" or as subjective as "most successful".—Bagumba (talk) 00:32, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
      • I find "winningest" to be just as subjective as "most successful" - did someone win races, pole positions, or championships? Although "winningest", "most victorious/successful" are nice and succinct, maybe we should consider "The XR-750 went on to win (the most races/more races than any other bike) in the history of American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) racing"instead of "The XR-750 went on to become the (winningest/most victorious/most successful) race bike in the history of American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) racing" if we are that concerned about the ambiguity of our content. I'm really in two minds, I love seeing a single term that replaces a long sentence in articles, it's what we should be striving for, and when I put the term in, of course I'm aware of what I'm trying to convey to the reader. However, this isn't literature and the beauty of the language should come second to making clear and factual articles. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 06:44, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
        • Maybe you should do that in articles you write and leave the choice of words to the editorial judgement of those who write the others. That's generally how it works at Wikipedia. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:20, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
          • If we were all assigned articles to write and guaranteed that no one else would touch them, I would be very happy to do that. But...we aren't, so I won't. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 14:52, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
            • WP:OWN has nothing to do with it—see WP:RETAIN et al. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:34, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
            • I've been searching for usage guides to find any mention of controversy or confusion over winningest. Garner's Modern American Usage has entries for all sorts of problematic words, like hopefully and its discontents. The American Heritage Book of English Usage and Common Errors in English Usage fail to make any mention of known problems with winningest. Similarly, no books of neologisms or slang list the word, among those I could find. And in fact, the burden is on you lot who claim the word is obnoxious, confusing, strange looking, or otherwise a source of problem in any Wikipedia article. As far as I can tell, a small subset of editors have a set of unfounded, incorrect beliefs about the English language and encyclopedic writing, and they are loudly agitating to make others conform to those beliefs. But they have cited zero evidence to support these idiosyncratic beliefs. How are we supposed to collaborate on articles with editors who refuse to be influenced by empirical evidence? The attitude that we have to bend to peeves about English contradicts the Consensus policy, which says "Consensus on Wikipedia does not mean unanimity (which, although an ideal result, is not always achievable); nor is it the result of a vote. Decision-making involves an effort to incorporate all editors' legitimate concerns". Discussions are closed after "discarding irrelevant arguments: those that flatly contradict established policy, those based on personal opinion only, those that are logically fallacious, those that show no understanding of the matter of issue." If you want your personal opinions to become relevant arguments, you need to cite something. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 17:42, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
An alternative view of that data, however, is that the usage is so obscure, slangish, and neologistic, that it doesn't appear in such works yet as problematic. That most dictionaries that mention it are American and mark it colloquial, and that it appears almost nowhere in print but American sports journalism, strongly bolsters the view that this is a regional, topical slang. WP:NEO and MOS:NEO doesn't put the burden of proof where you think they do.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  21:50, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
"Almost nowhere in print" except the trash like Encyclopædia Britannica, Grolier, Encyclopedia Americana, the Columbia Encyclopedia, Encyclopaedia Judaica. Yes. That's certainly obscure. Insisting that it's a neologism, or slang (or slangish? is slangish a word?) in spite of being carpetbombed with evidence that it's not, reminds me of Abraham Lincoln's "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." --Dennis Bratland (talk) 22:03, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
Having entries in works that are lists of words and their meanings (works in which it usually appears as "informal", "colloquial" etc. – i.e. slang), and appearing very occasionally in works outside of a sporting context (how much would you like to bet it was inserted by people with a history of sports journalism in most cases?) doesn't prove your case, about in-context usage much of anywhere in print outside sports journalism. You don't need to prove it to me anyway, since I didn't oppose use of "winningest", in contextually sensible places, on WP. I'm simply responding to the bogus and backasswards burden-of-proof analysis given above. There is insufficient evidence this word is known and understood out of a particular context yet to deploy it all over the place here. PS: If you don't know whether slangish is a word, or how to find out, it's hard take seriously your assertions about spelling, style, or other language usage matters. WP:LMGTFY: "slangish" -wiktionary. And you're also misquoting Lincoln [16].  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:24, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict) There is insufficient evidence this word is known and understood out of a particular context yet to deploy it all over the place here.—there has been no proposal to have the word used "all over the place". The context is that a particular editor was removing the word en masse from American sports articles. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:40, 18 January 2016 (UTC)
Well, several of the commenters in the thread devoted to that word make it clear that they think the term is perfectly fine, period. So, just because you personally are not advocating for its use outside of American sports articles doesn't mean that such broader use isn't contemplated by some of its proponents. The strenuous comments by Dennis Bratland below appear to be making precisely the case you say no one is making. But I had alleged no actual formal proposal to use the word broadly, I simply commented that such a broadening would not be appropriate, so you are attempting to rebut an argument I didn't actually make. (That's a pattern I recognize from our last major discussion.) Anyway, I agree it should not be removed en masse from everywhere. But I'm skeptical there'll be consensus to retain it outside American sport contexts.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:51, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
There won't be, because nobody's seriously trying, not because of any decision made here—so any talk of it outside its context is a waste of bytes (as is the bogus "losingest" thread below). Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:20, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
You make it sound like WP:NEO puts some burden on me I failed to meet. I provided copious dictionary sources that show winningest is not a neologism, it is well-defined. We have editors claiming a word is "confusing" without citing a single source that it is confusing. What if an editor said "cat" is confusing? Wouldn't you respond by showing, 1) cat is in many dictionaries 2) it's not marked as slang or jargon 3) It's printed in prestige media 4) it's printed in many encyclopedias, ergo, it's encyclopedic. I have more than met any conceivable burden of proof. What is backwards about asking those who assert that it's a problem to cite one thing saying it's a problem? They can't even cite one instance of talk page feedback form a reader saying they find word the hard to understand. There are many known skunked terms, or problematic words, in English, and many expert sources enumerate them, yet not one of them mentions winningest.

The Oxford and Cambridge Dictionaries, among many others, have good discussions of "formal language". It means replacing think with cogitate or try with endeavour, making your writing "sound unintentionally funny, as some writers deliberately choose formal vocabulary to create a comic effect." Formal language -- using pompous, overly long words, is not the same as a formal tone, using serious, unambiguous, direct language, best known and best described as Plain English. Winningest is plain English, as are many other "colloquial" or "informal" words which may be used while still keeping a formal tone. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 22:39, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

To clarify, I mean that it's a neologism in the context of longer-term English language history, not a neologism unique to Wikipedia, or even to very short-term usage. We don't have a word like "ultraneologism" for really really new words. If editors (or other readers) here find the word confusing that is the source that's it's confusing! It's the best possible source for a usage being unacceptably confusing on WP. It's literally impossible for some third party source to tell us more authoritatively than our own judgement whether we ourselves are confused by something. If someone comes here and says they think the word "cat" is confusing, they'll be ignored, per WP:COMMONSENSE. No one would waste valuable editorial time digging up piles of sources by walking your four-point checklist, to prove the obvious about "cat", in an internal consensus discussion that has nothing to do with our content policies like WP:V anyway. Especially since such an absurd claim could only be made in either bad faith or failure of competence. We assume good faith, and I'm pretty sure we assume competence, absent evidence to the contrary. So if editors are having "What is this weird gibberish?" reactions when encountering "winningest" outside the context of American sports articles, we're obliged to take their concerns at face value at least initially. If it were just one editor being a unreasonable, we wouldn't have two huge threads open about this, with sharply divided opinions.

That said, I don't actually buy the argument that "winningest" is inappropriate in American sports articles, because in that context it's a familiar term of art, and if necessary we can add it to a glossary of sports journalism (or whatever) and make it linkable. I don't suggest there's any burden of proof (here; there would be in a mainspace article about the word) to demonstrate that the word exists or that it's occasionally used (almost exclusively by Americans) outside a sporting context. The question is whether it is appropriate to use it outside the context in which it's conventional and frequent, and that's a hash-it-out-here judgement call, not a source citation matter. Anyway, I also agree that such a question is not something MoS needs to address on a word-by-word basis, though we maybe should in a abstract way. As an example, I know what "chuffed" and "gobsmacking" mean in British English, and I can find American-published sources that use them (generally in the same tongue-in-cheek way that non-sports contexts use "winningest", BTW), but I think most professional writers and editors would tell me it's a bad idea to insert informal Briticisms into something I was writing for an American (or a general, global) audience. Reader contexts matter. If I were writing about having had a hot date, I wouldn't wax anti-poetic about "I perceived an increase in cardiopulmonary oxygen diffusion and an elevated adrenalin level", like a medical report, I'd say "it was exciting". Heh. We don't cite sources to come to such conclusions. (I agree it may be of value to cite them for usage patterns, but that effort is wasted if its just done to win an MOS talk page argument instead of improve the article on the word.) I can't agree with the hairsplitting over "formal language"; the phrase has multiple meanings, and I didn't cite either of the works you did for their particular in-context meaning, which doesn't seem to relate to this context.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:51, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

I think we mostly agree, but there are principles we need to focus on. Have you examined the evidence that this word has been used in a consistent way since 1920-1930? It had a different sense from 1647-1900 or so. MOS:NEO says we should avoid neologisms because the meaning keeps changing, but that is not the case here: winningest is used consistently, from the NYT to Britannica to the BBC. It also says neologisms are a problem because "they do not appear in general-interest dictionaries". Yet we have shown that winningest does appear in all the general-interest dictionaries, and they all give the same consistent definition.

We have also given multiple expert sources that this word is an Americanism, which is why I've argued from the beginning that the word is should be left on US-lined articles per WP:TIES. So again, the real problem here is not how we handle this one word. The problem is that we need principles -- verifiability, reliable sources -- to answer these questions. "Common sense" is nice, but it's also a lot of hand waving, and it's a fig leaf for "I just don't like it". We don't have to do it that way: we have models and experts who can tell us what encyclopedic, plain English, formal tone writing is and isn't. No need to guess, nor to vote. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 21:04, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

Not challenging that the word exists, has a meaning, and has been around a while. The issue is that it's regional, and it's topical jargon, and is raising objections. The existence of a word does not require that we use it. (But the existence of objections to its use doesn't mean we need a rule against it; this is the sort of thing editors has out in consensus discussions at article, considering the context.) Not using the word doesn't seem to matter, since there are other ways to say the same thing.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  12:08, 23 January 2016 (UTC)
That's all rather subjective. I'm sure there are also people who consider following basic grammar conventions to be pompous and amusing, due to them being really damn stupid. Perhaps we can leave the really basic terms to Simple English Wikipedia. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 14:23, 19 January 2016 (UTC)
Once again, calling editors you disagree with "stupid" only underscores your failure to find any supporting evidence. Can you enlighten everyone as to what you think "basic grammar conventions" are? If they're so basic, so conventional, then it ought to be easy for you to cite evidence that these grammar conventions are accepted by recognized authorities. Can you explain why prestigious media, and prestigious encyclopedias don't follow what you claim are "basic grammar conventions"? How are we supposed to know what "encyclopedic" means if not by following the example of the best encyclopedias? I fully agree that we should follow the consensus of grammar and style guides, like Fowler's, Garner's, the advice at prestigious dictionaries [17][18]. The question is, why don't you follow basic grammar conventions? Your arguments are all personal peeves, not based on recognized conventions at all. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:17, 19 January 2016 (UTC)
And I have to swing back to concurring with Dennis on this one.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:51, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

I've had a bit to think about it and while I stand by what I said about making rules easier to find, we'd be elevating something from what's officially categorized as an essay to what's officially categorized as a guideline, giving it a promotion. I think a formally publicized discussion, whether it's officially an RfC or not, would be appropriate. If possible, we should resolve the "winningest" issue first. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:57, 19 January 2016 (UTC)

Yes. Another alternative would be to discuss the gist of it and just formulate new wording. I agree it should be an RfC or something though, since the change would be quite non-trivial.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:51, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Dennis, calm down. "once again...bleh." Take a look at what I read, please. At what point did I say that editors were stupid? At what point did I say that there were any issues with grammar conventions on Wikipedia? (*hint* I didn't & I didn't) I get the feeling that you feel quite strongly about this whole issue, but try to show just a little bit of good faith & stop trying to make 2+2=5. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 06:22, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
I have to admit I am a little baffled by all this discussion. On a word according to America's best-selling dictionary Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary eleventh edition an encyclopedia Britannica company page 1436 has only been around since 1972. Other sources also confirm early 70's. And if this discussion confirms nothing else it does confirm how controversial this word is. By contrast the very definition in some dictionary's winningest as More successful or winning as victory or superiority in a contest or competition; victorious. And victorious has been around since 14c used all around the world. But surly even if not this word we could come up with something better than winningest. A 44 year old informal American only word that looks as if it could be a misspelling or a made up word to convey the information to the world. 72bikers (talk) 06:28, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
"Looks like a misspelling", probably even to most Americans who are not followers of team sports, is probably the most likely reaction, after "not a fake word, but slangish". The fact that editors (probably even readers who've never edited before) are apt to "fix" it then find themselves in a squabble, is probably the most compelling reason to not use it outside the US sport context.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:51, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Posting the same thing 100 times doesn't change the verifiable facts.

Once again, can anyone answer the questions that we have been asking: what is the basis of "encyclopedic"? Where do we learn of your "basic grammar conventions", when you seem to reject every authoritative source that is cited for you? If we can't emulate Featured Articles, and we can't follow Britannica and other encyclopedias, and if the New York Times is a "tabloid", what's left? One editor after another has asked these fundamental questions, and yet you give no reply but hand waving and red herrings. Is "encyclopedic" just whatever you say it is? --Dennis Bratland (talk) 06:35, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

For WP purposes "What is likely to cause pointless disputes?" is probably the most important question, but it's still not sufficient justification for trying to have MoS ban a particular word on unfamiliarity grounds. As I said way earlier, even MOS:WTW wouldn't include this word. It's not controversial enough in reality, however much noise these two threads make this week. Just a judgement call: Why include a word that others are liable to mistake for a type and "fix", when there are a number of alternatives that don't present this issue? I agree that if we're going to contemplate adding something to MoS proper to address encyclopedic tone/wording/language whatever phrase you like, we'd have to define it really well, and this thread clearly isn't going to do that.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:51, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Just in case you did not know. In 2001, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger launched Wikipedia, a collaboratively edited, multilingual, open-source, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. As of 20 January 2016, there are 5,059,920 articles in the English Wikipedia. There are 287 different editions of Wikipedia. As of February 2014, it had 18 billion page views and nearly 500 million unique visitors each month. Wikipedia has more than 25 million accounts, out of which there were over 118,000 active editors globally, as of August 2015. Wikipedia's accuracy was found by a Nature study to be close to that of Encyclopædia Britannica, with Wikipedia being much larger. However, critics argue Wikipedia exhibits systemic bias, and its group dynamics hinder its goals. Many academics, historians, teachers, and journalists reject Wikipedia as a reliable source of information, primarily for being a mixture of truths, half truths, and some falsehoods, and that as a resource about many controversial topics, is notoriously subject to manipulation and spin. And also just to put your troubled mind at ease because of such a lengthy controversial discussion I posted in a wrong spot. But because of your instant comment after I did not delete the first post 72bikers (talk) 06:54, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
And yet again, we have another lengthy (two weeks and counting) debate, on multiple talk pages, over the use of a single word. If the removal of winningest was actually important and detracted hugely from the quality of the article, I could understand. But, it doesn't. This is a perfect example of how good editors get dragged into stupid debates, because one single editor takes offence to people changing their article. This is so constructive, I imagine the readers will really appreciate the time and effort spent in order to explain why winningest is a great word. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 07:40, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
Parkinson's law of triviality.  :-/ One of my personal goals over the next year hear, to the extent I spend much time in MoS pages, is to discourage, and inspire others to discourage, continued "bicycle shed" pet-peeving here, enough to make a notable difference. Way too many discussions here are clearly WP:LAME.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:51, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
That's quite the spin, given the exhausting Herculean effort put into purging Wikipedia of an unproblematic word. Why are you wasting our time with these shenanigans? And what word will you attack next? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 08:11, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm far too lazy to a Herculean effort into anything. I prefer to discuss things on talk pages and reach consensus that way, it seems a far more economical use of my limited motivation. I have no idea which word to "attack" next, any suggestions? Spacecowboy420 (talk) 08:24, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
Yeah: none. Then we can get back to contributing content instead of wasting time on non-issues. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 11:26, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
The great thing is, you both agree this is a trivial, time-wasting non-issue. Common ground is a good thing to find. I think I'm going to go to WP:ANRFC and seek the shut-down of these threads as no-consensus.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:51, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Scratch that; ANRFC has a huge backlog. This will just die a natural death by archival before anyone from there ever got around to it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:35, 25 January 2016 (UTC)
If discussions leads to improvements in an area that would benefit, then great. This is not one of those cases. It's a difficult situation, a stubborn editor can create a million reports, until all other parties lose interest and then they claim consensus. Maybe we need more evil and arrogant admins, who can just step in and say "it's gonna be done this way. now shut up", rather than constant debate, repeating the same crap a million times. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 13:16, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
The only use of "winningest" I have seen is in a deliberate attempt to be informal (and possibly have simpler sentence construction), at the expense of formality and (sometimes) clarity. Yes, Britannica does sometimes attempt informality and apparent clarity at the expense of actual clarity. Should we do that in Wikipedia? I don't know. — Arthur Rubin (talk) 21:08, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
So in other words, you didn't look at any of the evidence presented (including the Britannica). Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:05, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
That's quite an inventive insight into the minds of Britannica, Americana, Columbia, Grolier, the Times, Fowler's, Garner's, et. al, which explains away so many inconvenient facts. But is the MOS still of any use to editors who are not able to divine the secret thoughts of our encyclopedic sources? Unless these article are marked with a strategic "JK" or winky emoticon ;) is there any hope for the rest of us to find common ground? How are we to know when usage advice is meant in earnest, and when reliable sources are putting us on?

Alternatively, what if we did take our most encyclopedic, most reliable, most prestigious sources at face value? When we find they're virtually unanimous, as with winningest, that should be taken as an opportunity to read clear guidance in our style guides and role models. Let's not second guess our best sources unless circumstances absolutely force us to do so. There are controversial word choice and grammar questions, but this is not one of them. By respecting the plain meaning of our verifiable sources, and assuming no occult motives in Britannica or elsewhere, we can expect that any group of good faith editors, not just this particular group with its unique mix of attitudes and peeves and personal opinions, would reach the same conclusions we do, given the same empirical evidence. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 01:35, 21 January 2016 (UTC)

Suggestion: I suggest that people accept and move on that there is probably no consensus in this specific thread, and it's TL;DR for any likely newcomer to get involved. I invite those interested to circle back to #Summarizing issues raised. Once finalized, they can be used as a checklist to compare winningest and its alternatives.—Bagumba (talk) 21:20, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
I agree that someone could determine in good faith that this discussion hasn't arrived at a consensus and on that basis I would be happy to drop the issue and move along. However, I worry that the editors who expended so much energy removing this word from articles and refusing to stop even while this discussion was being opened will not accept this and allow us to revert those articles back to the status quo. ElKevbo (talk) 23:27, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
If this closes with "no consensus", the closer should be explicit that the anti-"winningest" crowd cannot continue to purge the word, especially as User:Reyk has explicitly refused to stop. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 00:47, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
This is the WP:TONE thread, which is not specifically the winningest thread at #"winningest" in sports articles. At any rate, the policy on WP:NOCONSENSUS says: "In discussions of proposals to add, modify or remove material in articles, a lack of consensus commonly results in retaining the version of the article as it was prior to the proposal or bold edit."—Bagumba (talk) 10:19, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
Most of the articles have reverted to the stable versions before this began. The exception being Harley-Davidson XR-750. There's some noobs there who are playing dumb when it comes to the plain meaning of policy. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 18:17, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
Dennis, please don't get angry and resort to personal attacks. Spacecowboy420 (talk) 11:38, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

Under construction essay[edit]

See Wikipedia:Winningest. --Francis Schonken (talk) 11:50, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

Thank you. A good, neutral POV, statement of facts will help us all. --Pete (talk) 18:05, 22 January 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, that sure is NPOV. And "facts"! So many facts! You've cited Wikipedia for proof that the word is "made up". Ignoring 20 different newspapers and wire services spanning decades, a half dozen usage guides, some 30-40 examples from major encyclopedias, and citations of the word in use dating back to the 1920s in the current usage, and to 1647 (!) for the earlier sense of the word. You don't even cite the one (1) single reliable source that I generously shared with you that actually supports your opinion. I would suggest adding some actual facts to the essay. Explain why so many encyclopedias use the word, and so many Featured Articles and Good Articles. Explain why you cannot cite one single reliable source saying this word is controversial -- unlike actual controversial words, like hopefully, or table, or the debates over gender-specific and gender-neutral pronouns. Those are real controversies, verifiable with expert sources, while this is a made-up controversy based wholly on Wikipedia editor opinions. --Dennis Bratland (talk) 19:23, 22 January 2016 (UTC)

Closure discussion above[edit]

Please see #Can we wrap this up?, above, for a proposed consensus finding on both of the "winningest"-related threads.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  08:12, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

As the proposer here, I don't believe that that applies to this question, which is not about any particular word. Jeh (talk) 06:07, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
I don't believe this one is as controversial, and hopefully we can agree that there is no consensus at this time.—Bagumba (talk) 06:13, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
@Jeh: Right. The whole point is that this more general discussion became overrun with and derailed by argument about "winningest"; the proposed close on that issue addresses that, and suggests that this broader question be reopened cleanly, with a clearer focus.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  02:29, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

The plural of “runner-up”[edit]

Background[edit]

A reader wrote to Wikimedia (OTRS) noting that they found an article with an incorrect plural of runner-up. The corrected one instance, found another, then realized there were quite a few. I offered to do some research, and begin the process of correction, if warranted.

I reviewed a few dictionaries, and grammar sites, and concluded that “runners-up” was preferred to “runner-ups”. I began making some changes, slowly. An editor, active in the tennis area, challenged the changes on the basis that the tennis editors had discussed this in the past, and reached a consensus in favor of “runner-ups”. (I also mistakenly changed the capitalization in a few cases, since corrected.) I did a little more homework, including looking for this consensus. The combination of more homework, and the failure to find this consensus appeared to persuade this editor. See User_talk:Wolbo#Plural_of_runner-up.

I used AWB to made replacements, and began making more changes. Another editor objected, with the argument (in my own words) that there are two ways to form a plural:

  1. Multiple people reaching the status of runner-up
  2. A single person achieving that status multiple times

This editor suggested that, in the first situation, use “runners-up” while in the second, use “runner-ups”. I stopped editing, asked for a source for that intriguing distinction, and, although no source was forthcoming, decided to halt editing and ask here.

  • NOTE – I disagree with the characterization of the question. The dispute came from headings like Women's doubles: 10 finals (3 titles, 7 runner-ups). I would argue that runner-ups is here NOT a plural of runner-up, but rather the plural "runner-up positions" with "positions" elided. As such, the question of how to fix it is not the same question as how the form the plural of runner-up (which is really not in dispute as all your sources and responders agree the plural is runners-up). So you've put a lot of energy here into asking the wrong question. I'd suggest fixing it this way: Women's doubles: 10 finals (3 titles, 7 runner-up) or Women's doubles: 10 finals (3 title, 7 runner-up). Dicklyon (talk) 15:44, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Stats[edit]

  • “Runner-ups” occurs about 2,000 times in Wikipedia (I have made roughly 200 edits; these numbers reflect those edits.)

These numbers aren't being proposed as proof, but simply provided as evidence of current usage.

Informally, it appears that “runner-ups” is very common in tennis articles, perhaps because many articles about tennis players follow a semi-standardized formats in counts of titles and runner-up status are very common headings.

Dictionaries[edit]

Grammar usage sites[edit]

N.B. Many of these will not qualify as reliable sources, but merely offered to show what some common sites say.

  • Quora
    • Definitely "Runners-up".
    • Apparently it's runners-up. If you run some Google searches, you'll see that's what everyone uses. Virtually no exceptions, from what I could see.
    • Runners-up. "Runner" is the noun in this phrase, and it is the runners that are multiple, not the up. This reverse noun-adjective structure also exists in Attorney General (Attorneys General).
    • As the answers indicated, it's the noun "runner" which is made plural. 
    • Runners-up. The noun is runner and it is plural, which is runners. The other example like this is passers-by where the noun is passer and making it plural would be passers. With every hyphenated set of words, the noun needs to be identified first to make it plural. The verb is never pluralized.
  • usingenglish.com
    • Runners-up is just the plural of runner-up. You can use it when there is more than one runner-up.
  • answers.com
    • The correct plural term is runners up.

Multiple people versus multiple event[edit]

Note that the Dictionary.com entry includes runners-up, the competitors who do not win a contest but who place ahead of the majority of the contestants and share in prizes or honors,as those who place second, third, and fourth, or in the top ten. which supports the usage in the case of multiple people, but tantalizing is is silent on usage involving multiple events.

However, I have searched in vain for a site, reliable or otherwise which clearly makes the distinction. I have noticed that some places avoid the term and use a different locution .e.g who has more runner-up trophies?

Complications[edit]

In addition to the two main options, I have seen other formulations:

  • Runners up
  • Runners Up (often in headlines)
  • Runners–up (en-dash Rare, but occasionally in Wikipedia)

Unless I hear otherwise, I plan to treat each of these as incorrect

Options[edit]

  1. Accept “runners-up" as the correct plural in all cases
  2. Accept either “runners-up" or “runner-ups" but require consistency within a article
  3. Accept “runners-up" or “runner-ups" depending on whether it is multiple people or multiple events
  4. Accept “runners-up" in the case of multiple people; rewrite to avoid a plural in the case of multiple events (needless to say, far form trivial to implement, but offered in the sense of completeness
  5. Other options I haven't considered --S Philbrick(Talk) 14:35, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Survey and discussion[edit]

  • Option 1 with a bit of 4 in cases where people feel that's an improvement. I've searched web and books and see less than 5% use of "Runner-ups", and no evident association with tennis or anything else; it's simply a common error. Get rid of the en dash and all the unnecessary capitalization (I presume you didn't mean to suggest capitalizing "Runners" except when it's the first word in a sentence or heading). Dicklyon (talk) 15:06, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Fixed for clarity, yes, I mean to capitalize only at the beginning of sentence.--S Philbrick(Talk) 15:24, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Followup – Option 4 is really closer to addressing the point in dispute; the relevant cases being argued (see discussion below Reyk's response) are not really about the plural of runner-up; they are about the plural "runner-up finishes" with "finishes" elided. Just use "runner-up" and the problem goes away. Dicklyon (talk) 15:27, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Option 1 For the case of multiple people finishing in equal second place, "runners-up" is clearly correct IMO. For the second, I would say that "runners-up" is also more correct but I am actually having a hard time thinking of a sentence where it would actually be pluralised on its own. Like, when would you ever say that Joe Bloggs was "runner-ups" or "runners-up" in a variety of events? Would it not be more correct that Bloggs (there is only one of him) is the singular runner-up in those events? Or have I misunderstood the question? Reyk YO! 14:58, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
I'm thinking it might be something like "She scored 4 runner-ups." I'd rewrite with something like "4 runner-up awards" or "4 runner-up finishes" or "4 runner-up positions" in such cases. Dicklyon (talk) 15:11, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Looking back at what started this, which SPhilbrick didn't clearly tell us, it was in headings like "Women's doubles: 10 finals (3 titles, 7 runner-ups)". I agree it's not clear what would be a great fix. Maybe it's OK as the plural "runner-up positions" with position elided? Interesting question now that I see what it is. Maybe I'll reformulate my original answer? Maybe not. Dicklyon (talk) 15:16, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Probably it would best be fixed as ""Women's doubles: 10 finals (3 titles, 7 runner-up)", for "runner-up positions" with positions elided. Dicklyon (talk) 15:17, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Good point, and I also agree with your suggestion. Reyk YO! 15:21, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
""Women's doubles: 10 finals (3 titles, 7 seconds)", maybe? --Pete (talk) 15:22, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Maybe add this:
6. For a plural noun phrase such as "Runner-up finishes", when the noun is elided, use "Runner up"; making the modifier plural is unnecessary here. Dicklyon (talk) 15:24, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Dicklyon (talk) 15:24, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
Maybe "Women's doubles: 10 finals (Winner: 3, Runner-up: 7)" ?Tvx1 04:32, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Option 1 (Runners-up everywhere) – "Runner-ups" is simply lazy and ignorant. Compound plurals, such as brothers-in-law, can be difficult, and seem odd. But, at least in my corner of the globe, runners-up is correct, and runner-ups draws a wince. Maybe the language will change with usage – I hear "governor-generals" more and more frequently nowadays, when "governors-general" is correcter - but for the time being runners-up is correctest by far. --Pete (talk) 15:20, 27 January 2016 (UTC)±
  • Option 1 - This should not be that complicated: this is the same syntactical rule applicable to "mothers-in-law," "ambassadors extraordinary and plenipotentiary," and "attorneys general," and all other scenarios in English where a plural noun is followed by its modifier. The reversed order of noun and modifier is a carryover from Norman French into middle English, but in French there would also be plural agreement of both noun and the trailing adjective or modifying phrase to clarify what is being modified. Indeed, many of these phrases are Norman French in origin, and are often so-called "law French" phrases that have passed into the English vernacular. Bottom line: if we're going to use grown-up words, then we need to use grown-up syntax. That's the winningest way to do things, right, Pete? Face-smile.svg Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 16:55, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Option 4, and don't have a cow about option 3 if it happens, for an event name and the like with "Runner-Ups" in the name (for a case like "Women's doubles: 10 finals (3 titles, 7 runners-up)", use "runners-up", as any dictionary will tell you). Do not permit option 2 (an ENGVAR argument would be false); option 1 is syntactically faulty. "Runners-up" is the plural of the natural sense of this compound: the runners-up to a prize; it's those who are running up to it, figuratively. If another thing that refers tangentially to runner-up competitors as a categorization is called the runner-up (as a short form of "the runner-up playoff" or whatever), that has become a unitary noun, and takes a final -s ending. The exact same case would happen if, say, a pigeon breed were named "the passer-by pigeon" (or Passery-by pigeon, if you like to capitalize breeds); in short form, birders would call them "passer-bys" in the plural, not "passers-by". This kind of thing happens all the time. See Toronto Maple Leafs. It's a natural feature of the English language. However, it's hard to think of a case where "runner-up" is both a) not referring to competitors and b) cannot be rewritten to be less awkward. Even if it's a proper name: The Annual Foo Runner-up could be pluralized with -s in, e.g., "the victor in seven consecutive Foo Runner-ups", but also reworded, e.g., "the victor in the Foo Runner-up seven times consecutively".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  17:07, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
    • In the case of the Leafs, it's because they were named after a WWI military unit, and because of the old convention of not changing the spelling when pluralizing proper nouns. Just as if I was talking about former NFL quarterback Ryan Leaf and his family, I wouldn't refer to them as "the Leaves", but as "the Leafs". oknazevad (talk) 20:35, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
      • Which is exactly the same linguistic process. When the word "leaf" becomes a name (or part of one), it loses the syntactic properties of the word, and picks up those of the name class, along with the morphology of that class. A family of people named Leaf are not "the Leaves". (This is why the "Proudfeet!" joke at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings is funny; native speakers innately understand that it's weird for the Proudfoots to insist on such a one-family "rule", even if the linguistically untrained among them can't quite explain why). When "runner-up" moves from descriptor of the status of individual competitors and becomes a label (name) of the category of them, the syntactic morphological rules of names apply. Different example: The plural of "child" is "children". I form a band called Crazy Child. In a different city, you also form a band called Crazy Child. Someone notices this, and says "Hey, look, there are two different Crazy Childs in different cities." They don't say "Crazy Children".  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:48, 28 January 2016 (UTC) 23:47, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
  • When referring to a finishing position, perhaps it is simplest to just say "second place finishes". isaacl (talk) 17:16, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Option 4, per Isaacl immediately above. It is too awkward to pluralize "runner-up" to mean that a person was the runner-up (i.e. second place) multiple times. Use a different word or phrase when this meaning is intended. – Jonesey95 (talk) 19:22, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Option 4 per Isaac. Which is exactly what I also suggested at WT:TENNIS. The players who achieve second place finishes this week at the Australian Open are runners-up, but the didn't achieve runner-ups. That's just poor English. oknazevad (talk) 20:34, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment - I would go with option 1 because it makes it easier to explain to new editors. Yes runners-up is correct when talking about multiple people, but I have also searched in vain for a definition when using multiple events. No grammar source has made this clear. We are taught it's runner (the noun) that is pluralized in hyphenated words but actually, in the case of winning multiple runner up trophies it's not so clear. In that case there aren't multiple runners. Think of it this way. In a report, if you are totaling the number of times you use the words "Fred", "orange" and "runner-up", you would tally that as 7 Freds, 13 oranges, and 27 runner-ups. You are taking runner-up as an entity instead of modifying the term runner. I could see where if we start totaling Roger Federer's runner-up trophies, that it could be argued as 35 runner-ups. But as I said, I have never seen a grammar source talk about multiple events so I'd have to go with the only option I have seen, runners-up at all times. Of course, if it's two hyphenated verbs it goes on the end, like sit-ups and push-ups. Strangely, if runner-up ever becomes runnerup (as hyphens have a way of disappearing in English), then of course it would revert to runnerups. Per advice from two university grammar depts I have to change my preference to option 3. Use "runner-ups" when tallying the number of "runner-up" events. Fyunck(click) (talk) 21:42, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Option 4. The others are bizarre. Dondervogel 2 (talk) 22:54, 27 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment. Determining the correct writing of a noun should not be achieved through gauging the personal preference of a group of editors. The only way to find out the correct writing is by consulting the rules of the language involved, which we have to obey. I will note that in every of the dictionary sources that have been provided, only the usage of runner-up to refer to a person and a group of people for the plural is being discussed. Not a single one of them deals with using runner-up to describe a thing (in this case a result). Dicklyon has correctly pointed out that in the case of the section titles it is not runner-up (as in the competitor) that is being pluralized but rather the expression "runner-up position" with position being simply left out to save space. In that case there is no reason to treat it any different than set-ups, clean-ups, start-ups, warm-ups, round-ups, match-ups (e.g. The match-ups for the Australian Open's Men's Singles Semi-Finals are Djokovic–Federer and Murray–Raonic.) and the aforementioned sit-ups and push-ups. It seems  — SMcCandlish made somewhat the same point as me. I do agree that it's better to try to avoid runner-ups in prose, but in those section titles it does not seem avoidable however. Tvx1 04:28, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

    None of those phrases however are pluralized as *s-up. I have never heard "sets-up", "cleans-up", "starts-up", "warms-up", "rounds-up", "matches-up", "sits-up", or "pushes-up" as plurals (without dashes to indicate a standard verb, surely, as in "he cleans up"). So I'm not sure how these are relevant.

    The section headings honestly shouldn't go into such detail. Take Venus Williams career statistics for example: the section "Singles: 14 (7 titles, 7 runners-up)" (I'll note this is incorrectly "runners-up", just as "runner-ups" would be incorrect) could just as easily and more summarily be "Grand Slam singles", leaving the detail of the section to the section rather than jamming it into the heading. In other words, this is bad header writing. --Izno (talk) 12:54, 28 January 2016 (UTC)

    In words such as "warmup", the prefix "warm" is a verb, and so it is not equivalent to this scenario. isaacl (talk) 13:30, 28 January 2016 (UTC)
    Yep. They're superficially similar, and that's all. The -up in these constructions serves a completely different linguistic function. However, Tvx1's and my reasoning above actually converge on exactly the same point: The original expression has transitioned from a description of something (a competitor) to the name of a class of them, and the syntactic rules change along with that transition. It thus doesn't matter which was originally a verb, or what kind of function -up originally served there; those distinctions only apply to the pre-transition context. I agree with Isaacl that "Grand Slam singles" would be a sufficient heading in the specific case outlined, this thread is about the general question.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  05:27, 29 January 2016 (UTC) Clarified, 04:07, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Option 4 is the best option. --Izno (talk) 12:55, 28 January 2016 (UTC).
  • Option 2 is the least disruptive and in the spirit of WP:ENGVAR. --Jayron32 02:29, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
That doesn't track; it's the opposite of ENGVAR. ENGVAR is following strong national ties. There are no such ties here, so it would be following "random editor whim". The opposite of something with a rationale is something with no rationale. The very reason we have rules like ENGVAR is that following random editorial whim when people have strong opinions about what is permissible in a dialect is disruptive. Here, the situation is that people have strong opinions about what is permissible in the language as a whole. Divergent scenarios.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  05:32, 29 January 2016 (UTC)
No, the spirit of ENGVAR is "Don't fight over inconsequential inanities, and the way to avoid that is 1) be internally consistent and 2) don't change it if someone is already doing it one way, even if you personally like the other way". That is, whatever is picked, keep it the same, and if it's already one way, don't change it to the other. When choosing between two arbitrary choices where it doesn't matter which we use, just pick one and go with it, and if someone before you already picked one, don't change it just because...--Jayron32 16:41, 5 February 2016 (UTC)
Absolutely not. The section title of ENGVAR clearly states "National variaties of English". That's not even remotely the issue here. This is not a case of picking arbitrary choices at all. It's a case of determining the correct writing of a word belonging to a language to convey the correct meaning where intended. Using the incorrect of two possible plural forms of the word in question in the wrong situation doesn't even create a different meaning but rather a pure linguistic error. Someone has now provided a couple of university opinions substantiating this. Tvx1 04:15, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Comment Obviously just two university opinions, but I took it upon myself to contact the University of Purdue Owl grammar dept, and Princeton University style guide. My query was:

    I could not find this discussion in grammar books so I though I would ask the experts. We all know the plural of runner-up is runners-up, because we pluralize the noun in hyphenated words. Two hyphenated non-nouns like sit-up and push-up get the last part pluralized (sit-ups, push-ups). But runners-up grammar is correct when used in a general sense of multiple runners being the runners-up. When making a tally of words written in a report, I assume we'd write: there were 17 Freds, 12 oranges, and 23 runner-ups, since we are taking the term "runner-up" as a whole. My main query is what if we are talking multiple events instead of multiple runners? Roger Federer at Wimbledon: (7 titles, 3 runners-up) or (7 titles, 3 runner-ups)? I would say runners-up, but we are actually tallying all his runner-up events. It's a little tricky for me and I can find no source that specifically addresses this issue.

    Princeton was short and sweet. "On researching this particular usage, you are incorrect. Runner-ups is used for tallying." Purdue was a little longer: "The situation you're describing is very unique, and seems to elude the regular rules relating to 'runner-up.' Since 'runner-up' is usually defined as a specific person, not a title (like first or second place), it's technically unusual to refer to multiple instances of Roger Federer receiving second place at all. However, since Federer received the status of 'runner-up' multiple times, it would actually be proper to use 'runner-ups.' This is a situation where a particular grammatical rule is unlikely to emerge. But given the nature of the situation, 'runner-ups' is better." This is the first time I have seen anything on this subject. Others can certainly contact different style guides (like Chicago's) to see if perhaps there is disagreement, but these universities have flat out told me I am wrong in using runners-up for tallying purposes. Obviously not as good as have a direct source we can link to, but this was the best I could do. I'll send out a few more emails to see if there is general agreement on this. Fyunck(click) (talk) 03:07, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
So why not just avoid the problem with something like "7 runner-up"? Dicklyon (talk) 07:23, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
That's a linguistic error. You can't have a singular noun after a plural ordinal. Tvx1 21:43, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
It could be certainly done as an adjectival, if the construction was parallel: (3 first-place, 7 runner-up).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:35, 6 February 2016 (UTC)
Precisely, find a way of avoiding a problem, (the position being plural) which is otherwise almost inevitably going to look like a 'clanger' or a typo. Pincrete (talk) 22:45, 6 February 2016 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Addition. The AP Style Guide answered that I had to pay/join to get an answer, so that was useless. I contacted the Chicago Manual of Style and told them the situation (along with what Princeton and Purdue had told me). Answer today was: "CMOS itself is silent on this issue, but we agree with Princeton and Purdue. - CMOS staff." Not sure the authority of "the staff" but it would seem the CMOS guide is not going to rush out with an addendum describing our situation. It really looks like I've been writing it wrong all these years and that it should be corrected to runner-ups or perhaps changed to something else like "15 2nd places", "15 finals", "15 runner up finishes" or something that eludes me. I think runner-ups is fine per what I'm being told, and that using "15 runner-up" would be just as wrong as using "15 runners-up." I assume this affects relatively few projects so this is perhaps best dealt with by the individual projects in how they want to handle the exact wording, but the editor who is currently systematically changing everything from runner-ups to runners-up should stop. Fyunck(click) (talk) 05:23, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

I have the current AP guide and many, many others. If you need an answer from one of them in particular I can probably get it for you (lots of others who are regulars here probably would, too). I hope the website access cost less than the book.  :-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:44, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

Generic pronoun "one"[edit]

An anon recently added explicit recommendation to use "one", and a poor example of when to do it [19]. Because previous discussions here have been against actually recommending use of "one", because it frequently results in unnecessarily stilted wording, I've moderated the change into something that I think actually represents current consensus usage of and opinion about the usage of "one" in that sense, plus a better example. Diff of change from anon's wording: [20]; diff of change from pre-anon wording: [21] (including additional tweaks, like link first not second occurrence). I hope this meets with approval. If not, it can either be tweaked for something minor, or just reverted back to the pre-anon version.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  03:58, 30 January 2016 (UTC)

  • I've recently grown attached to "a body" and have been considering an RfC to have it enforced Wiki-wide. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 04:54, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
  • Your changes are an improvement. Good example, too. I wouldn't imagine that we use one in this sense much, and it would be rare that we can't find some alternate phrasing that doesn't sound stilted. One possibility is to phrase a statement in the negative and use no one or "nobody". --Pete (talk) 08:48, 30 January 2016 (UTC)
    • Yeah, it rarely does a body good to use it.  ;-) I usually try to re-word "one" when I encounter it, but occasionally it seems to be the best option.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  22:28, 1 February 2016 (UTC)
The revert elicits one's approval.Pincrete (talk) 19:39, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

Vertical citations vs. horizontal citations, both using <ref> style[edit]

I am currently having a discussion with Synthwave.94 (talk) on his talk page about vertical citations vs. horizontal citations, both using the <ref> style. I happen to use vertical because I find it easier to read, and edit, in case I make a mistake. I realize that the horizontal usage of the <ref> style is far more common, but I don't have any problem with the horizontal usage, and I don't ever change horizontal to vertical; I leave existing cites in place as they are. However, Synthwave.94 insists that all of the cites on the Money for Nothing (song) page must be horizontal. I don't believe that to be the case; described here, it seems to be that vertical and horizontal cites can co-exist peacefully on the same page. What say you, community? Rockypedia (talk) 13:32, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

Here is my take... You say you don't have a problem with the horizontal format... OK... so ask yourself whether it is really worth arguing about. If someone else insists on something you don't really care about, make the other editor happy by giving them a (petty) victory (to quote Star Wars: "Let the wookie win").
Another alternative (if you really find the horizontal format too difficult to work with) is to use the vertical format when you add information, but ask the other editor to follow up and "conform" your work to horizontal when you are done (that is called cooperative editing). Blueboar (talk) 14:57, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
It's not really about arguing for "my" format vs. "his" format. I'm actually looking for an answer here. Is the vertical format acceptable (pretty sure it is), and if it is, is it okay for it to co-exist with horizontal cites in the same article? (I don't know) I guess that's the question I'd really like to see answered, for future reference. Rockypedia (talk) 15:10, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
There is no compulsion to use either style. For myself, I am programmer-lazy and use horizontal, whilst recognising the superior presentation of vertical. As you say, horizontal is more prevalent. This is more a conduct issue than anything else; if all else fails, edit-war until one of you breaks 3RR and apply for a block.
However, you seem to be implicitly asking for some MoS guidance or prescription. There is none; both styles co-exist. I doubt there is any great desire to find a community consensus for one over the other via an RfC.
Possibly WP:RETAIN applies, though the effect is invisible to the reader. You may ask your fellow editor to stop behaving in such an egotistical fashion. --Pete (talk) 15:14, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
  • Both styles are entirely compatible and produce identical output. There will never be a guideline regarding cite code formatting, even one about having a consistent formatting style. Just keep adding sources any way you like, and if someone reformats them, think long and hard before reverting. For example, on any article I've been primary editor on, I'll be pretty protective about my vertical formatting. When I'm not the primary editor, I'll slap them in my way (or not) and let the more active editors on that page format it whatever their OCD gods tell them—you can't possibly "win" and nobody will sympathize with you for trying. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 21:18, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Rockypedia doesn't understand his edits are unhelpful and that his time-wasting actions don't improve anything at all. I've been edited the article for a long time and this editor recently messed up introducing a badly formatted format (that I cleaned, as I usually do over the article I regularly take a look at). Synthwave.94 (talk) 23:57, 7 February 2016 (UTC)
Note that my actions fall under a standard clean up editing, which is perfectly accepted across the articles I've been editing on so far, but Rockypedia obviously doesn't seem to understand it. Synthwave.94 (talk) 00:02, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Synthwave: Are you really claiming that Rocky's adding a citation to an article for a previously unreferenced claim was "unhelpful" or "messed up"... because the reference template call included more newlines than you'd prefer?
You'd prefer that an unref'd claim remain unreferenced rather than have Rocky add the ref in "vertical style"?
Seriously?
There is nothing "badly formatted" about the vertical style. A significant fraction of editors do prefer it. And you can't use "clean up" as a defense when nothing was "dirty" to begin with.
Ok, an incorrect parameter was used, but that could have been fixed without your introducing all of this drama.
Regarding your "I've been edited [sic] the article for a long time", please see WP:OWN.
I feel very strongly that edits that do not change the rendered page should just not be done. This includes not only this sort of template style twiddling but also "fixing" doubled spaces or spaces at the ends of paragraphs, changing "File:" to "Image:" or back, etc. Such edits are worse than unhelpful: They clutter up the edit history, often make the "differences" display hard to follow, and increase editor workload (because nearly every edit is checked up on by other editors). All with Absolutely. No. Benefit. to the reader.
But, sometimes, at the cost of annoying the editor whose work you're changing. (An editor who is willing and able to do the gruntwork of adding a citation is a valuable asset to the project. Someone who responds to such an editor by saying, in effect, "No! You may not help improve this article unless you use my exact style in the Wikitext! As it is your edit was unhelpful!"... not so much.)
If you care about the article, be grateful that any citation was added, and accept it as it was entered.
I would agree that there is a preference (only that, not a guideline) for complying with the template style, horizontal or vertical, that is already predominant in the article. But going in and changing it, for no other purpose than to make it fit your preference, simply compounds that offense. Please stop.
And please try to avoid accusations of mental incapacity, such as "Rockypedia obviously doesn't seem to understand it". Such comments violate WP:NPA, among other things, and so quite weaken any strength your position might have had. Jeh (talk) 00:55, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
(By the way... If such things can be considered a "personal style" then I'm told there is actually an ArbCom case that concluded that articles should not be changed just to change from one personal style to another. I haven't been able to find it, but I'll keep looking.) Jeh (talk) 00:56, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
@Synthwave.94: if you make an issue of this, you will inevitably lose, and will make a fool of yourself along the way. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 01:45, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
A significant ArbCom case in mid 2005: the BC/BCE debate. If two styles are equally acceptable, then they should not be arbitrarily changed to suit a personal preference.
Jeh, I disagree about not making changes that don't change the page visible to the reader. These can be marked as minor, if they are simple and uncontroversial. And often, as in the examples you mention, they are really just a waste of time. Wikipedia is not likely to need the disk space freed up by eliminating duplicate spaces. But sometimes, a bit of work can make a page clearer and easier to understand for future editors. Tables, for example. They can be very hard to work on if the lines are all run together. A bit of space in template fields to make them more legible. That sort of thing. There are editors who enjoy making these tedious and repetitive changes, and such wikignoming is not to be discouraged lightly. But it the result is disruption, as we see here, then action must be taken to end it, preferably by reasoned argument and presentation of facts. --Pete (talk) 03:45, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Contrary to what Curly Turkey says above, WP:CITESTYLE says "While citations should aim to provide the information listed above, Wikipedia does not have a single house style, though citations within any given article should follow a consistent style" (my bold). The question is whether switching between vertical and horizontal represents a different style. Personally I think it does, so you should stick to the established style, especially after complaints have been made. Johnbod (talk) 04:04, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
In theory. In practice it seems that there is rarely any consistency within any article but one striving for or achieving GA status. This may be due to the (unnecessary) slog of hunting back to the first cite to see what its format was. And then modifying all following the first to conform. Perhaps a job for a bot, rather than an actual human subject to headaches? --Pete (talk) 04:12, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Johnbod: CITEVAR is about citation styles that affect output (harv vs vancouver; including publishing location vs excluding it; short refs vs other styles, etc). If you look through the source code to a bunch of FAs it won't take you long to find some that mix code organization styles (such as vertical vs horizontal; {{sfn}}s and plain <ref>s). It's a total non-issue (though like I said I would slay anyone would tried to horizontalize my vertical cites in an article I was primary editor on). Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 05:12, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
That's one view - it doesn't actually define what a "style" consists of, & there are plenty of reviewers who would disagree with that I think - see Skyring above. Of course many articles do mix elements of style, but if the point has been raised I think a strict interpretation should be used. Johnbod (talk) 12:13, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
If someone "cares too much" about template format, and both formats are acceptable, then a strict interpretation of WP:RETAIN solves the difficulty without any third person having to make a difficult value judgement. --Pete (talk) 16:49, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
@Johnbod: Skyring's example is about something that affects input. Horizontal/vertical formatting has zero effect on output. Ditto for putting two spaces between sentences, leaving spaces after headers, etc. It's a non-issue that requires no enforcement. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:29, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

@Jeh: The problem doesn't come from the fact this editor added a reference, it comes from the fact he reverted a good faith action (= cleaning up after another editor to follow an established style, which is perfectly permitted, and which is something I'm regularly thanked for). When I say "badly formatted", I refer to to the incorrect use of parameters. Entertainment Weekly is a magazine and therefore the parameters "cite journal" and "magazine" should be used. Dire Straits is a British band and the dmy format should be used all over the article. Is it so complicated to understand it ? There's a huge difference between taking care about this knid of details and "owning" an article (which is NOT the case in any way). It's a good thing this editor added a reference, but he should understand his edits can be modified by other editors such as me and that they shouldn't be reverted without a correctly justified reason (which is clearly NOT the case here). Synthwave.94 (talk) 19:10, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

@Curly Turkey: Loosing what ? I 'regularly clean up after other editors without being reverted. Your comment makes no sense. Synthwave.94 (talk) 19:10, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

The issue was presented as horizontal vs vertical spacing—in that context my comment makes perfect sense. I commented only on that issue—if Rockypedia has misrepresented the issue, then shame on him. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:29, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
It still doesn't give an extra right to Rockypedia to undo my edits. I regularly do the same thing across articles watched by numerous editors without receiving any negative comments about what I'm doing. In fact, I often see the opposite reaction ! Synthwave.94 (talk) 23:25, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Yes, but it goes both ways. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:45, 11 February 2016 (UTC)

@Johnbod: Nice to see someone can understand these rules. Synthwave.94 (talk) 19:10, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

@Pete: Consistency is also used in articles without any labels, not simply GA and FA. Also a human like me can do this kind of task. And per MOS:RETAIN, the horizontal form should stay. Synthwave.94 (talk) 19:10, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

If Entertainment Weekly is a magazine, the correct cs1 template is {{cite magazine}}. It differs from {{cite journal}} in how it renders |volume=, |issue=, and the in-source locator parameters |page= and |pages=. {{cite journal}} is properly used for academic and scholarly periodicals so renders the parameters in a manner consistent with those communities.
Trappist the monk (talk) 19:24, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
The {{cite magazine}} template is less than two months old. Has any effort been made to advertise it? Are magazines that were (correctly) using {{cite journal}} before being migrated somehow? Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:31, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
The original cite was to a web page with a URL, not a paper magazine title, issue date, and page number. Therefore "cite web", which is what Rocky used originally, was appropriate. Jeh (talk) 22:51, 8 February 2016 (UTC)
Curly Turkey's right. {{Cite magazine}} is a new template and I was unaware of its existence. Synthwave.94 (talk) 23:25, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
@Jeh: No, {{cite magazine}} is more appropriate, as EW is a magazine and not a website. Synthwave.94 (talk) 23:25, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
@Synthwave.94: I disagree. EW is quite clearly both a magazine and a website. This particular reference is to the website. What I find at the URL given looks like a web page, not a scan from a magazine page. To be a reference to something in a magazine the ref would have to include a magazine issue date (not a web page date) and a page number. Jeh (talk) 23:34, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
The website publishes content from the magazine, including the reference used in "Money for Nothing". Also not all the parameters you can find on template pages should be completed. Synthwave.94 (talk) 23:41, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
I've used EW as a source, and I've always used the {{cite news}} template.SciGal (talk) 15:13, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
{{cite news}} should only be used for newspapers such as the New York Times. Synthwave.94 (talk) 16:20, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
See Help talk:Citation Style 1 for related more general discussion of this. The {{Cite web}} template is for sites that are not also something more specifically classifiable. For magazines that happen to be online, use {{Cite magazine}} or historically we did it with {{Cite journal}}, which I think some people thought was misleading. If it's a news news magazine (Time, Newsweek, etc.) you could also use {{Cite news}}, but some might object to that Basically, {{Cite magazine}} exists for a reason. If you cite the online copy of a book, use {{Cite book}}, not {{Cite web}}. If you cite something like the WhatWG FAQ, that's what {{Cite web}} is for.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:10, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
  • WP:RETAIN has no relevance here, because template directionality is unrelated in any way to English variety (dialect). WP:CITEVAR has nothing to do with whether templates are given vertically or not, either; it's about not switching back and forth between, say, Harvard and Vancouver referencing. Some templates, like infoboxes, are best done vertically. Some, especially those used in the middle of paragraphs of prose, are best done horizontally, because it's otherwise difficult to figure out the paragraph structure in the wikicode (understanding the flow of the article is more important that ease of cite template twiddling). Almost everyone does citations horizontally for this reason, and this overall consensus should generally be respected, even if MoS need not address it in particular (though there is no reason it couldn't.) The general principle behind RETAIN, ENGVAR, DATEVAR, CITEVAR, etc. is to default to what the first major contributor did (which may not even apply, if the FMC didn't use any of them) – but only if there are no compelling reasons to use one option vs. another and if consensus has not been achieved for a particular options. It's a myth that we normally do what the FMC did, and we need to rewrite these things to make this clearer; it's a last resort to stop an ongoing conflict. It's also a totally arbitrary and it could have been any other rule, like "default to the option that was used before the question arose", "use the option that appeared earliest, even in a stub", "use the option that has been there the longest", "use the option that is most consistent with usage in other articles", or 20 other choices. (We should probably have an RfC to pick one, because FMC is a really bad idea, as experience has proven.) It is not blanket license for WP:OWN, WP:VESTED, WP:STONEWALLING behavior; the FMC has absolutely no more say than anyone else over any aspect of the future development of the article, but quite a number of editors, even entire wikiprojects, believe otherwise. Anyway, if someone who is actively still among the developers of a particular article badly wants to use vertical citations, they should see whether the other editors are amenable to using list-defined references to keep their citation template code out of the paragraphs. If someone is not actively among the developers, but is just gnoming, they should probably not do anything to vertical citations if someone at that particular article objects, though it's normal and reasonable to change vertical ones in paragraphs to horizontal. I've been doing this on sight for years, and get reverted on it maybe once every 18 months.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:25, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
On the layout of citations, I fully support the above comments. I regularly change in-text references to list-defined references, which makes the source text much easier to read and hence to maintain and improve. I've never been reverted so far.
Abandoning the FMC principle for visible text is another matter. Where the English Wikipedia currently allows arbitrary choices, e.g. reference style or ENGVAR where there's no clear national link, there's no obvious alternative to determine which arbitrary choice to follow, and FMC seems as good as any. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:37, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Now that (first point) is an entirely clear breach of WP:CITEVAR if some consensus is not obtained first, so please don't do that. Johnbod (talk) 03:07, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
The problems are that the FMC standard is often not actually applicable, e.g. if the FMC did not use any -our or -ize words, and it's even less often applicable to other WP:FOOVARs. The same "go with stability" intent of the FMC rules, which were poorly thought-out and having a lot of negative consequences, can be got at by some other route, even first appearance of one variant or another of the style in the article, or first appearance in post-stub development (which would probably be the FMC in most cases, but would allow for it being someone after that editor did their thing).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:58, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
@SMcCandlish: the solution to the ENGVAR question is to ask article creators or expanders to add a language template; I generally do if I create a "reasonably" sized article. It avoids later hassle. Personally I'd like to see every non-stub article labelled in this way. However, I note you've objected to such templates in the past. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:17, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
I definitly agree with SMcCandish. The vertical form is virtually only used for infoboxes, but not in the rest of an article, where the horizontal form is both more appropriate and more readable. Synthwave.94 (talk) 23:25, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Not true—vertical cites are extremely common in list-defined refs, for example, as they are far easier to scan and manipulate. SMcCandlish is arguing that horizontal inline cites are less of an interruption of the flow of text than horizontal. He remarks himself that it's a tradeoff with the decreased readability of the cite itself. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:44, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
I hardly understand how the horizontal form decreases the readibility when used in an article. I always used horizontal cites and changed vertical cites into horizontal cites (including in list-defined lists) without any problem and without being said it was harder to read. Synthwave.94 (talk) 21:59, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
You're right—I just made that up, and I've formatted hundreds of articles that way just to be a prick. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:06, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
I didn't say you were a "prick", I only stated that I don't see how the vertical cites are better. Most editors I met so far use horizontal cites just like me, and not vertical cites. Synthwave.94 (talk) 22:19, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
Most editors do that because they don't know any better, not because they necessarily prefer it. That's my case—I began doing things the way everyone else was doing things, until I found a way that made more sense to me when I got sick of not being able to read cites quickly (or even being able to tell easily where they begin and end) when making large numbers of major changes to articles. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:27, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
But that wasn't really my point. I find vertical easier to read—you don't. That's good enough a reason not to police it, because you can't argue it with logic. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:29, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
Synthwave: You "hardly understand" how a wall-of-template-call is harder to read in the edit window than a tempalate call arranged with one parameter per line? In which form is it easier to find a given parameter, be sure it is associated with the particular call you want to modify and not an adjacent one, etc.? Hey, why don't we write all indexes, tables of contents, etc., in wall-of-text form—get rid of all the whitepace and ellipses and newlines and careful indentation and let the entries just fall where they may. Forget about alphabetizing the index, too. It will save so much room and work!
It's not about logic. I think it's easier to read citations this way because everything's on some lines (most of the time two or three), but I recognize I first start using a vertical form with a sandbox to complete references before adding them in a specific article. Even editors who add vertical cites in articles I'm looking at usually don't complain about my clean up edits. To be honest I like the horizontal format and it can be used for absolutly everything, except for infoboxes because it's easier to modify these templates in a vertical form. Synthwave.94 (talk) 23:31, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
Just by the way, "no one has ever complained before" is a logical fallacy, simply an inversion of Argumentum Ad Populum (appeal to crowd). A point can be valid even if you've never heard it before.
You know, I would say "I never saw anyone argue so hard for doing unnecessary and, to some, unwanted work," but this is TALK:MOS, where we see exactly that on a daily basis. Jeh (talk) 22:31, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
Some excellent comments above. Reducing disruption is a big factor in calling on RETAIN or FMC. But seriously, how often do we have editwars over cite template directionality? Maybe there is room for a different way of making cites? Instead of putting the cite templates in the middle of text, wouldn't it be great to have some way of putting them all together (maybe in a popup) so that we're not distracted. We could easily find a source used previously and just add another pointer to it. Vertical templates interrupt the flow of text, but horizontal cites aren't exactly distraction-free, neither.
A pipe-dream, I guess, unless some developer is fired up to get this done? --Pete (talk) 20:05, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

(edit conflict)@Peter coxhead: I don't think there's any objection to the existence and use of templates to indicate which WP:ENGVAR an article is using. Rather, WT:MOS arrived at a consensus to a) deprecate them generating huge banners, either on talk pages or in editnotices; b) merge the divergent sets of them into something less obnoxious and mutually contradictory; and (IIRC) c) not have them for minority spoken dialects that verge on pidgins/creoles and which do not have standardized written forms that diverge in any important way from one of the major varieties; it's just territorial flag-waving to suggest that an article here is written in Barbadian or Philippine English. (That point "c" may have been in the pending TfM that got derailed; I forget if we actually resolved that question here, though a quick archive search will turn it up when needed.) Someone immediately forum-shopped it all to VP, in a misleading second RfC, and stalled it all out, but we should return to some form of cleanup. There would still be a potential WP:OWN problem, e.g. going to articles that one wants to push a nationalist PoV at, and changing the ENGVAR while they are still stubs, claiming to be the FMC, and slapping an ENGVAR template on them that isn't appropriate for the topic. But I suppose consensus can overturn ENGVAR at any article where people think this has been done and object to it. If the templates just invisible-categorize, and produce a present but non-shouting message about the dialect, in the editnotice, the OWN issue will probably be less of a concern.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  20:43, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
I don't quite see how this would be much more advantageous than list-defined references. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:17, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Yeah, though I think some of the WikiData people are working hard on something along these lines. Whether people want it or not. >;-)  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  23:11, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
Thanks, Peter C! I had no idea. As usual, way behind the curve. I don't suppose some bright spark has come up with a good solution to the broader question at hand? I think the template war is done for the time being, but where we have minor stylistic variations, FMC and RETAIN might actually work to enforce a style that none of the current editors on an article prefer; everyone checks back, sees everyone else dutifully using the same style as always used and follows suit. At least until some rebel arrives and doesn't cause a conflict when they use the other style. --Pete (talk) 23:30, 10 February 2016 (UTC)
The thing is: on a great many articles (including FAs) there is a mix of cite-directionality, and even cite methods (a mix of templates and <ref>...</ref> tags, for example). When it does not affect output, it should not be an issue—smack the editwarriors with a wet fish and move on. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:52, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
Indeed, but you'd be surprised how many editors are 100% convinced that it is absolutely a CITEVAR matter and that you may not alter citation template formatting in any ay if they object (even without any rason) and they claim to be the FMC, or more often, simply the most active recent editor at the page (or because their wikiproject said so, or because some other articles on the same topic are done this way, or any number of other non-rationales). It's a growing and not isolated problem, affecting much more than citation styles (there are a lot of different FOOVARs).  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:27, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
To me, when considering between the horizontal-versus-vertical style, it definitely should not be something to edit war on, but it also doesn't demand the need to be consistent through an article. Unlike, say, the choice of dmy vs mdy, or the choice between US and UK English, or using cite templates verses harvard citations, where there clearly are visible effects to the user and thus need to be consistent and using RETAIN to avoid edit warring over that consistency, we're talking behind the scenes stuff here that has zero effect on the end user beyond the handful more bytes one version might take over the other. That said, if I came to an article that I didn't credit but was trying to make it a GA or FA and noticed a mix of styles between horizontal and vertical, I would likely take the time to clean that up. I would not want people to wikignome this approach, but if its part of a broad article cleanup, it should be fine.
On list-defined versus inline, that is definitely one that should be consistent, following RETAIN. While the end effect is invisible to the readers, it can impact editing by future editors if there is mix of list and inline. (Eg I personally prefer inline, and so may miss that there is a list-defined if I'm editing a section).
And on the different variations of cite templates that essentially produce the same output, I would agree this falls in the horizontal/vertical situation. Not something to wikignome or edit war at all, but may be part of a general quality cleanup. Consistent in the use of such templates is necessary, recognizing when some parameters are italicized and some not, or often as I've come to see, knowing the difference between the work and the publisher, and if you start IDing the publisher, you should do that universally for all other citations where that can be done. But that's a final quality check, not a fundamental thing that has to be fixed immediately. --MASEM (t) 23:18, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
WP:RETAIN pertains only to WP:ENGVAR. And "Not something to wikignome or edit war at all, but may be part of a general quality cleanup." is self-contradictory; you're equating WP:GNOME activities with editwarring, but they are general quality cleanup.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:35, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
There are those who use inline cites for things that are cited only once, and list-defined for cites they use multiple times—for example, an album article may use list-defined throughout, but inline for the box of ratings. I'd never tolerate that on an article I was tending, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing so, and there should be no attempt to police it. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:29, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
That, too, seems self-contradictory. If it doesn't need to be policed, it doesn't need you to police it at particular articles. :-) Anyway, I agree with you that that the rationale you outlined for a mixed style is a potentially valid one. People should not be engaging in bogus CITEVAR junk-waving about it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:35, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
By "wouldn't tolerate", I mean I'm more likely to be an asshole about it, not that I would seek enforcement. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:07, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
I've found that there's perhaps unwritten advice to avoid the use of defined inline citations within templates like infoboxes or review tables (using named templates which work either back to an inline or list defined). The biggest drawback here being that if you have a section of a table that can be hidden, and you bury the citation in that collapsible section, it may not show up on the page load, or you can't readily jump to where the reference is used in the footnote list. But otherwise if it is an isolated section of inlines while the rest use list format, that seems okay, but it's when there's a mix of inline and list in running prose that really should be fixed. --MASEM (t) 23:55, 11 February 2016 (UTC)
Perhaps, but I've seen (often) the same principal applied to the text body: inline templates for once-off cites, and list-defined for multiple-use ones. In the articles I tend, I'm OCD enough to make them all list-defined, but I can't justify the overhead simply for the sake of "consistency" when the output is exactly the same—I have to admit it's all about me, and it's unreasonable to enforce this Wiki-wide. There are enough hoops to jump through without policing something so fantastically inconsequential. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 00:15, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
I'm not seeing this as a major (or even minor) issue, but if we regard the Wikitext as the "code" for the displayed text, then it makes sense to have code that is as readable and easily-maintained as possible for the benefit of future editors. Computer programming was one industry where coding style guides were immensely helpful in keeping code legible. One didn't want a programmer to write huge slabs of code in a personal style, leave the project, and have replacements trying to maintain code that was written in a dense or oblique way. Sure, the program might run fine and display correctly, but when multiple programmers have to work on the same code over many years, it helps to have standards. Especially where we have contributors at varying levels of skill and experience. I see the situation here as somewhat analogous. For myself, I'm now going to be putting in more LDRs, especially when the same cite is reused. In verticle format. --Pete (talk) 00:42, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
Yes, many of us see the advantages—take a look at any of my FAs to see how OCD I can be with it. Enforcing it is another issue, though. An objection many bring against (for example) LDF (and templates such as my beloved {{sfn}}) is that they are newbie-unfriendly: it is not immediately obvious how they work, they require extra overhead, etc etc—which works against the idea that Wikipedia is "the encyclopaedia that anyone can edit". It's a legitimate concern and my use of these devices doesn't say I disagree with or dismiss these concerns. We don't want to scare off contributors simply because they have formatted a citation "wrong". Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 01:06, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
I've just played around with LDR. Love it. Glad to have a new wikiarrow in the quiver. Usually where a new editor inserts a poorly formed source (often as a simple inline URL), another editor with more experience will come along eventually and tidy it up when they spot it, simply because it grates. I don't think enforcement is a problem; we probably have millions of references that could be improved in presentation. So long as folk don't go to war over them. --Pete (talk) 01:22, 12 February 2016 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Agreed with CT. There's a reason MOS, WP:CITE, etc., are just guidelines. They're mostly matters for gnoming by later editors, and do-it-well-the-first-time for experienced ones; they're not requirements that new editors must comply with. I'm happy if they just write good content with nomarkup at all, and cite bare URLs as sources.. Between gnomes and bots, we'll polish it.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:40, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

Notice of discussion at VPP[edit]

It has come to my attention that we have two guideline pages that deal with essentially the same issues: MOS:CAPS and WP:NCCaps. When you have two guidelines covering the same territory, there is obviously a high potential for conflict between the two pages. Since the potential for conflict involves more than one page, I have raised the issue at WP:VPP#Guideline duplication (the potential for conflict) for broader community input. Please share your thoughts there. Blueboar (talk) 18:52, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

Update: This was closed as duplicate discussion; the thread is ongoing at WT:AT, as linked in the hatnote above.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  19:03, 10 February 2016 (UTC)

Billboard Hot 100[edit]

Simply asking if [[Billboard Hot 100|''Billboard'' Hot 100]] is the correct format for this chart. The format can be found over multiple pages such as Template talk:Singlechart/Archive 1#Citation position, Wikipedia talk:Record_charts/Archive 8#Billboard component charts (in the chart table), Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Record charts/Archive 10#Accessibility Issues, Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Discographies/style#Chart name abbreviation, as well as pages such as WP:BILLBOARDCHARTS and Template:Singlechart. An editor recently changed the format into [[Billboard (magazine)|''Billboard'']] [[Hot 100]] here but it doesn't look correct to me. Synthwave.94 (talk) 11:55, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

  • Billboard is the magazine title (italicized), and the "Hot 100" is an article/feature in it (quotation marks). If the actual title of the feature in the publication uses all three words, we'd render that "Billboard Hot 100". This has come up before. If the publication name is integral to the title of the feature, include it (e.g. was included as #34 on the "Maxim 100 Hottest Women of 2015" list (or whatever; I don't know what the actual title is). If it's not, something like: was profiled in People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" feature in 2015. If it's used as a title/award, not a reference to an article, no markup except on the publication: was declared Person of the Year by Time magazine.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:13, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
    • Unfortunately, that's not what the edit-warring at Money (That's What I Want) was about and what I think Synthwave.94 is asking here. It seems to be a question of whether there should be one link or two,

      Billboard Hot 100 or Billboard Hot 100,

      with a subsidiary question of where to point that last link (straight to the Billboard Hot 100 article or to the redirect Hot 100). I'd favour the single link which I believe serves the reader well, as the name is clear and the opening sentence of Billboard Hot 100 even clearer. NebY (talk) 18:41, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

      • Yes, SMcCandlish, the chart name uses all three words, but is always stylised as Billboard Hot 100. Synthwave.94 (talk) 21:17, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
      • Thanks for your answer, NebY. I also don't see any reason to use two links instead of one. Synthwave.94 (talk) 21:17, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
      • I'm really annoyed about how Synthwave94 described our conflict here in this thread. It was very misleading and unacceptable. Thank you NebY for clearing up this matter. Caden cool 23:37, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
    • Tempted to say that the reader will be interested (if at all) only in the chart. If interest then extends to the magazine, that can be very easily be found from the chart article. A mistaken click on the first part of the name (not realising there are two link parts) will take the reader just to the magazine, which may be confusing. A single link also has the advantage of making the markup less dense. But no strong view really. Martinevans123 (talk) 21:31, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
      • Single link per WP:SEAOFBLUE. As Martinevans123 stated, the Billboard link should be in the Hot 100 article if anyone wanted more info on the company.—Bagumba (talk) 22:52, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
        Nah, I'm sure you're thinking of WP:SEAOFLOVE by Phil Phillips (No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, 1959): [22] Martinevans123 (talk) 22:59, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

Consolidating FMC & *VAR advice, normalizing it with policy[edit]

It's become a basically WP:PERENNIAL problem that many editors' present interpretation of WP:CITEVAR, WP:ENGVAR, WP:DATEVAR, and other FOOVARs, most or all of which have similar but inconsistent "first major contributor" rule, is leading to conflicts with policy, consensus process, and common sense. It's forgivable that this keeps coming up, because of these guideline segments' poorly constructed, mutually contradictory, and overly restrictive wording. But it's not excusable to let it continue indefinitely; this needs to be resolved.

WP:Editing (like WP:Ignore all rules) is a policy. No one needs "permission" to attempt to make an improvement, and no dispute exists until someone raises one. WP doesn't even impose a rule against bold changes to policy pages themselves, just advice that urges caution and suggests that reversion is likely without it (plus, BRD exists for a reason). Meanwhile, certain PoV-pushing or just incompetent behavior that these provisions have attempted to address can be genuinely disruptive. But that's no reason to enact mutually inconsistent and policy-violating "rules"; these need to be examined and brought back into line with actual Wikipedia norms. Guidelines reflect best practices arrived at by consensus and actual practice among the experienced editors who form the editing community; they don't try to dictate changes to them (see WP:POLICY), especially ones that don't make sense and are not workable within the existing system.

Some examples of problems:

  • The "first major contributor" rules are frequently mistaken to mean that nothing of an article-wide nature that was decided on-the-fly by the FMC, back when – who may not have even given any consideration to the matter at all – can be changed without something on the scale of an RfC. The FMC is not even in a position to show up to the discussion and say "As the FMC, what I want is...". The analysis is about and only about what was done; it's a status quo ante stability default for when consensus is failing to decide what should be done in the present.
  • Worse yet, the disparate FMC provisions are often interpreted to mean that the FMC (or by extension a wikiproject in which the FMC is participating, or the small pool of editors who pushed an article to Good or Featured level, are invested with a perpetual supervote about everything to do with "their" article; I encounter of this "hands off!" view at least half a dozen times per week, in article style discussions, at RM, in arguments over infoboxes and navboxes, etc. Even the fact that ArbCom cases have affirmatively stated that wikiprojects and other insular groups of (or individual) editors cannot force their way at articles at which they claim an interest, this behavior goes unchecked, and it's due in part to the poor wording of the FOOVAR provisions.
  • It is counter to multiple policies and the foundational "mercilessly edited" principle at WP:Five pillars. It was never the intent of the FMC idea to try to set up a "first class editor" regime. It is just an arbitrary fall-back to be used if 1) a dispute arises, and 2) normal consensus discussion does not resolve it. But several FOOVARs are no longer worded this way, and have crept into legislating just such a regime.
  • I could list a more, but this outlines the nature of the issue in probably sufficient detail.

It would be of value to identify all these FOOVAR provisions that deal with "first major contributor" or "status quo ante" as a dispute resolution mechanism, and see about normalizing them with each other and with actual policy, consolidating them into a single guideline page to which all the FOOVAR sections refer and with which they are made consistent, and which took all of these issues and more into account. The number of problems their present poorly thought-out wording is collectively causing are multiplying, and they'e been diverging more over time, instead of converging into consistent advice with predictable and community-desirable results.  — SMcCandlish ¢ ≽ʌⱷ҅ʌ≼  18:23, 13 February 2016 (UTC)

These rules were put in place to avoid disruption. If they are now promoting disruption, then it is time for them to be re-examined. It is like saying that my grandfather bought a Ford, my family has always bought Fords, therefore my son should buy a Ford, even if a Porsche or a Jeep or a Tesla is a better fit for his needs.
A general instruction of the FOOVAR type may be found in the second paragraph of WP:MOSNUM, which otherwise manages to avoid vagueness throughout. --Pete (talk) 19:43, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
It should be sufficient to make it explicit that FMC is a last resort in FOOVARs where actual dispute is otherwise deadlocked. I rewrote ukiyo-e a few years ago from scratch. I don't know or care what ENGVAR it was in before I took it on—I simply did it in CanEng, nobody disputed it, and now it's an FA. Changing the ENGVAR at this point would be stupid, pointless disruption and couldn't seriously be challenged on the grounds of FMC. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 22:21, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
Looking at the paragraph mentioned above, I see, "The Arbitration Committee has ruled that editors should not change an article from one guideline-defined style to another without a substantial reason unrelated to mere choice of style, and that revert-warring over optional styles is unacceptable." References are given to the pertinent ArbCom rulings. Perhaps we should gain guidance from ArbCom before reinterpreting their repeated injunction? Is it sufficient reason to reformat citations or change the English variant simply because "it looks better this way"? --Pete (talk) 23:09, 13 February 2016 (UTC)
Per WP:BRD, if it doesn't get disputed, sure. Curly Turkey 🍁 ¡gobble! 23:11, 13 February 2016 (UTC)