Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 113

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Contents

Video spoof

I posted it over on WT:FAQ and actually meant to post it here as well. A historian friend who knows I am a Wikipedia editor noticed this video spoof, and told me about it. It's about FAC, the MOS and other stuff. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 07:07, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, Oh. It's hilarious! Important note: for it to make sense, you need to turn CAPTIONS on. See the bottom right of the video display.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:00, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
There has been an outrageous off-wiki attack of the MoS and FAC processes. I think there's a nasty reference to me, as "that precious little ass-wipe", and I believe there should be an investigation by ArbCom. Does anyone have a tip as to who is responsible? Clearly, it's someone with close knowledge of the MoS, FAC, FLC and ArbCom.
Attack vid
Tony (talk) 05:16, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Tony, I am surprised at your characterization of this rare and thus valuable piece of documentary evidence as "outrageous". For me, I am happy at last to see the faces of The Cabal. And although their tastes in insignia and clothing may differ from mine, how much they resemble me! As just another precious little ass-wipe, I enjoyed watching this. And now, let me use an en dash (freshly retrieved from safe storage): – Hoary (talk) 05:38, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
It was Hitler, Tony! He's trying to get people to ignore good punctuation from beyond the grave! Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:09, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Oh noes! Whatever shall we do? I suggest laughing, and moving on. Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 06:36, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Agreed. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 15:59, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Hoary, no! The dog's bollocks! :-) ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 21:26, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Godwin's law applies. Whoever made that video lost. :-) ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 21:26, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Why? Tony (talk) 21:28, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
See the second sentence of Godwin's law#Corollaries and usage. (I had added a similar sentence to the lead of that article, but it was since removed.) ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 21:42, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Confession here. Tony (talk) 22:10, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
While I write this real policy rulers seek structure for content, content from the syntax level upward, and content from category of categories downward into some as yet undiscovered structure. This troll seems to be missing a metaphor: genetics are syntax. — CpiralCpiral 20:48, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
English, please. Tony (talk) 01:28, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Consensus and Wikipedia:Manual of Style and Wikipedia:Ignore all rules

Wikipedia:Consensus lacks a clear definition of consensus, so it is not an adequate guide for Wikipedia:Manual of Style.
Wikipedia:Ignore all rules says: "If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it."
-- Wavelength (talk) 16:33, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

That IAR thing should never have been inserted. It is not a governing feature. It is a useless rule. Tony (talk) 22:46, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Manual of Style says of itself: "Use common sense in applying it; it will have occasional exceptions."
-- Wavelength (talk) 23:37, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
So ignore it, duh. BTW, it was among the first rules ever on Wikipedia.[1] ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 12:44, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

Linking section heads

Created the page List of Swedish football transfers winter 2009–10 to cover the transfers in the two top leagues in Sweden, when creating the article i linkt each team section to each teams articles on wikipedia as i saw as better and quicker way then to search for each teams article, however that have now been reverted following a WP:MOS i cant clearly find. I still think that its better if section heads are linkt to each team, but its not something that needs to be done everywhere, however i would not a majore opinion that they should not be linkt. --> Halmstad, Charla to moi 20:43, 09 January 2010 (UTC)

Links within section titles can cause accessibility problems; you can use {{main}} immediately after the title, instead. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 21:51, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
I hadn't realize that reason for avoiding them. In general there are lots of good reasons for avoiding markup, of any kind, in section headings.
  • The one that's my personal peeve is that many sorts of markup break clickability of edit summaries. The anchor that's generated for the little arrow by the edit summary is different from the one used in the page in itself, and when you click on the arrow, you get sent to the top of the page, and have to search for what you were looking for. That bugs the crap out of me. (However, simple unpiped wikilinks in a section heading do not cause this problem.)
  • It's overloading too much functionality into one thing. Section headings are not simple text; they're sort of markup themselves. They should not have other markup superimposed on them.
  • When just part of a section heading, or otherwise highlighted text, is wikilinked, it just plain looks terrible. Part of the reason that it looks terrible is that it interferes with communication, by forcing the reader to process the fact that this text is highlighted together, yet part of it is highlighted differently. (This deserves stating separately: Never wikilink only part of bolded or italicized text; possible exception when the italics are used to indicate quotation.) --Trovatore (talk) 22:03, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
  • "a WP:MOS i cant clearly find"? I think you're looking for WP:HEAD: "Section names should not normally contain links ..." Art LaPella (talk) 00:10, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject EastEnders/Manual of style is no longer marked as part of the Manual of Style

Wikipedia:WikiProject EastEnders/Manual of style (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) has been edited so that it is no longer marked as part of the Manual of Style. This is an automated notice of the change (more information). -- VeblenBot (talk) 02:00, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Impending announcement: silliest wikilink of the month awards

Users are advised that His Grace the Duke of Waltham has agreed to be the inaugural judge of the Silliest wikilink of the month awards. There will be five monthly winners (August–December 2009) and an overall winner for 2009.

His Grace will make the announcement at WT:LINK when He is ready. The Duke's private secretary, Harold Cartwright, has emphasised that no correspondence will be entered into regarding the awards: His Grace's decision will be final. Tony (talk) 23:50, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

The announcement has been made here. Tony (talk) 10:32, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Digits

A recent change now says "Alternatively, render numbers that take one or two words as either words or numerals ..." Although the given examples are all multi-digit numbers, if we take those words at face value they say that alternatively, it's OK to say 6 instead of six, even if the exceptions don't apply. That would negate the main point of the section, contradict WP:MOSNUM, and be a major undiscussed change. So I presume that was a mistake. Art LaPella (talk) 21:01, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Correct. I only meant to clear up the chunkiness of the phrasing, not introduce a change in meaning. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:24, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Art. These number sections are traditionally supposed to be synchronised with WP:MOSNUM. Since recent changes, they are not: at least in their wording and markup. I have restored the intended meaning, and reworked these most basic provisions for simplicity and accuracy. I will do more, now.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:17, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
I am changing "numeral" to "figure", in accord with the title of the section and because numeral includes both words and figures:

[1 ...] B n. 1 A word expressing a number. M16.
2 A figure or symbol, or a group of these, denoting a number. L17. (SOED, "numeral a. & n.")

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 00:02, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Examples of consensus

I am posing this challenge to all viewers of this discussion page. Please provide (if you can!) links to examples of MOS discussions where decisions were reached by consensus. Please be prepared to explain (if you can!) what consensus means in each example, and how we can be certain that it was actually achieved. You can help to organize this section by arranging your examples under new subheadings as follows, substituting your user name for the words in square brackets, and using "=== ===".

  • [First editor]'s example 1 of MOS consensus
  • [First editor]'s example 2 of MOS consensus
  • [Second editor]'s example 1 of MOS consensus
  • [Second editor]'s example 2 of MOS consensus

-- Wavelength (talk) 16:48, 8 January 2010 (UTC) ...... [I am inserting "links to". -- Wavelength (talk) 16:51, 8 January 2010 (UTC)]
[I am adding "of MOS consensus" to each proposed subheading, for clearer linking. -- Wavelength (talk) 17:06, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
[I am changing "name" to "user name". -- Wavelength (talk) 17:59, 8 January 2010 (UTC)]
[I am clarifying further, with "=== ===". -- Wavelength (talk) 18:18, 8 January 2010 (UTC)]
[I am converting the sub-subheadings to subheadings. I am revising the second subheading to "Darkfrog's example 1 of MoS consensus".
-- Wavelength (talk) 21:37, 13 January 2010 (UTC)]

Maybe we shouldn't be looking in the MoS archive. Maybe we should be looking at other pages. Yes, the MoS is fundamentally different from most Wikipedia articles, but if what we're looking for is a civilized, reasoned and fruitful discussion resulting in Wikipedia consensus, then any example would be better than none. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:55, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Art LaPella's example 1 of MOS consensus

#"From" and "between". Both of us agreed, so that was consensus by any definition. This is trivial, but perhaps it will help Wavelength to clarify what kind of example he really wanted. Art LaPella (talk) 02:07, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

Darkfrog's example 1 of MoS consensus

Proposed new text. It was a vote, so it's not an ideal example of a Wikipedia consensus and perhaps the reason it went so smoothly was because it was an issue that had been fought over before, but the discussion 1. allowed everyone a chance to speak 2. was resolved relatively quickly and 3. did not devolve into a fight, so maybe some expansion of our support/oppose structure could be of use to us. It would also be simple enough for newcomers to understand without much explanation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:56, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Bad Sentence

Modern editions of old texts routinely replace ampersands with and (along with disused glyphs and ligatures)

Do disused glyphs partially replace ampersands, or are they replaced by and? Neither, of course, but this seems to say one or the other. 68.239.116.212 (talk) 06:36, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

Good point, Anonymous. I have now edited Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Ampersand to fix this.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 08:05, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
BTW, I'm not that sure about "routinely". The example closest to my hands right now, i.e. my edition of Blake's poems, was printed in 2007 but it still has ampersands. Maybe it had better be replaced by "often". ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 13:30, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Sure, A di M. But that sort of edition is not a "modern edition", to borrow a term our guideline uses to make the point plainly. Of course there are editions that preserve all (or a selection) of the old variant characters, just as there are also facsimile editions. (Imagine how this looks with a "faithful" edition of Petrarch, Chaucer, or Villon.) Wikipedia articles are not normally concerned with those, and I doubt that the guideline would be improved by adverting to them at the cost of clarity.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 19:32, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think replacing "routinely" with "often" (or with "often routinely", to show that the ones which do that usually do that consistently) would worsen clarity that much, but that's not a great deal, anyway. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 21:38, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
May I suggest against "often routinely"? It seems a bit clunkier than we need it to be. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:40, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Range of years which has not ended

How should a range of years which has not ended be written in a title? "2007-Present" seems obvious but against standards. "2007-" seems good. "2007-2010" seems to imply that the range has ended. The current title in question is W:Financial crisis of 2007-2010. Darxus (talk) 23:38, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

I've raised this before, and my preference for "Since 1999" rather than "1999–present" (which is like a rash all over popular culture infoboxes) was dismissed with a wave of the hand. I have never liked the dangling en dash, which seems to beg the death of the subject (we're waiting to complete the range ... please die). An en dash, not a hyphen, should be used for ranges. Tony (talk) 00:25, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree with you that "since 1999" is better than "1999–present" in many cases, but I am not sure how one would apply that to the article title. ("Financial crisis since 2007" is of course no good; and it makes me think, "Financial CrisisTM: Since 2007!") The article ought to have a stable title, which none of "Financial crisis of 2007–Present", "Financial crisis of 2007–", "Financial crisis of 2007–2010", or "Ongoing financial crisis" can provide. (Also, the last one is something you'd hear on cable news, yuck!) You could consider "Great Recession", but I don't think that name is well-accepted enough to be the article title. You may be stuck with the present title (but with an en dash instead of a hyphen).
Why is it that we call them "recessions" or "financial crises", anyway? How about, "Panic of 2007"? It's so much more evocative. Ozob (talk) 01:16, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
I learned in history class that the difference between a recession and a depression is technically the duration of a certain numerical part of the economic downturn. If it lasts less than one year, then it's a recession, but if it lasts longer than that, it's a depression. Since then, though, the media has taken to calling depressions "recessions," probably to avoid references to the thirties. I'm pretty sure from history class that the word "panic" was retired because it sounded too panicky. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:27, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Every economist has a different definition of normal vs recession vs depression. The tabloids love the last two terms. WP should be cautious in their use. Try to think how it will be viewed in retrospect. On the closing range in the title ... I took a breath at that. Next time, let's call it "Recession starting 2007" until the period can be understood in retrospect. Tony (talk) 02:51, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
In Australia, the economy is considered to be in "recession" if there are two (consecutive) quarters of negative growth. I don't know if that definition is used elsewhere.  HWV258.  03:23, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Where's Ben Stein when we need him? Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:48, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
That article used to be called "Late 2000s recession", but the late 2000s are over now... (And I agree that I prefer "Since 1999" in places other than article titles.) ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 21:46, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
The new decade starts 1 Jan 2011 (since there was no year 0 – a bad mistake). Therefore, the previous name was prematurely changed to something undesirably specific and predictive. Tony (talk) 23:03, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
The 2000s are not the same thing as the 201st decade. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 01:17, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
That's true, but the 2000s is problematic because it's not clear whether they should last 10, 100, or 1000 years. In speech you could theoretically fix this by calling them the twenty-ohs, though I don't actually specifically remember hearing it in the wild. --Trovatore (talk) 01:37, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
It's fairly obvious that "late 2000s" refers to the decade, as it's certainly not late in the 21st century. AnemoneProjectors (talk) 01:58, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
While A d M makes a good point, I agree with Trovatore. "2000's" can refer to the millennium (which technically starts in 2001, etc.) or the century or the decade. While context can make this less ambiguous, it would be better to pick a term that is specific in the first place. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:30, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Well, no, the 1000-year period called the 2000s started in 2000, obviously. --Trovatore (talk) 06:06, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
It overlaps 99.9% with the third millennium, though. (And while it's true that 2000s has at least three meanings – here's why it's a disambiguation page, recessions seldom have a duration of the order of half a century, let alone half a millennium.) ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 12:56, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Some of those points were discussed recently at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2009 December 24#Six days left and I'm still uncomfortable calling them the "ohs", "aughts" or "noughties". How about you?.
-- Wavelength (talk) 05:24, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

I happen to have run into this same problem today, independently, as I had to clean up after a bot that changed article prose saying "financial crisis of 2007–2009" to "financial crisis of 2007–2010". (As it happens, both the old and the new prose were not supported, as the cited source (published in 2008) talked only about the "the financial crisis of 2007–8"; what a mess, eh?) Apparently it is the style in finance to use closed ranges when talking about ongoing events, perhaps on the theory that it's bad luck to write things like "financial crisis of 2007–". No solution to this problem is satisfactory, so perhaps we should simply grit our teeth and do as the financial press does. Eubulides (talk) 06:15, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Defenceman

There is a requested move at Talk:Defenceman#Requested moves. The participation of others would be welcome there. Thanks!
V = I * R (talk to Ohms law) 22:19, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for Noetica's edits

I am very pleased to see that Noetica is making some much-needed clean-up edits to the MoS. Thank you, Noetica! Tony (talk) 00:51, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks Tony. I have just been making up for time in which I did not attend to the task. Myself, I'm very pleased when one person's taking up the shovel prompts a whole team to do the same. That's happening now, and genuine WPian collaboration reigns.
We can all learn more from edits if they are explained fully in edit summaries. I hope people will make that additional effort a bit more consistently.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 02:23, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
And good to see the formatting of examples fixed. Let's also avoid "for example,...". Tony (talk) 00:51, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Ranges of birth and death outside biographical articles?

In biographical articles we list the range of a person's lifespan per MOS:DOB. But I've seen a fair number of non-biographical articles which also does this when introducing a new name (together with a link to that person). See here for example of what I mean. Is this in line with this style manual? If not, could we add words to that effect to MOS:DOB?

It seems to me that this "Name (year-year)" practice would only be acceptable (outside of a bio) when such dates aren't redundant, such as when the person doesn't have an article on Wikipedia. If there's a link to the person's bio, skip the dates. Any thoughts? Gabbe (talk) 09:34, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

I disagree. While it can be fun to ride the Wikilinks from page to page, we should write articles with the assumption that people will read at least one paragraph per sitting. If the information is relevant, then we should not interrupt the reader mid-paragraph by forcing him or her to go to a new page to get it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:41, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
I was just about to write the same as Darkfrog24. In most cases, it is unnecessary to do that, but in the article you link, short of following the links, the reader will have no idea of whether bacteriology was founded in the late 17th or early 20th century. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 14:56, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
I think that is easy to avoid: Say, "In the 19th century ..." or "In the 20th century ..." or some similar phrase. As Eubulides notes, if the researchers were properly credited with the dates of their discoveries, then this would be entirely unnecessary. Ozob (talk) 00:33, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

This issue is best resolved case-by-case. For Microbiology #Modern I agree that all those birth-and-death-year annotations are distracting and irrelevant. What counts for that section is not when the microbiologists died, but when they made their major contributions: although the article does not contain this more-important information, it should, and after it is modified to have it, the value of the birth and death dates will plummet to zero and they can be removed. Eubulides (talk) 19:32, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Actually, as a non-scientist, the dates of Leeuwenhoek, Pasteur and Koch are of interest to me and something I don't know already. As one of the microscopic sliver of Wikipedia's readership who has installed WP:popups, this isn't of such great concern to me personally, but 99.95%+ of the readers don't have pop-ups, and the lead sentence of an article doesn't always include dates. On the other hand, while dates might be informative at Socialist Party of America#Prominent members, they'd probably make the whole list pretty indigestible. And adding dates to everyone's first mention in running text could be cumbersome for both editors and readers. This is probably an area where general guidance and suggestions fit better than any kind of rule. —— Shakescene (talk) 13:31, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Permalink template for FAQ links to consensus

I discovered what is possibly a useful template in The Signpost, for diffs:

"The election administrator stated such and such."

The syntax is {{diff|page=Wikipedia:Arbitration_Committee_Elections_December_2009|diff=332592102|oldid=332588134|label=stated}}

Otherwise, there's a "Permanent link" button to the left of every page. Tony (talk) 09:28, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes {{diff}} is handy for showing changes to pages. You can see some uses of {{diff}} previously on this talk page. For permanent links to old versions, you can use {{oldid}}. Eubulides (talk) 19:29, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Manual of Style FAQ

Dear colleagues

I think the idea of an FAQ is sound. I do believe it should be very succinct, friendly in tone, and should deal with the issues that come up most frequently, here and in articles. Links to discussions/consensus and MoS sections could be provided within or after each "answer".

The secret to a successful FAQ is to ration both the number of issues treated and the "responses"; otherwise it would be like reading the MoS all over again. This will be frustrating, since almost all aspects of the MoS are transgressed; I think the aim should be to cover the most common/vexing issues.

I'd like to start the ball rolling by asking you to list the specific points of the MoS that editors raise most often, and the things editors most often get wrong in articles. For this, we need to draw on our combined memory of article-writing in the project, as well as possibly looking through the archives of this page.

Your thoughts?

To start, I've listed these ones (in no particular order, and all subject to removal). Please add to this list judiciously. Tony (talk) 22:40, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

  • Internal/external punctuation (quotations)
  • Title vs sentence case in article and section titles
  • Non-breaking spaces
  • Single vs double quotation marks
  • Straight vs curly glyphs
  • En dashes vs hyphens
  • En dashes vs em dashes (interrupters)
  • Ellipsis points: to space or not to space
  • Engvar: what to do if someone changes the variety in an existing article
  • Numbers as figures or words
  • Collective plurals
  • Singular they
  • "Note that ..."

The only issues that have come up more than once in the past few months are the American vs. British/datasafe punctuation with quotation marks, single vs. double quotation marks and the en dash issues. The only one of those that had a solid technical reason was single vs. double quotation marks: "Because single quotes interfere with search features on many current browsers." It's the only clearly FAQable issue that I can see on this list. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:41, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks. I believe there are technical reasons for everything that is in the MoS, whether an individual contributor agrees with them or not. Nevertheless, the purpose of an FAQ is to increase the accessibility of the MoS for editors out there we serve, and in doing so to save them and us the trouble of asking and responding to queries here and at other styleguides, such as WP:LINK and WP:MOSNUM. Tony (talk) 23:58, 1 January 2010 (UTC)
By technical, I here meant having to do with the technology, separate from opinion or interpretation. The purpose of the MoS is to provide users with Wikipedia's style rules in a clear an accessible way, but the purpose of this discussion page is to provide a place where those style rules can be discussed, questioned, improved and clarified. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:41, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

I have made a bare-bones FAQ and put it at the top of this page. Everyone is welcome to edit and expand it. You are even welcome to throw out my entire text for trivial reasons. At the moment there are no citations to past discussions, just drafts of statements of what I think consensus roughly is on a very small number of topics. Please edit away! Ozob (talk) 21:09, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

Top of what page? Darkfrog, you're still trumpeting nationalistic views on punctuation, I see. Why does my daily newspaper use internal punctuation, then? Tony (talk) 21:23, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
Who said anything about a top of a page? And I'm not "trumpeting" anything! Never having seen your local newspaper, Tony, I wouldn't know a thing about it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:35, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Now, now. At the risk of offending everyone by stating the obvious, the three preceding posts are:
  • "I have made a bare-bones FAQ and put it at the top of this page ...", referring to the beige rectangle at the top of this Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style page; look for the blue question mark.
  • "Top of what page? ..."
  • "Who said anything about a top of a page? ..." Either I or everyone else are missing something awfully basic. Art LaPella (talk) 05:47, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Top of this discussion page, between the two archive search boxes. Which, I must ask, do we really need two of them so close to each other? maybe we should integrate the {{round and round}} box with the archives list. Any way, I also made a slight change to Ozob's nascent FAQ, describing what an interruptive emdash actual is, as the sort of editor that is likely to need the FAQ on dashes is also likely the sort of editor less versed with the terminology. oknazevad (talk) 21:34, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
I've removed the extra search bar and relocated {{Round in circles}} so that it's near where the archive search bar used to be. The embryonic FAQ is right below the Round in circles template. Ozob (talk) 22:23, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
Looks good to me.oknazevad (talk) 23:33, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

I like that the FAQ is very concise so far, and I hope that it stays that way. However, it was way, way too kiss-a[r]s[s|e]. The urge to preemptively appease "some editors" was so weasel-wordy that it actually introduced factual errors. For example, the fact that logical quotation preserves the quoted material more precisely and the fact that using different dashes is a readability improvement are in fact facts – if I may use "fact" as many times as possible in one sentence – and are not matters of opinion that "many editors" can feel one way about and "other editors" can have a different take on. Whether these facts are important or whatever can certainly be a matter of opinion, but the two facts themselves have never been in dispute. Next, whoever added the bit about logical quotation not being "standard" US or UK style needs to knock it off. There's no "standard" style in either country, as has been established here more than once, with citation of US and UK publications using both styles. Logical quotation is extremely common in the UK, so the suggestion that it's weird to the British is off-kilter. Finally, I'm not sure that the "taught in schools" bit makes much sense, since we cannot prove that no schools teach any of these things. I'm sure a great number of non-US schools do in fact teach logical quotation, since 90%+ of the publications in those countries use it. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 10:00, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

That many Wikipedians believe that datasafe quotes/"logical" quotation is a better system is 100% true. However, it is absolutely a matter of opinion. By saying that many Wikipedians believe that LQ does a better job, the answer makes clear that it is a matter of consensus rather than a matter of facts. And no, logical quotation does not happen to be standard in either U.S. or U.K. English. However, Tony had already removed the references to U.S. and U.K. English and I find that the answer works well enough without them. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:50, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
That it is true that many Wikipedians believe X is irrelevant. The text did not say LQ "does a better job", is very specifically stated what LQ is, for an undeniable fact, better at. To date there appears to be nothing at all that typsetters' quotation is better at other than muddling what the quoted party did or did not actually say/write. In my opinion, LQ is therefore clearly "better", but I did not push any such wording. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 01:16, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
It's relevant because that's the answer to the question being posed. The question in the FAQ isn't "How is LQ different from American and British standard punctuation styles?" it's "Why does the MoS mandate logical quotation?" The answer to that question is because more Wikipedians like it than like other styles. The most complimentary and unbiased way to phrase that without entering into falsehood is, "Many Wikipedians believe that it does a better job of preserving quoted text." However, LQ is not actually more precise in practice than either American or British punctuation. Neither American nor British styles actually fail where LQ succeeds, and the FAQ must not claim otherwise.
I'd settle for something to the effect of "Wikipedia's consensus is that logical quotation does a better job of preserving quoted text" if "Many Wikipedians believe" isn't working for you. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:01, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
I wrote "taught in schools" because one argument that unfortunately seems to recur here is, "My high-school English teacher said it, and therefore it's true." (Just search for "teacher" in the archives and you'll find it over and over.) My hope was to meet that argument head-on, and I couldn't think of how else to do it. Ozob (talk) 12:32, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
Okay, but it seems to me that it should be its own point, not embedded in one particular grammatical point, since it's not relevant to that particular point but is a meta issue, no? — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 01:16, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
I believe that the references and Wikilinks to WP:Consensus should remain. Not only do they help us sidestep the issue of whether or not this consensus is factually correct but it will also direct new users to the page on consensus, making it clear that the matters were settled (or "settled," see conversations about consensus below) on Wikipedia's terms and that "consensus" here has a specific meaning. This makes it doubly informative rather than singly deceptive. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:39, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Tony and I disagree with you. I believe that it is objective truth that logical quotation preserves the speaker's words better than the traditional American system. I also believe that it is objective truth that using different glyphs for different dashes improves readability. To say that these opinions are merely consensus is an error; the FAQ should not err. I have put a link to WP:Consensus at the top of the FAQ, which I believe addresses your concern better than separate links to consensus in each answer. Ozob (talk) 22:01, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
If it were the objective truth, then it would be possible for one of you to demonstrate it. Unfortunately, 150 years of practice show that the American system preserves text just fine. Secondly, it is completely untrue that referring to this as a Wikipedia consensus causes harm. It is a Wikipedia consensus, therefore it is neither false nor an error to say so. That being said, I don't object to the link being elsewhere in the FAQ so long as the word remains. It think it would be better to put the link right where the readers will see it, but as it is, it will do. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:27, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Here is a demonstration.
  1. By definition, the characters between the quotation marks are the same as the characters appearing in the source if and only if the quotation is logically quoted.
  2. One of the implications in the above tautology is that if the characters between the quotation marks are the same as the characters appearing in the source, then the quotation is logically quoted.
  3. Therefore by contrapositive, if the quotation is not logically quoted, then the characters between the quotation marks are not the same as the characters in the source. Q.E.D.
I agree that it is also a Wikipedia consensus that logical quotation most accurately preserves the speaker's words; all that means is that Wikipedia consensus is for the truth. Ozob (talk) 19:19, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
That isn't a demonstration of LQ. It's a series of logical proofs that make it look as though LQ ought to work in a certain way, but it doesn't show that it actually does or more relevantly, that it actually does better than American or British standards in encyclopedia-style writing. It also doesn't address the use of words-as-words, song titles, short story titles and all the other uses of quotation marks that have nothing to do with quoting sources.
On a more academic level, I totally disagree that a Wikipedia consensus determines the truth. There is one objective reality for all beings, regardless of what those beings believe. Otherwise, the Sun would have traveled around the Earth and Galileo would have been unable to observe otherwise.
As to whether the preponderance of Wikipedians are correct in their belief that LQ is better, we can certainly argue about it—and we probably will the next time someone brings it up. However, if the question is whether there is currently a Wikipedia consensus to use LQ, then yes, we are in agreement that there is. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:47, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
If it is a correct logical proof, then I don't see how you can reject it. Maybe I'm dense, but I don't see where you pointed out a flaw in my argument.
I did not claim that a Wikipedia consensus determines the truth. I claimed that as regards logical quotation, Wikipedia consensus accords with the truth. Ozob (talk) 21:20, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
What your proofs actually do is define LQ, not demonstrate its effectiveness in practice. It doesn't take mistakes into account. Your proofs indicate not that Wikipedia editors are less likely to make errors if they use LQ but rather that if an error is made, the quotation no longer counts as LQ. It may be true that when LQ is used perfectly, the text will be preserved perfectly, but that is equally true of both American and British punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:20, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
No, it is not equally true of other styles of punctuation. That is what I proved above: All other styles of punctuation insert characters into or delete characters from the original text. Perhaps I need a fourth point: The characters between the quotation marks are not the same as the characters in the source if and only if the original text has not been accurately preserved. Traditional American punctuation therefore does not preserve the original text.
I have never claimed that editors are less likely to make mistakes when using LQ or that LQ is easier to use in practice. We have not defined "effectiveness", so I certainly haven't demonstrated its effectiveness. All I have shown you is that LQ is more accurate: It preserves the original text perfectly by definition, and other systems do not by definition. Therefore it is an objective truth that LQ preserves the original text better than other systems. It is not merely consensus. Ozob (talk) 12:22, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Ozob, all three forms of punctuation do that. They all take some characters from the source and leave others behind. In American punctuation, the closing period or comma, if any, is understood to be part of the quotation process, like the quotation marks themselves, and the "original text" is what's inside. In this respect, LQ has provides no advantage over other forms. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:49, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Consider the following passages; to control for things like mistakes and misunderstandings, assume that both writer and reader are aware of what style is being used.
  • "It was the strangest experience of my life," he later wrote.
  • He later wrote, "It was the strangest experience of my life."
Under LQ, the reader knows that the punctuation was in the original, while under TQ, the reader has absolutely no idea whether the punctuation was in the original.
  • "It was the strangest experience of my life", he later wrote.
  • He later wrote, "It was the strangest experience of my life".
Under LQ, the reader knows that the punctuation probably wasn't in the original — not certain knowledge, but not zero knowledge either.
From these, it would appear that LQ always provides more information than TQ. --Pi zero (talk) 14:41, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
In all those cases, the line could have been either "It was the strangest experience of my life [period]" or "It was the strangest experience of my life [comma] [subsequent independent clause]." Neither LQ nor British or American standards (which would both put the punctuation inside on a dialogue quote like this one) show where the sentence truly stops in the original. In either case, the reader must view the original to be sure or—more likely because this is the goal of encyclopedic writing—trust that the writer who quoted the material has included the information that is relevant to the article. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:09, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
In each of the first two sentences under LQ, it is not possible that the particular original passage being quoted did not contain the punctuation — unless the quoting editor made a mistake, which I had intended to explicitly control against (though I see my words fell short of saying that) since I was trying to address the correct use of these styles. I did actually intend each of the four sentences to be considered separately; if my lazily grouping them in pairs caused confusion, I apologize. If those first two sentences both occur in an article, and are both correct, then they must be quoting two different instances, in one of which the quoted words were followed by a comma, and in the other of which they were followed by a period. --Pi zero (talk) 15:47, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
No need to apologize; these things are going to look ambiguous no matter which way they're portrayed. What happened is that it did not look as though you were using LQ during the first two lines because they are identical to British and American usage. Taking what you were actually doing into account, the precision that you describe can't be determined because it is not clear that LQ is in use. That's a problem that would go away if, after a generation or two, LQ became standard, but it isn't the case now. That being said, in those first two examples, all three styles work equally well because they have the exact same effect on the text. So what these examples really show is that LQ only does anything useful when it does the exact same thing as BQ and AQ, so there's really no reason to prefer it over BQ and AQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:24, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
The way to sort out the issues involved in this is to divide and conquer, carefully isolating each specific objective point and getting it straight before moving on to the next. That's why I temporarily limited my attention to a very specific situation, in which the style is known to both editor and reader and is being used correctly by the editor. You've just violated those assumptions, introducing other factors that there's no chance of getting straight if one doesn't understand the simpler case I've outlined. I'd be happy to address your assessment of the more complicated case if I had any confidence that you understand the simpler case; but, on the contrary, I've gradually come to suspect that you don't understand the basic case. It seems that when confronted with the basic case you change the assumptions, in a way that suggests you aren't being evasive but that in fact your eyes just sort of slide off it (like an SEP field) — this is central to my further suspicion that what we've got here, though it surely does involve some authentic disagreement, also involves a significant failure to communicate. --Pi zero (talk) 18:43, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
In other words, I looked at it the way it would actually be viewed by a reader of this encyclopedia. Are there situations in which LQ is preferable? Perhaps it would be in programming publications in which there are so many raw data strings that it just makes more sense to use a system designed for data strings than one that makes exceptions for data strings. This is not a programming publication. More specifically, I assumed not that the editor was making a mistake but rather that the reader could see what the editor had put on the page but not what the editor was thinking or the rationale that that editor used to make the decision. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:18, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
When there is a failure to communicate, go to the foundation. Please define "basic case" as you are using the term—if you believe that would be an appropriate use of your time, that is. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:18, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Striving for mutual understanding is a worthy use of time, I think. (Granted, I have to timeshare WP with the rest of my life, but that's why my next comment sometimes takes a day or several to materialize.)
The simplified case I'm addressing is that the editor who writes the sentence (a.k.a. the "quoter", the person who is doing the quoting) is correctly applying the style (LQ or TQ), and the reader observing the sentence knows what style the editor is applying. Complications temporarily excluded due to these simplifications include (I hesitate to claim these are exhaustive) that the editor might not be correctly applying the style, and that the reader might not know the style or might be mistaken about the style. And yes, I do heartily agree that these simplifying assumptions are not the most common situation with Wikipedia articles (although the simplified case must surely happen sometimes). --Pi zero (talk) 20:53, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
I would argue that your assumption of the reader knowing what style has been used effectively never occurs on Wikipedia. It's similar to a broken clock: it's right twice a day, but it doesn't ever give useful information (unless of course we have another working clock on hand). You don't know whether an article uses LQ unless you have the source open next to it and are comparing quote for quote. We should be clear in this discussion that providing for the use of LQ in the MOS does not increase the information content of Wikipedia articles. (Which isn't to say it's not the best system, if we find ourselves wanting to mandate a particular style.) Christopher Parham (talk) 21:09, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Depends on the strength of the qualifier "effectively". It isn't necessary to my point that it ever happen, as this is a gedankenexperiment, meant to provide insight into the dynamics of the phenomena under scrutiny by asking what would happen under hypothetical circumstances. That said, here's a situation in which it is tolerably likely that it might happen: a group of Wikipedians collaborate to upgrade an article, and they use the talk page of the article to mutually agree on various conventions that they're all going to follow — one of these collaborators is the quoter who writes the sentence, and another of the collaborators is the reader who observes the sentence.
There's also some difficulty with what you mean by "know": in sufficiently strict use of that word, reading a Wikipedia article cannot ever induce any kind of knowledge whatsoever, since Wikipedia is not itself a reliable source. That sense of the word "know" is useful for some purposes (notably, choosing sources for a WP article), but for this particular discussion it seems a bit too strict to be useful.
It's a truism that MOS can't "mandate" anything, of course, but, allowing a certain rhetorical license in the use of the word so that it becomes meaningful to talk about MOS mandating something, the MOS already does mandate LQ, and has for many years. --Pi zero (talk) 22:38, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't say that it never happens, Christopher. I certainly hope that there are at least some Wikipedia editors who care enough about proper punctuation to bother to read that part of the MoS! I would say that, given the inconsistency on Wikipedia and the acknowledgment that not all articles are written in compliance with the rule, the case would still be pretty rare.
Pi Zero, I concede that when the conditions you have described are met, LQ conveys the information in question. However, because this does not happen outside of what I'll call "laboratory conditions," it would not be true or accurate to put "LQ preserves text better" in the FAQ. In this case, I'd take "effectively" to refer to something that has an effect, which LQ does not seem to with regard to preserving the text of Wikipedia's articles and sources.
As for the MoS's role, I didn't object when Pi Zero changed "mandate" to "call for" because it is absolutely true that the MoS does call for LQ, but it does also mandate it. The MoS creates the rules for Wikipedia and there are consequences for breaking those rules. Maybe it shouldn't be that way, but, in practice, it is. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:32, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm no fan of the current wording of the FAQ answer, without or without the word "consensus". I remarked somewhat on the wording further down in this section. "Better" meaning "in a more desirable manner", "more successfully", or "more accurately"? I'm not convinced that the wording is informative in a way that will help much in forestalling protracted misunderstandings. I freely admit that so far I don't know how to word it better.
Re the behavior of quotation styles under laboratory conditions (a nice turn of phrase), to be clear, what I'm saying is that LQ under laboratory conditions conveys more information about the source than any other style does under laboratory conditions. That could be taken as the "better=more accurately" sense of the answer. The next question is the nature of the relationship between that phenomenon under controlled conditions, and phenomena under field conditions (the "better=more successfully" sense). --Pi zero (talk) 14:49, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
A minuscule amount, but yes. However, what the reader is most likely to assume is "under Wikipedia conditions," under which LQ provides no concrete advantage. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:43, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

← Richard Feynman once wrote:

In order to save ourselves from inventing new words such as “wavicles,” we have chosen to call these objects “particles,” but we all know that they obey these rules for drawing and combining arrows that I have been explaining.

If we quote this sentence swapping the commas with the closing quotation marks on the ground that the name by which we call those objects doesn't include a comma (following the combination of LQ and the spirit of the "Allowable typographical changes" list), then the sequence of characters we quote does not equal the sequence of characters Feynman chose. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 13:33, 11 January 2010 (UTC)

That's an interesting point, A d M. Frankly, I think that whenever Wikipedia quotes a source, as you have done, internal styles of punctuation should be preserved. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:49, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
It is allowed make trivial typographical changes by any Manual of Style that I know. For instance if I quote "the electron-positron pair was very happy today", it is perfectly reasonable and allowable to quote it as "the electron–positron pair was very happy today". Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 15:49, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
I guess it's that I don't consider this to be trivial. I'd put this kind of comma placement on par with spelling "color vs. colour" because it shows something about the author's tastes and origin. I don't get that from hyphens vs. en dashes. Now whether Wikipedia's MoS should reflect these conclusions of mine is another question. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:18, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
A d M's comment has been kicking around in my head for a few days. If the terminal comma or period is so trivial that the MoS would permit moving it even in a direct quote, then why is it so important that we must deny ourselves the professionalism and legitimacy of correct American and British punctuation? Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:41, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, again, would it be possible for you to move on from this flag-waving nationalism? I have already pointed out that my daily newspaper in Sydney does not properly comply with what you would refer to as non-US external punctuation (and it uses dates like this: October 31, 2003). Why are you obsessed with the notion of etching sharp lines between the post-colonial varieties? Tony (talk) 07:43, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Tony, I am not waving the American flag or the British flag or the Australian but the correctness and professionalism flag, and have been since day one. LQ cannot provide that for Wikipedia and British and American standards can. No, I don't intend to stop. Even if my above comment—or anything else—were to convince the rest of Wikipedia to prefer standard punctuation to LQ, I would still be saying that the author's original punctuation style should not be considered trivial.
In case you doubt me, please click [here] and note item #1. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:24, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
And I actually wouldn't refer to anything as "non-U.S. external punctuation." I call British "British" and American "American." I would hope that an Austrialian newspaper would use correct Australian punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:39, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Maybe I can't convince you, but one person is not consensus. Tony agreed with me before when he reverted your change, so there are at least two people here who believe that the FAQ answer should say "This system ..." rather than "Consensus is that this system ..." How does everyone else feel? Ozob (talk) 00:19, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
Keeping the word "consensus" in the text is the most direct answer to the question and directs newcomers to the concept of Wikipedia consensus. Otherwise, people educated in the American system will just think "Well, that's wrong" and keep going. This, at least, will get them to ask "What is a Wikipedia consensus?" or "What do you mean by 'consensus that it preserves text better'?" before going ahead and "correcting" the MoS. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:25, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
The objective truth here might or might not be what is being expressed by the current wording of the LQ answer, due to ambiguous possible readings of the word better. The alternative, subjective reading of the answer might induce an allergic reaction in readers. A stopgap measure is to explicitly label the answer as "consensus", but that will not actually enhance understanding of the answer, it will only encapsulate misunderstanding of the answer within a protective shell of awareness-that-others-think-the-statement-is-true (i.e., the reader who misunderstands the answer is also mistaken about what it is that others think is true). I fear that the current LQ answer will not save argument about LQ here, but only further entrench misunderstandings that exacerbate that argument. To accomplish the goal of the FAQ, a different LQ answer is needed; I've had no joy trying to draft one myself, not for want of trying, though I am coming to believe that an effective LQ answer might not even have to try to express the objective truth that the current answer isn't unambiguously expressing. --Pi zero (talk) 04:25, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Considering the dissatisfaction with the FAQ answer in its current state, how do you guys feel about something similar to what we have in the register? It would be longer, but perhaps that would help. "While this is a point of frequent and heated contention on the MoS, there is a current and long-standing consensus for what is called 'logical quotation' or 'datasafe quotes' over both standard American and British English punctuation. While this system more closely resembles British forms than American ones, it does have supporters in the U.S." Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:59, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

The FAQ is there to provide guidance about topics that have reached consensus. It is not necessary to state "Consensus is that...", as that is assumed. "...and directs newcomers to the concept of Wikipedia consensus"—it is not the duty of the MOS to educate editors as to WP concepts such as consensus.  HWV258.  05:41, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree that its purpose is to show editors which styles Wikipedia wants them to use. However, the type of editor who might need to look at the FAQ would probably also be the sort who could benefit from a closer look at the Wikipedia concept of consensus.
In this case, we have an added problem. The statement "Consensus is that this system preserves text better is true" but the statement "this system preserves text better" is false. LQ does not actually offer a material advantage over AQ or BQ under ordinary Wikipedia conditions. It's just more popular among Wikipedians than other systems are. We should find a way to explain why LQ is preferred without making any misleading statements. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:58, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that the current wording works either. Would someone please show me a case in which LQ prevents ambiguity when AQ or BQ would not? So far, no one's ever been able to. There have been a few examples in which someone chopped off the second half of a sentence, but in those cases it was always the wording that did the trick. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:49, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure that if we put our heads together, we can find something to say about LQ that is both observable and useful. In our discussions, most of LQ's supporters mention that they find LQ to be intuitive and appealing. We could say that. We could also come out and say what we've found above, "Under certain rare conditions, LQ conveys more information than BQ or AQ." Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:57, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
We seem to be struggling mightily to re-invent the wheel, here. Part of the MOS text on LQ, which has been hammered out by consensus — and should be very well-tempered by now, considering how much hammering has been involved — is a statement of motivation. That statement is not explicitly labeled "consensus" in the MOS because one doesn't label things in the MOS as consensus (everything in the MOS is there by consensus), but answers in the FAQ do not seem to have the same sort of presumption of consensus-hood about them: it is clear that opinions in such answers are those of consensus, but in some cases clarity may be well served by identifying certain statements as opinion (though the word "consensus", having been linked in the lede, need not be used in the answers). I recommend the following wording for the FAQ answer, as a full and faithful representation of the consensus motive:
Logical quotation is used by Wikipedia both because of the principle of minimal change, and because it is deemed less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing.
--Pi zero (talk) 17:10, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
"Deemed" will do. It renders the sentence true rather than false. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:36, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Regarding whether everything in the MoS is there by consensus, a lot of them have observable qualities as well. With the single vs. double quotation issue, we can switch browsers, hit CTRL-F and observe that the problem with single quotes is real. This information is not subject to anyone's preferences or interpretation and makes for a clear, direct FAQ answer. Issues such as LQ and the singular they don't have observable reasons in this way, so the FAQ question "Why is this here?" must acknowledge the role of those preferences and interpretation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:39, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Consensus and Wikipedia:Manual of Style

What is the relationship between Wikipedia:Consensus and Wikipedia:Manual of Style? -- Wavelength (talk) 21:15, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

The manual of style is a guideline for proper encyclopedic writing style. Consensus is a policy about how editorial decisions are supposed to be made. there should be consensus about the style of an article: the manual of style provides instructions that would generally be consented to, but the manual of style can be overlooked if there is consensus among editors that it needs to be. --Ludwigs2 21:48, 7 January 2010 (UTC)


Instruction creep, instruction creep, instruction creep. Blueboar (talk) 23:01, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
I interpret the question as meaning something more like "MOS has been created through a process of endless battles and re-re-re-re-explaining grammar, punctuation, and other fairly basic things to a never-ending series of people. Garden-variety implementations of consensus have required the few "experts" who are still willing to bother with this page to engage in exhausting, repetitive, and painful discussions, in the full knowledge that as soon as you explain the True™ history and correct use of the en-dash to the satisfaction of one batch of editors, another, equally ignorant group will appear and demand that Wikipedia not conform to dead-tree typographical conventions, or that they personally be authorized to misuse punctuation in ways that they sincerely, but incorrectly, remember their long-dead English lit teacher support. How can we make the pain stop, while upholding the Proper Standards for the One True™ Style?"
I don't know how to make the pain stop, but I believe that my question is much closer to the real issue. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:26, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Ludwigs2: please contact me if you need to know where the Shift button is on the keyboard. Tony (talk) 01:37, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
(e/c) tony - i confess that I have been ruined by microsoft word and am no longer able to type capital letters at the beginning of sentences (without great pain and effort). i've been considering suing bill gates, but in the meantime i'm afraid you will have to tolerate my unfortunate disability.
blueboar - that was meant as an explanation, not as a rule. sorry it came off the wrong way.
WhatamIdoing (capitals courtesy of cut and paste) - have you considered generous applications of alcohol to the problem?
--Ludwigs2 02:12, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
I hadn't considered it.  ;-)
I'm practically teetotal myself, but given that the pain is someone else's -- I long ago abandoned this page to its fate, and wouldn't be here now if not for the note at WT:Consensus -- the alcohol would have to be applied to someone else, so my own lack of interest in alcohol needn't stop the experiment, if one of the MOS regulars wants to attempt it. (Shall we require bringing an article about the health effects of alcohol to FA level as our informed consent procedure?) WhatamIdoing (talk) 05:37, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Blueboar:

Instruction creep, instruction creep, instruction creep.

O yeah? Well: "Platitudes, platitudes, platitudes." Don't throw a wet blanket over these sparks, if you can't see that a serious new discussion is kindling here. This is not about "instruction creep"; it's about finding bearings and procedures for MOS that will enable it to serve its purpose better. With those in place, we might be able to trim away some dead wood: some old instructions that have failed us.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 02:06, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Noetica, I certainly agree in general terms that it would be good to clarify what consensus is. I'm not so convinced that it's a good idea for the MOS to strike out boldly on its own on that clarification. I'm worried that your subtext may be precisely to insulate the MOS against situations where it thinks it has a consensus, but then it turns out that editors in general don't like it. I don't think the MOS should have insulation of that sort. --Trovatore (talk) 02:10, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
if you would like to clarify what consensus is (something I've been banging my head on for a good couple of years now) please feel free to discuss the matter over at wp:consensus. it aint a pretty conversation, though. --Ludwigs2 02:15, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
I am certainly not volunteering to provide a stunning insight of crystal clarity that settles the matter once and for all. Well, not until someone talks money, at least. Mostly I'm expressing my skepticism at Noetica's motivational-speaker rhetoric in the effort to craft a MOS-specialized notion of consensus. A few words on how the general notion of consensus applies specifically to MOS-type issues might indeed be useful — provided it does not exaggerate the importance or independence of the MOS and its process. --Trovatore (talk) 02:21, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Ludwigs2: I can well imagine that the conversation at WT:CONSENSUS gets ugly. Just now, I don't want to join that conversation. I really don't want to be here at WT:MOS, even; and I may not be able to stay much longer. We'll see how things go. But we don't need to know in the abstract what consensus is: we need practical criteria that we can work with. This is not a barren intellectual exercise, but a search for principles we can apply. The need for principles like that at Wikipedia is indisputable, and much effort has been put into establishing them. I simply identify a local need, for our MOS work, that is so far unmet.
Trovatore: Why do you not assume good faith? Why assume I have a "subtext"? I have given ample reasons for us to work on criteria for consensus here at MOS; why suspect that I am withholding anything? I am as ready as the next editor to reform established conventions, where reasonable analysis shows them to be flawed; but I, like the rest of the old hands here, also value stability. Again and again we hear cries of anguish from the good people at WP:FAC about capricious changes in MOS. I stand against those. Don't you?
What you call "Noetica's motivational-speaker rhetoric" I deploy when plain speaking falls on deaf ears and sullen hearts – brief plain speaking, long-winded plain speaking, strident or quiet plain-speaking. Again and again people here do not listen. Not surprising, since new messages are hard to discern, bobbing on an ocean of tired old disputations reiterated ad nauseam, for which the present action on principles and practical methods in fact promises relief.
Finally, Trovatore, there is no need to exaggerate the importance of MOS. It has powerful but unobtrusive influence throughout Wikipedia as a cynosure editors can appeal to when faced with incompetent or quirky editing, or when editors seek to resolve nagging doubts for themselves. It has made a dramatic difference to the quality of featured articles (thanks to editors like Tony). And the importance is broader still. MOS is referred to in blogs and forums across the web, as a source dealing boldly and often dazzlingly well with issues that are untouched (even unknown!) by other "authorities". Like it or not, that's how we are received by many. MOS, like Wikipedia itself, is unique on the web. Let's live up to it.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 05:44, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't really think I'm not assuming good faith. I think you're under-emphasizing a certain aspect of your argument, but not really concealing it. You probably think the MOS ought to be very important. I disagree; I don't think it should be that important. I'm especially less than enthused about someone like Tony having such influence over it, given that he clearly leans substantially to the left politically, and is not shy about taking stylistic positions based on that. I do admit that in cases where politics doesn't come into it, he does a pretty good job, though he could still do better about keeping his emotions out of the discussion. --Trovatore (talk) 08:19, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree that the MoS is sometimes taken too seriously, but I seriously fear you've opened a quite big can of worms by mentioning politics. BTW, I've just finished reading this, claiming, "The clearest fact about the spirit of the regulative rules the prescriptive ideologues advance is that they are genuinely linked to conservative ideology: the mistrust of ordinary people and the pessimism about what they would get up to if left to their own devices is palpable." That, rather than the other way round, is what would sound more plausible a priori to me, too. (Is anyone keeping a count of quotations of Pullum in this page?)
GD&R! ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 17:48, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't single out Tony on this one. In fact, I haven't seen anything in his remarks on the MoS that gives me any idea one way or the other about his political affiliations. And I wouldn't know about Pullum's findings, but I'm quite a believer in correct English— if 300,000 people make a mistake, it's still a mistake—but I'm about as politically liberal as they come. ...however if we take "conservative" away from its American context, which nearly equates it with "Republican," and look at it with its conservative vs. progressive meaning as in "allow change to happen" vs. "actively push change" then yes, I believe that the MoS should be conservative in that it should reflect what has already become correct as opposed to what people think might become correct in time. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:46, 8 January 2010 (UTC)Don't read politics into it.
If millions of literate native speakers have regularly made a particular "mistake" for centuries, on what grounds should it be considered a "mistake" in the first place? Or, how can one define "correct [INSERT ADJECTIVES SUCH AS "FORMAL" HERE] English" other than "the language which native English speakers normally use in [INSERT ADJECTIVES SUCH AS "FORMAL" HERE] contexts except for occasional, accidental mistakes which the speakers themselves would immediately recognize as such"? ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 16:39, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
You make three points here that were absent from my comment: "millions," "literate," and especially "centuries." The biggest factor that turns a mistake into the new standard is time. Usually, it's measured in generations rather than years. The people who uphold the previous standard retire or die. The next most important factor is who is making the mistake and how the general population perceives that mistake. If the professors and writers and publishers—the "literate" population—are the ones using the non-standard form, then the rest of the population may be willing to see them as leaders and follow suit. However, if the entire population continues to view the mistake as a mistake through the centuries and despite the number and skill level of those who use it, then it can potentially remain a mistake forever. For example, lots of Southerners use the word "ain't" in ways that standard English considers incorrect. It's been this way for about a century. However, none of those people believe that "he ain't" is correct in formal English, only that it's acceptable in ordinary Southern speech. If things continue this way, then it is likely that "he ain't" will never become standard. Returning to my comment, though, if 300,000 bloggers decide that they just don't like the English that their mean teachers taught them, then no, that doesn't cut it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:39, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Trovatore, announcing that I am left-wing is just as fanciful as branding non-sexist language as left-wing. Some things I will do when I accede to world leadership will horrify the left, I assure you. The idiot-right Bush administration (don't we love it) used non-sexist language in its press releases and other documents. Explain that, please. Tony (talk) 01:27, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
The language itself is not left-wing; the sociological theories that claim that the sex-neutral masculine pronouns are sexist, are left-wing.
Don't ask me to account for anything the Bush administration did. Just so you can aim your barbs better, I might as well tell you I'm not a conservative. I'm a libertarian. --Trovatore (talk) 01:30, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Oh no, we're having a politics discussion. This thread needs to end; therefore I summon Hitler. Ozob (talk) 01:40, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Seconded. I would only add that the idea that using "he" as if it meant "everyone" implied that everyone who counted was male was radical in the 1960's. It has become standard in the fifty years since. Frankly, I have no objection to using "one" as a third-person singular. It's rare in U.S. English, but it does what we need and wouldn't look out of place in British articles. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:21, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
MoS breach: hooter sounding with flashing red lights. 1960s. Hitler says (thus not left-wing). Tony (talk) 04:24, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

At 03:11, 8 January 2010 (UTC), I invited Jimbo Wales to examine this discussion and the preceding four discussions, but no one replied there and that section has been archived at User talk:Jimbo Wales/Archive 53, section 48. -- Wavelength (talk) 22:48, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Less than zero likelihood that His Majesty would stoop. Asking him to do so also reinforces that he's something special. Tony (talk) 07:28, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject EastEnders/Manual of style has been marked as part of the Manual of Style

Wikipedia:WikiProject EastEnders/Manual of style (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) has recently been edited to mark it as part of the Manual of Style. This is an automated notice of the change (more information). -- VeblenBot (talk) 02:00, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

I've removed the MoS status tag pending consensus at WikiProject MOS, and replaced the tag with a copyedit notice. Tony (talk) 04:28, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
You spoilsport you. -- Hoary (talk) 04:53, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
It's basically copied from the TV MoS but made relevant to the EastEnders WikiProject. Why would it need copyediting? AnemoneProjectors (talk) 12:47, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
You want me to do it? No. There are, apart from the prose glitches, several MoS breaches. Tony (talk) 22:14, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
I'd appreciate some help in fixing the breaches. I wasn't aware there were any because I based it on existing MOSes, although some small parts of it were written by someone else a long time ago when the WikiProject was created, but I can't see any breaches. But you've tagged it for "grammar, style, cohesion, tone or spelling" but there aren't any problems with those things. AnemoneProjectors (talk) 22:50, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
  • I'll be along there soon. Tony (talk) 03:35, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
I'd start with the broader TV MOS page; errors may have been inherited from there. For a "guideline" like this one, I would suggest stripping it as much as possible so that it says nothing that isn't already covered at broader guidelines. What remains should be very, very short and can be made a section of the TV guideline. If this stands as-is, it's a bad precedent for a new "manual of style" for every single TV series, movie franchise, novel trilogy, game series, etc., etc., etc. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 11:48, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style Register has been UNmarked as part of the Manual of Style

Wikipedia:Manual of Style Register (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) has recently been edited to mark it as part of the Manual of Style. This is an automated notice of the change (more information). -- VeblenBot (talk) 05:14, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

What's a Style Register? How can some page that appears to be 5% complete, whatever it is for, be part of the Manual of Style? And why does what little content there is appear to be regurgitation of the MoS? — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 12:35, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
It's a work in progress, SMC. The point of the register is to provide a record of previous and current consensuses. We're trying it to see if it helps. But you are absolutely right that it is not complete and we can always just put it back on project MoS once it is. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:59, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register has been marked as part of the Manual of Style

Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) has recently been edited to mark it as part of the Manual of Style. This is an automated notice of the change (more information). -- VeblenBot (talk) 02:00, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

FAQ answer to why the MoS permits the singular they

[Moved from Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/FAQ Ozob (talk) 04:29, 4 January 2010 (UTC)]

I don't feel that this one needs to be here because this issue has only come up once in the past several months—it is not literally a frequently asked question. However, if it is going to be here, I feel that we should change the explanation. Ozob's change description reads that the MoS does permit the singular they and this is true, however "because many writers throughout history have used it" isn't why the MoS permits/shouldn't permit it or anything. We should answer the question being asked. Yes, many writers have used the singular they, but it's about whether or not they were correct to use it. Many of the contributors to the singular they discussion on the MoS have pointed out grammatical rules that make the singular they acceptable in certain cases. We should either summarize these reasons here or Wikilink to an article covering those reasons. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:22, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

By "here" I am referring to the MoS FAQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:41, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm pretty much indifferent as to the reason given as long as it accurately reflects consensus. When I wrote that sentence it seemed to be an imperfect summary of opinion here, and like everything I put into the FAQ I expected it to need a lot of work before it became tolerable. I don't think it would be a good idea to remove the question entirely, but I'll go along with what others here think. Ozob (talk) 05:00, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
See, to me that seems to be the point of creating the FAQ: to provide the answers. We should either give the answer to "why," rephrase the question or remove the question. How do you feel about the place-holder text, "The singular they is grammatically correct when used to apply to words that do not have specific objects. (Examples: 'everyone' and 'someone') "? Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:42, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think it's grammatically correct myself, although I just caught myself using it on a talk page, but that's different from whether it's permissible to use it colloquially or as (in many cases) the best of alternatives or on Wikipedia. The usage may be perfectly acceptable, however, just as "It's me" is almost universal in non-pedantic English without being strictly grammatical. This is different from the "none is/none are" question, where (as a lazy non-expert) I've been persuaded that "none" is distinct from "no one" and may guiltlessly take a plural. —— Shakescene (talk) 15:51, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Strictly speaking, in modern English the "subjective", or "nominative", form of the personal pronoun is used when it is the subject of an explicit verb. For one reason or another, the issue has become muddied in the case of the first person singular, but would anyone, in answer to the question "Who is that at the door" reply "It's we." or "John called earlier. It must be he again."? Looking at a picture, would anyone say "That's I as a baby."? If nearly everybody's utterances do not agree with a purported rule of grammar, it is probably the rule that is wrong. --Boson (talk) 19:14, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Boson, that sounds like it would be a great contribution to the discussion about the singular they that's going on under "gender-neutral language." However, I feel that we should keep this section dedicated to what the FAQ should say about why the singular they is permitted on Wikipedia. How about "The singular they is common in ordinary speech and has a long history. Many Wikipedians believe that it is not too informal for an encyclopedia"? That's the biggest real reason, anyway. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:01, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
And should that discussion result in a consensus that the singular they is too informal for Wikipedia, the answer would of course be changed or removed. I don't want anything going on down here to imply that what's happening up there isn't the real determinant. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:16, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
There is very clearly no consensus that singular they is not too informal for Wikipedia, and the FAQ should not say there is such a consensus. --Trovatore (talk) 21:48, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Ah, sorry, I hadn't noticed that this section was for the FAQ. I see that the section title has now been changed appropriately. The general point raised by Shakescene and taken up by me, namely the issue of strict grammaticality, should perhaps be discussed in relation to the FAQ (though, perhaps, not here). In other words, it might be appropriate to mention the basis of recommendations related to grammar rather than convention. That would also apply to "singular they". --Boson (talk) 07:23, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
Above: The usage may be perfectly acceptable, however, just as "It's me" is almost universal in non-pedantic English without being strictly grammatical. When I see this kind of assertion, apparently made in all seriousness, I wonder what the writer means by the word "grammatical". It hardly seems related to work of any value in grammar since Jespersen (if not earlier). May I humbly recommend acquisition of a real grammar book, and consignment to the waste bin of compendia of received ideas on "style"? -- Hoary (talk) 07:50, 5 January 2010 (UTC) ¶ I fear that I may have depended too much on Huddleston and Pullum: new and perhaps newfangled. So how about Henry Sweet? At the start of his New English Grammar (1891), Sweet observes that the rules of grammar have no value except as statements of facts: whatever is in general use in a language is for that very reason grammatically correct. -- Hoary (talk) 10:08, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't like the way this FAQ is going. It is inappropriate that it be available in its sandbox form at the top of this page. Tony (talk) 22:15, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
    What would you prefer? Ozob (talk) 23:51, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
With the singular they, I would prefer that the question and answer be removed until the current discussion on that matter runs its course. We can certainly talk about what might be best to say in either eventuality in the meantime, though. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:00, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
How many more months can this "discussion" be dragged out, do you suppose? -- Hoary (talk) 07:50, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
You're free to leave at any time, Hoary. Otherwise you might take note of the fact that the issue is not resolved, and your protestations of disbelief at one side do not constitute an argument. We'll discuss it for as long as it takes. --Trovatore (talk) 09:00, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm awestruck by your stamina, Trovatore. -- Hoary (talk) 10:08, 5 January 2010 (UTC)
These discussions usually take days or weeks Hoary. And Trovatore has a point. If you don't feel like participating in that discussion, you certainly don't have to. I said my piece in there days ago and now I'm letting the others say theirs. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:51, 5 January 2010 (UTC)

Right now, AFAICT the MOS never mentions the singular they. This is quite right as there appears to be no consensus either for or against it. (Of course, it should be removed from the FAQ, too.) Also, it is evil to encourage one-size-fits-all solutions so to avoid the need to actually read a sentence in its context and decide which way it actually sounds better and is easier to understand. BTW, the reasons given to avoid , , , and would also apply to , , and . And the number of times Geoffrey K. Pullum is named in this page is now likely greater than the total number of times Richard Feynman was named on the FACs for Quark. :-) ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 02:42, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

...are we alright on removing the question and answer until the matter is settled? If no one responds in twenty-four hours, I'll assume so and remove it. If it stays up, though, that line about great English-language writers should be replaced with something that actually answers the question. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:14, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
please do remove it from the FAQ. and since the FAQ is still in rough-draft form i feel it's premature to "announce" it at the top of this page as if it were a polished, authoritative document. can we please move the "announcement"/link from the top of the page for now, until there's been further discussion of the wording and contents of the FAQ? thanks Sssoul (talk) 08:34, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Removed. We can put it back up once the matter runs its course. Any thoughts on what it should say in the meantime? Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:06, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
When "the matter runs its course", I think it will be recognized that there is no consensus that singular they is appropriate to WP. There may not be a consensus that it's inappropriate either (in fact I think that's the most likely outcome, no consensus either way). So probably the best thing is just to leave it out permanently. --Trovatore (talk) 05:31, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
That does seem the most likely outcome. While I don't feel that the singular they sounds formal enough for an encyclopedia, the others have made some good points. At least radio silence on the issue would prevent any witch hunts. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:06, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

The discussion on the singular they seems to be over. It doesn't seem as though there is a single, clear reason that we could put in the FAQ. I suggest that we leave this issue out of the FAQ until that changes. Thoughts? Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:33, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

I don't think we should tell people that there is a single, clear reason if that isn't the real rationale. I suggest that the FAQ include a link to the debate(s) (after that debate goes to an archive, if it hasn't already). It would also be helpful to provide a summary of the debate, if we can agree on a summary without provoking a bigger debate. Although admitting that we don't have a monolithic opinion might encourage the peasants to revolt, showing them long debates will prove that anything else they have to say is unlikely to produce any immediate results. Description, not prescription. Art LaPella (talk) 20:12, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that would help. The debates are long and annoying and I don't think the newbs will bother to read them. Furthermore, we shouldn't use the FAQ to manipulate people into thinking that they're not allowed to speak their minds or voice their own opinions. The purpose of the FAQ is to inform and help people, not to get them to shut up.
Secondly, the MoS itself does not say anything one way or the other about the singular they. It's on WP:Gender-neutral language. It would be more appropriate to put any FAQ answer there. As to what that answer is, "We've had lots of talks about it and come to no true conclusion one way or the other" seems to be all that we have to say. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:54, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
OK, then say that. "The purpose of the FAQ is to inform and help" to me is a reason to give them the link, and let them decide for themselves if the debates are too long and annoying to read. Art LaPella (talk) 21:09, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
A link to WP: gender-neutral language? I have zero objection to that. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:14, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't object either, although I meant a link to previous discussion. In general, however much information someone might want, without making them read it all to find out what is available. Art LaPella (talk) 05:02, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Oh. Well while I don't think that would mislead anyone about the state of consensus on this issue, that discussion is basically a disorganized screed. And why this discussion rather than past ones? An endorsement of it might do more harm than good. People can always use the search feature if they want to know what discussions we've had in the past. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:29, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes it's disorganized, but it's the only direct record of the consensus or lack thereof. As I said, both a link AND a summary would be better, but that would be a much bigger project. I didn't mean this discussion rather than past ones; a list of links would be the natural result of my philosophy. Yes, they could use the search feature, but if they did that they wouldn't need FAQ's, and one would think an FAQ could organize the material better than a search. A search for singular "they", for instance, gives several relevant-looking hits followed by several hits that include "singular" but not "they". Art LaPella (talk) 20:06, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Excellent point. I realize we're supposed to be talking about the FAQ, but how does this sit with you? Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:35, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
I love it! At least until Noetica pointed out we already have Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory, so I hope that previous work will either be updated or merged with the present effort. It was "sparsely linked to". That sounds easy to fix. Whenever someone re-raises a dead horse issue, someone like me should link them to the appropriate FAQ, Archive Directory or whatever is handy. Actually, while I've been here, I haven't seen any really silly-looking discussions, with the exception of one which I choose not to name, except to say that an FAQ wouldn't help. Art LaPella (talk) 23:42, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
And remember to update the link to a section on this page; any link to this page will go dead when it's archived. Art LaPella (talk) 23:50, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
I plan to watch for the link but thanks anyway. Fingers crossed that this thing helps, but we must remember that just because someone reads the archive or register doesn't mean that they don't still have a right to their say on this page. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:18, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Right, but if they say the same thing that was said 20 times before, I would expect them to have some kind of response to the 20 answers. Art LaPella (talk) 04:27, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
[←]Art, it was Wavelength who referred us to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory, not me. I proposed the new initiative, and Wavelength immediately took up the baton, making Wikipedia:Manual of Style Register.
Please people: join the discussion and development at this subsection, above. There is a lot of detail to settle, and many variants are possible. Development of this very worthwhile FAQ can continue also, of course. These concrete initiatives are complementary, and promise real solutions. They can eventually have a series of links between them.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 00:16, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

This might be interesting. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 13:55, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

The idea that language wouldn't be studied the same way biology or physics is studied makes sense. Language is at least in part an invention and the physical world is not. In many ways it's more like an art form. While I don't agree with the author's main point that this study constitutes a "prescriptivist science" (the scientists are observing and analyzing, not prescribing or proscribing), this article on the cognitive effects of the singular they is interesting. The first study suggests that people think of the singular they differently (and read it faster, which is interpreted as being less jarring) when it applies to "everyone"-type nouns than when it's applied to nouns whose gender is known, but the second study shows that they still read it slower than a pronoun that is both gender- and plural-matched to the noun. This seems to match up with some of the grammatical points that were raised above.
Still, our concern should be whether or not the singular they is correct and formal enough for Wikipedia, and this article doesn't give us anything on that. It deals with how people react, not with what's correct and appears to make no note on formality. Interesting, though. Thanks for showing it to us. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:15, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
I meant the empirical results might be interesting. (The surrounding discussion happens to be interesting to me, but I do not expect it to be interesting for everybody here.) Anyway, formality isn't the only criterion in deciding which form to use; clarity is at least as important, and the time the reader takes to read and understand a sentence sounds like a reasonable "operative definition" of that. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 19:04, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
It certainly is interesting. And clarity is important. However, I would consider all of the gender-neutral suggestions except the ones for made-up pronouns ("shim"/"svie"/etc) would be sufficiently clear to communicate the intended meaning. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:53, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Defining consensus

The following question is from Noetica's contribution at 09:16, 31 December 2009, under the subheading "Proposal to defer discussion of dashes".

  • How are we to define consensus, for the crucial work that MOS performs within the Project?

-- Wavelength (talk) 18:34, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

The way the policy WP:Consensus says. Maybe that's not ideal, but if so, it should be discussed there; having each sector of Wikipedia able to define its own definition of "consensus" is going to be too confusing. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 19:38, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, the method we use to achieve consensus here should reflect general policy. Wikipedia:Consensus doesn't formally define consensus as a single short phrase, but the overall definition is pretty clear in Wikipedia:Consensus #What consensus is. Eubulides (talk) 21:56, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks Wavelength, for giving these pressing questions greater prominence.
A di M and Eubulides, I will focus on your responses, not on you personally. Those pusillanimous, reflexive, and impulsive responses are exactly what we don't need. Issues are sometimes raised here that tower above the samsaric wasteland of ordinary MOS wrangles – the ceaseless churn of old and unresolved disputations. When that happens, passing the buck to some other forum cuts short moves that are valuable, bold, and reformative. Those responses of yours ignore salient facts, some of which Wavelength and I have already plainly set out for you:
  • WP:Consensus does not define consensus tout court, let alone consensus for our specialised work at MOS.
  • Our work is indeed unique within the Project, and its special requirements call for sustained discussion.
  • The lack of a working, operational definition of consensus for these MOS pages entrains chaos, and ruinous waste of talent, time, and energy.
Now, I agree that ultimately such issues concerning MOS should be taken up elsewhere. (I have often said that, though no one listened.) But we are the ones at the core of this work, and we must develop thoughts here first. If the policy enthusiasts at WT:Consensus have lacked the vision to take this on, we must, here – at least in a preliminary and pioneering way. Who will, if not us?
Sure, dabble in dashes and apostrophes now, if you like. No matter how well you work such detail (or think you do, in a way uninformed by MOS precedent, unique WP needs, or sound surveys of printed guides), your work will be eroded by incompetence and inattention later – unless a number of us raise our heads to contemplate the big picture. And act on what we see.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:30, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Remember someone like me, (presumably) still trapped in Plato's Cave, thinks I'm the one acting on what I see. Art LaPella (talk) 23:09, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
There are areas of Wikipedia which are even more critical than the MoS for the encyclopaedia (think about WT:OR, for example); but I still don't think that the definition of consensus should explicitly differentiate between venues. (Sure, discussions affecting 100,000 articles need more attention than ones affecting 5, but that's true regardless of where they are conducted.) ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 15:38, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree with A di M that this page, like all others, is governed by WP:Consensus. This gives quite a bit of flexibility to establish different forms of discussion, but discussions concerning the MOS should follow the standard protocols. This is critical if MOS is to continue to invite wide discussion from all members of the community, both experienced and unexperienced in discussions on this page. Christopher Parham (talk) 23:12, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree generally with that also, CP. But where standard protocols and definitions are deficient, they need supplementing. (See how things are adapted for local needs at WP:RFA, WP:RFC, WP:FAC, for prominent examples.) I certainly would not advocate reforms that put editors off contributing to discussions here. But look at the present situation! Hardly inviting. Many good and wise editors refuse to dip a toe in WT:MOS's turbid waters at all; some that do will have a quick say, and then withdraw totally daunted.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:23, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
I have to agree with A d M. The WP: Consensus talk page seems to be a better place to discuss this matter than the MoS talk page. (Which certainly doesn't mean that we can't go over there and have about the same discussion ourselves.) If anything, our purview is to discuss the way in which the consensus described at WP:Consensus affects the MoS particularly. For example, the MoS is a policy and guideline page, so the higher standard would apply. However, it is correct that this page does not define consensus, and if that presents a problem for us, then we're within our rights to make that known. The WP: Consensus talk page seems to be the best place to do that.
That being said, I read—in WP:Vote, I think—that consensus is not formed by voting but rather by the preponderance of logical arguments on one side or the other. I like this idea very much, but I have noticed that it does not usually happen in practice. Namely, when one side has logic but not numbers, there's no way to enforce things. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:31, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Scratching hard for something to agree with in what you say, Darkfrog, I find this: "... consensus is not formed by voting but rather by the preponderance of logical arguments on one side or the other. I like this idea very much, but I have noticed that it does not usually happen in practice." Consider the inept non-consensual responses to all the hard argument, evidence, and shrewd compromising I brought to our discussions of possessives (see here and several other places in Archive 108). The result is a confusing kludge of a guideline for possessives, that effectively fails to guide, and reflects little of the broad sway of opinion in respected printed guides or in sound editorial practice. A blight on MOS!
Therefore, new thinking is needed. Therefore, banging the usual old gongs with the usual links enshrining the usual incomplete policies and guidelines is simply not good enough.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:47, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
The MOS has a serious repetitive argument problem, and I think the FAQ will help. But I don't see how redefining a consensus will help. What did you have in mind? Experts only, as in Citizendium? I can't imagine the rest of Wikipedia agreeing to an exception for the MOS only. Another "motherhood" resolution like WP:BATTLEGROUND? Wikipedia is awash in such platitudes, and bad guys routinely argue that those who oppose their megalomania are turning Wikipedia into a battleground. More likely, such a statement would simply add to our archive. Art LaPella (talk) 03:15, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
What did who have in mind, Art? I for one am not after "motherhood" statements. I wrote (in this very section): "The lack of a working, operational definition of consensus for these MOS pages entrains chaos, and ruinous waste of talent, time, and energy." By operational definition I mean something concrete, practical, and applied, not fluffy abstract sentiment. We need explicit criteria for consensus here at MOS. We all agree, don't we, that discussion here is usually not settled, usually ill-conducted, and often vituperative. Above all, it is repetitive, since we do not learn from our own history. The goal of discussion here is to achieve stable resolutions that reflect consensus, so that MOS can serve the Community more effectively. We cannot do this while what we mean by the word consensus is unclear. WP:CONSENSUS gives limited guidance. We should follow it, since it is policy. But we need to fill out details that will work for MOS: an important corner of the Project that differs from any other corner. What we have now doesn't work, so we should look at fixing it. Reflex appeals to less focused deliberations in other corners of Wikipedia are themselves platitudinous.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 00:17, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Now there's something we should keep in mind. You see, what we have now does work. It can be inefficient and annoying, but it has actually allowed for the creation of a pretty good and beautifully organized MoS. I see absolutely no harm in tossing some ideas around and seeing if we can come up with a better way of doing things, but we should not assume that anything we come up with will automatically be better than what we've got. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:06, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes it works, while remembering that the MoS is notorious for silly-sounding arguments, as Noetica just emphasized. "What did who have in mind"? I meant Noetica, who I believe is the only one urging a redefinition of consensus as a solution; my statement was that FAQs would help, but redefining consensus in any conceivable way wouldn't help. Noetica quotes himself or herself (sie-self? they? ...) as emphasizing the need for "a working, operational definition of consensus", which I realized; but he or she didn't suggest such a definition, and I can't think of a helpful redefinition. I suggested some possibilities, and described why I think they would be unhelpful. So I can't imagine what else I could contribute to this section. Art LaPella (talk) 03:01, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog: Of course what we have works, in a limited generically determined way. Is that a reason to settle for something short of the highest quality? No one knows MOS better than those of us who mop up messes others have left in it, gritting our teeth over the shortcomings in its contents. We have a better idea what needs fixing, and how, than any drive-by nay-sayers. Of course we can't just assume that a change in our methods will bring improvement! What such changes might be, and their competing merits, are exactly the topic here. I have made a similar point about changes of content. There, the interested parties currently assembled can't know what's better if they haven't learned the history.
Art: First, I am not asking for a redefinition, but a definition of consensus. Wikipedia doesn't have one, as we have seen – let alone one fitted with criteria and adapted for MOS development. (I shouldn't have to repeat this! Please pay attention.) Second, Wavelength also appears to be pushing to examine these issues, and others are joining in. Attempting to marginalise me as a lone voice is not productive. Even if I were that, my voice might still be judged worth listening to. No one here knows MOS, and major and minor printed guides, better than I do. (I point this out with confidence, as demonstrably true and highly relevant to the action we are engaged in right now.) Third, anything of substance that you have contributed in this section will be duly noted; if you truly feel you have nothing more to say, then say nothing rather than resort to negativity. There is enough entrenched negativity here without your adding to it.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 05:10, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
OK. Responding to the above probably wouldn't be helpful anyway. Art LaPella (talk) 05:51, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Can someone set out here, briefly, how the proposed consensus process would differ from consensus elsewhere on WP? Tony (talk) 22:45, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes Tony, I can explain for you.
Q: How would the proposed consensus process differ from consensus elsewhere on WP?
A: In these four ways:
1. Consensus for our MOS work would be defined.
Consensus on Wikipedia generally is not fully defined, as discussion at WP:Consensus demonstrates.
2. The criteria for consensus would be fitted to the needs of MOS.
MOS calls for greater care in its construction and maintenance than particular articles. After all, the purpose of MOS is to support three million articles on English Wikipedia – their integrity, quality, and stability.
3. Consensus for MOS work would be like consensus elsewhere on Wikipedia, but operationalised and made practical by those who do and understand that MOS work – subject to community review, as with all moves of this sort.
What incomplete guidelines we have for consensus do not consider this important role that MOS plays. Therefore we editors who serve the Project by developing and maintaining MOS are entitled to make good the deficiency. We are entitled to be bold in this initiative; that's how Wikipedia works. Other areas of Wikipedia that serve special functions have their own tailored protocols, including a local appreciation of what will count as a consensus. It's about time we achieved that, too.
4. Consensus for MOS work would have other features that are so far unknown, until we do that big-picture development work.
The task still lies ahead of us. See other other sections devoted to this work.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 09:53, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
3 gives me cause for concern. Minimalizing the contributions of newcomers would be counter to Wikipedia's spirit and interests. A big part in the decline in the number of Wikipedia editors is the difficulty of dealing with the bureaucracy. We should be trying to find a way that values expertise over good-natured amateurism without preventing good-natured amateurs from coming in and becoming experts. #4 I support wholeheartedly, though. It's good to know that we don't know all of what we're getting into—and that we don't need to. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:45, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
"After all, the purpose of MOS is to support three million articles on English Wikipedia – their integrity, quality, and stability." But that also applies to WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, WP:V, yadda yadda yadda. The reasons why the MOS should use a different standard for consensus than all other guidelines are still beyond me. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 16:16, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog: [Please use the review feature before posting. I have boldly removed the "#" at the start of your post. It was parsed as the start of a numeric listing.] I don't see any reason for concern about my point 3, which is not about minimising the contributions of newcomers in any way. It is limited, remember, to finding a practical working definition to make development of MOS manageable. A clearly stated consensus about consensus must welcome newcomers, rather than repel them. How many editors take one look at this notorious talkpage as it is, with its Byzantine backlog of poorly conducted disputations, and scurry away in fright? Think about it!
A di M: You mention WP:NOR, WP:NPOV, WP:V, but each of those concerns only one isolated feature of policy. You don't see a proliferation of guides to NPOV in print or on the web, do you? For good reason. The evolving body of guidelines in MOS is far more complex than any one of those policies. Its many recommendations apply to the text, markup, and styling detail of three million articles. Its hundreds of distinct provisions are under scrutiny and challenge in a way that can have consequences well beyond what is easily foreseen. The whole MOS process is more like choosing admins, or featured articles. These are weighty and complex matters: we live ever after with the admins we select, and featured articles are what we present to the world as our best work. Therefore, selection of admins and selection of featured articles involve special, customised procedures. Everyone accepts this fact; and no one is excluded by those procedures. Our work, affecting three million articles in detail, is important too. It warrants specially adapted procedures, as argued in detail in this section and others. A di M, you write: "The reasons why the MOS should use a different standard for consensus than all other guidelines are still beyond me." As Bertrand Russell replied to someone making such an objection to him, that inability isn't my responsibility! With respect: if the reasons I set out are beyond you, read again (more studiously), think again (more reflectively), and consider my detailed responses (more attentively). I look forward to us moving beyond flat incomprehension and getting down to concrete progress.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 18:43, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't know how many editors look at this talk page and run off. Frankly, I don't see how anyone would know that. This talk page doesn't look much different from other talk pages to me. And minimalizing the effects of newcomers might not be the purpose of these changes, but it does seem to be a likely side effect and we should watch out for it.
I agree that the MoS is different from WP:NOR et al and that it is acceptable that the process for improving it be different. Those policies are more "what to do" and the MoS is more "how to do it." Also WP:NOR and company are 1. much easier to understand and 2. much more essential to Wikipedia's mission. The MoS is here to facilitate and serve those other policies. With regard to defining consensus, I would absolutely not do anything that conflicts with WP:Consensus or that gives the MoS special status that does not reflect its role but that role is not the same as the role of WP:V, WP:NPOV, etc. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:47, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, thank you for seeing my point about the special role of MOS, which is however not merely to serve NPOV and other policies, but to provide specific style guidance, potentially for three million articles. No one is proposing that MOS procedures should transgress policy such as WP:Consensus. WP:FAC and WP:RFC don't do that, with their local procedures and elaborations of policy. We too would simply fill in the details, suitably for our specialised work. For the tenth time, WP:Consensus does not even define consensus. But we must, if we are to rise to the challenges that face MOS. As for newcomers, you assert but do not show that they are at risk of feeling unwelcome, simply by our getting clear about what counts as a MOS consensus. A vague fear to harbour, surely! I can assure you, from the evidence in ArbCom actions, from private conversations with editors who stay away from here, and from the reputation this forum has on other WP forums, that many are appalled by its complexity, sprawl, and unending wrangling. Carefully planned remedies can hardly make that situation worse.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 20:30, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
And WP:NOR etc. decide what to include in articles in the first place, so they are arguably even more fundamental than WP:MOS. Compared with that, issues such as whether to space or not an en dash are utterly trivial. Surely, when whatever guideline was changed so that now we don't allow articles for most individual Pokémon species, far more readers noticed that than they would if we subtly changed the wording about some obscure point of style in a way unlikely to affect more than ten articles or so. (And responding to your Russell quote, many other people, such as Richard Feynman/Albert Einstein/Ernest Rutherford/someone else I don't remember, said that if you cannot explain something to a freshman/your grandmother/a bartender/a four-year-old child (respectively), then you haven't understood it yourself.) ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 20:26, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
A di M: who denies that those distinct and really rather simple policies are more fundamental? I don't! But I have already explained (and you have not grasped) how MOS differs from those policies, yet has its own crucial role, and manifestly needs to come to terms with procedural matters of its own. Like defining what will count as consensus, in an arena where dozens of matters are perpetually and concurrently contested. I agree with you that, compared with the need for neutral point of view, spacing of en dashes appears trivial. But magnified by 3,000,000 it is not trivial; and when we consider all of the small details (and some large) that MOS covers, you can multiply by another couple of hundred. Even if some small component of MOS were found to be genuinely and utterly trivial, that has little bearing on the importance of MOS as a whole; see Fallacy of composition. As for your response to my point about Russell: I can easily explain to a child or a bartender why we need to define our terms, and why an obviously broken system needs to be fixed. I just can't get it through to people with complex commitments and agendas of their own. Do you truly think that I don't understand the issues on which I typically expatiate at this talkpage, with point after detailed point, and argument after articulated argument, and backup from a wealth of sources? Show me evidence that I do not understand, and I promise I will learn from it.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 21:02, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
But it isn't the only "arena where dozens of matters are perpetually and concurrently contested". Only two of the items at WP:PEREN have to do with the MOS or subpages thereof. Not that I think that the current content of WP:CONSENSUS is perfect and should be carved in stone, but if we want to think about having (e.g.) a more explicit definition, thinking about one which would apply everywhere on Wikipedia (but possibly acknowledging the fact that something affecting 10,000 articles needs more consideration than something affecting 10, and other such subtleties) would be more useful. But having another unique formal process to propose changes to the MoS like the one we have now for nominating admins would be contrary to the spirit of WP:NOT BURO, I think. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 22:06, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog24 said, at 19:47, 9 January 2010 (UTC): "I wouldn't know how many editors look at this talk page and run off." This page has 1152 watchers. At this moment, this page has been viewed 1503 times in January 2010. You can edit the year and month in the address bar to see the data for previous months. -- Wavelength (talk) 21:32, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Cool. Is there any way to see how many people decide not to participate? Is there a way to compare this page's "looked but didn't touch" rate to that of other pages? Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:35, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
This page lists "Most viewed articles in 200808" (1000 pages) with "Page views" beside each entry. Besides that, for any page of your choice, you can click on "history" and then click on "Page view statistics" to see a chart of page views for the current month. -- Wavelength (talk) 17:39, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
If you click on "history" and then click on "Revision history statistics", you can see this resource, which lists 2005 editors who have ever edited this discussion page. -- Wavelength (talk) 00:38, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
This discussion page is linked to from the following external pages.
-- Wavelength (talk) 23:17, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
See this post about the nature of this discussion page. -- Wavelength (talk) 23:24, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
NIEL GAIMAN LOOKED AT US!! Holy crud! Thanks for posting these, Wavelength. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:47, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog24 said, at 15:45, 9 January 2010 (UTC): "3 gives me cause for concern. Minimalizing the contributions of newcomers would be counter to Wikipedia's spirit and interests. A big part in the decline in the number of Wikipedia editors is the difficulty of dealing with the bureaucracy." Noetica's third point does not involve minimalizing the contributions of newcomers. A clear definition of consensus and a simplified process would invite newcomers. The point is about increasing stability and usability and decreasing the waste of talent, time, and energy. -- Wavelength (talk) 01:09, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Simpler? Yes, a simpler system would be better for newcomers. However, I have been figuring that any system that we come up with would necessarily be more complicated than our current method. Mucking about until everything winds down might not be the best way to do things, but it's hard to get simpler than that. I'd be delighted to hear what you have in mind. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:51, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
According to Wiktionary, muck about means "To do random unplanned work or spend time idly". You give the impression that you have never known the joy of self-discipline. To such a person, I would not want to be either an employer or a customer, which are essentially the same thing. In our situation here, we are volunteer colleagues.
I understand that public schools provide to many people their first experiences of academic study. Students are told who teaches whom and with whom, who learns from whom, what is taught and learned, when and where, how, and even why. The system has many flaws, and many students graduate from high school (or leave before high school graduation) with a sense of "Good riddance!" and a stereotypical negative view of study. The tendency is toward aliteracy and away from autodidactism. Everyone should be involved in lifelong learning.
Wikipedia is open to contributions from almost everyone, including people who are lacking in expertise. One hopes (or, at least, I hope) that non-experts would be motivated to gain expertise in one or more areas from people who have more expertise. Unfortunately, a lack of expertise is often found together with a lack of motivation to learn.
Organization does not need to be difficult, just as marching in formation does not need to be more tiring than walking. (Marching in lockstep can cause a bridge to collapse, and sometimes marchers are advised to break step when crossing bridges, but I do not know of an analog in discussions about consensus.)
You said that you would be "delighted to hear what [I] have in mind", but I am waiting with Noetica as we "continue discussion in these four sections before progressing differently." I am hoping to explain some details in a new section, but maybe Noetica is waiting for more expressions of interest (support?) before that happens, and maybe you are waiting for more details before expressing (more?) interest. There might be a dilemma of priorities here.
-- Wavelength (talk) 20:57, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Quite the contrary, Wavelength. It is because I have known more disciplined systems that I am able to tell the difference. Usually, creating such a system does involve something more complicated than random, unplanned work such as we do here—not that it is always so very much so. And let's not characterize public schools as slackhouses. I went to an excellent one.
Noetica, if you are waiting for more expressions of interest, then here you are: two people waiting to hear it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:06, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Re. the people who just muck around, they appear to be the ones which do most of the actual work. See http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/whowriteswikipedia. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 13:40, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Fascinating. Do you know when this was written? Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:42, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
It is dated September 4, 2006 (immediately above the comments). Things might have somewhat changed meanwhile, but I don't think it's likely that the situation changed radically. I'll dig into Category:Wikipedia statistics when I have time to see whether there are more recent data about that. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 15:52, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
This section is already long. Please see #Proposed consensus process. -- Wavelength (talk) 00:51, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Wavelength, you know I have the greatest respect for your initiatives on this page. But I cannot think that directing attention away from this section (devoted to one of four related questions) is a sound move. The intent of the new section was unclear, and I thought it would fragment discussion, so I deleted it. You are entitled restore it, of course; but I advise against doing so at this stage. I hope we can continue discussion in these four sections for a little longer before progressing differently.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 10:06, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Noetica, I understand your thinking and I respect what you did, but sometimes these long discussions become complicated when I wish to post a belated comment in response to a comment farther up in the discussion, and I need to decide what is the best place in the discussion in which to add my comment. Another alternative (for either of us) would have been the adding of a subheading immediately above Tony's question. -- Wavelength (talk) 01:18, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Wavelength, I propose that for now we stick with these four sections for four questions, without subsections. I understand your suggestion, but I think we should keep the structure as loose and open as it is, just for a little longer. Let's see what further generalities and inevitable doubts are voiced; then we can make a more practical push in a new thread, having harvested what substance we can from these four.
Darkfrog, you may well be waiting for something concrete to happen. I wonder, though, how open and constructive your response will be when that happens. Don't expect me or Wavelength to deliver a fully formed programme with which to continue, for others to tear away at. We have solicited urgently needed new ideas, not promised them. It is true: if there is enough interest and good will, I might come forward with proposed definitions, and sketch possible procedures for working with consensus. Better if the next moves were not mine though, don't you think? Similarly, the ever-resourceful Wavelength might prefer to see others take the initiative, too. The FAQ has been a worthwhile idea; let's hope for more like that.
Another consideration affecting my involvement: I will soon be genuinely less able to continue here at MOS, or even at Wikipedia. I have other things to attend to in life (as we are are pleased to call it), and in about a week these will take over most of my time.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 03:21, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Usually, not all the time, but usually, when someone raises an issue or points out a problem, it is because he or she has an idea of how it ought to be solved. Is this the case with you or do you just want to brainstorm a bit?
I can appreciate how you might not want to look like you're bossing people around by jumping in with a big ready-made plan, but as far as reactions go, I'm pretty sure that the MoS crowd has done what it's going to do with what it's been shown already.
Congratulations on what I hope is a good real life development. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:53, 11 January 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog: I have wanted brainstorming, but I also could come up with something more concrete of my own, if there where enough interest. In fact, I now think I will not do so. The FAQ discussion at least promises to be fruitful, and will engender more thoughts about a working definition, with criteria – the twig we need to graft onto the WP:Consensus rootstock. Let's not ignore WP:PG either; it too gives us bearings by which to find a particular path. And these present four inchoate discussions, of four questions that I posed earlier, might also quietly prime awareness toward future action.
Now, you say: "I'm pretty sure that the MoS crowd has done what it's going to do with what it's been shown already." Such a leaden, inertial observation is all too typical, Darkfrog. Your show of a lack of positive interest is not so much a commentary on trends on this talkpage as constitutive of them.
Finally, I reveal very little about myself beyond what is needed here at MOS, to explain absences or to back up initiatives that I take here. While your last remark is well-meant, it is awkward for me and does not touch accurately on anything real for me.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 00:39, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
I do not mean to make you feel uncomfortable, Noetica. That is why I did not ask you what your RL developments were and merely expressed my hopes that things are going well for you. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:17, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

After taking a break from this page I just now reread the last week's worth of comments in this thread, along with the other threads devoted to consensus-related issues. The bottom line seems to be that although there is some dissatisfaction with the lack of definition of consensus, specific changes to this situation have not been proposed and are unlikely to be proposed soon. Eubulides (talk) 02:00, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Ah, such a crisp and well-pointed irony must not go unremarked. You take a break from this page, and then come back to observe that nothing specific has been proposed? So, um ... clearly you haven't contributed a lot of effort, have you?
Look, some of us do get down to nitty-gritty specific reforms; some never do, and some of these latter have little to say beyond "it'll never fly". Shakespeare's oversimplification may be apt in this case: thinking makes it so. Why are MOS people so pervasively reactive, and unwilling to contemplate or develop procedures for their special endeavour within the Project? An interesting socio-psychological question (to me, anyway).
Eubulides, reflect on how euboulia cannot flourish if it is strangled by the weeds of aboulia.
Meanwhile, you forget the FAQ initiative. Don't, please.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 02:48, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
I was looking at the FAQ as something separate from the consensus thing. But no, no one has given voice to any serious specific ideas so far. The one that I mentioned is, I feel, too limited in scope for practical use at this time. And what I mean by "the crowd has done what it's going to do," Noetica, is that if you do have an idea and you're just waiting for everyone to jump and cheer and beg you to tell them what it is, please stop waiting because it's probably not going to happen. But people have shown that they're willing to hear you out and view what you say seriously. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:08, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

Defining consensus: the next stage

Discussion in three sections on consensus (#Achieving consensus and #Lapses in consensus; and the present section, #Defining consensus) has advanced less than discussion in #Recording consensus. This is understandable, since recording deliberations and decisions is a practical matter, where something can be done even without the nature of MOS consensus being defined or stipulated.

I now propose that we concentrate effort on the two initiatives to record consensus:

I seems to me that these two efforts at recording are useful in themselves; but they might also generate material for our eventual return to the other questions: how to define and achieve consensus at MOS, and how to know when a MOS consensus is lapsed or superseded.

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:26, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Achieving consensus

The following question is from Noetica's contribution at 09:16, 31 December 2009, under the subheading "Proposal to defer discussion of dashes".

  • How is a MOS consensus to be achieved?

-- Wavelength (talk) 18:34, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Consensus #Consensus-building gives methods for achieving consensus. I don't offhand see how the MoS consensus-building procedure should differ greatly from that of other pages, some of which are far more contentious than this one. Eubulides (talk) 21:56, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Quite so, Eubulides: you "don't offhand see". But do you think Wavelength and I raise these questions for your dismissive "offhand" consideration? Do you think we are trivia buffs, seeking to divert a jaded MOS crowd with yet more platitudinous grist for chummy chatter? No. Wavelength is a meticulous and tireless worker for MOS, and a legend inspiring awe at the Language reference desk. Sometimes, just sometimes, we need to move beyond "offhand" treatment of issues from such knowledgeable sources. Don't squelch big initiatives on sight.
There are reasons for consensus-building at MOS to be especially problematic. Don't automatically assume you know otherwise, please. Others may have longer and deeper experience.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:45, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think Eubulides meant to sound dismissive, Noetica. Rather I think it was a sideways invitation for you to explain yourself further. What do you feel that the MoS specifically needs with regard to methods of achieving consensus? Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:37, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Having a method would be a good start, don't you think?
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:50, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
First off, let's not knock the random mucking about that we've been doing up until this point. It's counterintuitive, but it does manage to work well enough enough of the time. That being said, having a fair, formal and reliable method of reaching consensus (preferably one that supports the ideas with the preponderance of logic rather than the ones with the preponderance of adherents) would be great, but I have my doubts about whether or not we'll be able to make one. No reason not to try, I guess. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:54, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
... WP:Consensus seems to imply that if an idea is compellingly good, it will gain adherents; it's not that numbers of votes are what "counts", but numbers do reflect which ideas people find more compelling. what other means of determining consensus might be used? a neutral third party being called on to declare which "side" seems more reasonable, for example? i doubt that would fly. so what would?
meanwhile, i'd like to ask Noetica to stop categorizing views that differ from his/her own as "inept", "puerile" "jejune", etc. it discourages participation in the discussion, and makes it difficult to see the possible merits of what he/she is proposing. thanks Sssoul (talk) 11:57, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't find that to be the case. Large numbers of adherents mean that an idea is popular, not that it's good or right or effective.
I was turning over Noetica's comments in my mind last night and I thought "Wouldn't it be great if there were some way to separate what people are saying from who's saying it?" That way people wouldn't form factions or develop dislike for a decent idea just because the person who said it has been annoying or has disagreed with the reader in past discussions (or perhaps called people ignorant and peurile). Then I got this idea of two columns of text, one with arguments for an idea and one with arguments against an idea. Any editor could add a point, but no repeats would be allowed.
Of course, that would only work with either/or issues and there would have to be a way of measuring the quality of each logical argument so that many picayune issues didn't outweigh one or a few profound ones. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:33, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia is based on the optimistic assumption that whatever is good will normally also be popular. All crowd-sourced initiatives depend in some way on this belief that humans are fundamentally good, that we would rather build than destroy, etc. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:01, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

[←]Darkfrog: Thank for allowing that we have "no reason not to try", and for thinking about what I have raised and joining in the search for solutions. You write earlier: "... let's not knock the random mucking about that we've been doing up until this point. It's counterintuitive, but it does manage to work well enough enough of the time." The positive reason we have for trying is that the default "random mucking about" reaches a plateau in quality (and stability), beyond which we cannot progress. The problem is especially acute here at WT:MOS, because MOS needs to be especially enlightened, consistent, and stable to serve its very purpose. Other areas of Wikipedia have their tailored protocols for deliberating, because of their heightened importance. But MOS has so far not received this attention. Let's give it now, and wallow no longer in wasteful uncertainties.

Sssoul, you write: "meanwhile, i'd like to ask Noetica to stop categorizing views that differ from his/her own as 'inept', 'puerile', etc. it discourages participation in the discussion, and makes it difficult to see the possible merits of what he/she is proposing. thanks." let me resort in my reply to a hybrid joycean style that might make some sense to you since i have never yet succeeded in communicating content simple or complex to you by other means nor have you ever it seems found merit in anything of consequence that i have said anyway i look in vain on the present page for the word puerile indeed i seem not to have used it here since sometime in 2008 so i am not doing it here am i as for inept yes on this page i use it once here this is wasteful and inept we desperately need better methods and once yes referring to inept non consensual responses to all the hard argument evidence and shrewd compromising I brought to our discussions of possessives well that is not personal is it or if it is the evidence is there for anyone to examine to see how utterly obtuse was the response to all the analysis i presented so that you yes ruined a guideline that had excellent claim to being consensual and that corrupted guideline still mars mos utterly obtuse oops o so sorry Yes.

Whatamidoing, you write: "Wikipedia is based on the optimistic assumption that whatever is good will normally also be popular." But a naive application of that assumption is overridden for many parts of the Project. If we respect that assumption here, our application must similarly not be naive. MOS cannot rise to the excellence Wikipedia demands of it without more examined procedures in place.

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 00:58, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

right, it was "jejune" this time, not "puerile" – i've corrected that. my request still stands: please stop the negative categorizations of views that differ from yours; and please drop the "hybrid joycean style" as well. neither is constructive.
this discussion is supposed to be about possible approaches to achieving consensus for MoS purposes. do you have some specific solutions to propose for the problem you perceive? Sssoul (talk) 10:51, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Sssoul:
  • Thank you for correcting puerile to jejune. Yes, this is a word I used here recently. It does not originally mean the same as puerile, though its resemblance to French jeune ("young") has lent it that secondary sense. After "undernourished", its primary meaning according to SOED is this: "Intellectually unsatisfying, lacking substance, shallow, simplistic; dull, dry, insipid, vapid." I wrote:

Meanwhile, many of the editors whose needs we pretend to serve abandon MOS as useless. We come across as a bunch of jejune amateurs. (Well, some of us are!) Take a look at our Archive 108, where a number of perennial favourites are churned through for the zillionth fruitless time.

I called it as I saw it. If this offends you, that is not my main concern. My main concern is to address deficiencies in MOS systems.
  • I do not automatically characterise views that differ from mine negatively; I explain my point of view patiently and in detail, and I answer any questions. I expect the same from others. If they do not do their share, and their opinions do not withstand rational scrutiny, then I have something to say concerning them. Find evidence for this in Archive 108.
  • I had a dialogical reason for using the Joycean hybrid style. Sorry if you dislike it, as intensely as others may dislike your own anomalous style. I won't if you won't. How's that for a compromise?
  • Don't lecture me about being constructive. See Archive 108, once more. And where are your dozens and dozens of acknowledged improvements to MOS, fixing the carelessness of others? Where is your long patient discussion towards consensus, on anything at all; and your minute analysis of printed guides relevant to our work here?
  • I hope we can move on to specifics, when the predictable backwash that greets most constructive calls for change to our work at last subsides.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 12:14, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

Achieving consensus: the next stage

Discussion in three sections on consensus (#Defining consensus and #Lapses in consensus; and the present section, #Achieving consensus) has advanced less than discussion in #Recording consensus. This is understandable, since recording deliberations and decisions is a practical matter, where something can be done even without the nature of MOS consensus being defined or stipulated.

I now propose that we concentrate effort on the two initiatives to record consensus:

I seems to me that these two efforts at recording are useful in themselves; but they might also generate material for our eventual return to the other questions: how to define and achieve consensus at MOS, and how to know when a MOS consensus is lapsed or superseded.

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:28, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Good idea, Noetica. Tony (talk) 22:32, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Lapses in consensus

The following question is from Noetica's contribution at 09:16, 31 December 2009, under the subheading "Proposal to defer discussion of dashes".

  • When and how does a MOS consensus ever lapse?

-- Wavelength (talk) 18:34, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

WP:CCC says consensus can change. Elaborating on this, Wikipedia:No consensus #Policy/Guideline says: 'In a discussion regarding a section of policy or guideline, "no consensus" means that a proposed section should not be added. If the discussion is about a section already in the policy, that section should be removed. Policy and guideline should reflect consensus. If there is no consensus as to existing policy, then it no longer reflects that and should be removed.' This elaboration is not part of the official policy, but it's reasonable advice. Eubulides (talk) 21:56, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
This question of how a consensus might lapse at MOS (made egregiously prominent in recent discussion concerning en dashes) is not to be treated lightly. It is placed last in these four with good reason: we cannot answer it if we don't know what a MOS consensus is, or how it is achieved or recorded. Whatever conclusions have been reached elsewhere, they do not settle the question for MOS (will all its associated pages), where stability is paramount for the role we play in the Project as a whole.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:54, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
This question appears to me based on a misleading premise: consensus does not "lapse", it is a point-in-time evaluation. There is either consensus for the page as it stands, or there is not. This is described in WP:CCC, and is a consequence of the fact that this is a wiki. Any section of this page can be challenged or revised at any time (that's what this talk page is for), with the proviso that as a major guideline significant revisions should be proposed on the talk page first. Christopher Parham (talk) 23:21, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Except, CP, that such a bland one-size-fits-all approach is neither implemented throughout WP nor truly successful here at MOS. Whatever WP:Consensus "describes", it fails to support WP's demand for a robust, stable, and enlightened Manual of Style. The miracle is that we have such an amazingly thorough MOS at all! There is nothing on the web that comes close to its treatment of several important issues: nor, as my surveys reveal, anything in print that matches our careful detail for some topics. A great deal of work goes into that; but the result is uneven, and to do better we must think big, think new, and think bold.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:33, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree with CP that consensus does not lapse or expire so much as change over time (or not). A better question might be "How and at what intervals should consensus be reassessed?" Considering the time and effort that would take, perhaps it would be best to assume that previous consensuses still stand until and unless some evidence to the contrary presents itself.
With regard to the MoS's stability level, I would not mind a policy of "propose all substantive edits on the talk page first." This way, changes go through a vetting process but individual editors' contributions and opinions are not stifled. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:41, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, Darkfrog. Questions could be posed variously about how a consensus disappears, or expires, or passes away, or is annulled by being called into question, and so on. I raised the question precisely as I did because of a recent example in the discussion of en dashes, where it was claimed for a clutch of reasons that there was no longer a consensus. I take the verb lapse to have more meanings than "reach a use-by date":

3 a Law. Of a right, privilege, etc.: become void, revert to someone, through non-fulfilment of conditions, absence of heirs, etc. E18.

b Comm. Of a contract, agreement, policy, etc.: become void or ineffective, usu. through the withdrawal of one party or the failure to pay a premium. M19. (SOED, "lapse v.")

We might usefully consider all aspects of putative extinctions of consensus.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 06:52, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Using these examples and definitions, I would say that consensus does not lapse in this sense. The community and its attitudes may change, but I don't see how Wikipedia consensuses, in general, would have use-by dates or be subject to contract-like conditions to be fulfilled. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:53, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

Consensus could lapse due to (1) external events, (2) new software in the general computer community, (3) or changes to Wikimedia software. For example,

(1) The United States could forbid use of customary weights and measures and only permit SI.

(2) A very popular new browser could render some popular way of writing things on Wikipedia illegible.

(3) Improvements to the editing interface could make improved typography (that used to be an unreasonable burden on editors) much easier. --Jc3s5h (talk) 22:59, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

A previous consensus lapses when there is consensus that that previous consensus has lapsed. Anything more complicated is a house of cards, as it will only continue in force as long as the future community has... consensus to enforce it. You can't force tomorrow's community to agree with today's.
On the other hand, improvements in facilitating access to the record of past consensus discussions are amplifying the ability of the future community to make informed choices, which I see as a thoroughly positive trend (cf. Noetica's endorsement of the FAQ and Register initiatives, below). --Pi zero (talk) 01:22, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Jc3 makes an excellent, excellent point. We even have a specific rule that is subject to it. Because the bans on curly quotes and single quotes are specifically because of problems with CTRL-F search features (though the one on single quotes also mentions other factors), these bans could become obsolete once the browser technology improves.
I was not thinking of this in terms of "consensus lapsing," but now that you mention it, it can certainly be seen this way. I suggest the following: "In general, Wikipedia consensuses do not have use-by dates. They only lapse when a given decision is made for certain reasons that later cease to apply." Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:11, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Lapses in consensus: the next stage

Discussion in three sections on consensus (#Defining consensus and #Achieving consensus; and the present section, #Lapses in consensus) has advanced less than discussion in #Recording consensus. This is understandable, since recording deliberations and decisions is a practical matter, where something can be done even without the nature of MOS consensus being defined or stipulated.

I now propose that we concentrate effort on the two initiatives to record consensus:

I seems to me that these two efforts at recording are useful in themselves; but they might also generate material for our eventual return to the other questions: how to define and achieve consensus at MOS, and how to know when a MOS consensus is lapsed or superseded.

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:32, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Logical quotation - there's only one relevant argument

I'm getting a little tired of these heavy-handed attempts to obfuscate this issue as much as possible (cf. editwarring on the FAQ subpage), by making up reasons that are allegedly behind logical quotation being recommended by MoS, ignoring the real one, and then attacking the bogus ones as bad reasons. This is known as the straw man fallacy. Let's just be really clear about this. There is only one reason, only one point that has any relevance to MoS and WP policy. Not two points, not four. One.

MoS does not call for logical quotation because it "looks better" (a subjective artsy-fartsy notion of no importance here). Nor is it because LQ is "more intuitive" (which it almost certainly is for a majority of people, but this too is subjective, and people with a really, really deep-seated preference for the largely American typesetter's quotation style find that more intuitive, as someone keeps browbeating into us as if we didn't already understand this, several years ago. Nor is it because LQ is "simpler" or "easier" (typing ". when warranted is no in any way less or more complicated that ."); actually the decision is less simple, because in logical quotation the punctuation is placed inside or outside for a reason that requires thinking – because it actually belongs there – not always inside regardless of what the results of doing that might be.

We use logical quotation here for a simple, singular, factual, objective reason: It preserves quotations intact, without falsely inserting punctuation into them that wasn't there in the originals (or leaving the reader to wonder whether this has been done, on a quotation-by-quotation basis). Please Darkfrog24, stop mischaracterizing the nature of the debate and engaging in fallacious editwarring. The reason for the choice is grounded in WP:V and WP:NOR. Going with typesetters' quotation (there is no "American" or "British" quotation, as has already been proven in these recurring debates - there are US publications that use logical quotation and UK ones that use typesetter's) has no basis but subjective WP:ILIKEIT notions.

Darkfrog24, we all really, really, really understand that you really, really, really prefer typesetters' quotation. Like, there seriously isn't any way you could make that clearer, and badgering multiple MOS pages with more and more about this, day in and day out to obstruct progress is not going to get you anywhere.

PS: See in particular WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT and WP:NOTUNANIMITY. PPS: I am not questioning your surely good-faith motives, only your judgment of the situation and how to handle it. WP's usage of logical quotation is very, very stable, and is in place for a sound, rational reason. Consensus can change but it doesn't do so on something like this without a really good reason. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 18:07, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

SMC, I would be delighted if the ban on American punctuation were lifted and if someone else brings the matter up again I will support it, but that's not what I'm trying to do right now. I just don't think that the FAQ should make any false statements about what LQ is or why it's there. LQ does not actually preserve text better in practice. LQ does not actually make statements less ambiguous. I realize that most of the people on this board really like that system, but that is why it is in the MoS.
The idea that American punctuation creates ambiguity is a myth. In American English, it is understood that the closing period or comma is part of the quotation process just like the quotation marks are. It's like saying that British spelling makes it look like "center" is pronounced "senn-treh." It's been that way for over a hundred years without actually causing this kind of trouble.
I agree entirely that aesthetics should not be a factor here. People are just as likely to find one system visually appealing as the other.
While some of the arguments you present, such as it being easier to use codes with LQ, might make a case for allowing LQ on Wikipedia, they don't make the case for banning American and British standards. I am sure that some editors would not mind going to a little extra effort to use correct American or British forms.
Back to the FAQ, Pi Zero just proposed a new answer. What do you think of it? Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:28, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Also, just because some American publications prefer LQ or British styles or some British publications prefer LQ or American doesn't mean that they aren't American and British. There are Chicago-style pizza restaurants in New York, but that doesn't make them New-York-style pizzas. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:32, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Only for those who are obsessed with fracturing the language into flag-waving national entities. Tony (talk) 23:05, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Tony, there is a British variation of English and an American one and an Australian one. I'm sure that you've heard people speak and read books and newspapers and seen this for yourself. The differences were there a long time before you or I got here and they're still going to be there, in some form, a long time after we're gone. I am not inventing them. I think the real difference between our views on this matter is that you believe that Wikipedia should push some artificial homogenized English and I think that it should reflect the language the way it actually is. Wikipedia respects and celebrates this diversity with regard to spelling. It should go all the way and do it with punctuation too. New York and Chicago pizzas both taste great. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:02, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Re SMC: we use logical quotation because that is the established style. When used as recommended here, logical quotation is far from the most source-based and precise way of punctuating quotations. For example, the Chicago manual has a much stricter method which they recommend for literary studies and other situations where exact preservation of the original is intended. In Wikipedia, we do not try to achieve that level of precision. So the argument that we use logical quotations because they preserver the original best is simply bogus. The choice to use logical quotation is mostly one of taste, but we seem to have selected it in any case. We might as well be honest about that in the FAQ. — Carl (CBM · talk) 03:56, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

WP:COMMENT

I suggest the section WP:COMMENT should have a link like:

Further information: Help:Hidden text

62.147.9.169 (talk) 10:33, 17 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Register has been marked as part of the Manual of Style

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Register (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) has recently been edited to mark it as part of the Manual of Style. This is an automated notice of the change (more information). -- VeblenBot (talk) 02:00, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (disambiguation pages)/Register has been marked as part of the Manual of Style

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (disambiguation pages)/Register (edit | talk | history | links | watch | logs) has recently been edited to mark it as part of the Manual of Style. This is an automated notice of the change (more information). -- VeblenBot (talk) 02:00, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Dashes as character entity codes vs. Unicode

Unresolved: Topic was deferred and archived but is actually unconnected to other issues and still under active discussion.

[I have boldly put SMcCandlish's post in a subsection (see next), added a subsection making an opposing case, and added a third subsection for discussion. I propose that editors judiciously add to the first two subsections, to improve each case, but confine actual discussion to the dedicated third subsection.¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T–]

A case for character entity codes

  • The MOS should
    1. Recommend explicitly that en-dashes, em-dashes and minus signs be done as the character entity codes –, — and −, respectively, rather than the corresponding Unicode characters
    2. Defer to WP:MOSMATH on minus signs in actual formulas
    3. Not recommend (i.e., remain silent on the idea) that the Unicode characters be removed from the editing tools
    4. Forbid bots from changing these character entities to Unicode characters.

The rationales, given many times but repeated here in case anyone missed them:

  • The glyphs for these characters are completely or nearly indistinguishable in many fonts, meaning that for many editors the only way to be certain the proper character is being used when an entity code is not present is for the editor to replace the character with the entity code.
  • The glyphs for these characters are completely or nearly indistinguishable for many very constructive and active editors due to their eyesight, even with glasses on and regardless of font, resulting in the same must-use-entities-for-certainty issue.
  • The editing tools below the edit window should still have the Unicode characters, as they are easy to use, having the correct Unicode character in place is better than having a normal hyphen where it does not belong, and we can't expect non-technical editors to memorize entity codes, just to not remove them.
  • Bots (and AWB scripts and other judgment-reducing tools) replacing entity codes are undoing conscious human-editor work that improved the editability of the encyclopedia, and even probably reduced disputes (see example below).
  • The minor increase in edit-window clutter is small price to pay for correct dashes, as edit mode is cluttered anyway, and is more cluttered all the time as increasing amounts of plain prose are replaced by typing-aid templates and other code.
  • Accessibility: Many more screen readers for the visually impaired, as well as old browsers on old computers (remember the other kind of accessibility - en.wikipedia is also for impoverished English speakers and entire nations of them such as Jamaica and Belize) have better support for basic character entity codes than for Unicode, if any for the latter at all.

While I've frequently had issues and frustrations with dashes for vision and font reasons, and even gotten in brief arguments with other editors about the matter, I never saved any clear diffs. I just ran into one, however, which is clearly evidentiary of the fact that the use of Unicode in these cases is causing real problems for real editors: Talk:Pleonasm#Article issues (as of this diff). Fortunately both editors in this case were communicative, patient and clueful, but that holy trinity is not always with us...

Nothing about the other dash-related issues under discussion would affect this proposal in any way, nor vice versa.

Proposed language

It is preferable that en-dashes, em-dashes and minus signs be input as the character entity reference codes –, — and −, respectively, rather than the Unicode characters –, — and −, so that it is clear in editing mode which character is being used, and because the codes are more accessible in current screen readers and in older browsers than the Unicode. However, it is still better for non-technical users to insert the Unicode character called for, via the editing tools below the edit window, rather than use hyphens indiscriminately.

Or something like that. Left out any mention of MOSMATH (I don't know it well).

SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 12:31, 16 January 2010 (UTC)

[Please discuss in the dedicated subsection below the next one.]

A case against character entity codes

  • MOS should not prefer character entity codes (–, —, and −) over the Unicode equivalents (–, —, and −).
  • For now, the means of input for these characters should be left open.

The rationale:

  • While –, —, and − may be hard to distinguish in some fonts, at least their identity (as "dashes" of some sort) and their functions are immediately apparent in the edit screen. On the other hand, –, —, and − are meaningless and intimidating to most editors. Even for experienced and tech-savvy editors they can be hard to input without error. For most editors they are difficult to read when combined (as they often must be) with the character entity code for the hard space:
Clapham Junction – Brighton
to yield
Clapham Junction – Brighton.
Realistically, editors cannot be expected to read that comfortably in the edit screen, or to know how to do it. It is hard enough making provision for hard spaces alone, or en dashes alone: but combined, the character entity versions of these are murder.
  • Friendly and transparent coding for the hard space should be revisited first, since it is a natural accessory to these other glyphs. See WT:NOWRAP, the developed proposal for ,, as markup for the hard space (linked from WT:NOWRAP), and the extensive discussion leading to that proposal, in userspace at User:Noetica/ActionMOSVP (see also its Archive), and see extensive reports and discussion in the MOS talkpage archives.
  • Proposals for inputting characters need wide discussion and consultation, and need to be considered from the point of view of the naive editor. We MOS editors, certainly editors over at MediaWiki_talk:Edittools, and definitely the developers themselves – we all too easily leave that perspective behind. We must not.
  • This whole issue is surely frustrating for those with a clear view of how the Unicode solution fails; it is also frustrating for those who understand how the alternative solution fails. We should not jump either one of these two ways, but leave the question honestly unresolved: at least while it remains unresolvable. Either premature resolution would distract from the larger task of finding truly enlightened technical reforms, with contributions from MOS editors and the larger community, and not weighted the developers' and tech-heads' way. They do not have a monopoly on wisdom, simply because they dominate behind the scenes on Wikipedia.

[Please discuss in the dedicated subsection below.]

Discussion: character entity codes vs. Unicode

[I propose that we confine all discussion, for and against, to this subsection.–¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T–]

  • I disagree with the statement "at least their identity and their functions are immediately apparent in the edit screen." Their identity is anything but apparent, and identity of the dash-like characters available for insertion by clicking below the edit window is equally unapparent.
  • A neutral position must include a prohibition against bots converting in either direction. --Jc3s5h (talk) 00:01, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
Good point about "identity", J. I have amended it: "at least their identity (as "dashes" of some sort) and their functions are immediately apparent in the edit screen." That's what I meant. And I agree about the bots.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 00:09, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
There are actually two issues here: 1. Whether or not Unicode should be allowed. 2. Whether or not entity codes should be allowed. It's not an either-or situation. Our only real restriction is that we must allow at least one of these forms. Right now, Wikipedia allows both. The entity codes look better in more kinds of fonts, but the Unicodes are easier for newcomers to recognize and use. I am in favor of permitting both and letting the editor decide whether or not he or she is up to going to the extra effort of finding and typing in the entity code. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:15, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
I would also add that, in cases where a minus sign and hyphen look identical to the reader, then we can assume that the given character is doing its job—communicating with the reader—equally well regardless of whether it is "really" a hyphen or minus sign. The only time that would be an issue would be when two readers are viewing the same article, one in a font that renders hyphens and minus signs differently and another in a font that does not. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:21, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree that we should allow both. I prefer the Unicode as it is visible while editing. I have no idea about the use of entities upon searches in Wikipedia, but I have had the experience in the past where using entity codes in text messes up search results, e.g. where 'something&endash;anything' is in the text and you can't find the something when you search for it. It should not be a problem technically to display Unicode dashes anymore, the only problem is in entering it on a keyboard. I have yet to figure out how to enter it on a Mac, myself. ʘ alaney2k talkʘ 19:10, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Relevant discussion

There is a discussion occurring at Wikipedia:Centralized discussion/Wikipedia Citation Style. Your participation would be appreciated.
V = I * R (talk to Ohms law) 23:31, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for posting this; it's fascinating. I think it may be a while before I make up my own mind on this issue, but so many people have raised such interesting points. Do you know where I could find an accounting of the problems that the current system is supposed to have raised? That seems to be the real cincher, how much trouble the current way of doing things is or isn't causing. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:55, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Ellipsis nbsp

WP:ELLIPSIS says "Use non-breaking spaces ( ) only as needed to prevent improper line breaks, for example: ... To keep the ellipsis from wrapping to the next line ("France, Germany, ... and Belgium but not the USSR")." I think this means that every ellipsis should be preceded by an nbsp. But the word "only" means a contrast to something bigger, so what does it mean? We only need an nbsp every time? Art LaPella (talk) 01:27, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Noetica and I discussed this above under "Ellipsis character rationale". It's complicated; my best guess at the rules is:
  1. If an ellipsis is adjacent to a punctuation mark, there is a space on the other side of the ellipsis, and either (1) the punctuation mark comes in enclosing pairs, as quotation marks or brackets do, and the ellipsis is enclosed, or (2) the punctuation mark stands alone, then the space on the other side of the ellipsis is non-breaking.
  2. If an ellipsis is separated from a punctuation mark by a space, and if that punctuation mark either (1) comes in enclosing pairs and encloses the ellipsis, or (2) stands alone, then the space is non-breaking.
  3. Otherwise, the space is breaking.
But I'm not too sure. Should there be a non-breaking space in "We discussed ... good style"? Noetica prefers not to share his own solution, and I suspect there are problems with the rules I gave above. Ozob (talk) 02:57, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
If the ellipsis points wrap over to the next line, the effect is not good; however, I'm easy about not inserting the hard-space before the points where they occur towards the start of the first line of a quotation. BTW, when are we going to have a short-cut allocated to hard-spaces? Tony (talk) 10:06, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Has the auto-archiving bot been disabled here?

This talk page is now gigantic. What happened to the auto? If it needs to be re-installed, I know Dank55 is good at doing that. Tony (talk) 10:10, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

  • No, it is set to archive after a thread has been 'dead' for 10 days. Since people continued to add to the endash thread up until 14 January, the bot has not cut in. I have forced archiving that discussion (consisting of half the kb), which quite frankly wasn't going anywhere. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 15:10, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

New MOS template

Users are advised that a Template:MOS has been created for use at that top of articles that have significant compliance problems. It can be inserted simply as:

{{MOS}}

However, the date of posting should normally be included, thus:

{{MOS|date=January 2010}}

to render this:

Thanks to User:Ohconfucius for arranging this. Tony (talk) 11:38, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

...improve the "talk" page? I'm pretty sure talk pages like this one are not governed by the MoS so I think you might have a typo. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:32, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
  • The template is identical to other Cleanup templates, such as {{Cleanup}}. It looks up the page type according to where this template is placed. When placed on an article, it will read 'Wikipedia article'. Ohconfucius ¡digame! 14:58, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
  • FYI, there is a side conversation about this template's uses going on here. --Andy Walsh (talk) 15:27, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

Comma use

An IP has told me that when talking about cities, this is correct:

from Baltimore, Maryland, to Indianapolis, Indiana,

I do not agree with the comma after Maryland and Indiana, so who is correct? I do not see anything in the MOS about this either. Eagles 24/7 (C) 17:36, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

No commas following the state names. --Andy Walsh (talk) 17:37, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I say yes, enclose the state (or country) in commas, just as we do for years in US-style dates (On July 4, 1776, the United States declared independence from Great Britain. The publishers were in London, England, before moving to New York.). ¶ Grammatically, the country, state or year are in apposition to the city or day, and the sentence would read grammatically if they were omitted: (One would drive in a northwesterly direction from Baltimore to Indianapolis along the major Interstate highways. There are many such sites in Paris, London, and Rome. The Continental Congress met for several weeks before signing the Declaration of Independence on July 4 and then adjourning) [The last is for demonstration only: the historical detail is hypothetical and may well be flat wrong.] ¶ Practically speaking, the comma is one of those punctuation marks that does far too many different jobs, so leaving one comma between Baltimore and Maryland without closing with another comma makes it appear that there's a major break in the sentence where in fact there is not. (He drove through the rain from Baltimore, Maryland to his girlfriend's house in Chicago.) —— Shakescene (talk) 18:11, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
That's a nice example, Shakescene, but the comma would be there after the year regardless. What's really going on is "On [time] [comma] this happened." So we'd say, "On Tuesday, this happened." There doesn't seem to be such a separate reason for putting the comma after the name of the state.
However, when in doubt, we should check the style guides. Got my trusty Bedford right here... ...or not. I ran a quick search (It seems that Google searching for "comma after state" brings up a lot of Second Amendment issues.) and according to English plus the comma after the state is optional, at least when writing addresses. It doesn't mention ordinary prose. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:10, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
Found my handbook. It says that yes, the elements of the address should be set off with commas, as the IP has said, but it does not state a rationale. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:12, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
The Bedford is a severely limited guide, with a parochial, unenlightened, print-based, and outdated approach to practically everything. I recommend against relying on it. Still, I favour the comma after the state name, for the reasons Shakescene provides. Local practice (in special-purpose rulesheets like postal guides, and the like) may differ. If it does, it should be overridden for an online international encyclopedia for all speakers of English.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 21:52, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
When ZIP Codes first arrived and displaced the older format of indicating postal zones (New York, 10, New York or New York, 10, N.Y. became New York, NY  10010), there was some popular uncertainty about where and whether to place commas. The standard United States Postal Service practice, when addressing an envelope, is to drop the comma after the state, as above; and ideally to leave two typewriter spaces between the state abbreviation and the ZIP Code. However, one would add a comma after the ZIP Code if adding the country: New York, NY  10010, United States of America or New York, NY  10010, U.S.A. . That is, of course, a slightly different question from how to treat the commas in running prose. —— Shakescene (talk) 22:09, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't agree with this direction at all. Are you saying that if you wrote, "I threw a cricket bat from Miami, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia" that would cause confusion in any reader? It appears there is a "major break" in the sentence? No, I don't think so. You read "Miami, Florida" as a single entity because your brain is trained to recognize the name of a city. Adding the comma after "Florida" makes an awkward hiccup that I would edit out 100% of the time. --Andy Walsh (talk) 22:24, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
  • (e.c.) The comma might be OK in the first example here, but usually it is very clunky. I recommend against its use as a standard. Tony (talk) 22:26, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
WP:COPYEDIT#Common edits is part of the Manual of Style, so commas after states is a standard. See the 7th bullet point. Heaven forfend I should debate whether it should be a standard, but it is a standard I have often enforced. Art LaPella (talk) 02:29, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

Any thoughts on the relative merits of these?

Sue Journalist, of Publication magazine, said that "The cat sat on the mat".
Sue Journalist of Publication magazine said that "The cat sat on the mat".

Which, if any, of the commas in the first example are appropriate?  Skomorokh  17:51, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

I'd say the commas in the first Sue Journalist example serve no useful purpose at all. Of course you would need to use them (or re-order the sentence) if you were writing Sue Journalist, chief cats correspondent of Publication magazine, said.... This might be why they sometimes do get used in contexts like your first example.
The issue with the cities and states is a little tougher because although logically there should be commas after the state names - the pair of commas performing much the same function as brackets - as another editor has observed most readers will nevertheless interpret the illogical construction quite correctly.
There is scope for confusion in some contexts, though. Acme Corp. has factories in Las Vegas, New Mexico and New York. Does that mean there are sites in both Las Vegas and New Mexico, or just the one in Las Vegas, New Mexico? Barnabypage (talk) 16:36, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't see how the confusion you describe could be either created or fixed by changing the commas, Barnabypage, but it does look like parallelism is an issue here. The writer of that sentence could avoid confusion by saying either, Acme Corp. has factories in [state], [state] and [state] or by saying, Acme Corp. has factories in [city], [city] and [city]. Even New York's city/state identity would not impair this, though if the sentence mentioned both "New York" and "Washington," we might have a problem. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:48, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
You're right, it's not a very good example - I know there's a more enlightening one but I can't bring it to mind now! As an aside, the sensible solutions would involve changing the word order - factories in New York and Las Vegas, New Mexico or factories in New Mexico, New York and Las Vegas. Barnabypage (talk) 18:59, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
It was a nice thought experiment. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:07, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
In my view, at least three matters should be considered when determining whether to insert optional commas: (1) how long is the sentence? (2) how many other commas are in the vicinity?, and (3) how formal is the text. My personal preference would be to add those commas in most contexts. Tony (talk) 12:34, 21 January 2010 (UTC) PS but in your current FAC, I'd probably drop the last comma here: "In the final story, "Lost In Space", Dee Dee's husband, Johnny (Joe Strummer) is introduced." Tony (talk) 12:37, 21 January 2010 (UTC) [or better still, sidestep it: The final story, "Lost In Space", introduces Dee Dee's husband Johnny (Joe Strummer). Tony (talk) 12:39, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
My gut reaction is that the pair of commas could be optional, but I would either keep both or remove both. One without the other strikes me as off. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:22, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
You can often finesse the issue by enclosing the state in parentheses (brackets) rather than commas. This sometimes makes things smoother, but sometimes increases the choppiness or hiccup. The corporation had offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Arlington (Virginia), Portland (Oregon), Topeka (Kansas) and Boston. Whichever approach one takes to commas,† there's a difficulty for the reader in distinguishing the state from the city in a string of names. Using contemporary US Postal Service abbreviations, such as AR, AL, MI and MS, is of almost no help to foreign readers and will confuse a good number of Americans who have to pause a minute to guess (for example) whether MI refers to Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota or Michigan. (Wikilinking the abbreviation only helps the very small minority of readers who either have pop-ups or think both to enable and to consult a status bar to their browser.)
Either The corporation had offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Arlington, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, Topeka, Kansas, and Boston. or The corporation had offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Arlington, Virginia, Portland, Oregon, Topeka, Kansas and Boston.
—— Shakescene (talk) 20:05, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Another approach to this which is seen sometimes is to use semicolons. The corporation had offices in New York; Los Angeles; Arlington, Virginia; and Boston. Barnabypage (talk) 20:58, 21 January 2010 (UTC)
Restrictive clauses are not set apart with commas, non-restrictive ones are. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 02:27, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks all for the helpful feedback and interesting discussion. After a bit of head-scratching and reading the article, A. di M.'s gnostic answer seems to clarify the issue quite aptly.  Skomorokh  17:14, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Use of titles, styles, and post-nominals

I'm looking for for guidance in using titles, styles and/or post-nominals in non-biographical articles, and am having difficulty finding anything relevant in the MoS. Here's a hypothetical situation: In an article about Organization X, in the body of the History section, a person is mentioned regarding his role in the organization. The full style of this person, who is the Bishop of Hooville, is The Rt Revd Joseph Bloggs, CBE. He is know around town as Bishop Joe, or Bishop Bloggs.

In the body of the article is the sentence: During the 1990s (N) was responsible for a significant expansion of the organization...; assuming that this sentence is the first mention of (N), how should it be written? If there is something in the MoS that addresses this, could someone point me in the right direction; if there is no guidance on this topic, should there be? I have my own personal preferences, but would be interested to know if there is either consensus or a definitive rule. Wine Guy Talk 23:25, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style has, at the right-hand side of the page, under "Guidelines", a link to Wikipedia:Proper names. Wikipedia:Proper names#Personal names says: "The most complete name (with titles) should appear at the beginning of the article to provide maximum information." -- Wavelength (talk) 00:40, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks, but I had already found that. It only refers to the beginning of the article (i.e. the lead sentence of a biographical article); not to the body of an article about something other than the person named, which is the issue my question regards. Wine Guy Talk 00:58, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm not sure that you can give exact instructions. For dead people, we use the full formal style at time of death at the start of the article, but we tend to use shorter forms later on: and that's in the same article, the biography of the person concerned. But the correct shorter form might depend on the context: an imaginary (British) person correctly styled as Professor Sir John Crumblecake, FRS, might be correctly referred to as "Prof. Crumblecake" when discussing his contribution to the theory of the warp drive, but would be referred to as "Sir John Crumblecake" or just "Sir John" if the article were discussing his contributions to the Phukhet Opera. Physchim62 (talk) 18:09, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Indeed... IIRC, I once spotted a "Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann" in an article about the Protoindeuropean language or something like that, when Gell-Mann's Nobel had nothing to do with linguistics. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 18:47, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
I'd tend to say to stick to just their given and surnames in an article that's not about the person, with the appropriate wikilink of course. For the most part, titles, styles and postnomials are extraneous to the basic "who" needed for an article not about the person. Naturally, exceptions would be needed, such as if the person's activities were linked to an office they held, or if their title is their name, as sometimes happens within the aristocracy.
As practical examples, for Wine Guy's theoretical bishop, I'd use either "Joseph Bloggs" or "Bishop Joseph Bloggs" depending on whether or not the action being referenced happened during his episcopacy. For Physchim's Professor, "John Crumblecake" would do. oknazevad (talk) 22:48, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I agree with what you all seem to be saying; in most cases use first and last name only, a title such as Prof., Dr., Bishop, etc. may be used if it is particularly relevant in the context of the article. I brought up this topic because I've recently seen articles wherein full formal titles have been used by POV-pushers as a not-so-subtle tool to bolster the credibility of people who share the POV being pushed. Example: at the end of a section which explains the neutral or majority view, the POV'er then writes: However, in the Journal of Dubious Science, Professor Jonathon H. Crumblecake III, PhD.(Oxon), CBE, FRS, writes that he completely disagrees with... and so on.

When other editors try to reduce the name to something sensible like Jonathon Crumblecake, or Prof. Jonathon Crumblecake, the POV'er then points to Wikipedia:Proper names#Personal names: "The most complete name (with titles) should appear...", (as Wavelength did above). They conveniently ignore the "at the beginning of the article" part, but good luck arguing that with a troll; especially since there doesn't appear to be any further guidance on this issue in the MoS. Wine Guy Talk 01:05, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

In 1888–1891

A prospective Did You Know hook is "... that St Michael and All Angels Church, Blantyre, Malawi, was constructed of brick in 1888–1891 by inexperienced local men led Rev. David Clement Scott who had no formal architectural training?" The new version of WP:ENDASH says "Ranges should not mix prepositions and dashes ...", so does that mean the "in" should be removed? Art LaPella (talk) 07:04, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

This has been a problem for me. Either "in/during the period 1888–91" or "from 1888 to 1891" would be my solutions. The given text is uncomfortable. Tony (talk) 07:29, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
"to ... from" seems like the best option, but you also need a "by" after "led." Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:25, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
It is a stupid rule to apply to a DYK hook! Why, actually, should DYK hooks apply the same criteria as continuous prose in the rest of WP? Physchim62 (talk) 23:03, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
DYK is on the main page. We (a) want the encyclopedia to look good — up to professional standards — and (b) want to set a good example for the large number of Wikipedians and potential Wikipedians who will see it there. --Pi zero (talk) 23:53, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Physchim62, what rule do you believe would be appropriate here? How do you think the present text is better than "... was constructed of brick from 1888 to 1891 by inexperienced local men"?
I think, actually, that the hook would read better if it were something like, "... that the architect of St Michael and All Angels Church, Blantyre, Malawi, had no formal architectural training, and that the church was built by inexperienced local men who had no previous experience with brick construction?" I think this is still a bit clumsy, but somewhat better; the difficulty is that you want to emphasize that two distinct groups (the designer and the workmen) had no training in their respective fields (architecture and construction). I'm not sure how to state that parallelism without using two separate clauses, but separating the parallel statements into two clauses de-emphasizes the parallelism. Ozob (talk) 05:21, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Oh well, they rewrote it. WP:TDYK#St Michael and All Angels Church, Blantyre, Malawi Art LaPella (talk) 06:47, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

MOS:COLLAPSE

As this page receives heavier traffic than WT:ACCESS, I was wondering if a few people could take a look at Wikipedia talk:Accessibility#MOS:COLLAPSE outdated advice? Regards, WFCforLife (talk) 02:09, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Headings

Do we provide advice on the use of two or more subheadings under a heading? If not, I think we should. I can't stand seeing a single H3 under an H2. I did a quick search and I can't figure where on earth I ever got that idea, but I'm positive it was required of me by some manual. --Andy Walsh (talk) 04:34, 19 January 2010 (UTC)

A single sub-heading directly under a higher-level heading makes no sense, but often the heading can introduce a general discussion of its topic and the single sub-heading a particular sub-topic or digression. In Grandchildren of Victoria and Albert, I used a third-order heading for each of Victoria's children and his or her marriage (e.g. the Princess Royal to Friedrich III), followed by a single fourth-order heading for the children of that marriage (in this case, Kaiser Wilhelm II and his siblings). —— Shakescene (talk) 11:10, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

liquid threads

Anyone interested in adopting it for this page? It was launched with a rattle of drums several months ago, but seems to have faded without even a whimper. Tony (talk) 02:15, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

It would be a great idea, but I don't think it is turned on at enwiki yet. MBisanz talk 02:27, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
For information, see Extension:LiquidThreads. -- Wavelength (talk) 03:06, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
en.WP is hopelessly out of date when it comes to whatever they call the technical upgrades—some thousands behind the standard (like 5,675 vs 6891). Either they're understaffed at the WMF or something is very wrong.
We still haven't seen a change in the default thumbnail size, despite clear consensus for 180 -> 220px and tech agreement.
There needs to be a more formal channel of communication between editors (especially those who inhabit the MoSes) and the developers/techs. It's not working at the moment. Tony (talk) 08:34, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
There is Wikipedia:Village pump (technical). -- Wavelength (talk) 02:18, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Deprecated template

Please remove Presently, the MoS includes the following text:

Inline citations are generally placed ''after'' any punctuation such as a comma or period, with no intervening space: {{xt2|... are venomous.<code><ref></code>See OED, "viper, n."<code></ref></code>}} (yielding {{xt|... are venomous.{{rf|[1]|ref}}}} and later, {{xt|1.   '''{{rf|<sub>^</sub>|ref}}''' See OED, "viper, n."}})

Even though {{rf}} is deprecated. Can someone fix this? —Justin (koavf)TCM☯ 06:06, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

 Done Wine Guy Talk 23:51, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Recording consensus

The following question is from Noetica's contribution at 09:16, 31 December 2009, under the subheading "Proposal to defer discussion of dashes".

  • How is a MOS consensus to be recorded, for all editors to see?

-- Wavelength (talk) 18:34, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

Great to see the work editors are doing towards an FAQ. That, at least, is something concrete and positive. It may be a partial solution of the problem – but substantial, all the same. We can also get more creative. Why not a dedicated supplementary page for MOS, replicating the structure of WP:MOS itself but with each section's content replaced by synoptic explanations of the relevant MOS content, and links to archived consensual discussions? Every section of WP:MOS, and some subsections, could have a discreet unobtrusive link to that supplementary page, for the use of MOS editors and other enquirers. Why not? This would provide means of stabilising MOS, identifying topics that need further treatment, and informing all future discussion on this talkpage. The same could be done for all associated pages forming part of the Manual of Style. (And indeed, the relations between all these pages still needs more examination and reform.)
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:13, 6 January 2010 (UTC)
Linking each section to a page with more explanation is indeed what we should be doing, as explained at WP:Summary style. But you already have such a structure, and you aren't using it! The MOS is full of links to sub-articles like WP:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Units of measurement, but the sub-articles aren't much longer than what they are supposed to be explaining. Most of the details of the MOS should be eliminated, leaving a summary of the important rules, and links to the details we have now. If a sub-article isn't several times longer than what it's explaining, it isn't worth sending the reader through an extra link; we should just merge. WP:Did you know/Learning DYK and its submenus demonstrate how I think technical information should be presented, at whatever level of complexity the reader is ready to read. I also like Wikipedia:Introduction.
Yes, the FAQ in whatever form should link to previous discussions, if only to make it clear to each newcomer that he won't be greeted like Thomas Edison and his new light bulb. Here are some essays I wrote to answer repetitive questions: User:Art LaPella/Long hook and User:Art LaPella/Is this criticism constructive? Art LaPella (talk) 03:37, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
In general, I prefer to keep the MoS in one place. If people have to click through six and seven pages to get the whole story, they will get discouraged and give up. It's much easier to have one big, well-organized MoS than a thousand little ones that take days to find. However, there is something useful in this. The MoS is prescriptive. Its job is to tell people what to do on Wikipedia and no more. Our regular articles are not; they describe what happens out in the world. In this respect, linking a rule to its related descriptive article might be helpful, so long as there is enough information on the MoS itself for beginners to understand what's expected of them. For example, I wouldn't chuck all the serial comma examples onto a descriptive article page because they show the reader how to use it, but I would reserve any discussion of the serial comma's history and prevalence for such a page. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:50, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Once again, the MoS is not in one place as it is. Some of the information is at WP:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)#Units of measurement and similar sub-articles. Reading all of it already requires clicking through a long list of pages, most of which duplicates (or even contradicts) what's already at the main MoS page, and even I haven't read them all. Art LaPella (talk) 06:26, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I don't think we should make that situation any worse. But I don't think it will get worse if we're careful to keep all the "do this" and "here's how" on the MoS, keeping the "here's how it got that way" and the "more interesting stuff" in the regular articles. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:53, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
I didn't find any "discussion of the serial comma's history and prevalence" at WP:MOS#Serial commas. And how would that advice apply to a typical section like MOS:NUMBERSIGN for instance? It gives the rule, and it gives examples which help explain the rule, but there isn't anything about "here's how it got that way" or "more interesting stuff". So that wouldn't be a change at all. But I agree that if you find such stuff, it should indeed go into a subarticle. Art LaPella (talk) 20:44, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
Right. The history and prevalence would be in serial comma. The important part here is that serial comma is not part of the Manual of Style. Nothing in that article is required of Wikipedia editors or a part of Wikipedia policy, even though reading it might help editors better understand the part of the MoS that deals with the serial comma. The MoS stands on its own, but the article enriches. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:26, 7 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Art LaPella about subpages. Of course, only very specialized stuff should be found in subpages but not summarized in MOS main. Most editors won't ever need to know our house style about uncalibrated radiocarbon dates or blazon, so moving them to subpages isn't going to do any harm. As for articles in the main namespace, WP:NOR applies to them, so they definitely should not mention discussions between Wikipedians as to why a particular choice was made in WP:MOS. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 14:17, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't think this needs to be done. (What's on the page is presumed to be the version that has consensus, right? So you implicitly record the fact of the consensus every time you record anything.) Also, "citing sources" tends to inappropriately enshrine the previous consensus, and consensus can change, even for style issues.
  • If we're doing to do this, then we might consider using WP:FOOTNOTES. It's discreet, it's familiar, and it can point to archived discussions just as easily as it can point to books, webpages, and journal articles. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:12, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

Revisiting my concrete proposal

A week ago in this section dedicated to recording consensus I made this suggestion:

We can also get more creative. Why not a dedicated supplementary page for MOS, replicating the structure of WP:MOS itself but with each section's content replaced by synoptic explanations of the relevant MOS content, and links to archived consensual discussions? Every section of WP:MOS, and some subsections, could have a discreet unobtrusive link to that supplementary page, for the use of MOS editors and other enquirers. Why not? This would provide means of stabilising MOS, identifying topics that need further treatment, and informing all future discussion on this talkpage. The same could be done for all associated pages forming part of the Manual of Style.

Well, as I say in a section above, we see what we are primed to attend to. No one since has shown evidence of reading what I plainly wrote: "a dedicated supplementary page for MOS, replicating the structure of WP:MOS itself but with each section's content replaced by synoptic explanations of the relevant MOS content, and links to archived consensual discussions. ... for the use of MOS editors and other enquirers." Let me amplify the proposal:

  • We make a page (call it the MOS Register, or MOSR) that replicates the current MOS page, and strip it of content except for headings and subheadings, then format these headings to show structure at a glance. A sample, with omissions (and allowing some licence in my use of HTML):


Punctuation

 ...

    Apostrophes

    Quotation marks

      Double or single

      Inside or outside

 ...

    Brackets and parentheses

      Sentences and brackets

 ...


  • We provide links from each section (or subsection) of MOS to corresponding sections of MOSR, perhaps with an R (for record, or review, or register, or rationale) somewhere near the usual [edit] link, with [R] linking via a suitable anchor in MOSR when we have posted relevant material in MOSR, for the section in question. A sample from MOS:


Quotation marks                                       [R] [edit]

  See also: Quotations

The term quotation in the material below also includes other uses of quotation marks such as those for titles of songs, chapters, episodes, unattributable aphorisms, literal strings, "scare-quoted" passages, and constructed examples.

Double or single
Quotations are enclosed within double quotes ...


  • Clicking on that [R] would bring the user to the corresponding section of MOSR, which might have text like this, along with its own [R] (meaning return to MOS). There the user would see a brief explanation that supports – or indeed questions – that section of MOS:


Punctuation

    Apostrophes

    Quotation marks                                    [R]

      Inside or outside

      [Note current at 14 January 2010:]

        The question of how quotation marks fit with other punctuation is much discussed in printed and online
        style guides, and has been controversial in discussion at WT:MOS. Nevertheless there is long and stable consensus
        for its use on Wikipedia [Links to archived discussion here]. The matter is under current discussion at
        [Link to live discussion here]. MOS calls for what is commonly referred to as logical quotation, a system adapted from standard
        British practice (see especially R.L. Trask, Penguin Guide to Punctuation, 1997), but having influential advocates also in
        America (for example, the linguist Geoffrey Pullum, co-author of the exhaustive Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, 2004).


  • Gradually we could build up a comprehensive digest showing the history of each guideline, the quality of its consensus, any current discussion, and main sources in the printed literature or respected online sources.
  • A variation: have instead a small individual page for each section of MOS that is fitted with an [R] link, which would be focused and quick to load. There could then still be a master MOSR document, structured as I have initially outlined, but with transclusions from each of the specific small sectional documents. This would allow overall surveys of MOS for consensus, stability, relation to other sources, and so on.

Well?

[Please respond below; do not disrupt this initial post of the subsection.]

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 10:29, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

We already do something similar to this. To take the section on LQ for an example, it includes a link to the regular Wikipedia article on this type of punctuation. That article covers the details and history of LQ, BQ and AQ in a relatively unbiased way. Separately from how it applies to our purposes, I feel that this system creates an interesting balance between the proscriptive MoS and the descriptive standard articles. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:46, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
I have just started the page Wikipedia:Manual of Style Register. -- Wavelength (talk) 16:38, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
There is already a register at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory. -- Wavelength (talk) 20:08, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Wavelength:
Your attitude is so refreshing! "I have just started the page." Excellent! I have looked at the new Wikipedia:Manual of Style Register. It's great! A solid beginning. And yes, there is already a sort of register at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory. I thought that was useful when it was actively pursued, but I never considered it well-founded or linked as it might be to our work here. It is sparsely linked to, with nine links, four being from userspace (including Wavelength userspace, of course). The page is no longer maintained (last edit: 6 July 2009). Still, it can be turned to good use: an invaluable mine of information for building the new Wikipedia:Manual of Style Register.
Everyone:
Let's have discussion on this! New thinking (that learns from the past), new analysis (that probes well beyond prejudices), new energy (undamped by kneejerk negativity).
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:11, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Noetica's proposal looks good indeed. Tony (talk) 22:20, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
I did read this proposal when Noetica first mentioned it; I was doubtful then and I am moreso now. If the MoS were static, then the register would be excellent. It would—assuming that I understand it properly—function like endnotes in a critical edition of a historic text. But the MoS is dynamic; it changes constantly, usually in minor details but sometimes in major ways. Each such change will require a corresponding change of the register. For editors who are aware of the register, conscious of its purpose and willing to collaborate with others, the maintenance of the register would become habitual and second-nature. Regulars at the MoS would update it at the same time they updated the MoS itself, and it would greatly clarify how the MoS came to be.
The problem comes from editors who are new to this page, who are unfamiliar with the register, who are unwilling to dedicate their time to its maintenance, or who are uninterested in the long-term care of the MoS. Such editors will not update the register, and they will be offended if we tell them they must. Surely you can imagine the scene after a long-time editor, someone with a reputation and stature among us, comes here and is rebuffed because we have our own private method for recording consensus. I think we would be attacked at the Village Pump: We would be accused—wrongly so—of being elitist and exclusive, because "only MoS insiders know about the oh-so-important register, but this is supposed to be the free encyclopedia anyone can edit." Someone would propose to eliminate the register, because it's "out-of-keeping with Wikipedia's principles", and quickly it would vanish. It would vanish because of people who are ignorant, but sometimes around here, ignorance is no excuse for silence.
I prefer User:WhatamIdoing's above suggestion of putting citations into footnotes. It suffers from a similar maintenance problem, but footnotes are better understood in the project than separate pages for endnotes. Furthermore, footnotes can be placed at any point in the text using the standard {{ref}} template.
One minor difficulty with either the register or footnotes is that when a discussion reaches consensus and the MoS is changed to reflect the new agreement, then the link to the discussion will have to be updated twice: Once in the original edit, and again when the discussion is archived. It should be possible to automate this, but that will probably require a custom bot. Ozob (talk) 00:20, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for joining the discussion, Ozob, even if your contribution is pessimistic. Some points in response:
  • You write: "If the MoS were static, then the register would be excellent. [...] But the MoS is dynamic; it changes constantly, usually in minor details but sometimes in major ways. Each such change will require a corresponding change of the register." But of course! The raison d'être and essence of a register is keep up to date. We need a current synopsis of the state of play, for topics covered in MOS. The older initiative (Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory) was bold and useful, and it can be mined for materials to build our new page. But that older page did not serve as a register of the state of play. It was more passive, despite the solid work put into it before it fell into disuse.
  • You write: "The problem comes from editors who are new to this page, who are unfamiliar with the register .... Such editors will not update the register, and they will be offended if we tell them they must." Why should they be told that they must? Others could do it instead. Why not? We have editors happy to act as monitors for all sorts of maintenance work like that. And if such monitoring work fell behind for a topic, this would be highlighted when the topic is next raised on the talkpage. The present text of MOS, the history of MOS and its talkpage, the non-updated entry in the Register: all these would provide data for bringing the Register up to take for the topic to hand.
  • You say that we would be exposed to accusations that we are "elitist and exclusive". But nothing in this proposal, or the FAQ development, excludes anyone in any way. These would help newcomers, by bringing them into the picture – not waving them off in the direction of an archival Sargasso Sea. Do we think that the process at WP:FAC is "elitist and exclusive", because it has its own customised ways (and designated monitors, what's more)? Some will think so: but then, some will think anything you can name. We can't be hobbled by such fears. We need to act in the interest of MOS consensus and stability; the qualities and needs of MOS are unique in Wikipedia and on the web. Sure, call confidently for comments at the Village Pump. I think people will be relieved to see that we are finally getting our house in order.
  • So-called "footnotes" (a relic from the days when the codex book still dominated and despoiled the forests of Earth) are not the solution. They would bloat MOS, and would not be conducive to extended explanation and linking of the sort that a register would. The MOS Register would be a development and monitoring tool; that role is separate from the role of MOS itself. Most editors will not be interested in such adjuncts; they will be intimidated if they see "footnotes" hooked onto the MOS topic that interests them. Myself, I would prefer to see not even the few notes that we presently have in MOS. The MOS Register would not only remove any need for these: it would give us a new way to trim MOS generally, making MOS even more friendly, direct, and concise for consultation by editors.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 00:58, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Given that you have already started and abandoned a similar project, I can safely predict that it won't be kept up to date. That doesn't mean it wouldn't work. When someone badly needs to be reminded that they are redebating something that has been discussed 20 times before (if indeed that happens – I'm starting to wonder), then that would be the time someone would be motivated to update the corresponding register section. Apparently the main problem last time was, nobody bothered to link anyone to the Archive Directory when it was needed. Art LaPella (talk) 01:40, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
Art:
  • Whom do you address when you say "you have already started and abandoned a similar project"? Not anyone in the present discussion, surely. On the other hand, if you mean "all you MOS editors", why not use the pronoun "we", instead? Are you with the MOS endeavour, or an outsider? I hope you are with it!
  • Perhaps once more, "thinking makes it so", and negative remarks breed null results. But the MOS Register can be kept in editors' awareness as I have proposed, with the bold yet unobtrusive [R] link, and a heading at the top of WP:MOS and also of WT:MOS.
  • Thank you for what is optimistic in your comments. And yes, any reform will require that people be committed to the change, and not let it lapse if it really does make the difference that MOS needs.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 01:58, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
"Whom do I address ..." You were discussing the Archive Directory as something you all remembered, so I assumed you were all there. If that was the wrong assumption, well, it's just a pronoun. I wasn't there, so "we" would be unnatural; and yes, I do feel like an outsider in many ways. For instance, I wonder if Wikipedia wouldn't be more helpful, especially to my kids, if its style resembled Marvel Comics? (Imagine the Thirty Years War illustrated with speech balloons that say "Bam!" "Pow!") I watched this page just because I wanted to see any changes that would affect my AWB settings. But sure, I want the best for Wikipedia. I don't have nearly the same expertise in style manuals as the rest of you, and thus I have yielded easily in such discussions. But outside of academia, it is commonplace to distinguish between technical knowledge and the business management savvy it takes to get things done – which is not to say I'm a paragon of the latter virtue; my business success is due to my own efforts, not leading others. Art LaPella (talk) 04:51, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
While I believe that we should try the register to see if it helps, I share some of Ozob's concerns. It will be more work and we will have to both 1. make sure that both Wikipedia newcomers and Wikipedia editors who don't frequent the MoS can find it easily and 2. that we don't use it as an excuse to tell people to shut up. We should use Ozob's comments as a reminder to watch out for the appearance of elitism and other similar issues. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:23, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

← Since it seems critical, in making this work, that it be prominent so that people know it's there, I would suggest that the link should be something slightly less unobtrusive and more self-documenting than [R]. If it's really placed on the section heading line to the left of the [edit] link, it's not going to be in the way if it's more than one character long, after all. How about [reg]?

Perhaps I haven't understood what is being proposed here; I don't see why anyone would be rebuffed over this. It's just a tool for keeping track of consensus decisions that have been made, isn't it? I'd understood that the inherently messy process of reaching consensus would still be the same sort of messy here that it is everywhere else, except that this would make it easier for us to recreate the history later. (I'm thinking of Fisher Ames: "a republic is a raft which will never sink, but then your feet are always in the water.") --Pi zero (talk) 05:50, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Well I'd support WP:MOSR or WP:MOSREG so long as I don't have to CTRL-F Wavelength's original link every time. MOSREG seems more than reasonable.
I hope so, Pi Zero. I see some potential for abuse here, and it's something we should keep an eye out for. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:27, 15 January 2010 (UTC)
I propose that the new page be made prominent by the addition of a statement at or near the top of Wikipedia:Manual of Style and the top of Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style. The statement could be as follows: "A record of decisions related to this page can be found at Wikipedia:Manual of Style Register, and each section and subsection of this page with information there has a link to that page, R." (It might even be linked directly to the specific section or subsection.) The symbol "R" is better than "Reg" because it will still be valid if someone decides to change the word "Register" in the name of the new page to "Record" or "Review" or "Rationale", or decides to rearrange the words to "Register of the Manual of Style". The new page can have a new shortcut: "WP:MOSR" (with "WT:MOSR" for its discussion page).
-- Wavelength (talk) 02:03, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
While I have no strong feelings regarding R vs. REG, the rest seems like an excellent idea. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:03, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
When I started Wikipedia:Manual of Style Register, I was avoiding the acronym "MOS" (some editors type "MoS"), with the phrase "Manual of Style" modifying the noun "Register", although I realized at the time that "Style Register" might be misconstrued as a unit (together with "of", modifying the noun "Manual"). See this recent edit. "Wikipedia:Manual-of-Style Register" might be less ambiguous, but it might lead some editors to insert hyphens where they should not be. Now I am considering "Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register" and "Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Register)" as other options.
I am also thinking about starting a new page "Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Register" (shortcut: "WP:MOSNUM/R") as a supplement to "Manual of Style (dates and numbers)" (shortcut: "WP:MOSNUM").
I am also thinking about starting a new page "Manual of Style (disambiguation)/Register" (shortcut: "WP:DAB/R") as a supplement to "Manual of Style (disambiguation)" (shortcut: "WP:DAB").
-- Wavelength (talk) 16:11, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I have just started Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Register. -- Wavelength (talk) 18:49, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
[I am moving my comment of 18:49 out of my comment of 16:11, 16 January. -- Wavelength (talk) 20:33, 17 January 2010 (UTC)]
I have started Wikipedia:Manual of Style (disambiguation pages)/Register. -- Wavelength (talk) 19:11, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps it should have the words "consensus register" in it. SMcCandish and Trebuchet looked at the page and couldn't tell what it was. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:41, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
As long as the word "consensus" has no clear definition in the context of Wikipedia discussions, I prefer the word "decision" to the word "consensus". -- Wavelength (talk) 17:21, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I moved Wikipedia:Manual of Style Register to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register. -- Wavelength (talk) 01:26, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
I have recently started the page User:Wavelength/About Wikipedia/List of Manual of Style talk page search boxes. Would it be beneficial for there to be a (possibly revised) copy of it in project namespace? -- Wavelength (talk) 02:15, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Impressive. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:11, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
I have started Wikipedia:Manual of Style/List of talk page search boxes. -- Wavelength (talk) 02:07, 17 January 2010 (UTC)
During the past few days, I have done maintenance work on Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory, by supplying links to discussions in the following archives.
Also, I have added the following pages to my watchlist.
I hope to have a clearer idea soon of when to supply (at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory) links to discussions in Archive 111.
As Noetica said, Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory is "an invaluable mine of information for building the new Wikipedia:Manual of Style Register" (now renamed the Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register). -- Wavelength (talk) 21:00, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
I have added (at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory) links to discussions in Archive 111. User:MiszaBot II said, at 07:04, 17 January 2010: "Archiving 1 thread(s) from Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style. (ARCHIVE FULL)". Wavelength (talk) 05:52, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
The latest change to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register was on 17 January 2010. I wish to invite more Wikipedians to be active in maintaining the Register. -- Wavelength (talk) 02:15, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

The problem of citation templates

They've become part of the landscape, but we believe it's time to assess whether they are a net advantage to the project. The discussion is here. Tony (talk) 11:11, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

More general, already somewhat advanced discussion already in progress at Wikipedia:Centralized discussion/Wikipedia Citation Style --Cybercobra (talk) 12:13, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
No, that's a completely different issue. Tony (talk) 07:19, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

Trouble with diff

Firefox is crashing whenever I attempt to do this month's diff of this page; I've never had this happen before. Anyone else having the same problem? Can someone do the monthly diff for this page for WP:Update/2? - Dank (push to talk) 16:03, 26 January 2010 (UTC)

Nope. Firefox is working fine over here. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:54, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Still not working for me, when I do the diff from the last edit of December to the current edit, I see the first screenful, and then nothing else will work until I hit Ctrl-F4 to exit that tab. If someone will add the monthly diff to WP:Update/2, I'd appreciate it. - Dank (push to talk) 21:22, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
It's a bug with WikEd, probably choking on the size of the diff, I'll report it. Sigh, the WikEd diff would be nice on that page. - Dank (push to talk) 00:11, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Correction: it wasn't crashing exactly, it turns out it was grabbing my cursor and not letting go for 3 to 4 minutes. It appears to generate the diff correctly after all that. - Dank (push to talk) 00:27, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Passive voice

I've just seen this:

If using passive voice constructions, be awrare that this can cause confusion about the subject and object of a sentence, and may produce mild forms of weasel wording. For example, the sentence "Mr. Peabody was criticized for his failure to use his WABAC machine responsibly" is a passive voice construction that obscures the identity of the critic; the equivalent active voice construction – "Sherman criticized Mr. Peabody for failing to use his WABAC machine responsibly" – is clearer and better attributed.

As explained by Huddleston and Pullum on A Student's Introduction to English Grammar (p. 247), the issue is not the passive voice. As far as the issue of weasel words is concerned, Mr. Peabody received criticism for... would be no better than Mr. Peabody was criticized for..., and Mr. Peabody was criticized by Sherman for... would be no worse than Sherman criticized Mr. Peabody for.... ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 12:41, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Good point. The example does do an effective job, though. How about if we replace "may produce mild forms of" with "make make it harder to avoid" or "may cause editors to slip into"? Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:16, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think this sort of stylistic advice belongs here at all. If we included (somewhere else) advice on when the passive is not appropriate we should also give similar advice on the active voice, perhaps on the lines of

If using active voice constructions, be aware that this may tempt you to include information about the agent where it is not appropriate, for instance because the agent is unknown, because you have no reliable source for the supposed information, because the agent is not noteworthy or would thus be given undue weight, [. . .] Thus you might breach policies or guidelines that relate to verifiability, original research, undue weight, neutral point of view, information on living people, etc. Even in those cases where the agent should be mentioned, clarity might be improved by including that information in a separate sentence.

It could be argued that encyclopedic style and Wikipedia policies and guidelines favour frequent use of the passive voice. I tried looking at the ledes of a few recently promoted featured articles. In the first three I looked at, the percentage of sentences using the passive voice ranged from a little over 20 percent to a little over 70 percent. The ideal percentage may vary with the subject matter. One can, of course, always come up with examples where changing the voice would improve the sentence. --Boson (talk) 17:09, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree, take it out. This kind of "advice" promotes the fiction that you can turn crappy writing into good writing by mechanically removing specific words or grammatical constructions (as with due to → because of). Strad (talk) 18:03, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
The closest thing to a sane recommendation concerning that topic would be: "Many sentences sound better and are clearer in the active voice than in the passive voice. Many other sentences sound better and are clearer in the passive voice, instead." As such, it's clear that it'd be hard to make that into something useful. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 20:13, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
The passive voice has its place. If we want to discourage weasel wording, let's not weasel around and blame the passive voice. JIMp talk·cont 20:44, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

I feel like we just had this conversation a few short months ago. Which we did. Based on the combination of that discussion and this one, both of which were strongly against any anti-passive voice section of the MoS, I have boldly removed this one as well.oknazevad (talk) 22:25, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Another editor posted, with no discussion here, that note with the suggestion that the passive voice should be avoided unless ablosultely required to preserve sense. I was not willing to leave such a proscription in place without there having been any discussion here, but rather than delete the whole paragraph, I tweaked his reasons for avoiding it into a note suggesting care if using it. No objection to it being removed.

I find it extraordinary that the MoS, surely one of the key pages, is not a fully-protected page. If the Mos can be changed by anyone with a registration, it cannot be trusted to reflect the consensus of the community. Kevin McE (talk) 23:35, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Not even fundamental policies like WP:NPOV or WP:N are fully protected. The MoS is surely more liquid than they are.
As far as passive voice goes, I think it might be best to make A. di M.'s suggestion explicit in the MoS. There are plenty of people who consider the passive voice an error; I remember being taught in school that it was an error, and it was years before I realized that the prohibition was ridiculous. If we are going to allow the passive voice, then we ought to do so explicitly. Ozob (talk) 02:40, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm the person who originally added this section - sorry, I had no idea there was a previous discussion on the subject.

Let me be clear why I added it. The passive voice (while perfectly acceptable where it's needed) Is often misused (particularly by editors who think it 'sounds more scholalrly'), and tends to lead to sloppy, unclear sentence structures. The passive voice has two main interrelated uses: it accents the object clause in a sentence to give it more prominence, and it obscures the subject when the subject isn't all that important. for example: "Nuclear power is used by several US states". In an article about nuclear power, this puts the focus on nuclear power (the object of the sentence, but the subject of the article) and minimizes the importance of states (which are possibly inconsequential to that topic. However, I frequently run across pages where the passive voice is used improperly, either to emphasize some minor point or to hide the subject of a sentence is a weasel-wordy fashion. The most recent example is on Atropa Belladonna, where a couple of editors are holding out for "Homeopathic remedies labeled as belladonna preparations have been sold as treatments for various conditions" as opposed to "Belladonna preparations have been sold as homeopathic remedies for various conditions". The reason the editors are doing this (self-admittedly) is that they want to accent the perceived failings of homeopathy and minimize the fact that belladonna preparations are available for sale (even though homeopathic use of belladonna is a very minor feature of the article). further, I often tun across statements that have gone through several revisions and end up looking like this: "Nuclear plants are operated by several US states with increased levels of radioactivity", which makes it unclear whether the power plants or the states have those increased levels of radioactivity. Adding a section that says that active voice is preferred will help resolve both these kinds of issues: it will removed the stylistic ambiguity that allows the first kind of POV pushing, and help to prevent and resolve the second kind of confusing writing.

I think this is a perfectly valid style point, and it since it will help to clean up some of these content issues at the same time it strikes me as a win/win. I'm open to revisions, of course - what would be a better way to phrase it? --Ludwigs2 03:44, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

"Wikipedia permits both the passive voice (This was done.) and the active voice (He did this.) depending on context. However, do not use the passive voice as an excuse to insert weasel words or conceal missing facts. Mr. Peabody was criticized. Mr. Peabody was criticized by Mr. Sherman. or Mr. Sherman criticized Mr. Peabody." Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:33, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
nice and succinct. can we work in the bit about confused referents too, or do you think that's too much? --Ludwigs2 04:47, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
You should make it more explicit that the last two examples is OK and the first isn't, for the benefit of colour-blind readers, readers using screen readers, etc. Otherwise, I agree with this advice (though I think it'd be more topical on WP:WEASEL than here. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 13:11, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
for example: "Nuclear power is used by several US states". In an article about nuclear power, this puts the focus on nuclear power (the object of the sentence, but the subject of the article) and minimizes the importance of states (which are possibly inconsequential to that topic. No, "nuclear power" is the subject of that sentence (notice how the verb agrees with the noun phrase "nuclear power" and not "several US states").

¶ While I'm a big fan of the active voice, there are two opposite habits you want to discourage. One is concealing the agent by using the passive voice ("mistakes were made") and the other is introducing a fictitious or hypothetical agent to form the active voice where none can be reliably hypothesised ("economic events caused a great increase in unemployment"). Purely in matters of style, the school which recently favoured deprecating the use of "one" as well as "you" and "we" in a recent discussion would have consequently greatly increased the use of the passive voice (which I disfavour). —— Shakescene (talk) 06:16, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

There are usually other ways around the use of "one" and "you". Darkfrog, I can't stand the Mr Mr thing in the example. It could come out. The first sentence is presumptuous. Start "Do not use ...". Does the reader know what a weasel word is? Tony (

talk) 06:24, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Mr. Peabody is a famous, time-travelling cartoon dog. Sherman (no "Mr." there) is his boy. So, if we're going to use those characters in a bit of harmless whimsy, we might as well get them right. As for the first sentence, I don't think it is a bad idea to make explicit that both "voices" are permitted, lest someone misinterprets the passage as a blanket prohibition of the passive voice. oknazevad (talk) 17:34, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
Ludwig2, I am not sure what you are getting at with your Atropa Belladonna example
  • "Homeopathic remedies labeled as belladonna preparations have been sold as treatments for various conditions" as opposed to
  • "Belladonna preparations have been sold as homeopathic remedies for various conditions"
As I see it, both versions use the passive voice ("have been sold"). I have not looked at the article, but this appears to be a matter of content, not style, and centres around whether the products are in fact genuine belladonna preparations or are merely so labelled. Presumably the issue is that, because of extreme dilution, there is no scientific basis for claiming as fact that a meaningful amount of the substance remains. I don't see that an active construction, presumably indicating who was doing the selling (or labelling, for that matter) would help.
I am also a fan of the active voice where it is appropriate, but the passive is such a normal and useful feature of discourse that it seems inappropriate to single it out for special treatment. --Boson (talk) 11:35, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
for example: "Nuclear power is used by several US states". In an article about nuclear power, this puts the focus on nuclear power (the object of the sentence, but the subject of the article) and minimizes the importance of states (which are possibly inconsequential to that topic. No, "nuclear power" is the subject of that sentence (notice how the verb agrees with the noun phrase "nuclear power" and not "several US states"). At any rate, are you aware that your writing is full of passive constructions? The passive voice (while perfectly acceptable where it's needed) Is often misused ... run across pages where the passive voice is used improperly ... Adding a section that says that active voice is preferred will help resolve both these kinds of issues.... Are you aware that the vast majority of featured articles in science use the passive voice in the opening paragraph? Does it not seem odd to call this grammatical construction undesirable when it is used so frequently by everyone who speaks and writes in English? Does the fact that editors sometimes overuse the passive voice mean that we should single it out from the thousands of other constructions or phrases in the English language that are sometimes overused and add a paragraph into the MoS that scares people away from using it entirely? No: there's no point. If an article is unclear or clunky or vague about agency, rewriting it to remove the passive voice is going to do as much good as rewriting the article to remove the letter "e". Strad (talk) 23:26, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps we could recruit Gilbert Adair to copy edit all those featured articles.--Boson (talk) 10:51, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
Boson: I'm trained as an academic in a field that likes passive voice. it's a damnably hard habit to break. Face-smile.svg
With respect to the nuclear power thingee (assuming I'm not confusing myself), the active voice construction would be "Several US states use nuclear power"; "Nuclear power is used by several US states" would be passive because nuclear power is the object (the thing being used) not the subject (the thing using). the passive voice in the 'belladonna thing is actually much more subtle than I had considered - the shift comes at "Homeopathic remedies labeled as belladonna preparations" - which turns 'belladonna preparations' into an object receiving a label from homeopathy, within a passive voice object clause that receives the action of being sold - as opposed to using 'belladonna preparations' as a direct object clause in itself. same principle, just abstracted a level. crazy shit.
I don't really want to eliminate the passive voice from wikipedia which would be impossible and absurd; I'm bothered by the passive voice primarily because (in notable cases) it's wordier, more subject to misinterpretation (intentional or otherwise), and falls apart easier under repeated editing. I'd be satisfied with making people aware of the potential failings of the usage and leaving it up to them to decide, if that makes things easier. --Ludwigs2 11:42, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
I haven't analysed this in detail, and there are doubtless many cases where a sentence that is wordy and subject to misinterpretation contains a passive (and the letter 'e'), but I see no reason to assume that passive forms are to blame. I would regard the following as typical uses of the passive:
  • Kennedy was assassinated on November 22.
  • Nixon was the only person to be elected twice to both the Presidency and the Vice Presidency.
  • Fruit bodies were first collected in Austin, Texas in 1893.
  • The murders were never solved.
  • The castle was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge, a former knight of Edward III.
  • The castle was subsequently dismantled.
  • In 1992 Albert Bridge was rewired and painted in an unusual colour scheme.
I do not understand how avoidance of the passive would improve the belladonna statement stylistically without changing the meaning; presumably the intention was to avoid using the unqualified term "belladonna preparation" to apply to a liquid that notionally contains 1 part belladonna in 1060 parts solution, so deleting the qualification "labeled . . ." changes the meaning. --Boson (talk) 20:10, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
Belladonna is part of the homeopathy war, which is part of the pseudoscience war. Every detail of wording is often contested in order to gain a microscopic advantage over the enemy, not because they are grammarians. Art LaPella (talk) 21:26, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
yeah, Art LaPella is right - AB was a bad example to use (just one that was on my mind because I've been beating my head against it recently)
With respect to your examples, I have no issue with any of them. just for an example of what I mean, though, your first one - Kennedy was assassinated on November 22 - would be fine on the Kennedy article, but the oswald article Ozwald assassinated Kennedy on November 22 would probably be preferred. but I'm not totally convinced of that, so I'll happily bow to to your perspective in this case. it's obviously not as important as I had originally assumed. --Ludwigs2 00:27, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Absolutely right, Ludwig and A.L.P. The editor should choose which voice works best with the article, in context. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:44, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
"Nuclear power" is the subject of the sentence "Nuclear power is used by several US states". This is explained in the article English passive voice. It is explained in excruciating detail beginning on page 240 of A Student's Introduction to English Grammar by Huddleston and Pullum. Can we please get a clear picture of what the passive is before we go into a discussion of its use? Strad (talk) 01:27, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Ellipsis character rationale

The MOS currently says the precomposed ellipsis character (…) is "harder to input and edit, and too small in some fonts. Not recommended." Recently, the "not recommended" status provoked the removal of the character from the edit tools, and discussion of whether curly quotes should also be removed, since they're "not recommended" either.

I've searched the MOS discussion archives but didn't find any discussion of how the ellipsis character is "harder to input and edit" or how it is "too small in some fonts." I did find an instance where this rationale was challenged with "why do we care about bad fonts?" but there were no responses. So I am bringing it up again.

  • Exactly which fonts are problematic, and are they really so widely used for viewing Wikipedia content as to be a concern?
  • Exactly how is it any harder to input than any other special character in the edit tools? Why single it out?
  • Exactly how is it "hard to edit" at all? What editing do you ever need to do to it besides removing it?

Please forgive me if I overlooked the relevant discussion; ellipsis is mentioned countless times in the archives and it's quite possible I missed where this was discussed before. But if these questions don't have solid answers, I don't see why the precomposed character should remain "not recommended" or why it shouldn't remain in the edit tools, at least under Symbols if not under Insert. Thanks for your time. —mjb (talk) 10:47, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

Mjb, I'm glad you have raised the matter here. I have long proposed that we MOS editors and the Edittools specialists should be in closer dialogue.
I recall some discussion of the preformed ellipsis on this page, but I can't place it exactly. (See sections immediately above, for moves to make better records of decisions here; and thanks for giving an example of the need for such reforms!) Generally, the thought was that we needed:
  • Just one form of the ellipsis, so that articles would have a uniform appearance, could be easily edited, and could be reliably searched (for technical editing purposes, or for retrieving text that includes ellipses for whatever purposes); therefore
  • The form that is easiest to input, the most commonly used, and the one with most reliable rendering properties would be ideal; and luckily
  • Three normal periods (full stops) fits all three criteria, especially being the most commonly used by non-typographer amateurs and the easiest to input. There are no technical hitches in its use (for example, the three dots do not break apart at the end of a line, so the preformed character has no advantage there).
I have read the discussion at MediaWiki_talk:Edittools#Ellipsis. Some remarks prompted by points made there:
  • The mere existence of an entity such as the preformed ellipsis does not make it "proper typography" for our unique collaborative, amateur, dynamic, online system for text on Wikipedia.
  • The mere existence of that character does not even make it "proper" for printed work. The legendary Bringhurst advises against automatic adoption of "off-the-shelf" characters, proposing often that custom solutions be found.
  • Enough is controversial already about ellipses (spacing adjacent to them; comportment with other punctuation; use with or without square brackets); we need to keep things manageable for our users, and requiring that they peck out characters from the edittools should be a last resort. Certainly it should not be required for basic punctuation.
  • In fact, though, it has been proposed at your Edittools talkpage that the ellipsis character be retained in the Symbols section (not the Insert section). I fully endorse that proposal. Why not shift all such non-MOS-approved characters into Symbols?
  • Some characters, like the square root sign, are not in that deprecated category, though they may appear to be at first glance. The sign √ is needed for casual or non-technical use, and its so-called "abuse" mentioned in earlier discussion at Edittools is not really abuse at all. It is the only alternative for those who don't know LaTeX. And note: √ is quite properly used beyond mathematics as an independent sign, in our articles. It indicates a root in historical linguistics, for example.
  • The Edittool listings need a general overhaul. There is every reason for the Latin section to be in alphabetical order, for example, and no reason for it to retain its present type-of-diacritic order, which is fiendishly annoying in practice. The Greek section is better, having an alphabetic polytonic range after ranges of common monotonic forms. But it could do with tweaking also.
  • Dialogue with MOS editors would help in sorting out such issues, but as far as I know this has never happened systematically. I hope we can all see the need for that, and I look forward to such a collaboration.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 11:41, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
I can't see any advantage of using … (single char) rather than ... (three chars): they look identical or almost so in practically all proportional fonts, the former looks crappy in monospaced fonts, and the latter is much easier to type. So I strongly prefer the latter. On the other hand, the former causes no more problems than most other non-ASCII characters such as dashes, so I don't even bother replacing it when I encounter it. As for the bullet about "three spaced periods", has it ever occurred to anyone to do that in a WP article before reading this guideline, or is it just another instance of WP:BEANS? Personally, I'd just trash the whole "Style" list of the "Ellipses" section: I don't think its usefulness justifies the bytes used for it. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 14:30, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
A di M, I agree that the Ellipses section of MOS is too wordy. A few sections up from here I highlight it as needing tighter exposition. But we should list the three common styles (…, ..., . . .). Editors will consult MOS about style of ellipses: I've seen it raised at talkpages often enough.
I don't know that ". . ." is common in WP articles; but it certainly needs explicit mention and dismissal in MOS. Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) devotes about six pages to the ellipsis, and approves various competing conventions for its use: but throughout, ". . ." is the only style it countenances, apart from the confused discussion of a fourth dot. Similarly for the majority of American guides, and many British. They do not address what we confront here, the main issue being potential linebreaks between the dots of ". . .". Therefore, not WP:BEANS at all.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 21:01, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
I fully endorse what Noetica has said. In particular, the single-character ellipse, as well as being less convenient to key in, renders the three dots far too widely, IMO. Tony (talk) 23:06, 8 January 2010 (UTC)
Personal preferences about how compactly ellipses should render aside, the fact that "…" and "..." "look identical or almost so" is just as easily an argument for both being equally acceptable, rather than for one being dismissed. This equality makes it even more tempting to use the character that means ellipsis rather than a set of three characters that visually represent one. And the difference in how cumbersome each one is to enter is sufficiently small to make it a matter of personal preference. Period-period-period, Alt 0133, copy-paste, or click or click-drag in Edittools, it's all the same to me, but I'm not going to tell someone that because I find period-period-period marginally easier to type, that they should not use the slightly more difficult options if they're so inclined.
And so what if the precomposed character "looks crappy in monospaced fonts"? Why do we care about monospaced fonts? They make lots of things look awful, particularly any glyph that's normally very narrow and must be rendered dead-center and with too much space around it (a period for example, or three in a row!), or a glyph that's normally very wide, like an ellipsis or dash, which has to be squashed. But is Wikipedia content being rendered on a sufficiently large number of monospace displays that we need to be concerned about this?
To address one of Noetica's points, we need to keep things manageable for our users, and requiring that they peck out characters from the edittools should be a last resort. Certainly it should not be required for basic punctuation. — no one is suggesting that the precomposed ellipsis be required or even "recommended", only that it no longer be "not recommended". It would suffice to say that use of the precomposed character is an acceptable, optional alternative to three periods. —mjb (talk) 00:59, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
The edit box is by default monospaced, and so it is for anyone who doesn't know how, doesn't bother, or doesn't want to change it (I guess more than 90% of editor). ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 13:16, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

I too agree that we should require three unspaced periods, and I also agree that the present section on ellipses is too long. Here is a possible replacement:

An ellipsis (plural ellipses) is an omission of material from quoted text; or some other omission, perhaps of the end of a sentence, often used in a printed record of conversation. The ellipsis is represented by ellipsis points: a set of three dots. Wikipedia represents ellipses by three unspaced periods (...). Do not use the Unicode pre-composed ellipsis character () or spaced periods (. . .).
An ellipsis usually has a space on either side. However, do not put a space between an ellipsis and:
  • A quotation mark following adjacent to the ellipsis,
  • Any bracket enclosing the ellipsis, or
  • Sentence-final punctuation, colons, semicolons, or commas directly following the ellipsis.
Include sentence-final punctuation after an ellipsis only if it is textually important. For example, exclamation marks and question marks.
When transcribing spoken material, do not use an ellipsis to represent a pause in speech.
Do not put square brackets around an ellipsis unless it is needed to indicate that the ellipsis does not occur in the source material. For example, when quoting a transcript which contains ellipses, omitted passages should be marked with [...].

There is one thing which is not included in my rewrite. I have removed the instructions on non-breaking spaces because I didn't know what to do with them. The MoS presently says:

  • Use non-breaking spaces (&nbsp;) only as needed to prevent improper line breaks, for example:
    • To keep a quotation mark from being separated from the start of the quotation: "...&nbsp;we are still worried."
    • To keep the ellipsis from wrapping to the next line: "France, Germany,&nbsp;... and Belgium but not the USSR."

I am not sure how to define an "improper line break", so rather than make a poor guess I have left it out for the moment. Ozob (talk) 01:31, 9 January 2010 (UTC)

I imagine that an improper line break would be any line break that divides what's not supposed to be divided. All three dots in an ellipsis should be on the same line. All the quotation marks in "example of 'quote-within-a-quote' " should be on the same line even though there is a space between the last two.
As far as ellipses go, within correct styles, we should allow editors their freedom. If we keep the spaced ellipsis, then the MoS should include a note telling editors the code for non-breaking spaces. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:16, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
No, Darkfrog: the three dots of our recommended ellipsis will never break apart. An "improper break" is exactly as given in the examples. We don't want this to happen:

In spite of these precautions, he concluded: "...
we are still worried."

Or this:

He enumerated several prospective markets: "France, Germany,
... and Belgium but not the USSR."

This too is universally judged improper:

Did he say "Germany and Belgium; but not the USSR, Poland,
..."?

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 04:06, 9 January 2010 (UTC)
Generalizing from your examples, it seems that non-breaking space should be inserted if:
  1. The ellipsis is adjacent to a punctuation mark; in this case, the non-breaking space is on the other side of the ellipsis; or
  2. The ellipsis is separated by a space from a punctuation mark; in this case, the non-breaking space is between the ellipsis and the punctuation mark.
Does this look right? Also, I have corrected an error in my proposal: There should be no space between an ellipsis and any quotation mark, not just a following quotation mark. Ozob (talk) 03:18, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

[←]Mjb, some responses to points you make above:

... the fact that "…" and "..." "look identical or almost so" is just as easily an argument for both being equally acceptable, rather than for one being dismissed.

I think not. If "…" and "..." are hard for an editor to distinguish visually, that is a serious problem because the two may look egregiously different on another user's system (perhaps an end-user's screen), yet the present editor may not detect the potential problem. This may apply even in the edit view. The situation is seen to be worse when we note other ways Wikipedia text is used: it is quoted online with all manner of fonts and formatting in place; it is printed out by end-users, and even appears in traditional print publications. Bad choices and inconsistencies that we gloss over now may re-emerge later, to no one's benefit or credit.

... but I'm not going to tell someone that because I find period-period-period marginally easier to type, that they should not use the slightly more difficult options if they're so inclined.

You might not give that advice; but MOS should recommend only period-period-period (...). Not only are there the reasons I have repeated and amplified just now, there is another quite distinct reason. The preformed ellipsis can appear in edit text in these four ways at least (and you may add some others):
&hellip; &#x2026; &#8230; …
Tech-oriented editors have their own preferences among these, and will apply them if the preformed ellipsis is approved. Add to these four the two other kinds of ellipsis mentioned in MOS, and add adjacent hard spaces in various positions (also variously coded), and we can see that a laissez-faire approach leaves editors to deal with these variants, any combination of which may occur together in the edit text for an article, between text and text (where text may include other punctuation):
text &hellip;text
text &#x2026;text
text …text
text ...text
text .&nbsp;.&nbsp;.text
text&nbsp;&hellip;text
text&nbsp;&#x2026;text
text&nbsp;…text
text&nbsp;...text
text&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.text
text&hellip;&nbsp;text
text&#x2026;&nbsp;text
text…&nbsp;text
text...&nbsp;text
text.&nbsp;.&nbsp;.&nbsp;text
text&#160;&hellip;text
text&#160;&#x2026;text
text&#160;…text
text&#160;...text
text&#160;.&#160;.&#160;.text
And at least double that list, using other combinations that would be equally allowed.
Mjb, it is to avoid this sort of monstrosity that MOS keeps things simple and manageable for the average non-tech-nerd. It is fatally easy for Edittools specialists, for example, not to consider consequences like this. Finally, remember that our articles are edited iteratively and collaboratively. Even if one method for ellipses were used consistently by any one editor, a succession of editors with different ways can leave in their wake a text that is barely editable, and likely to frighten novices away altogether. Such a text might even be hard to search through for automated rectification by bots – and complexity breeds errors.
You wanted MOS input to deliberations at Edittools; will you now take it on board? You now have compelling reasons to rethink this opinion: "It would suffice to say that use of the precomposed character is an acceptable, optional alternative to three periods."

Now, Ozob:

Earlier on this page I wrote: "I have found a neat way to fix the ellipses guidelines; but I will not put it forward unless circumstances improve." I also said that the guidelines were "stable enough". But I do not think they are entirely right. They have included palpable flaws for more than two years, and your rewrite does not remove those flaws. For example, what you rethought most recently:
However, do not put a space between an ellipsis and:
  • A quotation mark following adjacent to the ellipsis,
  •  [...]
In fact, quite often there should be a space between an adjacent quotation mark and an ellipsis (in either order). Two points of procedure for you:
  1. The present section is "advertised" to the community as concerned with the ellipsis character, not with the the deployment of ellipses. If you propose your broader changes in this section, therefore, people will not have been alerted; and whatever we mean by the word, you will not have achieved consensus.
  2. You ignored my earlier request to focus on such superordinate procedural matters, when you made changes to the en dash guidelines (also without advertising them in a well-labelled section, I note). I did not then revert your edit; but I do wish you would respect these other opinions, rather than forging ahead without due notification or any semblance of durable consensus, according to any standards approved on Wikipedia.

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 06:11, 10 January 2010 (UTC)

The period in the edit text can look like ., &#46;, or &#x25;; that alone makes for 27 ways of typing the string ... in the edit box. :-) (BTW, I support Ozob's idea of replacing the "Style" list with one short sentence. I'm not sure about the rest of the section.) ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 13:26, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Regarding ellipses: I did not originally intend my rewrite to eliminate any flaws; I intended it only as liposuction. I only became interested in changing the content when I realized that I didn't understand the rules on non-breaking spaces, and, as I hope you can see from my inquisitive tone above, I am still trying to figure them out. I would like to see examples of situations where there should be a space between an ellipsis and a quotation. I am also curious to see your rewrite, though I understand why you would be reluctant given your past experience here with possessives.
Regarding en dashes: As I said in my edit summary, I believe that the present text has consensus. There is no reason for me to not implement consensus.
Regarding procedural matters: I will have nothing to contribute to that discussion until I can think of an objective standard for consensus. I have not succeeded yet, but I have been following the discussion. Furthermore, I see no reason why we should not consider other, more traditional matters here at the same time as we discuss consensus.
I suspect that you and I have somewhat different editing styles. I think you are more cautious than I am. I tend to jump in and start working; I am not afraid to change the MoS, even though it affects millions of articles. You did that with your excellent stream of corrections and improvements a few days ago, but I think you prefer to be more cautious than me with larger edits. Am I right, or am I misunderstanding you? I would like to work with you despite our differing attitudes. Ozob (talk) 19:57, 10 January 2010 (UTC)
Ozob, sorry for the delay in getting back to this. Points to answer your points:
  • I understand how and why your focus shifted, but the fact remains: we have to signal proposed changes before making them. Editors interested in the wording of the ellipses section, or the detailed guidelines for use, might pass over a section headed "Ellipsis character rationale", after a cursory scan of the first few lines. And they might continue to ignore all occurrences in their watchlists under such a heading. Whatever consensus is, it will surely require well-marked discussion.
  • You are curious about my questioning this: "Do not put a space between an ellipsis and: / A quotation mark adjacent to the ellipsis." Here is an example where, following general principles (including our own), there ought to be such spaces, for the two marks in either order. A quote, abridged using ellipses, from a long-winded prosecutor who quotes the words of a defendant and of a jurisprudential text:

Does the defendant claim that her co-accused "persuaded her by devious means", that she was ... "not there at the time", that both parties were "drunk and not fully responsible" ...? Well, how can all of these be true? If "truth" ... is understood in "the usual ways" ... and not to suit one's need to evade the consequences of one's actions ... "the convenient ways" ..., then some of her claims must be false.

Practice differs, of course: but then, practice is confused. (By the way: procedurally here, the meaning of A adjacent to B must be loose enough to allow that there be a space between A and B.[Wording modified later.–Noetica])
  • You are curious about my proposed simplified rewrite; but I have developed a conflict of interests with other activities, and now prefer not to put such innovations forward on Wikipedia. I could: but I do not offer it because the effort would very likely be wasted (compare once more Archive 108, and the futility with possessives). For such widely discussed topics, meticulous "original research" might be more welcome elsewhere.
  • Procedural questions are manifestly the most pressing on this page now, and attention is a scarce resource. Dealing at length with one question often means that other questions get less attention than they merit.
  • We may indeed have different editing styles. I focus intently on the smallest matters (like spaces with en dashes), and the big picture (like procedure and the nature of consensus), but tend to ignore the mesoscopic, which may be your preferred focal range.
  • I'm sure we could all work better together, with greater effort and with respect for each other's strengths and insight into our own weaknesses. But as I have said, I only returned to MOS because there was an itch with citations of guides that I wanted to scratch, and I have decided that my circumstances will not allow me to continue – neither here nor at Wikipedia as a whole. For now, that is. I'll put a note at my talkpage soon. No big deal.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:42, 12 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree that this is not the best thread in which to overhaul the rules on spacing ellipses. Perhaps we will discuss it another time. Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed seeing your example! I agree that such ellipses ought to be spaced. (I also agree that "adjacent" needs to be carefully specified.)
I hope that your hiatus is short and that you are able to return to editing Wikipedia soon. Ozob (talk) 00:28, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Ordering the Latin symbols at Edittools

Noetica, you said, at 11:41, 8 January 2010 (UTC): "There is every reason for the Latin section to be in alphabetical order, for example, and no reason for it to retain its present type-of-diacritic order, which is fiendishly annoying in practice." Both orders can be accommodated by the use of both dimensions (horizontal and vertical), as follows. The display is incomplete but illustrative.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Á   Ć   É       Í     Ĺ   Ń Ó     Ŕ Ś   Ú       Ý Ź
À       È       Ì           Ò           Ù
   Ĉ   Ê   Ĝ Ĥ Î Ĵ         Ô       Ŝ   Û   Ŵ   Ŷ
Ä       Ë       Ï           Ö           Ü       Ÿ
à       Ẽ       Ĩ         Ñ Õ           Ũ       Ỹ
    Ç       Ģ       Ķ Ļ   Ņ       Ŗ Ş Ţ 
                                        Ů
Ǎ   Č Ď Ě       Ǐ     Ľ   Ň Ǒ     Ř Š Ť Ǔ         Ž
Ā       Ē       Ī           Ō           Ū       Ȳ
Ă       Ĕ   Ğ   Ĭ           Ŏ           Ŭ
    Ċ   Ė   Ġ   İ                                 Ż
Ą       Ę       Į           Ǫ           Ų
      Ḍ       Ḥ       Ḷ Ṃ Ṇ       Ṛ Ṣ Ṭ 
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z
á   ć   é       í     ĺ   ń ó     ŕ ś   ú       ý ź
à       è       ì           ò           ù
â   ĉ   ê   ĝ ĥ î ĵ         ô       ŝ   û   ŵ   ŷ
ä       ë       ï           ö           ü       ÿ
ã       ẽ       ĩ         ñ õ           ũ       ỹ
    ç       ģ       ķ ļ   ņ       ŗ ş ţ
                                        ů
ǎ   č ď ě       ǐ     ľ   ň ǒ     ř š ť ǔ         ž
ā       ē       ī           ō           ū       ȳ
ă       ĕ   ğ   ĭ           ŏ           ŭ
    ċ   ė   ġ   ı                                 ż
ą       ę       į           ǫ           ų
      ḍ       ḥ       ḷ ṃ ṇ       ṛ ṣ ṭ
-- Wavelength (talk) 05:53, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
A worthwhile exercise, Wavelength. It shows the interaction of the two categorical variables: base letter (upon which almost universally accepted alphabetical ordering can be imposed) and type of diacritic (for which no widely accepted ordering applies). The edittools are not organised to implement such a two-dimensional array, though. The best we could have is a sub-sequence of all A-forms, then of all a-forms, then all B-forms, b-forms, C-forms, .... Within each sub-sequence there should be the same ordering by type of diacritic. One way to show the result, using the characters you present above:
AÁÀÂÄÃǍĀĂĄaáàâäãǎāăą Bb CĆĈÇČĊcćĉçčċ DĎḌdďḍ EÉÈÊËẼĚĒĔĖĘeéèêëẽěēĕėę ...
This would be far more usable for the Latin edittools: anyone looking for some variant of E, for example, can see immediately where it will be found.
I raised all of this with an admin, who fixed some other things that were easier to implement, but not this. I think we should make a new section at MediaWiki_talk:Edittools, based on both your array and my response here. (They usually don't discuss deeply or consult widely over there, I regret having to report. There's another area that needs procedural reforms, just as we at MOS do.) Would you like to do it, or should I? Or mjb?
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 09:24, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Noetica, if you make the initial representation, I'll chime in to back you up. We really do need to foster closer working relations with that page. Tony (talk) 10:31, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Please see MediaWiki talk:Edittools#Arrangement of Latin characters below edit window. -- Wavelength (talk) 16:04, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Hell yes, curly quotes should be removed from the edit tools. What a pain in metaphorectum those things are. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 11:50, 16 January 2010 (UTC)
Proposal is at Edittools talkpage, now
I have now raised my concrete proposal (see just above) in a new section at MediaWiki_talk:Edittools. MOS editors may like to monitor progress there.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 01:20, 18 January 2010 (UTC)
I have updated, expanded, and improved the proposal. Please have your say there, and also take the challenge I put forward. Too often posts are ignored at that page, yet the edittools affect all WP editors' daily work.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 07:48, 19 January 2010 (UTC)
For editors who have not been monitoring progress there, I am stating here that the new arrangement of Latin characters has been installed. -- Wavelength (talk) 19:55, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

BTW, the same should be done for greek characters. Headbomb {ταλκκοντριβς – WP Physics} 02:21, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Headbomb, could you present a proposal? Tony (talk) 06:20, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Double quotes preference

I think Darkfrog's change to the explanation has greatly improved it. Tony (talk) 03:28, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Thank you, Tony. I try. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:52, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

WP:ENDASH in a score

Do you consider this to be an exception to WP:ENDASH? Art LaPella (talk) 21:38, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Absolutely not; I've commented. As usual, it's impossible to fix on the template without specialised knowledge, a situation we should all abhor. Tony (talk) 22:12, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
Unfortunately we've hit a snag here. A user PeeJay2K3 has decided s/he does not like unspaced en dashes in scores when they are displayed in tables (the main use of this template); however, in running prose, unspaced is ok, according to this user. Any attempt to point out that the MoS has a well-established formatting rule for the whole of WP is met with WP:IDONTLIKEIT and ignore all rules replies.
Apart from the ridiculous notion that more column width should be spent on the scores (tables are usually desperate for horizontal space), and the increased risk of wrapping, there's the likelihood that editors will see these items (2 – 7) as the norm and use them in running prose. Assistance required. I have tagged the template as requiring a MoS audit. Tony (talk) 02:31, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I think PeeJay is right; the spaced dashes just look better, more like what you'd see in the sources that usually cover soccer, I say temerariously (not being particularly a soccer fan). --Trovatore (talk) 03:32, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I think it might be a good idea, then, to change the MoS to say that en dashes may be spaced when they appear outside prose. Ozob (talk) 04:01, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't think the spaced en dashes look better, but in any case saying "en dashes may be spaced when they appear outside prose" is far too broad. What about navboxes and succession boxes, or infoboxes? Why should we be making exceptions at all when we already have logical examples of when dashes should and should not be spaced, as opposed to something as subjective as "visual appearance"? Dabomb87 (talk) 04:28, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
Because, unlike prose, the spacing of a dash in a chart does not carry any specific connotation or meaning. Essentially, while spacing vs no spacing in prose changes the meaning from one accepted standard to another, without a key or legend, no chart, graph or table has a set meaning for punctuation. So long as the designer of the chart/table explains via key or header what the dashes and numbers mean, whatever they decide in the design is correct. It is incorrect for a reader to automatically read the conventions of prose into a chart, which is exactly what happens when one calls a chart "wrong" for using a dash differently than it would be used in prose. oknazevad (talk) 04:54, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
But why would you want to add spaces in a navbox or chart or infobox or table, for pity's sake? What is wrong with a good old unspaced dash between two numerals? And it is more difficult to read. Space is usually at a premium in such contexts. Tony (talk) 06:59, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
  • It looks like the start of a campaign to stop any MoS coverage of templates. Is everyone fine with this?
  • Dabomb87 provided this example, which is MoS-compliant, comparing with the disjointed effect that User:PeeJay has decided he wants to impose on all football articles (although he'll allow the running prose to be MoS-compliant). Tony (talk) 08:13, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
    • I've proposed a trivial technical solution to this problem. Please consider whether technical solutions are at least possible before making these silly little disputes personal in future. Thanks. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 11:40, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
      I was just about to propose that very solution... You beat me on time. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 13:40, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
      • No, Chris, sneaking in a half space at the whim of this tiny band of football template people won't bring MoS compliance. All of the articles in which the template is used will have to be tagged as MoS-non-compliant. Tony (talk) 22:29, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
        • That's not actually a refutation of the points made in the discussion. The compromise is, in fact, compliant with both the letter and the spirit of the MoS. Indeed, it was suggested independently in the discussion just above. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 23:10, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
    • "stop any MoS coverage of templates" I haven't gotten any objections to template edits like this. Art LaPella (talk) 22:15, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

beverage can and aluminium

There's some discussion, and sadly, much more in the way of reversion over at beverage can between using American and British (etc) English spelling of alumin(i)um. The pertinent questions seem to be: in which national variety of English was the first "substantive" version (here it appears as if a bullet-pointed list first appeared in AmE, the first version that resembles actual prose was in BrE, and so it went on in entirely incremental fashion ever since, so in short, "hard to say"); and, whether it's closely related enough to the topic of aluminium that there should be be a preference for the "official" (and our article's) name for the element (also hard to say, as it's not an actual chemistry article, but it certainly does talk about aluminium a whole lot). Thoughts, please? Smartiger (talk) 06:52, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

I'd go plain and simple with the AmEng bullet point, which was first. Who wants to spend time arguing about this kind of thing? Everyone understands what both versions mean, as long as it's consistent. Tony (talk) 07:01, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
Rather argument than reversion, surely, which seems to be the current state of play over there. If you think there's a clear-cut "first substantiative version" in AmE, perhaps you might row in behind an attempt to find a consensus for that view. Smartiger (talk) 00:50, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
It is my understanding that Wikipedia requires consistency within individual articles, not between articles, not even articles that are part of the same project. The spelling of the article on alumin/ium should have no bearing on the spelling of the article on beverage cans. (And thank God the title is "beverage cans" and not "soda vs. pop vs. a million other things cans.") Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:27, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
It's not just a matter of their being "part of the same Wikiproject", but of the scope of the stylistic conventions. In particular, Wikipedia:Naming conventions (chemistry)#Element names. Smartiger (talk) 00:50, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
That convention is clearly limited to chemistry articles, which beverage can obviously is not. It has no relevance at all to beverage can. --Trovatore (talk) 01:12, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
I think I made my thoughts on that clear in the first instance. I was responding to the "not even articles that are part of the same project" comment, which seemed to betoken a lack of awareness of there being any such convention at all. Smartiger (talk) 01:52, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

One vs. you

When did the pronoun "one" get removed from Wikipedia:Manual of style#Second-person pronouns and on what basis? The encyclopedia should never directly address the reader in an article (as opposed to a guideline, howto, etc.), unless in a self-reference, usually a cross-reference to another article or section ({{otheruses4}}, {{see also}}, etc.), and even then, we don't use pronouns at all. A lot of editors here are confused that just because "one" is more stilted-sounding than "you" that it is somehow more formal and appropriate. It isn't; it's simply more impersonal. It's the same thing as not telling readering "remember that..." or "Please note..." The don't-talk-to-the-reader advice should probably all be in one section. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 11:18, 23 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I've been wondering that too. Tony (talk) 11:46, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Could be because it's not a second-person pronoun. It's a third-person pronoun. Saying "one should eat oranges" is like saying "everyone should eat oranges." "One" is mentioned under WP:Gender-neutral language, however, where editors are told not to use it.
Frankly, I don't think we need to kick "one" off the table. It's rare in American English and sounds old-fashioned, but there's nothing wrong with it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:29, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
No, nothing wrong with it, except it doesn't lend itself to an encyclopedic tone. Can you use it in a sentence that would belong in an encyclopedia? Powers T 15:52, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
I can imagine use of "one" in gender-neutral statements like
  • ". . . introduced the idea that one should abstain from sex during the period of fasting."
  • ". . . preached that one should withdraw from the world."
  • ". . . holds that one cannot know anything absolutely."
--Boson (talk) 19:05, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Naaah. Use a noun. Tony (talk) 23:06, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
I think Boson's examples are fine; I wouldn't have any problem with those.
But you just can't say *Every student retrieved one's coat. Darkfrog, surely you're not claiming that this is a pondial difference? --Trovatore (talk) 23:11, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Likewise, one shouldn't say "one shouldn't say", which I think is the more common use of the pronoun, and the case meant to be excluded. But with Boson's examples, I suppose I can agree that it needn't be banned completely. Powers T 23:53, 23 January 2010 (UTC)
Trovatore has pointed out a specific instance in which "one" is not the best way to phrase the sentence. But such examples can be constructed around almost any word. Tony has pointed out that Boson's examples would also work well with using nouns, and this is true. But the question isn't whether or not Wikipedians should be allowed to use nouns—they are and they should—it's whether "one" is so bad that Wikipedian's shouldn't be allowed to use it when the opportunity to do so well presents itself. I don't see anything that suggests that it is. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:31, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Actually what I was saying doesn't seem to be directly on-point to the current discussion. I was thinking about the singular-they thing, where if I recall correctly you had suggested using one. I don't think one works as a substitute for singular-they/unmarked-he/he or she/etc. --Trovatore (talk) 00:41, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Correction, the actual question was why "one" had been removed from a list of second-person pronouns. I think we've answered that one. Americans tend to say "you" where Brits would say "one" doesn't make "one" second-person; it makes the general "you" a substitute third-person. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:34, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
  • "One" and "you" set up an interpersonal relationship between writer and reader. It is not encyclopedic. Tony (talk) 01:30, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
    • ? A key difference between "one" and "you" is that "one" does not refer to the reader, unlike "you" (or "we"). — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:35, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
      • It's still interpersonal, just as "Note that ..." is. It's uncomfortable in this NPOV, objective, public register. It's easily substituted, too. For the same reasons, scientific and scholarly text is usually subject to the same attitude, although looser than WP, since increasingly publishers will allow authors to refer to themselves as "I" or "we". Tony (talk) 01:45, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
        • Scholarly texts may not be the best example, since "we" is completely standard in the mathematics articles I work with. However, unlike "Note that", saying "one must drive slowly in the rain" is not a command to the reader; it's just a general statement about how one must drive in the rain. I honestly do not read it as interpersonal. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:54, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Grammatically, it's classified as such (like "really", "superb", "wonderful", "rather", "quite"), where the writer's personal view intrudes overtly. Can you provide an example from an article where it can't easily be improved by rewording? Tony (talk) 02:14, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
In such a statement, thought, it is the "should (not)", not the "one", that gives it that interpersonal tone, by turning it into an implicit command. If the sentence read "The members each gave of one's time.", then the one is being used purely to refer to an individual member of the group. There can be no misunderstanding by the reader that they might be the "one", the other potential source of believing that the text is directed at the reader.
Also, I would say, when it is used as part of a summary of someone else's views, and the surrounding text explicitly mentions who that someone is, then there is no concern of the author addressing the reader directly, as "one" is there used as part of the views of the subject of the passage, not (neccessarily) the author's views. Such is the case with Boson's examples above. In each the use of "one" is used in summarizing someone else's views while being general about whom the subject is applying their views to. oknazevad (talk) 03:57, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
I really don't see it, Tony. "One" seems a logical and grammatical match to "a person" or "everyone," not to "I" or "we." Can you point out an example that would show that "one" is inherently interpersonal? Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:52, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree with your second paragraph. I have to say I want to put an asterisk before *The members each gave of one's time, though. Maybe not quite an asterisk, but I hear it differently than you intended — it sounds like a slightly ironic way of saying The members each appropriated some of my time. --Trovatore (talk) 04:40, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
(Come to think of it, there's something awfully peculiar about following the members (plural noun phrase) by each (obligate singular pronoun/determiner). Can you say *The members each are cheerful? *The members each is cheerful? Clearly not, in each case. --Trovatore (talk) 04:43, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
I think you may be right. "Each member gave of their time." is how I would say it normally, but then we run into the dreaded singular they. "Each member gave of one's time." doesn't quite sound right, either, because of the "appropriation" interpretation you mentioned. "Each memebers gave of his or her time." would probably be the "correct" way to right it, though I still find that clunky. Anyway, I withdraw it as an example, though I still believe it is the "should", not the "one" in the phrase "one should" that creates the interpersonal tone that should be avoided. And I stick by my second paragraph completely. oknazevad (talk) 05:17, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Here's an example from the featured article Pluto: If one were standing on Pluto's near side, Charon would hover in the sky without moving; if one were to travel to the far side, one would never see Charon at all. (see full context at Pluto#Charon) I don't find this remotely interpersonal, the one standing could be anyone. There's no suggestion that I am, or anyone else in particular is, could be, or should be the one. (Are we in The Matrix?) To rewrite the sentence without "one" being involved presents other problems, i.e. ''If a person were standing on Pluto's near side, Charon would hover in the sky without moving; if that person were to travel to the far side, ? would never see Charon at all. Now we have to get into the singular they vs. he or she debate; plus IMO, the sentence is made clunkier. A person, this person, that person, another person... no. One. Wine Guy Talk 08:33, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

  • I'm thirsting for real examples that are not obviously in need of surgery in the first place.
"introduced the idea that one should abstain from sex during the period of fasting." -> "introduced the idea of abstaining from sex during the fasting period." [tiny change of meaning that should not be an issue]
"preached that one should withdraw from the world" -> preached that followers/people should withdraw from the world" or "preached withdrawal from the world"
"holds that one cannot know anything absolutely" -> "holds that no one can know anything absolutely" or "holds that nothing can be known absolutely"
"Each member gave of their time." Looks fine to me, and I'm a conservative as far as language goes.
Pluto: "If one were standing on Pluto's near side, Charon would hover in the sky without moving; if one were to travel to the far side, one would never see Charon at all." This is excusable, since it at least refers to bodily position (personal). But why not: "Standing on Pluto's near side, Charon would appear to hover in the sky without moving; from the far side, it would be impossible to see Charon." Much neater.

I think the MOS should say that "one" should be avoided where possible, not banned. Tony (talk) 08:48, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

But if you wrote "Standing on Pluto's near side, Charon would appear to hover in the sky without moving" you would probably confuse readers of Strunk & White, who, one presumes, really believe a participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must refer to the grammatical subject.--Boson (talk) 10:32, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, you're right. "From Pluto's near side, Charon ...". Easily fixed. Tony (talk) 10:40, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
I'd phrase the Pluto example as "To one/a viewer standing on Pluto's near side, Charon would appear to hover in the sky without moving."
In each of Boson's examples, "one" does the job about as well as anything else does. It's not about whether it's ever best option. It's about whether it's so bad that Wikipedia editors shouldn't be allowed to use it. We've seen arguments that the singular they is too informal, but that alone wasn't enough.
If we do change the rule about "one," we should probably make a note that it is only to be used in its "everyone" sense and never in its "I" sense. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:29, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

It is very difficult to talk about certain kinds of mathematical and algorithmic results without using "we", "one", or a similar substitute. E.g., antimatroid (the first article I looked at to find an example) contains the sentence "For every feasible set S in the antimatroid, and every element x of S, one may find a path subset of S for which x is an endpoint: to do so, remove one at a time elements other than x until no such removal leaves a feasible subset." If the sentence stopped at the colon, one could replace "one may find" by "there exists", but that changes the meaning of the sentence from a constructive to a non-constructive result. And I don't want to have to replace "one" by "an algorithm" all over similar articles in Wikipedia: it wouldn't make the articles any easier to read. So I am strongly opposed to outlawing this use of "one". (I assume we aren't even considering outlawing "one" as a word altogether, as its numerical meaning is also frequently indispensible.) —David Eppstein (talk) 16:52, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

"For every feasible set S in the antimatroid, and every element x of S, a path subset of S may be found for which x is an endpoint: to do so, remove one at a time elements other than x until no such removal leaves a feasible subset."?  HWV258.  21:28, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
That's in the imperative mood, so it has an implicit you. --Trovatore (talk) 21:31, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Exactly what I was going to say. The point behind the people who want to outlaw "one" is to outlaw anything that addresses the reader, not to outlaw a specific word, so this rewording would be equally as outlawed as the one in the article. —David Eppstein (talk) 21:33, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Could you please write the sentence with the explicit you (to illustrate the issue)?  HWV258.  21:58, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
The more common standard in technical writing in this subject would be to use "we", not "you", but ok: "For every feasible set S in the antimatroid, and every element x of S, a path subset of S may be found for which x is an endpoint: to do so, you may remove one at a time elements other than x until no such removal leaves a feasible subset." —David Eppstein (talk) 22:13, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
That's fair enough, but does that relate to the rewriting of "...one may find a path subset of S for which..." to "...a path subset of S may be found for which..."?  HWV258.  22:29, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
But the "one" in the mathematics example doesn't have to mean "you." It can just as easily be taken to mean "...a mathematician may may remove one at a time elements other than x until no such removal leaves a feasible subset."
David E. brings up a good point. If the second person is the problem, then ban that. If the third person isn't a problem, permit that. If "one" can be used either way, then permit it when it is used in the third person, if only then. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:49, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Strunk and White students will cringe at "...a path subset of S may be found for which..." If removing "one" means rephrasing everything like that, it's a no-go. Whatever our style is, it needs to accommodate the (largish) collection of people who were taught to prefer active constructions such as "... one may find a path by ...". Because random editors will show up to "correct" the grammar if it differs too much from what they expect.
I agree with Darkfrog that the "one" there refers to a hypothetical actor. We could write "... a person may find a path by ..." but the usual convention in English is to use "one" instead of "a person" in that setting. — Carl (CBM · talk) 12:19, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
I agree that in most cases "one can do this" can be replaced with "this can be done"; but when you get to "For every feasible set S in the antimatroid, and every element x of S, a path subset of S may be found for which x is an endpoint: to do so, elements other than x are removed one at a time until no such removal leaves a feasible subset."... That's awkward; and for longer algorithms, using the passive everywhere would make them much harder to read. ― A._di_M.2nd Dramaout (formerly Army1987) 12:40, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Now that this discussion has had time to settle, I think we've seen that using "one" in the third person can be in keeping with an encyclopedic tone but that only in certain cases is it the best of our available options. How would everyone feel about changing WP:GNL to recommend using "one" with caution? Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:56, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Endash in tables: spacing

In the 1903 Tour de France article, the routes of the stages are described with the start point and the end point. The stage that starts in Paris and ends in Lyon has the route "Paris–Lyon", with an endash. It used to be "Paris – Lyon", but because there is no reason for the space and it does not comply to MOS, the space has been removed, correctly I would say. The stage table now has the following entries:

Route
Paris–Lyon
Lyon–Marseille
Marseille–Toulouse
Toulouse–Bordeaux
Bordeaux–Nantes
Nantes–Paris

No problem so far. In the 1905 Tour de France, the route was changed to include the city named "La Rochelle". As you see, it has a space in the name, and that causes some "problems". If I apply the MOS to every route individually, part of the table will be:

Route
Toulouse–Bordeaux
Bordeaux – La Rochelle
La Rochelle – Rennes
Rennes–Caen

This is not consistent. (It is consistently following the same rule, but the result is not consistent, if you know what I mean: some endashes are spaced, some are not. Knowing no better word for this, I will use "consistent" from this.) I see the following options:

  1. Apply the MOS about endashes on every row separately: the result is the table above, where spacing is correct but not the same in every row.
  2. Apply the MOS about endasheson the entire table, such that if no city name is spaced, the endashes are never spaced, and if one or more city names are spaced, all endashes are spaced. The result is a consistent table, but no consistency between different Tour de France articles: the table in 1903 Tour de France would be spaced differently than the table in 1905 Tour de France.
  3. Apply the MOS about endasheson all Tour de France articles at the same time. Because there is at least one city that has a spaced name, all endashes used to describe a route in the stage table should be spaced.

Please note that I am only referring to the use of these routes in tables, not in prose. I don't know how "Internal consistency" (section 1.1 of the MOS) applies here, which option would be the best?--EdgeNavidad (talk) 11:29, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Usually the rules on consistency are applied on an article-wide basis. Thus, if the article uses the serial comma in one sentence, it must use the serial comma in every sentence; if an article uses the spelling colour in one place, it must use the spelling colour in every place. But inter-article consistency is not required: Red uses "color" and blue uses "colour". En dash spacing, however, is tricky: We had a big fight about it at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 112, and the resulting compromise left the MoS recommending the chimera above. But it was also left with a notice that the guideline was disputed; so I think that for the moment it would be acceptable for you to invoke WP:IAR and format the table as you wish. In the long run, however, the MoS will adopt a firm guideline on spacing en dashes one way or the other, and once this is done the Tour de France articles will have to comply. Ozob (talk) 14:18, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
OK, I have changed the MoS so that it says that your table entries should be all spaced or all unspaced. It does not say which; I felt like saying which would reopen our still-healing wounds. Ozob (talk) 14:28, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't want to reopen any healing wound, so I am satisfied to know that the problem is tricky. Should I ever take one of these articles to FAC, I will see what the consensus on endashes is then, and if it there no clear consensu at that moment, I will point to this discussion and ignore the rules because the rules are not firmly set. ;) --EdgeNavidad (talk) 16:56, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
In more recent Tours, where stages have gone between such multi-hyphenated places as Montereau-Fault-Yonne and Paris Champs-Élysées (TdF 2009, stage 21), we have scrapped the ndash in favour of a simple "to": if consistency across the project is the goal, maybe that could be rolled out. Kevin McE (talk) 19:45, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Heh. I just yesterday had a patch installed to the machinery for {{Infobox officeholder}} which does exactly the opposite of the above recommendation: by default the patch uses spaced endashes for date ranges like "October 8, 1793 – June 2, 1797", and unspaced for date ranges like "1787–1788", all in the same table within an infobox. This was not my preference, but the consensus among the users of that template was to follow the (controversial) MoS-recommended style for each individual entry (see Template talk:Infobox officeholder #Spaced endashes in date ranges), even if this results an inconsistent style within the infobox. We should add the above table to our set of things to worry about when we revisit the spaced en dash issue, which should be sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I've reverted the addition of the newly proposed rule. Eubulides (talk) 19:33, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Inconsistent on one level, you need to say. Language, style and formatting is full of this. Often you can't be consistent on all levels at once. I don't think "consistent" is a helpful word in this context. As far as I can see, the application of unspaced/spaced en dashes is perfectly consistent in the only way that matters: the relationship to internal spaces within the elements. Tony (talk) 22:20, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
"October 8, 1793 – June 2, 1797" vs "1787–1788" is not as bad as "Toulouse–Bordeaux" vs "Bordeaux – La Rochelle": in the first pair there's a difference in precision, whereas in the latter they are perfectly parallel constructions except that one town's name happens to be spelled with a space. I mean, if it were on one line you wouldn't write "Toulouse–Bordeaux – La Rochelle – Rennes–Caen" with this spacing (which would look like it meant something like "Toulouse–Bordeaux; La Rochelle; Rennes–Caen"), would you? I'd go with spacing every (or no) instance of a particular construction in each table. (OTOH, I would have no objection to "Salem–Portland, Colorado" and "Portland, Colorado – Seattle, Washington" in the same table; the difference is that the space in "Portland, Colorado" has a functional value, unlike that in "La Rochelle" which is a quirk; that's also the reason why I'd use a hard space in the latter but a normal one in the former.) ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 16:16, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

What is an infobox?

Am I right in believing that a template that summarises information covered in depth in the article prose can be regarded as an infobox? If not, is there any reason why such templates shouldn't be treated in a similar way to infoboxes? This relates to a possible issue I have with the MoS, but I want to get an understanding of the principles behind the current version. Regards, WFCforLife (talk) 03:24, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

I found my first reaction at Help:Infobox: "An infobox is ... added to the top right-hand corner ..." which isn't necessarily true of templates. Art LaPella (talk) 05:58, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
True. I guess what I want to know is that if a template fulfils the same purpose as an infobox (summarizing information contained in the article), should it be treated in the same way as an infobox? WFCforLife (talk) 06:16, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
An example would probably be helpful. And what do you mean "treated like infoboxes"? Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 09:08, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
An example would be {{footballbox_collapsible}}, in cases where the information is all communicated in the prose. By "treated like infoboxes", any information in the infobox should also be contained in an article. I'm suggesting that if a non-infobox template does the same, it should be treated "like an infobox". WFCforLife (talk) 10:01, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, there are templates like {{VG reviews}} which are treated like infoboxes because all the detail is in the prose. I think there are basically two types of non-navigational tables on Wikipedia: "data tables" which contain material essential to understanding the article, and "infobox tables" which just summarise stuff that's in the prose. Chris Cunningham (not at work) - talk 10:15, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
'infobox' seems to be a code word for a floating box in the introduction that summarizes important material about the topic. there are all sorts of article space templates that are not infoboxes in this sense - footers, data tables, quote boxes, dispute and cleanup tags, and etc. you're football box template seems more like a data table than an infobox. --Ludwigs2 10:43, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
(ec) As a general rule, you're right. But I think Chris has given a very good summary. My intention is to write an article (nearly) as comprehensive as this, with shorter match summaries bearing in mind that my team played 55 games. Unlike gridiron, in football it is possible to communicate every detail in the prose. If this were done, {{footballbox_collapsible}} would become an "infobox table" under the definition Chris has given. WFCforLife (talk) 10:47, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Within The Subsection ===Section headings===

I propose a bullet:

*Do not use lexemes other than the noun or noun phrase in section names (Diversity, not Diverse).174.3.98.236 (talk) 20:48, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

There is already something a bit similar to this in the MoS.
  • Titles are generally nouns or noun phrases (Effects of the wild, not About the effects of the wild).
The section on headings explains that this applies to headings as well. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:00, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
To the best of my knowledge and belief, that's the very first time I've ever seen the word "lexeme". And my reading, writing and speaking vocabulary is quite large. Don't expect the average or sub-average editor to have any idea what's being discussed. This seems like a great place to push back against instruction creep and reduce the utterly-impossible mass of the Manual of Style. Sure it's a good idea in general to follow the style of headlines in quality newspapers such as The New York Times, rather than that of tabloids which use "Angry", "Popular", "Outrageously" or "Speeds to Scene" as subheads; but (1) it's not possible to predict the needs of every future article about every conceivable topic, and (2) it's best to leave this to the agreed judgement of the editors involved. They needn't come flying to the Manual of Style to resolve this kind of detail. ¶ The current descriptive advice seems fine because it addresses the need to keep subheads short and direct where possible to aid searches and simplify tables of contents. [Similarly, it would be nice stylistically to use the articles "The", "A" and "An" more often at the beginning of subheads and article titles ("The Crimean War", "The New York Times", "An example", "A new factor"), but the technical requirements of Wikipedia militate against this, just as they disfavour using introductory phrases such as "About". At the opposite end, one has to avoid short subheads that repeat within an article, such as "Diagnosis" and "Treatment" in an article discussing several disorders, because they confuse linking and searches.] —— Shakescene (talk) 06:43, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Most noun phrases aren't lexemes, are they? ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 11:17, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
No, noun phrases are what some people call a noun with an adjective, etc. etc..
@Shakescene: "The", "A" and "An" should not be used because they would be telling a story. And Wikipedia is not a fiction anthology.
That's fine that you don't know what "lexeme" is; we can change it to
*Do not use lexemes other than the noun or noun phrase in section names (Diversity, not Diverse)
If it comes to the point that this bullet can't be applied, then wp:iar should be applied. I haven't changed the MOS, and I can't. Why are you accusing me vandalism.
Oh, and Army1987 linked "lexeme" for you:) Cheers.174.3.98.236 (talk) 18:09, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
"Diagnosis" and "Treatment" are not confusing. They mean completely different things.174.3.98.236 (talk) 18:10, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Usually, if adjectives, or verbs, etc., are used (such as used in the above example: ""Angry", "Popular", "Outrageously" or "Speeds to Scene""), these are in names of titles (such as: books, schlemielscholarly papers, plays, films, etc.) where they are italicized (''[insert text here]'') or punctuated with quotes ("[insert text here]").
Ok, I don't want to dig for the perfect example, but in this diff, I changed the section heading from ==A very diverse environment== to ==Diversity==, the reason being if it was the name of a play that shows in one of the theaters of Wan Chai District, then we could make it ==A very diverse environment==, but because it is not, we should reduce it to the lexeme, that is stated in the MOS. This is the archetypal example where we can use lexemes that are not nouns.
For your other examples, the same applies. As in article titles, "The Crimean War", "The New York Times", "An example", and "A new factor" would be absolutely sanctioned if they were official.
I know, currently, of one instance that would probably override this rule: ==See also==. Although I prefer this rule to override it, I doubt consensus would agree.174.3.98.236 (talk) 19:45, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
*Section names do not include punctuation, or lexemes other than the noun or noun phrase, unless this is part of the title (Diversity, not Diverse)
How's that?174.3.98.236 (talk) 19:59, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Didn't we cover this at the beginning of this section? "word or phrase" would get much more understanding and compliance than "lexeme", thus helping the document's overall readability. Anyway, we already have an instruction for this purpose: "Titles should be nouns or noun phrases (Effects of the wild, not About the effects of the wild).", followed by "This guidance also applies to Section headings, below.". Art LaPella (talk) 20:33, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
"Ancient, medieval and early modern speculation" is a noun phrase, but it's not a lexeme. Lexeme kind-of means "word or group of words having a dictionary entry" (e.g. are, is, etc. are all forms of the lexeme be, and no one is one lexeme even if it's two words). That's not what you mean here, is it? ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 12:13, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

:::::::LOl, that is what I mean. "No one" is a a compound word, that is a noun, the first word (in this case turned into an prefix), an adjective. Some people carelessly call these noun phrases.174.3.98.236 (talk) 23:22, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

Oops big mistake. Just let me take another example

"Secondary source" is NOUN compound word, the first word (in this case turned into an prefix), an adjective.174.3.98.236 (talk) 00:50, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

Rule Anywhere In Any MOS page?

Is there a rule in any of the MOS pages that guides when to use bullets versus numbered list?

I think that numbered lists should not be used unless there is an

  • explicateexplicit order
  • need for order
  • plainly, an order

If, say it's a quote, then that's fine; you can use numbered lists for quotes.

Rationale

An order is already implied with the vertical position of the list.174.3.98.236 (talk) 21:14, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Discussion of bullet versus numbers

Oppose: The last thing this Manual needs is more rules. —— Shakescene (talk) 06:46, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Common sense says that unless there's a need for pointing out sequence, for highlighting the total number of items, or for later cross-reference to one or more items, there's not much point in numbering. It's probably not necessary to express in a rule, though. Tony (talk) 07:54, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, that's exactly what I thought as soon as I read the proposal before even reading your answer. In peer reviews, I have sometimes changed bullets to numbers in order to refer to individual points more clearly, but in articles there's seldom a reason to do that. But that's not such an important issue as to be pointed out in the MoS (unless there are umpteen articles inappropriately using numbered lists which for some reason I've managed to never encounter). ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 10:31, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I've seen articles that use numbers when they should use bullets. I guess the articles you edit are different then mine.
Numbers don't refer to points more clearly; they add nothing meaning.174.3.98.236 (talk) 17:58, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
When highlighting the total number of items, this should be done before the list, in a introductory sentence, such as:

The following are the 4 flavors of tea:

  • Blueberry
  • Blackberry
  • Strawberry
  • Rasberry
not:

The following are the flavors of tea:

  1. Blueberry
  2. Blackberry
  3. Strawberry
  4. Rasberry
174.3.98.236 (talk) 18:16, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I meant something like this: Wikipedia:Peer_review/Speed_of_light/archive1. Using numbers, I was able to address the reviewer's points individually. In articles, such a need will be much rarer (indeed I can't think of any satisfactory example right now), but not impossible. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 18:35, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm all for that use of numbered list. But usually, people just list items, and numbers aren't necessary. Maybe we could put in a paragraph into MOS so that it says (or explains) that if somewhere else it requires to refers to the list, then the list should be numbered list instead of bulleted?174.3.98.236 (talk) 19:09, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Here's an example of a numbered list in an article. The numbers might conceivably be useful (X was the 8th Governor) so I don't know why we should outlaw them. Note that the article doesn't even follow WP:HYPHEN or MOS:NOTED, so what makes us think it would follow a numbering rule? Art LaPella (talk) 20:49, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
... Which should not be there. The numbers are superfluous; holding office is defined by the period you hold office, not when you held office relative to your predecessor or successor. The numbers are obviously not useful.174.3.98.236 (talk) 22:14, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

:::::::Those rules have nothing to do with this new rule proposal. How does violating one rule, or multiple rules, make a right?174.3.98.236 (talk) 22:17, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Superfluous? Oh, maybe. U.S. presidents are often referred to by number, especially when distinguishing the two President Bushes. List of U.S. presidents is similarly numbered, although it uses a table instead of the # feature. If it's superfluous, then the compilers of many similar lists disagree with you, so making it a rule sounds awfully bossy.
Violating multiple rules doesn't make it right, but it does show how irrelevant the Manual of Style is to the average editor, and I would argue that rules resembling this one are a major reason. Art LaPella (talk) 22:29, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Oops, I read your reply wrong. It doesn't. That's why Iit should be bulleted, but with all that data, it should not be a list. I put it in a table.174.3.98.236 (talk) 22:49, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
If those are really lists, then they should look at WP:WTUT.174.3.98.236 (talk) 22:50, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
US politics are US politics. As you stated, the presidents are tabulated. The information there is in a table, which does not apply to the issue of simple numbered or bulleted lists.
There is a note in the heading of the first column from the left. U.S. presidential reckoning is defined CONSECUTIVELY. Information on that page would never make sense in a numbered list.
I am confident with out reading every single relevant article that not all presidential polities have this same reckoning. Numbered lists apply in some cases, and not all.174.3.98.236 (talk) 23:17, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
You gave me the disambiguation page President Bush.
You believe in numbered lists, or order. I really don't know which one. Why don't you change the bullets to #?174.3.98.236 (talk) 23:20, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
The disambiguation page President Bush lists both President Bushes, occasionally distinguished as "Bush-41" and "Bush-43". I don't know if you knew that; for one thing I don't know if you're American. Art LaPella (talk) 05:21, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
There are constant references to "our 3rd President", "the 7th President", the 16th President, etc. (Yes, you need a numbered table to look up who they were.) And while I've always disagreed with it, there's even a well-known, and officially-promulgated, convention that Grover Cleveland is both the 21st and the 23rd President. Now that G.H.W. Bush is so clearly identified as 41 and his son as 43, there's no changing that convention. The lists of Presidents (and of Vice Presidents) are numbered in The World Almanac and Book of Facts, the Time Almanac with Information Please and The New York Times Almanac. ¶ There are so many things that even the most libertarian among us agree need fixing in Wikipedia, it's far more productive to clean those up than to fiddle with other editors' choice of numbers or bullets, let alone add a new rule to an overloaded Manual. —— Shakescene (talk) 06:18, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
So then how is a numbered table a numbered list? So basically, your saying you don't want to argue. Well since you have no opinion on the topic, you are not being constructive with this discussion on numbered lists.174.3.98.236 (talk) 09:37, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

When I first started editing Borough president (for New York City), there were numbers in the lists, which is fine. On the other hand, when I listed the presiding officers of the New York City Council, I didn't enter numbers. At List of mayors of New York City, the numbers help anyone who wants to argue whether Michael Bloomberg is the 108th or the 113th Mayor, or confirm that he's the 20th Mayor since Consolidation in 1898. (Numbers are also used in History of Brooklyn#Mayors of the City of Brooklyn, of which there were 28). Whitaker's Almanack uses numbers and letters to help distinguish all the descendants of (and lines of descent from) Queen Victoria, but we haven't done that at Grandchildren of Victoria and Albert (though numbers might have helped in counting their 42 grandchildren and 85 great-grandchildren, which I did on a spreadsheet, instead). This is really a matter of personal (a frightening word to some) style, and the perceived needs of editors who come afterwards, and really doesn't need the redundant advice to just follow context and common sense. —— Shakescene (talk) 23:24, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Art and Shakescene make some good points. While 174 has a valid take that numbered lists should be reserved for cases in which the numbers have meaning, I don't think we need to make this into a rule. More rules mean more order and uniformity, which can improve readability, but they also mean less freedom, which can tick editors off. For that reason, we should only add extra rules to the MoS when there is a clear problem that the rule would help to correct. (And yes, sub-professional use of hyphens and dashes is a problem, so no superfluity there.) Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:21, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
No, he's raising the point that is irrelevant.174.3.98.236 (talk) 01:07, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
I think what they (and I) are trying to say is "If it's covered by 'use an encyclopedic tone' and/or 'use common sense,' and nothing has clearly demonstrated that editors do not understand this, then we do not need any additional rules."
You don't have to be enforcing the MoS to go and make a change to an article. If you feel that changing a numbered list to a non-numbered one sends a more appropriate message, then go ahead and do it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:20, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
I've come across too many articles where new editors do not know the difference between numbers and nonnumbers. I've given several months before suggesting this.174.3.98.236 (talk) 07:50, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

@Borough president:I removed the numbers because there was no relationship between the numbers with ANY content of the article.

@New York City Council:There WERE no numbers , so this was not a problem.

@List of mayors of New York City:Because of the special politology of New York City (specifically: successive mayoralty, term exceptions, and resignations), the term reckoning of New York mayors is this special case; noone can argue this.

If you are trying to give me examples of when to use numbered lists, you are taking apples and oranges, and dogs and cats and pumpkins to compare. You are arguing things that are so off topic, simply, put, that numbered lists should have a reason to be used, and if not, then bulleted lists should be used.

@History of Brooklyn:Why should a numbered list tell you how many presidents there are? MOS states that information shouldn't be in a list anyhow. It should be written into prose. So you are violating that rule. ("Do not use lists if a passage reads easily using plain paragraphs." which you have clearly violated)

Number would have helped if you TOLD the audience what the number meant. Just just throw numbers around. They just don't tell the reader anything. I was reading the trees and the numbers really threw me off. They were distracting and told me nothing.174.3.98.236 (talk) 09:25, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

The Anwser

After all this debate, none of you give me an answer to the question: Which was: YES

—Preceding unsigned comment added by 174.3.98.236 (talk) 23:35, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

Yup, you got me there; I didn't see that. So we can be sure that the rest of Wikipedia didn't see that either. Art LaPella (talk) 00:17, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

An issue returns: Underlining/highlighting as a cleanup signal

Background:

This template, Template:Reference necessary, is still doing this, just more subtly. I'd like to see some MOS-based discussion on whether any form of this is a good idea.

My take is "no". Cleanup templates are for editors not readers. If an article's problem are severe they should be flagged at the topic with banner-box like {{Disputed}} or whatever. The template already "surrounds" the challenged text, and this is 100% of what is needed for the legitimate purpose of the template (identifying a problem for editors to fix). The other obvious purpose of the template, warning users what, word-by-word, is allegedly disputed by someone, is not a legitimate purpose under WP content guidelines, per WP:NODISCLAIMERS.

I think this should be discussed here not at one particular template, since the matter can and I'm sure previously already has transcended one template. At issue is:

  • Is content highlighting/accenting/stressing of any kind - by color, underlining, font style or other typographic effect - appropriate as a signal to readers or to editors that something should be cleaned up or is disputed?

I.e. it is not about the present appearance of the template I mentioned, which is radically different from its appearance when it narrowly survived TfD, but still violative of the same principle.

PS: About that template in partiuclar: It should stop doing that and jsut have it's "wrapper" ability merged to {{Citation needed}}, obviously.

SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 00:30, 30 January 2010 (UTC)


  • OPPOSE. The template that gave rise to this discussion uses very subtle underlining to indicate where citations are needed. It is only used where neither {{fact}} nor {{Unreferenced section}} apply. It fills the gap between those two templates such as where a block of contiguous text needs sourcing in an otherwise sourced section of a wikiarticle. The only alternative, and it is a viable, practical, but nonetheless equally eye-jarring one, is to place a {{fact}} tag at the end of each of the sentences in the block of sentences in need of sourcing. (I use the word, sentence, because, generally, writing of the Wikipedia nature is such that there is one fact presented per sentence. Thus sentence and fact are interchangeable in this discussion.)

    Therefore, wrapping a block of text with the template, yet with the template not providing some indication of itself, such as with very subtle underlining, is not “100% of what is needed for the legitimate purpose of the template,” since it does not identify for editors the problem that needs to be fixed. And let's be honest, every template provides some indication of itself. For instance, seeing this [citation needed], clearly indicates the presence of the template {{fact}}. Were the WP:SELFREF argument to prevail, then every template at Wikipedia would be placed in jeopardy, and we’d be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    An editor is a reader until he presses the edit button. He needs to know what needs fixing before he presses it. Removing the subtle underlining would make the template like those invisible statements that use <!-- -->, only serving less purpose. SMcCandlish is marvellous at coding templates. I imagine with his tremendous coding skill that he could probably make the subtle underlining even more subtle and less intrusive to the reader or the reader cum editor. Thus, it would still maintain some usefulness and not result in editors placing {{fact}} tags at the end of each and every sentence in a block of sentences in need of sourcing. — SpikeToronto 21:21, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

  • Wikipedia articles are meant to be edited and improved but first and foremost they are meant to be read. Place requests for copy-editing and citations at the top of the article or section where they will not interrupt the reader as he or she goes through the paragraph. Spike points out that the underlining is subtle and this is true, but even so we should reserve it for only those extreme cases in which we need to tell the reader that the text is questionable. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:49, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment. I was thinking about this yesterday when I added {{Reference necessary}} to an article with this edit. The fellow that had added the passage had indicated that he had the verifiable references/citations and that he would be back to insert them. Three-and-a-half days later, he had not had an opportunity to do so. In addition to placing a note on his talk page to remind him, I also thought it necessary to add a reminder to the passage itself. As I did so, it occurred to me that without a visible component to the {{Reference necessary}} template — or its soon to be merged cousin, the wrapper function of {{Citation needed}} — it would have been necessary to add well over 10 standard {{fact}} tags resulting in this: [citation needed] appearing throughout the passage looking like so much overkill. Moreover, only adding one {{fact}} at the end of the passage, would have the effect of making it appear that only the last fact required sourcing, instead of the over 10 facts that are unsourced in the passage.

    This is why the subtle underlining currently in {{Reference necessary}} — and that will be in the merged {{Citation needed}}, at least at first — is so very necessary. Thanks! — SpikeToronto 06:18, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

  • Underlining is for typewriters: it's ugly on the page. Tony (talk) 06:31, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
But, what exactly are your thoughts, Tony, on how to deal with the issue: 10+ {{fact}} tags or one {{Citation needed}} wrapper that actually shows something? Which is it going to be? As I have said before, render the wrapper useless — which is the crux of SMcCandlish’s proposal and why he hived the CSS issue off to WT:MOS instead of leaving it at Template Talk:Citation needed — and you will begin to see paragraphs with an enormous number of {{fact}} tags, one for each and every fact in need of sourcing. If this debate was going to be separated from the merge debate that is going on, perhaps it should have been hived of to WT:V instead: The issue is about more than the cosmetic, esthetic looks that so many WT:MOS debates relate to. The issue is about dealing with unsourced statements in wikiarticles, it is about verifiablity. So is this really the jurisdiction for the CSS debate? — SpikeToronto 08:03, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
If the passage needs that much work before it's acceptable, then wouldn't it be best to remove or replace it until enough sources can be found? Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:30, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
Not only does the Reference necessary template act as a useful wrapper, but it also eliminates the ambiguity as to the actual word(s) or sentence(s) that are being challenged. For instance:
(1) Jack Lumber is a high school teacher and a former federal agent.[citation needed]
Which statement needs a citation here? "Jack Lumber is a high school teacher AND a former federal agent" or "Jack Lumber is a former federal agent"?
(2) Jack Lumber is a high school teacher and a former federal agent.[citation needed]
Now, that's clearer.
I'm [dʒæˑkɫɜmbɚ] and I approve this message. 00:23, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Quote Mark As The Final Visible Character

It says:"* The final visible character of a title should not be a punctuation mark, unless the punctuation is part of a name (Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!), or an abbreviation is used (Inverness City F.C.), or a closing round bracket or quote mark is needed (John Palmer (schooner))."

Is there an example where a quote mark is needed?174.3.98.236 (talk) 09:53, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

"The Spaghetti Incident?" and "—And He Built a Crooked House—" spring to mind... ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 10:33, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Exclamations in Titles and full stops

I didn't take a good look, but how are titles with exclamation points and full stops handeled? The specific sentence I'm interested in is:

"On July 21, 2008, Funimation Entertainment licensed the English adaptation of Baccano!."

The series' title is Baccano!, with the exclamation. I'll probably rearranged the sentence to avoid it, but, for future reference, how should it be? ~Itzjustdrama ? C 20:39, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

A terminal exclamation point (or question mark or, indeed, period) in a title or other term (such as a.m.) negates the need for a following full stop. The correct sentence reads:
"On July 21, 2008, Funimation Entertainment licensed the English adaptation of Baccano!"—DCGeist (talk) 03:12, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Spacing at the end of a sentence

I believe that the current, simple version of spacing at the end of a sentence, will probably have to do. There are too many people out there with opinions, tastes, and preferences on this subject. The edit warring was started by people that, I believe, did not know the facts. The statement that a single space is the current convention is factually correct. Here's a couple of references to help for starters:

You should also delete any extra word spacing before or after punctuation marks. The conventions are: One space follows a sentence-ending punctuation mark (period, question mark, or exclamation point). The Copyeditors Handbook A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications p. 113.
The usual convention for published works remains one space after each period. APA

But don't believe these - please see Double spacing at the end of sentences for the other 50+ references to support this. Or go pick up any book or magazine published in the last 10 years.

I do agree that the wording "convention for final and published work" may have been not the most applicable, although I wouldn't have used the word "irrelevant." Most applicable to the WP:MOS page would have been the consensus of the other writing style guides: see Double spacing at the end of sentences. However, instead of using that information, people tend to pursue their own preferences, I see.

It doesn't matter. Some people's opinions will override reliable sources, style guides, and incontrovertible evidence. There's no need to edit war. Simply stating that it's irrelevant here is sufficient. Until someone comes in a few months from now and adds that two spaces are the rule. Airborne84 (talk) 20:24, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

I have seen people argue over the number of spaces after the end of a sentence. When it was pointed out that the number of spaces was irrelevant for readers (and I really do think that "irrelevant" is a good word here), they said that it mattered because it changed how things showed up in the edit box. I think it is important for the MoS to say that the number of spaces is a personal preference and that articles need not be consistently spaced in order to avoid arguments over this issue. Consequently I have reverted your revert.
Also, I don't really see any edit warring. Changes, yes, and even a few reverts, but no war yet. What diffs are you thinking of? Ozob (talk) 21:58, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
No problem. However, if we are going to note your opinion that the number of spaces is a personal preference, then I'll add what the style manuals have to say on it. That cannot be a problem since I suspect that a great deal of the information in the WP:MOS originates from other style guides.
And you're right. "Edit war" was not the best way to put it. Airborne84 (talk) 22:45, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
The material taken from the other style guides is not relevant here, as it doesn't affect the appearance of the article anyway. --Trovatore (talk) 22:56, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

(edit conflict) What's the point of all this? Double spaces are rendered as single anyway... ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 22:58, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

Yes, that's true. That's why I suggested (and actually edited) that we drop the note on this subject to its simplest form. "The question of spacing on Wikipedia is irrelevant because double spaces are rendered as single spaces when edits are saved" or something to that effect. If we're going to add extraneous information, style guides are definitely relevant, for the reason I described above. Airborne84 (talk) 23:11, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Double spaces after periods are old-fashioned but not incorrect, but A d M and Trovatore are right. Because Wikipedia displays either one or two spaces as just one, this isn't really relevant. Are you saying that the MoS should state this so that people don't fight about it? In that case, it would be better to keep the line about dummy edits than to remove it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:17, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
What I was saying is that because it was irrelevant, there's no need to say anything more than that under this section. Anything else is extraneous and pointless. People that want to know more about the subject can just visit Double spacing at the end of sentences. It doesn't need to be explained here. However, I was overruled it seems. Airborne84 (talk) 03:19, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
My point is that I have seen arguments here on Wikipedia over the question of how many spaces there should be at the end of a sentence. All I'd like for this section are statements that the number of spaces doesn't matter to readers and that it shouldn't matter to editors, either (i.e., don't argue on the talk page that everyone else should use two spaces after a period because of how it shows up in your edit box; I saw someone do that!). I don't want an in-depth discussion of what the right style is, and because of that I think that Airborne84's recent addition [2] is not appropriate here at the MoS (it fits much better at double spacing at the end of sentences). I also don't see it as an all-or-nothing thing; I think it's entirely appropriate to provide guidance on how many spaces to put at the end of a sentence and at the same time to leave out any mention of the received typographic wisdom on this subject. Ozob (talk) 05:04, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
I must be missing something. It sounds like you're saying that "It's appropriate to provide guidance on how many spaces should be used as a writing convention, but we should not consider what writing style guides state on the matter." So we should just put our opinions instead? Is that what you are saying? If so, whose opinion goes in there? Yours? Mine? Please clarify whose opinion should be used. Airborne84 (talk) 08:27, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, Airborne84, are you asking about what an article should say about this very minor matter, or are you asking what the MoS should say? If the former, so far as it is encyclopedic should be brought up on the talk page of the relevant article; if the latter, then as various people have pointed out above it really doesn't matter as (outside very limited contexts that need not concern us here) browsers treat strings of spaces as individual spaces. -- Hoary (talk) 08:34, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I understand that. People seem to have missed that I dropped the section down to a simple and brief statement of fact to that exact effect. Others started adding to it, not me. How about:
The number of spaces following the end of a sentence is irrelevant for Wikipedia because web browsers ignore spacing beyond a single space. (See Double spacing at the end of sentences#Web browsers.) Regardless of the number of spaces used in edit boxes, only a single inter-sentence space will appear once edits are saved.
If we're going to add anything extraneous beyond simple statments of fact (e.g. "the number of spaces doesn't matter to readers," which resonates as opinion), then the inclusion of writing style guide "wisdom" is appropriate.
Also, people keep identifying this as a "minor/irrelevant matter," missing the point that this section exists in the first place. People keep asking the question - and getting into arguments about it as described above. It may be minor - but its important to a lot of people. Airborne84 (talk) 08:42, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Oh, OK. How about
The number of spaces between sentences does not matter because web browsers treat two or more consecutive spaces as one. (See Double spacing at the end of sentences#Web browsers.)
On the other hand
The number of spaces following the end of a sentence is irrelevant for Wikipedia because web browsers ignore the number of spaces. (See Double spacing at the end of sentences#Web browsers.) U.S. and international style guides that use the modern Latin alphabet recommend or stipulate the use of a single space after the terminal punctuation of a sentence while writing and for final written works.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]
does have considerable comic appeal; I'd be rather sorry to see it go. -- Hoary (talk) 09:17, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
  • I quail at the amount of time and skill that is being poured into this matter. Tony (talk) 09:54, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
    But to give Airborne his due, he's trying to reduce the silliness that's already there in the "project page". -- Hoary (talk) 14:45, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree with Ozob. It's not irrelevant, but it is moot. Because people have been fighting about it, let's keep a line about how the spaces appear the same from the reader's perspective and leave further description to the article on the matter. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:42, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
In that case, you agree with me also as I made a change very similar to this yesterday to try to settle the matter. I'll try again. I like Hoary's use above, but prefer "irrelevant" in its use (not the subject) because it "does matter" in a more abstract sense whether one space or two are used. Let's stay away from connotations that imply that. It also should qualify that it's irrelevant "At Wikipedia." Airborne84 (talk) 14:27, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
I'll hold off on making the change until others weigh in though, since I don't want to keep going around in circles. In brief, we need a short factual statment that avoids any connotation of opinion as to the correctness of either convention in general, or whether its use either way "matters to people." E.g.
At Wikipedia, the number of spaces used between sentences is irrelevant because web browsers treat two or more consecutive spaces as one. (See Double spacing at the end of sentences#Web browsers.) Airborne84 (talk) 14:36, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, yes, but MoS is all about Wikipedia so the first two of those words are superfluous. Also, in my idiolect something is (ir)relevant to something. "Doesn't matter" doesn't have this problem. -- Hoary (talk) 14:45, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Wow, I feel like this is a huge waste of time. I put my preferred version in the article, and from now on I'm going to ignore this discussion and let everyone else do what they want. Ozob (talk) 15:05, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
The words "On Wikipedia" can be useful because they're a very concise way of saying, "Yes, we acknowledge that this is not a universal for the English language or reasonable people and we humbly require that our own rules be employed on our own site blah blah blah." It goes double here because not all documents render two spaces as one. As for single vs. double, I prefer the word "moot." It's less likely to make people angry than "irrelevant." And it's fun to say. Moot, moot, moot! Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:31, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

(outdent) "moot" means "subject to debate" and would not be an appropriate word in this case, in my opinion. "irrelevant" works for me; and i agree that saying "on Wikipedia" is helpful. which leads me to "On Wikipedia, the number of spaces used between sentences is irrelevant because web browsers treat two or more consecutive spaces as one. (See Double spacing at the end of sentences#Web browsers.)" Sssoul (talk) 16:40, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

It also means "purely academic, of no practical value," but if you think it would confuse people we can certainly go with your "makes no difference," which also seems unlikely to aggravate fans of either convention. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:07, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
(edit conflict) The conversion of any sequence of space in HTML to a single space in the rendering is part of the HTML specification, so it's not unique to Wikipedia. Anyway, what about "The number of spaces after a sentence typed in the edit box is immaterial, as browsers will automatically convert any sequence of spaces to a single one. Indeed, adding or removing a double space is sometimes used as a dummy edit." ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 16:52, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
It's not that it's (or isn't in this case) unique to Wikipedia, it's that it's not universal among written materials. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:07, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, Sssoul and I agree at least. I think concise is best. However, that has to be balanced with what will satisfy people in the future when they come here to get an answer. Unfortunately, "Number of spaces after a sentence" isn't a link, but I see what you were trying to do anyway A di M. Besides the short, concise, and factual statement that SSSoul and I have proposed (that doesn't introduce connotations of opinion or "correctness"), what else will be necessary to satisfy future visitors to this section? Airborne84 (talk) 17:30, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
I just checked Ozob's change. While I might have worded it differently, I think it's OK as it stands. There's more than one way to get the point across without incorporating opinion and undesireable connotation, and that's one way. Airborne84 (talk) 17:38, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
i reckon Darkfrog24 is right that "makes no difference" is a more neutral statement of fact than "is irrelevant". so will this wording do?
The number of spaces following the end of a sentence makes no difference on Wikipedia because web browsers condense any number of spaces to just one (see Double spacing at the end of sentences#Web browsers). Editors may use any spacing style they are comfortable with, and multiple spacing styles may coexist in the same article. Adding or removing a double space is sometimes used as a dummy edit.
the main change from what's currently out there is that i've removed the "however", which doesn't seem apt to me. Sssoul (talk) 21:40, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Sigh. With a contentious issue (or at least strongly debated in the last two days) like this, the preferable way to deal with this would be to discuss before making changes - given the circles we have been running in. I don't prefer "makes no difference" over "irrelevant" or "immaterial" given that "makes no difference" is more ambiguous than the other words, which have clear definitions, but given the qualification of "on Wikipedia," I can handle it. However, I sense us moving along the slippery slope where people keep making adjustments until it is no longer acceptable to all (which is why it's better to discuss this before modifying). If it is to remain like this for now, I'm OK with it. At least, until someone else comes along that is emotionally attached to the double-space use and decides to change the wording to support his/her taste/preference again. Airborne84 (talk) 01:10, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

(outdent) either "is immaterial" or "makes no difference" works for me - it's the "however" that doesn't seem apt. i propose changing the current text to:

The number of spaces following the end of a sentence is immaterial on Wikipedia because web browsers condense any number of spaces to just one (see Double spacing at the end of sentences#Web browsers). Editors may use any spacing style they are comfortable with, and multiple spacing styles may coexist in the same article. Adding or removing a double space is sometimes used as a dummy edit.

will that work? Sssoul (talk) 10:49, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

"Nominal Group" versus "Noun Phrase"

Per clarity, all instances of "nominal group" should be changed to "noun phrase".

There are 2 instances in MOS.174.3.98.236 (talk) 06:51, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Um ... what "clarity" is this? Nominal group is the far more useful construction. It should not be changed. Tony (talk) 22:15, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm still struggling to see the difference... Can you give an example of a nominal group which is not a noun phrase, or of a noun phrase which is not a nominal group? ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 22:32, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
I'd say "too late" Tony1. Have a look at the colour of the Nominal Group link.  HWV258.  22:34, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Have a look at the case of the gee in Nominal group... ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 22:47, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Okay, thanks. The correct link is: Nominal group (language).  HWV258.  22:52, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
The expression "nominal group" is used in systemic functional grammar. I have not seen evidence that that grammar has gained or is gaining prominence among language teachers or among linguists. -- Wavelength (talk) 00:57, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm more concerned about jargon. Would most Wikipedia editors know what a nominal group is? Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:23, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I am nearly certain that I had not encountered the expression "nominal group" before I encountered it from Tony, and I probably know more linguistic terminology than most Wikipedia editors know. -- Wavelength (talk) 06:54, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
It's a standard concept, well accepted and used in several educational jurisdictions in the US, the UK and Australia. You won't understand English grammar until you've read Introduction to functional grammar, MAK Halliday (1975, 2nd ed. 1995, 3rd ed. 2004). Get with it. Tony (talk) 11:36, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, but could you briefly explain in what ways nominal groups differ from noun phrases, for someone who wants to understand the MoS's guidance but can't afford that book or don't have the time to read it? ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 12:15, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
FWIW, the Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language claims that "The terms nominal group and nominal clause mean the same as noun phrase and noun clause." The only clue as to a possible difference between the two I found by googling "noun phrase" "nominal group" was this, which might suggest that a nominal group must have both a head and modifiers, excluding noun phrases with no modifiers ("books", "gold", "they", "John") or no head ("the French", "the grocer's", "the most important of them"). Too bad that "Nominal Group" redirects back to "Noun Phrase" on that site. Is that it? ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 17:59, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
If the older generation learned "noun phrase" and the new generation learned (or are learning) "nominal group" and few people have the interest or time to learn both expressions, then the Manual of Style can accommodate both expressions by using "noun phrase (nominal group)" or "nominal group (noun phrase)". -- Wavelength (talk) 00:19, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Good idea... ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 00:47, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Worked with "full stop." Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:44, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Prepositions and ranges again

WP:ENDASH says "Ranges should not mix prepositions and dashes". Does that mean I should change phrases I keep finding like "Burmese War of 1548–49" and "the Red Scare of 1919–20"? If not, are there any prepositions other than "from" and "between" that shouldn't be mixed with dashes? Art LaPella (talk) 03:09, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

It's mainly "of" and "betwee". In your examples, I think the preceding preposition should be removed or the full version given: "Burmese War of 1548 to 1549". Tony (talk) 11:38, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Ranges are expressed as "between X and Y" or as "from Y to Z". In "Burmese War of 1548–49", the preposition "of" is just a preposition which happens to be expressed near the range. It is not a part of the expression of the range. A "logic" which removes that preposition would apparently remove all other prepositions in the same article, and I do not agree with that "logic". The title means "Burmese War of the period from 1548 to 1549" or ""Burmese War of the period between 1548 and 1549". -- Wavelength (talk) 15:29, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
The part you've left unsaid, which WP:ENDASH presumably intends to convey, is that ranges should not be written "between X–Y" or "from Y–Z". Perhaps we should use these simpler examples if they make it clearer. PL290 (talk) 15:41, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I like what your edit has done. The previous text (and, come to think of it, our entire previous discussion) didn't capture the subtle distinction between a preposition used to express a range and a preposition used to introduce a range. Ozob (talk) 19:22, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
You're right. Tony (talk) 09:10, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Register redux

SlimVirgin's compilation of past discussions at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/quotation and punctuation highlights the fact that, right now, the MOS Register, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register, is not successfully serving its intended function. If it were, SlimVirgin would presumably have found it most natural to compile a collection of links into the archives at the appropriate section of WP:MOSR.

The current stagnation of the Register does not, I suggest, mean that it cannot be made to work, and become the powerful tool for informing future deliberations that it was hoped to become. What seems to be lacking is a suitable social dynamic that would lead people — hopefully, not just a small elite set of intensive MOS contributors — to put in dribs and drabs of time on incrementally building/updating it. A prerequisite to this would seem to be a very clear set of instructions on exactly how someone with a few minutes to spare can usefully spend it on incrementally improving the coverage provided by the Register. Also, I'm inclined to doubt it would be feasible to maintain extensive hand-crafted remarks on individual sections through such a social dynamic of small incremental contributions by passers by (and that's setting aside how contentious such hand-crafted remarks might become on hot-button issues).

I suggest we choose a very straightforward standard format for all sections of the Register — say, an optional one-sentence description of the history and status of that section of the MOS, and a list of links into the archives — and then set out clear instructions and try to nurture a culture of incremental contributions. --Pi zero (talk) 21:34, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

We also appear to have sections not being archived, or not being archived completely: bits are available, but not all. This is especially true for early archives, but it's also happening with some recent ones. I've had to use manual searches to find the posts I added to the quotation subpage, and I'm still finding material. Or it could be that they're in the archives, but that sections are being split up by the bot, so they end up in different archives. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 22:01, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
And the search box at the top of this page also doesn't return much. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 22:05, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Please be patient. I have been busy at maintaining Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive Directory, so that it can be searched more efficiently for archived discussions. -- Wavelength (talk) 23:04, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
That's great! I've often had trouble using that thing. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:32, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
The heading of this section is "Register redux". In what sense is the word redux being used? -- Wavelength (talk) 19:49, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
TenuisVirgo Pi nullus nullum dicit registrum reducem esse; id est, it has returned to our attention. See wikt:redux. Ucucha 19:56, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

π0
neutrum est, ergo "nullum" dicendum erat. :-) Really bad pun based on "neutral particle" vs "neuter" (grammatical gender); that's what happens when you've been watching TBBT too long. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 20:24, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Grātiās agō. Forsan paucī ūsōrēs illum verbum intellegunt. (Thank you. Perhaps few Wikipedians understand that word.)
-- Wavelength (talk) 20:32, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Credo te verum dicere et correxi textum "nullus" in textum "nullum". Mus 20:32, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia, home to a manual of style?

Whenever a (well-intentioned) newbie tries to insert new information into a place article, he frequently gets stuck for "glue" words - how to tie it in with the article's title. So s/he inserts "Midville is home to x." I think that the words "home to" ought to be explicitly mentioned as words to avoid. There is usually a more imaginative (but not overly imaginative) way to include new information. Sometimes, since the whole article is about Midville, it is enought to say, "x offers y" and not include the subject of the article.

The use of this phrase is lame IMO. Student7 (talk) 13:32, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Could you give us a specific example? "New York is home to the Yankees and Mets" sounds all right to me.
In general, I am not in favor of making rules against expressions that are neither incorrect nor difficult to understand. But even if we don't have a rule against something, any user with an idea of how to bettter express "home to" might just go in and change it, no permission required. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:16, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Indeed, it is an over-used expression, but doesn't require banning as it does no actual harm. Barnabypage (talk) 14:07, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
I guess I was referring to style, rather than "banning" per se. It is trite, informal, chatty, unimaginative and non-encyclopedic. It is chamber-of-commerce-y. "Midville is home to Merkel." Instead of "Merkel has a plant there." Or Mekel manufactures widgets." Or (better) "Merkel employs 420 to manufacture widgets." Each better statement requires more research and thought.
Understand that the c-of-c is trying to mention Midville over and over and over. It is their job. Wikipedia, as an encyclopedia, is not. The subject of the article is Midville. Midville only needs to be mentioned when there is some ambiguity or maybe to start off a major section. But that is another style problem.
I perceive this as one of the most prevalent style problems for place articles. Yes, I change it when I see it. I thought it might become less prevalent if mentioned here. Student7 (talk) 15:07, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
The fact is, when the MoS says "x is generally not recommended", many people think it means "x should be avoided like plague at all cost, even in those situations where it would make perfect sense"; some of them will also run bots to replace all occurrences of x with something else arbitrarily choosen, with no human decision. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 15:22, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
The MOS could say something about avoiding "Midville boasts beautiful vistas"-type stuff, under the heading of "maintain encyclopedic tone". Specific examples could be given, and "is home to" might be used in this way, but I think the larger point that Wikipedia is not a C of C is well taken. Chrisrus (talk) 15:51, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Sadly, A d M is correct. Almost anything that we put in the MoS will be treated as an absolute ironclad rule by those who read it. Perhaps it shouldn't work that way, but it does. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:46, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
"People just don't think, that's the problem." (Geoff Pullum)[3] ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 16:54, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Actually, in the many instances where the Manual discourages something that sounds OK to me, the only choices are to make it an ironclad rule or ignore it, and either choice might be preferable to recognizing the Emperor's new clothes. Art LaPella (talk) 00:47, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for your answers. I must defer to your judgment here and will stop monitoring this page (not out of a fit of pique - it is flooding my watchlist with, uh, other "discussions" quote, unquote  :) Student7 (talk) 12:23, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Warring editors on WP:FN

An earlier thread #Contradiction regarding inline citations on this page discussed some difficulties and inconsistencies in the guidelines concerning inline citations, which had resulted recently in two editors being blocked. The discussion produced a clear consensus, apart from WhatamIdoing. However, warring editors on WP:FN, spearheaded by WhatamIdoing, are reverting the changes made to that guideline to bring it into alignment with that discussion and with MOS. This sabotaging means the situation has reverted to the unworkable state that was the reason for the discussion in the first place.

These dissident editors claim that a discussion here has no relevance to that page, and choose not to further discuss the matter here. There have their own talk thread, hardly a discussion, since they make no attempts to engage or refute any of the points that have been made here. Instead, they simply assert their right to restore things as they were, because that is how they were. The nearest offering to a logical statement is: "I don't see Wikipedia consensus on that, regardless of what may exist within a particular discussion." There is no clarification of what might constitute a "Wikipedia consensus".

Is this the case, that self appointed gate keepers to guidelines subsidiary to MOS take precedence, and that these gate keepers are not accountable in the sense that they need to consider what has been discussed elsewhere, and should actually give the matter some thought? If so, then the entire discussion on this page has been relegated to the garbage pail, and needs to be reopened. --Epipelagic (talk) 21:45, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Why would you believe that WP:FN is subordinate to WP:MOS? If people want changes to WP:FN, that's great. Propose the change on the talk page. Implement it if consensus is achieved. At the moment, you are trying to change a page based on discussion on an entirely separate page, that didn't arrive at a clear consensus for any particular language, and which involved many fewer editors than the discussion which led to the langauge at WP:FN (unsurprisingly, the more visible location for discussion about footnotes!). Christopher Parham (talk) 22:10, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
You have just stated at WP:FN that "you can't just move every discussion to MOS talk, where there is a clear historical preference for greater regulation regardless of merit." Are you saying that the style guidelines are broken, MOS can have its own rules and a fork like WP:FN can have something quite different? And are you saying discussions on MOS carry no weight elsewhere? Is there no will to fix this strange situation? Anyway, assuming Christopher Parham is correct, and that it was an error starting the discussion on this page (he inexplicably refers to it as "forum shopping"), I have transferred it where it can continue on the talk page of WP:FN. --Epipelagic (talk) 00:06, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
The correct thing to do would be to move the discussion to WP:FN. If we have to go through the motions, then let's go through the motions. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:31, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Hyphens in reference titles

MOS:QUOTE says:

"Although the requirement of minimal change is strict, a few purely typographical elements of quoted text should be conformed to English Wikipedia's conventions without comment. This practice of conforming typographical styling to a publication's own "house style" is universal. Allowable typographical alterations include these:

  • Styling of dashes—use the style chosen for the article: unspaced em dash or spaced en dash. ..."

If we can change an unspaced em dash to a spaced en dash, then it should be more permissible to change a disjunctive hyphen to an en dash, because a disjunctive hyphen isn't an optional style like unspaced em dashes vs. spaced en dashes. And if we can change a hyphen in a quote, I would think it would be at least equally permissible to change such a hyphen in a reference title, because there is less reason to rely on the exact expression of a reference title than on a quote. It would also be difficult to tell AWB to change hyphens in regular text but not in a reference title.

However, I was reverted here. So what do you guys think? Art LaPella (talk) 22:11, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

This is a different matter from quoted text, I think - we want to be able to use the title of the article to later find it should the link die. If the title of the article is later changed in the name of cleaning it up, it makes this task that much harder. Meanwhile, there is little benefit to the change you are making. Christopher Parham (talk) 22:15, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
(ec) The Manual of Style is all well and good, but with references, why can't we just copy the title of the article from the source page and paste it verbatim into the citation template? If editors have to go through every citation they add in order to make them comply with the MOS, articles will take forever to write! I say, if a hyphen is used in the source article title, we should use one in article citation templates. – PeeJay 22:16, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree entirely, Art. Spaced hyphens look crappy, and this is in exactly the same category as the dashes. Tony (talk) 00:31, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree too. I've just restored the en dashes. Ozob (talk) 01:20, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I guess I forgot to mention the following problem: who are we to correct the typography of a source? We should not change punctuation just because we think it looks better. – PeeJay 01:45, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
My quote from MOS:QUOTE above has already addressed "who are we ...": "This practice of conforming typographical styling to a publication's own 'house style' is universal". To Christopher Parham: Doesn't Google find a text string regardless of how it's punctuated? Art LaPella (talk) 03:04, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
Google does, but not necessarily every search engine (e.g. ours does not produce the same results for [4] and [5], presumably because it misinterprets the dash as an exclusion of the second part of the string). Christopher Parham (talk) 14:13, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
  • To Christopher Parham: Wikipedia's search engine will be affected by punctuation, but you wouldn't use Wikipedia search except to look for a Wikipedia article, not an external reference. So that doesn't matter except with an internal link, and I wouldn't change an internal link without making sure that doesn't make it a redlink. To correct a dead link, the first thing you would try is the Wayback Machine, which requires a URL not a reference title, and I wouldn't change a URL either. It's imaginable that you would use a search engine such as Google or Yahoo, but Yahoo also ignores punctuation. So does Bing.
  • To PeeJay2K3: I haven't addressed this argument: "If editors have to go through every citation they add in order to make them comply with the MOS, articles will take forever to write!" They don't have to. Wikipedia:Referencing for beginners with citation templates, for instance, recommends copying and pasting the title. If that's all you want to do, that's a vast improvement over an uncited article, and my software can take it from there.
  • To the rest of you: The hyphens were re-inserted (hidden as "cleanup") here, so are we going back to dashes again? It's Today's Featured Article. Art LaPella (talk) 19:14, 19 February 2010 (UTC)


Identity and geography

There's a common problem when we refer to places: how many levels of geographical information are appropriate, especially in biographies. In the US, the state is commonly added because there are so many duplicates such as Springfield. In the UK, the issues tends to be the choice between England/Scotland, Britain and UK. Where frontiers have moved, similar issues arise, as in the case of Silesia. I came here looking for some guidance on the matter but, so far, haven't found it. Shouldn't the section on identity say something about this or provide a link? Colonel Warden (talk) 11:53, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Needed help regarding WP:Logical quotation

An editor and I partly disagree about how to apply WP:Logical quotation, as seen at Talk:Avatar (2009 film)#Punctuation. Other editors at different parts of the site have also interpreted WP:Logical quotation differently, which makes me think that it needs a little rewrite. We need opinions about which one of us is wrong on this matter. And, as I stated, likely a little rewrite of WP:Logical quotation...so that these different interpretations do not happen again. Flyer22 (talk) 02:06, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

I'm on it.—Finell 02:41, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Took a look at your discussion. While it is relatively clear how to handle the quotation in question, I can't tell who was interpreting WP:LQ which way. Could you be clearer about how you and Cosmic were taking the instructions? Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:18, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
My two cents: The question seems to revolve around exactly what the MOS means when it says "quoted material". In this case, James Cameron said something, and our reliable source for what he said is an MTV article that uses TQ (typesetter's quotation, i.e., trailing punctuation always goes inside the quotation marks). As we're acutely aware here, TQ means that the reader (us) is given no information about any trailing punctuation that might actually be part of what was said. The quote attributed by MTV to Cameron ends with a comma before the closing quotation mark in the MTV article — but because the MTV article uses TQ, that trailing comma has nothing to do with what Cameron said. That trailing comma is mechanically part of the surrounding prose of the MTV article. We don't actually know (for sure) whether the quoted words are all of Cameron's sentence, or whether his sentence continued on with more words that MTV did not choose to include in the quote. Flyer22 seems to have construed "quoted material" to mean "material that occurs within quotes in the MTV article", in which case it would include the trailing comma. My understanding is that, because the MTV article uses TQ, the material quoted by MTV is everything between the quotation marks except the trailing comma, the trailing comma being part of the surrounding prose. This is what makes sense to me, because the purpose of LQ is to maximize the accuracy of our reporting of what was said (and in this case we are reporting what Cameron said, not reporting what MTV said). --Pi zero (talk) 23:48, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I'm with you that, in American punctuation (AKA TQ), the final comma or period is part of the quotation process. However, the tag and citation indicate that Flyer was using a written MTV article and not an audio recording of the interview. If we're deeming the source to be a reliable one, then we're saying that we trust the writer's judgment, at least to the point where we assume that he or she is doing an adequate job of writing things down. If we assume otherwise, then we should tell the editors to find a better source.
"There could have been words left out" isn't an LQ vs AQ/BQ issue. A writer who sees no problem with cutting off half a sentence probably isn't going to see a problem with putting down a period.
With regard to the text of WP:LQ, while I don't agree with its content, but the way it's phrased is pretty darn direct. I suppose we could add examples, but I'd like to be more certain of what problem it is that we're fixing first. I'm sure Flyer can explain. I've also left a note on Cosmic's talk page. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:35, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I am saying that we must completely trust the MTV writer's judgment on exactly how to represent what Cameron said. Set that alongside the fact that the final comma is (as you so aptly put it) part of the quotation process. The final comma is part of the machinery in the MTV article that surrounds and delimits, but is not part of, the MTV writer's representation of what Cameron said. The MTV writer judged that what Cameron said should be represented by a text string that does not have any final punctuation, and we must respect that judgment. If the MTV writer had wanted to badly enough, they could have used a block quote, which would have allowed them to include trailing punctuation in their representation of what Cameron said; it would have been a lot of trouble for them to go to, and in their shoes I'm sure I would have made the same decision they did (supposing that I was forced to use TQ :-) — but that's as may be. All that really matters for this particular case is that the MTV writer didn't do that, and as a result, the quoted material does not include any trailing punctuation.
Re the phrasing in the MOS: Even if I never had to say another word to explain my position, the number of words I've already expended on it demonstrates that the current phrasing is not a model of lucidity. --Pi zero (talk) 02:06, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that a good writer would use a block quote format on a short quote like this one.
From what I've been able to ascertain, the confusion is not coming from the LQ vs AQ/BQ issue but rather from the issue of whether to treat Cameron's words within the MTV article as a text source or as an audio source. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:10, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Depending on the layout of the material, of course, a block quote for such a short passage would probably not be appropriate, I agree. My point was that under TQ, the fact that a block quote was in fact not used means that the MTV writer was mechanically unable to ascribe any trailing punctuation to Cameron.
As a clarification, how do you see text/audio impacting the question at hand? --Pi zero (talk) 15:47, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
How I see it affecting the issue at hand? When a Wikipedia editor uses and cites an audio source, then the reader assumes that it is the Wikipedia editor who decided how to punctuate the written version. When a Wikipedia editor uses and cites a text source, then the reader assumes that it is the author/transcriber of that text source who decided how to punctuate it. I would treat sources such as the MTV article as text sources. The most important factor seems to me to be that the interviewer is present to hear the interviewee speak and Wikipedia editor is not. The interviewer's guess is better than the editor's in such a case. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:45, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
But we can also hear/see Cameron speak about this matter. Flyer22 (talk) 23:52, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
This I did not know at the time. I tend to ignore anything that looks like it might be an ad, so I didn't see the video section and assumed you were working solely from the writeup.
I'd say that when a Wikipedia editor is working from an audio source and hears a stop within the quote, then it is right and proper to place the period inside the quotation marks even when using LQ. Removing or ignoring the "uh" is acceptable. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:14, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
As one of the two editors involved in the original dispute, I'll offer my current take on things: There does seem to be a legitimate question as to whether the goal is faithful representation of Wikipedia's source (MTV) or of MTV's own source (Cameron). If the goal is the former representation, then it would seem that a literary snapshot of the MTV source would include their (apparently) TQ-derived comma. If the goal is the latter representation, then since there's no way to tell if Cameron's original line included either an explicit (written) or an implicit (spoken) comma, the inclusion of a comma within quotes here would be speculative at best, and therefore best avoided. I'd propose that, as a compromise between these two possible goals, one simply remember that quotation always is a potential act of omission (i.e., there's always the possibility that the source--whatever "the source" ultimately is understood to be--contains characters to the left or right of where the quotation marks appear in the new material). Therefore, even if it turns out the the idea is to represent MTV (i.e., to represent the "secondary source" that WP has at hand, rather than to represent the initial speaker's speech), then even though MTV includes a TQ-consistent comma, MTV gives us license to omit that comma because A) the origins of the comma are ambiguous; perhaps they lie with Cameron, perhaps they lie with the TQ rendering of Cameron's words; and B) quotation always is a possible act of omission in the first place. So, maybe WP:LQ could use a line about how to handle ambiguous punctuation (e.g., omit it) that derives from sources-within-sources (i.e., from lines that sources themselves have quoted directly)? In a nutshell, perhaps there is a valid question about whether the Avatar article should quote the comma there. At this point, I agree that it should not. The initial question, however, was whether a period should be placed where the source had put a comma (this was Flyer22's edit to which I initially objected). That, I think, would be far too big a stretch--a copy-editor's version of WP:OR, in fact, because it would ultimately trust neither MTV nor Cameron, but rather the editor who feels that Cameron's thought comes to its conclusion in that spot. Cosmic Latte (talk) 17:26, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't go so far as to call placing a period there OR, but it is certainly not consistent with LQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:45, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Cosmic Latte, I do not get what you mean about stretch or original research. We can watch the video clip and see that Cameron does indeed end his sentence there. Sure, his thoughts about the couples are not finished there, but that sentence is. Unless you feel that his "uh" after it is also a part of that sentence. What I did has nothing to do with not trusting MTV nor Cameron, but rather what I felt WP:Logical quotation is about -- only ending sentence fragments with the punctuations outside of the quotes; this also means that even if the text presents a sentence fragment with the period within the quote, we do not because we are following "logical quotation." All I did was place the "said Cameron" part in the middle and end the sentence with a period because it is a full sentence. I figured that full sentences should always end with the period inside of the quote. But you are saying that because the sentence ended with a comma and "he explained" in the text version...that this means Cameron's sentence could have possibly not been finished? I ask, "How could we possibly know that unless we had audio commentary?" In this case, we do have audio commentary -- a clip -- and it shows that Cameron does end his sentence there. Besides, what if I were to have presented that quote the other way around, with the "Cameron said," part first, and then ended the quote with a period? Would that not be acceptable, simply because the text ends the sentence with a comma and "he explained"? Flyer22 (talk) 23:52, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
British punctuation consistently treats fragments that way, but LQ does not generally require users to remove punctuation that is present in the original. LQ has its origin for its ability to preserve what's called "literal strings" in computer programming, strings of characters, regardless of their spoken or grammatical meaning. While Pi Zero has pointed out some issues with closing punctuation, if the original quote was "It was interesting. Also, I like cheese," then it is perfectly in compliance with LQ to write "Cameron said that it was 'interesting.' " (British punctuation would have "Cameron said that it was 'interesting'." American punctuation would have "Cameron said that it was 'interesting.' ") Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:19, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
It'd be possible, but not very useful. We're not quoting a full sentence but only a piece thereof, so why would said piece contain the sentence-terminating punctuation? ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 16:25, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
Six to one, half a dozen to the other. However, if the question is whether LQ requires fragments to be treated the same way that BQ treats them, the answer is that no it doesn't. LQ does not concern itself with the grammatical stop the way British punctuation does, so the editor may decide whether to keep the period or not. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:12, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
See, I was not aware of that. I don't get that from reading WP:Logical quotation, especially with it pointing to logical quotation. To me, it is (or rather was) saying follow the British style of having all sentence fragments end with the closing punctuations outside of the quoted material (though I see you recently changed that for better reading, which is why it is likely now a "was"). That is how I would and I am sure still will see most people using WP:Logical quotation around here, and Finell (in a past discussion) said that the period should go outside of the quoted material for any type of sentence fragment. If it has not been British Style vs. American style regarding WP:Logical quotation all this time, then why does that discussion constantly come up here on this talk page? Flyer22 (talk) 03:44, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
The discussion keeps coming up on the talk page because the LQ rule confuses and annoys people. Outside of computer programming, a lot of people don't even know that LQ exists until they see the Wikipedia MoS. In addition to this, a lot of American writers don't know that any system aside from American punctuation exists until they get to Wikipedia. LQ is very different from what people are taught in schools about good writing and good punctuation. And, in at least one case that I know of (that being myself), being told that we're not allowed to use standard English is real turnoff. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:47, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
It's interesting to me that you feel that way. The punctuation I was taught in school always had the opposite effect on me: I thought that it was ridiculous on its face, and I put up with it only because I was forced to. I now use logical quotation exclusively. If Wikipedia were to change its policy and embrace something else, I would still use logical quotation in my talk page writings and my emails, because I can imagine no other way. Obviously, the MoS can't accommodate both my likes and your likes. It seems that, like so many things, there is no solution in this Earthly life. Ozob (talk) 23:33, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Actually, it can. It could permit AQ, BQ and LQ with consistency within each article, as it does with British and American spelling, the serial comma, etc.
I guess it depends on how the subject was taught. I had one teacher who insisted on twelve-point Times New Roman for every assignment just because it was an anti-peeve of hers, and the sight of anything written in that font and size annoyed me for years. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:07, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, I know why the WP:Logical quotation matter keeps coming up; I have seen what you have seen regarding that. And that is what I mean. When it does come up, people often cite it as a British vs. American style. I was asking if it has not been British vs. American style all this time, then why do people often cite it as British vs. American style in these discussions? Either way, I am not understanding the logical quotation rule in its entirety now; the reasons for that are in everything I have brought up on the matter. I thought it was as simple as having all sentence fragments end with the closing punctuations outside of the quoted material. It has not helped when some of you disagree on how WP:Logical quotation is supposed to be applied. For example, as I stated before, Finell said that the period should go outside of the quoted material for any type of sentence fragment. You disagree. Now Finell seems to disagree with that earlier statement. PS...the next person should outdent if we continue this part of the discussion further (LOL). Flyer22 (talk) 23:22, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
I used to think that the Wikipedia MoS was endorsing British punctuation too. Truthfully, in practice, British and LQ only rarely differ, so it takes some digging to see how they're different. Aside from the treatment of colons and semicolons, the biggest difference is in the theory: British punctuation treats words as words and LQ treats them as strings of characters. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:12, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
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A possibly more illuminating characterization of LQ (I found it helpful, when I noticed it while trying to articulate why I didn't entirely agree with the last part of the last sentence above) is that LQ doesn't treat the words at all: it only treats the trailing punctuation, if any. That is, it doesn't care what the quoted material means; and, indeed, it doesn't care about the specific meaning of the trailing punctuation either — all it cares about is whether the meaning of the trailing punctuation is part of the meaning of the quoted material, or part of the meaning of the surrounding prose. In the case of a "string literal" in computer science, the meaning of the quoted material is, in fact, a sequence of characters; then, a trailing punctuation mark outside the quotation marks is providing structural information about the surrounding prose (that is, punctuating the surrounding prose), while a trailing puncutation mark inside the quotation marks is just another character amongst those that make up the string literal. In the case of a prose quotation, such as the one we've been discussing, a trailing punctuation mark outside the quotation marks is again providing structural information about the surrounding prose, while a a trailing punctuation mark inside the quotation marks is providing structural information about the quoted material (since it is part of the quoted material).
There is one flaw in my description above of the prose quotation case, in that if the trailing punctuation occurs inside the quotation marks, the meaning of the trailing punctuation "bleeds through" to the surrounding prose, so that (unless there is also a punctuation mark immediately outside the closing quotation mark, which would make the whole thing much more string-literal-like) the punctuation mark immediately inside the closing quotation mark is understood as applying to both the quoted material and the surrounding prose. --Pi zero (talk) 17:01, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I have responded a little below in this section to the position you have about what you call "the trailing comma." Flyer22 (talk) 22:45, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Section break

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── People often talk about it in terms of British vs. American style because they are ignorant of the many, many discussions about this here, they like thinking in simple terms, they like arguing, especially if it fires up a feisty Brits vs. Yanks fight, they don't pay attention, because they are hidebound and hardheaded, and many other reasons. Who cares? It's not a US vs. UK style issue, no matter how much a certain couple of editors want to make it into one. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 02:16, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

SMcCandlish, I appreciate you weighing in on that matter. Any other helpful comments you can make regarding other parts of this discussion would also be appreciated. Flyer22 (talk) 22:45, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Pi zero, feeling that "quoted material" means "material that occurs within quotes in the MTV article" is not exactly what I meant. If I did, then I would not have objected much to the period being placed outside of the quote...since it does not appear within the text. What I meant is what I just stated above to Cosmic Latte Flyer22 (talk) 23:52, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Pi zero, I am not getting this edit you made (which is why I undid it). From the discussion on the Avatar (2009 film) talk page and part of the discussion here, it has been stated that the comma should be inside of the quoted material. In fact, Cosmic Latte did not have a problem with this, because the text in the source also uses a comma there; this is the compromise the both of us (Cosmic Latte and I) made before I brought the matter here. Flyer22 (talk) 23:22, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
I was fine with that at first, but both here and on Avatar talk, people raised a point that I hadn't considered: There's absolutely no way to tell from the source if Cameron's sentence ends there, or if that spot contained a comma, etc. Because the source itself doesn't use LQ, it doesn't let us see what Cameron did or didn't say after the word "interesting". Perhaps his sentence ended there. Perhaps it continued--and, if so, perhaps it included a comma in that spot. We just don't know, because the TQ format that the source uses simply doesn't care: It requires a comma there, regardless. So, when we're citing the source, if we omit the comma (remember that the act of quotation always is a potential act of omission), then we can be sure that we're not adding anything to what Cameron said--we can have greater confidence that we're rendering Cameron's line with the same precision that the source intended, and which it achieved as best as it could through TQ. To be honest, I don't entirely see how this degree of precision is required by LQ; however, because quotation always is at liberty to omit material (i.e., to the left and right of the quotation marks), I certainly think that such precision couldn't hurt, and that we ought to take advantage of it when it's at our disposal. Cosmic Latte (talk) 04:47, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
I have responded to this a little below in this section. Flyer22 (talk) 22:45, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
While Pi Zero did make a good point about the comma itself, I'd like to point out that even if the MTV interview had used LQ, it wouldn't have given us any information about what Cameron did or didn't say after "interesting." None of the three major forms of punctuation let us know which words have and haven't been omitted or even whether any words have been omitted. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:23, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
If the MTV interview had used LQ, and had placed a comma just before the closing quotation mark, that would tell us that Cameron did not end his sentence there. --Pi zero (talk) 19:22, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
Unless the next words were "he said" or something, but in general, yes, you've pointed out a new possibility. In the case of this Avatar quote, though, they act the same way. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:43, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
It doesn't matter whether the next words are "he said" or something. If the comma goes inside the quotes in LQ, then that is an assertion that the sentence did not end there. If a document uses LQ, and it says
"No elephants are pink," he said.
then the document is asserting that "No elephants are pink" is not his complete sentence. It isn't just failing to assert that his sentence ended there, it is actually asserting that his sentence did not end there. That's because it is asserting that the comma is part of the description of what he said. The document could have avoided making that assertion, by saying
"No elephants are pink", he said.
which leaves us, the readers of the document, not knowing whether the sentence ended there, although we would then think it unlikely that the word "pink" was followed by a comma (because if it were, the document using LQ would probably have put the comma inside the quotation marks). --Pi zero (talk) 04:35, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Only if the reader knows that LQ is in use. Takes us back to Wikipedia conditions vs. laboratory conditions. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:06, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Real conditions versus laboratory conditions is the point at which circumstances induced me to drop that thread, leaving it woefully incomplete, as other threads demanded all of my very limited Wikipedia time. You did state your position on this; I just never stated mine (in that thread, though I believe we got a little further on this aspect of it in an earlier thread that, however, we had failed to ground in the laboratory conditions). Your position can be boiled down to "Since the reader might misunderstand the information that we provide, why bother to provide it?"; that's not exactly presenting your position in its best light, but it should make clear why I don't find your position compelling. My position is that if we were to very carefully tease out all the probabilities involved, we would find, after tedious analysis, that the reader is most likely to get the right information if we actually provide the right information. --Pi zero (talk) 18:24, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Not quite. My position is actually, "Because, under real conditions, logical quotation provides no information or advantage over American and British forms, we should not prefer it to American and British forms." We can tease out probabilities or we can look at what's actually happened: Readers have been getting the right information from American and British standard forms for hundreds of years. The idea that American and British punctuation creates problems that LQ does not simple doesn't hold water. Words in an encyclopedia aren't literal strings; they're words. And they're not read by programs; they're read by people. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:49, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Your basic statement about "what's actually happened" is misrepresentative, because it is ambiguous in a way that hides the distinction that you're trying to draw a conclusion about. You say "Readers have been getting the right information from American and British standard forms for hundreds of years"; but this is only true if one takes "the right information" to refer only to information that those forms actually express, which means that, in order to make the statement true, you have to first decide to ignore what makes LQ different. It seems quite fair to say that readers have been getting some right information from those forms. However, in order to use those forms it is necessary to systematically remove certain information, available to the author, that could have been expressed using LQ. (And whether or not that information would have been rightly understood, had it been expressed, is only a sensible question after the act of expression has been performed.) The information that was systematically omitted from the expression cannot have been "gotten" by any reader, human or otherwise, because the information was actually not there.
The temptation to skip over the details after a certain point, cutting the Gordian knot — and it is a great temptation, I agree — can only safely be indulged when those details really don't contribute to the bottom line. (I am tempted myself, at this point, to break down the situation into its basic parts and cases, and then discourse on the outcomes and probabilities involved... but honestly I don't have time (which I find deeply frustrating) and also lack confidence that we wouldn't turn out to be failing to communicate at some earlier point, with the result that you would not be enabled to get anything from my time-consuming expression.) --Pi zero (talk) 21:06, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
My basic statement is that AQ and BQ have served writers and readers very well for a very long time without demonstrating the kinds of problems that LQ's supporters claim that they do: They do not confuse people. They do not create factual errors. They do not violate the sanctity of the source or introduce errors in subsequent editing, at least not any more than LQ does. They might look as though they ought to, but their track record shows that they generally do not.
I get the part where someone who has spent a lot of time looking at strings literal can then look at American punctuation and say, "Hm. I can see how this could potentially confuse someone." But that same person ought to be able to look at its history and say, "Oh. But it doesn't happen in practice." It's like British spelling. "Hm. This looks like people would pronounce it 'senn-treh.'" "Oh, but almost everyone knows that it's pronounced 'center' and if they don't, they figure it out real fast." It only looks like it would be a problem. There is so, so, so much evidence showing that it isn't a problem.
Angie doesn't like it when Mark opens the window, so she says, "It's rude of Mark to open the window." Mark isn't being rude. He's just doing something that Angie doesn't like. But rather than owning up and saying that she just doesn't like it, Angie feels the need to imagine that some larger system, in this case courtesy, agrees with her. Really, her own preferences ought to be enough for her to politely ask Mark not to open the window. (But then of course, Angie would have to consider Mark's preferences as equal to her own.) That's what's going on here. AQ and BQ don't really create problems. It's just that people who prefer LQ feel the need to imagine that something bigger than themselves agrees with them. So they take the idea that AQ and BQ look like they would cause problems and they blow that up like a balloon—big and flashy, but hollow inside it skin.
Now that isn't to say that AQ and BQ are perfect. They're not. But we've seen that LQ has its problems too. What we haven't seen is AQ and BQ causing any of the sort of problems that would merit forbidding their use.
You've brought up whether or not LQ is correct, and in general I don't consider it to be so, but that does depend on we take "correct" to mean, and I can see how a case could be made either way. However, it is clear that LQ is certainly not standard. It might become so in twenty or thirty years (or turn out to be a fad and fade away), but it isn't right now. I see it as being like a Texas twang or Southern drawl, a curiosity that can suggest the flavor of the subculture that uses it, but not something that everyone should do. I don't see why we have to write Wikipedia with a programmer's accent when what we're writing isn't a programming document. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:38, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
Cosmic Latte and Pi zero, do not forget the video. Cosmic Latte, you keep overlooking that. Are you able to view it? We know from the video that Cameron's sentence ends there, which is why having the quote the way I originally had it (ending with the period within the quote) was deemed fine at the Avatar (2009 film) talk page and here. This version:

"They both fall in love with each other, but they need to fight side-by-side," said Cameron, "and so there's that kind of requirement to let the other person go in order to do what you need to do, which is kind of interesting."

As for precision, you stated that you do not "entirely see how this degree of precision is required by LQ." Yes, neither do I. Cosmic Latte and Pi zero, if we start going by this type of formatting, then it should be explicit in the WP:Logical quotation section. But even if we were to start using WP:Logical quotation this way, it would mean that we would start having full quotes end with their commas outside of the quoted material. Why should we do that? Because it would tell us that Cameron's sentence was finished? Most people would not think of the comma placement that way. To them, that sentence is finished either way. They do not know of this "the comma goes outside of quoted material to indicate that the sentence is finished" tactic. Sure, a lot of people also do not know of British and logical quotation formatting having sentence fragments end with their closing punctuations outside of the quoted material, but I am sure it would make more sense to them than having full quotes end with their closing punctuations outside of the quoted material. The point you two are making is that the comma should go outside of the quoted material so that it is clear that the sentence is finished. But isn't putting the comma outside of the quoted material treating the sentence as a sentence fragment and as though the sentence may not be finished? And why should we try to present this type of sentence as "without a doubt finished," if we cannot possibly know if it is truly finished or not unless we hear an audio version of it? Thus, because of these points I have presented, why should we treat a full sentence this way? Right now, WP:Logical quotation says: "On Wikipedia, place all punctuation marks inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quoted material and outside if they are not." Are we saying that the comma is not a part of the quoted material even though it is presented as such? It is true that I would not consider it a part of the quoted material...because no sentence ends in a comma. But that still does not stop us from ending sentences in a comma followed by a "he said" or "she said" (or some variation of it). And like Ozob stated, "...the comma really doesn't give us any information; nevertheless, it's what's in our source. This is something that the MoS doesn't really address, because it assumes the source is always and completely infallible." For any type of text only interview, we cannot know for sure if someone's sentence ended exactly at the spot it is presented as having ended in the source...unless it ends with an ellipsis (such as which is kind of interesting...). To go the route you two are suggesting is basically saying that all full sentences which end with a comma should be treated the way we treat sentence fragments -- that they should end with a comma outside of the quote...unless there is an audio clip we can listen to so that we can know exactly if the sentence ended as presented. Additionally, I have to ask why this does not apply to periods. A full sentence ending with the period within the quote does not mean that Cameron's statement did not end there. Thus, why does a full sentence ending with a comma within the quote have to mean that his sentence did not end there in regards to WP:Logical quotation? I have never seen this type of logical quotation applied on Wikipedia. Flyer22 (talk) 22:45, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
LQ does not treat anything as a sentence fragment. It does not acknowledge the difference between full sentences, partial sentences or random strings of numbers, letters, punctuation and spaces. BQ would treat a sentence fragment the way you're thinking of but LQ holds no position on fragments.
Actually, Pi Zero and SmC aren't saying that putting the comma outside will make it clear that the sentence is finished but rather they are saying that putting the comma outside does nothing at all. They also believe that putting it inside would trick people into thinking that it wasn't complete—I do not share this belief. They believe that problems are created when the comma is placed inside and they do not believe that problems are created when it is placed outside, so they prefer it outside. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:43, 4 February 2010 (UTC)
Placing the comma inside would not "trick people into thinking" that the sentence isn't complete. Placing the comma inside would actually assert, unambigously, that the sentence isn't complete, because it would attribute the comma to Cameron. There's no trickery involved. This is an elementary application of LQ; it's not even a difficult case. It's easy, because there is no question about who we are quoting: we actually state in our sentence that we are quoting Cameron. That's why, as Flyer22 points out, if our sentence were rearranged so that it ended at the closing quotation mark, we could correctly put a period just before that closing quotation mark: because we are quoting Cameron. (If we were quoting MTV, then it would be incorrect for us to put a period inside the closing quotation mark, since MTV didn't.)
I have long had a lurking uncomfortable suspicion, Darkfrog, that you might honestly not understand how LQ works. I couldn't, and so far still can't, wrap my head around why that could possibly be, but the uncertainty is part of why I have been endeavoring, over time, to explore in discussions with you the detailed foundations of LQ — trying to identify exactly where we part company, in the hopes that this would either pinpoint a miscommunication, or show how some other phenomenon fully explains the anomalies that have caused the suspicion. (Even under good conditions this would be a difficult exercise in mapping the correspondences between disparate viewpoints; and it's made much more difficult by my limited and erratic time for Wikipedia). --Pi zero (talk) 05:27, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
I'd say that I have a pretty good grasp of it, Pi Zero. I simply don't believe that it gives Wikipedia any advantage over more correct forms. And I assert that "trick" is in this case a pretty close approximation of "lead people to believe something that is not the case." You're concerned that the reader would believe that Cameron did not complete the sentence when this may not have been the case. Hence, "trick." However, I do not believe that readers, under ordinary Wikipedia conditions, would make any such assumption, primarily because most of them don't know about LQ and even the ones who do are used to either AQ or BQ, both of which place closing punctuation inside the quotation marks in cases involving direct dialogue. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:16, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
This matter of the word "trick", together with comments in another branch of the discussion, suggest to me a clarification of why the word "trick" bothered me in the first place: it's placing primary emphasis on the reader. Getting the right information to the reader is our ultimate goal, but the way we go about it is to present correct information in the first place. By putting the comma inside the quotation marks we would be making an unsupported statement: we would be stating that Cameron did not end his sentence there. We don't know that, and in fact it isn't true. Therefore we have no business stating it. That's how logical quotation works. The use of the word "trick" is just placing heavy emphasis on something that should not be our primary focus when working out how to apply logical quotation.
You have not made any secret, I think, of the fact that your opposition to LQ is not based on any consideration about the correct or incorrect expression of information, nor its communication to the reader. You believe logical quotation to be inherently incorrect English (a position that, to understate the case, I don't agree with), and the rest is about addressing arguments that others find compelling although you, presumably, would not even if you agreed with those arguments. Nevertheless, as long as there is lingering disagreement on the information issues involved —which you and I discuss in such depth— there is merit in our continuing to search for mutual understanding on those issues, since none of us is trying to misrepresent anything. But slipping that "any advantage over more correct forms" crack into the midst of a discussion about information content is the sort of thing that causes some folks here (though not me) to suspect you of shady debate techniques.
(BTW, if I had to guess, I too would say that you probably do have a pretty good grasp of it — though of course you would almost certainly think so anyway; what does a misunderstanding look like from the inside? It's just that there are these odd notes that get struck from time to time, that set off warning bells in the back of my mind. I've seen mind-bogglingly messy disconnects result from misunderstandings so slippery that they're almost impossible even to recognize as misunderstandings, let alone to identify and clear. Hence my unease when I encounter any faint whiff of such an insidious hazard.) --Pi zero (talk) 19:54, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
It is LQ itself that has no bearing on providing correct vs. incorrect information. On Wikipedia, neither LQ nor AQ nor BQ convey any more or less information than the other. The belief that American punctuation provides false information is itself false. You say that, by leaving the comma or period outside, LQ provides no information, false or true, about when Cameron ended his sentence. American punctuation does the exact same thing by using a comma or period that is understood to be part of the quotation process. Neither system provides either accurate or inaccurate information, and American punctuation is easier to use.
What we communicate to the reader by using LQ is that we care more about a few Wikipedians' personal preferences—and a couple of people have mentioned displeasure with old high school English teachers—than we do about creating a professional and encyclopedic tone. And yes, AQ and BQ are more correct than LQ. They have a longer history and are more widely accepted and by more serious writers and organizations than LQ is. (ACS, for example, is serious about chemistry but not about writing.) This makes them more correct. The fact that you consider it to be a crack surprises me, because I do go to some length to try to avoid offending LQ's supporters. If I'd been trying to make a crack, I'd have left out the "more."
Concur that people who don't understand things probably don't know it. That's why the "and understood" part of the "I have read and understood the terms of this agreement" that we so often see on EULAs and websites has no place there. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:08, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Most people not knowing about logical quotation is what I was saying above, Darkfrog24. But "LQ does not treat anything as a sentence fragment"? I ask, "How can that be?" Are you speaking of logical quotation in a different sense than how it is generally used on Wikipedia? As I stated above, WP:Logical quotation currently says, "On Wikipedia, place all punctuation marks inside the quotation marks if they are part of the quoted material and outside if they are not." After that, it gives us sentence fragment examples. People have consistently used WP:Logical quotation to mean that sentence fragments should end with the period outside of the quoted material, as seen with the edit which led to the discussions at the Avatar (2009 film) article talk page and here. The editor seen in that link applied WP:Logical quotation the way I see it usually applied, and the way I apply it, except for that one line. That one line became the basis of this debate, as we know. I doubt that editor checked each of those sources to see how the sources had the sentences. I assumed/still assume that editor saw sentence fragments (and one he or she believed to be a sentence fragment), and placed the periods outside of the quotes based on WP:Logical quotation. Really, I am unsure of how WP:Logical quotation is supposed to be applied if that is not the way. If it has all these other circumstances that make it even more complicated to follow, I am wondering why this is not addressed in the WP:Logical quotation section. If WP:Logical quotation is not as simple as punctuations go outside for sentence fragments, then is this not addressed there because the logical quotation link is supposed to address all that?
As for the editor seen in that recent link I provided, I will invite him or her to this discussion. Flyer22 (talk) 23:56, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
I see that this specific interpretation (periods outside of the quoted material for sentence fragments) has now been brought up below...I think. Flyer22 (talk) 00:16, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
I think we need to make clear in the MoS what logical punctuation is, because few editors seem to understand it, and also that people shouldn't try to change articles with a stable style. What's happening is that correctly punctuated (within the system) articles that use aesthetic are being changed by editors to logical, but not changed properly, so dog's breakfast part 1 occurs. Part 2 is when the original editors return and resume editing with the original style, not realizing the article has been partly changed and/or not knowing how to do logical punctuation anyway, or not wanting to know. The result is a mish-mash of styles. We really need (a) to explain logical punctuation properly in the MoS, and (b) to make clear that a properly punctuated stable article, in either style, should be left as it is. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:23, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Exactly, Slim. Flyer22 (talk) 00:26, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Although...I'm wondering about the "letting articles go against Wikipedia formatting" part. Flyer22 (talk) 03:57, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Suggestion

I'm only half following this discussion and the latest additions to the MoS, but it seems to me that we need to stop forcing logical quotation onto people, because it's way too complex. I would never try to use it myself, and I see it being used wrongly all the time. Can we not simply allow people to use the punctuation style they choose, so long as the article's internally consistent? SlimVirgin TALK contribs 04:26, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

The proposal to abandon logical quotation has often been brought up before, but turned down every time; Darkfrog24 surely can inform us on all that.
I would say that we cannot have people using any punctuation style that they choose, though, because that would result in the inconsistency formatting within articles that you were/are trying to avoid (at least judging by your earlier comments on the matter). Flyer22 (talk) 04:43, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
I mean they could choose to use aesthetic punctuation or logical, or perhaps whatever people here are calling BQ, though I have no idea what that is. The point would be simply that, as with citation styles, if they are using a recognized style, they can carry on using it, so long as they're consistent. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 04:57, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
That we had to use logical punctuation was added to the MoS on August 23, 2002, on the mistaken assumption that this was British style. [6] The idea was to split the difference between American and British—use double quotation marks, which the writers wrongly identified as American, and logical punctuation, which they wrongly identified as British.
This is an international project. We ought to be putting nationalist ideas to one side (especially when we keep getting them wrong), and use whatever people find easier. It's not something we should try to force on editors, because they do it instinctively depending on what they're used to, so there's no point trying to legislate. Despite the MoS, most of Wikipedia uses aesthetic punctuation, because that's what most Wikipedians are used to doing. So let's allow editors to use the punctuation style of their choosing, just as we allow them to use the citation style of their choice, so long as articles are internally consistent. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 05:10, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Slim, I know what you meant. But I'm saying that the inconsistency issue would remain, and perhaps be even bigger. If we do not have one style outlined in the Maual of Style, then what's to stop rampant inconsistency within just one article? One guy may prefer American style, for example, while the other guy prefers British style. If we say they can use any punctuation they want, then that means that an article can be half American style and half British style if that is what the editors want. Letting an editor use whatever style he or she wants would mean that he or she could go to an article that is mainly British style and inject his or her American style into it with new additions...because there is no rule saying that he or she must be consistent with the style already present in the aricle. Unless we add a consistentcy rule. Flyer22 (talk) 21:48, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Simple, Flyer22. We tie punctuation to ENGVAR and require consistency within each article. If the article is in American English, use American punctuation. If it's in British English, use British punctuation. That way we respect both American and British contributors. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:54, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
(That isn't a new argument, of course.) We allow regional variations in spelling, canonically American versus British, because they are information-neutral; that is, an American reader can read an article written using British spelling, or vice versa, and not miss anything that they would have gotten if the article had been written with the spelling that reader is more familiar with. When regional variations convey equal amounts of information, but the differences would potentially interfere with communication, we try to avoid them (like "table the motion" that means opposite things on opposite sides of the Pond). But in the case of quotation, the different styles don't convey equal amounts of information; using any style other than logical quotation actually reduces the amount of information that the text is capable of trying to communicate. So quotation style is non-information-neutral, and abandoning logical quotation in favor of regional variations would actively degrade the quality of the product we are able to deliver.
Concerning complexity — logical quotation is really, really simple. Just this: put between quotes only what you know to be part of what was actually said. The only legitimately difficult part of this is that being precise is hard work, and that's no excuse not to strive for it in an encyclopedia.
That said, if you become convinced (a.k.a. indoctrinated) that it's complicated, you can talk yourself into having trouble with it. That might sound crazy (or worse, pejorative), but it's not. I've seen this bizarre-seeming but very real phenomenon at work on a large scale. In my teens I heard a meme that, even though intuitively you'd think that simple signatures would be easier to forge than complicated ones, it's actually the opposite of what you'd expect. Then in college I met a guy in administration with a near-eidetic memory, who remarked in a casual moment that it was a good thing everything he was supposed to have signed actually went through his hands, because he remembered which papers he had and hadn't signed, whereas nobody else would be able to catch forgeries because he had a very simple signature, and simple signatures are really easy to forge — although, he added with some puzzlement, he'd noticed that almost everyone thought simple signatures were harder to forge. So, he explained, it was actually the opposite of what most people expect. --Pi zero (talk) 05:50, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Pi zero, I've been writing for a long time, and I wouldn't try to use LQ. We don't always have access to the sources that others have used, for one thing. But regardless, the point is that lots of editors who go around changing people's punctuation to LQ keep getting it wrong. It's been going on for years, and it's silly. We end up with articles that are wrongly punctuated only because someone has tried to correct them. And that's happening because of the advice in the MoS, which makes it doubly silly. Let's apply common sense. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 05:59, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Slim, I just responded to you again about this a little above in this section. Flyer22 (talk) 21:48, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Yes, sadly a very stupid choice was made long ago and the project—to date—has stupidly adhered to it. As SlimVirgin has noted, the satisfactory execution and maintenance of logical quotation requires (a) an exceptionally high degree of precision and (b) direct access to original sources. To assume either, let alone both, of a volunteer, amateur, communal project is ludicrous. I am well aware that these points have been raised before. I advocate that they contine to be raised until this stupid system is overturned.

Why have I chosen to engage at this particular point? Because the recent volley of edits drew my attention to a remarkably stupid passage in our beloved Manual of Style. I reproduce it here in its entirety for your edification, amusement, and (I trust) horror:

Copying quotations from sources-within-sources requires some judgment. Publishers often add periods and commas that are not permitted under logical quotation. Say that a magazine prints the text "I feel," wrote Arthur, "that the situation is deplorable. It's unacceptable." The period after "deplorable" is certainly Arthur's, but we do not know for sure if Arthur himself placed the comma after "I feel" or the period after "unacceptable" or whether the magazine added either or both of them later. When translating other styles into logical quotation, only include those characters that are certainly part of the material being cited.

Correct: "I feel", wrote Arthur, "that the situation is deplorable."
Correct: "I feel", wrote Arthur, "that the situation is deplorable. It's unacceptable".
Incorrect: Arthur wrote, "I feel that the situation is deplorable."

(We don't know that the comma wasn't part of what Arthur wrote himself.)

First, if Arthur is anyone worth quoting, we most certainly do know that he did not, could not, would never place a comma between "I feel" and "that". And if he did, it was obviously a typographical error that any responsible publisher would silently correct. So: our prime Incorrect example here is deeply, truly, madly stupid. And yes, there's more...

We currently claim here that the "period after 'deplorable' is certainly Arthur's". Really? Certainly? Here's something I know for certain: magazines these days frequently quote passages from emails that obey no rules of punctuation, capitalization, spelling, or grammar. Guess what, folks—magazines often clean things up! Do we really, actually, certainly know—without, you know, direct access to the original source—that Arthur didn't write, "i feel that the situation is deplorable; its unaceptable."? Hardly.

Insist on this LQ (low-quality) practice if you must, but please don't insult us further with these BS "examples".—DCGeist (talk) 07:10, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

A most interesting, and potentially illuminating, misunderstanding. Logical quotation does not require you to have greater knowledge than would otherwise be required of you, and specifically it does not require access to original sources. Logical quotation can be used to say that you don't know something, as well as being used to say that you do; it just enables you to say those things, whatever they are, with greater precision. When you don't know, don't put it inside the quotation marks. If that magazine is your reliable source of information about what Arthur wrote, then you can only report what Arthur wrote based on that information. In the extreme, if you actually doubt that Arthur wrote what the magazine claims he wrote, that's a separate matter, and not within the purview of mere mechanics; you might want to handle it by not claiming to report exactly what Arthur wrote. (If the magazine is a popular print periodical, you may doubt whether Arthur even wrote those words, let alone the punctuation; but again, that's not logical quotation's responsibility, logical quotation is just a tool that you are responsible for deciding when and how to use.)
I'm not, BTW, particularly defending the specific wording of the paragraph (though I do think invoking the "nothing can be known for certain" argument is a rather disappointingly empty sophistry to encounter in a serious discussion).
The recently added sprawl of explanatory examples seems rather unsightly, especially since it opens us up to nitpicking over things like the use of the word "certain" — although, presumably, what really matters is whether most people find it helpful, which I have no insight into since outliers on both sides (people who already grokked it before, or who still don't after) do not necessarily reveal the middle of the distribution. If there is found to be a widespread misapprehension that logical quotation requires greater knowledge in order to apply it (it may well be widespread; I wouldn't be surprised), this may suggest a way of drastically improving the current sprawl. --Pi zero (talk) 09:18, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
It appears that you're referring to my argument when you wail that "invoking the 'nothing can be known for certain' argument is a rather disappointingly empty sophistry to encounter." Well, you're just full of it. I do not claim that "nothing can be known for certain." I have simply demonstrated that our example, which should be an ideal, is very far from it. It claims that a specific something can be known for certain, when that is obviously far from the case. In other words, this example is a complete failure. Get it? I have not claimed, and would never claim, that "nothing can be known for certain." Indeed, in the very same communication, I asserted that it could be known for certain that a fairly literate writer would never place a comma between "I feel" and "that." Remember? Guess what, zero. It is you have descended into "disappointingly empty sophistry," and falsely accused me of your own sin. Care to apologize?—DCGeist (talk) 09:40, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
While I do not agree with Pi Zero's conclusions, said editor has been consistently civil and hasn't done anything to apologize for. Restating other people's arguments in other terms is one way of trying to understand them. If you feel that Pi Zero misunderstood you, then simply explain yourself further. There's no need to call people "full of it."
The idea of replacing LQ keeps coming up because the rule is causing problems. I fully support the idea that we replace LQ with standard punctuation forms. I would tie punctuation to spelling and follow ENGVAR.
However, it is not true to say that LQ is the same as British punctuation. British punctuation is more consistent in its treatment of sentence fragments, song titles, direct speech, etc. British punctuation treats words like they're words and LQ treats them no differently than if they were random strings of characters. Because our readers are people and not machines, it seems to me that they would react better to words than to strings of characters.
On Wikipedia, LQ does not actually convey any more or less information than BQ or AQ. Only when the reader 1. knows that LQ is in use and 2. understands how LQ works and 3. trusts that the writer has used LQ correctly will he or she gain any additional information, and then only about one character, not about the meaning or point of the quotation. (If I write, "Springsteen, nicknamed 'the Boss,' wrote 'Your Hometown,' " do the commas say anything about the nickname or the song title? No.) It is safe to assume that these three conditions are, at most, extremely rare on Wikipedia. And if BQ and AQ are so inadequate in their treatment of information, then why does almost every academic discipline and scholarly publication mandate their use? I worked in history, folks. Things don't get much more persnickety than that.
The idea that spelling is "information-neutral" is wrong, or at least entirely dependent on one's threshold for information. Spelling something "centre" instead of "center" conveys information about the writer. What it doesn't do is confuse people or create factual errors.
Now, as to which system is simplest, there are a couple of different ways to look at it. In theory, both LQ's "put it inside if it was part of the quote and outside if it's not" and AQ's "put periods and commas inside all the time" both look pretty simple, and BQ's "treat direct quotes this way and everything else that way" isn't so bad either. When the theory looks about the same, we should look at what happens in practice. It does look to me like LQ is harder to use, but people who like the style probably won't mind extra effort, but that is about preferences, not about any inherent superiority or inferiority.
The issue shouldn't be whether LQ is good enough to be allowed on Wikipedia; it's whether British and American standards are bad enough to get banned from Wikipedia. I've never seen anything that suggests that they are. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:22, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, I'll briefly (as I can) and selectively comment on one of your points above, which seems especially central to the whole matter of information transmission. The maximization of accurate information delivery by logical quotation doesn't require that the reader know LQ is in use, nor understand it, nor trust that it's being used correctly. Obliviousness to those things on the part of the reader should also cause LQ to maximize the accuracy of what the reader comes away with — not as much as stringent "laboratory conditions", of course, but that's why we describe them as laboratory conditions. (Moreover, this consequence of LQ should also be remarkably robust under misimplementation of LQ by well-meaning writers who don't understand how LQ works, making it just one more thing in the unruly mass of Wikipedia whose improved implementation could further enhance its already positive value. A positive balance emerging from a very messy situation — very Wikipedian.) --Pi zero (talk) 15:46, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Communication is almost by definition about a recipient as well as a sender. I could be speaking in perfect Russian, but if my recipient only speaks Polish, then the message isn't going to work. If I'm speaking Spanish, but my reader has been lead to believe that I'm speaking Portuguese, then it's just going to sound like I'm speaking Portuguese very badly. If the reader doesn't know about LQ, then that reader is far more likely to think, "Hm, this is punctuated a bit sloppily, isn't it?" than "So this comma really was part of the text." We need to write for our audience, and most of our audience doesn't speak LQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:34, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
My position on what LQ does in practice on Wikipedia embraces the assumption that most readers, most of the time, don't consciously think at all about whether or not the trailing punctuation is being attributed to the source. Readers will end up with an impression in their minds about what was said, including an impression about the structure of what was said that, if they tried to write down just what was said, would appear in the form of trailing punctuation (or lack thereof). If the reader were to actually consciously think about it, they might well consciously form a different impression in their minds, but on top of most people's natural lack of extreme rigor, even relatively rigorous people have limited time resources and may be reading the Wikipedia article at speed. When they aren't consciously thinking about it as they read the quote, the trailing punctuation that actually occurs in the Wikipedia article, either inside or outside the closing quotation mark, will have more impact on their mental impression of what was said if it's inside the closing quotation mark, and less impact on their mental impression of what was said if it's outside the closing quotation mark. This is going to be true regardless of whether they've ever heard of "logical quotation" (under that or any other name), and it's also going to be true regardless of why the author of the Wikipedia article put the trailing punctuation where they did. So the reader is more likely to have ended up with a correct mental impression of what was said if what the Wikipedia article does is what LQ says it should do. --Pi zero (talk) 17:36, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Most people get an impression of a piece of writing as high-quality or low-quality even if they can't pick out all the precise mistakes. For people not familiar with LQ, it just looks like AQ or BQ done badly.
If you're making the point that LQ sends some beneficial subliminal message, then I'd really like to see something that actually backs that up before we forbid authors to use standard English.
The bottom line here is that proper British and American forms don't actually create a problem for our readers, so we don't have any real, non-hypothetical reason to ban them. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:51, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

Random break

LQ is a great example of why proscriptive guidelines fail on Wikipedia. Though the stated consensus for it is affirmed every time it comes up, nobody is going out there bringing articles into compliance (because it is so time-consuming), so the actual operating consensus is that we leave quotations in whatever format they were introduced, whether LQ, AQ, or BQ, ensuring that in this area we don't even achieve consistency within articles (thus undermining the #1 stylistic premise of the MOS). Christopher Parham (talk) 14:30, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

That's exactly right. People who are arguing that LQ is superior are missing the point of this talk page. We are not here to argue those points. We are here only to decide what is best for Wikipedia.

Two factors come into play in that decision. First, our policies and guidelines must be descriptive as well as prescriptive (some argue only descriptive). That means we must promote what good editors do already, and not impose things on people that they're not going to do. There's no question that most editors (including good editors) use aesthetic punctuation. Secondly, we're in a situation where multiple non-professional editors can change our articles. We therefore can't rely on a system that requires such precision. New editors don't always have access to the sources previous editors used, and even if they did, they usually wouldn't check. So LQ will cause mistakes to be made, and articles will end up punctuated according to neither system. For that reason, we ought to be recommending the simplest system. But I'm not even arguing that. I am arguing that we ought to let editors choose the punctuation style they feel most comfortable with, just as we do with citation styles, and that all that matters for MoS purposes is internal consistency. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 18:48, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

SlimVirgin, we spend all of our time here concerned exclusively with what is best for Wikipedia; it's not as if that were something novel. The way you've worded the above make it come across as if you have decided what you are going to believe, and you are here simply to force us to accede to your beliefs without any possibility that you might be mistaken or underinformed about anything. Although I trust that was not your intention, I point out as a general observation that for anyone here to take such an attitude would be bad for Wikipedia.
Setting aside less fundamental difficulties with the arguments in your above comment, the bottom line is this: you appear to be basing your entire position on the assume that logical quotation can't work for Wikipedia because it would only work if it were applied flawlessly. That is, you claim that its value to the project is insufficiently fault-tolerant. But logical quotation does not require, for its effectiveness, the great precision that you are evidently imagining it requires. Assuming unskilled readers and unskilled writers, the extent to which we end up delivering correct information will be proportional to the percentage of cases in which our quotation practice actually follows correct logical quotation, regardless of whether we are even aware of when it is and isn't doing so; this proportionality would hold even if we were following some other quotation style, and even if we were deciding whether to place each punctuation mark inside or outside the closing quotation mark by flipping a coin. The difference in recommending logical quotation is that by doing so we cause an increase in the statistical incidence of cases in which what we do actually follows correct logical quotation, and thus we cause an increase in delivery of correct information. That's not missing the point, that is the point.
Obviously, the more successfully the MOS is able to convey writers how to correctly use logical quotation (and doing so does not require any more research than using any other quotation style), the more our delivery of correct information will increase. --Pi zero (talk) 20:05, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
We've discussed this before, but I dispute your anlalsis. A reader can make one of two assumptions: that quotation punctuation has information content, or that it does not. Meanwhile the text can either actually contain such content (LQ) or it can not (AQ, BQ, or chaos); there is no way to tell from analysis of the text alone whether LQ is at work or not. If the reader assumes information content, he will get accurate information when the text contains such, and falsely discover information where there is none when non-LQ systems are in use. If a reader assumes no information content, he will get no information accurate or otherwise. You're correct to say that increasing the preponderance of LQ will increase the transmission of correct information; but you ignore the fact that prompting a reader expectation of LQ will increase the transmission of inaccurate information. At the moment, we have an MOS that promotes LQ (increasing reader expectations that it applies here) but we do nothing to actually increase its use (it's not checked at FA that I have experienced - certainly Tony didn't object to my use of American-style when he last reviewed one of my FAs - and nobody is going around converting articles to LQ style). We're not increasing the information content of our articles - we're encouraging people to look for information in what we know to be a random stream. Christopher Parham (talk) 20:22, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Pi zero, shorter responses would be greatly appreciated. My point was simply (a) that we must describe, not only prescribe, and (b) that most people don't know how to use LQ and despite many years of discussion the MoS hasn't explained it clearly, and therefore it's not going to be used properly. Can you briefly address only those points? SlimVirgin TALK contribs 20:17, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Because LQ only conveys more information than AQ and BQ when both applied and understood if not flawlessly than at least extremely well, then we can say that it needs to be applied extremely well to be worth doing.
LQ might not require more research, but it does require more instruction than AQ and BQ. This might be because it is more complicated in practice, but the fact that it is not taught in schools probably also contributes to this. People already know "treat a song title this way and direct speech that way" from years of writing lessons. Using LQ requires an entirely different attitude toward the text.
We're all trying to understand each other here, and if some of us prefer more length, then I'm fine with it. (No novels, though, please!)
I don't feel that the MoS needs to be descriptive in the linguistic sense. (By that I mean that it should of course describe what we want people to do, but it should not describe what happens in the language in general the way a linguistic study would.) This isn't an academic paper on language use; its' a set of instructions and we should own up to that. However, I do like the symbiotic relationship that the MoS has with the articles. The MoS section on quotation marks, for example, links to the article on quotation marks, which gives a good treatment of the history and origins of the styles. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:30, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Descriptive is meant in the sense of describing what we do at WP, not what happens in the language broadly. For instance, I can tell that there is consensus for non-breaking spaces between numbers and unit abbreviations because there are people who go around adding those non-breaking spaces. This rule is not just written in a guideline, it's actively applied by both flesh and blood editors and script users. The LQ rule exists only in the MOS. Not a single soul is actively bringing articles into compliance, and even our most rigorous evaluation processes (like FAC) don't pay attention to checking that it is applied correctly to the quotes in an article. Christopher Parham (talk) 22:43, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
In fact, it's often applied wrongly at FAC. I've had articles of mine, which were correctly punctuated according to aesthetic punctuation, moved to what the editor believed was LQ, but where he in fact moved commas that were inside in the original to the outside by mistake. I don't want to give diffs because I don't want to personalize the issue. It reached the stage where I would paraphrase rather than quote, unless it was a quote I really liked, to avoid exposing articles to incorrect punctuation. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 23:11, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
While you are (most commendably) not giving diffs, I would like to understand what was being done in these incidents (as it's occurred to me this could be key in relating them to the discussion here). Were all trailing punctuation marks being moved outside the quotation marks? --Pi zero (talk) 02:34, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Sources

I think anyone adding anything to the punctuation section needs to cite their sources, and not add their own opinion. For example, that WP recommends LQ "because the method is deemed to be less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, and the introduction of errors in subsequent editing" is false. (a) That is not why we recommend it. And (b) it is more prone to the introduction of errors because WP is edited largely by people who don't understand it. So please, if we want to say anything about LQ, let's stick to what the best style guides say about it and cite them. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 06:24, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

While I agree that LQ has not been proven to be less prone to misquotation, ambiguity, etc., the actual text claims that it is "deemed" to be so, which is true. I would prefer some phrase that makes it even clearer that this is the opinion of many Wikipedians, the result of a Wikipedia consensus, rather than an observed fact.
I certainly have been making some guesses about how LQ works. The ACS style guide would probably be the best source for LQ. Does anyone here have access to a university chemistry library? There would probably be a copy there. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:42, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Logical quotation (continued)

I've been seeing editors try to correct "aesthetic" punctuation and turn it into "logical" punctuation, but they're not doing it correctly, and it has left a few articles in a bit of a mess. They seem to think the latter means simply placing the punctuation outside the quotation marks, whereas it means staying true to the original quotation, so it requires a high degree of precision. I'm therefore going to add a sentence or two about that, with a source, to clarify the misunderstanding. I'm making a note here in advance in case anyone wonders why I'm adding it. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 16:03, 7 February 2010 (UTC)

How do you feel about "Please note that LQ does not require placing closing periods and commas outside the quotation marks all the time but rather maintaining their original position in the quoted material" with some examples? Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:19, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
... how about "Please note that logical quotation does not always entail placing end punctuation outside the quotation marks, but rather maintaining the original punctuation of quoted material"? (i don't think "LQ" is a very felicitous abbreviation; and what's the verdict on using full stop/period in the MoS?) Sssoul (talk) 22:33, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
Verdict?:S174.3.98.236 (talk) 23:18, 7 February 2010 (UTC)
174, Sssoul is asking whether we should call it a "full stop" or a "period," both if which refer to one of these: . We had a big talk about that a few months back. Whichever term we use, I think we should mention periods/full stops and commas specifically because exclamation points and question marks can also be ending punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:41, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
If the punctuation placement is about sentence fragments, this same problem has been brought up above in the #Needed help regarding WP:Logical quotation section. We need to work these problems out now, because I am unsure of how to apply WP:Logical quotation if it is not as simple as placing end punctuations outside of the quoted material for sentence fragments only (as shown with the examples). Flyer22 (talk) 00:22, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
It's a tricky system to use. You need to consult the original sources, not always online, and even then it's not always clear, so it requires a high degree of precision and sound editorial judgment. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:26, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
All the more reason to prefer AQ and BQ. But any publication that uses LQ should commit to doing it right. How does the ACS style guide handle this? Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:41, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Here's an excerpt from the existing MoS language: "When quoting a sentence fragment that ends in a period, some judgment is required: if the fragment communicates a complete sentence, the period can be placed inside. The period should be omitted if the quotation is in the middle of a sentence."
From the examples beneath, the point of this passage seems to be to tell people not to do this: "She said 'Come with me.' and they did," with a confusing and inappropriate period after "me." What are we to make of it aside from that? Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:49, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
First, it should not say "is in the middle of a sentence" ("is drawn from" would be better here, anyway): the point is that the quotation finishes in the middle of a sentence (whether it starts with the start of the original sentence is irrelevant). Tony (talk) 08:46, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
... the excerpt Darkfrog24's brought up isn't about where the quoted material is drawn from, but where it appears in the new context. put a full stop/period inside the quote marks if a] it's part of the quoted material and b] it ends the sentence in which it's quoted (and there shouldn't be a second full stop/period after the quote marks): She said "Come with me." but if the same sentence is quoted in mid-sentence the full stop/period is omitted: She said "Come with me" but they ignored her.
nota bene: i'm not suggesting that wording, just agreeing with Darkfrog24 about the sense of the excerpt s/he's pointed out. (and logical quotation isn't really tricky to use; it just wants to be explained clearly.) Sssoul (talk) 14:49, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
So how do you guys feel about changing it to "Do not place a period in the middle of a sentence, even if it is part of the quoted material"? Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:50, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
I see this has already been changed. I would have interpreted the original as applying only to sentence fragments.
The new version ("When quoting material that ends in a period, some judgment is required. Do not place a period in the middle of a sentence, even if it is part of the quoted material. ") seems to defeat the purpose of logical or data-safe quotation; it would appear to disallow not only
  • One example is the "smile on the face of the tiger." in the well-known limerick
but also
  • The document is quoted as stating "The treaty was ratified by the specified date." but it in fact stated "The treaty was ratified by the specified date but not deposited."
  • "I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful." is the beginning of a well-known letter illustrating the importance of punctuation.
  • The text of the message was "Who is the president of China." but the length of the message was miscalculated as a result of a fence-post error.
--Boson (talk) 20:12, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
Boson, I would imagine (and I do not at present have a source on British or LQ for this, so in their case I must imagine, but it's true of American) all three forms of punctuation permit putting the closing period or comma thus when the punctuation is what's being discussed, though in all of those cases the surrounding wording would need to point out the periods and commas to make the article's purpose clear. It might suit the MoS to state this, but it is not the point of using LQ.
But you have pointed out a strong flaw in the now-current wording. It should say that a quotation should not generally place a period in the middle of a sentence, but it should also say that it may and must do so when the closing punctuation is the point, as it is in your examples. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:32, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
I would only do that if I was discussing the string of characters itself with little or no regard for its meaning... ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 12:22, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
That's specifically when American punctuation permits non-standard placement. Such cases are very rare in ordinary prose, but they've merited a mention in almost every full style guide I've come across, so they should be mentioned here too. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:07, 10 February 2010 (UTC)
The current text is most unsatisfactory. To begin with, the "final" false comma within a quotation (or worse, within quotation marks that highlight an item) needs to be exemplified as wrong under WP's system. Tony (talk) 22:14, 9 February 2010 (UTC)
If you're referring to the commas and periods that are part of American and often British quotation processes, then they're not false. They really are commas and periods. But considering that this became an issue on the Avatar article, it would probably be appropriate for the MoS to mention them. How's this?
Copying quotations from sources-within-sources requires some judgment. Both American and British standards often add periods and commas as part of the quotation process that would not be permitted under logical quotation. Say that a magazine prints the text: "I feel," wrote Arthur, "that the situation is deplorable and unacceptable." We do not know for sure if Arthur himself placed the comma after "I feel" and the period after "unacceptable" or whether the magazine added them later. When translating other styles into logical quotation, only include those characters that were certainly part of the material being cited. "I feel", wrote Arthur, "that the situation is deplorable and unacceptable". Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:07, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

What Boson said about interpreting "the original as applying only to sentence fragments" is exactly what I stated. A lot of editors have been using WP:Logical quotation that way for a long time now. It is going to be a difficult habit to break. Most will not even know of the new format, at least not for months (considering that most editors do not check this page often for changes in Wikipedia formatting). Given its perceived trickiness, I doubt most will follow it. I predict the old sentence fragment interpretation remaining for quite some time. But I appreciate the attempts that have been made to make WP:Logical quotation easier to understand. Flyer22 (talk) 04:25, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Now I am a little confused. That may be because I have missed some of the debate here. I understand from Flyer22's statement that there has been some change to the interpretation of logical quotation before the recent change by Darkfrog24. My understanding of logical quotation, which seems to be consistent with the other statements in WP:MOS was that logical quotation preserves the text being quoted, consistently and exactly (with very few exceptions, which must be clearly indicated, for instance by omission marks or square brackets). In other words:
  • What is between quotation marks is exactly what was written in the original. Nothing is added or removed.
  • A sentence usually begins with a capital letter and ends with a punctuation mark such as a period or question mark. If you intend to quote a sentence,the ending punctuation mark must be included (but if you intend to quote a fragment you can decide whether the trailing punctuation is included in your choice of fragment).
  • Different punctuation marks are treated consistently: a period and a question mark, for instance, are not treated differently.
  • Exact quotation requires preservation of the significant attributes of the quoted text, including
    • length in characters
    • all capitalization and punctuation
    • equivalent emphasis (e.g. bold or italic style)
I understood the purpose of logical qotation to be to preserve the original text exactly. With few exceptions, I don't see the argument for treating quotations differently when they happen to be in the middle of a sentence in the "host" text.
In my earlier examples, the punctuation was important. I chose those examples for that reason, but I don't think the consideration of its importance in a particular quotation should be relevant to the application of logical quotation. What is inside the quotation marks is governed by the rules of the original text; the reader should be able to rely on that and make his own decision on whether the punctuation is important; the editor might have overlooked the significance of the punctuation. This is particularly (but not exclusively) relevant when quoting artificial languages.--Boson (talk) 23:46, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
Though I think logical quotation, as I understood it, is also simpler for the editor, because it is a matter of pasting the original between the quotation marks, I think there should be one apparent exception (and this may be what is intended by the recent edit): even where a sentence is quoted in full, I would not preserve the initial capital and terminating punctuation if the text is not quoted as a sentence but has been integrated into the syntax of the host sentence as a sentence fragment would be, the quotation marks being used to indicate that the author (or another person) is using someone else's wording rather than that the author is exactly reproducing what was written or said. For instance:
  • He actually wrote "Complete bullshit!", not "I disagree." as quoted in the Daily Planet. but
  • He agreed with the the senator that this was "complete bullshit" and had no foundation in fact.
--Boson (talk) 07:30, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Isn't the standard thing to do in these cases "[c]omplete bullshit"? ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 10:24, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Core of the LQ guideline

I bring to the community's attention that SlimVirgin recently decided to delete the second half of the statement of why community consensus prefers logical quotation (part of the core statement that has a comment requesting and recommending that such issues be taken to the talk page first). Okay, so I reverted it, once. Perhaps I might have remarked explicitly in my edit summary on the desirability of taking changes to that core phrasing to the talk page and discussing them and achieving consensus before messing with it, but in the event my edit summary was rather more abbreviated than that. SlimVirgin re-deleted the passage, and Darkfrog has now also undercut the statement that LQ is consistent with the principle of minimal change.

Having done one revert, I'm not about to launch on a single-handed quest to Preserve the Passage (more perfect ego-lessness in service of Wikipedia is why I don't advertise my real-world identity); but if the community here does wish to retain control over the content of that section of the MOS, this would probably be a good time for the community to assert that control, and bring the issues back here to the talk page. --Pi zero (talk) 16:32, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Now that we have the FAQ, do we really need a line saying why Wikipedia uses LQ? And if we do, we must state opinions as opinions or as the Wikipedia consensuses that they are and not treat them as if they were proven facts. There is a widespread consensus in almost every academic community that AQ and BQ do not change source material in any meaningful way. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:15, 11 February 2010 (UTC)
The community doesn't prefer LQ, Pi zero. The community almost never uses it. And it clearly isn't less prone to errors; it's more prone, because more complex. As the style manuals make clear, it requires a high degree of authorial precision. We shouldn't imply otherwise in the MoS. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:24, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
I wish you wouldn't say it is more "complex". It is not. It is more demanding, but that is something different. Ozob (talk) 05:05, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
I see it as a distinction without a difference, Ozob. Point is that it's more fiddly, requires more skill and thought, and requires access to the original sources, which Wikipedians often don't have for material others have added. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 05:11, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Well we could look at either LQ or AQ as being more simple depending on the observer's point of view. "Tuck in the commas"? Super simple. "Keep 'em in if they were in and out if they weren't"? Also looks pretty simple, at least on the surface. The big issue is that they require different attitudes toward the text. BQ and AQ treat words like words and LQ treats them as strings of characters. The deal is, though, that regardless of whether LQ is more simple it does require more instruction, in part because BQ and AQ are taught in schools and LQ is not. Therefore, the instructions have to be more elaborate to get results of similar quality. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:52, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

(outdent) i've restored the longstanding previous text pending further discussion here on the talk page; i'd also favour eliminating the quote from Chicago as undue weight for one POV. i don't agree at all that "the community almost never uses it"; it's used regularly and unproblematically on the pages i frequent; and if someone makes a mistake with it it gets fixed without any brouhaha, just like other stylistic details. Sssoul (talk) 11:09, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

I would consider "There is a Wikipedia consensus that logical punctuation is more in keeping with the principal of minimal change, less prone to ambiguity [etc. etc.]" as adequately truthful. The Chicago statement is interesting, but it is not necessary here. It would make a nice addition to the Wikipedia article on quotation marks, however. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:00, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

Noetica's advice

User:Noetica is away from WP with a huge work deadline (like me, in fact). He sent me these comments on the current LQ debate. Tony (talk) 12:02, 12 February 2010 (UTC)

The facts as I see them:
  1. Few sources independent of WP call the system "logical quotation", and none in print I know of do so. "Logical punctuation" is the far more common term, though this is normally used with broader meaning than our "logical quotation". An example of this broad use (from a fine book, of which I own a copy): "Logical+punctuation"

    An instance of "logical punctuation" narrowly meaning "logical quotation": "Logical+punctuation"

    And most importantly, the relevant excerpt from the most pertinent source of all (Trask's "Penguin Guide to Punctuation", 1997): [7] (R.L. Trask was an academic linguist who wrote authoritative reference works in linguistics, and much more. That excerpt is not quite the same as the printed version.)

  2. The WP article that Logical quotation redirects to is Quotation mark, which gives no source for the term "logical quotation", nor any source that sets out the rules.
  3. Discussion of the topic at WT:MOS hardly ever gives sources. It is full of opinion on both sides.
  4. Logical quotation is decidedly more British than American. This is a real shame, since even many Americans who are willing to examine its claims dispassionately find it difficult to do so. And this British bias surely makes for poisoned politics.
  5. Rigorous logical quotation is intrinsically better than the other extreme (the "American" or "conventional" system), but its implementation would need slight adjustment for robust and stable acceptance. Trask finds that British publishers apply it with "one curious exception". Well, my research shows that not all apply it with Trask's exception, and some of the best apply it with a different exception. Anyway, there is no reason WP should not also apply it with reasonable exceptions, except for the practical difficulties in expressing these in a Manual of Style.
Tony, some of the quotation seems to have gotten mangled. The second sentence of point 4 is a fragment, and the last point, point 5, mentions a next point. Ozob (talk) 12:24, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
With regard to point four, it's my understanding (and I have repeatedly tried to find that page again) that American computer programmers came up with LQ independently, calling it "datasafe quotes," and only later found out that British writers did something similar.
With regard to point five, someone has to prove it. No one ever has. What's really going on here is that a lot of people, Wikipedians, programmers and the vehement Trask, just don't like putting the commas inside. When people dislike something a lot, they tend to imagine "Oh, it's rude/incorrect/immoral to do it that way. Do it my way instead." The MoS not only allows LQ but bans American and British standard forms. To justify this, someone has to prove not only that LQ is good enough but that American and British standards create a real problem, not a hypothetical or imaginary problem. For example, single quotation marks mess with search engines. We can hit CTRL-F and observe this. It's not someone's personal preference that he or she has imposed on the rest of Wikipedia. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:46, 12 February 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, have you ever programmed a computer? You say that "[n]o one ever has" proved that logical punctuation is more accurate than other styles; but if you try programming, you will see the improvement right away. The computer's blind rigor insists that you tell it precisely what you want. Logical punctuation becomes unavoidable and obviously superior. It is only a small leap to go from the strict syntax of formal languages to the casual conventions of natural languages. If you appreciate the accuracy of logical punctuation in programming, you will appreciate it in writing as well. Ozob (talk) 13:02, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Our readers are not computers. They're human beings. Wikipedia articles aren't computer programming; they're writing. If there is one rule of English that doesn't change over time, it's "Write for your audience."
Writing is about communication. LQ does not help me communicate any better, and it's a hassle to use. It's as if someone told me that I could save on gas if I learned how to drive stick instead of use an automatic transmission. "Well, it looks harder to use than my automatic transmission. How much would I save on gas?" I ask. "Oh, a lot! But only when you drive on brick roads," the person replies. "Oh... I hardly ever drive on brick roads. I mean, I've seen a few, but I almost always drive on paved or dirt or gravel roads." "But stick shift is so much more natural of a way to drive." "Okay, great, you like it more. But I like my automatic more." "Well you're wrong for liking it more. You must be in league with my mean old driving teacher!" "Um, what?" etc. etc. If LQ only helps when I'm writing for computers, which I hardly ever do, then I have no reason not to go with AQ, which is both easier to use and more appealing to me.
I remember going to a neuroscience seminar with NYAS. The premise was that visual artists, over thousands of years, had discovered by trial and error how the human brain processes visual images. (V.S. Ramachandran spoke; the man's hilarious in person.) Logically, we shouldn't be able to look at three lines and tell that they're supposed to be a woman's back. Logically, we shouldn't be able to identify shapes if the colors don't match the lines. Logically, we shouldn't be able to understand visual or verbal metaphors. Logically, Barbie should look like a freak. We shouldn't assume that human brains and computers process input the same way. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:04, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
The neuroscience seminar story is interesting (I'm not being sarcastic), but in application to this situation... are you suggesting that long-standing practices are long-standing because they're the most natural way? Seems to me a long-standing practice is long-standing because its stability is preserved by some long-standing cause, but naturalness is not the only cause that can be long-standing. The example so classic it's just about a cliche is the QWERTY keyboard. --Pi zero (talk) 16:53, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
No, I am not suggesting that the most long-standing methods are necessarily best. Some methods get to be long-standing because they're good, but it's not always so. I am suggesting that just because something works for computers doesn't mean that it works with the human brain, which often behaves in counterintuitive ways. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:19, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
In addition to "write for your audience," we have another rule at Wikipedia, which is "write rules for your editors," often known wrongly as "descriptive not prescriptive," but the point is clear. We have to reflect what is actually being done, so long as it's not harmful, and this is where our MoS must differ from all other manuals of style. We can't have an MoS try to impose a system very few editors use or understand. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 18:54, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
I disagree with you there, Slim. Because the MoS's purpose is specifically prescriptive, we should prefer linguistic prescriptivism to linguistic descriptivism. This isn't a writeup of a linguistic study or even a Wikipedia article and we should own that. While I agree that we should choose our instructions carefully, based on the needs of our editors and readers, we should phrase those instructions as the instructions that they are. That is how they will be interpreted in any case. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:45, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
It's not a question of linguistic descriptivism; it is a question of our own policies -- an entirely different issue. It is Wikipedia policy that our policies and guidelines must describe best practice on Wikipedia, must reflect what good editors are actually doing. A discussion on this page can't change that. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 19:58, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
To me, WP:MOS#Stability of articles' emphasis on "guideline-defined style" suggests, without explicitly saying so, that a non-guideline-defined style should be prescriptively changed to a guideline-defined style. Do you consider your philosophy to be consistent with that paragraph, and do you think that paragraph should be changed? Art LaPella (talk) 21:52, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Can't speak for Slim, but that is what I understand the MoS to mean. I've seen other editors interpret it this way as well. It isn't that it would be bad for the MoS to mean something else. It's that it would have to explicitly state this other meaning. (If only one style is allowed, say so. If one style is preferred but both are allowed, say so, etc.) Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:52, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
  • This old argument that a style guide should be either prescriptive or descriptive? Nooooo. Every style guide is both, no matter what it claims. Tony (talk) 22:32, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
I agree (I think every policy is both, no matter what it claims), but the MoS on this particular issue currently isn't—it's merely prescriptive. Most editors use aesthetic punctuation. And most editors who believe they're using LQ aren't; they're using a made-up version. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 22:50, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Sure, but a style guide can be mostly prescriptive, mostly descriptive, or anything in between. It's hard to find things which absorb all the light which is shone on them (try pointing a laser pointer on a C# piano key or on the picture on an ace of spades; you will still be able to see its spot), but not even the most anally retentive pedant would consider that a good reason to refuse to call a C# piano key or the picture on an ace of spades "black". ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 16:43, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Here's a less allegorical explanation of what I mean. Sure, if by "prescriptive" you mean "nothing is relevant" and by "descriptive" you mean "everything is correct", there'd better be no such thing; but that's not what prescriptivists themselves mean by "prescriptive" and what descriptivists themselves mean by "descriptive". ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 19:05, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Descriptivism does not mean that if somebody somewhere says it, that makes it OK—at least, it doesn't mean that yet. Descriptivists claim that once something gains a certain amount of usage in reputable publications, that makes it OK. However, the subjectivity inherent in this so-called standard is influenced to some degree by each descriptivist's individual notion of what is simply a common mistake (based on residual prescriptivism) and what publications are reputable (likewise based on residual prescriptivism). Formerly, all authorities on language and style were prescriptivists—although what they prescribed was based on what they read in reputable publications. The not-so-clear distinction between prescriptivism and descriptivism is, in my opinion, mostly a matter of purpose. A prescriptivist believes that particular usages are right, wrong, better, or worse, and guides writers accordingly. A descriptivist claims merely to be describing the prevalence of usage, and to guide writers based on that. I favor prescriptivists because they at least try to teach you how to write better—and I certainly do believe that some writing is better than others. Descriptivists tell you how to write like the lowest "acceptable" common denominator among writers. The watershed was Webster's Third New International Dictionary; the English language has been sliding downhill ever since its publication.Finell 20:35, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Maybe; but on what grounds is splitting infinitives, ending sentences with propositions, or using accusative pronouns after the copula "bad writing"? Some of the advice by, e.g., Strunk and White, has been routinely flouted for centuries by practically all writers, including Strunk and White themselves. At least, descriptivists do have justifications for what they say. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 21:02, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
There are occasions where splitting an infinitive is less awkward than the alternatives. Ditto ending a sentence with a preposition (although fewer occasions). Even in those instances, one usually obtains a better sentence by rewriting it to remove either temptation. On the other hand, the vast majority of split infinitives and prepositions that end sentences are the result of carelessness or lack of knowledge. Most of these sentences are improved by un-splitting the infinitive or moving the preposition—and by copy editing the rest of that author's writing. For most Wikipedians, cautioning against split infinitives, ending sentences with prepositions, and the passive voice (but with examples of good PV usage) will do much more good than harm.
I vividly remember my 5th grade teacher telling the class, "You can't start a sentence with because. I immediately rattled of proper sentences that began with because (yes, I was always like this). She took me aside and said that she announced that "rule" because most 5th grade students don't know how to do that. Her real objection was to sentence fragments, masquerading as sentences, that begin with because: e.g., Because it was pretty. I have overcompensated for this trauma by starting too many sentences with because, where it is grammatically correct, but is not the best structure for the sentence.—Finell 01:20, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
Finell, there is no rule nowadays against ending sentences with prepositions. Good writers do it all the time. Ditto avoiding passive voice and starting sentences with but, and, or because. Everything depends on the context. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 02:51, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Complexity of LQ

Someone told me off above for calling LQ "complex," so I'm offering this example of LQ from the Cambridge handbook as an example of why it's suitable only for professional editors who are doing it all the time, and way too complex for Wikipedia.

When a quotation is broken by words of the main sentence, and then resumed, the punctuation before the break should follow the closing quote unless it forms part of the quotation, as in the second example below:

'Father', he said, 'is looking well today.'

but

'Father,' he said, 'you're looking well today.'

However, in fiction the usual convention is to place the first comma before the first closing quote:

'Father,' he said, 'is looking well today.'

It makes sense to retain this system in a non-fiction book if the author has followed it consistently.
Butcher's Copy-editing: The Cambridge Handbook for Editors, Copy-editors and Proofreaders. Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 273.

Good luck to anyone who wants to take time to understand this, but please allow the rest of us to get on with our lives. :-) SlimVirgin TALK contribs 21:12, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

It's poorly expressed, plus a blooper: the "follow" should clearly be "precede". Disappointing for a prestigious text. Tony (talk) 22:41, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't see the blooper. I understand the phrase "as in the second example below " to refer only to "unless it forms part of the quotation".--Boson (talk) 23:41, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't see what is supposed to be so complicated (although the explanation may be poorly expressed); this seems to be a simple case of: if the punctuation was not in the original, don't put it inside the quotation marks.
Since we are dealing with encyclopaedia articles, any conventions for fiction should seldom apply, and most quotations are probably from written text rather than spoken dialogue, so a possible problem in understanding the Cambridge handbook caused by having to equate a pause with a comma does not apply.
Some editors, above, seem to be making a distinction between "logical quotation" and British conventions. Is this distinction being retained here, or are the two being equated?--Boson (talk) 23:41, 13 February 2010 (UTC)
Boson, did you read the example? "'Father,' he said, 'is looking well today,'" is not an example of the punc being in the original. Look, no point in arguing. Point is that it's so complex even the style guides seem not to be sure of how to use it. There is no such thing as "British convention"; it's not a British/American thing. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:12, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes, I did read the example and I must still be missing something. What I read was a distinction, under "LQ", between
1. 'Father', he said, 'is looking well today.' (where there is no comma inside the quotation marks, because the original sentence is "Father is looking well today." with no comma, because Father is the subject) and
2. 'Father,' he said, 'you're looking well today.' (where there is a comma inside the quotation marks, because the original sentence is "Father, you're looking well today." with a comma, because "Father" is used to address the person concerned.
It is then explained, as I understand it, that logical quotation is conventionally not used in fiction published by Cambridge, and this is illustrated using a further example:
3. 'Father,' he said, 'is looking well today.' (where the is a comma inside the quotation marks, as explained in the preceding sentence, because Cambridge don't use strict logical quotation in fiction).
The Cambridge handbook also goes on to say that the fiction convention may be retained in non-fiction works if the author has used it consistently. The explanation is complicated because Cambridge is describing not just "logical quotation" but various styles, as well as explaining how to deal with authors who have different ideas. --Boson (talk) 10:23, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
There has been a British punctuation system separate from the American one ever since Fowler first championed the idea. He did call it "logical" at the time. However, what we're calling "logical punctuation" AKA "datasafe quotes" was developed independently by computer programmers. LQ and BQ almost always give the same results. However, LQ treats quoted material as strings of characters while BQ treats material as words. While BQ means for people to place commas and periods outside for fragments, short-form works, words-as-words, etc, it is my understanding that LQ may allow them either inside or outside depending on whether or not the source happened to place a period or comma next to the fragment, short-form work or word in question. With BQ, usage depends on the nature of the quoted material and with LQ it does not.
I don't have a source on the above; these are the impressions that I've gotten from reading about the histories of both styles.
Before I learned all this, I asked "Why do American English articles have to be written in a British style?" and received the answer "It's not British at all." Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:29, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Darkfrog, could you provide a source who uses the terms as you do (these or any other terms in future)? I have not seen anything called "British quotation." I have close to 10 style guides here on my shelves and none of them mention it. We're confused enough without introducing yet more variations unless they're recognized styles. :) SlimVirgin TALK contribs
"BQ" is my own abbreviation, SlimV. The British wouldn't call their system "British punctuation" any more than Americans call theirs "American punctuation." Most people call either "what we do with commas." What I know, from general looking around, is 1. the British standard style differed from the American one long before computers became common (Fowler's The King's English) and 2. computer programmers came up with what we've been calling "LQ" independently for the purpose of preserving literal strings. So LQ and BQ looking the same most of the time would be analogous to evolutionary convergence. If we find a solid source that trumps this, then go for it. But I would hold that the argument that LQ isn't part of a specific regional tradition holds weight. It's not standard in any major form of English. That's part of the problem. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:54, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
I think we should leave computers, British, and American out of this, because it's making things needlessly complicated. We have two systems. (1) Commas and periods precede closing quotation marks; colons, semicolons, question marks, and exclamation marks follow closing quotation marks unless they are part of the original quote. This is often called aesthetic or typesetters' punctuation. And (2) only punctuation marks that appear in the original quoted material should be included within quotation marks; everything else follows the closing quotation marks, with occasional exceptions that have to be decided by the editor. This is often called logical quotation or punctuation. Please don't introduce any other issues, or made-up names, because the conversation is already very difficult to follow. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 04:10, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
You are still fixating on the construction of nationality around style. I don't give a toss that the MoS is written entirely in AmEng, as long as consistent; nor should you start flag-waving about punctuation placement. We need to get rid of the notion of redundancy in formal "text," and migrating a WP comma or period into a one-word quotation or word as word is a bizarre "practice." Tony (talk) 00:35, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Well Tony, why do we need to give up the practice of allowing commas and periods inside word-as-word and short-form-work quotations? It does not seem to hinder the articles or impair the reader experience in any way. American punctuation annoys programmers, but why should a programmer's personal preferences be held up as more important than a writer's or editor's? Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:54, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
A few issues.
Inappropriate examples. Something easy, first. If we are to agree on changes to the current MoS text, the examples need to be rethought—they look as though they're taken from a Mills and Boon novel, not from a formal encyclopedic register. Martha asked, "Are you coming?" ... which article is that from? This is particularly troublesome because direct quotations in fiction all over the English-speaking world tend to shove in a final comma before the final quote-mark to complement the "rhythm" comma that precedes the oral quotation (Martha asked,). I suppose the preceding comma arose to assist readers to insert a pause as they read aloud (or, regrettably, if they vocalise the text internally); but I've never worked out why oral quotations in fiction need a complementary comma just before the final quote-mark, as if to "balance" the preceding one). It's a mangled compromise.
Comma as redundant clutter. It is most confusing to readers to see "precision," in the very sentence that explains LQ. This practice is referred to as logical quotation, and it requires "extreme authorial precision," according to The Chicago Manual of Style. This brings up a neglected aspect of the decision-making process in LQ if is to work properly. Why, I ask you, would a sane editor ever want to include the comma after that three-word quotation? It's from oral-speak, a 1950s Enid Blyton novel infecting a quotation from CMOS. We seem to have become stuck on a simplistic boundary: if an item of punctuation just happens to appear after the words you want to quote, shove it in irrespective of whether it's relevant in the context. This is despite the universal practice of constraining quoted material to the most relevant portion, even within the original sentence. Now, that comma clearly does come after "extreme authorial precision" in CMOS (I trust whoever inserted it), but just why we need to bother our readers by telling them this fact is beyond me. We could equally have a system of symbols that tells our readers how many words beyond the quotation the next comma is ... but ... who cares? <FLAG: in the original, a comma comes five words after the quotation, and a period eight words after.> I don't wish to know what part of a sentence or clause "extreme authorial precision" comes from in the original: it is totally redundant information. By analogy, if the quotation were positioned at the end of the MoS sentence: ... CMOS recommends "extreme authorial precision,"., no one of either bent would accept the juddering of comma and period; instead, the internal advocates would write "extreme authorial precision.", falsifying the original punctuation in defiance of the fact that the WP sentence generated the period in the first place. LQ, if logical, writes "extreme authorial precision".
Proposed text. I suggest this, with a couple of clear examples worked in: Punctuation at the end of a quotation that is incorporated into a Wikipedia sentence should be included within the quotation marks only if it is relevant to the meaning of the quotation in the context. The practice by many editors of placing a final period (full-stop) before the closing quote-mark for a quotation of at least a phrase, which itself comes at the end of a Wikipedia sentence, is usually regarded as relevant, in this sense; however, this should be done only where the final period is present in the source. [example or two] Quotation-final commas, colons and semicolons are rarely relevant and should not normally be placed before the final quote-mark. [example or two] Simple as that: default no internal, unless it's necessary to convey it from the original, with the exception that a WP period can be migrated across to complete a quotation that itself finishes a sentence. Most skillful quoting controls the exact boundaries of the quoted portion, anyway. No interlibrary loans necessary to check final punctuation—just remove it if you're unsure and it doesn't affect the sense. Tony (talk) 00:24, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Tony, including a period does not falsify anything. It is not always in keeping with LQ, but no reasonable reader will interpret "precision [period]" vs. "precision [comma]" as a change in meaning.
LQ, as phrased, would also seem to permit any punctuation inside the quotation marks if that mark would also be part of the Wikipedia sentence: "I ordered a martini," he said, "an appletini, and a beer for the three of us."
But all this is seeming. If we want to know what LQ really requires, then we should do is consult an outside source. With all of us making all these guesses, we're bound to end up making things more complicated. I might be able to get a look at an ACS style guide, but it would take a few days. I would rather just switch to AQ and BQ, both of which have many sources readily available online, but even things that aren't worth doing should be done right. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:39, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Now, let me get this right. You like this: "For example, Scott Greer (2007:183) argued that “secession seems unlikely” in the Catalan case, because ...". And you'd want this if the word order were changed: "For example, Scott Greer (2007:183) argued that in the Catalan case “secession seems unlikely,” because ...". Fake fake fake. It actually doesn't matter whether there's a comma in Greer's text: it is utterly irrelevant to the honest portrayal of his text. Tony (talk) 01:42, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
If LQ is "place a punctuation mark inside the quotation marks if it is part of the quoted material and outside if it is not," then your second example is 100% in keeping with LQ.
A comma does not become fake when it is moved. It's still a comma and still indicates the same thing, a break or pause in the sentence. There was a break in the original; there is a break on Wikipedia. A comma is needed and it has the same effect whether it is inside the quotation marks or not. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:00, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
And with regard to your actual question, I like AQ. I accept BQ as appropriate for pieces written in British English, gives them a nice authentic feel. I don't care for LQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:04, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Tony, what would you think of a much shorter alternative proposal?
On Wikipedia, do not place trailing punctuation marks inside the quotation marks unless they are known to be part of the quoted material. If they are known to be part of the quoted material, it is permissible to place them inside the quotation marks.
End of paragraph. If anything more has to be said, make it crystal clear that it is explanatory (or illustrative, if its example), not any sort of addendum; we need to avoid encouraging the misapprehension that LQ is complicated. --Pi zero (talk) 02:21, 14 February 2010 (UTC
I agree, Pi. Your proposed text is admirably simple (I'd go further by removing the first two words), and is almost the essence of it. However, advising against "this," in which WP's comma migrates inside the quotation, word as word, or song title, is essential to the whole point of LQ. A comma after "this", whether it is in the original or not, is utterly irrelevant to the meaning of the quotation or the overal sense of the WP sentence. The WP principle of minimal fiddle with original sources suggests that if there is no comma in the original, it should not be inserted. Plain logic suggests that even if there is a comma after "this" in the original, the ambit of the quotation should not be widened to include it if its presence in the WP sentence is redundant, or indeed misleading. To include the comma just raises doubt as to whether it does exist in the original, whereas to exclude it and place it instead in the WP part of the sentence renders such doubt irrelevant (unless, on such a rare occasion I can't even conjure it up, we really need to know that a comma follows "this" in the original. The comma is generated in all but outlier case in the WP sentence, which is where it should remain. It's stress o'clock here with RL work, so I'll try to get back to this in about 11 hours. Tony (talk) 02:51, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
I prefer to keep the "On Wikipedia" for any Wikipedia practice that is specific to Wikipedia rather than standard elsewhere. If nothing else, it will head off people who think "Oh! The MoS wrote this rule wrong. I'd better fix it."
As for tucking commas and periods inside words-as-words and short-form works, it does zero harm to the reader experience. We have no reason to ban it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:12, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
How about:
Do not place trailing punctuation marks inside the quotation marks unless they are known to be part of the quoted material (in which case it is permissible to place them inside the quotation marks).
?  HWV258.  04:23, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Because, without the second sentence, the new text would fail to address the specific issue that Slim brought up a few days ago: people changing inside punctuation to outside punctuation even when the text was already LQ-compliant. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:21, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't know about that, but I do know that the word "unless" makes the second sentence redundant.  HWV258.  05:33, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
What Darkfrog mentioned isn't what I had in mind, although certainly if anyone actually is under the misapprehension that the punctuation always goes outside, the second sentence would eliminate that. (And if we eliminate the possibility, then we can just walk away from that whole issue.)
I believe the second sentence is crucial in order to preclude, explicitly and clearly, the misapprehension that putting the punctuation inside is mandatory when allowed. Without the clear explicit second sentence, some people would fall victim to that misapprehension, even though no such mandate occurs in the first sentence and therefore theoretically the second sentence is redunant — because people are not computers. --Pi zero (talk) 05:54, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
BTW, I prefer the two-sentence form to a single more complex sentence, because I think the two-sentence form is very, very unlikely to be misunderstood. --Pi zero (talk) 06:02, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
Well, I'll leave it to others, but I'll always lean towards making the MOS as (logically) concise as possible. That way, it's easier to find and read information. Don't forget that other editors (who have the time to digest the information in the MOS) can tidy-up issues that an original editor "misunderstood".  HWV258.  06:09, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

(outdent) for the record, i don't find the excerpt from the Cambridge handbook that Slim Virgin posted at all difficult to follow; it mainly addresses issues that aren't especially common on Wikipedia, but it's quite clear.
also for the record, i protest Darkfrog's assertion that adding extraneous punctuation to titles "does zero harm to the reader experience." it may not impair your experience, but that's plainly not universal; that's part of the reason we keep having this discussion.
Pi zero, the amended wording you're proposing sounds promising, but will everyone seeking guidance on this understand what "trailing punctuation" means? can that be clarified? or maybe adding examples (preferably ones that are typical of Wikipedia-style prose) would make the meaning sufficiently clear. an example or two involving titles instead of quotations would also be helpful. 09:21, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Gosh, in Italy I don't think people are ever taught not to put commas inside quotation marks (at least, I can't recall being taught that); it just doesn't occur to us to do otherwise (unless we are also discussing the comma itself, which seldom happens unless discussing computer science or grammar). Only when quoting full sentences we include a capital letter at the beginning and a full stop at the end. How is that any more "complex" than typesetter's punctuation? With it, people need to be explicitly taught to put commas and all periods inside... (I don't think that if the punctuation which is typical in American English is used in articles written in American English the sky would fall; but saying that such punctuation is "simpler" than the "logical" one sounds bogus to me.)
And what is so mysterious about the Cambridge Handbook excerpt? I had interpreted it the very same way as Boson did before even reading his post, and I still can't see how it can be seriously interpreted any other way.
And to address the problem of implausible examples and the issue that guidelines should describe the best current practice, may I suggest that any example added to the MoS must be copied and pasted from a Featured Article which was promoted or last reviewed less than two years ago, from the revision as of when the nomination or last review was closed. (Serious. For plausible but rare issues I'd also allow Good Articles, but such specialized issues should only go to MoS subpages and not to its main page.) ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 11:33, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
The purpose of our writing is to communicate, and placing commas and periods inside in these cases does nothing to impede that purpose. That is what I mean by "zero harm." (Example: Do you think that the period is part of the term or do you think it's the closing punct for the sentence? Do you think that the term I've just used here is essentially different from the one I used above? No and no, Sssoul. You seem to have understood me perfectly.) If the argument against American usage is that it's "not universal," then why is there nothing raised about LQ not being universal?
"Put periods and commas inside adjacent quotation marks." That is pretty darn simple. "Put periods and commas inside under X circumstances and outside under Y circumstances" doesn't sound very complicated, but it is more complicated than the first one. But regardless of whether LQ is more complicated, we can see that it is more difficult to use. It's also non-standard English. Those two reasons are more important than a moderate increase in complexity.
I don't think we should stop allowing MoS editors to write examples from scratch. Requiring people to comb through the FAs potentially stretches a few minutes' work to hours. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:49, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
It is definitely not "non-standard English". It is rare-ish in American English, but not in British English. And if the problem is that it's too difficult, you can always say "when in doubt, put the punctuation outside", which is never incorrect (you can quote up to the last character before the final punctuation). ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 17:02, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
I should have said "non-standard American English." (There seems to be some question as to whether LQ and BQ are different systems or not.) However, if 99% of the American English style guides (not to mention American English writers) say "put them inside," then it is accurate to say that putting them outside is non-standard. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:10, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

A few thoughts on examples.

  • I originally admitted in my proposal the possibility of examples, despite being very leery of the danger of instruction bloat, because it seemed some illustration might indeed make crystal clear what is meant by "trailing punctuation" (and the word "trailing" was an innovation I'd introduced, not found in the current MOS wording, because I didn't want the optionality in the second sentence to make it sound as if it was permissible to omit punctuation from somewhere in the middle of the quote). Three examples should suffice for this purpose: one where the trailing punctuation has to be left out because it's not part of the quoted passage, and two where it is part of the quoted passage and the Wikipedia editor chooses to put it inside or outside.
  • Something that made me uncomfortable about the examples first put up was that they didn't explicitly show what the original source material was, and the whole point is the relationship between the source and the Wikipedia text. It seems like a good way to keep this suite of three examples from becoming complicated (and therefore confusing, and therefore defeating the purpose of having the examples at all) would be to have just one source passage and then three different Wikipedia sentences that quote it, illustrating the three cases I've named. Unfortunately, this would almost certainly preclude the otherwise excellent idea of having all the examples be cut and pasted from recent Featured Articles — thought we might at least borrow and adapt something from a recent FA in order to stave off excessive insipidity.
  • Although we can't illustrate everything that could possibly come up, and shouldn't try (instruction bloat), titles are probably a common and central enough case that they should be illustrated. That's two examples: one in which the punctuation is outside because it's not part of the title, and one in which the punctuation is inside because it is part of the title.
  • In accordance with Tony's suggestion, it seems reasonable, after those illustrations, to remark that the editor is permitted to exercise common sense in leaving punctuation outside when it does occur in the quoted material but its occurrence there isn't germane to the reason it's being quoted (or some variant on that remark), with an illustration of a case where you're quoting a single word, as he suggests.

That would make a grand total of six examples. Which seems to me probably just at the extreme upper end of the tolerable range. --Pi zero (talk) 14:19, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Sounds prudent to me, Pi zero. Because this passage will be about how to translate other styles into LQ, the pre-Wikipedia text should be provided. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:08, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
It is actually my intention that the passage be simply an original text and examples quoting parts of that original text. The purpose of those first three examples is to illustrate, in the most perfectly clear manner possible, the basic functioning of the style — a purpose that I believe would fail miserably if the illustration weren't unremittingly straightforward.
As a separate issue, I also believe that it would be a serious mistake to bloat the set of examples for the sake of illustrating quoting an original text that we only know about from a third-party source (the situation from the Avatar article); that is just a straightforward application of the basic principles. The MOS section needs to be only about the basic principles; anything else leads to instruction bloat and the illusion of complexity. If it is truly necessary to mention that issue at all, it absolutely should not be allowed to entail more than one solitary example; there is, after all, only one very simple point that one might justify mentioning, which is that Wikipedia is attributing punctuation inside the quotation marks to the original text, reagardless of whether we got our information about that original text through a middleman. We would just show a third-party text telling us about an original text using typesetter's quotation, illustrate that we would not attribute the punctuation to the original text, and be done with it.
This also recalls an important detail to keep in mind (one that had slipped my mind for a while, in the press of events): throughout this section of the MOS, we should not refer to the party being quoted as the "source", because that confuses some people due to parallelism with the Wikipedia term of art "reliable source". Now that I've been reminded, in this post I'm carefully saying "original text", which seems to me to be working very well. --Pi zero (talk) 19:30, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

The discussion so far

I've compiled what I can find about this issue from the MoS archives, and placed it on one page at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/quotation and punctuation. It's probably not everything, but it's a fair chunk of it, over 115,000 words. I've added it to the See also box above too. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:39, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

Wow, thanks! Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:49, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

References needed

One thing that struck me reading through the archives is how people are adding their own opinions and using their own terms, and it's leading to a lot of confusion. I suggest that when we discuss the punctuation/quotation issue from now on, we use only terms and opinions found in reliable sources, and cite them if requested. We should do that with the MoS itself too. That will radically cut down the amount of repetitive discussion (some of it quite misleading). SlimVirgin TALK contribs 22:17, 14 February 2010 (UTC)

I've already changed quotation mark's references to "logical quotation" to "logical punctuation" as per Noetica-via-Tony's sources. However, for brevity's sake, I'm going to keep calling it LQ on the talk page.
What seems to be worth investigating here is whether LQ is another word for "British style" or whether it is a third, similar-but-separate system. Many of LQ's supporters claim vehemently that it isn't British, and I've come to believe that computer programmers invented it independently and then only later discovered that the British did something similar. However, upon finding and reexamining the source that led me to believe so, I found that that was only the story of one small group of people and not the programming community.
Here's what we know: 1. The British standard style differed from the American standard style long before computers became common, probably because of Fowler's championing of the "grammatical rule" (which I mistakenly called the "logical rule" earlier). 2. Computer programmers like LQ because of its ability to preserve literal strings. 3. Actual British style, as we've seen from the Butcher Handbook and elsewhere, differs in places from Wikipedia's "Put all punctuation inside if it is part of the quoted material and outside if it is not." However, some style books, usually the ones that only mention British styles in passing, describe British usage in a very similar way. The Copyeditor's Handbook is one: [8]
If it really is the same system, then the MoS should state clearly that it's preferred a British style and we should stop answering the question "Why are American English articles punctuated in British English?" with "They're not." However, if LQ really is a separate system, then we need to ask ourselves why we're using something that's not any kind of standard English on both British and American articles.
Also, if LQ and BQ really are the same thing, then we suddenly have Cambridge and Fowler and a host of other proven references whose impartial word we can apply to how to deal with the sentence fragments and other pitfalls under discussion above. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:18, 14 February 2010 (UTC)
3. Actual British style, as we've seen from the Butcher Handbook and elsewhere, differs in places from Wikipedia's "Put all punctuation inside if it is part of the quoted material and outside if it is not." I don't think we saw that at all, unless you count the aside on a convention for works of fiction, which does not apply to Wikipedia. The two examples of non-fiction quoted showed exactly "Put all punctuation inside if it is part of the quoted material and outside if it is not." That does not mean that Cambridge always agrees with what Wikipedia says on the subject. --Boson (talk) 06:15, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Yes I do count it as a difference because the MoS does not make a distinction between fiction and non-fiction. The question is whether this means that LQ and BQ (my abbreviations) are two different styles or whether the MoS was only oversimplifying things. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:55, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
WP is not fiction, so why would the MoS concern with what's done in fiction? (Note that it doesn't say "when discussing fiction".) ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 12:15, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
I am simply pointing out how the instructions on WP:LQ as it existed until a week or so ago differ from the content of British style guides. This is for the purpose of exploring whether BQ and LQ are two names for the same system (meaning that the differences are the result of oversimplification), whether LQ is something that BQ includes but does not limit itself to or whether they are essentially different systems that happen to often give the same results.Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:35, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

Darkfrog, I have to ask you again to stop making up terms. There is no such thing as "British quotation" over and above logical punctuation. And no one calls it "logical quotation" that I can see. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 06:47, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

If a system has its origins in Britain and is used in Britain by the overwhelming majority of British writers while the overwhelming majority of American writers use something else, then my calling that system "British" and the other one "American" does not constitute me making things up. Or are you objecting to my calling it "punctuation" rather than "style"? Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:55, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
What system? You are claiming there is some system that is not LP and that you call BQ. Please stop making things up. :) British journalists and fiction writers use traditional punctuation. I'm British and I use it. It doesn't divide down nationalist lines the way you want it to, and why would you want it to? SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:01, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
BQ is an abbreviation that I am using for "the British way of handling punctuation with quotation marks," which certainly overlaps with LP and may in fact be the same thing.
I'm not maintaining that British people never use the American system or that Americans never use the British system. Just because Americans also drink English Breakfast tea doesn't mean we have to change the name. However, if the Chicago Manual of Style calls one system British and the other system American, then I think it should be safe for me to do it.[9] [10] [11] Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:11, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
It is called "logical punctuation," according to the sources, and I'm asking you here to stick to the sources. There is no such thing as BQ that I'm aware of. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:15, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
The Chicago MoS calls it "British." You yourself made an edit to that effect in quotation mark.[12] It may be that it has more than one name. Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:20, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Are you not reading what I write? You are claiming there are three styles, BQ, LQ and traditional. But there are TWO. That's all I'm going to say here, because this is impossible. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:22, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
No, Slim, that is not what I am claiming. There is a general American style, a general British style, and I've been asking about the assumption that BQ and LQ are the same thing/two different things. Because if they're not, then they're both two names for the same thing. Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
  • DarkFrog, here we go again with the "us and them" theory. Both systems are used across all anglophone countries with varying emphasis. I'm tiring of the flag-waving. Tony (talk) 07:29, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Tony, the only flag I've been waving since day one is the flag of correct and standard English. If, as has been asserted, LQ and BQ are the same thing, and if, as has been cited, reputable style guides call said system "British," then we should accept that "British" is an acceptable thing to call it, even if it is not the only acceptable thing to call it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Please stop. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:44, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
But what does it show, and what is the point? This is something Darkfrog hasn't been able to answer: what is the purpose of trying to divide punctuation along nationalist lines? It doesn't help us to understand the systems. It doesn't help us to decide which, if either, the MoS should recommend. Not to mention that it's often plain wrong.
When I started editing the MoS, we had a small group of editors (mostly two, in fact, but they edited enough for an army), who were also determined to split everything into America versus the world. We had recommendations for American English, English English, Canadian English, Irish English, European Union English, and even ... Maltese English! This is when I was introduced to the idea that, as a Brit, I had never used British English, illiterate fool that I was! I should never have been spelling recognise as recognize, or writing 15 February as February 15, or using the serial comma, or failing to call it the Oxford comma, or placing periods inside quotation marks—and heaven forfend that I should call those anything but full stops.
It would be wonderful if we could one day evolve into caring about clarity and communication, no matter where it comes from. Period. Full stop!! :) SlimVirgin TALK contribs 09:59, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
  • This is an appropriate reference being from a professional style guide for works of our sort: internet pages written for a global audience. Its main point is that the use of quotation marks should be avoided. It also provides some examples of terminology. Colonel Warden (talk) 10:10, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
    Are you really endorsing his suggestion to throw the baby away with the bathwater (i.e. use no quotation marks at all), or am I missing your real point? ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 15:24, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
  • The author's point seems quite sound. Consider the matter which seems to have provoked this round of disputation. This was a question about the way in which a quotation from an MTV interview of the director of a recent movie should be presented. The most sensible answer is that we should not be quoting such material at all because this a primary source of a promotional sort. If the exact expression of the quotation is so significant then this indicates that editors are engaging in OR and primary journalism rather than summarising the matter in an encyclopedic way. We should write in a way that is crystal clear to an international readership. As quoting tends to promote improper inference, cherry-picking and confusion, it should be avoided and then the issue of punctuation becomes moot. Colonel Warden (talk) 23:40, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
But if we did not get direct quotations from relevant individuals from articles, then where would we get them? It isn't as if the Wikipedian went and conducted the interview. That would be primary journalism. On this particular issue, I concur with A. di M. This is a baby-bathwater situation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:57, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Most of this discussion has nothing to do with the MoS. V or NOR would be the place to discuss whether or not to quote someone. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:05, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

← Just because 16% of Britons pronounce adult with the stress on -dult and 12% of Americans pronounce it with the stress on ad-, these don't stop being the typical American pronunciation and the typical British pronunciation respectively, do they? FWIW, I'm not making the numbers up. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 12:11, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

The stress on the second syllable is not what I regard as typical British pronunciation. I don't see how 16 percent of people doing it would make it so. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 21:00, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Re-read what I wrote more carefully... I wasn't calling the final-stressed version typically British; quite the reverse. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 21:44, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Lots of Americans spell it "theatre." That doesn't mean that it's not the British spelling. Lots of people all over the world don't limit themselves to cheek-pecks, but we don't have to stop calling it "French kissing." People generally understand that the "Spanish flu" wasn't an evil plot inflicted on the world by people who pronounce "Velazquez" with a lisp, but the article on the 1918 flu pandemic lists the term as the "common" name for the event.
As for whether or not I am the one "making up" the practice of referring to British and American styles as such, let's take a look at the Purdue University Writing Lab,[13], the Chicago Manual of Style (14th ed.), [14] [15] [16] the Chicago Manual of Style again (15th ed online),[17] [18] and the Writer's Block Web Resource for Communication Professionals (also mentions "Canadian style").[19]
What we can see here is that even if the terms are wrong—and I don't find them to be—they are nevertheless a widespread and readily understandable. Frankly, I think the non-grammar/punct-enthusiasts who go "What the heck is typographmical punctuation?" will appreciate "Oh, the style that I/my pen pal in the U.S. was taught in school."
From what you say about those two editors way back when, Slim V, it sounds like it's possible to take country-based names too far. However, that doesn't mean that we should omit them entirely or that anyone who draws a distinction between British and American English practices has some diabolical ulterior motive. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:22, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
We've filled up a lot of talk space debating what to call AQ, BQ, LQ or whatever. If we're concerned that the word "British" might cause a war, it would help if alternative names were proposed. Otherwise, we would have to say "the system that we aren't calling British punctuation" every time we refer to it. Hmm, how about "TSTWACBP"?Art LaPella (talk) 18:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
It's usually called "logical punctuation," when it's given a name. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 20:54, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Slim V, you are the one who asked for sources. I've given you sources that refer to the practice in question as "British." Claiming or implying that the two forms are not connected to British English and American English would be just as false as claiming that all Americans use American style and that all British writers use British style. Surely you don't mean that only sources that reinforce your own views are acceptable. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:10, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Its name is not British. Its name, insofar as it has one, is logical punctuation. If you were to find a thousand sources who called it "bloody confusing," that would not be its name. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 21:20, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps it is also named "logical punctuation," but if the reputable style guides call it "British style," then referring to it as "British punctuation" is correct. It's also common and readily understandable. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:41, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

The relevant part

Separate from any discussion of the way people speak on the talk page, we should probably note that the MoS itself does not need to mention the name of the style in question. "On Wikipedia, place punctuation [like this]. Wikipedia uses this system because [reasons]," gets the instructions across to the reader without impediment. So our discussion, while it might turn up something useful, need not be considered urgent. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:49, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

That's a good idea! Then no one has to argue about nomenclature, or about any resemblance Wikipedia's guideline may have to a style used in Great Britain.—Finell 00:22, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
I think WP:LQ does need to say something like "You may have been taught otherwise, but ...", or Americans won't take it seriously. Whom should they believe, some website called Wikipedia that's full of typos and vandals, or their own education? I was taught that the quote mark goes after the comma or period, and I wasn't taught there was any alternative. So if WP:LQ had been the first thing I had read on Wikipedia, it would have looked as wrong as saying "The Sun goes around the Earth". I could only have concluded that a manual of style must be something written by people as unaware of high school English as whoever wrote "it's inital" here. To clarify, that doesn't make LQ wrong; it means that LQ is likely to be laughed off if we don't address this problem. Art LaPella (talk) 02:58, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
That overlooks the fact that the advice to use logical punctuation is already ignored by most Wikipedians. Also, I'm not American, and I was taught to use traditional punctuation, so the division along nationalist lines doesn't work. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 03:03, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
The entire Manual of Style is ignored by most Wikipedians. Curly quotes, for instance, can be found in most any featured article, although a minority enforces some parts of the Manual. Making the Manual more user-friendly might help bridge the gap. OK, so I shouldn't have said "Americans", but that word doesn't occur in my suggested change, and your comment only broadens its rationale. Do you agree with that change? Art LaPella (talk) 05:48, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
How about "This practice may differ from standard English, but please use it anyway" or "Although this practice is not generally accepted in the U.S., it is common in the U.K. and preferred by computer programmers" with a link to quotation marks, where interested users may read about the history of LQ? Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:13, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
The former would just make readers think "WTF?"; the latter sounds fine to me. ― A._di_M. (formerly Army1987) 14:44, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
as discussed briefly somewhere above: can we please eliminate the POV statement from the Chicago Style Guide (the "extreme editorial precision" bit, i mean)? the MOS isn't the place for it. Sssoul (talk) 23:00, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Something lost?

Once upon a time, and for a long time, the guideline said, in substance, that punctuation goes inside the quotation marks if it is part of the sense of the material quoted (am I imagining this?). I took that to mean that if you take just the last word or phrase from a quoted sentence, you do not include the period. Under that guideline, the following example in the current version, said to be correct, is wrong: Arthur said that the situation was "unacceptable." One would have to preserve the sense of the entire sentence, even if not quoting the entire sentence, to put the period inside the quotation marks: According to Arthur, this "situation is deplorable and unacceptable." The following would be acceptable under the that version, and the current version, of the LQ LP guideline: "The situation", Arthur said, "is deplorable and unacceptable." However, I would disapprove of breaking the complete sentence to interject "Arthur said," on the principle of minimal change: there is no reason to interrupt the complete sentence, and doing so creates doubt as to whether the entire sentence is quoted.—Finell 21:08, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

That's why I brought up the issue of whether LQ and standard British style are the same thing. Under a literal interpretation of the old LQ text, the period after "unacceptable" may be placed either inside or outside, depending, because it is part of the quoted material. However if LQ/LP/etc. really is just another way to say "British-style punctuation," then we can simply refer to the reputable British style guides, which seem to support what you're saying about sentence fragments. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:40, 15 February 2010 (UTC)
No, I'm interested in the guideline in our MOS, and when and how this one part of it disappeared (again, unless I'm imagining something that never was). For this purpose, I do not care what reputable British or American style guides have to say, since Wikipedia's guideline was and is not based upon either English variety. You will find further elucidation here.—Finell 00:17, 16 February 2010 (UTC)
My understanding of logical punctuation is that you don't place the period inside the closing quotation marks if you're quoting only one word, but you do if you're quoting more, assuming the punctuation belonged to the original text. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 00:26, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Reference request again

I've added a request for references to the section containing examples of inside/outside punctuation. [20] Of course, I don't mean we need a source for each example, but I think we do need a source to show that that punctuation is correct within the logical punctuation system. There was at least one example on the page (now removed) that I think was not correct. The system is complex enough even when explained clearly, but if we add errors to the mix we will confuse people totally. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 04:35, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Shortcuts

Does anyone know what TQ stands for? Also, does anyone have a reference showing that sources other than one or two Wikipedians call logical punctuation "logical quotation"? SlimVirgin TALK contribs 03:09, 17 February 2010 (UTC)

Probably typographical quotation, another term for trailing commas and periods inside, and other punctuation outside, the quotation marks.—Finell 04:44, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Okay, thanks, Finell. That terms seems to refer mostly to curly quotes when you do a Google search. I'm thinking we should remove terms not used by the style guides in case they add to the confusion. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 09:58, 17 February 2010 (UTC)
Typographical quotation mark refers to the curly kind that professional typography has always used. The meaning of typographical quote is anybody's guess, since quote is a lazy, often ambiguous shorthand for both quotation and quotation mark. The convention of always tucking commas and periods inside a closing quotation mark is properly described as a typographical convention (typographical quotation or, if you prefer, typographical punctuation—how about typographical punctuation of quotations, for descriptive precision?) because it originated in the outside world due to the aesthetics and mechanics of typography. Given that the terminology is potentially confusing, and also to avoid nationalistic ENGVAR arguments that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the MOS guideline (redundancy intentional), I agree that we may be better off abandoning all labels: state the guideline, briefly give our reasons for choosing it, and acknowledge that other publications follow different conventions.—Finell 01:02, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
I've seen style guides call it traditional punctuation, typesetters' rules, printers' rules, and typographical usage. I agree that we should either call it what style guides do, or not call it anything. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 01:33, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Chicago also calls it "American punctuation," which is the name I prefer. Finell has a point that we do not need to mention the name of each practice in the manual of style. The article on quotation marks needs them but the MoS can do without. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:38, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
I know that Darkfrog prefers to call it "American punctuation", (note that comma is outside quotation marks) and I was specifically objecting his attempts to make this into an ENGVAR issue when it isn't. Preference for "British punctuation", if he wishes to call it that, has nothing to do with the history or rationale of this guideline. Darkfrog has been beating this dead horse for over a year, and it is past time for him to drop the stick.—Finell 06:21, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Finell, do you honestly think that I went back in time and forced all those style guides and punctuation websites to refer to one practice as American and the other as British? That would be a neat trick. Do you think that all the editors who came to this talk page and ask "Why are American articles doing it the British way?" were really me in disguise? Perhaps I also simplified American spelling, wrote The King's English, and encouraged people to pronounce things differently solely to create a rift in the language like some Bond villain trying to nuke the San Andreas fault line and knock California into the sea. It's fiction, Finell. (Possibly great-box-office fiction, but still.) You may find the idea that there are national varieties of English that use punctuation differently to be an unpleasant reality, but it is reality nonetheless. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:41, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
I am not under the impression that anglophilia is the reason for the WP:LP policy. I am under the impression that the policy stems from an incorrect belief that tucking periods and commas inside quotation marks will confuse or mislead the readers. We have seen from over a dozen decades—the most recent one on the Internet—that it does not do so in ordinary prose writing, such as one would find in an encyclopedia. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:49, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Authorial precision

Eubulides, what's your objection to saying logical punctuation requires authorial precision? I think we do need to make clear that it's a system that requires checking with the original sources, and not simply adding punctuation outside quotation marks, which is what a lot of editors do. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 06:10, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

I agree that saying that LP requires authorial precision is not necessarily a value judgment. The question is not whether it constitutes badmouthing one style or the other but whether this information 1. is necessary to the MoS's purpose and 2. is phrased in a useful way. For example, "this style requires extreme authorial precision, so Wikipedia advises editors to use caution and check sources carefully" is useful because it illustrates what WP editors should do and shows the importance of why they should do it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 06:22, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
When I first saw the edit adding the "extreme authorial precision" quote I thought it was unnecessary point of view and attribution, but I let it ride. But when Sssoul commented (in #The relevant part, above) saying basically the same thing, I though, well, why is it in there? If we include the quote about "extreme authorial precision" to give one side of the argument, for balance shouldn't we also include the Chicago Manual of Style's remark that American style quotation "defies logic" and that logical quotation should be used when "scholarly integrity" is important or when "inaccuracy or ambiguity is intolerable"? But no, that way lies bloat and confusion. The MoS should be a guide, not a debate transcript. Eubulides (talk) 07:01, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
I don't see it as a question of sides. The problem with LP is that you have to be very careful when using it, and somewhat experienced—I have no idea how to use it, for example, even after reading style guides and lots of examples, and I'd hesitate to trust my judgment on anything complex. I think we need to communicate that to editors, and the best way to do it is to cite an authoritative source. Otherwise people will continue to think it's just a question of moving commas from inside to outside. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:06, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
That's the thing. Saying that American punctuation is "illogical" is an insult. Saying that LP requires precision can be framed as an insult ("It requires sooooo much extra effort that it's not worth doing") but can also be neutral or even positive ("It requires precision, so by using it we're smarter and better"). Saying that something is illogical is an opinion but requirements are observable, so "this requires X" can be either an opinion or a fact, depending on whether the speaker actually looked around or not.
If we keep this line, we should establish why it's there ("It requires X, so do Y and Z.") in such a way that makes the statement neutral. Darkfrog24 (talk) 07:14, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Here we go again, constructing national identity through spelling/typography. Insult? Hello? Tony (talk) 00:35, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm not aware that the British spell "insult" any differently from the Americans. And yes, "illogical" is an insult. It's a value judgment. It's another way to say "bad." "Requires precision," however, is not another way to say "bad." Because it can be a way to imply bad, however, we should only use it in a way that makes its intended (I'm assuming)value-neutral meaning clear.
Unless you think that I'm very, very old, I could not have constructed the American or British national identities. They were there a long time before I was. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:52, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
The style of quotation trailing punctuation recommended by the WP MOS (I'll call it "WP MOS quotation style" for now; "LQ" was a very handy name for it most of the time, but was sometimes the basis for needless arguments about whether this or that style manual uses the term "logical quotation" to mean something else) — that punctuation style does not require constantly going back to the source. It requires going back to the source if you want to justify move a trailing punctuation mark from outside to inside the quotation marks; you would also have to go back to the source if you wanted to justify moving a word from outside to inside the quotation marks.
If an article was written using typesetter's quotation (I'll use that name, for now, for a style in which you can't tell anything about the original text by whether or not trailing punctuation is inside the quotation marks) — if an article was written using typesetter's quotation, then it can easily be made to conform to WP MOS quotation style without having to recheck any of the sources, by simply moving all the trailing punctuation marks outside the closing quotation marks. The information as to whether those punctuation marks can be correctly ascribed to the original text (not must but can) has been systematically left out of the article by typesetter's style, and moving all the punctuation marks outside the quotation marks is simply a correct use of the WP MOS quotation style; subsequently, one can at opportunity reconsult sources and justify moving some of those punctuation marks back inside the quotation marks, adding information that typesetter's quotation had systematically excluded from the article. Although the article is not required to provide that additional information, it can be useful to do so (more useful on some occasions than on others).
Note that the mere fact that someone, having decided to convert an article from typesetter's quotation style to WP MOS quotation style, did so by moving all the punctuation marks outside the quotation marks — that fact in itself does not suggest that they don't perfectly well understand how WP MOS quotation style works. That's a perfectly correct way to do the conversion without reconsulting the sources. Now, if they subsequently reverted attempts to selectively move some of those punctuation marks back inside the quotation marks based on the sources, that would suggest that perhaps, after all, they don't understand how WP MOS quotation style works. --Pi zero (talk) 15:08, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Coverage within the quotation

Tony, not sure what the last bit means: "The period is either known not to be in the source, its presence in the source is uncertain, or its coverage within the quotation is considered unnecessary." SlimVirgin TALK contribs 06:58, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

I could see this applying to video or audio sources, where an editor transcribing a quote might not know where to put periods. Obviously for written sources we should always know whether or not the period is there. Christopher Parham (talk) 13:46, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
The issue that came up a while ago, ChrisP is that magazines tend to write things like, "Mr. Smith told us, 'This movie is great. Also, I like cheese.' " While we can say with confidence that the period after "great" is Smith's, we cannot know with absolute certainty whether the period after "cheese" was Smith's own or added by the magazine as part of the quotation process. If the magazine phrases it as " 'This movie is great. Also, I like cheese,' Smith tells us," then similar issues appear concerning the comma after "cheese." Many of our fellow punctuation enthusiasts do not feel that it is consistent with LP to say "Smith said, 'I like cheese [period]' " even though it is a full sentence.
This is why I've been reexamining whether LP and BP are the same system or not. British style guides are relatively clear on the matter of direct dialogue, but this does not match a literal interpretation of WP:LP. If LP is another word for "that thing that most of the Brits do," then we have lots of style guides that we can consult. If it's its own, separate system, then we need other sources. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:22, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Ah, I see. The word "source" probably shouldn't be used here at all because what's meant is the original producer of the words (Mr. Smith, in your example), not the source in the traditional WP sense of the reference being cited (the magazine). Christopher Parham (talk) 16:13, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
SlimVirgin, in the context of the example it pertains to, I think I can see what it means. This is the full example:
Correct: Arthur said that the situation was "deplorable".
(The period is either known not to be in the source, its presence in the source is uncertain, or its coverage within the quotation is considered unnecessary.)
We are quoting a single word of Arthur's: "deplorable". We're quoting it in our paraphrase only to record that that is the adjective he used. Therefore, we consider it unnecessary to indicate whether or not that word happened to occur at the end of a sentence in Arthur's original utterance. That's my guess; the guideline wording needs to make it clearer though. PL290 (talk) 16:05, 18 February 2010 (UTC)
Slim, actually, I took it from your observation that no one wants to have to apply for inter-library loans to determine whether there's really a quotation-final punctuation. I combined this with my own query about why on earth final punctuation is ever required to be squeezed into a quotation—perhaps very rarely, but I'm struggling to come up with an example. We always have the leeway to expand or contract the ambit of a quotation for several purposes (honest representation, brevity, relevance, the need to wind it smoothly into the grammar of a sentence). This of course includes the final character space. Tony (talk) 00:41, 19 February 2010 (UTC)
It seems to contradict the point that logical punctuation adheres to the punctuation used by the source, so I'd like to remove it unless there are strong objections. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:49, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
That would require us to write,
Arthur called the situation "unacceptable." and described Martha's question, "Are you coming?", as "deplorable", explaining that she had agreed countless times to be patient with him in their relationship.
Arthur said it was an "unacceptable." situation.
I think Tony is spot on here in suggesting it should be left to editorial discretion in the context of the existing obligation for honest and effective representation. I am against a mechanical rule about inclusion/exclusion of terminal punctuation. I know there's been a lot of discussion of LQ and other schemes, but I'd prefer to see MoS simply specify editorial discretion concerning terminal punctuation in quotes. PL290 (talk) 11:12, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
For exactly that reason, I believe "unacceptable." is wrong. It is of no semantic significance that the word "unacceptable", when quoting only that word, was immediately followed by a period in the quoted source (or, to put it differently, that "unacceptable" was the last word in the (or a) quoted sentence). This is what I understood from the guideline as I remember it (correctly? incorrectly?) from a couple years ago. See #Something lost? above. The current guideline says that the period may be omitted if considered unnecessary. About a week ago, the guideline also said that "unacceptable." is correct in this circumstance. I believe that the guideline should be tweaked (or returned to a prior state) to say that when quoting only a word or phrase at the end of a sentence, do not include the end punctuation within the quotation marks unless (1) the entire sentence is quoted or (2) Wikipedia quotes sufficient material from the end of the sentence (including the last word of the sentence) that, in the context Wikipedia presents the quotation, the sense of the entire quoted sentence is given. Not in such awkward language, of course.—Finell 22:24, 21 February 2010 (UTC)

A (possible) summation of the quotation issue

As an observer who hasn’t thus far contributed much to this discussion, but who has followed it (and its numerous predecessors) carefully and learned much from it, I would like to offer this summation of the facts I see present here.

The MoS calls for the use of a style known as the logical punctuation of quotations, which has been called logical quotation or LQ for short. This system, as one of its main points, only includes terminating punctuation (commas, periods, etc.) inside the quotes if they were part of the original source material (and then only if it can be determined with certainty). This is in contrast with traditional quotation (aka typographical quotation or TQ), in which, with rare exceptions, "the comma comes before the quote [mark]", to use my 5th grade teacher's mnemonic.

While not universal in use, nor always rigorously applied, LQ is the far more common system used in Britain (and other Commonwealth countries). This has lead some, including respectable style guides, to characterize it as the British system or style.

This characterization is in part due to the marked contrast with US (and Canadian, as far as I can tell) usage, where, outside of some scientific and technical writings, LQ is exceedingly rare, while TQ is common, standard American English. This is a real distinction, one of the many that make American and British English distinct varieties of the language.

And therein lays the issue some have with the requirement of LQ. Its status as non-standard in American English makes it decidedly strange to even highly-educated Americans. It raises questions about the "anyone can edit" nature of Wikipedia. Other questions about the efficacy of the 2 systems compared to each other are also often bandied about, but are ultimately subordinate to the main question.

Those that support the LQ requirement believe that it's easy enough to learn, and aids Wikipedia's exactness enough that requiring it provides greater benefits than burdens.

That's why it keeps coming up as a topic of discussion, and why this part of the MoS is often ignored. And that's what makes it a problem that needs a solution. It's obvious from those factors that the status quo is insufficient.

I hope this covers enough that we can discuss the issue without resorting to ludicrous claims or talking past each other.oknazevad (talk) 23:43, 19 February 2010 (UTC)

Yes, that's a good summary, except that you left out that British journalists and fiction writers use typesetters' punctuation a lot, so it doesn't fit nationalist lines neatly. I think your point about articles that anyone can edit is a good one. I can't, with any confidence, edit articles that use logical punctuation, in part because I just don't get it, and in part because I often don't have access to the original sources. When I have to use logical punctuation, I use fewer quotations, so it does affect my writing (although that's not necessarily a bad thing: Wikipedians tend to over-quote because they're often not confident about paraphrasing). I think we need to start a discussion about loosening up this requirement, and asking people to focus on internal consistency, the way we do with citation styles. SlimVirgin TALK contribs 07:55, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
Well I did say "Although not universally used," so I think I did cover the roughness of the national breakdown. oknazevad (talk) 13:24, 20 February 2010 (UTC)
On this, Slim, we are in complete agreement. At the absolute least, if an article already uses predominantly the periods-and-commas-inside style, and someone comes along and tucks in a few strays so that they match the rest of the article, that person should not be brought up for AN/I. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:13, 20 February 2010 (UTC)