Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 121

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Archive 115 Archive 119 Archive 120 Archive 121 Archive 122 Archive 123 Archive 125


"Not censored" vs. direct quote

How would the WP:NOTCENSORED rule apply in copying a direct quote? If the source being used says "f*ck", should it be copied verbatim, per what can be referenced in a reliable source? Or should the actual word be used? Joefromrandb (talk) 17:43, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

We don't censor things ourselves. That is, if the source says "fuck", we quote it as "fuck". But if we quote censored material, we should of course quote it as is. We don't "correct" quotations to fit any of our style conventions. — kwami (talk) 18:38, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
What I'm saying is that the source bowlderized it. The source says "f*ck". However, the subject in question obviously said "fuck", as it's impossible to say "f*ck". The source was self-censored, but it isn't exactly "censored material". Joefromrandb (talk) 19:06, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
This is why he said, "if we quote censored material, we should of course quote it as is." So if your source says "f*ck", then you should quote it as "f*ck", not "fuck". Ozob (talk) 19:23, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Of course, you could paraphrase it with "fuck". But if you quote it that way, you're falsifying the source. Or if you have some reason to un-bowdlerize it, you could put it in brackets (as "f*ck [fuck]" or just "[fuck]") to clarify that it's an editorial amendment to the quotation. — kwami (talk) 20:29, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
"not Censored" is simply irrelevant. You quote what the person said. If they bowdlerised, so be it. To do otherwise would be to be an £"!$%^&&*. Paul B (talk) 21:36, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
The issue here is quite subtle... it isn't a question of Censorship, but of defining what our source is. Lets look at the situation again:
  • Joe writes in source A: "The Vietnam War was a really fucked up situation"...
  • This comment is reported by Fred in Source B as: "As Joe famously said, 'The Vietnam War was a really f**ked up situation'" ...
  • We want to mention this comment in an article... so should we use "fucked" or "f**cked"?
The answer lies in which source we are citing (per WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT)... if we cite Joe's Source A then we should use "fucked"... if we cite Fred's Source B then we should use "f**cked". At least that's my take on it. Blueboar (talk) 21:36, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Blueboar. And I would add, if one encounters this situation, they should highly prefer the uncensored Source A whenever possible. –CWenger (talk) 21:41, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I think we can go with primary sources for quotations, as long as the analyses of them are from 2ary sources. — kwami (talk) 22:17, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

"France–Germany border" → "French–German border"?

Part of the current controversy over en dashes is based on the argument that the compound "adjectives" which some style guides recommend using en dashes for can only be compound attributive nouns. Reference has been made to this page to support that argument, since we only illustrate the point with attr. nouns, for example with "France–Germany border". However, while attr. nouns may be the easiest examples to come up with, examples with attr. adjectives can be found in professional style guides. One such is "French–German border" in Hudson 1993 Modern Australian usage : "Use of the solidus in place of a dash in such phrases as the French/German border is not recommended, as it can lead to accidental ambiguity. The French–German border (using an unspaced en-dash) is unambiguous."[1]

An example with an adjective and a noun compounded: "electron–nuclear double resonance (en dash)" in Martin (2009:127) New Oxford dictionary for scientific writers and editors.[2]

Now, if it can be demonstrated that en dashes are used for attr. nouns and hyphens for attr. adjectives, this is an important point that would impact many articles and should be laid out explicitly in the MOS. If it is not true, then we should give an adjectival example such as "French–German border" to prevent this argument from recurring. Either way, I think we should discuss this.

So, does anyone have a citation that the part of speech of the attributive elements is relevant to whether one uses a dash or a hyphen?

(We should probably add a post-positive example like comet Hale–Bopp as well to stave off arguments that this only occurs before the head noun.) — kwami (talk) 23:50, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

Kwami, thank you for raising this here. I have assembled highly relevant material, and I am debating whether to bring it to this discussion. But first, please revert your edits to MOS that were made during the current period of protection (a matter I have raised at your own talkpage). Editors will be aware that the guidelines for dashes and hyphens are contested both here (quite properly) and at Talk:Mexican-American War (chaotically, and in an ill-chosen forum). It is especially desirable that admins like yourself not use their power to edit protected pages in a way that affects content. I say that your edits do just that. Thank you!–¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 00:07, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Removed the added content; placing it below for discussion. — kwami (talk) 00:21, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Hold on... I think Kwami may have inadvertently ended all the argument over dashes vs hyphens etc.... If I understand what he is saying correctly, it seems that in Australian usage dashes are fine ... Which means that the use of dashes is a WP:ENGVAR issue. ENGVAR already says that we do not favor one National Variety over others, shouldn't this apply when it comes to dashes? Am I missing something? Blueboar (talk) 00:55, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I doubt it's an Australian thing. For those guides which propose en dashes for "disjunction", I have not seen anything that suggests that part of speech is relevant. Because we have national standards, there are US, UK, Canadian, Australian etc. style guides, just as there are dictionaries, and it just so happened that I found a contrary example in an Australian guide. If it hadn't been Australian, it would've been British or American or s.t. else. The fundamental point is that we don't have any support, for any variety of English, that part of speech is relevant for disjunctive en dashes, apart from the coincidental fact that most examples use nouns or or ambiguous words like "possessive". — kwami (talk) 01:24, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Blueboar: yes, you are missing something. Details later.
Kwami: it is good that you have reverted edits made under protection; but I insist that the other edits (concerning adjectives and attributives) are also contentious and undiscussed. I don't mean to be difficult; but please revert them also so that there can be no doubt that all changes are duly processed here. As for the section you start below (on capitalised compound attributives), I have already said to you elsewhere that the scope needs to be broader. I had hoped we could defer discussion of that, since so much is going on in a disorderly way. In fact the highest priority should be given to resolving the protection issue. (I note that one prime motivation for the protection has gone: PMAnderson has been banned for a week.)–¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 01:26, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Please add a note below asking to hold off on that discussion. I have no problem with that.
I don't see how the 'adjective' thing is anything more than a minor correction. We speak of "adjectives", then give examples with nouns. This is simply the common use of the word "adjective" for attr. nouns, something which many of our sources do. It would be different if our examples were actually adjectives, and I added the nouns. That would be a substantive change. — kwami (talk) 01:31, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Whether you see how or not, I am requesting it now for the third time – if only for procedural correctness and accord with policy (see WP:FULL).–¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 01:40, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Okay. — kwami (talk) 01:57, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I appreciate that. More soon.–¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 02:29, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I wrote above, on 19 March: "the highest priority should be given to resolving the protection issue." Nothing has been done since then. I want to post a substantial body of evidence concerning en dashes, affecting decisions to be made here and elsewhere. But I will not complete my draft, or post it, until the present protection issue is resolved. (See #Deal with the issue that led to this protection, below.)–¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 21:54, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
If you're not going to continue your work, I'll repost the other two points I had. — kwami (talk) 02:03, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

ENGVAR question on dates

I'm an American, consistently using international dates in American articles: "1 January 2011." Must this be "January 1, 2011" in American articles? Note that this is not a case of whether all editors agree. Clearly one did not agree!  :) Student7 (talk) 18:48, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

It depends on why you decided to use international date style over American in the first place. If it is simply a matter of your personal preference, there is nothing wrong with that... just don't edit war if someone else changes it. Find out why they disagree. Generally, we do use US style in articles on US topics, and international style on articles on international topics... but we can be flexible. You should be as well. Blueboar (talk) 19:05, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
Also, generally the U.S. military uses 1 January 2011. Art LaPella (talk) 20:46, 20 March 2011 (UTC)
What Blueboar said. Ideally, ENGVAR would extend to all non-common aspects of writing and style, but at the absolute least, it's polite to hear everyone out ...and it never takes just one person to edit war. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:14, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
There was no "edit war." The other editor has no idea I even noticed. He was just routinely patrolling and decided to reverse every date, probably marking it down as his good deed for the day. I did not trouble him to think otherwise.
What about in references? One way for American, the other way for military and everyone else? Student7 (talk) 20:05, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
No. Non-military publications and news agencies do not use military dates or times. Even the DoD publication Stars and Stripes uses AP style in dates, times and ranks. The only time we should use military styles in US articles is in quotes; such uses can be wrapped in {{Not a typo}} to keep bots from updating them. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 14:16, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Even in the context of American publications, "non-military publications and news agencies do not use military dates or times" just isn't true. As a counterexample, see Science magazine.
My reply was to the context of "other way for military". Science appears to use international dates. US military articles should no automatically use military styles. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 15:01, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

MOS consensus on stranded prepositions?

Is there an MOS guideline on stranded prepositions? That is, do we side with Dryden mostly, where sensible? I personally dislike ending sentences with prepositions, and feel such constructions have little place in an encyclopedia. The waffling in this Chicago Manual of Style entry notwithstanding, it ends by asserting that to end with a prep is preferred only when the alternative is awkward, and I agree. Discuss? --Lexein (talk) 03:54, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure there is no Wikipedia Manual of Style guideline on "up with which I shall not put." I disagree with how you interpret the Chicago entry, which also says "In my own writing, I no longer try to avoid ending with a preposition". In the case of editing an existing sentence, he would change someone's sentence to end with a preposition only when the alternative is awkward, because such a change could lead to a confrontation. Art LaPella (talk) 04:36, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Art. Like the avoidance of split infinitives—avoid only when the s i is awkward. Tony (talk) 05:37, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Also, there are many cases where it is nearly impossible to remove a stranded preposition. They are simply too embedded into English syntax to be avoided. This is a bit like avoiding passives, when the style guides that advocate doing that don't even know what a passive is. — kwami (talk) 22:27, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

"adjective" → "attributive"

Proposal to reinstate these changes, which I reverted because I made them while the page was protected: [3], [4]

The problem is that many style guides use the term "adjective" loosely for any attributive word. (Some say as much, calling it a "simplification" of terminology; others simply call nouns "adjectives" without saying why.) The problem is that a reader may (and some have) misinterpret the guideline as referring to adjectives as a part of speech.

  1. To link related terms in compound adjectives and adverbs → To link related terms in compound attributives:

The examples, which are not contested, are a mix of different parts of speech: face-to-face discussion (nouns and a preposition), hard-boiled egg (adjective and participle), gas-phase reaction dynamics (nouns; the text even specifies that this is a noun phrase; BTW, the term "nominal group" should be removed, as it is an obscure and theory-dependent term), hand-fed turkeys (noun and participle), early-flowering plants (adverb and participle), diode–transistor logic (nouns, with an en dash sub'd for the hyphen because of their independent status), two- and three-digit numbers & a ten-car or -truck convoy (numerals and nouns), 9-millimetre gap & 12-hour shift (numerals and nouns).

  1. Many compound adjectives that are hyphenated when used attributively (before the noun they qualify: a light-blue handbag), are not hyphenated when used predicatively (after the noun: the handbag was light blue); this attributive hyphenation also occurs in proper names, such as Great Black-backed Gull. Where there would be a loss of clarity, the hyphen may be used in the predicative case too (hand-fed turkeys, the turkeys were hand-fed).

Change "compound adjectives" to "compounds": hand-fed is noun-participle.

  1. A hanging hyphen is used when two compound adjectives are separated (two- and three-digit numbers, a ten-car or -truck convoy, sloping right- or leftward, but better is sloping rightward or leftward).

These are not adjectives. Sub "two compound attributives".

  1. Values and units used as compound adjectives are hyphenated only where the unit is given as a whole word; when the unit symbol is used, it is separated from the number by a non-breaking space ( ).

As above, these are not adjectives. — kwami (talk) 02:33, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Is the self-referenced phrase noun adjunct useful for this discussion?
Wavelength (talk) 02:40, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
[I am revising my question by striking through the third word.
Wavelength (talk) 02:50, 19 March 2011 (UTC)]
It's a synonym for attributive noun. Either one would be fine, though my impression is that attributive noun is more common. And I don't recall ever reading adjectival adjunct for attributive adjective before looking it up just now.
Also, "adjunct" has a broader use that "attributive", so I think the phrase compound adjuncts would be ambiguous (it wouldn't be clear they modify a noun), whereas compound attributives would not be. (Actually, to be precise, we should say "attributive adjunct" as well, so I don't see the word "adjunct" as being any help.) — kwami (talk) 04:34, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
In the expression hand-fed turkeys, fed is a participle, but it is also an adjective; it is a participial adjective. See wikt:participial adjective.
Wavelength (talk) 04:57, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
That is, once again, the use of the word "adjective" loosely for anything that modifies a noun. We would more precisely call it an attributive participle. (It's about as close as we get in English to an attributive verb.) Its part of speech is not adjectival, or at least arguable so: In I've fed the turkeys, we probably wouldn't say that fed is an "adjective". That is, fed isn't an adjective the way red is. I think the reason it's easier to see fed as an adjective than, say, hand is that participles are somewhat ambiguous, having characteristics of both adjectives and verbs. — kwami (talk) 05:27, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes. There are some participles which are clearly also adjectives (e.g. bored, which can be used in I am very bored), but fed doesn't seem like one of those. (Of course there can be sentences in which you can't tell whether a word is being used as an adjective of a participle as syntactically it could be analysed both way with little or no change in overall meaning.) On the other hand, hand-fed taken has a whole does seem to behave as an adjective to me (they were hand-fed). Anyway, I support the proposal. --A. di M. (talk) 12:48, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

Kwami says, "BTW, the term "nominal group" should be removed, as it is an obscure and theory-dependent term". Err ... right, so whatever grammatical slots you are trying to fit words into aren't theory-dependent? Is there an "idontlikeit" going on about nominal groups, in favour of pet articles about English noun phrase, which is, frankly, a mess? A di M has said he can't abide by the treatment of grammar in terms of function. I know it's complicated, but I do recommend this as a more useful way of understanding language below the clause than immovable slots.

"Hand-fed turkeys (noun and participle)"? Where is the participle, I can hear the poor content-writer ask? Could you explain how this brand of formalistic grammar in which every word is slotted into a single category, one size fits all, is useful to anyone? Is it logical? Forgive the ordinary punters, who might find it easier to think of "fed" as an adjective (fed and unfed turkeys), rather than this fancy "participle" thing. Verbs can be adjectives, and it goes deeper than this. For example, "a galloping horse" = "a horse which is galloping", but when the verb expresses a mental process, the "is ... -ing" and "is ... -s" is neutralised: "a travelling salesman" = "a salesman who travels", not "who is travelling". It is complex, but can be expressed more simply as, "many verbs morph into adjectives"; that is what people need to know. Are you suggesting that "adjectives" should be relabelled "attributives"? Can't we make it easy for people? Tony (talk) 14:07, 19 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm not arguing that we should classify the parts of speech of these words in the MOS, only noting that they aren't "adjectives" under the normal definition of that term. I agree that participles don't fit easily into the traditional part-of-speech slots, which is why I didn't try doing that for the purposes of this discussion. We could argue about them forever. I'm not saying adjectives should be relabeled "attributives". If they actually are adjectives, we should of course call them that. But if we say the rules apply to "adjectives" when they don't, then there will invariably be editors who insist that they only apply to "adjectives". Take eye–hand span: are you really prepared to argue to the point of consensus that the words "eye" and "hand" are "adjectives"? Good luck! As for "noun phrase", just link it to noun phrase. — kwami (talk) 18:35, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
If "nominal group" is too jargonish then wouldn't "attributive" be as well? I wouldn't object to something like "attributives (brief explanation of term)," but remember that people don't sit down and read the MoS from beginning to end. If using "adjectives" is good enough for most style sheets, then it might just be good enough for us as well. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:08, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
The problem is that being so precise about what we're doing requires a fully developed theory of English syntax. That's a matter of linguistic research. Even if we had consensus here for a certain theory, most Wikipedia editors who wanted to use this page wouldn't know that theory and wouldn't understand any theory-specific jargon. Our best strategy, I think, is to use common English words like adjective in ways that most readers will recognize. That will require some unavoidable ambiguity and imprecision, but I think that's acceptable. Ozob (talk) 16:16, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Traditional terminology like "noun phrase" and "attributive", which have been used since the 19th century, aren't theory dependent. Even if a particular theory takes issue with one or the other, anyone familiar with that theory will understand what they are. The reverse is not true.
The problem I see comes in when editors insist that since we say "adjective", the rule only applies to adjectives. There have recently been two editors making that kind of argument. I suppose it would be fine to call them "adjectives" if we add a footnote explaining that they really aren't adjectives, as several style guides do. But then, we wouldn't need to say "adjectives and adverbs", since we could lump adverbs under "adjective" as well.
The problem with "nominal group" is that it's only used in one specific grammatical model. "Noun phrase", on the other hand, is traditional English terminology that is practically universal. It's used in dictionaries and high-school grammars. Supposedly the two are not synonyms, though I can't tell from the articles what the difference is supposed to be.
The obscure term "nominal group" is redundant, as we say "noun phrase" regardless, but "attributive" is not: it adds precision that can stave off arguments. It's also traditional terminology: I got it in my high-school English classes, and the OED notes its grammatical use since the 19th century. There is a conflict here between accessibility and precision, and we need both. If we want to loosely use "adjective" (perhaps in scare quotes?) I wouldn't mind, as long as we explain ourselves. — kwami (talk) 18:35, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Are the expressions adjectives and other noun modifiers and adjectives and other attributives useful for this discussion?
Wavelength (talk) 19:34, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, that might be good. Maybe just "modifiers" would work in some cases. Of course, the rules don't apply to adjectives as such, as we make clear with Many compound adjectives that are hyphenated when used attributively ... are not hyphenated when used predicatively, though that really isn't "many" but nearly all, and "attributively" is misdefined as "before the noun they qualify", when post-positive attributives work the same way. Perhaps we could call them "noun modifiers" and clarify in a footnote that we mean attributive rather than predicative modifiers? — kwami (talk) 20:26, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Do we need to take into consideration expressions like she-wolf (see Romulus and Remus), up arrow, down arrow, before and after pictures, off ramp, AND gate, plus sign, plus-minus sign, and yes-no question, where the modifier in each example is not inherently an adjective?
Wavelength (talk) 21:35, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that's my point. In English, nearly any part of speech can be used attributively. (She-wolf is an oddity, though, probably because it's a pronoun. But there is the Me generation.) BTW, before-and-after pictures.[5]kwami (talk) 22:25, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
BTW, these are commonly called adjectival phrases. Per the out-of- entry in the OED, that term seems to be used only for attributive uses. I.e., a curious out-of-the-way place, but not that place is rather out of the way. However, there is a competing definition where an adjectival phrase is any phrase based on an adjective, attributive or not. (The previous example is an attributive prepositional phrase in that scenario.) I've brought that mess of an article up at Wikiproject languages to see if any improvements are suggested. — kwami (talk) 23:01, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
Given the objections to "attributive", I used "modifier" per Wavelength's suggestion. Best IMO to avoid "adjectival phrase" at least until that article is ironed out; it's currently an unreferenced mess. — kwami (talk) 22:25, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Frankly Kwami, I wish you wouldn't do that. Several details of the section are disputed, including terminology. These changes you have made were not discussed as they might be if the page were unprotected. They were not notified in the usual way, and people might have discussed more if they had been. Also, at least two major functions of the hyphen are not covered as things stood, and as they still stand. This and other things will have to be fixed, and it is not helpful to the community if there are many piecemeal changes, some of which reverse changes recently made.
As it happens I find the text improved by what you have done. But note: it is better than your earlier and totally undiscussed changes made it. We can learn something from that.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:47, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Kwami, you are using your status as an admin to make changes in which you are WP:INVOLVED. You know very well there was strong objection to your campaign against Nominal group; you are a partisan there, and now I see you're using the page-lock to put through your own personal agendas. I believe you should revert the changes now. I have a number of other issues with your recent change. Tony (talk) 01:29, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
No, I'm not using my status as an admin, I'm using my status as a WP-account holder. There was no objection to removing 'nominal group' apart from you, the author. It's jargon, it's redundant, and there's no purpose to having it. 'Noun phrase' is the normal English term, so that's what we use. — kwami (talk) 02:21, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Oops, you're (partially) right. See below. — kwami (talk) 07:23, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Sorry, no. The page is locked and you acted as an admin. Have you read WP:INVOLVED? You are deeply involved because you have a well-known dislike of the page. You have on more than one occasion posted merge tags on it and let your negative views be clearly known. I have had to spend time trying to explain why it is very different (and indeed more useful and a better article), than the messy one on the formalistic notion of "Noun phrase". That you would come in there, knowing that no one can revert you, and push your own agenda into the style guide while it is locked, is totally unacceptable. I don't agree with most of the other changes you made during that edit, either. Please revert and discuss here, per site policy. Tony (talk) 02:28, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
No, the page is not locked. — kwami (talk) 06:47, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
What does "This page is currently protected from editing" mean? Tony (talk) 07:02, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Oops, sorry, I mixed this up with another article that was locked until recently due to a crazy edit war, and where I also proposed some changes and received positive comment on the talk page, but didn't implement them until the page was unlocked.
I proposed the changes above and asked for comments. The comments were positive apart from not liking the word "attributive", so I replaced that with Wavelength's suggestion. If the comments had been negative, I would not have instituted them. That's how we edit a locked page like this. As for INVOLVED, it's not nominal group that was locked. If you want to restore that phrase, ask if the other editors agree. (Do we want it, everyone?) — kwami (talk) 07:22, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
No, you were WP:INVOLVED; please revert it now: it is the only proper course of action. It is totally irrelevant that Nominal group isn't and has never been locked. The style guide is locked, and admins should be veeeery careful in editing a locked style guide even when people say "yeah, do it". When a number of editors are objecting to your edits, it would be better to take the hint and not go in as an admin. You knew very well that removing the link to Nominal group was going to be a problem. Do you understand the policy that requires admins to be uninvolved when they take admin action? You didn't seem to understand it at all when rallying to support Graeme Bartlett's WP:INVOLVED action at Mexican–American War and its talk page—something that still hasn't been resolved. Tony (talk) 07:41, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

How to make dashes

Proposed dash-making instructions Art LaPella (talk) 04:18, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

As much as I prefer PCs over Macs and as sick as I am of smug people rubbing the Mac's supposed all-ways superiority in my face, perhaps the section on Macs could be a little more neutral. Darkfrog24 (talk) 10:25, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
I think this puts the cart before the horse. First, write an explanation of an easy way to get the name and character code of any dash-like character an editor might encounter while using every popular computer and every popular browser. Until such an explanation is available, or if no easy method exists, nothing but – and similar forms should be recommended.
Just to be clear, I am referring to the problem of a user who sees something like a dash in the edit window, but can't tell which dash-like character it is, so the editor wants an easy way to inquire which character it is. Jc3s5h (talk) 11:49, 21 March 2011 (UTC) clarified 20:53 UTC.
That paragraph was added later, so I'll answer here. The edit software doesn't distinguish dashes from hyphens. If you see a dash-like character in the edit window, the best I can suggest is to preview the page and see which of these it resembles: Hyphen -. En dash –. Em dash —. Minus sign −. To see them all together for comparison: - – — − . Are you suggesting that be worked into my explanation? Art LaPella (talk) 21:08, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
I can't tell the difference among some of these just by looking at them, in either the edit window or the rendered web page. But I can if they are written in forms similar to – so I believe all dash-like characters except the hyphen-minus be written like – until such time as the Wikipedia edit window is provided with an easy tool to let editors tell which is which. Jc3s5h (talk) 23:38, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
On my system, the hyphen and en dash look the same on the edit page. The em dash looks longer. They all look different on the rendered page. But if your system is different, then sure, that is a reason to encode as – and —, and it's already mentioned as an advantage of using –. It is also a reason to change the WP:DASH guideline, not just User:Art LaPella/How to make dashes, because people who already know how to make dashes wouldn't necessarily read the instructions. If WP:DASH changes, then the instructions should change to match. Art LaPella (talk) 00:15, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Mac issue toned down. We have articles like alt code that attempt to explain more, but at the cost of requiring too much background knowledge to be usable. I certainly don't know every computer and browser, so if the horse has to go before the cart, I don't think it will ever get out of the barn. Remember, such instructions have long since been proposed but nobody did it. Should I copy it here, so we can all work on it? Art LaPella (talk) 15:10, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
I think the “Get a Mac” section would need to go altogether—it’s hardly a realistic option for most Windows users. I have a few additional comments, but I’ll hold off for now in case the material is moved here. I think some simple instructions are long overdue, but I also think it’s a mistake to limit the topic to en dashes, when the same basic concepts would cover almost any non-ASCII character. JeffConrad (talk) 02:06, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
wikEd distinguishes hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes in the edit window by showing an n or m above the respective dash. The distinctions are shown immediately if the characters are entered from the Insert area under the edit window; if the characters are entered via keyboard shortcuts, the Preview button must be clicked before the dash indicators are shown. JeffConrad (talk) 02:06, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm better at writing instructions than I am at politics. If enough people think simple instructions are long overdue, I hope somebody either uses mine, changes mine, or writes their own. Art LaPella (talk) 05:04, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

I use FF with the ABCTajpu extension. I've coded it so --[insert] produces an en dash and ---[insert] produces an em dash. Functionality of a Mac on a PC. — kwami (talk) 22:46, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

ABCTajpu was already mentioned as an alternative in my instructions, based on your previous comment. Art LaPella (talk) 23:28, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Oops, sorry. Forgot. — kwami (talk) 06:32, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Art, your page is a good contribution, I think. Tony (talk) 07:50, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Thank you. Would anybody object if I moved it in? That is, if I moved JeffConrad's version to Wikipedia space, merged it with these two edits and any similar edits that haven't been made yet, and mentioned it in the WP:DASH guideline, so we can all edit the explanation? Art LaPella (talk) 20:32, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
It’s fine with me (I’ve already merged the edits, with a slight refinement). I do wish we could also consider some of the changes to the character insertion links (primarily, clearly indicating how they work) that I suggested in the discussion on User talk:Art LaPella/How to make dashes. Entering special characters really isn’t that difficult, but we’re clearly not communicating this to many editors. JeffConrad (talk) 00:41, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
  • Fine; I am concerned at the length, so any way of making it easier for the editor who is new to this would be good. Tony (talk) 01:56, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Automated fixing of header levels

There is a request here to have a bot fix header levels, for example, if level 2 is followed by level 4, the bot would change the level 4 to 3. I do not know if it would also change the spacing preference used in the article (insert or remove space between the header and the '==' characters). I'm sure there was a big discussion on this in the past; can anyone recall where that was, and what was the outcome? Johnuniq (talk) 02:07, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

how do I make a non-breaking hyphen? NO pro or anti en-dash arguments allowed here.

In MS Word, when writing documents, I routinely use non-breaking hyphens. (this has nothing to do with en-dashes...I'm talking hyphens). It looks WAY better in terms of readability. Really, the old reason of breaking with a hyphen cause the bell went off and you know you will run out of space soon is so gone away. So preserving a break for a functional hyphen, as opposed to a "break a word in the middle while typing" makes little sense. I would actually like it if the default were non-breaking hyphens (but allowing me to do a little work and select a breaking functional one or even break a word in the middle one, when needed). But anyhow, what's the "control" hyphen thing for use when typing here. On a PC in IE. TCO (talk) 20:33, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

There's no mnemonic for it, but it's as in 20th‑century. Malleus Fatuorum 20:58, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Click "edit" to read the previous post in edit mode, to understand it. Art LaPella (talk) 21:12, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Template:Nbhyph also performs the same function, I believe. Dabomb87 (talk) 21:24, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
In either case, proceed with caution; while most modern browsers and OSes do the right thing, older browsers may not give the nonbreaking hyphen any special treatment, and users with fonts that don't fully implement Unicode may see a missing-character glyph if their font doesn't include the nonbreaking-hyphen glyph. Especially with older systems, that's more common than one might hope. // ⌘macwhiz (talk) 22:04, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
It's quite unfortunate that the ASCII hyphen is not non-breaking by default: I can't imagine any situation in which it would be OK for a line to break at a hyphen (other than to separate syllables, for which there's the “soft hyphen” character anyway). --A. di M. (talk) 03:58, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Really? What about words like anti-matter, spelled thus? Are you including that as "separating syllables"? I don't think that's how people who spell it that way think of it. What's a "soft hyphen"? --Trovatore (talk) 04:32, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
I wouldn't like a line break between the anti- and the matter in anti-matter. A soft hyphen is a character which looks like a hyphen if it ends a line and is invisible otherwise. --A. di M. (talk) 09:08, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
A "soft hyphen" is a mythical character that works great in word-processing and typesetting programs, but may do all manner of strange things in web browsers. As A. di M. says, theoretically it's an invisible character that gives whatever program is displaying the text a hint that "say, if you need to break the line, you could do it by hyphenating this word at this point." In practice, Netscape 4, Safari 1.2, and MSIE 4 treat soft hyphens as regular hyphens, always displaying them. Netscape 6, Mozilla, Firefox 2.x, and Opera before 9.02 ignore them entirely. IE5 and up handles them properly, as does Firefox 3.x and Safari 3.x. No idea how the various mobile browsers manage. // ⌘macwhiz (talk) 02:05, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Hmm, but antimatter spelled without the hyphen will break at the end of a line, at least in justified text. It would be strange if antimatter could break but anti-matter not. --Trovatore (talk) 00:22, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, ASCII is just terrible, and it has infected the whole world; so has the badly designed keyboard. That's two fixes for which we need a simple shortcut character or combo: non-breaking hyphens and non-breaking spaces. At the same time, we cop the disadvantage of introducing these into running prose that newbies and editors find it yet harder to edit. And there's a problem in that just about all of the simple shortcuts are taken, some by pretty narrow-scope functions ... it was first come, first served in those days. Such a pity the basic needs of displaying running text weren't privileged then. Tony (talk) 03:19, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Uh, this is responsive to what? I still want to know about breaking anti-matter versus antimatter. A. di M., were you thinking of unjustified text (e.g. HTML) specifically? --Trovatore (talk) 03:54, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I was. Anyway, anti-matter is indeed a poor example because the closed-up spelling also exists, but I was disregarding that because I guessed that was not your point. --A. di M. (talk) 12:51, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, actually, it was exactly my point; that's why I picked the example. So I don't think it's a poor example, because it tests the very point I was getting at. --Trovatore (talk) 02:05, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

I think Sue is very serious about fixing three things near and dear to me: WSYWYG editor, forum (oops talk) pages, and videos not playing. While it's great that Tony wants a new keyboard, those three things are things that people have been using routinely on computers for like 10 years now. I mean it is BIZARRE to type these dippy colons and have people able to wiki edit your talk! But e just accept it. Like we accept an editor that shows all the footnote code in the middle of the para, and like we accept videos not playing for 75% of users. If she fixes all those in the name of feminism...I'm all for burning bras!TCO (talk) 05:59, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Not sure if this is completely related, but I enjoy the dash script (I think it is User:GregU/dashes.js) since it takes care of it for you. I notice some editors do it on any FA nomination they see and I use it when working on articles since there arealmost always some errors.Cptnono (talk) 06:22, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
And no bra Wednesday rocks. Burn it!Cptnono (talk) 06:25, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
I need to learn to use the dash script. Am dependant on Malleus or others clearing up my articles. I try to use the thing in the edit window, but I think I still get some hyphens in from cut and pasting text and the like. Am just a little overwhelmed to run a computer script. I am not that techie. TCO (talk) 06:36, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
I am very untechie, and even I can use it. Have you set it up yet? Tony (talk) 15:13, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

Bass guitar

I believe I read somewhere in the MoS that "bass guitar" is not to be written "bass". Similarly, should "bassist" always be written as "bass guitarist"? Joefromrandb (talk) 13:12, 24 March 2011 (UTC) --A. di M. (talk) 18:30, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
You should avoid ambiguity with the double bass, the bass clarinet, and so on, and with their players. If that is done, there is no reason not to follow idiom. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:42, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
I think a certain amount of leeway is given depending on the context, but it's better to err on the side of caution in most cases (in other words, use "bass guitar" once and then "bass/bassist" elsewhere in an article about a rock ground, but consistently clarify in an article where the subject matter doesn't provide any additional clues.) Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 18:47, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
  • 'Bassist' is rarely or never ambiguous, whereas 'bass' is a wider term that can refer to things that occur in the low frequencies. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:16, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Another problem with en dashes.

What the hell are they? I view myself as a relatively well educated person. I have a master's degree and am employed gainfully. Clearly I do not have an issue with the english language or its use. If the MOS insists on specifying the use of an en dash rather than a hyphen, a clear description of what an en dash is and how to 'type' it should be linked to each section where the en dash is required. For instance, I came to MOS today to learn WP policy surrounding BC/AD and BCE/CE styles for ancient dates. The section specifies the use of an en dash. Now, apparently, I must spend several extra minutes determining what it is, and how to make it appear in my browser window. I don't understand the point. Hyphens are very accessible and understood, why not use them? Thanks for advice and reading my rant. Cliff (talk) 16:08, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

Concerning "how to 'type' it", that's why there is a #How to make dashes section above. I hope that proposal isn't complicated into oblivion. Art LaPella (talk) 17:06, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Concerning the rule for ancient dates, en dashes are used in a situation like "Aristotle ... (384 BC – 322 BC)". That would apply to any numeric range, including modern dates or "see pages 75–78". Is that what you meant? Or did you confuse it with the fact that nbsp, not a dash, should have been used between "384" and "BC"?
Concerning why we bother with obscure style rules, dashes are recommended by style manuals. Style manuals are either the recognized experts on punctuation, or the loudest describers of the Emperor's New Clothes, depending on whether you are a prescriptivist or a descriptivist. Art LaPella (talk) 17:49, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
An alternate solution is to run the dash script, User:GregU/dashes.js, after you're done working with an article. Dabomb87 (talk) 21:23, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
How is that script supposed to know, among other things, whether the Lennard-Jones potential was named after one or two people? --A. di M. (talk) 08:59, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, the script usually doesn't deal with those dash conundrums, in my experience; it sticks to the most common errors (hyphens in year/page ranges, changing double hyphens [--] to an em dash, etc.). Dabomb87 (talk) 02:35, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
How does it know whether "p. 3-15" was intended to mean the fifteenth page of the third chapter in a book which numbers pages that way (in which case it should be left alone), or the pages from the third to the fifteenth in a book which numbers pages the usual way (in which case it should be corrected to "pp. 3–15")? --A. di M. (talk) 12:57, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Which is why it is a script, not a bot, and editors who use the script are expected to ensure that they are not introducing errors into the article. Dabomb87 (talk) 22:41, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
What's an em dash and why do we use it? Well, they've been in use for centuries; print shops know them well. However, typewriters didn't have room for them, and because computer keyboards are modeled on typewriter keyboards, people who started "typesetting" their own documents using either technology didn't learn about them. They make documents much easier to read. Look at any professionally-printed book and you'll see that care is taken to use the right dash in the right place. The thing is, modern computers are capable of using and displaying the same typography as 17th-century printers, so there's no reason to stick readers with hyphens. As for what the names mean: The "en dash" is a dash that usually is as wide as a lowercase letter "n" in a given font, and the "em dash" is a dash that's as wide as a lowercase "m". Because different font designs result in characters that are more or less wide for any given type size, this measurement helps make the dashes look proportional to the rest of the type. For more on the subject, I suggest the books The Mac Is Not A Typewriter and The PC Is Not A Typewriter, as appropriate in your circumstance, both by Robin Williams (not the comedian). // ⌘macwhiz (talk) 22:35, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Pray, Sir, find me an em dash used as a means of compounding in the seventeenth century, – or indeed any time since. The seventeenth century used them (with its usual rate of error) as a decorative element, a means of separation (such as the row of dashes between footnotes and the text), or a item of punctuation (serving—as in this sentence—to set off parenthetical elements).
That's em dashes; en dashes (which are half the length) have been, quite rarely, used in compounds for a little over a century, but quite rarely. Does any publisher use consistently? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:08, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Here is an example of an en dash used by the Nature Publishing Group, which puts out several prestigious scientific journals. –CWenger (talk) 23:17, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Some publishers do use them for compounding, in various forms. That use (WP:DASH 5) is particularly common (and is different from the instances over which this foofaraw has been raised). But this single instance does not answer what I asked. Does Nature do WP:DASH 5 consistently; much less any of the others? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:30, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Nope, seems to vary between subjournals. –CWenger (talk) 23:34, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Hide/Show for Reference/Note sections

Joseph Smith, Jr.

The Notes and References are about half this article. And they're mostly necessary.

What I'm thinking is a Show/Hide, similar to what's used in Navigational Boxes, for Notes/Reference sections. They'd only be used in articles with a significant number of Notes/References. If it's possible, I'd imagine it be programmed in such a way that if you click on a Notation Link within the article, when it zooms you down to the attached note, the list of Notes/References would automatically "Show".

This would give a cleaner appearance to the site as a whole (and allow for easier printing) while not taking away a single thing from the site. It's a win-win, IMHO. (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 08:31, 26 March 2011 (UTC).

It is technically possible ({{hidden begin}}/{{hidden end}}), but what's the point of that? The references section is at the bottom, so it's not like you have to skip it to read all ‘content’ sections. See MOS:COLLAPSE. --A. di M. (talk) 15:23, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
See Template:Reflist#Perennial suggestions, which has a link to help customize the user display. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 16:25, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Deal with the issue that led to this protection

WP:MOS has been protected because of an edit-warring dispute since 26 February – almost a month. In that time, what have those involved in the dispute been doing? I see no discussion from them towards a solution. Why are they not held accountable for disrupting the work here? Some responsible action, please. Quickly, so I can make several small fixes that it would be tedious to process through an admin, and so we can get on with more serious work.

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 21:56, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Both Anderson and Tony have recently been blocked or banned, and they aren't currently active here. Shall I unblock the page? — kwami (talk) 22:12, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Wrongly blocked, actually, in breach of a policy, just for the record. Tony (talk) 01:13, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
Much obliged. If this goes elsewhere, let's try to keep this about editing policy, not about blocks. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:02, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
A nice contrast I just came across: a government-monitoring program is a program that monitors the govt, whereas a government monitoring program is just the opposite: a govt program that monitors s.o. els. — kwami (talk) 22:17, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Anderson really pisses me off. I'm even on his side (in theory) about the endashes and language reform and wish we would just be manly NYT reporters and follow AP. All that said, the captain's right even when he's wrong, and having SOME system is better than having 10zillion. That is if we actually want to write content. And I haven't seen much from PMA in terms of article work, lately. But he has time for fighting this DUMB multi-year war. Tony gets the Signpost done and reviews a lot of FAs. Even if he iz a librul Mac-user. So it is a no-brainer, which one I would feed to the sharks if lifeboat space was (were?) limited.TCO (talk) 22:37, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
I apologize. Aside from these immediate responses, I will attempt to be brief; most of my contributions have been article work. One difference is that my FA required much more research per word (and more off-line sources). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:02, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
  • I would not wish that even on Mr Anderson. Rather than feed him to the sharks, I'd treat him with kindness; indeed, I have done so already during his previous month-long block, when private emails were exchanged. It was nice. I'm sorry it doesn't seem to continue on-wiki. Tony (talk) 07:44, 23 March 2011 (UTC)
I think this would work better if we did less complaining about Tony and Septrionalis (not to say that there are no valid complaints to be made, but it makes things worse to do it here) and more talking about the dash issue.
So. People want the page unprotected. What needs to be done for that to happen? Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:56, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Ask the protecting admin. If he's not available, ask on one of the admin boards. That's probably better than one of the admins here doing it, so we don't get into accusations of abusing our adminship. — kwami (talk) 20:31, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

  • As the protecting admin, I have to ask myself, "Would unprotecting WP:MOS result in continued revert-warring?" At this point, I cannot say with certainty that the answer is no, as evidenced from the low-grade sniping occurring on this page, and by the fact that the original reason the protection was placed for is basically still unsolved. That said, if you guys want, I can unprotect the page, and if problems arise, we can place this page under community probation sanctions such as WP:1RR to deal with the people intent on causing drama. Titoxd(?!? - cool stuff) 05:11, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Noetica, why don't you just post your proposal in a sandbox and we can discuss it? When it's stable, I can add it to the MOS. — kwami (talk) 07:57, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
For my own good reasons as a researcher and editor in real life, Kwami. Meanwhile, we are waiting for you to conform to WP:FULL, as I and others here have repeatedly requested and as your role as an admin demands. MOS is under constant threat from improper procedure, just like what we see in mismanaged requests for moves. As you must know.–¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 13:10, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
I do not see Noetica's claims about proper procedure to be supported anywhere, including this page, except by Tony's say-so. Please supply evidence. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:58, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Titoxd, it's only been a week, yes? Please don't unprotect. I'd have though three weeks would be a welcome respite and would allow sufficient cooling off. Tony (talk) 12:03, 25 March 2011 (UTC) PS except that Noetica, I see, has some small changes to make. Can they be in a sandbox for a little while? If not, could he hold off a little longer? Tony (talk) 12:05, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
It's been a month, not a week, since this, if that's what you meant. Art LaPella (talk) 23:23, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

A note on reliable sources

I have consulted all but one of the books MOS recommends as further reading. Some treat en dashes (the OED 's only spelling) solely as punctuation, the role we call WP:DASH 6. Others add WP:DASH 1 (64–75%) or WP:DASH 5 (CMOS, for example); there is one exception.

Modern English Usage falls in this category; its multipage description of compounds (under "Hyphen") discusses three possibilities: blackbird, black bird, black-bird, and no others. One fascinating sentence (Obviously connexions of different power are needed; a short & a long hyphen (-,—) or a single and a double one would do [example omitted]; but this innovation would hardly find acceptance; & is better than — or = (the Lloyd-George & Winston-Churchill Government); better than either is some evasion... [e. o.]; p. 224) shows that WP:ENDASH 5 did not then exist; Fowler inspired it. (I commend the annotated reprint of 1998, with historical end-notes; the corresponding endnote (p. 761f.) would pretty nearly source our historical comments on hyphens, but ends by recommending a dictionary rather than any rule - and does not make any suggestion that WP:ENDASH 5 has prevailed.)

The exception is Hart's New Rules. That alone should settle the matter; Oxford English is a variety of Commonwealth English; it should not matter to American articles, and should not be mandatory on Commonwealth articles (consider the outcry if we used the Oxford comma, or the Oxford -ize, on - say - Oxford...). We can well mention that this is Oxford English, if editors are likely to find that significant.

But this instance is weaker than the comma or etymological -ize: Oxford University Press does not follow its own style guide; nobody does. I type while looking through Daniel Walker Howe's What hath God wrought: the transformation of America, 1815–1848, the relevant volume of the Oxford History of the United States; it manages to use U.S.-Mexican War (hyphen), Mexican War, and Mexican-American War (hyphen), the last only in the index. Other Oxford volumes use pre-Civil War (hyphen) and pre–Civil War (dash), in the same book. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:23, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

Thank you for countering your argument that the en dash "is not English" for me. It's simply punctuation, a reflection of the underlying syntax (not the creation of syntax) that is often used inconsistently. — kwami (talk) 23:42, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Plese stop putting words in my mouth: the use of the en dash as punctuation is English, and I have never said otherwise. The use of it in compounds is quite rare; one form of it (not the one currently under discussion) is comparatively widely supported and largely uncontroversial; most such uses are better avoided anyway. The pretended use of it in Mexican–American War is essentially an invention of the three editors who have misstated policy and twisted logic to defend their brainchild. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:48, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

A week later, and still we wait for action

One week ago I started this section, asking for a report from those whose edit-warring caused the present protection of WP:MOS. I, and other editors who played no part in that disruption, want to get on with routine maintenance of the page. Looking through the posts in the last week I see nothing at all towards a solution. I see much that is entirely off-topic, much old news, an invitation for me to use a sandbox instead, a new subsection on "reliable sources" that is bizarrely out of place here (obscure and inaccurate in its content, what's more) – but nothing to address the present impasse.

When may we expect some action from those responsible?

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 08:37, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

No one should be asking anyone else for a report. On a practical level, everyone here is perfectly capable of reading the discussion page to see what's going on. On another level, no one is the supervisor of this page in charge of paid employees and no one here is the teacher in charge of little schoolchildren. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:50, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Darkfrog, I wonder about your foundation for saying "No one should be asking anyone else for a report." Why should we not hold accountable those who disable this page for five weeks? Not everyone has time to unravel the wrangling on this page, including the causes of the current protection which are now over the horizon in the archives. You are unjustified in comparing me to a schoolteacher, and them to little schoolchildren. They have done far more damage than schoolchildren, when they disrupt development at the Project's central repository of style guidelines. I step forward as their peer to remind them of their responsibilities. You could do that too, even though you have once been in exactly their position, and had me call you to account for the same offence against our work.–¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:30, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
For an edit war that I did not take part in, no less. Thanks for actually checking the page history this time, by the way. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:40, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Darkfrog: Yeah, sure. Let others check if they care to. Several identified you as centrally involved in that disruption – which I, of course, had no part in. The record tells all. –¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 12:51, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
I was involved in the discussion, Noetica, not the edit war. I did make a change to the disputed section during that time period—changing the indicative to the imperative—but I'd gotten approval for said change on the talk page first. When this change was deleted in the edit-war crossfire, I put it back. The page was protected not long after that.
And let's say that it was just an honest mistake on your part and you really did think I was involved in the edit war, did you think I'd been edit warring with myself? You only asked for a report from me, not from anyone who agreed with you about LQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:33, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't care to dispute any of that. The record will settle matters, if anyone wants could be bothered to consult it. But your first contribution in this section bears an interesting resemblance to your attitude back then. You counter a request that obstructors of normal work on MOS be asked to undo their damage. –¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:07, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
WP:NOTBUREAUCRACY, for one. We don't report to anyone, we build by consensus. If there's a dispute and we can't work it out amongst ourselves, we can ask for additional input, but all this talk of "holding accountable" is far too legalistic. And I must ask what "routine maintenance" do you seek to perform? The encyclopedia seems to be functioning just fine with the MoS in its current state. And if there is something that you feel needs to be changed, just bring it up here. There's no reason a dispute over one section should mean that other sections can't be worked on in the meantime. We are capable of working on multiple things at once. oknazevad (talk) 05:05, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
I agree, Oknazevad. Did you think I would not? No one has to report to anyone, least of all to me. But I can of course request that they report to editors here. I, you, or anyone else can hold people accountable for wilful disruptions that affect our work on the Project; but I did not claim that they have an obligation in policy to do anything about it.
What routine maintenance do I want to perform? Incorrect links, faulty punctuation, manifestly incorrect English usage ... what I do every now and again to remove accumulated errors. It is unreasonable for me to go through them all now, or even to spend time identifying all of them for myself. So I will not. I will edit to improve the page when it is freed for editing.
You say the encyclopedia seems to be "functioning just fine with the MoS in its current state". I assume you exclude the growing chaos at Talk:Battles of the Mexican–American War and Talk:Mexican-American War, right? How much time have you taken in working towards a solution there? I have spent literally days researching and planning a way out of that impasse. I would appreciate it if people would come on board with that, rather than criticising from the sidelines when I ask for order and good will, and articulate a concrete five-point plan.
I am in breach of no policy or guideline. I suggest you turn your attention to those who disrupt this page to prove a point (a one-week ban seems to have had no effect!). You might also look into Kwami's breaches of WP:FULL, during the current protection. That's policy. So is WP:INVOLVED, of which he is also in breach, while he is the proposer of the move at Talk:Mexican-American War. Technical details of WP:ENDASH are highly relevant there; yet Kwami has been changing those technical details without discussion, let alone consensus – abusing admin rights while WP:MOS is under protection.
Please think again about your priorities. (Or don't, of course; it's your choice.)
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 06:46, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Noetica, you can still make uncontrovercial "routine maintenance" edits to protected pages... you just need to go through admins to do it. Is your concern that the page has been protected to The Wrong Version? Blueboar (talk) 12:36, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Indeed; that's what {{editprotected}} is for. And the “the growing chaos at Talk:Battles of the Mexican–American War and Talk:Mexican-American War” is not due to the inability to perform “routine maintenance” such as “[i]ncorrect links, faulty punctuation, manifestly incorrect English usage”, is it? --A. di M. (talk) 13:30, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
As Blueboar and A. di M. said, the current protection doesn't end all maintenance. Does the process become a bit longer? Sure, but if it helps avoid the chaos we are all concerned about, then it's worthwhile. As for Kwami's edits, I don't think there's an issue there. He made a proposal here, got support and included them. Should he have ideally gotten another admin to make the actual edit? Ideally, but a minor slip-up in process doesn't invalidate the results. Once again, not a bureacracy. The edits had consensus, that is what's important. Or, as the old saying goes, no harm, no foul. oknazevad (talk) 16:39, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Blueboar: My concern is emphatically nothing to do with "the wrong version". I took no part in the actions that led to the present protection, and expressed no opinion on the disputed wording. That is low in my priorities. The admin participating most actively at this page, Kwami, is in breach of policy, as I have pointed out. (Why is no one interested in his breach?) I will not go through that channel or use any other stopgap to do the standard work of an editor here, involving probably about twenty small fixes. Even to analyse the page properly and report the detail so far unfound would take too much time – time already spent working against disruption at those other pages I mention. Brought about by one of those who has caused the present protection here. As I suggest, let's look to our priorities.
A di M: that other chaos is indeed partly due to present state of WP:MOS, yes. Some changes affect, in a routine way, how WP:ENDASH is technically connected with other guidelines; this, apart from the changes Kwami has made which undermine the prospects of dash and hyphen guidelines being respected in RMs. WP:RM includes provision for respecting guidelines as well as policies, especially in the closure process; and closure must come eventually at those currently open RMs. Let our guidelines be presented in good order.
Oknazevad: See my replies to the others here. I note your weak attempt to excuse an admin palpably in breach of two policies of the Project (no, at least some changes were undiscussed; all were in breach of WP:INVOLVED; none had consensus). I note your continuing interest in pursuing me when I want to do maintenance work unimpeded. I note your reluctance to ask disruptors to undo their disruption. I note your continuing lack of interest in or support for a proposal to end current conflicts elsewhere – conflicts that involve the status of MOS guidelines. By all means stick to your priorities; and you will surely understand when I stick to mine.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 21:10, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Three things:

  1. My views on the dash question are simple. We should reflect the sources and common usage. We should make distinctions in typography where they describe a substantial difference in meaning, and accurately present that meaning. And we should understand and allow that exceptional cases, reflecting particular variations exist, and allow those as reflecting factual accuracy. (General principles for the whole MoS, actually). That said, I have intentionally not gotten involved in these discussions too much, as they have devolved into so much chest-thumping that my comtributions would only serve as more noise when less noise is exactly what we need.
  2. Regarding Kwami's actions, if you feel that they truly are unbecoming of an administrator, these places to register a complaint, but that's not the purpose of this page. As it stands, you've been the only one to say anything, so logically it seems that others don't have an issue. And I find it a bit ironic that you are hung up on procedure for him while dismissing the procedure for proposing edits to a protected page. It comes off as a bit arrogant. Which leads me to
  3. I find your tone needlessly condescending and accusatory. It only serves to damage the collegiality of this page, which always seems weak to start. Use of terms like "hold accountable" and "breach" appear to reflect a legalistic mentality that is inappropriate for Wikipedia. This isn't a courtroom, and we are not governed by Robert's Rules of Order. And this isn't an academic conference producing papers for publication in journals. It's an attempt to produce a free, online encyclopedia through civil, consensual, collaborative efforts for the benefit of humanity and for fun. In short, I think you are part of the problem that has undermined the ability to do work here by making it a more hostile environment to collaboration.

You asked me what my priorities are. Well I'm here to gain knowledge, to share knowledge and to gain insight into and even enjoy the process of the sausage-making that is Wikipedia editing. I feel I have benefited from it as a whole. I do not feel that treating Wikipedia as a bureaucracy benefits that. oknazevad (talk) 03:18, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Oknazevad, thank you for articulating your priorities mere clearly. On your three points:
  1. Questions of en dashes and hyphens are not the topic of this section. Please address them in a well-founded and well-situated discussion, if you have concerns. Come prepared with evidence commensurable with the masses that others have accumulated; be prepared for orderly debate, as policy and guidelines ask of us; and stay for the duration so that we can tidy any outstanding issues – then finally we can settle things for a while and move on. This would serve the development of stable guidelines for our millions of articles. And if these conditions are met, no one will need to chest-thump, and everyone's well-founded views can be respected.
  2. I have not taken formal action concerning Kwami's provable breaches. I have never initiated such a move. Instead, I appeal to him directly here, collegially; and I make it known what is happening, here at the current page. To do otherwise – to do as you recommend – would be to act bureaucratically. And I see from what you write above that you like such an approach as little as I do. It is up to Kwami to act according to his role as admin, and I bring no legalistic pressure or threats to bear on him to do so. If he and others still don't see the potential harm in those actions of his, that's no fault of mine. I've done my best to alert people.
  3. I am interested that you find my tone condescending and accusatory. I invite you to re-read your posts in this subsection. You give me directives, you dismiss points I make that you must surely know I can back up with diffs and evidence, if we wanted to get legalistic and bureaucratic. If I am part of "the" problem (which one exactly, we must wonder), what are we to say about those who disable the page for normal editing (five weeks soon, and counting), and admins who abuse their bureaucratically bestowed rights, editing here according to their opinions and to suit actions they have started at other pages? What are we to say about editors who stand by while I and a few others are busy and vocal against such abuses, and editors who raise no finger to assist in a conciliatory proposal to undo others' mischief?
If you are not enjoying your time here, stay away. Go do something else on the Project. Your way. And I do things my way, in support of policies, guidelines, and orderly formation and application of guidelines – based on hard facts and lucid arguments, in appropriate forums when good will is established. The Project is big enough for both of us. You have your say, your way; and I my say, my way. You don't like it when others interfere with your enjoyment of the Project? I know the feeling.
I passionately share your interest in gaining and sharing knowledge. My life so far has been devoted to that. We can disagree on the means and the details, I hope.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 04:49, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

I didn't mean that that brouhaha isn't caused and/or prevented from ceasing by the present state of the MOS; I meant that it cannot be fixed with uncontroversial changes such as fixing broken links. For that, you would need non-trivial edits to what the MOS says about en dashes, of the kind you wouldn't want to perform without having clear consensus first, and I can't see such a clear consensus forming in the foreseeable future. --A. di M. (talk) 10:00, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

A di M, I'm not sure I follow that. The point I make is that among the small technical changes to be made, there are links to fix. Now, at least one of those affects the connections between guidelines relevant to the Mex~Am War disputes, making it awkward for people to check and compare those guidelines. No one else has noticed these things. Either that, or they simply haven't bothered to fix them. For the rest, I have asked that Kwami revert his editing of content, which he has done against policy – all the more blatantly because the changes bear on an RM that he initiated. (He and I take the same view in that dispute; but that is not what interests me here.) To sum up: on two fronts I ask for responsible behaviour towards restoring MOS; not, at this stage, to introduce anything new in its substance.
Is my position clear?
As I have just said at Talk:Mexican-American War, I must take a Wikibreak soon. I have wasted far too much time attempting to repair damage that I did not cause. So soon it will be too late for me to do that routine maintenance. –¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 12:41, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
To put it bluntly, Noetica, your "request" for reports from people makes it look like you think you're the Queen of Sheba, and that is even considering that I seem to recall you identifying as male on your user page. It creates hostility and undermines any credibility you might have. But hey, this is the Internet. Maybe you honestly didn't know you were coming off that way. Well now you do, so if that is not what you're going for, then stop demanding reports. I understand why you might not like it when people have long discussions that digress and distract people from the issue at hand—especially if any of those people disagree with you, I've noticed—but that is exactly what this section has done.
You're perfectly able to just join in with the hyphen/dash discussion and suggest a compromise, add a well-reasoned opinion, or perform some other action that would more productively work toward the unprotection of the page.Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:47, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
To answer bluntly, Darkfrog, my "request" (as you scare-quote it, to support your lie that I am "demanding" something here) is just that: a request, for accountability and good order. I am at least as entitled to make such a request as those I address were entitled to disrupt our normal work, or not to respond to me here. And as you you are, to take inexplicable offence at such a request. Your bizarre reference to the Queen of Sheba, and strange invoking of gender, is no substitute for focusing on the issues. I note your frequent reluctance to do that with hard argument. As for creating hostility, must I repeat it? I had no part in the dispute leading to this protection; I take no stand on it; I seek nothing for the content of the page beyond technical fixes and a reversion of admin edits against policy and consensus during protection. My central concern cannot be how I appear to you or others. I suggest you absorb the message, rather than maligning the messenger when you find it unpalatable. Finally, thank you for reminding me that I am "perfectly able to just join in with the hyphen/dash discussion and suggest a compromise, add a well-reasoned opinion". I have spent a week tenaciously at that task. I have also made a suggestion that those involved fix their dispute here. I have no time left for more work on either front, now (see explanation here). You might consider some such repair work yourself. Or not, as seems far more likely. –¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:07, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
I will be more clear. You might think you made a request. You may have meant to make a request. It comes off as a demand. The speaker is the only one who can truly know the intent. The hearer is the only one who can truly know the effect. You claim to want to get the MoS unprotected. Demanding reports in this way isn't helping.
And let's say you shouldn't have to take my word for it. Take the results. I've seen you do this on this talk page a couple of times now, and it has never done anything but stir up drama. I haven't been contrib-stalking you, though, so if demanding/requesting/ordering/whatever-you-want-to-call-iting a report in this way has ever helped, and you happen to remember when and where, I'd love a link. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:16, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
OK, taking Noetica's request as a request... I think the requested reports would entail far too much effort, over something I don't really care all that much about. So, speaking purely for myself... request noted, but declined. I will let others speak for themselves. Blueboar (talk) 01:39, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Darkfrog: Thank you for being clear. Now we both have been. It "comes off as a demand"? Compare the bullying in edit-warring; compare the sullen silent refusal to fix the consequent disabling of normal activity; compare the bullying in abuse of admin powers (and note that Kwami is being discussed on a separate matter at WP:ANI). As for language, I am the only one to have used the word "please" in the dialogue. I know the effect – the likely effect on some people, when I make an unfamiliar and assertive move, against weeks of obstruction here. That's collateral damage when you are appropriately assertive. Look at the "results", you suggest? As far as I'm concerned, the "results" are less disruptive than what I seek to remedy. My request might fail, but at least it shows whose court the ball is in. My contributions record? You're welcome to consult it as you like. There you will find me breaking a year's silence to protect this page from abuse, and edits to fix problems that others have brought on us. Little else, since January last year. When you raise your own head above the parapet for the defence of MOS's role in making guidelines for use, not amusement, I might consider advice that you offer me. Till then, sorry. I have no more time to waste.
Blueboar: That's more like it. I sincerely thank you.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 02:28, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Okay, Noetica, so you believe that you are being appropriately assertive, but I do not find it so. I find what you are doing to be bullying, and if it's not okay for Tony or Septrionalis/PMA to bully people then it shouldn't be okay for you either. It is possible for a request to be inappropriate, and I find this one offensive. From my own interpretation of what I've read in this section, I'm not the only one. If that's correct, and if offending people is something that you don't want to do, then maybe you should consider retiring this particular tactic. As for use-vs-amusement, I fully support keeping the MoS user-friendly and replacing made-up rules with properly sourced ones. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:42, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
That's the nature of appropriate assertiveness. One of the difficulties is that others might not agree that's what it is. I am not bullying. I do not edit war; I threaten no action against those from whom I request better behaviour; I have not acquired admin powers to misuse, nor have I ever sought them. Wanting respect for good order is only bullying if it is accompanied by threats, or is abusive and unremitting. I waited a month; then I asked; I observed completely irrelevant comments here for about a week, then I asked again. You have a strange conception of bullying if you think incisive clarity and a call to order without sanctions constitute bullying! If you rely on the fact that others also don't like my well-argued minority approach, then I would raise a question about your attitude to minorities. (!) You say: "I fully support keeping the MoS user-friendly and replacing made-up rules with properly sourced ones." Then research them, and be ready to support them in open discussion with hard evidence. Do not doubt that I can (and Tony and Kwami can, to name just two more); and I will do so, when this place is ready for orderly discourse, if cogent reasons are presented to re-visit the guidelines.
Now, can we stop? I really have to get on with other things, and I must suppose you have better things to do too.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 03:28, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
We're getting to the repetitive part. I don't think you should give people orders or push people around. You don't think that's what you were doing. You can stop any time you want. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:56, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes indeed: your remark goes over old ground, and I have answered you. Shall we stop now? I'll stop now. –¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 04:36, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
I can think of no circumstance under which you would need my permission to stop making posts on this page. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:04, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

En dash move again, also hyphenated Americans

at Talk:Battles of the Mexican–American War. Also Talk:1925 Charlevoix–Kamouraska earthquake.

A RfM of greater consequence is at Talk:Asian-American history. We follow the convention of spaces for Asian Americans as for any X Americans. Is there a reason not to have hyphens in the attributive form? Proper name? — kwami (talk) 09:51, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

It makes sense, and is consistent with the MoS, to use the hyphen for "Asian American" when it's a double adjective; it is also easier for the reader when it's a three-word nominal group. Yes, by long-established convention, no hyphen for X American. I have also see "African-American" far too often; apparently the correct form is "African American". True? Tony (talk) 11:59, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
"African-American" is more common, I believe. But we have an established convention of "African American". I don't know if the decision covers attributive use, or just substantive use. — kwami (talk) 12:33, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
I am so much not going to comment on that AfricanwhateverAmerican thing until I have had an opportunity to review the sources, WP:MOSFOLLOW and stuff. --Enric Naval (talk) 12:24, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
As pointed out by a published expert in the field, in the link provided by Kwamikagami the term is most often not found with the hyphen, furthermore, it is more common not to find the hyphen for Asian Americans then it is to find with. --RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 14:18, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
I have been corrected promptly a number of times for hyphenating, say, "She is African-American". Tony (talk) 15:09, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
If I am correct, "African American" is to be hyphenated when used as an adjective. "She is African-American" would use the hyphen. "She is an African American" would not. Joefromrandb (talk) 16:59, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
The OED has no listing for Asian-American. Their listing for African-American (and all but two of their dozen quotations) use a hyphen. The two exceptions (one the coinage from 1855) use spaces; btw, Joefromrandb's suggestion is not confirmed. (This has always been American usage; hyphenated Americans dates from the 1870s and took off during the First World War.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:53, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Note that I said, "if I am correct". I do not claim to have definitive knowledge. That is how I remember being taught. In all fairness, that was a long, long time ago. Joefromrandb (talk) 19:14, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Now that I look at it, our own article seems to say what I have said. But of course, Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Joefromrandb (talk) 19:17, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
It was a reasonable guess; Fowler would recommend that distinction, I think. But I do not think usage has adopted it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:26, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
Joe, when style guides say "adjective", they usually don't actually mean adjective, they mean attributive, as some will clarify in a footnote and as most demonstrate in their examples. So whether "She is African American" should be hyphenated is a separate question from what we do with attributive phrases as in "African-American history". (In our MOS, we note the purse is light blue is not hyphenated but the turkey was hand-fed is, while both phrases are hyphenated before the noun.)
As for the OED, no, it's not that simple. They attest to both forms as substantive nouns, but only the hyphenated form attributively:
substantive nouns
a House of Bondage for African Americans
The African-American is awakening
African-Americans in the making of America
of particular importance to African Americans
independence for African-Americans
middle-class ... African-Americans
the African-American population
African-American sinners
Editor of the African-American Repository
the African-American Teachers Union
the African-American Historical Association
an African-American family
the oldest African-American holiday
African-American Vernacular English
chiefly in African-American usage
married African-American men
reflect African-American pronunciation
on African-American hair braiding
African-American culture and art
the African-American Institute
emancipation of African-American slaves
an anonymous African-American narrative poem
an African-American gospel choir
African-American ... speech
the African-American ritual of signifying
urban African-American culture
predicative adjective
three in 10 enlistees are African-American
There are not enough examples of predicative adjectives to see how they fall, but despite the fact that non-hyphenated forms occur out of only a handful of substantive-noun tokens, only hyphens are attested in a much larger number of attributive uses. — kwami (talk) 21:16, 25 March 2011 (UTC)
You guys should check WP:TRADEMARK. Wikipedia follows the common usage in English, not the "official" usage. --Enric Naval (talk) 08:42, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
  • The problem arises, often, when "common usage" is difficult to ascertain; this is usually because usage is inconsistent or sloppy, even within single publications (even, dare we say it, within a style guide such as the Chicago MoS). We don't need to follow a race to the bottom where usage is inconsistent. Tony (talk) 08:58, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
As indicated in the discussion on the article in question common usage is non-hyphenated. Also, should this be discussed here? Does having a discussion here, effecting the discussion on the article's talk page constitute WP:ADMINSHOP? --RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 12:40, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
That seems like quite a stretch. Joefromrandb (talk) 16:54, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

I have always been used to seeing Italian-American (say), and find Italian American rather grating. I do not understand why it has become the standard here. I think claims that the latter is more used are just incorrect, though I can't be certain about that.

There is a clear rationale for the hyphen here, because an Italian-American is an American and is not an Italian. Note that this rationale is specific to ethnicities based on nationality of descendants ancestors; it does not apply to ones based on, say, religion or color. A Jewish American is Jewish, so there is no need to hyphenate. For those who capitalize Black and White, the same applies to Black American and White American.

Ones based on geographic, rather than national, origin are a problematic case. I don't know how these are used in the Anglosphere at large, but in the US they tend to really mean race rather than geography (no one calls Wendie Malick an African-American despite her Egyptian ancestry). If the terms are explicitly admitted to be talking about race, then the non-hyphen would make sense by the arguments above. --Trovatore (talk) 19:29, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

On the first page of GoogleBooks,[6] it's unhyphenated 6 to 4. Topics tend to be "the Italian American experience" vs. "Italian-American cooking". I expect hyphens too, but this does seem to be a case of a fairly recent change in style. Regardless, we don't seem to have a clean attributive/substantive split in most Google books. (That doesn't mean we shouldn't have one on WP, but I wonder how consistent we'd end up being.) — kwami (talk) 20:21, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, I'm generally against WP reflecting "recent" style changes. Encyclopedic writing is a very conservative form. --Trovatore (talk) 20:26, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Depends on how conservative you want to be: these things started out unhyphenated. — kwami (talk) 23:37, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Only if "originally" is defined as "before the Civil War" . Most of us regard returning to the usage of 1860 as reaction, not conservatism. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:54, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
By "originally" I mean "originally". — kwami (talk) 01:01, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
Obviously we're not going back to Beowulf. I think a ten-to-twenty-year lag behind the bleeding edge style fads is reasonable for an encyclopedia. Wait and see whether they really catch on or not. --Trovatore (talk) 01:05, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

All this might be very true regarding African Americans, and other ethnicities. However, for Asian Americans, there has been substantial data regarding the link'd discussion that started all this, that shows amongst scholarly sources, that the hyphen is not used. --RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 18:29, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia's Plans for April Fool issue

I don't understand why April Fool-ishness should be restricted to the Main Page. Why can't Policy be involved?

For example, how about an April 1 "Announcement" that the "welcome" page now points newbies to the MOS policy pages "where fresh ideas are needed. Pages have been blanked in anticipation of these new ideas. And semi-protected to lock out registered users!"

Or maybe that should be reserved for Halloween! (I know. I know. not policy). Student7 (talk) 19:55, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Practical joking anywhere in article namespace or project namespace constitutes vandalism, and undermines the efforts of sincere editors to build an encyclopedia with a reputation of serious research and reliability.

Like a madman who shoots torches, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, "Am I not joking?" ( and in the World English Bible)

Wavelength (talk) 02:15, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Looks like you haven't seen the Main page during any April First foolishness, Wavelength. However, I do not wish to see a broadening of the foolishness to include MOS. Binksternet (talk) 02:24, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
I just want to add that I think the idea of reverse semi-protection is hilarious (only anonymous editors can edit)! If anything is done for April Fool's Day it should definitely include that! –CWenger (talk) 02:31, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
I would agree... we have enough foolishness on this page already. Blueboar (talk) 20:19, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Wavelength, there are lots of media “with a reputation of serious research and reliability” out there which make April Fools' pranks. --A. di M. (talk) 01:47, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Devoting a day (or a part thereof) to pranks is a silly tradition with no benefit to humanity. Any mass medium which indulges in the practice diminishes its reputation for serious research and reliability. This applies even if the mass medium is The New York Times, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Harvard University, Walter Cronkite, Elizabeth II, or Wikipedia. See also my comments about the media, archived at User talk:Wavelength/Archive 3#due to, because of (paragraph 3 of my first reply).
Wavelength (talk) 14:57, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Encouraging people to not automatically believe what they are reading, and making them feel silly for having done so, is definitely of great benefit to humanity. Some of those who lack judgement think otherwise, though, and I can see why. Hans Adler 15:04, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
It's harmless bits of fun on the main page, but widening its scope to policy and guideline pages opens up cans of worms we don't want to deal with. Better to keep the frivolity relatively confined. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 16:22, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
There's lots of precedent for April Fools' pranks in the Wikipedia namespace. --A. di M. (talk) 17:51, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
English language is by definition what English speakers speak, and formal written standard English is by definition what literate English speakers write in formal contexts (excluding slips of the tongue, typos and similar), so if literate English speakers writing in formal contexts use due to as a subordinating conjunction way too often to believe it's always an unintentional mistake happening to have eluded proofreading, then it is correct to use due to in formal written English (and indeed due to isn't an attributive or a predicative of any noun phrase in two of the four examples in my dictionary where it means ‘because of’). (Whether it used to be incorrect is irrelevant, as English in 2011 is very different than it was in 1611, significantly different than in 1811, somewhat different than in 1911, and slightly different than in 1961.) Whatever the hell this has to do with April Fools' pranks (none of which on Wikipedia, AFAICR, has ever involved presenting information known to be non-factual as though it were factual), Santa Claus, or the price of tea in China somehow eludes me. --A. di M. (talk) 17:28, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Among my comments about the media, these ones are relevant to this discussion (section link updated).

The mainstream media collectively could have been leaders in education, to the greater benefit of society, but they have sold themselves to the pursuit of entertainment, which is more profitable in the short term. ... (The mainstream media have even acted as accomplices in a worldwide hoax, and in so doing have abused the trust of millions of innocent victims. Trust and trustworthiness are lacking to a very large degree in society.) ... Truth and logic are more important than excitement. Entertainment is inadequate as a substitute for encouragement. Integrity is more important than popularity. Fortunately for all of us, bad habits can be replaced by good habits.

Wavelength (talk) 18:00, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Should a long-standing tradition be abandoned just because one editor has Scrooge-like attitudes and displays a complete absence of a sense of humour? Roger (talk) 18:06, 29 March 2011 (UTC) Apologies to User:Wavelength and others. My remark was out of line. Roger (talk) 06:33, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Sorry: that comes across as incredibly arrogant. "I like it, so anyone who doesn't is miserable and in a tiny minority". What research has ever been done into the support of this annual abandonment of purpose? Kevin McE (talk) 18:52, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
I second what KevinMcE says, Roger. Take note: Wavelength (a valued contributor at this talkpage) is the most scrupulously civil editor I have come across on Wikipedia. Take care whom you denigrate here. I request that you withdraw that description of Wavelength's nature, or at least strike it out visibly. –¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:10, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Isn't the "long-standing tradition" actually to introduce WP:DYK pieces on the mainpage that are perfectly factual, and referenced, but look like hoaxes at the first reading? WP policy not breached; AFD celebrated; everybody happy.--Old Moonraker (talk) 18:17, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes it is; other contents in the Main Page such as Today's Featured Article and In The News are usually also affected, as far as I can remember. Another silliness was a picture of a black pixel zoomed by 200 times (i.e. a 200x200 black square), or something like that. As I said between the last round parentheses in my post of 17:28 above, AFAICR none of those jokes could actually make a reasonable reader believe that some piece of information we knew to be false was actually true. (By contrast, knowing about this, I suspect that several of e.g. BBC's jokes were actually believed by a sizeable portion of the audience. --A. di M. (talk) 18:41, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Even true information seriously presented can have negative consequences.
(Japan radiation fears making US residents panicky! | TopNews New Zealand)
Wavelength (talk) 18:56, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
I like the April Fools goof-around once a year. But limiting it to the main page seems reasonable. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:57, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
I'm with Darkfrog (a fleeting moment to savour). For genuine novelty, we might try for less foolery on the other 364 days. –¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:10, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
I would expect obvious “jokes” (I'm not even sure if that's the right word) such as these ones to be far less harmful than “true information seriously presented” [which] “can have negative consequences” such as your example, and WP policy is not to worry about the latter. --A. di M. (talk) 20:27, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
The lawyer(s) working for Wikipedia might wish to comment on the legal pitfalls of deceptive entertainment.
(April Fools! It's No Joke When Silly Pranks Turn Into Serious Lawsuits | LegalZoom)
Wavelength (talk) 00:07, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
We're not selling or giving any material products, and all the ‘pranks’ in the Main Page link to an article which explains things in a ‘normal’ way. --A. di M. (talk) 00:50, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
I haven't looked here for a few days and came back, assuming there would be only a comment made privately to me and close (erase) the discussion as "for=2" "against=0" "no opinion=247" "no consensus."
Goodness! What a, uh, surprise. Well, I won't be trying this again. My apologies for anyone annoyed by my suggestion. I agree that it was inappropriate. Student7 (talk) 02:57, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
  • I like limiting the April fools pranks to having surprising (but true) facts in DYK. We should limit it to that. Last year, for example, Topeka, Kansas was nominated for deletion on April 1, and the deletion tag was on the article for a long period of time. That is likely to simply confuse readers, especially readers who are new to Wikipedia. We need to think about the long-term good of Wikipedia and not just what we, as established editors, might think is funny for one day. Kansan (talk) 03:00, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

En dash in template:football box

Regarding the en dash in a template such as Template:Football box in the parameter "score", I know this is suppose to be a dead issue, but would it be OK to continue as is? I mean to continue with what seems to be the norm of spaced endashes in the scores despite it supposedly being against the MoS. The discussion from the talk page of the football box template regarding this, which was over a year ago, nothing seems to have been done or changed and spaced endashes are still the norm. At 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualification, it's the first football article I've come across where there are users who's enforcing the unspaced version but they haven't done so at other articles they've contributed to. So again, can we not continue with the spaced version to be inline with other football articles and since nothing has been done to change this in all football articles. Banana Fingers (talk) 11:42, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

Unless there are some other users justly enforcing the MOS in that article, those "users" should be yours truly. While that is the first article that I took a hardline enforcement of the MOS, as there should be about a million articles using the footballbox template, another article that uses this is UAAP Season 73#Football -- even if I originally used unspaced endashes there, other users (predominantly IPs!) had also adopted it and no edit warring from people who'd like spaced endashes there happened.
This reasoning that "since a million articles violate the MOS let's just violate it on another article" is like the tale of the person who died crossing a highway underneath a pedestrian overpass when he could've used the pedestrian overpass. –HTD (ITN: Where no updates but is stickied happens.) 12:00, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
For whatever it's worth, I use GregU's dash script, which removes the spaces from between en dashes in soccer (sorry, "football") scores. I had no knowledge that there was apparently a long-standing tradition that football scores didn't have to follow the MoS and simply thought that the people who wrote these football articles were simply unaware of MOS:DASH. So basically even though there may be a million articles with incorrectly spaced en dashes, slowly but surely they are being converted (I'm not the only one who uses the script) to comply with the MoS. Personally I would like to see football articles get in line with the MoS. I'm not seeing any compelling reason for football articles to be an exception; the only reason so far seems to be because there are a lot of articles that used spaced en dashes. That sounds like something to fix, to me. Anyway that's my $0.02 and I'll be interested to see where this discussion goes, as it may alter my use of the script on football articles (I hope not though!). Jenks24 (talk) 13:08, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
The reason there is a year-old discussion is because I changed a "football" article to conform to WP:ENDASH. It didn't occur to me that football might be an exception. More and more people will continue to make that mistake (if it was a mistake) for as long as the football exception continues. Template:Rugbybox also has this chronic issue. Art LaPella (talk) 17:04, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Note: Currently, {{Basketballbox}} doesn't pose this problem. –HTD (ITN: Where no updates but is stickied happens.) 17:07, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
If we can't just standardize, there should be an invisible comment in the football template that links to an explanation of this longstanding problem, so anybody unspacing it will know what they are up against. Art LaPella (talk) 17:10, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
I don't think bots can edit articles that'll separate the "score" parameter into "scoreA" and "scoreB" once the template has been changed (see the features of the aforementioned {{basketballbox}}. Well, if it can do that, then that'll bot will make plenty of edits, and once the parameters have been separated we won't have the problem of spaced endashes or even the misuse of hyphens as dashes. –HTD (ITN: Where no updates but is stickied happens.) 17:19, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
I estimated 7000 football box templates last year, and 1000 rugby templates. Art LaPella (talk) 17:38, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Can a bot actually do that? It requires some sort of comprehension, and scores must have been formatted differently: most use spaced "-" instead of "–". (PS: I thought the use of {{footballbox}} would've reached several hundred thousand lol) –HTD (ITN: Where no updates but is stickied happens.) 17:55, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, I've never coded a bot (unless you mean AWB) but I've coded other things. I would think the bot would say: If it says score=number space hyphen-or-dash space number, or if it says number hyphen-or-dash number, change it to scoreA=number|scoreB=number. If it says anything else, put it on a list and let a human evaluate it. The "penaltyscore=" parameter should be treated the same as "score=". I counted 7000 by clicking "What links here", clicking "View ... 500" instead of "next 50", and counting 14 pages of links. 14x500=7000. Art LaPella (talk) 18:32, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
Well, I guess we all know where is this going. I suggest someone do something before this goes stale and implement unspaced endashes everywhere. And this all came from a "content dispute" (I won't even call it a "content dispute") and people who insist breaching the MOS because it's breached elsewhere. –HTD (ITN: Where no updates but is stickied happens.) 03:47, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Alright. I think why I and perhaps also be why some others think the spaced version looks better is because the unspaced version looks too compact and small (shriveled up even? it was one of the first things that came to mind). So if the spaced endahses in all these articles will be changed to be inline with the MoS, then perhaps something can be done with the football box template. Modify it so that the team names and everything else are moved inward a bit and make it a little closer to the score to reduce the compact look (especially if it's a 1-1 score). Sort of like the basketball box template, but obviously not that close. Banana Fingers (talk) 12:01, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Someone once suggested to use unspaced dashes per MOS, but with a wider typeface (like this). That would save the cabbage and the goat, IMO. --A. di M. (talk) 12:38, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
That would be a good idea but then there's the problem of double digit scores, especially in futsal articles where double digit scores would be a little more common. Banana Fingers (talk) 16:10, 22 March 2011 (UTC)

Any movement with regards to the supposed implementation of changes to make all spaced endashes unspaced? It seems this has already headed in the same direction of the discussion at template:football box from over a year ago. If nothing, then I would like to lobby for the spaced version to stay as is and be the exemption to the MoS ruling. Banana Fingers (talk) 19:19, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

"Strongly oppose".... no surprise there from you ain't it? Banana Fingers (talk) 19:17, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

En dash: our better proposal for all Mexican~American articles

There are requests to move Mexican-American War back to Mexican–American War (changing back to an en dash), and Battles of the Mexican–American War to Battles of the Mexican-American War (changing to a hyphen). I support the forms with an en dash; but an editor supporting hyphens and I deplore the whole sordid mess. We jointly propose this: revert temporarily to how things were (en dashes for all Mex~Am articles); then those wanting to change all the related articles make a combined request to change them all. (Related categories too.)

Please have your say on this new conciliatory move. Forget the surrounding verbiage: go directly here. Then have your say in the subsection called Support, dissent, discussion. Work with us to end that saga.

Those proceedings affect how the Manual of Style works within the Project. Let's all engage seriously and with good will.

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:29, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

Huh, yeah. That's kinda reasonable, like. No point in keeping an article with the dash and the other with the hyphen or vice versa.--A. di M. (talk) 03:24, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
We should stick with the rule of intra-article consistency, not intra-project consistency. I see no problem with the temporary revert back to en-dash on articles where there is support for it, but the pro-hyphen editors should not have to get the denizens of every article talk page to agree before changing any back to hyphens. Article-by-article should do it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:18, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
That's a recipe for chaos. If we're not going to use the MOS, what's the point of it? — kwami (talk) 20:19, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
Let me clarify my position. I do not mean that people should generally ignore the MoS. I am saying that under no circumstances should a person wishing to make a change to one article have to get permission on the talk pages of other articles to do so. While it is arguable—and we've seen that it is from all the arguments—that either a hyphen or an en dash would be in keeping with the MoS, this applies to hyphens vs. en dashes. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:18, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Yes, and just apart from all else, WP:TITLE says, "Editing for the sole purpose of changing one controversial title to another is strongly discouraged." Tony (talk) 14:24, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
"what's the point of it?"... to give people who care about stylistic minutia a place to argue? Blueboar (talk) 20:17, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
I mostly agree with that. Projects should use the same set of reliable sources and therefore it should not be a problem determining a consistent style. This is important for Wikipedia to look like a professional encyclopedia. Consistency throughout all of Wikipedia still remains a question mark though. –CWenger (talk) 20:26, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

This is a sweeping change from Noetica's previous position: that only changes of style discussed on this talk page are "legitimate". What's the difference? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:59, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

I am sequestering my response to PMAnderson, and the ensuing exchange in which there is talk of due process and of trolling. It does not serve any good purpose, and is irrelevant to the compromise we are attempting. But anyone interested can open the blue box below.–¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 03:44, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 03:44, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

Kwami, I am boldly putting what you have added into a box. I started this section to advertise a conciliatory proposal (which I see you have not supported). You are off-topic. Particular evidence favouring our guideline for en dashes is welcome. I already have what you post here in my collection; but it needs to be raised in an orderly discussion in its own section, according to the Project's explicit norms. I have more from CMOS (the current one, not CMOS15 which you cite) and from Garner; but I want to show it when you act as the community expects an admin to act (we note recent murmurs at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents); and when others demonstrate good will also.

If you undo this tidying edit of mine, I must interpret it as evidence that you are unwilling to work collegially. My absence (for what interest that might have for you) must then come sooner, and be longer. I'm sure I am not the only one here who looks forward to it!

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 02:06, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

What a bizarre reaction to posting an excerpt from a well-thought of style guide. — kwami (talk) 05:55, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
If you're not attuned to orderly discussion, start a thread somewhere and talk about that. I'm sure you'd acquiesce if I joined in with something off-topic: your bizarre interpretation of WP:FULL and WP:INVOLVED, as an admin.Or perhaps the fact that you don't support the singular conciliatory move that this thread was made to discuss.–¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 08:42, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that must be it. No further comment. — kwami (talk) 09:26, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

The use of MOS

Guidelines are sets of best practices that are supported by consensus. The actual use of MOS would be twofold: to collect what practice will actually support as style; to collect arguments that do in fact attract consensus when made, and which we prefer to have in a central location rather than typing them out fresh every time.

This is what other guidelines are. It's why guidelines have authority, and why they are consensus. MOS is neither of these things - and that, fundamentally, is why it is disputed. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:01, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Plural or singular?

Hi, I was just at Timeline of chemical elements discoveries and about to propose a name change to Timeline of chemical element discoveries. I assumed this would be a no-brainer because the former looks like completely wrong English to me. However, I thought I should check first by trawling around Google, and it seems that "chemical elements discoveries" is actually more common, even among apparently properly written/edited works. I am really puzzled by this. Am I wrong? Could it be an AmE/BrE difference? Which looks right to you? (talk) 17:56, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

If compelled to choose, I would find the generic singular Timeline of chemical element discoveries marginally less unnatural. But surely the natural form is to unpack to Timeline of discoveries of the chemical elements ?
One the is slightly preferable; there were several "discoveries" carbon, from Stone Age meddling with soot to Lavoisier's listing of carbon as an element - ao no the discovery of carbon.Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:06, 28 March 2011 (UTC)
Timeline of the discoveries of chemical elements. In my own experience, I've noticed British people and sources adding plurals to attributive nouns where Americans do not. "Drugs dealer," etc. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:21, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Mr Anderson's Timeline of discoveries of the chemical elements seems good. Tony (talk) 14:26, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
I wouldn't say that an accurate example of a specific linguistic division between American and British usage at all. The terms drug dealer/drug dealers and drugs dealer/drugs dealers are used interchangeably in the UK. And contrary to the assmumption, people in the UK would refer to a pet shop, rather than, as inferred, a pets shop/pets' shop. And British would rarely, if ever, refer to pets shops rather than pet shops (which latter was suggested would be the US usage, and the former the typical British usage). --JohnArmagh (talk) 14:52, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Partly a national difference, then. Americans would not say drugs dealer, while the English would use it sometimes. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:42, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Following the Keep It Simple (KIS) rule, I would write it as Chemical Elements: Timeline of Discovery. Respectfully, Tiyang (talk) 12:08, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Thumbnail error

Koppen World Map C.png

Does anyone have an idea why I can't create thumbnail of this image and similar derived images that I uploaded on commons?--Me ne frego (talk) 14:24, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

The thumbnail server is playing up. Wikipedia:Village pump (technical) is the place for this. Mr Stephen (talk) 14:27, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm so glad it's not my system. I've just been going through hell trying to arrange images at The Signpost. Must be systemic. Let's hope they fix it soon. Tony (talk) 14:28, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

Bad example for WP:ENDASH#3

It says that Michelson–Morley experiment carries a dash, but google books [7] [8] and google scholar [9] [10] show an overwhelming usage of hyphen, as in almost 100%. --Enric Naval (talk) 23:49, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

Sorry Enric. You have written a great deal concerning that guideline in current disputes at Talk:Battles of the Mexican–American War‎ and especially Talk:Mexican-American War‎. As an editor with the most intimate knowledge of WP:MOS, participating in those discussions, I have answered every one of your points at far greater length than the points themselves. Yet you steadily oppose the move that CWenger and I have made toward conciliation above on this talkpage. You have repeatedly refused to countenance suggestions that would restore order. No one, least of all me, has any time for these repetitions. Look up "Michelson" in the search facility at the top of this talkpage, and absorb what has already been done in nine of our archives. Later – when scattered discussions of MOS guidelines are shifted to here where they belong, and some order and good will are restored – we can discuss en dash and hyphen systematically. Anything else on the topic, or on the fragment of it that you now raise, is a sheer waste of time. Please consider signing up as a peacemaker; but no more on that tangle of issues here, please.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 00:35, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
This is, in fact, a novel issue. Do you have anything to say on the substance?
The reason the archives are so long is the bloviating of self-appointed "experts on MOS" who have nothing to say on what would be English or useful for the encyclopedia, using procedural claims they have made up to defend rules they have made up. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:35, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Did you actually look at the book pages or did you stop at Google's OCRed snippets? --A. di M. (talk) 00:54, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Very good point, I only picked a few hits at random (about 1 every 10 results) and I missed a few dashes. I have made a more thorough checking.
  • Re-checking the first 30 results of google books[11], 3 of them don't show preview pages, 6 are actually dashes (3rd, 9th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 24th) and 21 are hyphens. That's 6 to 21 in favor of hyphen.
  • In the first 30 results of google scholar[12], 5 I can't check them, 4 actually use dash 1st, 9th, 18th, 23th) and 21 use hyphen. That's 4 to 21 in favor of hyphen.
That's roughly 20% dash vs 80% hyphen. --Enric Naval (talk) 16:35, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Michelson–Morley has the substantial justification of being the OED spelling; their quotations are divided 6-3 in favor of the dash. It also represents, against Lennard-Jones, a real and non-trivial differentiation of meaning.

A similar weakness, however, occurs with the other example: of the first ten hits on diode–transistor logic, two use spaces, five use hyphens, three dashes. (One of the dashes is patently random: it's in a list with transistor-transistor logic (hyphen) and diode–coupled transistor logic (dash), one of which is inconsistent, and the other appears to mean a logic with transistors coupled by diodes, which should have a hyphen, by WP:HYPHEN 3.) And, yes, those are the actual scanned pages, not Google's OCR, which is why I stopped at ten.

I would be content to recommend "Michelson–Morley" as a benefit to the encyclopedia, since it is a usage which occurs significantly often. I would leave the other example, and the proposed general rule, out. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:35, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

I have changed the section title, since this is in fact WP:DASH 3. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:36, 30 March 2011 (UTC)
Guys, Michelson-Morley is a bad example since it doesn't reflect how it's actually punctuated at RS. Please suggest replacements. --Enric Naval (talk) 06:02, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
What in the world are you talking about? Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 06:55, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Please see MOS:FOLLOW, do you have any good reason to not follow the usage in RS? --Enric Naval (talk) 09:19, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, if it's not typeset to our standards. If a RS were written on a typewriter, as some of them are, with double hyphens for em dashes and underlines for italics, we wouldn't imitate it. — kwami (talk) 09:23, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
A straw man, appropriate for today ;->. As far as I can see, none of the books Enric surveys are typewritten; all of them appear to be type-set by professional publishers. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:08, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Kwami, shouldn't we simply change our standards to fit the usage in RS, like MOS:FOLLOW seems to imply? --Enric Naval (talk) 11:01, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
No, because RS's are not consistent. The whole point of an MOS, as in any serial publication, is to create a degree of consistency across articles. If RS's for a particular subject use all caps for headings, does that mean we should use all caps for that article name? If they use foreign terms without bothering to translate them, should we follow? If they label years AH rather than AD or CE? FOLLOW doesn't give enough detail to tell what they mean. Your interpretation would invalidate the MOS, yet FOLLOW is a section of the MOS. — kwami (talk) 12:03, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
I showed above a 80% preference for hyphen. At Talk:Oppenheimer–Phillips_process#Requested_move I showed a +90% preponderance, and 100% for books published after 2000. At what point can we say that RS are consistent? --Enric Naval (talk) 13:22, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Kwami, that would be where the "overwhelming majority" comes in. If 61% of sources do one thing and the other 39% do another, that wouldn't cut it. Of course, this is acknowledging that it is possible for the overwhelming majority of people to make the same mistake. That's why consulting style guides compiled by experts should also be part of the process. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:43, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── As I was saying, I want to look up other experiments with compound names, and see the % of dash and hyphen on each one. To get a representative sample of this sort of names. Befero I start, any suggestions of famous experiment names? --Enric Naval (talk) 14:35, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

There are a few examples of two-name experiments at Category:Physics experiments. Art LaPella (talk) 23:01, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

title case and sentence case

(separating because it has veered into a different topic. --Enric Naval (talk) 14:35, 5 April 2011 (UTC))

  • DF, let me get this right: because 80% of publications use title case rather than WP's sentence case for titles, does that mean we should allow editors to create a patchwork of approaches just on the basis that their pet source for a topic uses title case? Tony (talk) 14:52, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
No, because we have consensus in that title case looks really bad and we shouldn't use it. The substantial reason is that we can all agree in that it would be really bad for wikipedia to use that style, and that we lose nothing for not using it. We don't have any such consensus for dashes/hyphens.
I must disagree. Enric, we don't have consensus that title case looks really bad (some people think so; others don't); we use sentence case for titles for a much simpler reason: it makes linking much easier. I believe the original reason for sentence case for section headers was that it used to be far more common to pull out whole sections as articles, or merge them again; the argument that articles and sections looked better in the same style is almost as old, however. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:39, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Mainly because some editors, like myself, can't see why dash is better than hyphen in this case. Case in point: I don't think that there is any need to disambiguate between "the notable experiment made by both Michelson and Morley, using a dash to separate them" versus "the notable experiment made by a guy with hyphenated compound surname Michelson-Morrey". Because the latter simply doesn't exist and it has an extremely low probability of ever existing. For the (very improbable) cases where both usages exist, then we could use hyphen for one of them and dash for the other one.
And, barring any compelling reason for using dash, a reason that is actually based on some real problem that can be shown to actually be a problem somewhere, we should follow RS usage. --Enric Naval (talk) 15:57, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
That's actually a good example of what I'm talking about, Tony. The fact that 80% of RS use title case strongly suggests that title case is correct. Further examination, however, shows that sentence case is correct too. And by "correct," I mean in the context of formal, general English writing. I personally prefer that Wikipedia uses sentence-case simply because it's easier for amateurs to use without screwing it up, but I see no reason why we couldn't allow both so long as each article remained internally consistent. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:24, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Precisely, 20% is significant usage; it means both sides have a case which is widely persuasive, and Wikipedia should balance between them (which may mean coming down on one side or the other, if there is a reason to do so which attracts consensus among editors). 99%- 1% is a different story; some book of the millions published will take any remotely plausible stylistic choice. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:31, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Obstacles to participation

I invite all watchers of this talk page, and especially all such who seldom or never have participated in discussions, to indicate briefly their reasons for not participating or for not participating as much as they might do if certain obstacles were removed.

  • (1) Lack of time (possibly because of time spent elsewhere on Wikipedia, or in tasks outside Wikipedia, or both)
  • (2) Lack of interest (possibly because of having no personal preference, and waiting for others to achieve consensus)
  • (3) Lack of expertise (in matters being discussed)
  • (4) Lack of references (printed or electronic resources to support viewpoints)
  • (5) Lack of optimism that participating would be beneficial (possibly from believing that "too many cooks spoil the broth")
  • (6) Discussions lacking brevity
  • (7) Discussions lacking clarity
  • (8) Discussions lacking civility
  • (9) Section headings too vague
  • (10) Section headings too long
  • (11) Other (please specify briefly)

Please use numbers or words (or both) to indicate your reasons, in order of priority, beginning with what is most important to you.
Wavelength (talk) 20:16, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

"11 Other": I occasionally express something heretical, just long enough to be re-reminded that it isn't a consensus. And "4 references": I don't have the style manuals, and have little reason to go downtown to the library. Art LaPella (talk) 21:56, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
(11) Other: I think the MOS has grown into a nightmare of bureaucratic instruction creep, and find the endless arguments over stylistic minutia to be pointless. What little participation I do give this page is essentially an attempt to keep that situation from getting worse. Blueboar (talk) 01:50, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes Blueboar: the complexity of MOS has become a problem. Tony, myself, and a few others have pushed for it to be trimmed down. My favourite example of excess is the long spiel on serial commas. We have a superb article: Serial comma. Best treatment on the web; best I've seen anywhere. We could be brief about it at MOS, and link to the article if anyone wants more. THEN AGAIN: I would want more examples for the en dash, because as we have seen people can fail to interpret the guideline in a natural way. Sure, if it is read accurately along with related guidelines, the message is clear. But people try to twist things if an example is not given to fit their precise case, or to scotch their unsound linguistic arguments. In sum: choose examples with precision; and have enough of them to pre-empt abuse. That lets us shorten the wordy text as a whole. (Great topic. Thanks Wavelength!) –¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 03:55, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
"11 Other": Finding out that I'm not allowed to use correct punctuation on American English articles sucked a lot of the fun out of Wikipedia for me. I would do much more editing if the ban were lifted and I were allowed to improve articles' style as well as just factual content. But I guess that comes from the fact that the only practical "consensus" that we have is "what the majority of contributors to this discussion page prefer." Issue "4 Lack of sources" ties in with this, but it could be better defined as "lack of clear definition of consensus." (On a more positive note, I often refrain from participating in discussions such as our current one on dashes and hyphens, but not because of lack of interest, per se. Sometimes it's just more fun to watch and hear what everyone has to say.) Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:48, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
  • I'd say a bit from each of 1–5, especially the last clause; I actually watch this page out of curiosity, and I think I've learned somethings I didn't know about writing, which is good.
I also, sadly, must acknowledge 8; I find that people become ossified in their opinions and dismissive of those who disagree a bit too much around here, especially newcomers. It leads to hard feelings and raises questions in my mind about whether the MoS actually does represent broad consensus or just the opinions of a relatively small group of regulars. Wikipedia is never finished and new ideas can become new standards, but I've seen well-meaning newcomers dismissed too often for my liking. "We've already been over this" is never a reason for not discussing something with a new contributor. We were all new here at some point and being here longer doesn't automatically make you opinion more important. Sometimes I think that is forgotten. It certainly is an attitude that undermines the ability to create broad consensus. oknazevad (talk) 05:54, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
STX: All ten specified reasons have applied to me (often several simultaneously), at various times and to various degrees. Ranking them is difficult, but reason #1 is prominent now. Also, (11: "Other": Frequent changes in focus) after I reflect and research before replying, the talk page might have acquired one or more new sections, making my reply less likely to be read.
Wavelength (talk) 15:47, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Wavenlength—I believe that this is true of many people here—your all but unfailing civility, comprehensive research and reasonable points of view rarely fail to command my attention. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:40, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
4, 5, 7, 8, and 11 - on which I agree with both Blueboar and Darkfrog. Of these, 4 and 5 are the most important. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:07, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

From the replies to my original post, it is evident (among other things) that a vote count does not accurately represent support and opposition. (See also Wikipedia:Polling is not a substitute for discussion.)
Wavelength (talk) 15:16, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

At this time, this talk page has 1292 watchers, and it has been viewed 4844 times in the last 30 days.
Wavelength (talk) 23:00, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

I would love to know how many of those people took one look, and said "oh God... are they still arguing about that?" Blueboar (talk) 23:17, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
And probably a quarter of those view are the participants in this discussion ("Has anything been said? Is it anything new? [view] No/Yes and reply" can easily happen 3 times a day. Do that for a baker's dozen of editors and you have 1200 edits a month.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:31, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

New Proposal: Converting WP:MoS to a "Follow the Style Guides" page

I Propose that we shorten and re-write the MOS along the following lines:

  • Wikipedia articles should follow the stylistic usages found in the standard published English language style-guides, with the following exceptions... (short list of situations where for some reason we don't follow published guides, with the reasons why we don't do so).
  • In situations where published style guides disagree with each other, Wikipedia takes an inclusive stance... it is up to the consensus of editors at the project or article level to determine which style guide they wish to follow for that specific article.

Anything else is instruction creep. Blueboar (talk) 18:16, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

Fine by me.
As a matter of clarification (I could go either way), would you describe the variants presented by style guides where they disagree? That can be useful information, as with the present clause on the serial comma; perhaps that should be a subpage. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:37, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Should we describe some of the variants?... no. No need to confuse people by going into details... just point our editors to the published style guides and say: Follow these... if they disagree, reach a consensus as to the one that you think is most appropriate for your topic.
Think of it this way: when it comes to vocabulary and spelling on Wikipedia, we purposely don't choose between British vs. American usage... we recognize that both are legitimate, and leave it up to editors at an individual article to choose which is best for them. We don't seem to have a problem with giving our editors flexibility when it comes to vocabulary and spelling ... so why not give them the same flexibility when it comes to other style issues? As long as a published guide says "do it this way", we allow it. We should embrace the fact that different style guides may contradict each other, and we purposely avoid choosing between them on a project wide level. Blueboar (talk) 19:14, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
It's never going to happen, because we need a manual of style. Which are these "standard published" style guides you want to select? I didn't realize there were any real standards in who follows what, given the stylistic divisions in humanities and sciences. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 19:16, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Try WP:MOS#Further reading. But any reasonable list will do, provided it is international; all Blueboar asks is whether there is consensus among guides. On the innumerable points where there is consensus among style guides, it will be no problem seeing that there is, and each article will reach the same conclusion. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:27, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
WHY do we need a single manual of style? Why not embrace the fact that English has multiple acceptable styles.
Which "standard published" guides would I select?... as far as the MOS goes, all of them. As far as a specific article is concerned, which ever ones apply to the topic I am writing about. The authors of the articles know better than I do which style guides are the most appropriate for their topic. Blueboar (talk) 19:22, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Most editors don't have access to any style guide that would work, let alone multiple ones; we have to have something online, and it can't just be copying passages from books. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 19:34, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Style guides are sold in every major book store. So most editors do have access to them. OK, there may be a few very "subject specific" guides that are not readily accessible, but the editors who write articles on such subjects are likely to have them. Blueboar (talk) 19:39, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
We do not generally regard printed resources as inaccessible. But even for those who demand Web access: Half of that Further reading is available on line; if that's not enough, treat it as any other question which requires access to reliable print sources; buy it, use Interlibrary Loan, visit your local university, or ask editors who do have access, if consensus cannot be reached without. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:45, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
While I agree with most of what I believe to be the rationale behind this, I don't think we should do it. Wikipedia should have its own style page because we shouldn't require all editors (or even all editors interested in style) to go out and buy a style guide (or rely on ones issued to them in school twenty years ago, etc. etc.). I think the MoS should be in compliance with reputable style guides, but it also needs to be here where the editors can see it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:30, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Then you misunderstand the proposal. It proposes shortening the MOS, not getting rid of it. Nor do most people need a style guide to write English; the only real need for consulting them is to constrain the perpetual cranks who want to change it. But a variant which requires less consultation is probably possible. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:52, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
Access to style guides isn't really like access to sources. Sources can be accessed once during a library visit or through interlibrary loan. There is no practical alternative to having constant access to a style guide, so it must be either online or purchased (or both). Allowing all style guides imposes unreasonable expense on editors. Jc3s5h (talk) 23:35, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
I have access to sources in the topics I'm interested in as I'm interested in the topics. Some of them I have to hand, some I've found in the library or online when needed. I don't have access to style guides in the same was as I'm not interested in it in the same way. I'm only interested in style guides when editing here. Even if I could find a style guide in the library I can hardly check it out when editing, as I'm editing all the time, or at least every day. I would have to buy it. And it's not just one but many, so I can properly work out what's common practice and what's the idiosyncrasy of a particular author. as there is no single standard, just a collection of different national, corporate and personal preferences.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 00:11, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
And, of course, usage in the "sources" is often (you could almost say typically) inconsistent or varies. Who wants edit-wars on article pages and endless arguments on article talk pages about what each editor's pet source uses, anyway? (Mine's bigger than yours.) Better to provide centralised guidance and to argue the points here—not as Mr Anderson and Graeme Bartlett did at Mexican–American War, which has created chaos. Tony (talk) 02:06, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
If we need access to a majority of style guides to edit properly, Wikipedia is going to be very lonely. Remember, most editors don't even consult this style manual, never mind all style manuals. Art LaPella (talk) 04:13, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
Tony's personal attack is false; the matter was under discussion here when I asked what the larger commmunity wanted, and Graeme Bartlett had nothing to do with it. But his reaction is not surprising, since the first reaction of the larger community was that they didn't care about his call for "centralized discussion" or his invented policy. But this style of discussion, "it's always Their conspiracy", is all too common. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:52, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
What's becoming increasing clear is that the MOS needs to standardize the appearance of WP's articles as to increase readability across the widest range of readers. That means it should be detailed enough to handle some generalized appearance and placement issues (such as where to place refs in relation to punctuation, etc., but it should not be anywhere close to as complete a style specification as any of the printed style guides because as an electronic work, we have no control on the final appearance of the page to the end-reader. This renders some of the purpose that the various Style Guides are meant to serve, and thus why we should not be so intent on following any specific guide exactingly. That is , as long as the MOS guides towards a format that is clearly understood by a reasonably-literate English reader, even if it is not pedantically correct, it should be acceptable. Consider the entire Mexican-American naming thing. I cannot envision a case of an English-language reader inferring something different - when in-context - whether the dash is a dash, ndash, or mdash - it's still implies a war between Mexican and American forces.
What this means is that there are parts of the overall MOS that should be followed closely - consistency of date formats and reference formats, appropriate use of non-breaking spaces, adding metric units after English ones, etc. - all to help with legibility and readability. When it comes to the MOS rules that are more pedantic, such as the differences between ndash and mdash, we should not be holding articles to strict adherence. Self-consistency, yes, and ideally if there are other topics in the same field that have adopted through consensus one approach as an article in question, that article should follow that established style. Again, this is specifically for the cases of MOS rules where the net result appears identically the same to the reader and doesn't interfere with normal readability. --MASEM (t) 04:58, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
What's becoming increasing clear is that MOS cannot standardize appearance. Nobody reads it, and its oracular commands are differently understood even among us.
And why should it? The one thing MOS says on the subject is that it doesn't have to. (And since MOS expressly does not standardize honor and honour, which are far more visible than most of these points, nobody will notice - nor has noticed - that it doesn't.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:52, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
The MOS should follow the usage in RS, except when there are good reasons to do otherwise (you know, because of wikipedia being based on sources, and because of being the current practice in policies and in the other guidelines, and because of publishing houses not following their own style guides so why are we going to copy them). The MOS should codify both the usage in RS and the exceptions, along with the reasons to deviate from RS. Indeed, MOS:FOLLOW asserts that the current MOS is based not on style guides but on common usage in RS. --Enric Naval (talk) 09:55, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
Quite disregarding the reality that in so many instances, usage in RS varies (and is often an inconsistent mess). That is why we need our own MoS, which takes into account RSs and other authorities such as style guides (which sometimes don't even take their own advice, like CMoS), and weighs up what is best for the unique context of an online encyclopedic website that is displayed on monitors and written and read by English-speakers from all over the world. Again, who wants editors at local articles touting their own pet "sources" and arguing and edit-warring over them? That is what the MoS has thus far minimised. Let's be practical, please? Tony (talk) 14:32, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, do let's be practical.
Reliable sources vary. We've had two responses to this:
  • To acknowledge it, as with serial commas, and explicitly permit either. The issue has then ceased to be a problem.
  • To deny it, and pick a system which some language reformer prefers. This has not produced harmony or uniformity; it has produced a Manual of Style which no one reads or follows, and which is despised and widely ignored.
Tony prefers the latter. It does mean that only a handful of True Believers argue and revert-war over such things; but then it is not unknown they should find their own pet sources and edit-war over them. Where is the evidence that this page minimizes anything - except civility? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 09:29, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
Here is my story. There was a country with many unruly citizens and many lawsuits. Many litigants and even many of their lawyers said to the judges deciding respective cases "Your Worship, we think that this law is ridiculous." Many of those lawsuits reached the Supreme Court, whose member judges were becoming tired of dealing with so many cases. One day, the Chief Justice decided to abandon all the laws of the country and to let the citizens settle disputes among themselves. "Then everyone will have a better appreciation of the value of having a set of laws." That decision was supported by the Supreme Ruler of the country.
Wavelength (talk) 15:39, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
"Well there's yer problem"... Wikipedia polices and guidelines are not "Laws". Suggest everyone read Wikipedia:The rules are principles, a wonderful essay on this concept. Blueboar (talk) 15:07, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
I've always thought we should create an MoS-lite, with the issues we really do need consistency for, a house style; then have the larger MoS simply for advice when people are confused. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 17:55, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
See User:Tony1/Beginners' guide to the Manual of Style.
Wavelength (talk) 18:03, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that's very good. The issue isn't that there's anything wrong with the MoS, because anyone who remembers the old days will know that it's vastly improved. I often come here now looking for advice, and I know I can mostly trust what it says, which never used to be the case.
The dispute is mostly about whether it ought to be enforced, or for guidance only. I do have sympathy for people who'd like to see less enforcement, but I also have a lot of respect for the editors who've put so much work into it. So an MoS-lite—one containing the points (the house style) that we do enforce—would be a good compromise. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 22:18, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
We have a handful of guidelines that are regularly debated, and the vast majority of guidelines that are almost unknown. I don't know how I would identify the guidelines that we do enforce, unless you mean the best-known guidelines. The almost-unknown guidelines get about the same amount of acceptance as well-known guidelines, when my software finds an example and makes the edit. Usually, nobody notices. If they do notice, the guideline usually satisfies them. Occasionally, somebody insists they know better than the guideline, and doesn't think they need to address what MoS people think at all. Art LaPella (talk) 00:30, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
I meant I wondered whether we could identify the key points in the MoS that we definitely want to enforce across the board, and call that our house style (MoS-lite for the sake of argument). Then have the larger MoS as a series of advice pages. That might be a compromise between the two positions. But it would be hard to gain consensus for the contents of MoS-lite, so this is perhaps not a workable suggestion anyway. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 14:02, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Disagree over the years MoS has expanded massively taking over many project-based decisions. To replace it all with a simple set of Mos-Lite would undo years of work as well as waste the time of a large number of editors who work hard on creating a usuable standard. However I do agree with comments by Art LaPella about the main issue being around whether the MoS is enforceable or not. My issue is that one the one hand its called a "a manual" which implies how to do something but everyone refers to the MoS as "style guides" which infer this is how it could be done. Some of the things in MoS are definately neccessary enforcements e.g. WP:PEACOCK but then other things which should be enforcable e.g. WP:ACCESS were promoted without concensus. I think the main issue is that much of the MoS is unsupported by the community because of its vast size and multiple forks until x0x0 pages. — Lil_niquℇ 1 [talk] 14:10, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
I imagine that making sure that the light and full pages match would be a bigger issue. This is a problem that we've already seen with multiple MoS pages. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:04, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
No, it hasn't had years of work; it's had years of stalemate. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:24, 5 April 2011 (UTC)


What is the proper article to use preceding an abbreviation if the first word would typically use "a", but the first letter would typically use "an"? (Or vice-versa?) For example, "a run batted in". If written as "RBI" would it be "an RBI" or "a RBI"? Joefromrandb (talk) 03:42, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

I don't know if one can say categorically, as it may vary from initialism to initialism. It is probably tied to whether the initialism is pronounced as letters or as one word. One would say "a NASA engineer", but "an FBI agent".
I can say that "an RBI" is used here on the Run batted in article, and at the website of Major League Baseball, based on a quick search. Therefore I would use "an RBI" in whatever passage you are editing. oknazevad (talk) 04:07, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Well "RBI" was just the first example that came to mind, rather than something across which I came in editing. I was just wondering if there was a site-wide preference for either style. Joefromrandb (talk) 04:35, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Ah, well, then I'll just point to my first paragraph. At least it makes sense to me that the distinction would be based on the pronunciation, where if the common pronunciation sounds like it starts with a vowel, "an" is used, while "a" is used if it sounds like a consonant, which will vary if the initialism is said as letters or a word. oknazevad (talk) 05:58, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Pam Peters devotes some space to this in The Cambridge Guide to English Usage. She confirms oknazevad's point: it depends of the sound of the initial consonant if spoken. "F, L, H, M, N, R, S or X takes an an." --Old Moonraker (talk) 06:29, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Much obliged to you both. Joefromrandb (talk) 07:28, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
That is the rule of thumb; for any specific case, see what reliable sources do - especially if the result of the rule of thumb seems wrong. In particular, "a NASA engineer" because NASA begins with a consonant sound. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:25, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Exactly: "If the initial consonant is spoken". --Old Moonraker (talk) 15:40, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
The difference there is NASA is pronounced as a word, not a set of letters. For an exact comparison, one would write (because one would say) "a NASA spokesman", while one would say "an NSA spokesman", as the initialism for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is treated as a single word, while the initialism for the National Security Agency is pronounced as individual letters. oknazevad (talk) 15:50, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Of course it depends on pronunciation, but both “run batted in” and “ar bee i” sound like plausible pronunciations of “RBI” to me. In most cases I'd go with pronouncing the abbreviation as such, but I don't think I've ever actually heard anyone actually saying “ess ar” meaning “special relativity”. ― A. di M.plédréachtaí 18:10, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, RBI is used when "run batted in" would be too long or awkward, so people don't typically say the full term as a pronunciation of the abbreviation. The thing to keep in mind is to check the common pronunciation. oknazevad (talk) 19:51, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
And sometimes an acronym/initialism is not pronounced exactly as written. I am thinking of SCSI, but also of the way some people pronounce SQL. --Boson (talk) 18:21, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
True. Just so we don't have a scuzzy sequel to this discussion, when in doubt, check what reliable sources do. oknazevad (talk) 19:51, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

When should someone deviate from the MoS?

We've had some discussion lately about exactly what the MoS should be (and a bit of complaining that said role remains inadequately defined). We've talked about it more than once and the conversations never resulted in anything concrete. One problem is that there's more than one way to define the word "guideline" and another is that the MoS is often interpreted as hard-and-fast rules in the article space. It occurred to me that we've never tried doing it backwards. So guys, when do you think any given Wikipedia editor should do something out in the articles that contradicts the MoS? When do you think it's just acceptable and when do you think it's an active good?

Suggested goal for this section: If this conversation leads to a consensus on when it is okay for Wikipedians to follow/not follow the MoS, we should craft an explanation or example and add it to the introduction for the editors to see. If the consensus is "never," then we should say that. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:23, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

In general, any guideline can be "violated" if there's a good enough reason.   Will Beback  talk  03:30, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Great thought. Got anything more specific? What's "good enough" in your eyes?Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:33, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
No-one would say "never". One example is already included in the MOS: In some technical fields, such as chemistry, punctuation has a defined meaning and can't be adjusted per the style of the text. I just came across some biochem names that have em dashes in them, for example, which is quite unusual. (In most fields, however, such details are trivial, and vary in the RSs if they're addressed at all.) For another, angle brackets are used to indicate orthography, but they aren't widely supported by fonts, and so shouldn't be used, at least for the time being. And of course we don't reformat quotations. I'm sure we can think of others. But I don't think "I don't like it" or flip-flopping across articles according to Ghits is good for any publication that wants to look professional.
Another consideration is familiarity vs. precision. Some pubs will always hyphenate familiar phrases such as high-school students; others will leave it as high school students. The former is more precise and less ambiguous, a good thing for a reference work. — kwami (talk) 03:45, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Actually, we do reformat quotations, with limits. It's under allowable typographical changes. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:00, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Ah, good to know. — kwami (talk) 05:51, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

When warranted, of course. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 04:18, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

MOS can never cover every contingency. No guide ever could – including the sainted CMOS, of which I am a severe critic. The glorious Gregg Reference Manual comes closest, for CMOS-type American use.
A recent case on Wikipedia: Poland-Lithuania, over which there was a recent request for move (see the talkpage for all manner of fun). Very well, it's like Austria-Hungary: use a hyphen, just as MOS says. But what do you do for the premodifier form? Even before we try to punctuate, what is a good spoken premodifier form, for use in "Pol*~Lithuan* Commonwealth"? Nothing modelled on Austro-Hungarian Empire, surely. (I have my own answer; but that's not really the topic here.) MOS cannot predict cases that are so unusual; or if it did, it would grow enormously. (See previous section, where there is also useful discussion.) Whatever the solution applied for "Pol*~Lithuan* Commonwealth", it could be viewed as a deviation from MOS. Better, a durable solution should be viewed as in accord with a general direction taken from MOS, but not covered by its black-letter guidelines. A well-devised MOS has its guidelines managed so that such novel solutions can fit with it that way. In my experience with many guides and manuals, MOS does this amazingly well. [What I underline is amended later, for greater clarity:] We don't perceive the smouldering resentment that other manuals certainly engender. We only see it here, for MOS. Other manuals have no open forum like our talkpage!
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 04:30, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Okay, so so far we've got two for "when there's a good reason," without specifics. I'd propose translating that as "when the denizens of a specific article's talk page reach consensus that there is good reason." We've got one "when the conventions of a specific field give specific glyphs specific meanings," and a "when a problem not specifically covered by the MoS arises, requiring a solution more complicated than what is spelled out (in which case said solution should be extrapolated from the MoS's general principles)." Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:07, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Why does it need to be "spelled out" to "when the denizens of a specific article's talk page reach consensus that there is good reason?" (and the same for the other stuff). That's just unnecessary verbosity to codify something that doesn't need to be codified. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 06:50, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Wait, no smoldering resentment? I resent certain aspects of the MoS. Glad to know it's less obvious than I thought. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:20, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
No, Darkfrog: the other manuals provoke smouldering resentment, just as MOS does. But we don't see it for them, because they don't have a talkpage. (CMOS has a heavily edited monthly Q&A. Not the same thing at all.) I have edited what I wrote above, for greater clarity. –¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 11:30, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
(left) No, not when style guides are handled, as this MOS already says, with common sense and allowing for exceptions; in short, as being written for adults by adults, not for galley slaves by despots. The present issue, indeed, involves a "rule" in the style guide of a major publisher which that publisher itself blandly ignores. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:41, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
I think there is a deep irony in the MoS attempting to codify the situations where the MoS should not apply. I also think that it is impossible. I recall reading that just after the Revolutionary period in American history, there were movements in the state legislatures to codify every aspect of the law. (See Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787, pp. 300–303.) This was a failure. Replacing the precedents of English common law required so much new legislation that the law, in its attempt to comprehensively cover every situation a judge might encounter, contradicted itself. The result was to increase, not decrease, judicial discretion, exactly the opposite of the original intention. If we attempted the same codification, I think we would reach the same outcome. A close enough look at the MoS already reveals contradictions, and attempting to codify the exceptions to the MoS would make many more. In deciding exceptional cases I think it is better to rely on the discretion of reasonable people, that is, to rely on consensus. That is sometimes too much to ask for around here, but I think we can do no better. Ozob (talk) 12:08, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Others would say that the precedents of common law were reintroduced insofar as they were convenient for the party interests of the judges; when they were inconvenient or insufficient, new ones were invented. "Private corporations" may well be the invention of John Marshall, for example. But all this is off topic. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:41, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
See, Ozob, what I want here is for the MoS to come out and say something very similar to that. "The MoS is not here to codify every single word and comma. Here are some examples of the kinds of situations in which users should make up their own rules." Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:18, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

I am pleased to see that Noetica claims to be for shortening the MOS; it is a whole kilobyte shorter than it was a year ago. I can agree with this; I would take it farther. My principles remain:

  1. Is the proposed rule English usage?
  2. Has it got a reliable source, or preferably a consensus of them?
  3. Is it consensus of Wikipedians at large, not just here?

I would weed all of MOS that scores poorly on those tests; I also see little purpose for the summary of WP:TITLE under Article titles; such sections will not be maintained - this one is seriously out of date. If MOS only says things which are consensus, it will not give cause for "smoldering resentments". If it follows sources, it will not contain things well-meaning Improvers of English make up. If it follows English usage, it will have a standard and effective reply to any complaints: "what you want is your idiolect, not English; here is the evidence." If we are right, that should be enough; if we have gotten the evidence wrong, that will be simple to fix. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:41, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

I happen to agree on those three specific points, PMA, but that's more for what should be in the MoS in the first place. On a similar note, I'd add "When the MoS is wrong," to the list of times when people should deviate, "wrong" here meaning "contradicting the clear majority of reliable sources both on and in practice," and specifying that "this isn't what I was taught in school," "I don't like this practice," etc. etc. are not sufficient definitions of "wrong" and recommending that the editor also tip off the talk page so that the matter can be corrected at the source. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:16, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
My observation is that most of the time MOS is invoked, it is wrong in Darkfrog's sense; the sections where it corresponds to "the clear majority of reliable sources both on and in practice" are cited so rarely that I would have trouble finding them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:08, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Darkfrog says that's more for what should be in the MoS in the first place. Yes, that's what I meant it for, since there is a strong - and perhaps eirenic - endorsement of trimming MOS above. I would also agree to either of Darkfrog's suggestions for additions, since it is plain that MOS needs more than the boilerplate "commonsense and occasional exceptions". Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:16, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Well this is an attempt to establish what the precise role of the MoS should be by looking at places when it shouldn't be used. It's a thought experiment. Also, if anyone thinks that this info shouldn't take up space in the MoS itself, we do have a FAQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:42, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

On quotations, WP:MOS states ". . . a few purely typographical elements of quoted text should [my emphasis] be conformed to English Wikipedia's conventions without comment". It may be appropriate to ignore this rule for quotations concerning typographical conventions, e.g. when quoting a publisher's style guide on dashes or quotation marks.--Boson (talk) 18:44, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

True. I'd put that as the same kind of exception as Kwami's chemistry example. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:57, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
A rather unfortunate rule, expecially in the present context. Deciding which hyphens should be dashes is a decision on how the text parses; not minimal intervention at all. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:08, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

One should deviate from a MoS guideline if one believes that the guideline wasn't intended for the specific passage one is editing. Otherwise, if we can deviate from MoS when we disagree with it, or when a talk page disagrees with it, then the net result is the same as if we had no MoS at all, and Wikipedia would save much time if we all unwatched it. As evidence, I plan to create a Manual of Style quiz which I expect everyone to flunk. (Complaining about a guideline here is a mitigating circumstance: at least you're making some effort to change the rule you don't like, rather than simply ignoring any indicator of the consensus.) If we can deviate from MoS when enough style manuals disagree, then the MoS should be rewritten to match a majority of style manuals; as I understand it, that would be a very major rewrite. And if MoS guidelines don't count unless their rationale is included, the most obvious way to get consensus for that standard is to include such rationales for the parts of the MoS one agrees with, which will make the remaining parts stand out. That might be done within the framework of the incomplete, abandoned, but uncontroversial Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register. Art LaPella (talk) 22:46, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

That's not a Manual of Style; that's a compendium of Original Research by language cranks: i.e., what we have now. (That something has prevailed here does not usually indicate consensus; it indicates that it is the favorite "rule" of a couple of revert warriors.) The substantive suggestion here is unfortunately impracticable: there are invariably objections to any effort to include rationales, on the grounds that it lessens the Sacred MOS for Holy Writ to explain itself. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:05, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Darkfrog asked when I would disobey the MoS, not how I would change it (it's contradictory, and way too hard to find anything). Has anyone objected to adding rationales in the Register? Art LaPella (talk) 23:32, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Not yet. That's an idea. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:36, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
Art LaPella, I have not abandoned the Register, and I have not forgotten about it; I have been busy with other matters.
Wavelength (talk) 23:46, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
When should someone deviate from the MoS?... as often as possible. Blueboar (talk) 01:28, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

So we have come to this: MOS arouses "smouldering resentment", and literate editors deviate from it "as often as possible;" apparently some editors like it that way, and defend that elevated status. Is this a mark of genuine consensus guidance?

In addition, it is unenforceable as it stands. The present issue rests in part on the question whether the present text of WP:DASH requires the use of Mexican–American War; three insist that it does; a half-dozen don't see it. Preventing all such disputes would (if possible at all) require a much longer MOS; which no one wants.

If the present regulars want such a MOS, they need merely continue the tactics which produced it. That will not lead to a resolution; it will not serve the encyclopedia; it will not lead to unprotection. But if that's what people want, there's not much the rest of us can do about it.

Proposals to do something else are always welcome. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:24, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

As much as I'd like to get enough people to bring the MoS into compliance with the majority of sources and style guides, I feel I should point out that only one editor in this topic has acknowledged resenting parts of the MoS. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:39, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
Then I will join you. The present MOS encourages gnomes to make stylistic changes which no literate editor would support, no matter what style she followed. I resent that.
I also resent (and deviate from) "logical quotation" for your reason; it's not my native language. In addition, it's much harder to proofread, and so produces error (which is why CMOS recommends against it); in some cases, it's ill-defined. In addition, the refusal to acknowledge ," as a conventional sign is justified solely by a claim of minimal intervention. In a style guide which mandates tweaking quoted punctuation, this is hypocrisy. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:00, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

I've removed this page from my watchlist and I'm not going to put it back there, but I just wanted to point out that a proper name is a proper name is a proper name. 20th Century Fox is a film studio, "Twentieth Century Fox" is a song, "Finnegan's Wake" is a song, Finnegans Wake is a book. It's impossible to predict with certainty what the name of something just based on the rules of formal written English (e.g. "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" is not "You Haven't Seen Anything Yet"). There's no way to predict whether a particular war is called "Mexican~American War" or "Mexico~America War" or "American~Mexican War" or "America~Mexico War" (ditto for "Iraqi~Iranian War" or "Iraq~Iran War" or "Iranian~Iraqi War" or "Iran~Iraq War"), even if you know the names of all other wars there have ever been: you have to check what people actually call that war. Now, some people seem to believe that for some reason this only applies to alphabetic characters but not to punctuation; but isn't "Finnegan's Wake"/Finnegans Wake a clear counterexample of this? (BTW, note that "Michelson–Morley experiment" is not a proper name, as shown by the lowercase e.) ― A. di M.plédréachtaí 14:39, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

But we have shown with RSs that the en dash is correct. Mexican American War, Mexican-American War, and Mexican–American War all refer to the same thing.
BTW, here was Hans Adler's take on this, which unfortunately was not posted here: [13] "This question should not need answering at all because it has been answered a long time ago, and in the only reasonable way: Where an arbitrary decision needs to be taken and the only thing that really matters is consistency across the project, the MOS takes this decision and then everybody follows it. The problem is that the "follow the sources" extremists are getting out of hand. Verifiability and NPOV means that we use the reliable sources for what they intend to say. It has never meant that we engage in automatic writing controlled by the sources, even down to minor accidents of spelling or typography. [...] And now this stupid -/– matter. As if the random house styles of our sources were to dictate our house style, so that we have to choose sometimes one convention and sometimes another, depending on which publisher happens to have published most on a topic." — kwami (talk) 23:42, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
"We have shown with RS's." No, you haven't; you have claimed - without evidence or sources. But all this is of a piece; A rule that is made up, backed by policy that is made up, and sources that will be presented real soon now. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 09:59, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
And an arrogant yet ignorant editor who will tell any lie to get his way. You know the sources, but if reality is inconvenient it's gotta go. — kwami (talk) 17:35, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

ENOUGH... stop the personal attacks. Both of you. Blueboar (talk) 17:44, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

I'm sorry, I must have expressed myself badly; I intended to discuss Kwami's post, which I still believe inaccurate. If he has cited any reliable sources on English style, I do not recall them; he has found a few of the rare examples of the spelling he prefers. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:03, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Text for a "when not to use" paragraph

So for text we could use something along the lines of, "In general, follow the rules described in the MoS unless there is a good reason to believe that they were not meant for your article. For example, the conventions of some specific fields, such as chemistry, gives certain punctuation marks additional meanings that are not covered on this page. There are also problems that the MoS does not attempt to solve. If you believe that some part of the MoS is wrong, then raise the issue on the discussion page. You may find that what you learned in high school/what your college style guide says/what your boss told you to do is mistaken, out of date or not the only correct way to write ...or you might be doing us all a favor." It's a bit informal. Any suggestions for its improvement? Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:30, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Add "please" before the word "raise"? Art LaPella (talk) 23:01, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

This would merely invite more victims to the sausage-grinder. Most of MOS is "wrong" in the indicated sense; every protest has been howled down by the same handful of voices that wrote this fantasia. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:24, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

We've done this lots of times, but just to make sure I understand your position: If the above is true, and I didn't say it is, perhaps the victims would outnumber the handful and correct the fantasia. I think your alternative used to be ignore the MoS without bothering to delegitimize it directly, which would spread mini-fantasias throughout each article making its own rules. But now you say you agree with some of the MoS, when it conforms to your undefined standard of "English" etc. In that case, I would think we should use and document the good part of the MoS, and correct the bad part. Art LaPella (talk) 04:16, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
My standard of English is not undefined; it's the standard English has always used: the consensus of anglophones (as with Wikipedia, 100% is hardly ever attainable, but overwhelming majorities of reliable sources should be followed; on the other hand, the usage of significant minorities should be permitted, unless it causes active harm). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:20, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Art. If much of the MoS is wrong—and I know of at least a few parts that are—then it is right and proper that those matters be discussed here. I suppose we could add the words, "but you may wish to bring protective eyewear and a valium," but that really ought to go without saying. [/kid] Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:58, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

Naming wars: the only way out

This new subsection at Talk:Mexican-American War presents ten summary points. Recommended reading: for editors interested in the ways MOS guidelines are received at talkpages of articles, and for admins who might be looking to close the two relevant contested requests for move (RMs). For myself, I've finished with that dispute: at least until the deadlock is broken.

¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 23:25, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

I'm doing the (now quarterly) WP:Update, and noticed this change at WP:TITLE: "... such characters should only be used when they are customarily used for the subject in reliable English secondary sources." (Dashes are clearly intended to be included, since they're mentioned in the next sentence.) TITLE is policy so it trumps MOS, and this would mean some dashes get changed into hyphens, including at pages such as Spanish–American War that currently use dashes. I don't take a position on what the text should be. I'll be keeping an eye on WP:TITLE when this question comes up during copyediting. - Dank (push to talk) 16:39, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
That wording was added by Anderson,[14] who was the one who started this dispute. He had earlier been involved in a dispute on the TITLE talk page,[15] in which there was no such consensus, with several other editors saying that TITLE and the MOS addressed two different things, and did not, or should not, conflict. — kwami (talk) 17:44, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
It's been on the policy page for two months, so the better bet is to assume that it's now policy, until someone changes it. - Dank (push to talk) 18:12, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
And it reflects actual practice in title discussions, and very long-standing guidance at Wikipedia:Naming conventions (use English)#modified letters, the underlying guideline. Unlike the practice here, I do not hover over WP:TITLE reverting every little change in language I inserted. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:05, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
It's not addressed under #modified letters at all, not even after your last edit of that page.[16]kwami (talk) 23:34, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

AS DickLyon was good enough to remind us, that edit was a response to this bold rewriting of the policy by Tony, which he does not appear to have discussed before or since. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:28, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

Um, I think you'll find that reversion was to the long-standing version. Did you sneak in a change a month or two ago? I don't think that counts as long-standing. Stability is important; and discussion on talk pages is important before changing an important WP page. Tony (talk) 03:59, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Nice try, Tony. But I did not write the text you altered; I hope I would have done a better job. You altered it last January; the text you changed had stood there, complete with Anthony d'Offay, through a major rewrite, since January 2008 at least; that's three years. All mention of MOS had been removed from the section during the rewrite of September 2009, as this edit will show. As far as I can tell, it rested undisturbed for a year and a half. You disagreed with it in February, you disagree with it now, but who else does? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:40, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Tony's edit was hardly a bold rewriting. It was a rewording to avoid appearing to claim that dashes don't appear on standard keyboards; hardly a point that affects policy in any way, but not one that needed to be made, anyway. Your "response", on the other hand, seemed to be more about changing policy. Dicklyon (talk) 04:49, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
On the contrary. My rewrite was not intended to change policy; it reworded the pre-existing text for clumsiness and to avoid calling article titles "names", which tends to encourage nationalism. ("His article has to have Our Version, it's his name!") The present discussion on WT:AT is converging to a different rewrite of the original text, again preserving content. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:31, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Generally speaking, I don't move or title an article to the en-dash form unless I can find it that way in a reliable source, and then I cite it. But to put that requirement in policy is a bad idea, because it gives fuel to these guys that want to put it to a vote of sources, most of which don't have an MoS like ours. For things like diode–transistor logic, for example, most sources just use a hyphen, for various reasons, even though that construct is obnoxiously wrong to people who have learned how to read and write good English. Some sources like this book go to some trouble to put en dash where it belongs and hyphen where it belongs; or one assumes they went to some trouble, given that they have some of each, but they still get it wrong in places, like metal-oxide–semiconductor, which is even worse than just using hyphens, since it implies a two-part thing involving a semiconductor and a metal oxide! So just following sources is never a good substitute for trying to convey the intended meaning by following the rules of conventional good English typography as embodied in the MOS. I don't understand people who argue that it is more important to avoid dashes and do like the masses than it is to try to convey the intended meaning by sticking to good typographical/grammatical conventions. Apparently this was all worked out on wikipedia some time ago; why the attacks on it now? Dicklyon (talk) 05:01, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

If most people use diode-transistor logic, it isn't obnoxious to them, is it now? This (genuinely not yet defined) variant of "good English" appears to have been invented in the late nineteenth century; even the term "en dash" did not exist before 1875. Everybody before that, and most people after that, have written good English without it. Insisting on a dash is almost exactly like insisting on the serial comma/omitting the serial comma or on one of honor and honour; not consensus among Wikipedians, not supported by sources, and - most important - neither necessary nor helpful in communicating with our readers. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:31, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
For most people, who don't know the difference, neither version is bothersome or obnoxious, I would think. But for people who know the difference, using the en dash correctly is very helpful. For a few of us, seeing wrong punctuation is obnoxious, begging to be fixed. Or do you think that the en dash is obnoxious to some readers for some reason? Dicklyon (talk) 22:33, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
Suppose using a hyphen, or a double hyphen, instead of a dash is obnoxious only because it gives people the opportunity to gain status by knowing a rule. Then yielding to intricate stylistic demands would eventually become obnoxious, even though a random dash would not be obnoxious. Is there any experimental evidence that "using the en dash correctly is very helpful" for any reason other than to gain status? And do "people who know the difference" exceed 1% of our readers? Art LaPella (talk) 01:29, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Question regarding shortcut on this page

This may ramble a bit, so I apologize in advance.

The brief section on punctuation and footnotes here on MoS and the corresponding section at WP:Manual of Style (footnotes) both give the same advice, to place inline citations that are adjacent to commas and full stops after the punctuation mark. This is good in my view, not just because it's consistent across both guides but also because the layout makes clear that the thought being presented in our text is complete (and I think just looks better, but that's not that important).

My question is about the shortcut links, though. There exists shortened that point to the footnotes guide's section on the advice (WP:REFPUNC and variants) as well as ones that point to the section here (WP:PAIC and a variant).

My question is two fold. Firstly, the shortcut to here is "PAIC". If I'm not mistaken, that is an initialism for "period after inline citation", which is counter to the actual advice, and represents outdated advice from before the current version was settled on. As such, does that potentially mislead editors who may remember the initialism but not the actual guideline? And couldnt it reinforce the outdated advice?

Secondly, does the existence of the shortcut to the specific section of the footnotes guide mean a shortcut pointing to an entirely separate guideline, such as the PAIC pointing here, cause potential conflict? Or in other word, wouldn't editors be better served by not having the attention split between two separate pages?

Just some thoughts that have been running around my head for the past couple of days. I guess the thrust of my point is that there's no need for the WP:PAIC shortcut anymore, as the REFPUNC shortcut points to a more specific guideline while not reflecting depreciated and potentially conflicting advice. I guess I'm proposing the deletion of the the WP:PAIC shortcut outright. oknazevad (talk) 14:29, 3 April 2011 (UTC)

And similarly throughout the Manual. Art LaPella (talk) 19:24, 3 April 2011 (UTC)
To clarify, my question/concern is not about whether this MoS should summarize the area-specific guides, but just the inclusion of this one shortcut, based on its outdated initialism. (To the broader question, that's the delicate balance between "one-stop shopping" vs "brevity as the soul of wit"; that question doesn't seem to have reached a solid consensus in previous discussions, and I don't know if we want to revisit it right now.) oknazevad (talk) 04:13, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
It stands for "punctuation and inline citations". Christopher Parham (talk) 05:49, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
Ah! So that brings me back to my second question: do we need separate shortcuts to separate pages giving the same advice? From my experience, REFPUNC seems far more often used, so I doubt it, but I wouldn't be so bold as to remove it unilaterally. oknazevad (talk) 13:48, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Making Wiki Universal

Hi Everyone

How about to have every word recorded and when moving with cursor\mouse you hear what is written. In this way kids and also blind people could have full and easy access to Wiki, as it especially good for the pronounciation of scientific words such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Realisation could be achieved by adds-on tools for Wiki, allowing also paragraph\section readings automatically. The Realisation will allow downloading the whole pronounciation library to the computer or server to minimize the internet data transmission overhead.

The suggestion also allows the development of special screen, keyboard and mouse for blind people under Wiki licence as non-profit-making organisation to provide Wiki with some money for further developments.

Kind regards Mosh —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:02, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

A wonderful idea (although probably harder to achieve than it sounds)... but, this isn't the right place to propose it... it's not within the scope of the Manual of Style. Suggest you discuss it at WP:Village pump. Blueboar (talk) 21:43, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure he can read this, so I just emailed him (before Blueboar posted) as follows: Wikipedia's "Screen reader" article describes software that helps the blind read Wikipedia. Instead of asking at the Manual of Style, I suggest WP:ACCESS where they will know more about it than we do. Art LaPella (talk) 21:54, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
See Wikipedia:WikiProject Spoken Wikipedia and Wikipedia:Spoken articles and Category:Spoken articles.
Wavelength (talk) 22:42, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

US or U.S.

Is there any guidance in MOS for whether to use the abbreviation U.S. or US for the United States of America? (talk) 13:48, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

See Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Abbreviations. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 13:52, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
In short... both are acceptable. Blueboar (talk) 13:54, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
It depends on which type of English the article is in. Most British style guides prefer "US," but as the MoS acknowledges, most U.S. style guides prefer "U.S." with the dots, but one of the big ones, the Chicago Manual of Style, does not. If the article you're editing is in American English, it can go either way. If it's in any other variety of English, then "US" without the dots is probably best. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:08, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

I now see that at Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Abbreviations, there is the guidance, "For consistency in an article, if the abbreviated form for the United States appears alongside other abbreviated country names, avoid periods throughout". For example, if use of American English has been agreed upon for an article, does this quote mean that if the abbreviation for the United States appears alongside other abbreviated country names in only one sentence of the article, and the United States abbreviation appears alone elsewhere, that the non-American English abbreviation "US" should be used everywhere in the article, not just in the one sentence? (talk) 15:58, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

Use your best judgment. We want things to be consistent within articles, but neither version is wrong... so decide which one looks best in the context of article you are working on. Blueboar (talk) 16:20, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
(e.c.) Yes to what DF says. I think it means not to write U.S. and UK or PRC in the same sentence, but to use the undotted version, US. I guess it could be taken as a green light for within-article inconsistency, but it's left up to editors' good sense and the particular context. Definitely don't dot UK or PRC or almost all other acronyms. And I'd avoid the dots in varieties other than AmEng and CanEng, except when we have to acknowledge the dots in the names of some US institutions, and in quoted material, of course. The Chicago MoS turnaround in its 16th edition was a major step. Tony (talk) 16:25, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Rather it means not to use U.S. and US in the same article. Using U.S. and PRC is commonplace, U.S. and NATO is almost mandatory. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:55, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
Using U.S. in an article may be unavoidable, e.g. in proper names like U.S. Department of Defense. Also, if an article is in American English, that should be the preferred criterion for choosing U.S., except for quotes, titles, and proper names IMO. Interested in your opinions about whether this should be included in this guideline. (talk) 19:02, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
One way to avoid this quagmire is to use "United States". Joefromrandb (talk) 00:33, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
The full name is nice, and formal. I urge people to use it in infoboxes (often they don't). But spelling it out in full throughout an article can be tiresome. Also, a major bugbear is that it's rather awkward as an adjective in full form. Tony (talk) 03:38, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

I think this issue should really be mentioned in the "national varieties of English" section rather than the abbreviations section. The same American/Canadian publications that use "U.S." will often (but not always) at the same time use "U.K." The rule should be to follow the national variety of English used by the article, with punctuation staying consistent throughout the same article. I don't see how variations in punctuation and spelling should be treated differently.--Jiang (talk) 00:40, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

We could start using dots everywhere in US English, like M.O.S.? And while we're at it, N.A.S.A and P.B.S.. Americans do not do this, unless they are in urgent need of guidance. Why infect other acronyms with the fly-specks just to maintain these fly-specks in you-dot-es-dot? Chicago says not to; it is the pre-eminent US style guide. The WP MoS says it's optional, in unwilling deference to past insistence by most US authorities (although certainly not all US usage.) Tony (talk) 03:36, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
Americans don't do this because the examples you gave are 3 and 4 letters (and not 2 letters) long. (Nice try!) Chicago said not to use the periods only in its latest edition published last year (2010) and that publication has been around for over a century. Other prominently employed usage guides, such as those used by The Associated Press, The New York Times, and Time magazine obviously call for using the periods not only in US, but UK and UN. Invoking the newest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style is at best an argument against having the periods be obligatory in American English articles.--Jiang (talk) 06:18, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
I often change "US" or "U.S." to "United States". Similarly, I change "UK" to "United Kingdom" when I encounter it. Is this proper? Joefromrandb (talk) 09:02, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
It's not a matter of properness; it's just awkward to have these common country names spelled out in full again and again through an article. Many readers, and many editors, would prefer the initialisms. It is less of an issue if an article contains only one or two instances, I suppose. Tony (talk) 13:57, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
Also, the Bluebook prefers U.S. with the periods. --Coolcaesar (talk) 15:09, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
Whilst both are equally understandable, 'US' is better than 'U.S.' There seems to be a growing tendency to use acronyms, and without the nerdy full stops; in this case, it's two keystrokes fewer too! --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 07:24, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
The MoS should reflect what English is, not where it looks like it's going (sometimes it goes there and sometimes it doesn't). The advantage of being electronic is that we can always just change it if it ever does get there. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:27, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
IMO, the initialisms works better in adjectival form ("U.S. interests in Africa") and the long form works better in noun form ("Africans in the United States")
Folks... this is very simple... There is no firm consensus either way on this issue. Both versions are acceptable. If you prefer US over U.S., that's OK. If someone else prefers U.S. over US... that's OK too. Just don't edit war over it. That's all we really need to say. Blueboar (talk) 12:35, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
It seems that opinions over this topic always get stuck along national lines. This punctuation issue is largely a matter of variations in the English language. People will favor one over the other because their eyes have been trained that way. The current text is too prescriptive. I don't see how this issue can't just be a sidenote on using various "national varieties of English" i.e. do whatever, but make it consistent. --Jiang (talk) 02:12, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

Punctuation and inline citations

There used to be a section here titled Punctuation and inline citations, pointing out that punctuations should be placed before references (not after). Unless I missed it, I no longer see that information here. I was looking for it so that I could direct an editor to it. Flyer22 (talk) 14:18, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

MOS:REFPUNC maybe? Mr Stephen (talk) 15:21, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
That's it, thank you. But why isn't it covered here, instead of at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (footnotes)? I see there is also a brief section here on the talk page high above speaking of a compromise about this, which tells me you all must have extensively worked this out. Flyer22 (talk) 16:26, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
It is covered here, also. See WP:PAIC, although being in two places that don't quite match is controversial. Art LaPella (talk) 21:12, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
No. This is similar to the situation when submitting papers to traditional journals; the citation format demanded by the particular journal must be followed. In Wikipedia, the citation style already in use in a given article should be followed. Just as with the use of national varieties of English, Wikipedia does not have a single standard, but each article should be self-consistent. Jc3s5h (talk) 16:21, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
In virtually every citation scheme that uses footnotes punctuation goes before, but you are correct that many inline citations (if not using footnotes) put it before (MLA is a prime example.) Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 17:17, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Very long, hard to browse

Shouldn't we do something about the length of this whole page. Maybe somebody could use hidden frames or other stuff to reorder this page; in order for everybody (with slower computers or connections) to find easily what they are looking for. --Stultiwikiatext me 18:18, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

The table of contents can help you to find topics and subtopics (in sections and subsections).
Also, you can use the Find function of a computer to search on the page for a specific topic of interest.
Wavelength (talk) 19:55, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
I noticed from your user page that your native language is Turkish, and that you contribute to the Turkish Wikipedia.
The same two methods of navigation can be used atçem_el_kitabı.
Wavelength (talk) 20:02, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
But the proper answer is "yes, we should." Suggestions as to how to do that are welcome. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:38, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
Be careful, they might suggest you and I unwatch the page! Art LaPella (talk) 21:18, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
This was a definite concern last year of editors on all sides or ends of the prescriptivist/permissivist or uniformity/pluralism divide. One editor (Tony1) undertook the heroic task of creating a shorter but annotated Beginners' guide to the Manual of Style, which he said was about a quarter of the then-length of the Manual of Style.
¶ Another constant or perennial concern is the number and length of other guides that attach themselves to the Manual of Style, for example WP:MOSNUM, Wikipedia:Manual of Style (music) and WP:Naming conventions (royalty and nobility) (when I did a count a couple of years ago, their number exceeded 200, and is probably significantly greater today). Not only do they increase in number, they can increase in length and complexity as new questions crop up and invite a common solution. For example, WP:ACCESS (the Manual of Style spin-off that tries to make Wikipedia accessible to the widest range of human physical powers and of technical devices or software) was when I started editing about three years ago about seven broad points that could be easily read, mastered, remembered and used without too much extra effort or contortion. Although I haven't studied it recently, I think it's spun off into such details as one that would require or encourage a major revision to the markup of new and existing tables (lots of <scope="xxx">) to meet the needs of certain reading machines. —— Shakescene (talk) 00:14, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
The Naming Conventions are not "attached" to this mess. While occasionally turbulent, they have been been spared the worst of the nonsense here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:09, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
For people with slower computers or connections, I recommend that the aforementioned abridged version be copied to the Wikipedia namespace and given a shortcut.
Wavelength (talk) 03:00, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Only after being tagged {{essay}}; it is even less consensus than this page as a whole. But if we struck everything disputed from it, we would have a useful and quite short page. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:09, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Oh I get it, you mean the length of the Manual, not this talk page. In that case:
I demonstrated that even Manual of Style regulars don't know their own rules, complete with subpages. Therefore, there is no hope for getting average editors to read more than a couple percent of them, and you would get more total compliance by just doing away with everything else. I was told that you don't expect anyone to read it all; you expect them to look up a rule when they need it. But they won't look up a rule if they aren't already aware of its existence, because they won't know they need it. Comparisons to other style manuals are almost irrelevant, because we can't fire people for not reading them.
If the goal is to help people look up our rules, the best way to do that is with the "Search the MoS" button in the upper right corner of the MoS. Therefore, we should direct people towards that button by moving it to the center of the page with some instructions for using it, making it bigger, and removing distractions. That is, almost everything else on the page should be moved down to subpages, if we aren't expecting anyone to read it like a book. Everything except, of course, the many sections that duplicate and contradict what is already on the subpages!
I disagree with shortening the MoS by removing its concrete examples. Dimly comprehended abstractions with no connection to anything tangible and familiar is the recipe for MEGO, not faster comprehension. Prove me wrong by swiftly comprehending this comparable document.After reviewing Tony's document, I no longer think that is a fair criticism. Art LaPella (talk) 14:01, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Tony's abridged version was a big undertaking, but it has some problems. Some of the sentences are so short that they have multiple meanings. As for the MoS being long, I don't know of anyone who sits down and reads a whole full-length style book from end to end. I always use the ToC and CTRL-F with this MoS. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:30, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't know of anyone besides me who read all I could find, including subpages. But there are several rules I wouldn't know otherwise, nor would I have any reason to look them up without knowing them first, so they aren't doing much for the rest of Wikipedia. ToC and CTRL-F are another way to navigate, but only if you also use the navigation template to get you to the correct subpage first. Art LaPella (talk) 14:13, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
And before re-suggesting everything on one page, remember that at last count that would be half a megabyte of text. That's longer than Wikipedia's longest page, perhaps because of server performance. Art LaPella (talk) 15:05, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Thanks Wavelength, but actually I was not asking for help, I was suggesting something, to which Septentrionalis had an answer more to the point. I was suggesting the usage of computer's and internet's miracles considering the fact that Wikipedia is not on paper. The simple fact that the toggle bar on the right is harder to control when the page is like this should probably give an idea of why this page should be reorganized. And I'm not even talking about a major scheme here. For example just using hidden-open frames for every subtopic\ so that when you are browsing throughout the page, you can just click `show` and see if the stuff you're looking for is kinda' there. When I press any subtopic and can't find the thing I'm looking for, I need to scroll back to the top of the page to the TOC and try my luck with another subtopic. This might have been solved by putting a fixed `back to the top` link on the bottom right side of the page, but (in fact I don't know why it's not used) it is not used in Wikipedia and still wouldn't solve the problem of browsing back and forth. The idea is simple, use hidden frames for all subtopics. The choice is up to you, I might not mind browsing all over but other users might. Also, thanks to everyone who have commented. I probably will say no more as yourself, who especially are dealing with English Wikipiedia will probably sort this out. Cheers. --Stultiwikiatext me 23:28, 12 April 2011 (UTC)


Earlier, I made a change, where Mohandas Gandhi was called "Mahatma Gandhi". I was reverted, and the edit summary said that "Mahatma" was in accordance with the MoS. Is this so? Joefromrandb (talk) 16:17, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

The editor cited "WP:MOSIN". I checked that page, and it says it is "inactive". This seems fairly simple to me, but I want to be sure. Joefromrandb (talk) 16:28, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

That would be this edit, and the preceding one. We would not, and do not, use Mahatma Gandhi as an article title (it's a redirect); nor would we begin the article with Mahatma; but that falls under the separate policy WP:TITLE, and the guideline WP:LEAD respectively. This is a passing reference in text; as such, it's like a reference to President Truman; if it's clear, unambiguous, and not tendentious, why not?

Mohandas Gandhi would be equally acceptable, save that it's a touch odd in a list with Swami Vivekananda. Should Swami Vivekananda be moved to the simple name? Probably, but that should be discussed elsewhere.

I would simplify to "Vivekananda, Gandhi, and Vinoba Bhave"; it's perfectly clear, and lightens the sentence. But I don't think we have a requirement either way. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:49, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

I see "President Truman" differently. Were the article discussing President Patil of India, I would not object to the use of the title. However, "Mahatma" is an honorary title, and it's use is ambiguous. Joefromrandb (talk) 16:55, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
(ec) But commonplace; it is widely used without any connotation save that Gandhi is called that. Such nicknames are fairly rare of recent men, but if an Indian politician were inspired by Ethelred the Unready (and I won't swear some of them haven't been), we would say so, rather than King Æthelred II of England, simply for length.
In any case, you have answered your own question. WP:MOSIN is {{historic}}; it has no claim of consensus; if you are unpersuaded by what it says, it has no force. Questions whether Mahatma Gandhi is tendentious belong at WT:NPOV; I think there's a noticeboard. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:10, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
This one has always been a sticking point for me. Perhaps I'm in the minority. I wish to clarify that I hold the Mahatma in the highest esteem. But there is a plethora of people who think Mohandas Gandhi's name was Mahatma. This is one more reason I that think "Mohandas" is preferable. Joefromrandb (talk) 17:01, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
But not the question at issue here; MOSIN does make clear that it's not a name. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:10, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
That opens another question. That page states that it is "inactive" and "retained for historical reference". Is it acceptable to cite it? Joefromrandb (talk) 17:14, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
Acceptable? Yes, for what it's worth, which is next to nothing. Persuasive? No, of course not. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:17, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

Nobody watching Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style (trademarks)?

I posted a question there; the policy needs clarification. Over two weeks, no reply. I want to advertise the issue wider before I go and change the policy page myself. --Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus| talk 18:13, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

"A hyphen is not used after a standard -ly adverb" and a requested exception for articles on New Zealand

I have been requested to stop removing hyphens from articles on New Zealand subjects, as "the use of a hyphen is correct in New Zealand English". This is clearly at odds with this guide. I have already been referring to WP:HYPHEN in my edit summaries. I await instructions and suggestions. Chris the speller yack 22:05, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

That guideline concerning "-ly" adverbs in compound premodifiers is unambiguous, of long standing, and thoroughly discussed here at WT:MOS. Almost all detailed style guides and manuals make a similar provision, though my extensive survey of such works finds none more nuanced than ours.
Whether such a general matter of punctuation should be variable to follow varieties of English is a separate issue. MOS does not make provision for that, for compelling reasons. But even if New Zealand practice were considered specially, we find no trend for different use of the hyphen. See The Write Style Manual for Standards New Zealand:

Do not hyphenate a compound adjective when the adverb ends in -ly.

a badly written letter
a lightly whisked egg

Primitive compared to the MOS guideline; but unequivocal.
¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 22:59, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
unambiguous, of long standing, and thoroughly discussed Have you evidence for that claim, Noetica? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:21, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Unambiguous enough for me to automate, although I occasionally override the software in cases like "July". Long standing, at least since then. I didn't find the discussion, and of course I didn't address the question of who gives a rip. Art LaPella (talk) 00:49, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Art LaPella, I have removed hundreds of hyphens without using special software, and the main exceptions that I have found are expressions involving fly, July, Italy, and family. Some French place names have ly followed by a hyphen, and one example is Romilly-sur-Seine.
Wavelength (talk) 01:06, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Do either of you (or anybody else) have a script for automatically removing hyphens after -ly adverbs in compound modifiers (allowing for exceptions such as those above)? I tried to write one but it is quite difficult without Regex lookbehind which JavaScript lacks. –CWenger (talk) 22:12, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
I do not have such a script, but thank you for your interest. I have been planning on mentioning automatic hyphen removal at Wikipedia talk:AutoWikiBrowser/Typos (on my watchlist) after I have finished some other tasks, but please go ahead and mention it there yourself.
Wavelength (talk) 22:30, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
I use WP:AWB. My "ly-" section uses these replaces:
Find Replace with
http:([^\s]*)ly- http:$1lyYwBsF
(f)amily- $1amilyYwBsF
(e)arly- $1arlyYwBsF
 (f)ly-  $1lyYwBsF
July- JulyYwBsF
ly-([a-z]+)- lyYwBsF$1-
ly-([^-]) ly $1
YwBsF -
Note the space on both sides of the fourth line, and as usual with AWB, I don't expect it to run without being manually overridden sometimes. Art LaPella (talk) 00:04, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
I managed to write some JavaScript to do this for those that don't use AWB, myself included as I could never figure out how to run it. I used this blog post as an example to mimic Regex lookbehind so I could make exceptions for early, family, fly, Italy, July, etc. It will be pretty easy to add more exceptions in the future. For anybody interested it is available at User:CWenger/unhyphenate.js, modeled after GregU's dashes script. –CWenger (talk) 02:35, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
The information at WP:HYPHEN (permanent link here) says that some words (for example, early, only, and northerly) can function as both adjectives and adverbs, and that they require careful treatment.
Wavelength (talk) 02:56, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
A google books survey suggests, none the less, that the Victorian - and logical - preference for badly-written may be lingering in NZ more than elsewhere.The style guide which Noetica quotes is from a random corporation, and cites its sources - almost entirely non-Kiwi, except for guidelines on dealing with Maori, not on point here. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:21, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
How does MOS “not make provision for that”? I can find nothing in WP:ENGVAR suggesting that it doesn't apply to punctuation. In particular, WP:HYPHEN says that American English tends to close up compounds where British English would use a hyphen. (Indeed, spacetime apparently is about four times as rare as space-time in BrE [17] but only about twice as rare in AmE[18].) ― A. di M.plédréachtaí 23:38, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia's basic policy remains: If MOS gets in the way of writing the encyclopedia, ignore it. And as a corollary:

I think it would be wise for me to disregard the advice of someone who says to ignore all rules, then provides three rules that he has chosen. Chris the speller yack 01:45, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

I see that Noetica's "extensive" knowledge of style guides omits one of those in our Further Reading, which would hyphenate badly-written iff there were a single stress on "bad". Whether or not we wish to follow this, it is certainly more nuanced than a flat prohibition. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:37, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

See also User talk:Wavelength/Archive 3#Sparsely-spotted stingaree [sic].
Wavelength (talk) 00:47, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
My comment of 00:47, 6 April 2011, was a reply to the original message by Chris the speller. I agree that the use of a hyphen is not correct, even in New Zealand English.
Wavelength (talk) 06:04, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
ENGVAR absolutely should be extended to punctuation. That's the point of having it. But Noetica has provided one style guide showing that -ly adverbs should not be hyphenated in New Zealand English. Can anyone else provide one showing that they should be?
This style guide tells the reader to use numerals for all numbers over ten (99). American English business style guides do so as well. However, style guides geared toward other kinds of prose tell readers to reserve numerals for numbers that take more than two words to say (ninety-nine). So while I'd use this guide to show that it isn't incorrect to leave hyphens out in New Zealand, it shouldn't be taken to show that it is incorrect to have them in. If both hyphenated and non-hyphenated -ly adverbs are correct within New Zealand English, then yes, Chris should refrain from removing them. What we need is more sources. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:12, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
It's a guide to international English for the locals, of the sort that used to be common in the United States a century ago; that's why it cites sources published in Australia, GB, and the United States. It only cites NZ sources for Maori, where international English has no standard. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:05, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
No, you're just falling into the same easy trap set by Anderson and others to denigrate the whole idea of a style guide. It works like this: you find at least one source that uses something contrary to a WP style guide point, and say, hey presto, let's use that instead. It is nonsense. All major publishers have a house style, and one very good reason is that most aspects of style are the subject of at least some inconsistency in the sources. Importing an "anything is fine if you can find just one example in a "source" " practice is a recipe for unprofessional chaos and chronic arguments. It cannot be taken seriously, and I'm suprised we are still having this debate. Tony (talk) 13:55, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Tony, what I said was that we should look at more than one style guide and gave an example of when certain types style guides can be expected to disagree with each other. Don't worry. I haven't been brainwashed by anyone just yet. No, WP shouldn't make a habit of using just one style guide per point, but if we notice that the overwhelming majority of them agree with each other, that's a good hint. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:24, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Well spoken. Tony (talk) 13:27, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
I have found other sources (including government and university) [19] [20] [21] [22] pertinent to NZ, and in all examples the hyphens are omitted, and in all instructions they specify that hyphens should not be used. I am getting a pretty clear picture that the hyphen in these cases is preferred by one editor, not by an entire nation. There are certainly many people in the US, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and other places who are not particularly adept at hyphenation, but that does not stop us from having a section of the MoS that tries to standardize the use of hyphens so that WP looks more professional. If one editor does not care to read and follow the MoS, another editor will take care of it. I see no reason to treat New Zealand differently. Chris the speller yack 14:12, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The editor who raised the objection about removal of hyphens from articles about New Zealand has withdrawn the objection. I consider this matter resolved. Thanks to all who helped. Chris the speller yack 00:40, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

I will reply to points made here when PMAnderson or A di M (or anyone else; I don't care) has refactored so that my initial response to the request for information is left uninterrupted. The enquirer wants to read it. Please never do that again.¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 01:16, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Your request is noted; I will endeavor to avoid doing that again; you have my permission to refactor. However, I do not see how to do it without making this conversation less clear; I doubt that replying to a first subject where it is mentioned, instead of after a second subject, will confuse any literate reader. I remain skeptical of Noetica's claim to sources until I see some, despite this excuse. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:23, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
STX: Noetica, I am moving those two posts, and restoring the continuity of your post.
Wavelength (talk) 01:40, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Thank you, Wavelength! Now, I ask that anything against my reputation in this section be struck out, and we can do business. –¡ɐɔıʇǝoNoetica!T– 01:52, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Noetica, perhaps Art LaPella meant, by the expression "who gives a rip" at 00:49, 6 April 2011, that you were attributing importance to an unimportant matter, but I do not have that view.
Perhaps Septentrionalis meant, by the use of quotation marks around "extensive" at 00:37, 6 April 2011, that he or she viewed that as a pretentious claim, but I do not have that view.
Perhaps my comment at 00:47, 6 April 2011, in which I linked to an older discussion, appears to agree with the preceding (unindented) comment by Septentrionalis, but I meant my comment as a reply to the original post by Chris the speller. I am clarifying my comment of 00:47, 6 April 2011.
A slip of the keyboard can happen to any one of us, and sometimes it can be difficult to say "I am sorry." I ask (request) of Art LaPella and Septentrionalis that they clarify or retract their respective comments to which I refer.
Wavelength (talk) 06:04, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
I view it as a strong claim; one which requires strong evidence. It still has none. We do not rely on asserted professional credentials, but on sources. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:46, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Noetica has already, on numerous occasions, cited various style guides and given detailed explanations of style, doing both much more thoroughly than anyone else that I have met on Wikipedia. Some other editors on this talk page have been much wordier than Noetica, but wordiness is not the same thing as thoroughness. Noetica's expertise is obvious to me; am I really the only editor who recognizes it?
I am moving your message and restoring the continuity of my message.
Wavelength (talk) 22:57, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
[I am revising my message of 22:57, 6 April 2011. -- Wavelength (talk) 15:58, 7 April 2011 (UTC)]
Links to those occasions would be welcome, if off-topic. It would be nice if Noetica's posts at Talk:Mexican-American War, which were long, full of promises of sources, and devoid of citations, were atypical; it would be even more welcome if the sources were to show up. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:20, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Did you notice in this section the link to The Write Style Manual for Standards New Zealand in Noetica's message of 22:59, 5 April 2011 (UTC)? Incidentally, Noetica's mention of an "extensive survey" was not a claim about professional credentials.
Wavelength (talk) 15:58, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I did - and I have responded to it at some length. That webpage does not pretend to be NZ usage, except insofar as it addresses the English treatment of Maori names; it cites standard sources for Australian, UK, and US usage. In short, it is attempting to train NZ users in international English, and is not a source, reliable or otherwise, for the question at issue. Research by Google will find many such sources. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:20, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
That style manual is for Standards New Zealand. Also, any style manual for writers and editors is essentially prescriptive, not descriptive. The article A priori and a posteriori has some relevance.
Wavelength (talk) 18:14, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Why should we care what corporation it's for? While prescriptivity has its problems, I do not argue that here; I observe, however, that what it prescribes is not NZ English. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:03, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Septentrionalis, I am moving your message, and restoring the continuity of my message-and-timestamp.
In what respect(s) is what that style manual prescribes not New Zealand English?
Wavelength (talk) 19:26, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Ask a native speaker, like the one whose complaint Chris is blowing off; or find a source on the spelling native to NZ. Neither of these has been done. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:18, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
The "native speaker" withdrew the complaint. I view your remark as offensive. Chris the speller yack 23:22, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
(left): Would that be this edit? He is still not convinced of this pretty arbitrary decision; but "if MOS says so"... Is this "withdrawal"? More to the point, it is no evidence that his native usage is what MOS prescribes, and less than no evidence on what MOS should say. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:30, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
He declines to pursue the complaint. He withdrew the complaint. One person once claimed that the hyphenation in NZ is different, but other than that one claim, now withdrawn, there has been no evidence presented that NZ hyphenation is different. Can't anyone find WP articles to fix, rather than continuing to beat a dead horse? I still view your remark as offensive. I bent over backwards to try to satisfy the person who made the complaint. Chris the speller yack 23:55, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
"Who gives a rip" refers to what I believe the rest of you would call my "linguistic descriptionism". I don't believe anyone else here shares that view, so I mentioned it only to exclude it from my comment, in the same way I excluded the question of whether the issue had been discussed by saying I didn't find it. If Wavelength interpreted that as an attack on Noetica, then perhaps Noetica read it the same way. If it was an attack, it was an attack on all of you, not just Noetica. The main point of my comment was to partially defend Noetica, so I'm still not sure that "anything against my reputation" was intended for me. Art LaPella (talk) 21:49, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
After all these non-negotiatable demands, we still have no response from Noetica. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:07, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
You know my terms, PMAnderson: the normal requirements of civility here at Wikipedia. You have gratuitously and sarcastically written: "Noetica's 'extensive' knowledge of style guides omits one of those in our Further Reading ...". (You provide no reference, but I know which one you mean immediately: your favourite, from the early 20th century. You misquote it entirely misrepresent its intent; and it makes no point that affects the present discussion.) You spoke of my making "excuses", when all I require is civility and that you not interrupt my posts with your quibbles – especially when I am answering an enquiry put to us here. (Soon after, you interrupted another editor's post – the very editor who had just refactored to undo your disruption of my post.) You say that I rely on my "professional credentials"; but I do not rely on them, nor even mention them here. You continue to misrepresent – here and wherever you find the opportunity – my position on engaging you in dialogue, and in time-consuming analysis of sources that everyone knows you will ignore anyway. You always do. You know full well that I asked for dialogue to be centralised here, if it concerns MOS guidelines. And that it be conducted with respect and an open mind. Last, you have the gall to say that now "we" have no response from Noetica. Frankly, PMAnderson, you don't deserve a tenth of the indulgence you have already been granted. You may have hours to devote to unpleasant behaviour; many of us do not, and do not share your appetite for it. We (at least I) resent being drawn into this futility, when there are better things to do. NoeticaTea? 05:39, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
You have more useful things to do? Then do go do them; posts like this waste your readers' time as well as your own.
You were asked for citations to support a controversial claim; you have supplied none. Instead we have an unreadable block of personal attacks. The only possible point of substance is the accusation of misquotation, which is false: I didn't use quotation marks because I didn't quote; I summarized. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:49, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
You waste my time and other readers' time because you issue falsehoods that cry out to be corrected. Stop it. A suggestion: show us any support from a style guide for your wild and quixotic surmise – that New Zealand English might treat hyphens in premodifiers differently from the rest of the English-speaking world. Then I might think I have something to answer. I did gave a citation: from a style guide (for an office under the Crown, for standards in New Zealand) found on the website for the New Zealand Parliament. You set it at naught? Good for you! Go somewhere else and set it at naught. Your vacuity is showing.
I have answered your quibble about quoting Fowler, amending what I wrote (see above). Rather than carp though, you could, theoretically at least, address the criticism levelled at you, at that very location. Now leave me alone. NoeticaTea? 06:17, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Your amendment has changed your statement from a misrepresentation into a falsehood; Fowler's rule is to hyphenate (for these compounds) when and only when there is a single accent on the first component. I do not of course speak of the second edition, in which the entire entry was rewritten from scratch by Sir Ernest Gowers; careless readers may describe the result as "Fowler". Septentrionalis PMAnderson 15:34, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Do you really think an analyst of such minutia is "careless", or did you mean to say "mistaken"? And wouldn't "Now leave me alone" solve the problem? Art LaPella (talk) 17:05, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Let us assume good faith; it is also possible that Noetica is reading Fowler's own edition, and has xer own private understanding of it. But it is very easy to get me to leave someone alone: actually present sources (and make them reliable and relevant sources), instead of assurances that one has been over the whole ground and will offer sources Real Soon Now. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:42, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Or more precisely, I didn't find where Noetica said "Real Soon Now" above; I found "I did give a citation ...Go somewhere else and set it at naught", which is not the same thing. So can we let readers make up their own minds about it, and move on? Art LaPella (talk) 18:48, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, most of the accusations by both sides seem to have some basis in fact. I bet someone like Darkfrog or Wavelength could manage these chronic battles better than I can. Art LaPella (talk) 14:17, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Could I ask that people tone things down here? The consequence of the way these discussions are conducted is that uninvolved people hesitate to offer an opinion. Pmanderson, it's standard advice in style guides that people not add hyphens after adverbs ending in -ly; that some people in New Zealand do otherwise is no reason for us to ignore the standard advice. Discussing what first or second editions of Fowler may have said, or what to do when there is a single accent on the first component, whatever that means, is guaranteed to drive people insane.

On the other hand, Noetica, there's no need to tell people off quite so much when you disagree with them. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 21:23, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

SlimV, I will accept that you portray things a certain way in a move to restore business as usual. I do not agree with your characterisation of recent action here, which is connected to action elsewhere in a complex way. PMAnderson may have similar reservations; but we should both thank you and drop all this immediately. Recent disruptions on this talkpage have been ruinous indeed. NoeticaTea? 22:21, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Thank you, SlimVirgin. Art LaPella (talk) 00:10, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
What Slim said, though I'd also like to add 1. Noetica did present a source supporting his position, and while it has some clear international influences, no one has found any other sources saying that hyphens are a feature of New Zealand English (and I've looked). 2. Disruptions to this talk page aren't ruinous. They're par for the course. As far as the MoS and articles are concerned, this matter was settled a couple of days ago. If two people want to keep discussing it, I really don't see the harm, but let's try to keep it toned so that anyone new feels okay jumping in with an opinion. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:12, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
Darkfrog: Whatever, as they say. I want it known that I have nothing to add, despite any further comments here with which I might also disagree. NoeticaTea? 23:57, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
So you made a post saying, "I'm not making a post." It seems there might have been an easier way to do that. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:37, 14 April 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I haven't read this whole thread closely, but I will point out that the second edition of The New Zealand Dictionary (ISBN 1-86946-949-6) specifies "heavily-populated" etc. From my personal experience, I don't think that New Zealand usage is consistent at all; many distinctly Kiwi books like Frontier of Dreams discard the hyphen. sonia 10:46, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

"France–Germany border" → "French–German border" (2)

Okay, it's been a month, so I'm bringing this up again.

One part of the recent controversy over en dashes was the argument that the disjunctive compound "adjectives" that some style guides recommend punctuating with en dashes can only be attributive nouns. Indeed, all of our MOS examples are nouns. However, examples with attributive adjectives are found in professional style guides, such as "French–German border" in Hudson 1993 Modern Australian usage :

Use of the solidus in place of a dash in such phrases as the French/German border is not recommended, as it can lead to accidental ambiguity. The French–German border (using an unspaced en-dash) is unambiguous.[23]

(An example with an adjective and a noun compounded is "electron–nuclear double resonance (en dash)" in Martin (2009:127) New Oxford dictionary for scientific writers and editors.[24] This is not ENGVAR; Garner's Modern American Usage has the examples Marxist–Trotskyite split and possessive–genitive dichotomy.)

I suggest that we therefore change our example of "France–Germany border" to "French–German border", which is sourceable and clarifies the recent misunderstanding.

IMO we should add a post-positive example like Comet Hale–Bopp to stave off potential arguments that this only occurs before the head noun, a description used by some style guides to avoid the more precise term "attributive". — kwami (talk) 23:50, 18 March 2011 (UTC)

MOS:FOLLOW says to follow the common usage in English-language RS, not the advice in style guides that or might not be followed by most RS. --Enric Naval (talk) 11:29, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Coming in late to this particular debate... but isn't "French–German" the most common usage? Blueboar (talk) 12:23, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
We should certainly look at what the RS actually use, but just from my own memory, they seem to be in agreement with the style guides: French-German border. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:05, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
"I suggest that we therefore change our example of "France–Germany border" to "French–German border", which is sourceable and clarifies the recent misunderstanding."—I'm sorry? Much evidence has already been presented that these arguments are utterly irrelevant, based on the sources. Tony (talk) 13:21, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
If I understand correctly, "French–German border" is the most common usage and follows the standard style guides ... so what is the issue? I'm very confused. Why is there resistance? Blueboar (talk) 13:28, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
The first page of Google Books results includes eight instances of French-German border with a hyphen, and two of "French/German border" (at least one of the two appears to be privately published, but uses it as the title). Where are all the instances of this dashéd invention?
Whoever you are, there's one with dash on the first page and at least two on the second page (you have to actually look, since the OCR just calls them hyphens). But we have a style guide, so let's don't make this a vote of the styles of others. Dicklyon (talk) 04:19, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
I ran a few searches too and came up with one or two instances of en-dashed "Swiss–Italian border", but here too hyphenated "Swiss-Italian" seemed decidedly more common. Fut.Perf. 16:42, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

A handful of style guides recommend this; are they consensus? are they representative of a significant body of opinion, even in Australia? (We have two style guides for Australian English in WP:MOS#Further reading; this is neither of them. Google can easily find such non-consensus sources for any point of view.)

More important, does anybody follow them in practice? If nobody does, why should we? Are any of the style guides from outside the Commonwealth, or is this a proposal to repeal ENGVAR? Does this make any distinction of meaning? And, if so, will any of our readers understand it? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:53, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Hold on PMA... Let's settle one issue at a time... Kwami is asking to change "France–Germany" to "French–German"... let's settle that before we confuse the issue by discussing still further variations. Could someone explain to me what is objectionable about "French–German"? Blueboar (talk) 14:02, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
This is one issue at a time. Hardly anybody actually uses French–German border (France–Germany is a different construction.) In all such cases, there will be a handful of exceptions; there will be a handful of exceptional style guides. But we should not mandate a construction that Tony and Kwami have effectively made up. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:08, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
but does anyone use the construction "France–Germany"? ... you seem to be making an arguing that we should use neither. Blueboar (talk) 14:18, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Very few; it's a nonce-phrase: one of those things English speakers are entitled to make up but rarely do. Again, looking at Google Books, France-Germany is most common; France/Germany seems to be second; France–Germany is attested. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:46, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
One question (for writers, not necessarily for the MOS) is: since English already has three or four ways of compounding (blackbird, black bird, black-bird plus the slash, sometimes), does the dash offer a distinction, a new meaning, as with Michelson–Morley? If it does, we may want to encourage it; but we should also encourage the hyphen: for the contrasting meaning. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:52, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Hey, listen, we may have differences and feel passionately about the role of this or that style guide or policy, and the role of various typographical symbols. But one thing we must agree on is to show some kindness towards each other, or at the very least, a non-personal approach. Let us by all means strongly debate the issues, but it would help if we studiously avoided even mentioning unsernames. I have been guilty of this, too. The tone and standard of discussion will rise, I can assure you. Tony (talk) 15:38, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
I would have written "The Franco-German border". Martinvl (talk) 15:51, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
I like what Martinv said: it seems the most natural of all, and surely has a long history in English. Such special country-name adjectives (what's the technical term for them?) are not available for many countries, but where they are, they often work best. "French–German border" seems a little more natural than the slightly stilted "France–Germany border"; but "Canada–US border" seems more formal than "Canadian–American border" for an article title. I'm not too fussed either way. I can't decide, but it would be nice to have a site-wide practice, even it it's explicitly allowed to vary. More advice? Where is Noetica? Tony (talk) 16:09, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Compositional forms. Using them is the most natural method; the problem is that they don't always exist, or are not obvious to the writer or reader (what is the equivalent of Franco- for the Ivory Coast - especially since we're calling it Côte d'Ivoire this week - or Madagascar?).Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:46, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm certainly in favour of removing the example "France–Germany border", which, while good typography, is poor style and poor syntax. The linguistically natural construction is indeed "French~German border" or – less frequent – "Franco-German border". However, coming back from the syntax issue to the typography issue, with "French~German", I agree with Pmanderson that the en-dash spelling is decidedly a minority usage. While I wouldn't object to the MOS text mentioning it as a possible option, I'm strictly opposed to any language that would appear to mandate its use. Fut.Perf. 16:27, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
I would consider wording which mentioned it as a possible option. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:56, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
BTW, can-of-worms alert: this touches upon the dreaded subject of "X-Y relations" article titles, where this three-way dispute (adjectives vs. nouns, cross-cutting with hyphens vs. dashes) has repeatedly come up, and it's a huge group of articles. Fut.Perf. 16:30, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
1. Let's acknowledge that whether we say "France-Germany border," "Franco-German border" or "French-German border," all but the dumbest readers are going to know what we're talking about. Of course we should use the most correct form here in the MoS, but if there's a difference in effect, it's a slight one. 2. I personally consider it unlikely that any one Wikipedia editor made up "France-Germany border." While I remember "French-German border" being more common, I would be very surprised if no reliable sources use "France-Germany border." Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:31, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
There are three to four dozen hits on various forms of "France Germany border"; most of them use hyphens. That's about what I'd expect for so useful a nonce phrase. What is invented (although possibly useful) is the rule to use a dash. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:47, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Let's keep the levels of grammar (word choice) and typography distinct in this discussion. The MOS here is supposed to rule only the latter anyway, not the former. But about the grammar and frequency of use, some useful data is here. Fut.Perf. 18:42, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Does that data include all punctuation, or is it dashes only? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:47, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
That investigation was independent of the dash/hyphen choice, and includes anything that Google found for the sequence "X Y relations". Fut.Perf. 18:56, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
One relevance of word choice (which is quite often mentioned in MOS) is that telling people how to point something they're not going to say anyway doesn't really help much. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:50, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Folks, the point here is not whether to use a hyphen or an en dash in 'French~German border', but given that we're illustrating how to use the en dash, should we give 'French–German border' rather than 'France–Germany border' as our example? Hyphenation is not appropriate for the simple reason that the example does not illustrate how to use a hyphen, it illustrates how to use a dash. — kwami (talk) 22:16, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

What if we used an even better example, like...oh I don't know...Mexican–American War! (just kidding) –CWenger (talk) 22:33, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Oh, let's try something not yet suggested: an example in which it is normal for English-speakers to use a dash. I realize that it is a new and radical idea that the product of the MOS should be an article written in English, but I think this once we can try it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:49, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Well, Kwami, we should use neither of the two: the one is grammatically unidiomatic English, and the other is just a prime example of the kind of structure where the use of the en-dash is not consensus, as you are well aware. If you want to mention the fact that "French–German border" may be spelled with a dash according to some few recommendations, fine, but include it in a list of typical usages to be prescribed by the MOS? No. Fut.Perf. 22:59, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── A few points in response to what has been said above (comments after my post, please):

  • I am surprised that people continue to say things like this: "Indeed, all of our MOS examples are nouns" (Kwami, in this section). Why is that simply assumed? Look at the examples at just one location: male–female ratio (adjectives, construed most naturally); 4–3 win (numerals that may be construed in various theory-dependent ways); Lincoln–Douglas debate (nouns: personal names), France–Germany border (nouns: non-personal names). Look at evidence elsewhere in the en dash guideline, and in the preceding guideline for hyphens, and in the following guideline for slashes. The intention ought to be plain: these guidelines deliver a coherent recommendation for well-differentiated use of hyphen, en dash, and slash. I agree with Kwami that we could add another example to make this even clearer; but we get opposition to that as well! The very editors who try to finesse a way to exclude cases like "Mexican~American War" from the recommendations for en dash are those who want WP:MOS to be shorter. As I have pointed out before, you can't have everything.
  • One of those same editors is currently attempting to have others blocked for edit warring (!) when they edit simply for consistency within an article (see MOS:CONSISTENCY, on our present page) – in a way that accords with the guidelines mentioned just now. Another has wilfully and pointedly initiated a successful RM that defies WP:MOS. Both have steadily refused my offer, made jointly with an editor who does not share my opinion, to deal rationally with the whole thing in a multiple RM for all "Mexican~American War" articles. One of these editors has sought to damage my reputation, and to misrepresent me, on this very page, and I am still waiting for that to be withdrawn before I will join in discussion with her.
  • Until we have agreement that recommendations of style guides matter at all here (as opposed to "reliable sources", which for punctuation are typically anything but reliable or consistent), it is pointless spending time referring to them. I will not, therefore, provide citations from my own collection of style guides.
  • Until we have agreement that WP:MOS determines punctuation for articles, including their titles, it is pointless discussing any of this here. I will not.
  • Toward an even-handed and durable settlement of these issues, I have asked Kwami (with whom I agree on all of this) to revert all, not just some, of his recent edits to the en dash guideline. They were made using admin powers while the page was protected, as it still is. This editing was against the policies WP:FULL and WP:INVOLVED. I will not join this discussion with the evidence and arguments I have available until that is fixed also.

NoeticaTea? 00:29, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

I agree with you that the WP:MoS determines punctuation for articles, including their titles. However, my questions are (1) does the MoS really support French–German border? and (2) if it does, should it? The MoS should be based off of reliable sources, and if everybody uses French-German border, and there is no argument for greater precision/clarity with the en dash, I don't think we should be advocating it. –CWenger (talk) 01:22, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
In Google scholar snippets, you can actually see the difference between en dash and hyphen. On the first page of search hits for "french german border", at least as many use en dash as hyphen. Some resort to slash and other things, in recognition of the fact that the hyphen has the wrong meaning and that they probably never learned about en dash. Dicklyon (talk) 01:40, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
The second and third pages restore a preponderance of hyphens; since Google's OCR is working no better than usual, I lay no particular stress on that. However, I do note and deplore the claim that "whatever evidence does not confirm the speaker's argument must be produced by the ignorant/illiterate." Please don't do that again. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:11, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps I overstated the point, but I do really think that the slash is very substandard (or at least nonstandard), and is used because the hyphen is seen to be incorrect; why wouldn't they have used an en dash, if they knew about its role and how to make one? Dicklyon (talk) 03:38, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
The slash is unusual, and is sometimes a borrowing from foreign languages (something which is of course unknown to the normal course of English writing</irony>); but there are instances where it is not only idiomatic but customary usage in actual written English: Wikipedia has articles on Marat/Sade and on Biel/Bienne. I would oppose our mandating compounding with a slash; I would be reluctant to recommend it; but the advocates of dashery have yet to find an example even as strong as these.
why wouldn't they have used an en dash, if they knew about its role and how to make one? Becuase for most writers of English, the rôle of an en dash is as punctuation, not to form compounds in four contradictory senses. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:21, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm having trouble understanding the distiction you make between "as punctuation" and "to form compounds"; and what "four contradictory senses" you refer to; or what basis you have for claiming the know about "most writers". It seems clear to me that most writers have no idea at all about en dashes, and that's part of what makes it hard to maintain a good MOS that respects their punctuation and typography roles. Dicklyon (talk) 17:33, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
It seems clear, rather, that most writers and typographers, whether or not they know about the ideas for compounding words with an en dash thrown up around Oxford a century ago, have no great need for them. Neither do we. There are a whole sheaf of failed experiments in reforming English; we are not here to impose any of them on readers who will not understand them - no matter how much sense they make to a few people - we exist to communicate. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:23, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
I suppose I should have said "sentence punctuation": the use of a dash to set off a parenthesis within a sentence (WP:ENDASH 6), to form a decorative separation (includes WP:ENDASH 4, but the general category is much broader), or abridge the phrase (WP:ENDASH 1). Although the boundary somewhat fuzzy, these are marks which divide the sentence, logically distinct from its use to form compound words, whether France–Germany, Michelson–Morley, Lloyd-George–Winston-Churchill government, or the recently proposed French–German. None of the last are customary usage: none of them appear to be even majority usage; only the second and third are justifiable as differentiation; the existing MOS correctly recommends avoiding the third and recasting the sentence. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:11, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

  • Of course male-female ratio is a composition of nouns; admittedly they are understood nouns: the ratio between the male population and the female population. If they were adjectives, the phrase would mean a ratio which was at once a male ratio and a female ratio; let who will uphold that thesis. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:32, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
    • Exactly, just as Mexican and American refer to Mexico and America, or the Mexican country and the American country, and are just treated formally as adjectives because they modify War. Dicklyon (talk) 03:38, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
      • Syntactically, there does seem to be a difference: as far as I can see, male–female ratio is syntactically a compound, even though its complex modifier is internally composed of adjectives. It is recognisable as such by its stress pattern (obligatory stress on the modifier, if I'm not mistaken). As such, it is grammatically more similar to Lincoln–Douglas debate or US–Canada border than to Swiss-Italian border or Polish-Russian relations, which are syntactically genuine, canonical adjective–noun syntagms. Fut.Perf. 14:20, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, there is clearly a difference. Male–female ratio is the ratio of males to females. But note Polish–Russian relations [25] (also Polish–Russian Treaty)[26] and Swiss–Italian border.[27][28] Again, absolutely no reason to posit a distinction per part of speech. Disjunctive dash constructions are minority usage, but the distinction between noun and adjective is OR, and apparently false as well. — kwami (talk) 20:43, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Future Perfect seems to be talking about the syntax in (spoken) English, not about the spelling.
These examples, however, are again minority usage; each of them has a button leading back to the Google Books hits from which they were selected; the majority, in each case, use hyphens. These are respectively, the third, seventh, fourth, and sixth books in their search lists; two of these are the same volume (which proves one book was published with more dashes than other people would use - unsurprising). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:58, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Of course they are minority usage. We all know that. The point, as you well know, is that your noun–adjective distinction is apparently spurious. — kwami (talk) 21:06, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
It's not mine; it is the distinction that the present text of MOS appears to make. Several people also find using a dash in France–Germany border natural; it looks moderately intuitive to me, perhaps because the dash marks an unstable union in the nonce-compound.
It may be, that as a linguistic usage, one has no more support than the other; what MOS should say is another question. Why should MOS require every article to follow a minority usage, which offers no differentiation of meaning, is not supported by most style guides, and which is not consensus among Wikipedians? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:19, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
We need to distinguish matters of fact from matters of opinion. Whether the MOS should advocate disjunctive dashes is a matter of opinion, to be settled as all other matters of stylistic opinion: we might want them only for numeric ranges, or to dab double-barrelled names, or both, or for disjunction in general, or we could let it be a free for all. However, the idea that dashes depend upon part of speech is a claim of fact. Granted, the facts of punctuation are largely arbitrary conventions, but no-one has demonstrated that there is such a distinction in English punctuation, and until that happens, we are dealing with OR. — kwami (talk) 21:45, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
And several people, including myself, have held that MOS makes that claim of fact. I doubt this massive edit of your own, made on a protected page, resolves the question; it is certainly not a consensus change. If the earlier text is OR, this still is; it asserts an unsupported difference between modifiers and substantives.
I would not urge that MOS make any such distinction. Rather, WP:HYPHEN should say that hyphens are used to compound words, with a much shorter list of examples (including a compound noun, like Austria-Hungary). I am willing to say what others have suggested here, that some writers compound with a dash in [specified situations]; I am opposed to making it mandatory. (The argument for Michelson–Morley probably should stay, but that is a quite special case.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:41, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
  • As for me, I have always held that the recommendations of style guides matter; I am, however, unscrupulous enough to believe that all reliable style guides matter, not just those that agree with me on the point at issue; indeed, I supported a proposal to make style guides decisive. Those who now wish to declare that "style guides matter" may also want to remind themselves what they said last week. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:46, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
    • I think the style guide that matters most is the wikipedia style guide. I don't understand all this energy you put into subverting it. Dicklyon (talk) 03:46, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
The Wikipedia style guide should follow other style guides. Because they don't always agree with each other and because they are periodically reprinted, we talk about them. Ideally, this results in a more correct Wikipedia style guide. Otherwise, the WP: MoS would just be full of whatever people think looks good. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:52, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
MoS would just be full of whatever people think looks good. As indeed it is; the more MOS is full of what X likes, and the fewer substantive arguments there are for whatever it is, the more likely X is to defend MOS using personal attacks, having no means of persuasion. This is the same reason we use reliable sources for article content; similarly, style guides (and observable usage) should be used for article style.
Why use both? Because many style guides, like many printed sources, are advocacy - often advocacy which has not succeeded. The requirement of due weight is a check on this elsewhere; it might also be usefully adopted here.
I support the existence of a style guide; but I should prefer one that reflected other style guides and English usage, while being supported by a wide consensus of Wikipedians. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:07, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
  • I do not agree that this page determines anything about article titles; unless a provision describes the English language, is supported by a consensus of style guides, and is the opinion of a consensus of Wikipedians, it is probably harmful to the encyclopedia, and shouldn't determine anything; on the other hand, I see no need to continue that issue now - I did not raise it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:46, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Few conversations are improved by people with non-negotiable preconditions. The more of those who abstain, the better. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:46, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Dash/hyphen optionality

A tactical issue: would it be useful if the whole wording of the WP:ENDASH section were visually more clearly divided up between those parts where use of the en-dash is indeed a widely followed standard – i.e. near-universally followed in careful publishing – and its use is therefore strongly recommended (basically this means number ranges), and those parts where it is an optional thing recommended only by some style guides but not universally practiced? To me, it seems as if much of the problem has been caused by the situation that some people have taken the reference to certain en-dash uses as a reason to push their use towards uniformity as if they were mandatory in all those cases. It seems counterproductive to me, when we already have optionality – and for very good reasons – about the much more salient and visually much more prominent issue of en-dash versus em-dash in parentheticals, that we should be so anal about uniformity with these much less prominent case groups of en-dash versus hyphen. Fut.Perf. 16:54, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Its use as punctuation for parentheticals, as in Future Perfect's comment, is also almost universally accepted. The extent to which other groups are accepted varies. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:00, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
On the contrary, the use of spaced en dash as an alternative to em dash is not all that common. But it's not rare, either. Neither are the other uses rare. And though styles vary, we have adopted one. So while I agree it should be optional for editors to use hyphen if they prefer, it should not be an option for them to change an en dash back to a hyphen when an editor who knows the difference has gone to the trouble to make the punctuation conform to the MOS. Dicklyon (talk) 01:43, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
I would say that it's more based on the choice of font. A spaced en dash (especially with a slight upward slant!) looks beautiful in a good humanist font. But it is much less so among the crisp forms of a sans serif. Here on Wikipedia where we use a sans serif by default, em dashes seem more natural to me. Ozob (talk) 02:02, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
The problem with them—at least in this skin—is that the ones we provide are more like 2-em dashes; that seems excessive. But all this is a matter of taste - both are correct, and (like serial commas) I see no reason to impose my taste on the encyclopedia. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:24, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
It actually depends on the font your browser uses, AFAICR the skin just specifies it must be a sans-serif one. In my browser the em dash is just a tad longer than ‘right’ and the en dash is a bit too short (I can barely tell it apart from the hyphen). ― A. di M.plédréachtaí 00:26, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Are abbreviations acceptable in section headers?

Are abbreviations following full names appropriate or necessary in section headers, such as this? Sp33dyphil ReadytoRumble 09:25, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

They certainly are not necessary, but I don't think that they are inappropriate. Blueboar (talk) 13:20, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
In this particular case they are not even needed; per WP:MOSHEAD "Headings should not explicitly refer to the subject of the article." Otherwise, it depends on the context. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 14:03, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
I would definitely not spell out "deoxyribonucleic acid" or "lysergic acid diethylamide" or “trinitrotoluene” in full (except on the lead sentence of the articles about those chemicals themselves, and a very few other places). YMMV with less familiar abbreviations. Being in a header rather than in a paragraph makes little difference; if anything, you don't normally want a header to be longer than a line, so I'd be more likely to use an abbreviation there. ― A. di M.plédréachtaí 00:34, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

Capitalization and use of full stops in personal names

There is currently a move request at Talk:KABA.chan where WP:ALLCAPS and WP:MOSTM are being cited as reasons as to why the title of the page must be changed to "Kabachan".

As far as I am aware, WP:TM would not apply to this individual's name as it is not a trademark, it is merely the name he uses in his work as an entertainer, and WP:MOSCAPS has the heading at Mixed or non-capitalization that states that individuals can have their given names fully non-capitalized (as is the case at k.d. lang). Can this also cover names that are written entirely in capital letters or partially in capital letters?

And for whatever reason, the move is to a title that lacks the period/full stop. As far as I am aware, this is not forbidden, considering there are Anglophone entertainers (, that utilize this in their names and we have not moved their pages to other titles for it. However, it seems that in the move discussion I linked to earlier, this is considered a logical non sequitur or an OTHERSTUFF argument.

Is the name "KABA.chan" not a suitable article title on the English Wikipedia? Because as far as I can tell from the various manuals of style it is not expressly forbidden.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 18:21, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Our article titles are not "names"; they should be what other people, independent of the subject and of his publicity department, call the subject, so that our readers will know what article they are reading. Please consult independent reliable sources in English. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:26, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
However, these criteria do not apply to subjects that do not normally appear in reliable English language sources. This is not an issue of his common name. It is the issue of how to properly format the individual's name in English typography for the purposes of titling the article on him on the English Wikipedia.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 18:33, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
A quick google search shows that English language sources are mixed in how they present the subject's name... For example, Imbd presents it as "Kaba.Chan", while Anime News Network presents it as "Kaba-chan". That said, very few use the all caps "KABA" Blueboar (talk) 18:42, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
(ec) Which is done, in English, by seeing if there is a consensus among the sources - and if not, using standard typography. If he didn't appear in reliable English sources at all, there would be a question of notability; but he does appear in sources which are at least marginally reliable, like the IMDB hit on the first page. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:45, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Neither IMDb nor Anime News Network are really considered reliable sources. IMDb will ignore any English language spelling the subject uses (examples: Showtaro Morikubo is Shotaro Morikubo, Shoko Nakagawa is Shôko Nakagawa).
Anyway, I have no problems with not having "KABA" in the article title. However, I do not think that there is anything in the manual of style that forbids the article from being located at "Kaba.chan", which, barring any of the English language websites Google is pulling up, is still the closest approximation of his stage name (KABA.ちゃん) in the English language.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 18:56, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Also, Pmanderson, the determination of the notability of a subject is not limited to his or her coverage in English language sources. If someone is notable within any language sphere, he or she can have a biography on the English Wikipedia.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 19:00, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Agreed; I said raise, not determine. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:02, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
However, you are still excluding the coverage he has received in his native language to determine notability, but this is neither here nor there. Is "KABA.chan" an unsuitable article title merely because of the use of capital letters? And if so, would "Kaba.chan" be a suitable alternative over "Kabachan" for approximating the subject's Japanese language name that uses English typography?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 19:04, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I am. I'm not sure how to break it to you, but we're not written in Japanese; the Japanese Wikipedia is. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:56, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Language is not an issue when it comes to notability so I do not know why you are bringing it up any further. So can we stop going off on this tangent and discuss whether or not the stylization and capitalization of the name of this particular individual (and others who may or may not have similar names) is allowed under the manual of style?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 20:12, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
But language is a key factor is titling our articles. We do it in English, based on English sources. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:22, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
Simply English sources (easy to come by) and not reliable English sources (rare if not non-existant)?—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 20:30, 16 April 2011 (UTC)
The key to article titles is the principal of recognizably. WP:Article titles tells us: Titles are often proper nouns, such as the name of the person, place or thing that is the subject of the article. Wikipedia does not necessarily use the subject's "official" name as an article title; it instead uses the name which is most frequently used to refer to the subject in English-language reliable sources. This assumes, of course, that we are able to determine the name that is most frequently used. Sometimes we can't.
I think this is one of those "we can't" situations. The best sources in this case will be English language media and industry sources. Unfortunately, these seem to be mixed in their usage (freely using KABA.chan, Kaba.Chan, Kaba.chan, Kaba-chan, and several other variations.) This means that we are not really able to determine a "most common" name. When that happens we look to the other principals, with the ultimate fall back being to rely on "consensus". Blueboar (talk) 00:30, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
That reminds me of something... In any event, 1) if there are no reliable secondary sources in English using Kabachan, neither should we, and 2) if a sizeable fraction of the reliable secondary sources in English (and if they are really so few of them, even one of them might count as a sizeable fraction) use KABA.chan, then I'd consider it one of the acceptable titles, and leave it alone per WP:TITLECHANGES (second sentence of second paragraph). ― A. di M.plédréachtaí 09:26, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
Ordinarily, I'd choose standard English over any individual's whims, but A. di M. has a point. This could be more of a language issue than some-celebrity-thinks-he/she-is-being-cute issue. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:58, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
I would bring up WP:MOS-JA, but it does not really cover stylizations of names, but rather what spelling should be used (it is not ambiguous as to how "KABA.ちゃん" is to be romanicized, unlike some other names). However, I am certain that "Kabachan" is used nowhere to refer to this individual.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 18:18, 17 April 2011 (UTC)
I suggest moving the article to Eiji Kabashima and creating redirects. Ozob (talk) 11:25, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
"Eiji Kabashima" is not the most common name the subject is known as. "KABA.ちゃん" is, which is "KABA.chan" in English.—Ryūlóng (竜龙) 18:46, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

WIkiproject Babel

Can we get Wikiproject Babel organised as a default translation medium for non-English speaker?

Grevenko Sereth (talk) 22:38, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

See Simple English Wikipedia. -- Wavelength (talk) 23:21, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

Hyphenation of Nazi Paramilitary Titles

[Refactored, to show clearly that OberRanks has moved the following discussion – between the horizontal lines that I have inserted – from WT:TITLE. MOS editors: please assist! NoeticaTea? 04:03, 19 April 2011 (UTC)]

Copied over per concerns. Should point out wasn't even sure where to start with this. If MOS is the proper place, then that is where we will go. -OberRanks (talk) 03:54, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

Hello all. Over the years there has been much discussion on the hyphenation of Nazi party titles, leading to several articles being moved, moved back, modified, reverted, and even a few edit wars. To further clarify, in the Nazi system it was common to use hyphens either after or before ranks and organization titles. Some examples include:

This is mainly an issue in the SS but crops up with other titles in other organizations every so often. We need a firm decision, in a referenced policy, to avoid future page moves and lengthy debates. The latest of which can be found here. Thank you! -OberRanks (talk) 18:50, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

You might want to read the essay on WP:Official names (which can apply to "official ranks and titles" as well). What matters is what the majority of English language sources use. If these ranks and titles are hyphenated in most English language sources, then we should hyphenate in our article titles... if not, then we should not. Blueboar (talk) 22:14, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
OberRanks, this policy page (in its current and stable versions over recent times) does not mention or deal with hyphenation, or with any other matters of punctuation. The only exceptions concern technical difficulties with certain unusual characters, and the hyphen is certainly not among them. There has been dispute about the point that I make; but what I say is factual, until there is further discussion and resolution to modify policy.
What is not in dispute is this: WP:MOS (the main page of Wikipedia's Manual of Style) has extensive punctuation guidelines for the Project. I refer you in particular to this guidelines there: WP:HYPHEN. You may like to look also at the related guidelines WP:ENDASH and WP:SLASH.
Those guidelines are not in conflict with policy at the present page. If you are unsure of how to proceed, it would be appropriate to pose a question at the talkpage for WP:MOS, which is WT:MOS. Unfortunately, there is dispute there also. Many of us are looking forward to all that being resolved in an orderly way.
I hope that helps.
NoeticaTea? 22:43, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

I believe hyphens should be in all of these titles per all of the policies mentioned. The difficulty occurs when new or inexperienced users begin removing hyphens or moving pages without consensus. It would be a good thing to be able to point to a well established discussion or mainstream policy and uphold the presence of hyphens in Nazi paramilitary titles. Would certainly avoid a lot of needless discussion and also unnecessary page moves and/or revert/edit wars. -OberRanks (talk) 23:43, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

I also agree the titles should be with hyphens. Three historian/authors I have books of use a hyphen in the titles above: For example, in Robin Lumsden's book: "A Collector's Guide to: The Allgemeine-SS". Chris McNab's book on "The SS", and "Uniforms of the SS, Volume 2, Germanische-SS, 1940-1945" by Hugh Page Taylor, the most distinguished historian of the three I list herein. Kierzek (talk) 00:07, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, the notion that this page should be making rulings on punctuation and typography that are inconsistent with the style guides is just not tenable: meta-pages need to work with each other, not against each other. The style guides apply to thousands of times the amount of text on WP. We need one voice, with the exception of particular technical issues pertaining only to the article titling system. Please raise this at the MoS. Tony (talk) 02:35, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

Um... first... if there is a conflict between WP:Article titles and WP:MOS (and I don't think there is), it would be the MOS that would probably have to change. WP:AT is a policy after all, and the MOS is "just a guideline". Generally, when policies and guidelines conflict, it is the guideline that is edited to match the policy.
Second... WP:AT does not "make rulings on punctuation and typography". It defines how we determine our Article Titles (by following principles such as WP:COMMONNAME). Now, it may be that following those principles will, in specific instances, indicate that the best title is one that is not in accord with what is stated at the MOS, but those will probably be very rare.
Third... I don't think this is an MOS issue. If a significant majority of English Language discuss these ranks/titles using a hyphen, then our article title should do so. If a significant number of English Language discuss these ranks/titles without a hyphen, then our article title should do so. Blueboar (talk) 04:24, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
I agree precisely with what Blueboar says. This has nothing to do with MOS; these are loan words from the German, to be looked up in an English dictionary (and in reliable sources) to see how English spells them. To pick one reliable source, William L. Shirer spells Waffen S.S. with periods and both with or without a hyphen, but capitalizes; the articles should have many other sources to hand. Capitalization should be commonplace, since these are ranks and organizations, and so usually proper nouns. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 10:30, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
To add a footnote to my examples above: This started with "Germanic-SS" but does have an impact on several others. In that vain, I add to be noted another book; this by authoritative historian, Mark C. Yerger. "Allgemeine-SS: The Commands, Units and Leaders of the General SS". As one will note he uses a hyphen. Kierzek (talk) 16:34, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

Does WP:HYPHEN have anything useful to say?

The advice to look at WP:HYPHEN above seems odd. I invite people to actually look through it, and see whether it says anything applicable - either way - to this question. If so, what is it? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 10:57, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

What is the correct policy page which can make a decision about the hyphens? As if to demonstrate why this is a continuing issue, a relatively new user has begun a Page move vote on one of the German articles. -OberRanks (talk) 13:10, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Depends. MOS covers the style of the text of the articles, somewhat vaguely; WP:TITLE covers article titles and page moves. Their concerns are not identical, and TITLE is more likely to give a decisive answer. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:15, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
It was originally on WP:TITLE and was moved here per comments on that page that the discussion venue was incorrect. -OberRanks (talk) 15:09, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

This is fairly simple, as far as I'm concerned. If the title has been left in its original German form (e.g. Reichsführer-SS) then the hyphen should be retained, as that was the form actually used (and is also the form commonly used in modern English-language texts). If it's been translated into English (e.g. Germanic SS) then the hyphen should be removed, as this form is not generally used in English. -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:17, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

There is the complication that in some of these (Germanische SS, Allgemeine SS) the hyphen does not appear to be used in German. In Waffen-SS, the hyphen is used for incomplete abbreviation of the compound Waffenschutzstaffel. But allgemeine and germanische do not form a compound; they're adjectives. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:20, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
I think OberRanks made a mistake in moving this discussion from WT:TITLE. MOS really isn't the right venue to discuss this... at least not at this stage. Since we are talking about titles, the right venue was indeed WP:TITLE. I have no idea whether the hyphenated or non-hyphenated form is more common in English language sources ... but, per WP:TITLE that is the first criteria we need to look at to determine which we should use. Before we do anything else, we must look at the entirety of English language sources that discuss the topic, and see if one form or the other is used by a significant majority of English language texts. If so, that's what we should use for our article title.
Now... if neither form is significantly more common, then we look at other things to help us reach a consensus and "break the tie". We can look at what English language style guides say (that's where the MOS might help)... or, we can look at how the original German texts wrote it... there are a lot of things we can consider. But... first we must determine whether one form or the other is significantly more common.Blueboar (talk) 15:58, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
In my defense, there was a direct statement given to me that TITLE was not the place for the discussion and to move the text to MOS. When I did, I was advised it should be moved back to TITLE as this was not the right place either. I did not want to jump around policy pages so choose this as a final home for it. I think we should focus back on the original question: should Nazi paramilitary ranks contain hyphens? -OberRanks (talk) 18:02, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

The advice of User:Necrothesp makes sense. Respect that fact that in German, hyphens and compounding are quite different from what we do in English; if the title is German, use the German rules; if translated or transliterated to and English form, use the English rules. This applies in text as well as in title. Nothing about titles is different from what the WP:MOS specifies. Beware of advice from users who are on a current controversial campaign to ignore and tear down the MOS (PMAnderson and Blueboar). Dicklyon (talk) 18:28, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

I have to object to Dicklyon's personal attack... I can assure you that I am not on any sort of "campaign to ignore and tear down the MOS". And while I could easily issue a similar warning against taking advice from those who are on a "campaign to ignore or tear down WP:TITLE", I won't... because I don't think that is anyone's actual intent.
The simple fact is, the question of whether our articles about the Nazi paramilitary ranks should contain hyphens in their titles or not isn't covered anywhere in the MOS... but it is covered under WP:TITLE. Or, at least, WP:TITLE tells us how to determine the answer: Look at the reliable English language sources that mention such ranks, and see if a significant majority of them use hyphens or don't use hyphens. If there is a significant majority (either way), follow the sources. If not, then continue to discuss the pros and cons of each form, and reach a consensus. It really is that simple. Blueboar (talk) 18:45, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
Blueboar: Please keep things balanced, and do not write contentiously or provocatively. Also, do not remove any edit of mine, especially one that shows me asking for order and balance, like this one:

[Blueboar, to be clear: "this page" would now refer to MOS itself. Would you like to amend your text? Just a technical aside. I have no time to join in concerning the substance, except to observe that the third point is a matter of complex contention. Other than that, I applaud the even-handed way you are presenting things. I do hope editors here can assist with this enquiry, without upsetting that balance. ☺ NoeticaTea? 05:15, 19 April 2011 (UTC)]

Noetica, my apologies if my removing the above note earlier upset you... I did not think you would mind my removing it because I had followed your advice and amended my initial comment per your suggestion. I will not remove any of your comments again. Blueboar (talk) 03:18, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Dicklyon: Please do not be provoked, even when faced by disorderly process.
A statement: I have zero time for WP right now, and must leave all this for today. Just to remind editors: I did not call for the enquiry above to be moved as it was to here. And I did not call for contention over well-worn issues. I merely stated some facts about the content of present policies and guidelines, and I called for MOS editors to give assistance to an editor who called for it. NoeticaTea? 23:08, 19 April 2011 (UTC)
It was perhaps a stretch to link Blueboar to PMAnderson's campaign; PMAnderson is one who has said the MOS is contemptible and that we should just follow sources instead of having style guidelines of our own; I took Blueboar's strong support of PMAnderson's campaign to suggest that he is part of it. Just an observation, nothing personal intended. Dicklyon (talk) 00:01, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
As this section proves: WP:HYPHEN is a dozen paragraphs with little useful to say about whether to use hyphens or not in this case - or any other. Dicklyon may be horrified by the base suggestion that Wikipedia be written in the common tongue; but do his inventions serve any actual purpose?Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:02, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, finally, some things we agree on. Not that I would be horrified, but that WP:HYPHEN has little specific to say about this case (and WP:TITLE, too), and that most of my inventions are not very useful. Dicklyon (talk) 03:03, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Then can we try for something shorter and more useful? Ideally it would be closer to consensus among Wikipedians and to the practice of the English language - each should produce the other. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:09, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
You want to shorten WP:HYPHEN to make it more useful? I was thinking it might be useful to add something about the fact that German compounds would often use hyphens where the corresponding English forms would not, and to respect the style of other languages when using foreign terms. Dicklyon (talk) 03:56, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
We have a word for a book which specifies every situation where English style is in question, and provides a rule everywhere: it's called an unabridged dictionary. These already exist - and they are much longer even than this enormous page. No; we have already followed that road too far. Cut the section down to Hyphens are one way to form compound modifiers; to see whether a compound is normally hyphenated, consult the sources for the article or a good dictionary. [If multiple choices have significant usage, employ whichever is clearest in the given sentence added 04:56, 20 April 2011 (UTC)] will say almost everything useful the section does, and editors will actually read it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:20, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
That way lies chaos. When you have a compound used as an adjective, you google it, and use whatever style you find first or most prevalent? As if there's no grammar? I don't think it's a good idea. Would you tell Tony not to put the hyphen in "turf-war mentality", just because only 30% of the first 10 book hits do? Or would it still be OK to use better grammar than the average masses do? Dicklyon (talk) 04:29, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
No, that way lies order. If you don't know how to hyphenate, consult a dictionary; if the compound is too rare to be in a dictionary, consult the sources. (And if this comes up with multiple solutions in common use, use either; either will be intelligible.) That is exactly what we do with spelling; we specify that either English or American is acceptable - we don't attempt to specify what the English or American spellings are; dictionaries do that.
As for "turf-war mentality": either way is acceptable English, and that's why 30% - say - use it and 70% do not. Whether in any given sentence the bond requires the extra indication of the hyphen is a matter of editorial judgment, balancing between avoiding fussiness and clear indication of sentence structure; we cannot tell in advance, and a rational Manual would not try.
A Prussian regimentation is helpful to no-one; it will be wrong almost as often as it is right. A Prussian regimentation using the language necessary to describe something so idiosyncratic as English hyphenation is preposterous.
For example: The present text says Many compounds that are hyphenated when used attributively (before the noun they qualify: a light-blue handbag), are not hyphenated when used predicatively (separated from the noun: the handbag was light blue). That's accurate; but it is not drill-work: Some are not hyphenated used before the noun; others are hyphenated even when after the verb. We are not - we cannot be - a substitute for fluency in English backed by sound works of reference. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:56, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm all for sound works of reference. That doesn't preclude us from offering guidance on the standards that we aspire to. That's a lot more useful that just saying do whatever you see others do. In particular, if we say what standards we aspire to, then it can help guide decisions about what is the "better" form in many case (better in the context of the standards that we articulate for both consistency of style and best unambiguous readability). Dicklyon (talk) 05:14, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
What you "articulate", then, is your personal taste for obsolete forms, always minority, now used by a miniscule remnant. Be not the first by which the new are tried; nor yet the last to lay the old aside is sounder advice than this. The mere fact that hardly anybody uses this guarantees that it does not communicate; we are not the "encyclopedia for a handful of devotees of the Oxford dash." But the situation is worse than that; why has this experiment in adding black–bird to black-bird, black bird, and blackbird failed? For the same reason it is controversial here: by and large it doesn't mean anything different from black-bird, and is useless; it doesn't help readability; that's not my judgment, but that of the collective writers of English.
(Where it does actually convey a genuine difference, the Oxford dash is still used by a substantial minority, and has not failed. Michelson–Morley should be not only permitted, but mentioned, with its purpose.)
A reasonable MOS would permit you to use your dash; it may yet succeed. And if not, let it be a "monument to the freedom with which error may be tolerated when reason is free to combat it." But it would not (and even this MOS does not) require the rest of us to join your idiolect. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:32, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Final Thoughts

I think we are leaning towards translations of German paramilitary ranks into English should not utlaize hyphenation present in the original German. For instance Reichsführer-SS translated to Reich Leader SS, NOT Reich Leader-SS. Likewise, Germanische-SS translated to Germanic SS, Allgemeine-SS to General SS, and so on. If that sounds good, we can wrap up the discussion. -OberRanks (talk) 15:16, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

If that is supported by the English language sources, fine. Blueboar (talk) 14:00, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Both forms are supported by English langauge sources. Fortunately, the one that fits English grammar is more common in this case, so there's really no question. Dicklyon (talk) 16:44, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Have we then made a final decision that translations of Nazi paramilitary titles should not contain a hyphen and that the original German version (untranslated) should? That makes since to me. -OberRanks (talk) 15:10, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

I concur with that query and proposal. Kierzek (talk) 01:31, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Per Dicklyon. Tony (talk) 02:25, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

[written during an edit conflict] ¶ If you're going to Anglicise Reichsfuehrer-SS, then go all the way and make it "SS Reich Leader" or "SS Reich-leader". (In this case the English translation is really no more helpful than the German translation, since "SS" and "Reich" are untranslated, and "Fuehrer" is both commonly known in English, and has a more precise connotation than the vague "leader".) Similarly for cases where a following "-SS" (etc.) is adjectival or possessive: English adjectives almost always precede the nouns they modify (Attorney-General, court-martial, Princess Royal, etc. are definitely unusual holdovers from the usage of previous centuries). But when you move the modifier to the front, you should usually drop the hyphen. As pointed out above "Allgemeine", "Waffen" and "Germanische" are modifiers, so they should precede "SS" (a noun) in English, unjoined by a hyphen. In the current version of the English Wikipedia article on SS ranks, I think the italics and hyphens can be safely dropped, at least after the first mention, for Allgemeine SS, Waffen SS, Germanic SS, Volunteer [Freiwillingen] SS, etc. And I don't think a hyphen succeeding "SS-" in the German need always be kept even when the German itself is untranslated, as in "SS Obersturmbannfueher". —— Shakescene (talk) 02:39, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Regarding SS ranks, they are most definitely written with a hyphen, as in SS-Untersturmführer. I think that is the one thing here that was never in dispute. -OberRanks (talk) 03:55, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Explicit coordination

WP:TITLE is only peripherally concerned with style. But there is still the potential for disharmony with what the style guides are telling editors to do in the main text, which, let's not forget, is generally thousands of times the size of the article name. This turf-war mentality about policy this, guideline that, is toxic to the project and should be binned immediately. I believe the talk pages of both WP:TITLE and WP:MOS (and perhaps the talk pages of the many other style guides) need a permanent note at the top advising that coordination between article names and all other text is important, and that any decision that is likely to have a bearing on the text of a style guide should be discussed in one place only and advertised at the other. That is the adult thing to do. Tony (talk) 02:54, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps we should say what has always been practice: WP:MOS is guidance about what is said in articles; WP:TITLE is policy about what they are titled (and in consequence where they are placed).
But since the only "turf war" has been a very small number of editors attempting to change this and make their extraordinary interpretations of the most disputed sections of this page prevail over policy (to say nothing of the English language and common sense), there is a much simpler solution.
Please stop. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:05, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Tony, good idea. It would put a stop to this recent novel device of saying that they conflict (in areas where WP:TITLE has nothing to say, like when to use en dash) and that thus the MOS can be ignored. Dicklyon (talk) 03:08, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
In point of fact, what presently conflicts with WP:TITLE is not the text of MOS, but the reading the two of you are forcing on it. Please stop that first. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:11, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
I didn't think it was radical for WP to have a house style, as articulated in the MOS. It's been working for quite a few years; why the sudden urge to tear it down? Dicklyon (talk) 03:19, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Having "a house style" which is not English, but a congeries of failed experiments at language reform, has never worked. Those sections of MOS which describe some Newspeak, rather than English as she is, have always been controversial; that's why this page has 120 pages of archives. They make the encyclopedia harder to read and understand; to that extent they are actively harmful. Having a house style which reflected English usage and was supported by consensus would be really helpful. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:48, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Both sides are acting as if there is some huge conflict between the MOS and TITLE... but I don't see it. Could someone explain to me where they think the conflict actually is? More to the point, how is telling people they should follow the WP:TITLE policy (and base titles on the most commonly used forms found in English language sources) an attempt to "tear down" the MOS? Blueboar (talk) 03:33, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

I don't think so. I said there wasn't. The conflict is between a handful of editors who would like MOS to prescribe something that is not common usage, and is not consensus, on the one hand, and COMMONNAME (and common sense) on the other. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:41, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
I will leave you to argue the toss about individual cases, and I ask that posts be kept non-personal, per the civility policy; that includes continual references to "a handful of editors", or "eight editors", whatever it has been—that is not helpful. What I do propose is a simple measure that will place coordination on a better basis. It is the minimum expected of a professional-standard organisation, and we owe it to the editors to avoid inconsistent advice in two places. It is not acceptable that one page says one thing for article titles, and another page says something else for the main text. The talk pages need to remind participating editors of this. There should be no objection to consistency, collaboration, and well-oiled communication among editors in good faith. Tony (talk) 03:56, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't think there is, but the admin who moved Mexican–American War in response to PMA's request said there is in his closing statement. That was the theory by which that odd move got executed in the face of protests from those who wanted to stick with the WP:MOS. Dicklyon (talk) 03:58, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Precisely. The position of the minority in that move: that no evidence was necessary, that no usage was relevant, and that no such move could be made, anywhere in Wikipedia, unless it were discussed at WT:MOS first, does conflict with WP:TITLE. For that matter, it conflicts with WP:POLICY: guidelines derive from practice, and reflect best practice; when practice differs from guidelines, the guideline changes. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:12, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, guidelines derive from practice and reflect best practice. So why change them when most practice is not best practice? Best practice uses punctuation to convey meaning. Most writers of English don't know how to do that very well. That's why only a few editors go to the trouble of cleaning up after the ones who get it wrong. Why would you want to throw out best-practice cues to the intended meaning, cues that help the reader avoid ambiguous readings, etc.? Dicklyon (talk) 04:36, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
Such self-sacrifice, putting his poor elite self among the kicks of the mobile vulgus, protecting Wikipedia from the dread threat of being intelligible to our audience. Permit me a day or so swooning over such nobility.
Neither genuine learning nor a wish to communicate with the general reader will support such nonsense. The underlying issue is a pedantic experiment of a century ago, which did not catch on then and has failed now; the general reader will merely be puzzled by it; even a historian will merely be set off for a moment, baffled why we are doing such a thing. But a grammarian will recognize this obsolete pedantry, and wonder if our article is as precious and opinionated as its pointing. (All too often he will be right; but that is another problem.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:11, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
This is a good idea. A note at the top of each talk page telling editors to advise each other of any impending changes and inviting them to participate in the discussions about said changes would be a good thing, regardless of how few or how many editors participate in any so-called or actual turf wars. After all, there need be no question of which page outranks the other if they both match. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:19, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

underlying antagonism

OK... let me give you my perspective on what is going on here. We had a heated debate over a specific title (Mex-Am war)... a debate that might indicate a conflict between the MOS and TITLE (the conflict being how to resolve situations where the MOS indicates using a hyphen when WP:COMMONNAME indicates using a dash, or vise versa). Those of us who have worked on the MOS for years naturally support following the MOS in such situations, and those of us who have worked on TITLE for years naturally support following TITLE in such situations. Both sides in that debate are seeing the arguments of the other side as "an attempt to ignore and tear down" the page that they support. This has set up an adversarial mind-set, where people on both sides are assuming that any comment made by someone on the other side is part of that "attempt to ignore", even if the comment does not really relate to the original issue. Both sides have lost any pretense of maintaining good faith. That needs to stop. We can disagree (and even disagree strongly) over whether to follow the MOS or TITLE in situations when (and if) they conflict... but we must be civil about it, and we must respect the right of those who disagree with our views to disagree with us.
And, we all need to periodically step back, so that our disagreements over one issue do not bleed over into other issues. That is what seems to have occurred with the Nazi rank/title question. That question really had nothing to do with the issues being debated at the Mex-Am page.... but because the same editors were involved, everyone took a knee-jerk oppositional and adversarial stance. People assumed the worst, and saw disagreement when there wasn't really anything to disagree on. Blueboar (talk) 14:44, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
This is a false parity; but I hope it does produce peace. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:40, 20 April 2011 (UTC)
I said it was my perspective... and "I calls it like I sees it". I assume that the rest of you will have different perspectives. To my mind, parity does not really matter... I think there is enough "blaming the other guy" to go around (And I don't exclude myself in that). The important thing is for everyone to try to move beyond accusing each other of nefarious acts and intentions. Blueboar (talk) 22:24, 20 April 2011 (UTC)

Use of given names

Can I suggest to those Wikipedians who have influence that the use of first names in articles should be discouraged? Often I have seen an article about a personality – let's call her Jane Bloggs – and, after the first mention, she is referred to as Jane, not Bloggs. While a contributor may have a liking for a person he or she is writing about, this should not be reflected in the article, and the use of a first name in subsequent mentions of the subject's name suggests a familiarity that may or may not exist, and, either way, is not relevant. A surname-only approach (once the subject has been introduced, of course) distances Wikipedia from the subject, and that's how it should be to maintain the appearance of impartiality at all times.

I would suggest this, too, for those with titles. We may say Sir Elton John to begin with, but "John" should then be the subsequent reference to him; the same with Lady Thatcher or Lord Mandelson.

Sorry if this has been discussed before, folks. I did have a look.

Ajarmitage (talk) 11:32, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Here's the policy: it is as you suggest. --Old Moonraker (talk) 13:21, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
MOS:HONORIFICS, which immediately precedes the paragraph that Old Moonraker has referred you to, may also be of interest to you. Kevin McE (talk) 13:25, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
When you see a mistake like that, Ajarmitage, just go in and correct it. Raise it on the articles' talk pages if you like, but you don't need permission. Except for when dealing with people from Iceland, using the surname is standard throughout English. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:27, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
As an exceptional matter, calling a knight Sir Elton is correct; it is more formal than the full name. I was just reading the memoirs of a Foreign Office clerk who was dressed down for daring to refer to the Foreign Secretary as Edward Grey, instead of the proper Sir Edward. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:52, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Not just Iceland (see Viswanathan Anand), though if you replace “surname” with “last name” that might be right. Anyway, there might be exceptions for particular individuals: I'd bet that many more reliable secondary sources in English refer to Dante Alighieri as Dante than as Alighieri. (talk) 23:21, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
I think an article about several Beatles that invariably referred to them as "Lennon", "McCartney", "Harrison" and "Starr", while looking no doubt more encyclopaedic, would also look a bit silly and be less helpful to the reader. The false, insinuating familiarity implied by calling them John, Paul, George and Ringo, as if you spent your youth growing up with them, is less of a drawback. On the other hand, I wouldn't feel the same way about an article about The Rolling Stones ("Mick and Brian also appeared together ...") or even The Grateful Dead ("Bob and Jerry's next number ...") ¶ Sir Elton John might be another exception, repeatedly writing "Sir Elton" might be stilted or pompous, but in an article with just a few references, it's more helpful to the reader because "John" is and always has been as common a first/Christian/given name as it is unusual as a surname. —— Shakescene (talk) 01:05, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Napoleon. Art LaPella (talk) 04:27, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
I do not believe that the Beatles are a legitimate exception here (though their fans on Wikipedia did manage to leverage them a capital T). We are writing for a general encyclopedia audience, not for fans. Referring to the Beatles by their surnames doesn't just look encyclopedic. It is more encyclopedic. We should do what is correct even if members of a large fandom will think it looks strange. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:07, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Any guideline against using "Dr" when the doctorate has not been earned, but rather has been awarded by a university on some other basis (an honorary doctorate)? It's a regrettable practice, IMO ... In a CV, for example, I'd want to see dissertation title before someone calls themselves "Dr". Tony (talk) 14:39, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

MOS:ENDASH #5 question

Would a phrase like "country music themed concert" fall under MOS:ENDASH #5, i.e. would it be "country music–themed concert", or would it be one big, hyphenated compound adjective, e.g. "country-music-themed concert"? –CWenger (^@) 01:41, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

That's one of the problems with ENDASH as it stands; it relies on a dash to do clean different things. If the natural grouping is {{{country music} themed} concert} (as I suppose it is), not indicating the strongest join, between country and music, risks confusing the reader.
The logical choices are
  • country music themed concert (barely; that's headline speak)
  • country-music themed concert
  • country-music-themed concert
  • country-music–themed concert (note the dash; rather a briticism for the context, I suspect)
the sensible choices are
  • country music themed concert (if it's a quotation; even though it's headline speak)
  • concert with a theme of country music. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:57, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Point 5 is suggesing "*country music–themed concert" as an alternative (developed and most used in the US) to "country-music-themed concert". The last example, of avoiding the compound typography altogether by reversal, would be my first option if it can be made to work. Tony (talk) 02:17, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, should have used a more global genre like classical music. If "country music–themed concert" is indeed recommended by MOS:ENDASH #5, can we add an example like it with the dash towards the end? The current examples (pre–World War II technologies and ex–prime minister) both use a short prefix and it could be confusing if the rule applies to the phrase I raised. –CWenger (^@) 02:45, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
One of my personal bugbears for nearly half a century has been phrases like the "ex-French Prime Minister" (is he now performing his prime ministry as a Danish citizen?) or the "ex-Commerce Secretary"; but that's just me. I don't really like the paraphrase, but perhaps it could be tweaked to something like, but less awkward than, "a concert that will be country-music themed". When this question has come up before, examples have been brought up where it's nearly impossible to avoid (either explicit or imaginary) hierarchies of hyphen and dash, for example ones joining already hyphenated mathematical theorems or natural phenomena (like Tay-Sachs disease). How to treat a wedding announcement for two double-barreled names, e.g. if a Rimsky-Korsakoff marries an Armstrong-Jones, is an old chestnut in journalism and jocular writing. —— Shakescene (talk) 03:10, 25 April 2011 (UTC)
I think, on the one hand, that ex-French Prime Minister offers no real danger of misunderstanding (if you meant that he was now Danish, you would say something else). But "Rimsky Korsakoff–Armstrong Jones marriage" should be treated with extreme prejudice; the visual suggestion of a Korsakoff-Armstrong is a sturbling block. "Rimsky-Korsakoff–Armstrong-Jones" is the only safe alternative to recasting the sentence, and recasting is almost always preferable. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:26, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Some points for dealing with this and similar issues (comments after but not within this post, please):

  • Editors, please display the guideline you want to discuss, for everyone's convenience. Here is part 5 of the guideline for en dashes:

5. In compounds whose elements themselves contain hyphens or spaces (the anti-conscription–pro-conscription debate) and when prefixing an element containing a space (pre–World War II technologies, ex–prime minister) – but usually not when prefixing an element containing a hyphen (non-government-owned corporations, semi-labor-intensive industries). However, recasting the phrase (the conscription debate, technologies prior to World War II) may be better style than compounding.

  • This is a relatively recent addition to WP:ENDASH. It was never well discussed; it is not adequately articulated (hence the present uncertainty); it fits ill with other parts of WP:ENDASH and with WP:HYPHEN.
  • The usage that part 5 codifies (in a rudimentary, unnuanced fashion) is remote from British practice, and is an Americanism if anything. Various American style guides give a version of it, including CMOS16 (and all editions of CMOS over the last 100 years). Most American guides take their lead from CMOS, and many that give detail make exceptions of one sort or another.
  • Rewording is not always an option: the text may be a verbatim transcription of spoken English, with the Wikipedia editor responsible for the punctuation; or there may be particular constraints in the context that make the wording optimal.
  • If the wording is retained, these punctuation options are readily interpretable by anglophone readers in any country:
  • country music themed concert
[incorrect readings are less plausible than the correct reading, but are possible]
  • country-music-themed concert
[no incorrect reading is plausible]
  • Non-American readers (at least) are likely to be unsettled by either of these:
  • country music–themed concert
[readers might attempt this parsing: "{country music} {themed concert}"]
  • country-music–themed concert
[readers might attempt this parsing: "{country-music} {themed concert}", where "country-music" is construed as an autonomous nominal variant of "country music"]
  • Part 5 is in need of discussion and revision; in particular, it and a couple of other parts of WP:ENDASH need to be made optional, and we need to point out how they could result in confusion if other parts are applied insensitively within the same article.
  • The time is not right for this work, because too much else is under "political" attack in WP:ENDASH – even certain long-established provisions that were subject to thorough scrutiny and discussion, that have acceptance in both British and American usage, and that are implemented throughout the Project in titles and text of articles.
  • Finally, I would recommend country-music-themed concert for the example presented (if rewording is excluded).

NoeticaTea? 05:03, 25 April 2011 (UTC)

The ref-tag wrapping problem

At MoS (footnotes), someone has started a discussion about the fact that ref tags wrap onto the next line—at least on some browsers, and perhaps on all. Try it on your browser by moving the window wider and narrower in an article on display mode. I've commented on this at FAC a few times over the years, to no avail. One proposal at the thread is to change the rules to add a non-breaking space between the preceding punctuation mark and the tag. Currently, ref tags appear directly after punctuation without a space, by consensus. This is appears to be swapping one problem for another, and my advice has been to seek advice from the WMF developers, either by emailing one or by filing at Bugzilla. I'd be interested to know what other editors here think: is this a problem on all browsers, and is it worth fixing technically? Tony (talk) 11:58, 25 April 2011 (UTC)


I wanted to propose that we place each main section of this document (the content within each level 2 header; ie.: == header ==) onto it's own sub-page, and then each sub-page would be transcluded onto this document.

The downside of this method is that such a page structure tends to be fairly confusing, and can make editing the document as a whole fairly difficult (especially when dealing with the document structure as a whole).

The reason that I'm proposing this, however, is to lend additional usability, and some stability, to the document as a whole. It's fairly common to have this page protected due to fairly narrow disputes (see the protection log). This would hardly be a perfect solution, but in the event of a future problem, at least only the one section would be protected (hopefully).
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 02:26, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Sub-heading format

Should sub-headings use === type markup, or definition list markup, as shown in this series of edits. I've made my views known, but additional input would be welcome. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 15:01, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

See MOS:HEAD, point 5 (permanent link here).
  • Spaced or unspaced multiple equal signs are the style markup for headings. The triple apostrophes (''') that make words appear in boldface are not used in headings. The nesting hierarchy for headings is as follows:
    • the automatically generated top-level heading of a page is H1, which gives the article title;
    • primary headings are then ==H2==, ===H3===, ====H4====, and so on until the lowest-level heading ======H6======.
Wavelength (talk) 15:20, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
However, if you are dealing with a series of very short entries, too numerous to be listed in the table of contents, like WP:MOS#Wikilinks, a bold marker followed by an entry is fine. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:43, 22 April 2011 (UTC)
Not "fine", according to WCAG accessibility guidelines. Headings should be marked up as such. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 16:41, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

A low level header, which does not appear in the ToC, can also be achieved by starting a line with a semicolon. Any text after this, before a carriage return, will be displayed in bold, and equivalent text size to using 5 equals signs either side of the header text. Kevin McE (talk) 20:34, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Which is the question; should those sorts of headers, typically used in lists of definitions (hence the name "definitional list markup) or other such lists (such as List of Star Wars characters) be used at Computability theory, or should they be full, ToC-appearing headers. (The ancillary, and somewhat tangential question that's relevant to this page: should we make clearer that there's the option available for when appropriate, and soften the language that seems to mandate the use of full headers?)
I think it should be used in more list-like settings, as there's no need to clog the ToC in many of these cases. oknazevad (talk) 05:52, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
I'd only use the semicolon–colon list when each “definition” is a few sentences at most; in Computability theory some are one or two longish paragraphs, some of which containing {{seealso}} which I'm not sure would work well along with the semicolon–colon thing. BTW there's {{toclimit}} if you don't want headers to appear in the ToC. (talk) 09:55, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
In computability theory the only place the semicolon markup was used was within the references section, to split the references list into three pieces [29]. The references section consists of a list of references and no prose. But the list is more clear when it's sorted into three pieces, and then each piece needs to be introduced somehow. But there's no need for clickable, TOC-style section headers for that. We could perfectly well just use bold text and not semicolons, if there is some accessibility problem with semicolons. — Carl (CBM · talk) 11:23, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
The use of a semi-colon does not generate a heading; it generates one half of definition-list pair, as a quick look at the HTML source will confirm. That's really bad practise, bad semantically, contrary to the MoS, and bad for accessibility (and probably SEO). Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 16:33, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
We can fix the "half markup" problem by manually using dl/dt/dd tags ( I did that just now, and the generated HTML source code is now correct). Semantically, if the divisions are not section headers then we should not use the == markup on them. Presumably screen readers are able to skip from one dt item to the next. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:34, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
You think nesting a UL inside a DD, in this case, is semantically correct? Semantically, "section headers" do not exist in HTML (being a Wikipedia-specific construct); the term is "heading", and the text in question clearly serves as such. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 18:38, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps; but the MOS talks about section headers, not about headings in the abstract. Otherwise, for example, the titles of navigation boxes would also need to use the h# series of tags. But we use bold for those even though they are "headings" in the general sense. — Carl (CBM · talk) 19:52, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
The MOS is ambiguous. The MOS(accessibility) less so. Navboxes should indeed use proper heading markup - but we can only sort so many issues at a time. The MOS is also (reasonably but not always helpfully) not concerned with semantic markup, nor accessibility. Nonetheless the solution is clear, and simple - apply the correct HTML, and fix display issues in CSS or {{TOC}}. Again: Do you think nesting a UL inside a DD, in this case, is semantically correct? Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 21:17, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
The semantics of a dl list are not limited to definitions. For example, the W3C explicitly gave the example of using htem for marking up dialogue. They are essentially just another type of list environment, not just for definitions. — Carl (CBM · talk) 22:39, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
That former may be the case. the later is highly disputable. However, my question was "Do you think nesting a UL inside a DD, in this case, is semantically correct?" Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 23:32, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Sure, why not? Do you have some specification that says a UL can't go inside a DD? I don't think there is any firm standard for what a DL means, semantically. Mediawiki uses them to indent wikitext that starts with a colon, like a block quote or a talk page comment! — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:04, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

Several people seem to be making the mistake of considering the visual styling of pages before the underlying semantic structure of the markup. If using the correct heading markup produces headings which are too big (or small) or a TOC that's too busy, then the styles or TOC needs fixing; we shouldn't break the markup to fudge them. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 16:41, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

That assumes, though, that we after talking about things that should be in the TOC in the first place. If we are talking about the things that might be \subsection* in a LaTeX document, they should not be in the TOC. It is possible to achieve correct dl list formatting if we do it carefully. — Carl (CBM · talk) 17:34, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm not talking about TOCs at all. TOCs are a distraction, per my above comment. I'm talking about things which are headings (which we might conveniently define, say, as short, stylistically-differentiated, phrases which describe the following prose), and which should be marked up as such in HTML. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 18:33, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
This approaches "Only the things that matter to me are important". Please don't go there; we have too much of it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:45, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
I can assure you that I have not done so, nor will I. Now, would you like to address the point I made? Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 18:52, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
Would you care to rephrase said point, allowing for the fact that some of us do regard a compact TOC, without headers which will never be clicked on, as being valuable? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:57, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
No, because my earlier comment, to which I refer in that more recent comment, already addresses that concern: "If using the correct heading markup produces headings which are too big (or small) or a TOC that's too busy, then the styles or TOC needs fixing; we shouldn't break the markup to fudge them.". Now will you address the latter? And please do not adjust the meaning of your comments after others have replied to them. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 19:27, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
The correct markup for section headers on Wikipedia uses equal signs. For things that are not section headers, equal signs are not the correct markup. The issue at hand is exactly whether using equal signs is correct,so you can't assume that other people agree with you that it is. — Carl (CBM · talk) 19:52, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
The issue at hand is a failure to use the correct, semantic and accessible HTML for headings. The correct method to apply that markup on Wikipedia is equals signs - unless there is some other wikimarkup for them which has until now been withheld from us? Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 21:17, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

We have many "headings" (in the abstract sense) that don't use equal signs. There is no argument that equal signs are used for section headings. But many other headings do not use them. Consider the article Anthropology:

  • The headings in the infobox do not use HTML "header" tags (h1 to h5)
  • The "Anthropology portal" heading does not use an HTML header tag. Neither does the Wikiversity box's header.
  • The "Categories" header (which is not even bold) does not use an HTML header tag either.

More generally, navboxes also don't use HTML header tags. The only things that use HTML header tags in the body of the article are things that we want to appear in the table of contents. This usage is very consistent across Wikipedia: equals signs are for section headings, which will appear in the TOC, while other headings are formatted in other ways. — Carl (CBM · talk) 22:39, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Like I said above, "we can only sort so many issues at a time". The cases you list need to be examined, and where appropriate, remedied (in some cases, there is no issue; the portal link, for instance, appears logically, under the 'See also' heading - as can be seen by viewing the page with styles disabled). In the case in hand, we already have a remedy. Also, there are other parts of Wikipedia where we do already use headings, outside of TOcs. As I've already indicated, TOCs are a distraction from discussion of correct heading markup, not an indicator of it. Bad practice is bad practice, no matter how consistent it it. We really aren't getting anywhere with this. You appear to be more interested in inventing reasons not to use headings properly than finding ways to make doing so suit your desire for a certain visual presentation. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 23:32, 23 April 2011 (UTC)
I am discussing what "properly" means in the context of Wikipedia. You may have a certain belief about what proper usage would be, but that does not mean that other people are bound to agree with it. I understand the accessibility argument, but I don't find it compelling, given that there are other issues to balance. If all the references were in a single list, someone with a screen reader would have to listen to all the bullets in order to find something. The current system is no worse than that. Just claiming that the way you favor is the proper way isn't likely to convince many people. — Carl (CBM · talk) 01:04, 24 April 2011 (UTC)
Leaving aside your "single list" straw man, I'd love to know what "other issues" we're supposed to "balance" with making Wikipedia accessible to people who are blind, or deaf, or physically or mentally disabled; and I'm not "just claiming that the way [I] favor is the proper way" - perhaps you missed the repeated references to WCAG. HTH, HAND. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 22:11, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Additional input, from other editors, is needed and will be welcome. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 22:11, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps they are as lost in acronyms like WP:HTH and WP:HAND as I am. After that, maybe we can find where all the alleged rules are coming from. Art LaPella (talk) 00:48, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

link to vagueness essay

could some kind soul please add {{see also}}, with a link to Wikipedia:Vagueness, to the Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Clarity section?

— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 02:18, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

It's an essay; do we have a policy on linking essays? It seems to contain decent advice, but needs a going-over for expression and MoS compliance. Tony (talk) 04:53, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Is there any opposition to this request? — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 08:46, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Looks good to me. The MOS already links to essays in some sections, like Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Abbreviations, which links to essay Wikipedia:Edit_summary_legend. If an essay helps people to write better, then it should be OK to link it. --Enric Naval (talk) 11:17, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Okay, plus Added — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 11:35, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
PS.: it's currently nowhere near ready, but eventually I was kinda hoping to make it a MoS sub-page...
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 18:54, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Why was it added if it's nowhere near ready (that's my take, too). Tony (talk) 09:58, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

e.g., i.e. and etc.

I can't find anything in the Manual of Style as to whether these abbreviations are encouraged or not. I don't see anything wrong with them, but Dolovis (talk · contribs) has recently been AWBing articles to replace them with "for example" "that is" and "and so on", regardless of context (personally I find that most of the time when you see "etc." in an article it means absolutely nothing and can just be removed). I did revert one such edit because it introduced a lot of incorrect punctuation and too many unnecessary "and so on"s and I just felt the article was written in better English in its previous state. Is there really such a strict guideline that these abbreviations shouldn't be used under any circumstances? - filelakeshoe 09:13, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

No. Ozob (talk) 10:42, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
No but you're probably right that they're usually fit for removal. This would fall under general ideas of encyclopedic writing. Have you tried pointing this out to Dolovis, that she could simply remove the terms instead of replacing them with equally needless words? Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:15, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Manual of Style (abbreviations)#Widely used abbreviations in Wikipedia (permanent link here) approves of both e.g. and i.e. as well as their English expansions.
Wavelength (talk) 14:22, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
But Wavelength, surely we don't render them in italic face any more ...

On the original question, either is acceptable, and it's left up to editorial judgement as to whether to spell them out or abbreviate. I've never thought of the criteria that weight on such a decision, but I think it would be possible to arrive at a guideline. Too much clutter for the MoS, though. Tony (talk) 09:51, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

I used italics in my comment because I mentioned abbreviations as abbreviations, in acccordance with Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Italics: Words as words (permanent link here).
Wavelength (talk) 15:50, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Capitalization of "Congress", "Parliament", etc.

The words Congress and Parliament should be capitalized when referring to national law-making bodies, even though the full name of the institution ("United States Congress", "Parliament of Canada") is not mentioned. Examples:

  • "Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AVC was able to frequently testify before Congress, file briefs in major court cases, and provide legal aid to minority veterans in the South." (American Veterans Committee)
  • "The scandal pitted Congress against the Bush White House, generating a series of constitutional issues." (Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy)
  • "Holt spent 32 years in Parliament, including many years as a senior Cabinet Minister, but was Prime Minister for only 22 months." (Henry Holt)
  • "Bonar initially became frustrated with the slow speed of Parliament compared to the rapid pace of the Glasgow iron market" (Bonar Law)
  • "The committee found the Government to be in contempt of Parliament" (Canadian federal election, 2011)

Another editor believes that the MOS requires "parliament" to be written with a lower-case p in the last example [30] on the basis that it is not a proper noun and the MOS provides that "generic words for types of government bodies do not take capitals". Therefore the MOS should be clarified to provide that a short form referring to a specific, unique institution such as Congress or Parliament does take a capital letter. In addition, the terms "Government" should be capitalized when referring to the political apparatus of a party in power, but lower-cased when referring in a general way to the offices and agencies that carry out the functions of governing[31]. Similarly, the term "Opposition" should be capitalized when referring to the parties (or individuals) constituting the Opposition in the House of Commons (or other law-making institution). Mathew5000 (talk) 19:48, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

I can agree with "Congress" and "Parliament", but I don't fully support "Government". I think "the terms "Government" should be capitalized when referring to the political apparatus of a party in power" would just create confusion, both for readers and for editors.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 20:27, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
(after edit conflict) Although I agree with much (probably most) of this, I'm hesitating to expand the Manual of Style to include every small point of usage about which editors may disagree. (I just reverted someone's removal, citing WP:MOS-DASH, of a hyphen from a sentence I'd written about a "regularly-scheduled election" because the hyphen made comprehension quicker in that particular sentence.) We really need to find ways to reduce the Manual to a size that ordinary editors feel they can read in one sitting and absorb after one or two more. We often talk about ways of doing so. But the natural process works the other way: for every possible difference of opinion, style or usage, another phrase, sentence, section or page is added (sometimes peremptorily and sometimes after long discussion) to the MoS or one of its multifarious offshoots. But it's very rare, once such an item is added, for it ever to be removed.
¶ On the particular point, Congress and Parliament, especially when they carry no article, should be treated as capitalized proper names when they're referring to a particular congress or parliament. British and Irish usage does the same thing for British and Irish political party conferences and Trades Union Congresses, as in "By a unanimous vote, Conference decided..." [I'm not sure what the most common usage is for the Liberal Assembly or Sinn Féin's Ard Fheis.] American usage keeps the article for U.S. political party conventions, usually not capitalizing "the convention" alone, but often "the Democratic Convention". Where I have difficulty (and I don't think the MoS should necessarily decide this) is with presidents, prime ministers, etc. I'm also unsure about Government (although definitely for H.M. Government and H.M. Opposition), although I think it usefully distinguishes the cabinet and governing parties in Parliament from the administrative apparatus operated by the civil service; usually it's "the Government" or "Her Majesty's Government" or "H.M. Government" and not "Government" without an article. I'm even less sure about capitalizing Opposition except as an adjective ("the Opposition benches" and "the Government benches"); I'd probably prefer capitalizing Opposition, but don't greatly mind if it's uncapitalized.
(There, I've added my little bit to the 120+ pages of MoS archives. I really wish there were a non-prescriptive forum where such nice and interesting points of usage and practice could be intelligently discussed without setting rules for anyone else.) —— Shakescene (talk) 21:01, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
This is going slightly off topic, but... I just wanted to bring up the point that the "culture" of Wikipedia has been changing slightly, over the last year or two. We're collectively shifting from "build the web" mode to a more "fix what we have" mode. Witness the BLP brouhaha, the (ongoing?) MOS-DASH dust up, and a raft of similar but lower level battles over relative minutiae. Granted, individually most of this stuff really is minutiae (the blp issues aren't, but... I personally thing that was way overblown), but collectively these issues represent fairly large scale improvements to the content on Wikipedia. That's my take, at least.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 22:02, 26 April 2011 (UTC)
According to the MoS' rule and the illustration thereof, "congress" and "parliament" should not be capitalised unless they're part of the full, proper titles of specific institutions. Hence, "the Parliament of Canada consists of three parts" and "the parliament consists of three parts" are both correct, "the Parliament consists of three parts" is not. If the MoS is incorrect, then it should be amended. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 04:19, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
(after slight edit conflict) But it's certainly not idiomatic (and you'd have little luck in persuading all the potential editors of thousands of articles on U.S. history, politics and law that it is) to say "following this debate, congress passed a bill". Even writing "nevertheless, the congress overrode the president's veto" isn't very good American English because readers are so used to recognizing this particular Congress in its capitalized form (even after "the") that the reader will think it's the congress of some other organization or nation. (It's a little different if you're comparing different congresses, like that of 1974 with that of 1946; similarly, though not identically, for presidents.) The original post suggested adjusting or amending the Manual's current language to account for these nuances. —— Shakescene (talk) 04:38, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
The MoS absolutely should be altered if it's giving misleading instructions. And, according to some input here, it is. --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 04:52, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes it should; if somebody would care to formulate an {{editprotected}}? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:04, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
  • For decades, the trend has been towards less initial capitalisation in all varieties of English. Many public and in-house style guides say to use lower case for "government" and "parliament" and "cabinet" (even "Thatcher's last cabinet", "prime minister Gillard", and "the Obama administration". I haven't looked at the MoS on this, but by the way, could we have an audit of WP:Manual of Style (capitalization) and how it shapes up with the related section(s) here? Tony (talk) 09:57, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
    • No, competent style guides will distinguish between "the prime ministers of the Commonwealth", a common noun, and "Prime Minister Gillard", a proper noun. The loss of this semantic differentiation in the name of recentism is harmful to the encyclopedia. References to a specific Congress, whether in Vienna or Washington, should be capitalized; to do otherwise is to ignore English usage: the endemic disease of the Manual of Style (or should I say the manual of style?). Septentrionalis PMAnderson 06:54, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
Is the MoS not trying to talk about specific designators? If so, can it perhaps be clearer? --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 12:59, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Given the introductory subheading ("Political or geographical units such as cities, towns, and countries follow the same rules:"), I think this bullet item is intended to apply to political units, not organizational bodies like Parliament. However, as currently written, the previous item on institutions seems to apply. I think there is a good case to be made for allowing for capitalized specific designators. isaacl (talk) 23:01, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Then why doesn't the MoS make that case? --Ħ MIESIANIACAL 02:17, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't know what occurred historically; it seems the existing text was considering bodies such as universities and hospitals, and the consensus at the time was to not capitalize these examples. I think the editors above are making the case now, though. isaacl (talk) 13:45, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
To generalize: why doesn't the MOS make a case for most of its recommendations? (All too often: because there isn't one to be made.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:01, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Inconsistent use

In Dragon Warrior, there are some items the player needs to retrieve. The manual does not capitalize these items termed "balls of light"; however, other secondary RSes that name them do capitalize them as "Balls of Light" (or sometimes improperly as "Ball of Light". Should it be capitalized here or not?Jinnai 21:52, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Some sources are reliable for facts but not for usage. While, say, a website on Dragon Warrior would be a good source for things like characters and game mechanics, such sites are notorious for iffy English (even the ones that are not translated from Japanese). If the b/Balls of l/Light are proper nouns, then capitalize them, but if they aren't, don't. I'm getting the impression that they're just general balls of light. Can you link us to the specific source (or is it a print source)? Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:25, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
The original is a print source (manual). It uses lowercase and the context of the paragraph makes it look like it could either be a proper noun or not; its unclear. The manual is also known for having several grammatical errors. Other reliable sources, such as editoral reviews, capitalize it.Jinnai 20:07, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

Inserting Video clips

What is the policy on inserting Video clips into articles? Is it the same policies as for images? --HighKing (talk) 11:08, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

I would say so. What part of inserting videos were you specifically thinking about? Adabow (talk · contribs) 11:23, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
Which brings us to the question of whether WP:IUP already covers, or if not should cover, the use of vids as well as stills. Tony (talk) 13:34, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
I originally reverted an insert of a video here and here as they were unsourced, and wasn't appropriate for the Ultras article. The editor makes a good case that a video is "better" than an image for the Supporters article though, as a video can capture the atmosphere, etc. Leaving aside the quality of the video, I wanted to see if there are any policies on inserting videos, couldn't find any, so asked here. I don't know if videos are frowned on unless absolutely necessary, of if the same copyright laws apply, etc. I'm grateful for any/all advice/opinions. --HighKing (talk) 16:43, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
I would follow WP:IUP on this; note that it has a size limit, and advises caution on using animations because they produce difficulties in making a pinrt version; both are reasons to be careful with videos, although not reasons to avoid them absolutely. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:14, 29 April 2011 (UTC)


I don't know how many of you are keeping up with Wikipedia:Requests for comment/Wikipedia style and naming (all of you, right? ;-) but there's an RFC at Template talk:MoS-guideline#RFC_For_The_Removal_Of_The_Non-protocol_Page_Reference about whether it's acceptable for a MoS template to link to a mere essay, WP:COMMONSENSE. The editor has started a similar discussion at WT:LAYOUT to have the link removed from the guideline. WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:08, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

Episode lists in infoboxes

Some infoboxes for TV programmes (example: Bart the Genius) have episode and season lists within them. I contend that this is unhelpful, and that the episode lists belong in navboxes, after (unlike infoboxes, which come before) the content of the article, which is where comparable information is found for almost every other type of article.

Recent TfD discussion was inconclusive, so I'm raising the matter here for a wider consideration. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 14:08, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

This should probably be discussed at WT:Manual of Style (infoboxes) rather than here. Blueboar (talk) 15:51, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I'll move it there. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 22:23, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

Distinguishing Wikipedia/encyclopedia from other media

Many new editors seem unfamiliar with encyclopedia writing style. They have watched television "sell" a particular story. Then in complete disregard to yesterday's story, which was oversold and not quite correct in many places, move on to yet another "developing" topic.

It seems to me that we need a high level "statement of intent." Somewhere in this policy it should be stated that Wikipedia/encyclopedias differ from the usual media by ensuring honesty, npov, but mainly do not "sell" stories or a pov. Adjectives are kept to a minimum for that reason. The style is deliberately bland. Facts only. Just the bare facts. New editors are mystified that we don't "sell" an article, place, or event as "exciting." Television always does and their journalism classes teach them to as well. We need to counter that impression IMO. A high level statement here might help.

More to the point, it would help them to understand the policy of using material from that media, while avoiding the concurrent apocalyptic hysteria that often accompanies the actual facts.Student7 (talk) 19:22, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

I think we can be encyclopedic and NPOV without going as far as bland and avoiding adjectives. Besides "bare facts" we want to report a range of opinions, observations, reactions, and relationships, too. Dicklyon (talk) 19:29, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
But those opinions et al are phrased as those of specific people and organizations rather than voiced by the narrator. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:11, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
I think there’s quite a bit of ground between “bland without adjectives” and “apocalyptic hysteria”. JeffConrad (talk) 23:35, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

Guidance re present or past tense

I put this quote from Gulfport, Mississippi article here as a example. The main issue is not this particular article.

"According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 64.2 square miles (166.4 km²): 56.9 square miles (147.4 km²) of it is land and 7.3 square miles (19.0 km²) of it is water. The total area was 11.40% water."

I think it should say "has" and "is" instead of "has" and "was" but I wanted to check the Style Manual before making a change.

I cannot find guidance on the use of present tense and past tense in Wikipedia:Manual of Style, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Register or their Talk pages. Maybe I missed it. Where is guidance on this?

Thanks, Wanderer57 (talk) 13:04, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

Yes, that should be present tense. If you want to be super-extra correct, you could say, "According to information from the YEAR census, the city has..." That would settle the matter of time.
Hm, a CTRL-F of "tense" turns up nothing on the MoS. We should fix that. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:13, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Do people really need much guidance on that? Default to past, in cases such as the above present. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 13:28, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Thank you all. "Do people need guidance?" Clearly some do. Whether the people who need guidance will seek it is another matter. Wanderer57 (talk) 14:43, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
If you want those people to seek guidance before writing any sentence that has a verb tense, which includes most sentences, then Wikipedia's slogan should be "The encyclopedia that anybody can edit, after you have read half a megabyte of the Manual of Style including subpages, because there's something really important about verb tenses about half way down." More practically, there are a number of changes that would make our guidelines more accessible, that don't generate much enthusiasm around here. Art LaPella (talk) 16:11, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
In the realm of stuff we should cover, I think tenses are pretty unambigious in most cases and thus don't require "legislating". I haven't seen people arguing for all articles to be written in future imperfect. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 16:29, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
I merely asked where I could find guidance. I don't particularly need guidance on tenses but I was surprised to find that the Style Manual had nothing on the topic.
Now I will feel compelled to try to convert existing articles to the pluperfect subjunctive or the future imperfect. Perhaps alternating paragraph by paragraph would add interest and build suspense.
I should paid more attention in English grammar class. (And I would have if Christine Williams hadn't been sitting practically beside me.) Wanderer57 (talk) 21:23, 27 April 2011 (UTC)
Did you not mean to link to Christine Williams? ;-) --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:04, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for drawing my attention to this Christine Williams. Not the same one as in my class. Both beautiful. ;o) Wanderer57 (talk) 05:52, 28 April 2011 (UTC)
  • I agree with just about everyone here. It's too fine-grained for the MoS, like most aspects of usage. However, one point needs to be sounded loudly and clearly to all scholastic and scientific writers, including WP editors: when reporting the finding of a "permanent" fact—that is, one that is uncontroversial in the writer's view and applies now as much as then, and will continue to do so, use the present tense. So "19th-century scientists discovered that the speed of light is about 300,000 km/s" (not was, which leaves open the possibility that this finding was later proved to be wrong, or that the speed has mysteriously changed since). However, when you want to cast uncertainty on a finding—and it is sometimes NPOV to do so—using past tense is a good way of conveying this, by highlighting the (past) experiment or the study or report, which of course was in the past: "Rogers et al. found that the rate of increase was greater for B than for A" (perhaps the jury is still out on this, or maybe a subsequent study didn't quite confirm it, or the sample was rather small, or it was only a prelim study). By contrast, "Rogers et al. found that the rate of increase is greater for B than for A" would give a ring of greater certainty/permanance—you couldn't write "is" if there's still uncertainty about it).

    Tense can thus be used to manipulate the level of certainty in the text by shifting the consciousness of the reader either back to the time of the study or to the present moment; I think that if the writer doesn't realise this, wrong impressions can be given. Tony (talk) 13:53, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

    Bravo. That may be worth adding to MOS. Would you care to boil this down to suggested wording? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:45, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
    I agree. Wasn't this part of the issue during the "Speed of Light" arbcom case? Or, at least, somehow related? Regardless, this is a good point, and one that should be clear in the MoS... somewhere.
    — V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 22:42, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

En dashes in chemical bonds

I hope this doesn't start a major debate, but is there any reason that, for example, Carbon-carbon bond shouldn't actually be Carbon–carbon bond? Do we defer to MOS:ENDASH or common usage in reliable chemistry sources? –CWenger (^@) 07:26, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

It definitely should be: like protein–protein interaction. Tony (talk) 08:50, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
(looking at google books) dash seems to be reasonably common usage in this case. @Tony, please don't cite wikipedia itself to support usage WP:CIRCULAR. --Enric Naval (talk) 09:36, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't think that's what Tony's doing. He is giving an example of a different application of the same rule (the rule in this case being MOS:ENDASH number 2). Anyway, I think we are all agreed that carbon–carbon is correct. Ozob (talk) 13:08, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
If the published sources commonly use a dash, then so should we. If necessary we should update MOS:ENDASH to reflect that common usage (perhaps noting it as an exception to the more general rule?). Blueboar (talk) 13:14, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes. And we've been through this before: usage out there is not consistent. So which common usage are you talking about? And where WP's pre-existing rules are concerned, it's not a matter of tallying up google hits against each other. We use the best, not the sloppiest practice in the sources. Tony (talk) 13:31, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Ozob: the MoS is not an article & the rule is not a fact. Consistency of rules is desirable. The argument makes good sense. JIMp talk·cont 13:51, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
I think we are all in agreement as to this case. On the more general issue... I realize that sometimes usage can be inconsistent (with some sources using a hyphen and others using a dash)... WP:TITLE says that when that occurs, editors need to reach a consensus as to how to proceed. And I think the MOS is a very useful tool to help editors reach that consensus (ie it can be used as a "tie-breaker" when there is no obvious common usage in the sources).
My point was that if a significant majority of sources use a dash (or a hyphen, or whatever), we should follow the sources... even if we disagree with that usage and think it "sloppy". The sources know best, not us. My point was simply to say that we should never impose our style preferences over the preference of a significant majority of sources. Blueboar (talk) 14:28, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
As a general principle, the "significant majority" approach is not all that helpful. It would mean that we'd have to throw out most of all of our usages of en dash, as a significant majority of reliable sources simply don't use them. As Tony said, our WP:MOS is designed to encourage "best practices" in our style, not "average practices." There has been a recent push to abolish the use of en dashes in many contexts, based on the fact that most sources don't do that; however, I think that the consensus in building the MOS is that by adopting best practices we bring real value to the reader; the use of en dash to indicate relationships different from what the hyphen indicates is something that I've always been taught by top-notch editors that I've worked with, and something that I've found very helpful in reading. Let's be careful about advancing ideas that might encourage those who would tear down that valuable MOS and go back to typewriter typography. Dicklyon (talk) 16:15, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
I will agree that it is unhelpful to the handful of editors who want Wikipedia to be written in a gooblegook they have invented. To those of us who prefer to have this English Wikipedia written in English, as eccentric as that may seem, however, it is extremely helpful. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:56, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
Plenty of top-notch reliable sources demonstrate that there is no conflict between good English and good typography. Nobody here invented en dashes or how to use them; we just decided to follow good typographical practice. Dicklyon (talk) 16:58, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
Plenty of top-notch reliable sources demonstrate that there is no conflict between good English and good typography. Quite true; but Dicklyon's views are neither good English nor good typography; and reliable sources avoid the uses he prefers. Those who want to reinvent English to their personal tastes should make a Wikipedia of their very own; WP:Forks and mirrors will show them how to incorporate all our present content. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:10, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
I've already stipulated that many reliable sources do not use en dashes. This has nothing to do with English, nor with me. Dicklyon (talk) 17:13, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
Some uses of en dashes are actually moderately common, and are harmless - even if none is a majority, they can and should be tolerated; but the ones Dicklyon revert wars for are vanishingly rare, not consistently used by any publisher. In insisting on them - and nothing else - he and his friends are deliberately harmful to the encyclopedia, and should be banned. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:22, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
That's right; better ban me soon, before I destroy the project with professional typography! Dicklyon (talk) 04:18, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
I shall abstain from supporting this here, but I do wonder if anybody else does. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:08, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
I searched for an answer at Wikipedia:Manual of Style (chemistry), but did not find one.
Wavelength (talk) 15:01, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
ACS Style Guide (3rd ed (2006), p267) states "indicate bonds by en dashes", giving "the C–C–C angle" as an example. DMacks (talk) 15:43, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
That's not a word; that's a symbol, as the C is; if the carbon were tetravalent, it would be a two-dimensional symbol. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:25, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
I don't find a style guide specifically calling out "carbon–carbon bond" as an example of en dash usage, but will you accept this one from the American Chemical Society that uses "carbon–oxygen bond", or is that too much of a stretch? Dicklyon (talk) 17:36, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
Under no circumstances; following isolated style-guides demonstrably ignored by normal usage is a road to incomprehensibility. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:49, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
The ACS Style Guide is very definitive in chemistry. It is absolutely not an "isolated style guide". –CWenger (^@) 17:52, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Thanks for your feedback. I have proposed some moves to fix this at Talk:Carbon-carbon bond#Requested move, using DMacks' rationale above. –CWenger (^@) 17:27, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

Sheesh, good to see that one settled. Frankly, editors, this one can easily be resolved by appeal to such sources as the ACS Guide, which has other examples beyond the one Dicklyon has shown here. Can we back off from these relentless personal attacks? Dicklyon has direct professional knowledge and experience in technical writing, and it is appalling to see him treated with such disrespect here and elsewhere. We should all stand against such poor behaviour. It is one thing to take every opportunity to undo the valuable work MOS does for the Project (unproductive as such captious carping is), and another to make it personal every time, in a way that is so transparently vicious and unwarranted. NoeticaTea? 02:59, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
And the third member of the Mutual Admiration Society shows up; the facile and disinterested praise of this small band for one another can be taken for granted. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:20, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
PMAnderson, I would take this to your talkpage but you have requested that I not do such a thing. Please formulate an apology to Dicklyon, and now also to me. This is egregious incivility, compounded by other manifest abuses. I see no reason for anyone here to tolerate any more of it. Your retraction and apology may be posted here, or at my talkpage and Dicklyon's. I will not enter any more discussion of this for the next 24 hours. NoeticaTea? 03:34, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
That the members of your faction praise one another is a matter of common observation, which need extend no further than this section. The spurious cry of incivility is the first resort of those who have no substantive points to make; if you don't want to be called a Mutual Admiration Society, don't behave like one. Professional qualifications are unverifiable - and irrelevant: if genuine, they would supply the data and arguments which would be relevant. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:44, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
As an entirely uninvolved party until I was pinged via the chemistry side, I find this a quite poisonous approach to community and consensus-building. PMAnderson, consider this your final warning for long-running incivility despite numerous warnings. You know this will lead to a block if it continues. DMacks (talk) 04:11, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Thanks, DMacks. For the record, I have expressed admiration on-wiki for Mr Anderson's expertise in his chosen areas on more than one occasion; I have initiated kind exchanges with him via email in a previous year. Everyone acknowledges that for some four years he has had a major issue with centralised style guidance, and particularly with some aspects of typography; but continuing to bang on that wall in an attempt to knock it over is becoming destructive and, to quote someone above, creates a "poisonous" environment. I ask him to avoid negative personalised statements here, as required by the site policy. Apologising for such is a way of healing and making oneself look good socially. We would love it if Mr Anderson worked with the community to improve the style guides rather than continually working against them. Tony (talk) 06:00, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
PMA, if you had said, "I notice that these people admire each other a lot and that makes me question their judgment on this issue," then we would either be talking about en dashes in chemical bonds or Noetica et al's credibility. Instead, we're talking about you. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:38, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
Very well, I do notice that these people admire each other a lot and that is indeed one reason I question their judgment on this issue; I do not assert - and hope I never have said anything which would imply - a lack of learning or honesty on Tony's part. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 20:19, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
But you're still OK with your claims of a lack of honesty on my part? I hate Tony for that! You like him better than you like me; wah! Dicklyon (talk) 20:30, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
Tony is honest (even in abuse, and in crying "subversion"), occasionally kind, sometimes flattering; he does not AFAIR engage in praising his own arguments instead of making them; it takes unusual animus to object to noting such things. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:19, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Request for Additions to Abbrieviation Section to Disambiguate Military Ranks

I was not able to find anything in the MoS about military rankings (Lt. as opposed to Lieutenant or Gen. as opposed to General). Could a section be added about this? I believe abbreviations would be a good section to put it in. If there is already a policy and I am missing it, could someone direct me to the appropriate place? Even if this is the case, I still believe the MoS should cover it. Thanks. Bronsonboy HQ 14:28, 30 April 2011 (UTC)

Military abbreviations are covered at Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(abbreviations)#Widely_used_abbreviations_in_Wikipedia. I am not sure that there is a need to go further. Is there something about military ranks that is unique... something we have not covered in the more general guidance? Blueboar (talk) 14:35, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
This can be a tricky question because sometimes the practice differs between different armies, navies and air forces, or between different services of the same English-speaking nation. I think that the very extensive Wikipedia:Wikiproject Military history has some stylebook or guidelines that may cover this sort of question, although I'm not absolutely sure. —— Shakescene (talk) 01:42, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

Image alignment

It is stated here that it is often preferable to place images of faces so that the face or eyes look toward the text. "Often" is not the same as "Always". I think that the MOS should be clear as to what the exceptions are, or if there aren't any, then just change the wording to state that it is always the case. A lack of clarity regarding this could result in an edit war between two editors. Joyson Noel Holla at me! 14:52, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Please observe that this is one of several preferable qualities for images. Sometimes they cannot all be satisfied; therefore it is a matter for editorial discretion which may be sacrificed; if we make them all mandatory, we can leave the editor with no choices, or very undesirable ones. The present wording developed after some editors were flipping well-known images side-to-side in an effort to comply with everything. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:36, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't understand. Are you saying that this image alignment is a choice; that it isn't necessary that the guideline be followed? Joyson Noel Holla at me! 21:44, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
It is never necessary that guidelines be followed; that is why we head this page with {{MoS-guideline}}; it is usually (sometimes almost always) desirable, but there are exceptions, especially when the guideline as written can't be followed.
For example, WP:MOS#Images has nine bullet points; only the first is phrased as mandatory, and that is because having a lead image or info-box on the left hardly ever works well; it confuses screen readers, and has a strong tendency to misalign text for the sighted.
If the only image suitable for the lead (it may be the only real image of the subject in existence) itself faces to the reader's right, we have several bad choices: omit the image (a loss of valuable data); place it on the left, with the ensuing havoc; place it looking on the right, looking out of the page. Flipping an image is worse yet, especially if the subject has lettering on it. Editors should decide, on each case, which of these is the least bad; that's why it's good to be edited by humans, not by bots. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:11, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Problem with "Honorifics for deities"

The rule says : Honorifics for deities, including proper nouns and titles, start with a capital letter (God, Allah, the Lord, the Supreme Being, the Great Spirit, the Horned One, Bhagavan). Do not capitalize the [noun] unless it is formally a part of the name of the deity. The same is true when referring to major religious figures and figures from mythology by titles or terms of respect (the Prophet, the Messiah, the Virgin). Common nouns denoting deities or religious figures are not capitalized (the Romans worshipped many gods; many Anglo-Saxons worshipped the god Wotan; Jesus and Muhammad are both considered prophets in Islam; biblical scholars dispute whether Mary was a virgin for her entire life; her husband was her muse, but the nine Muses).

In the article Religion in Europe, one reference is to an Eurbarometer poll, in which the questions were expressed like this : Which of these statements comes closest to your beliefs? 1)I believe there is a God 2)I believe there is some sort of spirit or life force 3)I don’ t believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force.So in this case, applying the rule for 'honorifics for deities' would mean to write god with lower case 'g'.This would grossly mislead Wikipedia readers about how the questions were asked in the poll! So we have to make an exception to this rule of style for such cases.

Please tell me what you think about this.Stefan Udrea (talk) 16:04, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Here is a permanent link to the section.
Wavelength (talk) 19:57, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
If quoting an external source, present it clearly as a quote, and follow the formatting of the original. Kevin McE (talk) 16:12, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
The texts of concern were put into a table's header.Do we really need to put quotation marks around them to make it clear that they are quotes?Stefan Udrea (talk) 17:56, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
I would say yes. Otherwise the table formatting will tend to make the derived nature of the text inobvious. —chaos5023 (talk) 18:02, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
I agree. If the headers are in fact quotes, then this should be clearly indicated. --RL0919 (talk) 18:06, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
And even if they weren't quotes, if the survey said God, so should we in stating the survey results; it is not inconceivable that a survey about belief in "a god" would have gotten different responses. Above all else, represent what the source said, clearly and accurately. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:33, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
Septentrionalis, without quotes, what you say would require making an exception to the style rule.Do you want such an exception to be mentioned in this manual of style?Stefan Udrea (talk) 10:16, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't think the case under discussion is parallel to the examples MOS now gives, so it comes under the general heading of exceptions. But this reading of MOS would be contrary to core policy, in this case WP:OR; if anybody is likely to insist on it on the grounds of "MOS breach", it may be more useful to add a general section saying that MOS should not be read so as to violate policy, which will cover many such problems.
We don't want to lengthen MOS more than we can avoid. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:27, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
Stefa, I think I see where you're coming from, but this might be one of those times when following the sources and using common sense trumps the specifics of the MoS. If you think about it, the point of that section of the MoS is that capital letters can change meaning. The poll was about "God," not "god," so that's how the article should read. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:46, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
We don't need to specify every possible exception to the MOS... because we have a policy that already allows us to make such exceptions whenever we need to: see WP:Ignore all rules. It was for situations such as this that the IAR policy was created... to allow us to follow common sense rather than the "rule". Blueboar (talk) 17:58, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
But the MOS could be clearer. I would suggest changing one sentence to "Do not capitalize the unless it is formally a part of the name of the deity or there is a good reason for retaining the capitalization of a source, for instance in a direct quote." — Preceding unsigned comment added by Boson (talkcontribs) 18:51, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
We also have here a problem with countering systemic bias. The guideline at wp:Naming conventions (Islam related topics) is to my interpretation clear and straightforward to use. It doesn't pander to sectarian preferences. In contrast, the guideline at wp:Naming conventions (clergy) goes so far as to specialize in Christian (particularly Roman Catholic) clergy, ambiguously endorsing the use of several sorts of honorifics, styles, or titles in biographical article names. Similarly the wp:Naming conventions (Indic related topics) is a mess. The consequence of this is that many of these articles become wp:BATTLEgrounds. This evidently will only be sorted out by a centralized discussion that can engage editors of all backgrounds. LeadSongDog come howl! 18:39, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

Insect names with "fly"

I quote hereunder the third paragraph of the article "Fly" (permanent link here), featured in highlighted with today's picture of the day.

It is good practice, and is recommended, that the common names of true flies should be written as two words, e.g., crane fly, robber fly, bee fly, moth fly, fruit fly. In contrast, common names of non-dipteran insects that have "fly" in their name should be written as one word, e.g., butterfly, stonefly, dragonfly, scorpionfly, sawfly, caddisfly, whitefly. In practice however, this is a comparatively new convention, and, in older books in particular, one might commonly see the likes of: saw fly, and caddis fly. In any case, non-entomologists cannot in general be expected to tell dipterans, "true flies", from other insects.

There is a supporting link to Order Diptera - Flies - BugGuide.Net.
Style guidelines for Wikipedia articles about arthropods are at Wikipedia:WikiProject Arthropods/Style suggestions.
Wavelength (talk) 01:13, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
[I am revising the heading of this section.—Wavelength (talk) 01:15, 3 May 2011 (UTC)]
I did not find a recommendation regarding this matter in the pages of Wikispecies, free species directory.
Wavelength (talk) 01:38, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
[I am revising my introductory sentence.—Wavelength (talk) 01:52, 3 May 2011 (UTC)]

The link given does not recommend that this be done; it states that it is done. Nor does the body concerned claim any particular authority. Where the claim of usage is correct, we should probably follow it, and we should always consider that it is particularly likely that usage may be changing. (The change from Dobson fly to dobsonfly, swallowing a proper name, is unfortunate, but seems to be established.) For one example, caddis fly appears to be becoming relatively less common in the last few years, but is still majority usage; it would be crystal balling to mandate a change now. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:08, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
The Google Ngram Viewer is case-sensitive.[32]A. di M.plédréachtaí 14:02, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

The revo

I think the rough consensus here is that a MOS is generally helpful. Time to move to move on to focused questions. Tijfo098 (talk) 22:32, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

{{rfctag|policy}} Per recent discussions, the time has come to ask the following hard question: should Wikipedia have a manual of style (MOS) of its own, or should its articles simply follow the MOS of the sources cited in them? Tijfo098 (talk) 20:14, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

  • Comment. The question as posed seems to assume that an article's sources will all use a common style. That might be true for articles on subjects with a narrow variety of sources, but seems likely to be untrue for many articles. --RL0919 (talk) 20:39, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
    • That in itself is not a problem. Article- or even WikiProject-level consistency can be attained by local consensus. For example WP:MED has overruled MOS that way on at least one occasion. As comparable example of this kind of devolvement of decisions, we allow for instance multiple citation styles in Wikipedia, to be decided by consensus at article level; there are even some WikiProject-level guidelines, e.g. WP:SCICITE which provide additional guidance in some areas, while still not imposing a single style, and I'm sure one can find similar ones in other very active WikiProjects. Tijfo098 (talk) 20:59, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Style guides and adherence to them vary. I support having a WP MOS, and think this one does a pretty good job. --JN466 23:01, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
  • So MOS issues would be resolved at article level? I.e. the above debates would be replicated again and again across all articles, or at least across the significant proportion of them with multiple sources and multiple contributors. I think what you would find then was editors would get fed up of spending time repeatedly going over the same arguments that they would create a central place to summarise the debates that could act as a reference for future ones. I.e. if the MOS did not exist someone would create it, pretty quickly. As it is now the MOS does not stop editors coming up with a style that's better suited to an article or project by consensus. But for the vast majority of articles where there is no need for a special style having a single MOS saves work for all editors.--JohnBlackburnewordsdeeds 23:03, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
  • I don't mean to sound harsh, but I think this is an almost pointless question. Of course we need a central MoS. Without a central style guide, how are Wikipedia-specific styles (e.g., WP:LAY) going to be governed? Also, there needs to be a central guideline for establishing "consistent usage and formatting". All article styles should be consistent because conformity means less conflict over trivial issues. Guoguo12--Talk--  23:32, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
    • Judging by the daily MOS-related ANI threads, and by the fact that this page is fully edit-protected virtually all time, I'd say the opposite is true: it causes more conflicts than it solves. I don't know if it's because of too much prescriptivism in it or what... Tijfo098 (talk) 23:57, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia should have its own MOS The issue is NOT our MOS. It's editors who constantly bitch over minute details that do not affect a reader's understanding of an article that are the problem. If everyone shut the fuck up about little details like dashes and whatnot, there would be no issue whatsoever. /ƒETCHCOMMS/ 00:29, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
    We could accomplish that by cutting the minute details on hyphens and dashes; since the conflict arises because of a disagreement about what they mean, they are less than useful as guidance. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:04, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
    So you're saying we should have an MoS but nobody should bother with it? ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 21:05, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Blocking policy and deletion policy also cause semi-daily ANI threads. RFC's work best when two sides of editors are trying to work something out and not so well for discussing new ideas. I'm worried this will become a pile on.--Banana (talk) 01:23, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • MoS needed - As a copyeditor I use MoS a lot.
First of all I use the MoS as a reference. Secondly we look for a project MoS, such as from the MilHist Mos, for any variations (such as the US military using dd-mm-yyyy). Thirdly we then look for project style guidelines for variations, usually where no project MoS exists. Fourthly we look at the article talk page for any other notes, such as "This page uses American English", anything from previous Peer reviews/FAC/GAC, anything which was achieved by consensus in the talk page posts, etc.
While it might be true that individual project Mos' would cover their own articles, what about those article covered by two, even three projects? I cannot imagine what chaos would ensue if a there was no MoS. Articles with no refs, all sorts of non English in articles, OR, vandalism, libellous claims, Wiki would be finished inside of three months, if only by the hundreds of ensuing legal claims.
The MoS is the glue that keeps this as an encyclopaedia, without it it is merely a heap of garbage, no better than the hundreds of websites that pervade the internet claiming that aliens are running the government, the universe is not real, and the earth is flat.{{citation needed|Are there really websites like this?}} - Oh I forgot, I don't need to cite that so it must be true! lol Chaosdruid (talk) 01:45, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Vandalism? Libellous claims? where does MOS have anything to say about them? They are covered by policies, far distant from here: WP:BLP, WP:V, WP:OR. Those really are the glue that keeps this encyclopedia together. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:12, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Oh dear, it's is like some weird form of tourettes+ADD+OCD causes involuntary responses to everyone's statements on every MoS page:
1) BLP doesn't really count as it just applies WP:POV , WP:V and WP:NOR
2) Vandalism - proper names, removal of sections, links to external websites in the body of text instead of internal linking, etc. are all covered by MoS'.
3)Libellous claims - Links to external websites (such as "Barak Obama, the President of the United States, has...") that are not spotted early on (admittedly that one would probably be fairly quickly corrected) and other such problems...after all without MoS we would lose linking guidelines.
At the end of the day I do not want you to draw me into a three day discussion of minutiae in my post, some of it was meant as an amusing point about what would happen if MoS disappeared, some was about the slippery slope leading to further removals like WP:NPOV etc., and some was humour. Some was, of course, serious comment on MoS. Chaosdruid (talk) 04:27, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Ideally we should have both We could have a MOS which said to follow reliable sources, and then added any necessary provisions for where to bold and whether to link, and so on; things that referring to reliable sources won't help with. But that would be a very different MOS from this one; far more useful; far less controversial. I have yet to see any point of this discussion which warrants having a MOS which goes against usage. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:00, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • No There are many ways of skinning the proverbial cat. In style matters, it's good to have our own style guide, which is fairly comprehensive but still does not cover all the possibilities. Only where our style guides do not have a suggestion should we defer to external style guides; only where external style guides disagree should we defer to those used in sources – for the source doubtlessly follows its own style guide which, as ours, does not cover all eventualities and may give rise to inconsistencies across that source. If we find ourselves often having to refer frequently to external style guides or "reliable sources", we then need to consider adding provisions to our own style guides. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 03:23, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • 'Yes Specifically noting that people on Wikipedia use computer keyboards, and not Linotypes, and that the MoS should clearly recognize that fairly simple fact. We are giving material to be seen on computer screens, and not trying to use every possible setting which a professional printer has (including true proportional fonts with left and right justification). Let us simply deal with words and images, and drop this preoccupation with z-dashes and x-dashes, or whatever. IMHO, of course. Collect (talk) 10:57, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I don't understand the question (or perhaps how this would work). An article has a number of sources ... books, articles in magazines, websites, newspapers. This will all be written in a number of different styles. An article is started in one style - would this be changed when another source is found? A common question covered by the MOS is US and British English spelling and date formats. Would you change this depending in the (current) sources cited in the article. Would this be changed again if a different set of sources were found? Edgepedia (talk) 12:16, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment. Some parts essential, e.g. WP:LAYOUT. Others a waste of editors' time, e.g. WP:DASH. --Philcha (talk) 12:56, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia needs its own MoS. While I believe that our MoS has its flaws—namely that it should follow established style guides rather than the pet peeves of the denizens of this board—Wikipedia is better off for having one at all. Leaving all else out, think of the practical matter of convenience: Should Wikipedia editors have to get up and go to the library or rely on the out-of-date style guides they were issued back in school? It's much better to have a comprehensive, accessible style guide right here for them to use. Also, consider that company style guides are meant to be used by people who are for the most part at least semiprofessional writers and almost certainly adults, it is appropriate that our style guide cover issues that would be too obvious for, say, the NASA style guide. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:23, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Own MoS Deferring to outside MoSes would just change the debate to which MoS should be applicable, which is sometimes far from clear; e.g. Should Albert Einstein use a humanities MoS (even if so, which?) because it's a biography, or a scientific MoS because he's a scientist? --Cybercobra (talk) 19:01, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Own MoS - I think we should derive our MOS from the aggregation of RSs, then impose that on every article. My rationale is that a consistency derived from reliable sources confers legitimacy, and to determine style separately in every article is just too much work. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 20:49, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

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

May I anchor away?

I see the page is protected; does anyone object if I add {{anchor|Double or single}} to the non-subsection of the same name? - Dank (push to talk) 21:43, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Just in case you didn't know, the song is Anchors Aweigh.

--Trovatore (talk) 21:49, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes, but "May I anchor aweigh?" would have been even lamer. - Dank (push to talk) 21:54, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
 Done Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Double_or_single [here]. Look ok? ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 21:53, 4 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. - Dank (push to talk) 21:54, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Usage of the Diaeresis

Should it be used in articles? The MoS doesn't say. --43?9enter ☭msg★contribs 06:06, 29 April 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style#Foreign terms (permanent link here) says the following (I am updating the third link here).

The use of diacritics (accent marks) on foreign words is neither encouraged nor discouraged; their usage depends on whether they appear in verifiable reliable sources in English and on the constraints imposed by specialized Wikipedia guidelines. Place redirects at alternative titles, such as those without diacritics.

Wavelength (talk) 06:47, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
Does any guidance exist for plain English terms such as preeminent, cooperative, reelect, etc.? —LOL T/C 07:10, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
Most modern English sources use neither a diaeresis nor a hyphen on those. Unless you are quoting a source where those are used and the exact manner in which the word is printed is important to the quote's purpose, I would omit them. Ozob (talk) 10:14, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
In brief: consult a good dictionary, preferably an unabridged of the relevant nation, or the OED. The result will very rarely be hyphenation, hardly ever diaresis (the OEdf does not even use one for aerate or naive; anybody want to help clean up Naïve, which does did not even correctly describe naïf? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:07, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
Fixed for now; but a move request may be useful. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:36, 29 April 2011 (UTC)
To avoid disputes over diaereses for plain English, should a brief statement be added to the MoS? —LOL T/C 22:03, 30 April 2011 (UTC)
This is one of the many cases which MOS:FOLLOW is intended to take care of: follow the sources unless there is good reason to do otherwise and consensus to adopt it. Do we need more? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:27, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
I can imagine someone arguing that the existence of diacritics in definitions of other dictionaries (such as AHD3) calls for a stalemate and WP:RETAIN. —LOL T/C 03:47, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

For loan words like naïve it's a tough call. It appears with diaresis in at least hundreds, perhaps thousands, of recent books. Probably it's more common without, though. For English words, the use of diaresis to mark a separately pronounced second vowel is something that I'm told only the New Yorker magazine does. Otherwise, it has pretty much disappeared from use; probably we don't need to say anything, as nobody would think to do such a thing. People do sometimes throw in hyphens, though, so maybe we should say something to show that no such marking is needed. Dicklyon (talk) 04:16, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Well, this section's existence is due to this edit (which has since been self-reverted), so I suspect that there are others who like to add diaereses to English words. —LOL T/C 18:11, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
Personally, I'm all for generally avoiding diacritics as much as possible (obvious exceptions for completely foreign words [not loan words], and cases where a diacritic could reasonably change meaning, should of course be made). English itself doesn't use diacritics (yea, yea... face it though, there aren't diacritics that are regularly used in English), so I think that it's fairly unambiguous that we should avoid them as much as possible. But... I realize that, for whatever reason, my view seems to be a minority one, at present.
Now, I understand MOS:FOLLOW, and even agree with it for the most part. However (and, I made a case about this earlier here, I think), I've come to the conclusion that it's time that the MOS specifically, and en.wikipedia policy in general, ought to (slowly) start to become more "prescriptive" in nature. There are a couple of reasons for this:
  • There's now a significant body of history to en.wikipedia. Hey, we've been around for 10+ years now! There's really very little "new ground" here, in terms of policy issues. The point here being that creating more prescriptive "rules" isn't just a guessing game, as it would have been in 2001.
  • The (predominantly) "descriptive" nature of current policy and guidance (and especially of the MoS) works more to create conflict now, in my view. Look, at the beginning, when we were trying to build en.wikipedia from the ground up, being purely descriptive was exactly what we needed for a variety of reasons. Now though, it seems to me that people are trying to build on what we already have more then they're trying to expand what we have (quality, not quantity). If we're doing that, focusing on improving the content of what we already have, then we need to decide what's generally better (meaning, prescriptive "rules").
I'm not saying that we need to be prescriptive about everything; and, we certainly don't need to be "going after" editors for "breaking the rules". That stuff should always continue to be discouraged. But, we could and should be willing to "duke things out" and come to some sort of consensus on issues such as this, the use of diacritics. Granted, some feelings may be bent, but... I mean, should some feelings be bent here, in a central place, or hundreds of times over hundreds of talk pages? Something that, I hope, some of you will consider.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 23:49, 1 May 2011 (UTC)
What's wrong with some such prescription as use diacritics when they are commonly used in reliable sources; avoid them when they are commonly unused? This will lead to some cases where reliable sources divide fairly evenly (I doubt naive is one), and Wikipedians are free to use either (in different articles) - but those are precisely the cases whether either form will be readily understood. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:33, 3 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't really have an issue with that approach per se, but it seems to me to be a way to simply avoid the issue (and the accompanying work involved in addressing the issue). Why should we allow outside influences to determine the style used within Wikipedia? They have their requirements, and we have our own, after all. Now, I can see your own point about not wanting to impose choices on editors from "on high", so to speak. However... there should be some consistency among style here. We are talking about style, after all; I'm not talking about content itself here, merely it's presentation.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 12:00 am, Today (UTC−4)
The outside influence referred to here is the rest of the English language. The purpose of this encyclopedia is to communicate - ideally very widely - with other readers of English; the plan to do so by ignoring what literate anglophones read and write and devising a private English of our very own seems contrary to this. Those who want to embellish an ivory tower, in the manner of Mallarme, should feel free to do so - at sites which mean to be read by a discriminating few. Anybody who wants to execute that plan by doing work we can easily avoid should first make the case that that work is (a) likely to result in anything more than the usual stalemate and (b) more productive than - say - writing articles. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 14:21, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Edit request to change link in Images section to more illustrative version of article

In the Images section, the version of Timpani linked to in this sentence "Multiple images in the same article can be staggered right-and-left (for example: Timpani)", doesn't do a good job of illustrating the concept. Please change the link to this version (current as of today), which I've just edited to comply with this guideline, and which does a better job of illustrating the staggered right-and-left principle. Thanks, --LK (talk) 06:19, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

 Done — Martin (MSGJ · talk) 13:54, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

ArbCom notice

Given that yet another thread on hyphens landed at ANI, I have asked ArbCom to intervene. See Wikipedia:Arbitration/Requests/Case#Hyphens and dashes. Tijfo098 (talk) 12:05, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Request: avoiding AN/I

Can everyone participating here please voluntarily agree to not take any action which might reasonably land on AN/I's doorstep for the next 32-48 hours, please? There's really no pressing need to do page moves or make an automated edit run at the moment, is there?
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 14:43, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

In accordance with Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#New topics and headings on talk pages and Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#Others' comments: "Section headings", I am revising the heading of this section from "Request" (attitudinal information) to "Request: avoiding AN/I" (attitudinal and topical information). Informative headings benefit (1) watchlist results, (2) tables of contents, (3) archive searches, and (4) links to archived sections.
See also Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 114#Informative headings, subheadings, sub-subheadings, etc. (February 2010)
and Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 120#Informative headings and subheadings (March 2011).
Wavelength (talk) 21:46, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes, but why not longer: until consensus is achieved on a resolution? I'd say that would take at three to four weeks. Looks like there will be an injunction to this effect by ArbCom, anyway. See the page. Tony (talk) 14:58, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I certainly don't have a problem with a longer term, here. One week sounds good, to me. I just think that we'll all be better off, that the project will be better off, if we avoid AN/I and especially arbcom involvement in the MoS.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 15:37, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
The result of letting MOS fester as it has been is a locked guideline and 120 pages of quarrels in the archives. Large numbers of editors disagree with and ignore this page; some have come here to say so. If you like that result, do continue the same process; I don't. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:04, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
So... it's better for people to run around and do page moves or open a bunch of RM requests? You seem to be advocating for disruption, here. I'd like the page here unprotected and for this issue (among others) to reach some sort of resolution myself, but don't you think that the "pot has been stirred" enough? Do we really need some group of overwrought admins who patrol the AN/I board or arbcom to come and dictate how this process should proceed?
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 18:58, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
No, it's better for someone, calmly and actually reading what has been said (which, true, excludes some of ANI) to enforce WP:BATTLEGROUND. If somebody had taken note of how much of this page was non-consensus material enforced by revert-warring here and bots elsewhere, the pot would be a lot smoother now. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:11, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Look, history is history. Forget it. Deal with the here and now. Do you want a bunch of blocks and topic bans thrown around? Just voluntarily agree to give the page moves, move requests, and bot or bot-like editing a rest for a minute (not that you've specifically done any or all of those, I'm not accusing here.), and we'll continue towards resolving this as we're been doign for the past couple of days now.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 19:17, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I approve the moratorium, and am abiding by it. I also think ArbCom should intervene; indeed, that may be the only way to have a moratorium. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:21, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
What makes you say that? (the only way to have a moratorium, that is).
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 22:57, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
#Hyphen vs. en dash moratorium proposal. Two supports to how many who want to be free to inflict their own typography on the world? Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:10, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, the arbcom request is still outstanding. I was kind of hoping that several of you would agree to this, and then I could go to RFAR and say "see? you don't actually need to do anything here (yet).", but I suppose that was (and still is) wishful thinking.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 23:42, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

The revo 2

1) Should Wikipedia's (central) MOS page regulate the use of hyphens and dashes?
2) What should be done when whatever guidance MOS provides in this matter conflicts with common usage from the article's sources, particularly for terms in various (technical or scientific) fields?
-- Tijfo098 (talk) 22:32, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

1) Yes, 2) Comply with MOS, as it is well based on best practice (unless it can be shown that no high-quality academic sources or style guides use the form recommended by MOS, in which case the MOS should be amended accordingly). --JN466 23:22, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

For (2), there are some cases (such as chemical nomenclature) where hyphens, en dashes, and even em dashes play specific roles which are regulated by the field, and in such cases we should follow sources. There are also names which are legally hyphenated or dashed, and in such cases we might want to follow suite (though we don't follow legal capitalization of brand names, so I'm not sure about this). In the majority of cases, however, differences in dashing are simply a matter of sources following different stylistic conventions; there's no substantive distinction at all. Technical journals also tend to drop hyphens from set phrases their readership is familiar with, while introductory texts and technical dictionaries tend, as reference works, to retain hyphenation for the sake of precision. I think as a reference work we should follow the example of the latter, even if the bulk of our sources are the former. — kwami (talk) 23:28, 4 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes, comply with MOS and with reliable sources, too. When I think that a compound should logically have an en dash in it, I generally look in books and articles first to verify that I can find it that way. That indicates that some source with a style guide that uses en dashes where appropriate has decided that it's appropriate. If I can't find such a source, I leave it alone. If I do find it I usually cite it, if the cited sources don't already show the en dash form. If an editor disagrees, and makes a good case for why the en dash is not appropriate there, like in Springer-Verlag which is an appropriate German-form company name, not a join of two equal names, then it can be changed to the hyphen. Merely finding a low frequency of en dash in sources does not make a compelling or logical case that the hyphen is more correct. Dicklyon (talk) 00:15, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

As to 1) Yes and NO... The MOS should certainly advise editors as to what "best practice" is, but it should not be seen as containing "regulations" that must be blindly followed.
As to 2) Reach an article by article consensus (or in some cases a Project level consensus), one informed by the MOS but ultimately determined by the specifics of the situation. The MOS should never be "enforced". Blueboar (talk) 00:22, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't think there is a meaningful distinction between "informed by the MOS" and "enforced", as all our rules have exceptions. If it means the MOS is one of many sources an editor might use, an editor who doesn't like an MOS guideline in any situation, can simply say he's using a different source – in which case the "informing" is meaningless. I'm as frustrated as anybody over MOS wars, but I don't see how saying we are complying when we aren't, would solve anything. Art LaPella (talk) 00:32, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
To me, "informed by the MOS" means "we have read the MOS, and have discussed and understand what it says". Having read it, we then get to the question of whether to follow it or ignore it ("enforcement") in the specific article. That is a matter for consensus. It takes multiple editors to reach a consensus, and consensus does not have to be unanimous. If there are one or two editors "who do not like the MOS", and insist on ignoring it when lots of other editors agree to follow it (or one or two editors who are fans of the MOS insisting that it be followed when lots of other editors agree to ignore it) then they act against consensus and are disruptive. Consensus rules. Blueboar (talk) 13:46, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
That's what should happen if the consensus considers an article to be an exception to a guideline. But if the objection to the guideline is that the guideline shouldn't exist at all, that's when WP:CONLIMITED says the guideline should be enforced. If there is a broader consensus never to use a guideline, then they should change the guideline. Art LaPella (talk) 14:57, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't see that behind the link. Please quote the words you mean; if there is wide-spread objection to an underlying guideline, that is generally when the guideline does need to be revised. Septentrionalis PMAnderson
CONLIMITED is about a consensus that isn't widespread enough, so I don't see the objection. "[I]f there is wide-spread objection to an underlying guideline, that is generally when the guideline does need to be revised." Agreed. I believe that is the same as "If there is a broader consensus never to use a guideline, then they should change the guideline." I here, and often, object to people who ignore guidelines and appeal to a consensus, without bothering to demonstrate that consensus by changing the guideline. Art LaPella (talk) 17:07, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Ah, that section; for some reason the section redirect isn't working. Other guidelines are usually changed, when they are changed, by demonstration that the guideline has little support outside its regulars; that's how we now use William the Conqueror, for example. It is the discussions here which are usually the limited discussion by three or four people, invariably stalemated by unsourced claims of "good typography" or some other synonym of WP:ILIKEIT. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:53, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I don't understand the William the Conqueror example. Anyway, "Other guidelines are usually changed, when they are changed, by demonstration that the guideline has little support outside its regulars" sounds uncontroversial. Blueboar's statement was that the MOS should never be enforced, not that it shouldn't be changed. Art LaPella (talk) 18:53, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
You confound two positions:
  • MOS is not a code of law, which can be "violated" and must be "enforced." I agree with that linguistic point; so does policy; if writing about "MOS breaches" were a banning offence, this matter would never have arisen.
  • Whether MOS's advice should be followed in any given case is a matter for consensus of the editors of the article to decide. (I also agree here, and with a guideline that showed any evicence of being written by consensus, I would give than consensus weight in the article discussion.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:15, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
I agree with JN466 provided that no is replaced by hardly any. The existence of one source using seeked (rather than sought) as the past tense of seek doesn't make that a correct form (even if it would arguably be more logical), and the same should apply to, er..., Mexican–American War. ― A. di M.plédréachtaí 00:40, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I agree. A single source can often be seen to be in error. When there's doubt it is certainly fair to call for a couple of corroborating sources. I already provided those in the case of Mexican–American War and U.S.–Mexican War and Texas–Mexico border and other such things. Dicklyon (talk) 00:45, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
(1) Yes. Few style guides do not. Those that are limited in scope and do not address this topic typically refer to more comprehensive style guides that do.
(2) Use caveats to the guidance such as "typically", "normally", etc. to leave room for exceptions. --Airborne84 (talk) 01:39, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
(1) No. Better not to say anything where there is no consensus.
(2) When MOS conflicts with common usage, it should be ignored, like other pages in Wikipedia space which fail to express consensus. This is what most Wikipedians do anyway, because of nonsense like this. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 03:35, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
A lot of common usage includes a lot of bad grammar. So MoS guidance should be passed over to to endorse amateurish text? Tony (talk) 03:52, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
There are two cases:
  • either the "good" grammar is also in common use, in which case using it does not conflict with common use, but chooses among them.
  • or it is not, which is true here; thou art the last, m'lord, I should expect to advocate archaism. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:18, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Does that mean you want a strictly descriptive dash rule? Art LaPella (talk) 04:26, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I see no benefit to the encyclopedia in anything else, other than some editors' pleasure in WP:ILIKEIT. Certainly prescribing something which is not descriptive has not tended to settle disputes. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 04:50, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I believe that is a "gotcha". Search this edit for "I'll just remember this for next time". Art LaPella (talk) 05:09, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Why? I still hold that mandating forms which are vanishingly rare is not helpful; and I do not regard hyphens-only as something to advocate; it is merely better than the present situation. (One does not advocate Purgatory by calling it better than Antenora.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 05:40, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Because the question wasn't hyphens only, it was about a strictly descriptive dash rule. It is difficult to reconcile your February response, which begins with the word "No", with your response to the same thing above, time stamped 04:50 5 May, which can be summarized as "Yes". Art LaPella (talk) 06:58, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Different universe of discourse: I oppose a rule of entirely dashes (if there is consensus on entirely hyphens, I will join, but not advocate it, as the second-worst solution). I prefer doing what sources do; if anybody wants to call that entirely descriptive, that's not my responsibility. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:44, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
I agree with PMA, though I'd consider a form used by about 20% of the sources to be “also in common use”. Otherwise, we'd have to ban anybody in favour of anyone. :-) A. di M.plédréachtaí 11:46, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
And I agree with A. di M.'s caveat; something that happens 20% of the time should be recognizable to anglophones - if I may use such a loaded term. ;-> Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:44, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Of course you can. Of course, if you want to communicate more clearly, you could use the term English speaker. Which, this being the English Wikipedia, is redundant. So you could just say editor. Probably clearer, has a less pretentious connotation, and is easier to type.Gerardw (talk) 16:22, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, I think. On the stylistic point, one word is often smoother than two; that's why anglophone is used, after all. But this brings up a serious and substantive point: I don't mean editor, I mean reader (and English-speaking reader; the other Wikipedias exist for other language groups, but only this one for anglophones); the idea that we should chiefly consider the preferences of a few hundred editors instead of all those who read us may be responsible for many of the ills of this page. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:33, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Good point. Reader is better; a two syllable word being even smoother than a three syllable. Gerardw (talk) 16:57, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Yes, the MOS should provide guidance on dashes etc. However, as a matter of principle, here and elsewhere, the MOS should take a conservative approach and avoid prescribing options where they are not covered by a large-scale consensus in actual practice. There are only three types of situations where the MOS should go for a binding prescription in the face of varying usage in practice: (a) where one option is dictated by practical needs relating to the software environment or similar factors; (b) where one option is the overwhelmingly preferred use in careful typography, and alternative usages are clearly deemed substandard; (c) where an issue affects so many places and is so highly visible and salient that mixed usage across Wikipedia would seriously affect a coherent appearance of the site. Type (a) is why we have straight quotes rather than the (otherwise universally preferred) curly quotes; type (b) is why we have en-dashes in number ranges; type (c) is why we have non-capitalization in section titles. In other cases, as for instance the choice of spaced en-dash vs. em-dash in parentheticals, the MOS does, and should, allow variance. The issue that's been so contested of late, the disjunctive en-dashes, fall into neither of the three cases above; the need for legislating them is, if anything, lower than that in the case of the parenthetical em-dashes. The MOS should therefore not mandate either option here; or, if it is felt that it must mandate something, it should opt for the simpler version that is more frequently encountered in practice and more in line with what editors would most naturally do, i.e. the hyphen. Fut.Perf. 07:57, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Let's boil this down to two sentences and include it under MOS:FOLLOW. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 13:44, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

1) Yes 2) Common usage should be used and the MOS updated. Gerardw (talk) 11:32, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Can you clarify what you mean by common usage? Tijfo098 (talk) 12:05, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Common usage is the term used in the proposal. To me, it would mean subject area specific usage as determined by consensus achived by referring to multiple reliable sources. As consensus is reached, the results should be folded back into the MOS. Gerardw (talk) 14:16, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
This might be achievable occasionally, but the problem arises that many subject areas have more than one usage, and much usage is not subject-specific. I presume we're talking just about en dashes as appositions (blood–brain barrier, Mexican–American War, etc—that seems to be the contentious bit). Can we workshop how at least the first can be given a reasonably robust framework for decision-making (that is, say, if the MoS adds that in subject-specific cases, where the overwhelming majority of sources say to do X, that should prevail)? And what if most of the hard-copy style guides say do X, but fewer than 50% of writers/publishing houses follow them? Is there a way of balancing these things? Tony (talk) 14:33, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
It works if WP:Consensus works. If WP:Consensus doesn't work, all of Wikipedia doesn't work. This is not to dismiss your concerns or pretend that it will be easy; it's the ideal to which we should strive. Gerardw (talk) 14:46, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes it should. The editors are fighting about it. That demonstrates that it's something they're interested in and could stand to have included in the MoS. However, we should do everything possible to prevent the formation of camps or factions. We should conduct a survey of reputable style guides, agreeing ahead of time that there might be more than one correct practice. (Example: Both the presence and absence of the serial comma are correct English, so we permit both systems so long as every given articles uses only one.) If there are notable differences by national variety, then we should tie punctuation to spelling per WP: ENGVAR. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:39, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

This RFC should not have appeared on the talk page for MOS, because there will be significant bias in favour of MOS use just due to who will visit this page. It should have been placed in neutral territory. Graeme Bartlett (talk) 13:36, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Probably true. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 14:37, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes to (1) and what Dicklyon said for (2); I couldn't have said it better. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 14:37, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

  • Comment—Wikipedia should have an in-house style guideline. Currently, that is the MoS, and it should be regarded as the best-practices. There are a few centuries of typographic conventions that were tossed out with the invention of the typewriter, and the cloning of its keyboard for the computer. For those reasons, MoS specifies following the "professional" standards when it comes to dashes. So, to answer the specific questions: 1) yes and 2) use common sense. Where there are specific exceptions in specific fields of study, then follow the source materials for those sources. For everything else, follow the MoS. Imzadi 1979  17:06, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    • No, it should be the best practices, and it isn't. This post is bad history, in two senses:
    • we are writing for the twenty-first century - not the eighteenth. The long s can be done on the computer keyboard too; that doesn't mean we should.
    • Far more seriously, the claim that the en dash was used for centuries as WP:DASH prescribes, before the typewriter, is fantasy; there wasn't even a word for it (see the OED) before 1875, when the typewriter was already invented. The usages in WP:DASH - except its usage in punctuation, which is what the 1875 quotation attests - were chiefly proposed between 1893 and 1926; most of them have never been normal usage. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 17:24, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

1) Yes, 2) use the MOS. I think the point of having a manual of style is to guide editors so our articles are written in a professional manner and consistently across the wiki. Our style is ours, not our sources, and should govern the style of the content here on this wiki. If some specific typography is fundamental to a particular term, then it should be used or course, but in matters of style the MOS should reflect the consensus of the community on how we want our articles to look. — Bility (talk) 17:28, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

Make them look alike: dashes, hyphens, etc.

Why not just configure the media-wiki software to render all dashes, hypens, etc. in exactly the same way? This is also done for spacings. Then one can say yes to 1) but also say that on Wikipedia, we don't bother with making a distinction between the various dashes and hypens. Obviously, 2) then becomes moot. Count Iblis (talk) 15:20, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

In accordance with Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#New topics and headings on talk pages and Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#Others' comments: "Section headings", I am revising the subheading of this subsection from "Make them look alike" (vague information) to "Make them look alike: dashes, hyphens, etc." (clearer information). Informative headings benefit (1) watchlist results, (2) tables of contents, (3) archive searches, and (4) links to archived sections.
See also Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 114#Informative headings, subheadings, sub-subheadings, etc. (February 2010)
and Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 120#Informative headings and subheadings (March 2011).
Wavelength (talk) 15:23, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
Support for hyphens, minus-signs, and en dashes. Em dashes [—] are patently different, but not presently a source of controversy. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:34, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment It seems clear to me that Wikipedia should aim to follow correct usage rather than chase down standards to the lowest common denominator. I think the guidance as written at WP:MOS is clear, appropriate and easy to follow. That does not mean people will always follow it, but there is no deadline to get it corrected. Oh, and I note that User:Pmanderson (who I've never heard of before) has posted 12 times in a short discussion, and IMHO, that is not healthy for the discussion. Let other voices speak. Shem (talk) 18:23, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Correct usage and lowest common denominator is a false dichotomy. Correct usage is determined by the consensus of the masses. Gerardw (talk) 18:46, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Or at least by consensus of the literate, which can be determined by looking at reliable and well-printed books. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:06, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Does literate have a different meaning than reader? If I go to the library, how can I tell the difference between well-printed and not well-printed books? Gerardw (talk) 19:12, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Yes; the difference between fluent writing and merely functional reading. You tell the difference between well-printed and not well-printed by looking at them; I'm excluding books with typoes, made with cheap OCR, which violate established conventions (like italicizing titles), which photo-reproduce typescript, and so on. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:35, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Don't think there's any literacy requirement for being a member of the community. Anyone can edit, ya know?
No, literacy should be a requirement on the sources. Otherwise we get into the straw man arguments that looking at actual usage means using teh. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:02, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
Sound likes you're saying we should use well-printed books to determine correct usage, and we can identify well-printed books by the fact they follow correct usage ("established conventions")? Sounds like circular logic to me. Gerardw (talk) 19:46, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
No more so than finding out how many toes cats have by going out and looking at several cats. (The answer will be it varies) How do you tell a cat? By several features, most of which most healthy cats have: shape of ear, dentition, tail, etc. Similarly, there are several marks of a well-printed book which tend to fall together; among those books marked by them, most use Mexican War, then Mexican-American War and only then the rarity Mexican–American War. (Now it happens that the same is, I think, true of ill-printed books; but restricting one's set avoids certain rhetorical points.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:07, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
Your analogy doesn't hold -- looking at unqualified cats is not equivalent to looking at "well-printed" books. It would be like looking at calico cats to see how many toes cats had. Gerardw (talk) 23:57, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
sSee above, as of this edit. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:02, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
How does the frequency of Pmanderson's posting deter others from speaking? Gerardw (talk) 18:46, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
In any case, about half of those were replies to questions directed to me. I'm taking a break. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:06, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
  • This isn't a realistic proposal. The MediaWiki software does not, and can not, control the manner in which browsers render text. implementing this would require the injection of CSS into millions of pages, which is an utterly ridiculous idea to me.
    — V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 18:50, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    The MediaWiki software can control what text gets sent to the browsers. See User:Gerardw/sandbox2 ... regardless of how many spaces I put in, the HTML source only has one between the words. (Not an endorsement of the idea, just saying it's technically feasible.) Gerardw (talk) 19:04, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    That has nothing to do with MediaWiki. The handling of whitespace is handled by the browser, and the standard since HTML was created is that pages would render in the manner that your test page does when it comes to spaces. The HTML standard specifically deals with spaces. This is proposing that we create a local standard to force browsers to render all hyphens/dashes in a specific manner, which is only achievable through (a massive amount of) CSS. The same would be true if we were to attempt to force specific styles of fonts be used for rendering pages. Such proposals are simply unrealistic.
    — V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 19:11, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    Use the "view source" option of your browser and you'll see what the server is actually sending. It eliminates the duplicate spaces before your browser seems them. Gerardw (talk) 19:15, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    Right. Because that's whitespace. It's a completely different topic. If you don't believe me go and ask someone else (float the idea at WP:VPT).
    — V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 19:19, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    See Dynamic_web_page#Server-side_scripting_and_content_creation. Gerardw (talk) 19:35, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    What of it? I know what Server side scripting is already, I just don't understand it's relevance in this discussion.
    — V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 19:39, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Yes! Great idea for a new user preference item. In the mean time, if you don't want to see a difference, just choose Lucida Grande as your font. Dicklyon (talk) 20:13, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

  • Oppose The hard part here is deciding when if ever endashes should be used. If we decide they shouldn't be used, we can kill them; that is easy. To discuss the method for killing them is premature, since the first question hasn't been answered. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 20:33, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    Yes, but there's no chance we're going to decide that en dashes shouldn't be used; that would be turning the problem on its head. The suggestion here is more clever: make a way for people to not see the difference if they don't want to. Apple already did that for us via their Lucida Grande font, so there's a really easy way out for people who want it (though, admittedly, stretching all the hyphens to the length of an en dash as Lucida Grande does may not be exactly what they're asking for). Dicklyon (talk) 21:39, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    Seriously? Your proposed solution is to use a font unsupported by Windows or Linux, and you can't see why this would be a problem? – iridescent 21:45, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    No, I think he is just pointing out that currently you could do that if you wanted. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 21:54, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    In the sense that I could buy a new computer running Mac OS—the only OS to support Lucida Grande—that's true. It's not the most helpful of suggestions, however. – iridescent 21:57, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
    That is not the proposal here, though, as far as I can tell. The proposal here is to let people write whatever dashes they want in any scenario and then just display them the same for everyone. I'm all for your idea of a preference setting for this if someone wants to build it, although I doubt it is worth the trouble of building, because I don't see more than a handful of people checking such an item off in their preferences. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 21:54, 5 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose, especially for minus signs, which are not interchangeable with en dashes; a minus sign is in horizontal and vertical alignment with the horizontal line on the plus sign. With the default font in my browser (Firefox 4 under Windows), this is easily seen from the sequence minus, plus, and en dash: −+–. I think even commingling hyphens and en dashes would lead to problems, because phrases are often written differently with an en dash than they would be using hyphens, e.g., “post–Civil War era” vs. “post-Civil-War era”. JeffConrad (talk) 00:18, 6 May 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose the concept and the technical implementation. As far as I know there's no style that can be used to shorten or lengthen a single character. You could change the size, weight, font, etc., but how would you force a certain length using CSS? An alternative is to replace all instances of dashes and hyphens with only one of them, however, if performed server-side before the text is saved, would this violate our content license, as no record would remain of the author's original contribution? Of course a bot could go through all changes to the wiki looking for dashes and hyphens and replacing them with a separate edit, and this also seems over-the-top. Conceptually, I'm also against this, as the differences between dashes and hyphens impart meaning which would be lost in their replacement. — Bility (talk) 17:28, 6 May 2011 (UTC)