Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 125

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Archive 120 Archive 123 Archive 124 Archive 125 Archive 126 Archive 127 Archive 130


Spaces after colons in non-mainspace page titles

What do people think - isn't it better to write Wikipedia: Manual of Style than to take away the space after the colon? (As here.) In accordance with English punctuation (rather than computerese)?--Kotniski (talk) 14:48, 4 August 2011 (UTC)

Before we get too deep into this conversation, we need to look at the technical implications of such a change. It is quite possible that text parsers will get confused by the space. About thirty years ago, somebody asked a similar question about the FORTRAN programming language. When an emergency patch had to be sent up to a spacecraft (I think that it was a mission to Venus), a rouge space confused the compiler, the spacecraft made an unexpected change in course and was never heard of again.
In other words, there might be a good technical reason for there being no space after the colon. Martinvl (talk) 15:05, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't think there is, it's just that the software doesn't put one in automatically, and no-one's really thought about it up to now. Since wikilinks and URLs and so on work just as well with a space as without, there's no reason to expect this to cause any problems any more than there are problems with titles such as eBay or the italicized ones; it's just another case of making the title on the page display differently from the canonical title in the database.--Kotniski (talk) 15:10, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, that should either be done on all pages or on none, because doing it arbitrarily on just a few pages makes them look weird. A. di M.plédréachtaí 18:46, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
Great, I didn't even know that was possible. A. di M.plédréachtaí 18:42, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't think this is helpful. Here the colon is a delimiter for the namespace, and you don't normally use spaces there when using this software. Of course MOS should not be the only page with this displaytitle, one way or another. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 18:47, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
When I am creating a Wikilink, I frequently cut-and-paste the target article's name into the source article's text, apply a pair double square brackets and if appropriate, add a vertical bar and some alternative text. If we are going to insert spaces into the article's name, we need to be sure that when the names are cut and pasted into a Wikilink, that the link still works. Martinvl (talk) 18:52, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
It seems to work. It's just not going to happen. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 19:01, 4 August 2011 (UTC)
It certainly works. And I don't see why "it's not going to happen", unless that's intended as a threat. For me, it makes more sense to make our titles follow the rules of good English, than the rules (indeed, just the default ones) rules of a piece of software. I was told at WP:VPT some time ago that this can in fact be achieved by making a single tweak to a CSS page somewhere - it's not necessary to add a DISPLAYTITLE to every page.--Kotniski (talk) 19:18, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Just to show you guys how much the rest of Wikipedia cares about what's going on in here A. di M.plédréachtaí 04:23, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

That's not surprising; most editors don't follow MOS. I did some explaining there; hopefully it will head off your RM, which I believe is ill-conceived. Dicklyon (talk) 05:12, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for withdrawing it. Dicklyon (talk) 21:02, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Universal terms

As per the comment in WP:ENGVAR about using universal words instead of local variants, I'm certain someone, somewhere, sometime has created a table listing bad regional words (eg 'Gas' & 'Petrol') and their corresponding good universal word (eg. 'Fuel'). Does anyone know where such a table lives, and once identified, can we link it from ENGVAR? Manning (talk) 05:15, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

PS, my selection of "gas/petrol/fuel" as an example was completely arbitrary and not intended to be definitive. In other words, I am not attempting to start a debate on those particular words, or any other words. Just looking for the table, if one exists. Manning (talk) 05:24, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Fuel is a more general term than petrol or gasoline. JIMp talk·cont 05:55, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Most of the time, the word "fuel" is not a useful substitute for "petrol" or "gasoline". This is because "fuel" may also refer to coal, uranium fuel rods, diesel, kerosine, heavy fuel oil, or liquified natural gas.--Toddy1 (talk) 14:56, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Which is why the article is at gasoline (as much as that just looks wrong to me :). Jenks24 (talk) 10:57, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
Similarly, 'power' is a more universal term for the quantity than unit-derived terms like 'wattage' or 'horsepower'. Lightmouse (talk) 13:24, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
But how power is measured will affect the number. Depending on date, you would expect ihp to be several times greater than nhp, and would expect shp to be slightly less than ihp. The shp of an electric motor will be a lot less than the electric power consumed by the motor.--Toddy1 (talk) 15:02, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

I agree with you. Units of power vary. Lightmouse (talk) 15:06, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Redundant words in captions

MOS:CAPTION doesn't make it clear, but when I encounter images captioned like "A picture of a railway train at Oxford in the year 2011", am I justified in removing the words "A picture of" and "the year", leaving "A railway train at Oxford in 2011"? If so, perhaps the MOS page should give examples of phrases to avoid. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:23, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

"A picture of" sounds redundant but I don't know of an official guideline for it. For "the year", see WP:YEAR: "Avoid inserting the words the year before the digits (1995, not the year 1995), unless the meaning would otherwise be unclear." There is also WP:ERA: "He did not become king until the year 55." Art LaPella (talk) 21:17, 8 August 2011 (UTC)

Use an example blockquote that is "more than four lines"

The style guide suggests to use a blockquote with quotes of more than four lines. Yet the example itself fails this criteria. This ought to be changed. If you have a favourite quote you want to use, please use it. Jason Quinn (talk) 15:07, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Maybe it should say "more than four lines in a window [of specified width]". Is there a standard way of specifying window width (by pixels, by inches, by centimeters, by point size)? (The word criteria is plural, and the word criterion is singular.)
Wavelength (talk) 15:53, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
Wavelength's suggestion is very well taken. With typical users' monitor screens now ranging from tablet-computer size to (at least) 27", "four lines" of text isn't a meaningful guideline. Another aspect of the guideline should also be clarified: does "four lines" refer to how long the quote would be on an unindented line, or how long it would be when indented as a block quotation? The style guides I'm familiar with use the former criterion (if they address the matter at all), but some other guides may use the latter. --Jackftwist (talk) 17:22, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Categories of style pages

I notice in the MoS navbox at the top, and in the categorization system, there are two categories "Content" and "Wikipedia content" of which the latter seems to be a subset of the former. Is this deliberate?--Kotniski (talk) 15:32, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Here and here are the change. I can't explain it. Maybe Gnevin can. Art LaPella (talk) 20:33, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Intended form of this page

Following on from some of the previous threads here (such as #Current state of affairs above), can we reach some kind of conclusion as to what form this page is intended to take? In relation to any particular area of style guidance, is it supposed to contain (a) everything; (b) the most important things; (c) only pointers to the subpage where the information can be found? And if the answer is different for different areas, then on what basis do we decide which is which? To me it makes no sense to have, for example, punctuation expounded here in full detail; capitalization given in almost full detail even though there's a subpage for it; most topics expounded in semi-detail; some topics for which we have subpages not mentioned here at all; and the MOSNUM topics presented as general waffle without specifics. Can we at least decide what we'e aiming at? --Kotniski (talk) 09:31, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

Perhaps we could decide based on length. I looked at each category of MOS subpages (listed on right side of main MOS). I excluded the category "Wikipedia content" and I ignored subcategories. Within each category I threw a die to choose one of the MOS subpages, and found its length as listed in the page history. I found a maximum of 50 kB, a minimum of 6 kB, an average of 24 kB, and a standard deviation of 14 kB. Of course everyone would agree the larger pages are far above the threshold for a separate page. As a rough attempt at discerning where the threshold is, I found the point that is one standard deviation below the average, or 10 kB.
So I suggest any section that exceeds 10 kB should be turned into a separate MOS subpage. Jc3s5h (talk) 10:40, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
All right, let's assume we did something along those lines - then having made the subpage, what should be left on the main page? Just a pointer to that subpage, or some of the highlights from it as well?--Kotniski (talk) 11:02, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
I'd go with “some highlights”, but they should be neither 60% of the size of the subpage nor so vague as to be useless. For example, the current sections on currencies and links in WP:MOS are OK, IMO. (Given that the one about links is relevant to pretty much any articles, I'd be OK with expanding the latter by a factor of 2 or 3 to give more detail, too.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 11:14, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
This page should be either your (a) or (b), Kotniski. It should contain all the rules that we should expect most editors to follow most of the time. The common punctuation and capitalization rules should be here, and only specialized material relevant to a small subset of articles should be pushed onto subpages.
Expecting wikieditors to read five and six and seven subpages just to see how to write a basic article is unrealistic. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:42, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
I would tend to agree with you there. How's about replacing the contents with Tony's abridged version? --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 11:49, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
User:Kotniski raises an excellent point. We need to know when to stop and when to trim overgrowth. Guidance adds value when it:
  • documents the outcome of a dispute that may reoccur with significant effect
  • defines how to fix a common and significant problem that wouldn't be fixed by the wiki
  • make a difference to what editors actually do
I think Tony's abridged version retains the meat without the fat and it's easier to read. Lightmouse (talk) 12:06, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
Tony's beginner's manual is in places so terse that the meaning is unclear. It seems understandable to many of us, but that's only because we've already read the full version. I find that most of the examples et al. in the current MoS will be useful and necessary to ordinary Wikieditors (rather than style enthusiasts like us). Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:40, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
You don't seem to be arguing against the beauty of it being only a summary, only that it's too brief in parts. But to me, it fits the bill of what you wanted (above), and even if we didn't adopt it as is, it could form a good base for such future document. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 14:50, 10 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm not arguing against it because I'm not sure what you're talking about. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:13, 11 August 2011 (UTC)
Agree with Darkfrog24. Tony's summary is OK as a cheatsheet for people who have read the full text before, but it's too terse for complete newcomers, who in the WP:Summary style scheme are the ones more likely to read the main page as opposed to the subpages. Reduction in size for the introductory page should be accomplished by omitting rarely relevant subtleties (the way WP:MOS#Currencies does), not by not writing full sentences. Disclaimer: I wrote the first version of the summary in WP:MOS#Currencies. A. di M.plédréachtaí 22:50, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

I get the impression that we generally agree that some sort of summary style (including the most important style points) is what we're aiming at, but possibly with certain topics being dealt with in full on this page. That being the case, would we all agree in particular that the current sections on Numbers, Chronological items and Units of measurement are not what we want - they should be giving us some answers, not just telling us what sort of questions we can find answered at MOSNUM?--Kotniski (talk) 06:54, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Actually, they look like they would be relevant to a great many articles, probably most of them. Right now, though, they're so vague and skimpy that they're hardly any good. What's the point of saying "This section says how to use a.m. and p.m." if we don't actually say it? I'll do a quick fix of chronological items for now, but what we really should do is just copypaste all or most of that beautifully formatted content from MOSNUM. It belongs here where users can find it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:59, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
One part of the simple formula I used in creating the brief version was to render examples without explanatory text where they make the point themselves. Perhaps a few need to be opened up again, but I find many lead statements in the current MoS are unnecessary. While there's nothing technically wrong with having a large MoS main, as now, it's obviously preferable to attract more editors by making it as short as possible. Tony (talk) 00:25, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
“[w]hat we really should do is just copypaste all or most of that beautifully formatted content from MOSNUM”... huh, if we did the same with MOSCAPS, MOSLINK etc. the main MOS page would become unmanageably large. (Also, it would defeat the purpose of having subpages in the first place.) Giving the most typical case of rules those rules which apply to most articles and referring to the subpage for details, exceptional cases and unusual situations would make more sense. What about this? A. di M.plédréachtaí 00:46, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Answer: I don't think we should have subpages. I'd put the whole thing here in one place, but I can settle for putting rules that would apply to most Wikiarticles in one place and putting rare things elsewhere. Question: What about a large MoS would make it unmanageable?
Keeping typical rules in the MoS and referring to subpages for exceptional cases does make sense, but the current sections on chronological items and numbers don't do that. They only hint at what sorts of things may be found on the subpage. They're so short but it would waste less space if they were long enough to do their job. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:43, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, the entire MOS with all its subpages would be about one and a half megabyte, which would be a big problem for users of slow connections. (When this talk page was half a meg, my browser failed to download it completely about half the times.) However, as I've already said, I wouldn't be opposed to have a WP:Manual of Style/full transcluding all of the subpages, for users who'd find that more comfortable. (And I agree that the current WP:MOS#Numbers etc. are useless.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 14:06, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Chronological item reinstatement

I have reinstated a lot of the text that I originally used in teh Chronological Item section. The first reason was the removal of instruction creep - instructions that appeared in MOSNUM were being replicated in MOS. The second was grammatical - the list was introduced by an incomplete sentence - each bullet point complted the sentence in a different way. Martinvl (talk) 14:22, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Consensus in the above thread seems to be that (some of) the instructions should be duplicated between MOSNUM and here.--Kotniski (talk) 15:21, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
In my rewording, I added a comment about about all-numeric dates. Although this does not explicitly give an instruction, it does so implicitly. Comments? Martinvl (talk) 16:40, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
The current version of chronological items is so skimpy that it's useless. There is no point in saying "We have rules about 12- and 24-hour clocks" unless we state what those rules are. We should place that content in the MoS itself where the users can see it. My personal preference would be to take the content from MOSNUM, which is beautifully written, and place it in the main MoS and scrap MOSNUM as redundant. The only content, if any, not given in the main MoS should be content that is relevant only to a small subset of articles—guidance on Gregorian vs. Julian calendars would fall in this category.
I would have zero objection to rules that were both clear and in parallel construction, but I don't feel that it's entirely necessary.
One more thing: This wasn't a case of instruction creep. Instruction creep is when new rules are added or existing rules become stricter. This was a case of making existing rules easier to find. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:59, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Per the general view, I've restored the section (now named "Dates and time") to a form which contains the most needed information. Please improve further (and it would be great if someone could do the same with the numbers section and the others).--Kotniski (talk) 16:25, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Chronological items and life expectancy of a Wikipedia article

MOSNUM currently advises against the use of the word "currently" on grounds that the rest of the statement might soon cease to be true. This is not always the case - one might write "It is currently raining in London" - this will almost certainly have changed before the article where it appears has been read. On the other hand, one might write "Iceland is currently being pulled apart by geological forces at the rate of one centimetre per year". This statement will probably remain true long after Wikipedia has ceased to exist, as will the statement "At the start of the millenium". However statements such as "At the start of the year" should be avoided - how many Wikipedia editors have been registerd for more than a year? How about "At the start of the decade"? Now that is a tricky one and that is where I am addressing my suggestion.

May I suggest that MOS specifies that editors should write assuming that articles will have a life of twenty years - thus expressions that implicitly reference the current time such as "currently" or "since the start of the millenium" should only be used if in twenty years time their meaning will be unchanged.

Comment? Martinvl (talk) 19:08, 12 August 2011 (UTC)

Twenty years is imho a bit short. I would like to believe that what we create here will be available to our great-grandchildren a century from now. The statement about Iceland would be vastly improved by simply deleting "currently" - the present continious tense of the statement doesn't need embellishment. (I first wrote "further embellishment" but realised that was also superflous.) Roger (talk) 19:35, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
Presumably "currently" was included on the grounds that the engine of continental drift is unknown; the Mid-Atlantic Rift might, for all we know, turn off, or accelerate, in twenty years. But writing for a century is recommended somewhere in policy, which this page is not. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:53, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
If an external link can have the comment "accessed [YYYY-MM-DD]", then maybe a textual passage can have the comment "confirmed [YYYY-MM-DD]".
Wavelength (talk) 20:03, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
The designers of the IBM PC apparently thought their product, the operating system, and the software would be consigned to the dustbin of history within 18 years, 142 days. Their error was a significant contributing cause to the Year 2000 problem. Jc3s5h (talk) 20:11, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
"confirmed YYYY-MM-DD" sounds like {{Asof}}, which the WP:DATED guideline already recommends. Art LaPella (talk) 20:42, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
I'd go with “several years, possibly decades” rather than any specific time span. (I've come to dislike stuff like “at the start of the century/millennium” because I have to guess when it's not immediately obvious whether the author was writing before or after the end of AD 2000; even if this doesn't apply to Wikipedia, I still prefer stuff such as “as of the [early|mid|late] 2000s|early 21st century”.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 22:37, 12 August 2011 (UTC)
Re: "statements such as 'At the start of the year [decade, century, millineum, etc.]' should be avoided" — isn't this guideline unnecessarily restrictive? I.e., if what year the article/author is referring to would be intuitively obvious or clear to the typical user from the context, what possible confusion could ever arise (either next year or a millenium in the future)? E.g., consider: "In May 2011 U.S. stock market indexes began to fall, even though at the start of the year they had been rallying steadily from their lows in the late summer of 2010." Is there any reasonably conceivable potential for confusion about the start of which year the sentence is referring to? Similar examples could be constructed for any benchmark in time: month, decade, etc., provided the context is clear and unambiguous. By contrast, a statement such as "at the start of the decade," without a clear context, should indeed be not just avoided, but banished. --Jackftwist (talk) 23:08, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

Please see RfC on citation style

Please see WT:CITE#Which Wikipedia guideline(s) should establish citation format? Jc3s5h (talk) 16:57, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

I still don't see any contradiction between what's said at MOSNUM and what's said at WP:CITE. Do you think there's some inconsistency? MOSNUM seems to be more detailed, that's all.--Kotniski (talk) 17:08, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, I made an error in the location of the RfC due to an article redirect with the name "Citing sources". I will copy your question there and answer there. Jc3s5h (talk) 17:45, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

'Times' character

The template {{times}} is now available, to display a typographically correct 'times' character (× in HTML); for example 4{{times}}100m relay renders as 4×100m relay. Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 20:12, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

What's the point? It's two keystrokes more than the HTML entity. :-) A. di M.plédréachtaí 22:37, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
Exactly, it's faster to just type × (talk) 04:54, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
I thought the same. I've put it up for deletion. JIMp talk·cont 05:48, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
The point is improved readability for novice editors and others not familiar with HTML. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 10:13, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Novice editors are more likely to have encountered × than {{times}} before. And using the × character directly would be even more readable, for that matter. A. di M.plédréachtaí 11:20, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Also, editors who learn what × is all about could apply that knowledge in certain off-wiki contexts, while {{times}} would be useless off-wiki. Jc3s5h (talk) 11:22, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
The × character is available with no more than three mouse clicks (typically just one) by means of the toolbox below the Save page/Show preview/Show changes buttons, as explained at WP:VPT#'Times' character. --Redrose64 (talk) 19:16, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Not all of our editors do - or can - use a mouse. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 10:13, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
So what? Those who can't, can use ×; how is {{times}} any better? A. di M.plédréachtaí 12:19, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
Cite? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 10:13, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, they might have encountered × before (or at least some other entity) in HTML, whereas they could have encountered {{times}} before... AFAIK, nowhere else. A. di M.plédréachtaí 12:19, 9 August 2011 (UTC)
On further thought, such a template would be more useful if it included non-breaking spaces before and after the times sign. A shorter name would be even better, but {{x}} is taken (and it's a pity that such a simple name is used for something with a very limited scope). A. di M.plédréachtaí 20:15, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

Hyphenation: "well-known" or "well known"

Is this edit supported by the Manual of Style?
Wavelength (talk) 17:30, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
[I am revising the heading of this section.
Wavelength (talk) 17:32, 14 August 2011 (UTC)]

?< and ?= aren't described here. But if it's unhyphenating "well-known for", "well-known by", and "well-known as", but not "the well-known", that sounds consistent with WP:HYPHEN's goal of hyphenating when it isn't a predicate adjective (since its "well-meaning" and "well-behaved" exceptions don't apply to "known".) I can't think of a "well known by", "well known by", or "well-known as" sentence that doesn't use the phrase as a predicate adjective. So is that what ?< and ?= mean? Excluding "the well-known" seems unnecessary, because you wouldn't say "the well-known for" etc. Art LaPella (talk) 18:16, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Hyphenation is minority usage in such forms. I just searched the quotations in the OED, and maybe 10–15% are hyphenated (yup: 10/80 = 12.5% 'well-known as', 6/38 = 15.8% 'well-known for', 2/37 = 5.4% 'well-known by', Σ = 11.6%, in full text; in quotes only, 6/67, 6/30, 2/34 = 10.7%). But predicate adjectives are often hyphenated. As the Ahdi Book of Style, 3rd ed., puts it,
Do hyphenate compound modifiers that occur elsewhere in the sentence [than before a noun] if they continue to function as modifying compounds. This almost always occurs when the compound modifier follows a linking verb and functions as a predicate adjective ...
  • the patient is good-natured and soft-spoken
  • the forceps were bone-biting
  • I found the patient to be panic-stricken
  • I work part-time
  • this commitment will be long-term
kwami (talk) 23:06, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
(For anyone who doesn't know, Kwami's source is referring to the rule that says we should hyphenate before the noun but not after: "a well-known candidate," but "the candidate was not well-known."Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:09, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I think you meant "not well known". Anyway, I was answering a question about the Manual of Style; please change the Manual if it's wrong. Art LaPella (talk) 00:01, 15 August 2011 (UTC)


It seems WP:DIACRITICS and MOS:FOREIGN plow nearly the same ground but slightly vary with each other. Would there be a way to harmonize and/or consolidate the two? --Hodgson-Burnett's Secret Garden (talk) 17:16, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

There's also the section, "Use English" (abbreviated WP:UE.)--Hodgson-Burnett's Secret Garden (talk) 17:23, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
WP:DIACRITICS is part of the page WP:Naming conventions (use English), which as I keep mentioning at that page, has no particular reason to be a naming conventions (article titles) page, as the principles it expounds - insofar as they accurately reflect our practice, which in the case of diacritics they don't very much - are not specific to article titles. I would rename that page something like WP:Manual of Style/English and foreign terms, rewrite it so it no longer seems just to be about article titles (and so that it more accurately reflects our actual practices, which is a separate issue), and make the MOS:FOREIGN section a summary of it. But the inevitable problem with going that is that the Use English page is vigorously defended and cultivated by a few editors who don't like either (a) diacritics; or (b) the MoS.--Kotniski (talk) 17:27, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
“A few editors” is quite an understatement when the latest RfC to change it had 47 opposes. A. di M.plédréachtaí 18:32, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
I am pleased with and hopeful about the shape of things to come as far as foreign names are concerned. Admittedly, although the RfC has its problems to properly define and insulate those terms that have an overwhelming historical usage, it enjoyed the support of a tad over half the community; to me, it shows that despite the existence of some rednecks in our community, the world around us is changing towards adopting greater sensitivity and sustainability as universal values. What we can build on is our international editor-base, and the support of the current WP tolerance of diacritic by a number of important projects that are based on or are otherwise strongly influenced by subjects with diacrictics. I'm all for rewriting along the lines that Kotniski is suggesting, as we must not forget that our mission is to educate as well as inform our readership. However, I suspect that such a move may be strongly resisted as a back-door attempt to continue the creep of the scope of diacritics unless terms like 'Munich' that have enjoyed and still enjoy significant usage are ring-fenced. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:35, 7 August 2011 (UTC)
As for educating people, OhC, this MoS has its problems but it also has one huge advantage over other style guides: We can include links to articles on these subjects. IMHO, the entire MoS should be in the imperative; it should tell people what to do and sometimes how to do it. We can afford to put all of the educational stuff, even stuff that would be included in a print style guide, in linked articles. For example, WP:LQ has a link to quotation mark. The big bonus is that placing educational material outside of the MoS is a good way to avoid instruction creep. It's literally not part of the instructions. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:10, 7 August 2011 (UTC)
I think you may have misunderstood (so might I, come to that): I think it is being suggested that we should use the MoS to document a style (i.e. retain most diacritics) that helps make Wikipedia more educational; not that we should make the MoS itself more educational.--Kotniski (talk) 10:11, 7 August 2011 (UTC)
I can't see how an article starting with “México (also Mexico in English) is” would be any more “educational” than one starting with “Mexico (Spanish: México) is” (it's not like anyone wants to remove the México throughout altogether); if anything, the former is misleading as to which way normal people refer to that country when writing in English. If being “educational” were a desideratum of titles as well as of articles themselves, we'd have to move Bill Gates to William Henry "Bill" Gates III and Gulliver's Travels to... well, look it up. (And water to hydrogen oxide while we're at it.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 21:32, 7 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, "Mexico" is the sort of case which is definitely an exception from the "use diacritics" principle (there's an undoubtedly established English form). I don't think it's being proposed we adopt any new principle in this regard, just that we document our existing practice, which is to tend strongly towards the use of diacriticked forms, even where most other reliable sources tend not to use them. But rather than open this debate again here, perhaps we could concentrate on the original question - why have an MoS section and a naming conventions pages covering the same ground?--Kotniski (talk) 12:18, 8 August 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, the Mexico case is pretty much the same as the Vienna vs. Wien case. The fact that diacritics are involved at all is entirely incidental. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 05:10, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

RFC on identifiers

There is an RFC on the addition of identifier links to citations by bots. Please comment. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 16:06, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

Logical punctuation

I just learned today about the Wikipedia style convention for logical punctuation, per MOS:COMMA and MOS:LQ. Could someone please explain the logic behind this rule?

Why is the American-based Wikipedia using British punctuation rules? Not only does America have a significantly larger population size (which leads one to logically infer that it also has many more writing professionals), but the American style for commas and quotation marks is also endorsed by the Modern Language Association, the Associated Press, and I believe several other notable organizations (but I don't want to assume and be incorrect).

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the way I see it, we've adopted an uncommon rule -- I had no idea that this comma philosophy even existed -- when I think it's safe to say that a large portion of our writers and editors are Americans who are going to follow the American style, and we're going to have rampant inconsistency as a result.

Perhaps my thoughts make me a close-minded American, but I just don't really see the logic behind it.--Jp07 (talk) 16:17, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

As I said in response to your question on my talk page, logical punctuation has been part of the MOS since it was first put together in 2002.[1] There are other things in the MOS that follow American convention over the British, such as the strong preference for the double quotation mark rather than the single.
In terms of grammar and spelling, by widespread consensus, any of the major national variants of English are acceptable in articles. This has also been in the MOS since the beginning. There are obvious caveats to this (the spelling needs to be consistent within the article, common ground should be sought where possible, words that would be confusing in other dialects should be avoided, etc.) and it's worked fairly well for the last nine years.Cúchullain t/c 16:38, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Sure, I'm not trying to question you at all, and I appreciate your help; I agree that it's best to follow the stylebook as long as that convention is a part of the stylebook, but I think it's also important to note that organizations bound by a stylebook (like the Associated Press) publish new versions. The AP publishes a new stylebook every year to make improvements and changes. I don't think tradition alone is a good reason to follow a rule.
I did review those articles, and I guess I sort of understand the desire to avoid changing an author's content, but can someone give me an example where it would be necessary or even beneficial to know that the author placed a comma or a period at the end of the quote? Do those ever add meaning? I can see it in poetic verse, maybe, but otherwise I can't think of a situation where that's important.
I think it requires a decision between whether it's more important to know where the author placed his punctuation -- I honestly don't think that's important -- or for Wikipedia to be consistent. I think it's going to be a battle to be consistent if we stick with logical punctuation.--Jp07 (talk) 16:43, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Don't try comparing the population of the US to the UK. Many countries in the Commonwealth have English as an official language and many of those use "British" usage rules. For example, India has a lot more people than the US and English is an official language there. Just thoughts. --Airborne84 (talk) 18:04, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Precisely. We already have agreement on this, at WP:ENGVAR. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:11, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I'm asking for details because I'm not very familiar with this convention, as I've pointed out. As a career writer and editor, I believe that it's best to question the logic behind the conventions that we use, and we should use those conventions that best preserve clarity and consistency. I used to manage a publication, and when a consensus of editors came to the conclusion that a convention needed to be changed, it was, effective immediately.
I have pointed out my bias, and that is why I'm seeking outside input in this forum for discussion.--Jp07 (talk) 18:47, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Because this page was written by a small coterie of those who want to use it as a tool to make Everybody Do It MY Way.
Logical punctuation has a minor advantage for some readers who do not realize that ," and ." are compound signs in American punctuation - and who care about de minimis details; it has a significant disadvantage in that it is harder to do accurately, and impossible to proof-read.
It would be a great improvement to the encyclopedia to acknowledge that there are two systems, that they both have advantages, and that articles may use either consistently.
Pending agreement on this, we should at least mark that the present text is (as it has been every three months or so since its imposition) disputed. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:11, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I don't think we should look at it as a desire to impose control over other writers and editors. I suppose this "control" is a side effect of a stylebook, but that's not the end goal. The goal is to maintain consistency, which is the only way to achieve a professional product. And although inter-article consistency is definitely a must, best practice is really to maintain the same rules throughout the publication (i.e. all of Wikipedia). Whatever is decided, it really would be best to use it all the way throughout.
I think we're trying not to step on toes here, but there is such a thing as too much political correctness. When it interferes with the project's perceived professionalism, and hence its credibility (which is at stake), I think we need to get tough and get over our sensitivities.--Jp07 (talk) 19:15, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Oh, power shouldn't be the goal; but for a small and turbulent minority, it is.
Nor does MOS achieve professionalism by universal consistency: it doesn't do that now. See WP:CONSISTENCY: we seek consistency within articles, as other publishers do within individual contributions to an anthology; but for some of the most notable differences in English (favor/favour; red, white and blue/red, white, and blue) our guidance is for inconsistency.
Our road to professionalism is accuracy, verifiability, neutrality, clarity; achieving uniformity on quotation marks does little for these, and is at best false advertising without them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 19:26, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Um... does anyone else see the inconsistency of talking about achieving a "professional" product when everyone involved in creating it is a volunteer? As long as "anyone can edit" (which is a core concept behind Wikipedia) it is unrealistic to kid ourselves about achieving a professional product. Our goal is (and should be) to achieve the best amateur product that we can. Blueboar (talk) 23:00, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
There's a very significant difference between "professional" and "professional standard". Malleus Fatuorum 23:11, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
Still, I don't think an article with major WP:NPOV/WP:OR/WP:V problems but a professional-looking style would be better than the same article with a crappy style. If anything, the latter is less likely to deceive readers. (This is why I don't usually copy-edit articles unless I have at least a vague idea of what they're talking about and know that what they say is at least vaguely plausible.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 23:51, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
And both styles here are professional - they're used by professional proofreaders. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:59, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
I was commenting on what Blueboar and Malleus Fatuorum said on a general level, not on this issue in particular. (FWIW, I prefer “logical” quotation myself, but I think both should be allowed, and if the article I'm editing uses traditional American quotation consistently, I leave that alone.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 00:10, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Thank you.
But does it also hold as a general point? We are rarely dealing with a controversy between professional style and crappy style; we are dealing with points on which there are several professional styles, and some self-appointed maven wants everybody to use only his choice. (Sometimes his choice appears to be something he's made up, but that's another question; even then it's often a rational but unattested invention.) Septentrionalis PMAnderson 00:31, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I agree with you that both styles are equally professional. The majority of writing professionals, however, look for and expect pervasive consistency in any product. I don't think we should relegate the principle of consistency when it comes from the writing industry.--Jp07 (talk) 03:59, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
We'vw already done so; on spelling, which is far more visible, we've actively rejected consistency; see WP:ENGVAR. On other points where there are two reasonable and wisely used alternatives, we've abandoned it. We're a collaboration. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:43, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

I'm an American, and I prefer logical punctuation... This isn't so much of a regional variation as it is a profession one, in my opinion. People in the sciences and engineering tend to use logical punctuation, whereas those in the humanities and the arts seem to prefer more traditional punctuation. Wikipedia has a fairly strong foundation in the tech world, so it really shouldn't be that surprising that we seem to prefer logical punctuation.
— V = IR (Talk • Contribs) 23:09, 30 June 2011 (UTC)

Then use it, and let others do otherwise. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:59, 30 June 2011 (UTC)
The American style guides were largely constrained by the Network effect, and couldn't change away from the illogical style. Wikipedia had a "clean" start, and could get away with adopting its own practices, obviously within reason. It would have been silly to decide that three quote marks was the right way to do quotations. However, given that it is the English Wikipedia, rather than the American Wikipedia, when confronted with a choice between one rule that made sense, and another rule that made absolutely no sense, and had nothing going for it other that "that's the way we've always done it", deliberately chose to go with the logical rule.
Works for me. If you are a professional writer not at Wikipedia, and want to continue using the illogical rule, go for it. I don't.--SPhilbrickT 02:05, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I don't think the comma rule name calling is really necessary. All I did was ask for a justification, and as far as I see it, I still haven't really got one. Give me a specific justification for this rule aside from Wikipedia tradition and the (seeming) desire to deviate from American writing industry tradition simply because it was the tradition.
Thing #1: Just because it's called logical punctuation doesn't necessarily make it more logical than any other rule. You can label anything in the world "logical," but to assume that the label makes it logical is a fallacy. In fact, I see "logical" punctuation as very illogical from a copy editing perspective because it's impossible to maintain consistency, it's (nearly) impossible to check correct usage, and readers are going to perceive errors (real or imagined).
Thing #2: Maybe this is just my perception, but I feel like we're fighting "the way we've always done it" because we can. Is that and should that be a goal of Wikipedia?
Thing #3: I would like to see more solid facts in this discussion. I don't have many; that's why I'm here.
I'm not trying to be inflammatory; given my background, I'm simply questioning a policy that I feel could be improved. Please consider my ideas.--Jp07 (talk) 04:01, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
This is my understanding of why logical punctuation is superior (and has nothing to do with my nationality or the way I was taught in school): If the name of a song is in quotation marks (e.g. "Let It Be"), then in a list ("Let It Be", "Here Comes the Sun" and "Hey Jude") it makes more sense to put the comma outside the quotation marks because the comma is not part of the name of the song. In a quote: John Smith stated that "there are not enough bananas". makes more sense if the full stop is not part of the quoted material, otherwise you are altering the quote. Logical punctuation is clearer and cannot be misunderstood, unlike the other system. In my opinion, logical punctuation also looks better. I can't see any advantages to illogical punctuation, unless you personally think it is more aesthetically pleasing, which isn't really important. McLerristarr | Mclay1 05:10, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for trying to explain it. My initial point was about copy editing, though -- how would you like to try to copy edit logical punctuation? You would have to look up every single piece of quoted material to check for usage. That is so beyond practical that it's not even funny.
And aside from that "illogical punctuation" isn't illogical simply because the punctuation is inside of the quotation marks; commas don't come at the end of a complete string in English because that's inappropriate usage. And with your quote example, it's not really altering the content by putting a period inside because you can't pronounce the period symbol. It has no sound and no meaning. It is simply present in writing to establish and clarify syntax. There is no period in spoken language. By saying that it changed the quotation, we would have to think that he said "there are not enough bananas period." In which case, we would write that he said "there are not enough bananas PERIOD." The ." means "quote and sentence over; expect a new thought to come at you." It neither contributes to nor detracts anything from the content of the quoted material.
I think it would be best to stop arguing, however, which is most logical (because that could go on forever); we should rather argue which is most useful in practice. I think I have a valid, indisputable point on the copy editing.--Jp07 (talk) 05:34, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
The difficulty of copy-editing is why the Chicago Manual of Style recommends against "logical" punctuation. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:43, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I disagree. We could easily say that if someone writes John Smith stated that "there are not enough bananas". we would also need to check if there is part of the quote or not so it would be easier to just get rid of the quotation marks. However, that would be silly. Why bother checking whether the punctuation was part of the quote or not? Do it if you're putting the quote into the article, that's not hard, but why check if someone else was right? It doesn't really matter. Another distinction is made with logical punctuation in the case of a broken quote: "There are not enough bananas", stated John Smith, "We need to grow more". (I don't know if I followed all the MoS rules in that example but the point is about the punctuation). Putting the comma inside the quotation marks would imply that the comma separated the two statements in the original quote, which is incorrect. Another case is if a song contained a full stop: John Smith wrote the song "Full Stop.". Although that looks a little odd, I would say that is the correct way of writing it, since the first full stop is just part of the name, not the sentence punctuation. John Smith wrote the song "Full Stop.." looks a lot worse. McLerristarr | Mclay1 05:49, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Actually, in U.S. English, if the period was part of the song, you wouldn't need the second period. The one inside the quotation marks does double-duty. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:57, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

OK, this is painful, but at this point I say let's agree to disagree on logic. That's going to become a circular argument. Let's talk about practice exclusively. Which is more practical? See my comments on copy editing. Accuracy and consistency are important, so if we're going to go with a style, we need to do our best to follow it or we might as well have no style at all. And in the publishing world, it is an editor's job to check areas where errors commonly pop up, and this would definitely be one of those areas. Who wants to be in charge of checking quoted material?

I'm willing to estimate that about 50 percent of editors don't even know about this MOS rule, so they're not going to know that they need to maintain original punctuation when they pull the quote. Who wants to go back and check the quotes, particularly those pulled from protected databases and hard copy-only resources?--Jp07 (talk) 06:06, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Like I said, it really doesn't matter if the punctuation is slightly off with quotes. I'd rather have a logical system with some errors than an illogical system which is immune to errors because the system is to deliberately use what others would consider errors. McLerristarr | Mclay1 07:03, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

JP07, you are right to think that this is strange. The bottom line is that WP:LQ is here solely because most of the contributors to this talk page just (WP:IDONTLIKEIT/WP:ILIKEIT) prefer it to American English punctuation. You're also right that many Wikipedians don't know about this rule. The fact that a disproportionate number of Wikipedians were programmers might also have something to do with it. There is exactly one time when British vs. American punctuation actually makes a non-aesthetic difference, and that's when dealing with raw data strings. (Type in "enter.doc/qr". etc.) WP:LQ has been challenged many times. Some of its supporters claim that it is, as the MoS says, less prone to ambiguity and subsequent errors, but no one has ever provided even one example of American English causing even one error on Wikipedia, ever. This isn't because American punctuation isn't used here. It is. There are even front page featured articles that have used American punctuation on their big day. I don't know if you know this, but almost every single American English style guide treats American punctuation as correct and LQ as incorrect in formal American English writing. If WP: MoS were held to the same standards as regular articles, those for reliable sources and no original research, then WP:LQ would have been changed long ago. I 100% support changing the Wikipedia punctuation policy to follow ENGVAR. Use British/LQ when it is correct to do so and, at the absolute least, allow correct American punctuation on articles that are on clearly American topics. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:55, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

Yeah... thanks for the backup. I kind of gave up, though. I got tired of asking for justifications and getting the "logical"/"illogical" appellations and tradition. And I do think it is odd that the writing prescriptivism seems to be coming mostly from computer programmers, and from what I can tell (i.e. per user pages and comment content), those who do not have experience as professional writers. I don't quite understand that. I do completely understand why the period and comma placement is important in programming, as I have a programming background as well... but programming and writing are two totally different things. The human mind does not process syntactic symbols in the same way that a computer does. And yeah, that's about what I thought with the style guides. I'm most familiar with AP and MLA, so I didn't want to make any more assumptions, but I had never heard differently on comma/period placement until yesterday.
I think this is a losing battle, though. Even if you win this one, there's WP:IAR. I think it's more important to take on the battle for consistency before taking on specific rules. It seems like non-writers typically don't find consistency valuable in their writing, but both expert writers and novices will notice a lack of consistency and will critique it. Strange.
Maybe it's just me, but I would think it would be wise for the predominantly programmer-run project to seek out the advice of writers...--Jp07 (talk) 12:33, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
You would think IAR would apply, but nope. I actually got brought up on AN/I for using American punctuation in articles that already had it. If we can get enough people, though, we might be able to modify or replace WP:LQ with something more sensible. Maybe the pro-LQ crowd would accept just allowing American punctuation (as opposed to requiring it) on American-subject articles. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:49, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I've privately softened a little bit on this one over the years; but what I really can't abide by is "this," where the inclusion of the comma within the word-as-word or the quotation jars with its very obvious identity as part of the main sentence. Also, I'm concerned that within-article consistency really could be achieved if the guideline is looser. Tony (talk) 14:16, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Wow, Tony. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a reasonable person can change his opinions over time by continual observation of the situation to which they are relevant. However, I'd like to say that what people do and don't find jarring is in the eye of the beholder. If anything, the use of American style in words-as-words situations is even less likely to cause real confusion than with quotes from sources. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:24, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
And we recommend presenting words-as-words in italics, which removes the problem; both systems recommend this, because italics have no visible closing marker. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:30, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
I wouldn't think that IAR would apply. Despite its name, it doesn't literally mean you can ignore any rule. I prefer to think of it as "yes, there's technically a rule that covers this, but when the rule was codified, they didn't really consider this situation, and had they considered it, they would have accepted that this situation is different. That might mean the general rule needs modification, or it might simply mean that this situation should be considered a one-off exception". However, when we have rules that squarely apply, and have been repeatedly discussed and consensus is that they do apply to this situation, you don't get to use IAR.--SPhilbrickT 16:39, 1 July 2011 (UTC)

What I'm most concerned with is pervasive consistency. Most people who read Wikipedia will read more than one article. So if one article is consistent but there are multiple variants elsewhere, I see intra-article consistency as moot. But I appreciate your diplomacy.--Jp07 (talk) 14:27, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
I am of the opinion that inter-article consistency is not necessary or at least more trouble than it's worth on Wikipedia. To effect it, we'd have to go all the way, pick just one national variety of English and use it on every single article for punctuation, spelling and all other considerations. Choosing American English punctuation to the exclusion of British/LQ wouldn't solve our problem; it would just reverse it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:45, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Yeah... J-school might have made me a stickler for consistency.--Jp07 (talk) 14:50, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
Always ignore the Manual of Style; everybody else does. But thanks for trying to fix it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 23:43, 1 July 2011 (UTC)
It would be nice to have inter-article consistency, but that would force us to say things like "The American flag is coloured red, white, and blue" or "The English flag is colored white and red". In a publication requiring editorial approval, that's possible and even preferable. On Wikipedia, it's untenable.
Regarding punctuation: I've never understood why anyone uses traditional American punctuation. I remember being in sixth grade and learning the rules for commas and periods in quotation marks, and I remember asking the teacher why in the world would we do that, it makes no sense! I've since realized that it has its own internal logic (as PMAnderson noted, comma-quote and period-quote are always read together even though they are two glyphs), but I still don't like it (I don't think you shouldn't put glyphs between quotation marks unless those glyphs can be attributed to the source you are quoting). My own preference is to leave punctuation outside quotation marks. This has the same copyediting advantages as traditional American punctuation while, in my opinion at least, being more accurate and prettier.
I agree with you that so-called "logical quotation" offers huge copyediting difficulties, and the name isn't very good. It might be possible to change to the system I mentioned above where punctuation is always outside the quotation marks, since that's already quite similar to what the MoS requires (and in fact you sometimes see people moving punctuation outside the quotation marks in the mistaken belief that it's an MoS requirement). But you seem to be advocating traditional American punctuation, and I don't think the politics of that will work: The non-Americans will protest, the Americans aren't nationalist and traditionalist enough to think that the way they were taught in school is necessarily better, and the result will likely be no consensus. You certainly won't change this rule by bringing it up here, where it's been talked to death. If you really want to change it, then you'd need to start an RfC on this topic here and advertise it very widely to pull in editors who aren't MoS regulars; and you'd have to do a very good job of convincing them. Ozob (talk) 17:54, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
Yeah... I will actually receive an American license to teach English and journalism in August, and I am of the thought that some of the lacking nationalism in America has to do with the way that we teach the English language in schools. I have yet to decide whether more nationalism would be a good or a bad thing, but there seems to be a movement among language arts educators away from teaching grammar; they often explain this by saying that grammar instruction "doesn't improve writing skills." I would agree with this sentiment -- writing content will not improve with greater understanding of grammar rules, but perceived credibility among readers definitely gets a boost when you demonstrate a mastery of the English language, and sometimes grammar and punctuation are important for clarity (so I guess in those situations this knowledge would improve writing skills). An ability to follow grammar and punctuation rules is also necessary for anyone who is interested in pursuing a career in writing, and it also helps with a number of other careers where writing is used.
But I think we often characterize the English language as illogical and silly despite the fact that it really isn't, and this damages the relationship that Americans develop with their own tongue. True, it is a mutt of a tongue, and it is difficult for people of other languages to learn, but there is some logic behind every language rule. It would probably be a little more... unified if it wasn't for Roman, French, and Nordic invasions of England, but what can you do.--Jp07 (talk) 11:31, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
Oh, and on the nationalism, it doesn't help that America still doesn't have a legally recognized official tongue. --Jp07 (talk) 11:52, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
I have long thought that the movement away from teaching grammar was a terrible idea. I receive, on a regular basis, emails from people who ought to be able to write better but can't. It makes them look bad. I've often wondered why the movement away from grammar started. Do teachers not teach grammar because they genuinely believe that, say, not recognizing misplaced modifiers doesn't improve writing skills? (On the other hand, Norman Mailer got away with it in the infamous opening line of Harlot's Ghost.) Is it because grammar is objective and doesn't allow the favoritism games that provide some with such perverse pleasure? I wonder if it's now because they don't know anything about grammar themselves.
I agree that English isn't as illogical as it's made out to be. But I think that reputation is a symptom of the lack of English grammar instruction. English teachers will tell their students not to write in the passive voice, and they consider this a vitally important rule, but they can't give a precise description of what the passive voice is. If they could, they would realize at once how silly the rule is. I think more harm has been done to English grammar by reformers than by all the the invasions of England, because the reformers moved the emphasis away from how real people write and speak and placed it on trivialities like passive voice or which versus that. Now all anyone knows are these incorrect trivialities, and they can't write a single clear sentence.
I'm ranting again... Oh, well. Ozob (talk) 13:42, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
@Ozob: People use "aesthetic" punctuation because it's almost as easy as the system you outline and a large number of anglophones will understand it: all those who use it, and a large body of those who don't but have heard of it.
Ozob's punctuation would not be a bad system; it works oddly for quoting full paragraphs, where everything but the final period will be inside quotes; both existing systems tuck the closing period inside. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:19, 2 July 2011 (UTC)
I would be behind an RFC, actually. There are several good reasons for removing the ban on American punctuation.
1. The overwhelming majority of reliable sources on American English actively prefer American punctuation for general writing—which is what encyclopedia articles are.
2. The idea that American punctuation causes misquotation, ambiguity or errors in subsequent editing is original research.
3. American punctuation is already used on Wikipedia, despite the ban, and has not been found to cause misquotation, ambiguity or errors in subsequent editing to any detectable extent. (Also original research, admitted.)
4. Taking 3 into account, the ban only serves to punish and insult writers trained to use American punctuation and to please people who (WP:IDONTLIKEIT) just don't like American punctuation or who (WP:NOTACRYSTALBALL) think that "this is where English is going," etc. If American English ever changes to the British/LQ style, we can just change the MoS then.
5. Using punctuation that is correct relative to its context would make Wikipedia look more professional and precise.
6. ENGVAR is already a proven policy and it is reasonable to believe that extending it to punctuation would work well. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:02, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
I, too, think an RfC would be a good idea because our discussion here seems to be a bit cyclical.--Jp07 (talk) 16:46, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
I too would approve of extending ENGVAR to punctuation. I see no reason to mandate one punctuation style over another on a Wikipedia wide scale when both are valid and acceptable styles. Blueboar (talk) 13:37, 3 July 2011 (UTC)
Though it’s not high on my list, I also would permit “aesthetic” punctuation here, and second Blueboar’s comment about ENGVAR; we could argue forever about which practice is better and get nowhere—AmE and BrE sometimes differ, and one is no better than the other. I would like ENGVAR to include a recommendation that the combination of grammar, spelling, and punctuation be at least plausible to one accustomed to the particular ENGVAR; in many cases, this would allow some flexibility (e.g., some British publishers such as OUP use unspaced em dashes, and the BBC web site uses “aesthetic” punctuation), but the combinations should not be such that a British reader of an article supposedly in BrE thinks “this is whacked”.
Incidentally, I certainly have not found US technical publications to favor “logical” punctuation here. I guess it just depends on one’s field and the particular publications. JeffConrad (talk) 04:12, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

It's funny to see its being called "aesthetic punctuation". It looks quite ugly to me but that's in the eye of the beholder. I would oppose a change to the guideline on this not just because I don't like it but because it changes the quote. JIMp talk·cont 08:46, 4 July 2011 (UTC)

Jimp, in all the times we've debated this issue, no one has yet provided even one example of American punctuation ever changing even one quotation on Wikipedia. (There have been a few "it changes the quote if you also remove half the words," though.) In American English, the closing periods and commas are understood as part of the quotation process, just as "centre" is understood as being pronounced "sen-ter" rather than "sen-treh" in British spelling. Can you show me a time when American punctuation changed a quotation on Wikipedia? Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:26, 4 July 2011 (UTC)
It changes the quote only in terms of punctuation. Jim said "I like frogs." No, he didn't, he said "I like frogs". It's a very minor point but because American punctuation makes no distinction between punctuation that existed in the original quote and punctuation that was added by the next writer, it makes it ambiguous and against the general principle of not changing quotes. Yes, in nearly all cases it won't change the meaning and it will be completely understandable but it's an unnecessary change to a quote nonetheless. McLerristarr | Mclay1 14:56, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
This page abandoned any principle of not changing quotes the moment it recommended changing the punctuation inside them. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:27, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
But because the final period or comma is understood to be part of the quotation process and not part of the quoted content, it is not the quoted content that is changed. In all the times we've discussed this, no one has ever brought up even one instance of an actual problem, confusion or misquotation that could be attributed to the use of American punctuation. We shouldn't go banning things because of imaginary problems. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:20, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
To be clear, when we speak of “American punctuation”, we should say North American punctuation, because Canadian practice follows that of the US. As for “the general principle” of not changing quotes, it’s application here is not a general principle in the US and Canada. JeffConrad (talk) 00:37, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
I've looked around a little and I've found one or two sources on Canadian English that preferred the British form. It seems that Canada can go either way, though I'd like to see a reputable print source on the subject. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:20, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
The Canadian Style. For the most part Canadian punctuation is similar to that in the US, though there are a few things that seem unique to Canada. Spelling is somewhat of a hybrid, but looks mainly British to me. JeffConrad (talk) 04:25, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
There are two types of quotation mark styles: traditional quoting and logical quoting. Neither one is "American rules" or "British rules". They are simply two different styles, both used in both places, it's just that one of them happens to be more common in America, and the other more common in Britain.
As far as why logical quoting should be used? There are any number of reasons:
1) Logical quoting has been used on Wikipedia since its inception.
2) Logical quoting is simply logical... it makes sense for quote marks to contain only that which is part of what is being quoted. It makes no sense to include in quotes punctuation that doesn't belong there.
3) Since the dawn of the computer age, especially with the arrival of command-prompt-based operating systems such as DOS, logical quoting has become accepted as common practice in America, and, although it wouldn't be entirely accurate to say that traditional quoting has quite fallen out of favour yet, it looks like it is set to in the very near future.
Reason #2 is really the only important, and the only necessary, reason to use logical quoting. It couldn't make more sense. If something belongs in the quote marks, put it there; if it doesn't, don't. If you actually did ride on something called a "bicycle,", then, by all means, include the comma with it. But I don't know what a "bicycle," is.-=( Alexis (talk)03:53, 13 July 2011 (UTC) )=-
The sources refer to them as "American" and "British." They might also have other names but yes, they really are American and British. Proponents of LQ might wish that I were making it up, but if I am, so are Chicago and these guys: [2] [3].
1) Just because a mistake is long-standing doesn't mean it shouldn't be corrected. I strongly suspect that the preference for British/LQ was present on early Wikipedia because its founders were disproportionately people with programming backgrounds as opposed to writing backgrounds.
2) In the absence of any actual effect, "This is more logical" is just another way of saying, "I personally prefer this more." It might be more logical to spell "caught" as "kot," but it's both wrong and sloppy. Using punctuation that is correct relative to its context makes Wikipedia look precise and professional.
3) Maybe it's become common practice among computer programmers but not in general-audience writing, and Wikipedia is a general-audience publication.
I would be extremely surprised if you or any of our readers didn't know what a "bicycle," however it was punctuated, is. The real logical way to write is the way that will be understood and appreciated by one's readers. British and American styles are about the same with respect to being understood, and people tend to appreciate the style with which they are more familiar. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:16, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
According to Darkfrog24 "just because a mistake is long-standing doesn't mean it shouldn't be corrected", but it is not a mistake for a publication like Wikipedia to have its own manual of style which chooses among reasonable alternatives. So there is no mistake. Even if the conjecture that the founders were Americans with programming backgrounds who defied the style used by American professional writers is true, so what? It was their publication and they adopted a reasonable style. No consensus has formed to change the choice. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:14, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
This isn't like the serial comma, where either way can be considered correct so long as the piece is consistent—and, if you'll notice, the MoS permits both these forms; it doesn't ban one or the other for arbitrary reasons. Almost every single source on American English says that placing periods and commas inside closing quotation marks is correct and placing them outside is incorrect. To use a type of punctuation that is incorrect relative to its context, and to require others to do so, is not reasonable. It's a mistake. That's actually the most polite of many words for what it is. Using British/LQ in articles that are supposed to be in American English is like spelling "caught" k-o-t. Yes, it's logical. Yes, it can look cool or trendy in the eyes of certain beholders. It's also wrong. Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:18, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
Spelling caught as "kot" makes no sense whatsoever to me since I pronounce "o" and "or" as different sounds but that's beside the point. Logical punctuation is not incorrect. It's only "incorrect" if a style guide recommends traditional punctuation but it's only "incorrect" for the sake of consistency rather than "correctness". However, to proponents of logical punctuation, traditional punctuation is incorrect for the constantly repeated reasons above. Our MoS has picked a system and for the sake of consistency we should stick to it. Besides, the MoS is only a guideline; it's not necessary to follow it. You can go around writing with illogical punctation if you want as long as you don't change punctuation that complies with this guideline. McLerristarr | Mclay1 10:56, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
What you're saying about style guides is true, and the style guides all say that, in American English, placing periods and commas outside adjacent punctuation is incorrect. If the MoS does not require inter-article consistency for spelling or the serial comma, then why require it here?
You know what? We should do this RfC. Unless someone can provide at least a couple of examples of American punctuation causing miquotations or errors—or let's make it easier, problems of any non-imaginary kind—on Wikipedia, not "it looks like it would cause misquotations" or "gosh it really looks funny," but "here's the page history; it caused this problem," then it should no longer be banned. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:30, 19 July 2011 (UTC)
Agreed. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 22:27, 20 July 2011 (UTC)
You really are missing the point here: If the punctuation is not part of the quotation but is included inside the quotation marks, then it's a mis-quote. There are infinite examples of that. However, other than that minor punctuation difference, American punctuation does not cause errors. But it's not just quotes, it's the other things that quotation marks are used for, such as song names or just highlighting phrases. In those cases, including the punctuation inside the quotation marks is always wrong. McLerristarr | Mclay1 14:24, 24 July 2011 (UTC)
I'm not missing the point: It isn't a a misquotation. If there is over a hundred years of precedent that this is simply how the quotation process works, then tucked-in commas do not constitute a misquotation any more than, say, changing the font or placing the quoted material in another piece of writing does. Here's an example. Let's say that a book called Source Material includes the following sentence, which I wish to quote in an article.
Jean recited the poem "Awesome" for school.
Now, if I quote the whole sentence, the MoS and most style guides (American and British) allow me to change those double quotes to single, like this:
The book Source Material says, "Jean recited the poem 'Awesome' for school."
Gasp! But the source didn't use single quotes! It used double! Nevertheless, the people who read this quoted sentence 1. aren't going to misunderstand the source's meaning and 2. aren't being told that the source did use single quotes. When a quote-within-a-quote is made, single and double quotation marks alternate, and that's true in British and American forms. It is understood that there is a quotation process and that it involves moving punctuation marks around. If it is okay to actually change something that is literally within the quote, then why wouldn't it be okay to use periods and commas as part of the process that integrates the quoted material with the rest of the paragraph?
With song titles and nicknames, I don't know where you're getting "always wrong" from. Almost every American style guide says that commas and periods belong inside the quotation marks. So when one is writing in American English, including the punctuation marks inside the quotation marks is right. When one is writing in British English, then it is wrong. Also, when dealing with song titles and words-as-words, there is even less chance of misinterpretation than when quoting sources. Therefore, there is even less reason to use British styles on articles that are supposed to be in American English.
As for "just highlighting phrases," sources on both formal American and formal British styles agree that quotation marks should not be used for emphasis.
Oh, and a few years ago, I tried "not following" the MoS and used American punctuation on American English articles. I got brought up on AN/I for it. The MoS needs to be changed so that no one can be punished for using correct punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:26, 25 July 2011 (UTC)

I don't mean to sound like a dick here, but the notion that words that use re or er interchangably have different pronunciations is utter nonsense. First off, it doesn't matter which English-speaking country one is from, such words are always pronounced as their North American counterparts. The schools I've been to and the one I'm currently attending have had lots of American students pass through and each of them has had no trouble pronouncing the words in their British spelling. Likewise, words where the "ash" is retained (æ) or substituted for "e" don't change pronunciation, especially if you use a different English variant it's common knowledge that variations in spelling don't mean variations in pronunciation. —James (TalkContribs) • 4:55pm 06:55, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

That's my point: that it's nonsense. The -tre spelling looks as though it would confuse people. Logically, it really should confuse people, but that does not actually happen. Similarly, even though some people feel that American punctuation would confuse people, that does not actually happen.
The point I was trying to make with the example was that British spelling only creates the illusion of being illogical, but we don't ban it. American punctuation only creates the illusion of being illogical, so we shouldn't ban it unless someone can prove that it's not an illusion—but linking us to a real problem that American punctuation has caused, such as an error. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:57, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
Anyone with more than an elementary grasp of the English language understands that it is illogical. As they say, "Live with it". What would be helpful is a routine mechanism for flagging which ENGVAR is first established in an article to prevent unnecessary squabbling.LeadSongDog come howl! 13:30, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
We allow British spelling despite its lack of logic, because it works under actual use. We should do the same for American punctuation, because it works under actual use. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:07, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

Then what's your point, DF? Don't the current policies and guidelines relevant to English Variants already state, clearly, that whichever English variant was used at the time of the article's creation, should be the English variant to be used in subsequent edits to the article? Unless of course, the article's country of origin is different to the English variant used. Why start this RfC if this is already clearly stated? —James (TalkContribs) • 2:34pm 04:34, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

No, WP:ENGVAR does not state that it applies to punctuation. It says: "No variant is inherently more correct than another. Cultural clashes over vocabulary, spelling, and grammar can be avoided by using the following four guidelines. (The accepted style of punctuation is covered in the punctuation section, above.)" I changed the link so it will work on the talk page. It leads to a section that includes WP:LQ, which specifies "logical punctuation". And although the point has been disputed, several people including Darkfrog maintain that logical punctuation can be called British punctuation. That makes WP:LQ an explicit exception to WP:ENGVAR. Art LaPella (talk) 04:58, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
My point is that we should not be using British punctuation on articles that are ostensibly written in American English, or at the absolute least, we should allow people to use American English punctuation on those articles.
People say that American punctuation is illogical, but no one has pointed out any case of it causing even one non-hypothetical problem on Wikipedia. I'm using British spelling as an example of something that is also illogical but does not cause problems under actual use. I'm citing it as a precedent. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:20, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

So, including the three non-regulars who've chimed in, no one has been able to supply any evidence that the rationale is justified. If no one has any objections, I'll remove it (but not LQ itself, separate issue) from the MoS and FAQ tomorrow. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:11, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

I definitely oppose such a move, Darkfrog. See my oppose vote in the RFC below. NoeticaTea? 14:02, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

RFC: Rationale behind the ban and majority vs. sources

Rationale for MoS's ban of American punctuation (WP:LQ) may not be based on fact. Lift it? Implications for WP:Consensus.

Details: The Wikipedia Manual of Style currently requires British/logical-style punctuation on all articles, giving as its reason that this system is more in keeping with the principle of minimal change and less prone to misquotation, ambiguity and errors in subsequent editing. However, no one seems to be able to cite even one incident of American-style punctuation causing any misquotation, ambiguity, error, confusion, or other problem on Wikipedia. A significant minority of contributors to the MoS talk page want the ban lifted unless such problems can be shown to occur under actual use (rather than hypothetically). (NOTE: Despite the ban, American punctuation is used in Wikipedia articles, so the absence of errors is not due to the absence of American punctuation.)
Other concerns: British/logical punctuation is the personal preference of a clear majority of MoS contributors. However, American punctuation is required by the overwhelming majority of sources on how to write American English (style guides) and actually used by a less dramatic but still clear majority of sources written in American English. What are the implications for WP:Consensus when what most people want isn't what the sources say and do? What trumps what?
What we're talking about: British and American English punctuation systems differ in the way they treat periods and commas that are next to closing quotation marks in the cases of short-form works, words-as-words and certain other types of phrases: Bruce Springsteen, nicknamed "The Boss," wrote "American Skin."/Shakespeare, nicknamed "The Bard", wrote "Love's Labour Lost". More details can be found at Quotation mark#Punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:41, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
And now for stuff that I didn't think was neutral enough for the RFC notice proper. Reasons to lift the ban:
  • No one has cited any instance of American punctuation causing even one non-hypothetical problem on Wikipedia.
  • This rule already has low compliance on Wikipedia. Of the about 92 featured articles linked to the front page since early April, about 11 have used American punctuation exclusively or predominantly and 20 have used a mix of British/logical and American.
  • The overwhelming majority of American English style guides require American punctuation. We could literally save time by naming the ones that do not, and those are written for specialized types of writing, such as technical writing and computer programming. Most Wikipedia articles are neither.
  • Using punctuation that is correct relative to its context makes Wikipedia look precise, credible and professional.
  • We already allow actual changes to punctuation within quoted material for the sake of correctness: We change a source's double quotes to single when creating a quote-within a quote. (Jane said, "I like the play 'Othello.'") Like this, American punctuation is understood to be part of the quotation process.
  • WP:ENGVAR is a proven policy. We wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel to allow both British and American systems. We also have a history of allowing the use and omission of the serial comma and both Oxford and non-Oxford British spelling within British articles. We wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel to allow American English articles to have two allowable systems either.
  • British spelling is illogical, but we don't go banning that. It sure looks like "centre" would mislead people into thinking that the word is pronounced "sen-treh," but that alone isn't sufficient reason to insult British English writers by declaring their spelling system inferior and banning it.
  • American punctuation makes for smoother and easier copy editing.
  • American punctuation is easier to teach and learn.
  • Banning American punctuation by claiming that it causes problems that it does not cause is insulting to trained American English writers.
  • While the popularity of logical quotation might be reason enough to allow it on American English articles, it is not reason enough to ban the style that is already established as correct.
  • If British/logical punctuation ever becomes standard in American English, we can always change the MoS then.
Okay, everyone. Let's remember that we're here because we all agree that correct punctuation is important to Wikipedia. Whatever else we may disagree on, we're together on that. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:43, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Question - @Darkfrog24: can you supply a link to the specific section of the MOS that discusses this ban of American style? --Noleander (talk) 03:46, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
    • It doesn't use the word "American", but he means WP:LQ. Art LaPella (talk) 04:34, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
    • And I think that guidelines that aren't even used on the 3342 featured articles that editors use for bragging rights, then they surely aren't used on the 5,554,910 articles that readers use to educate themselves. Such guidelines are prime candidates for trimming, because if we trimmed enough, it might induce people to read the rest of our endless manual and its subpages. Art LaPella (talk) 04:45, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
As much as I want this rule replaced, we should probably acknowledge that explanations of both American and British styles would take up more space, not less, than the current WP:LQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:29, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
    • DF, again you seem to reduce everything to this nationalistic thing. It's not "American" or "British" punctuation—there's a lot of crossover. And this is not ans American project. Tony (talk) 05:13, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
Here are sources referring to British and American punctuation and "British" and "American": [4] [5] [6] [7]. The second one has a quote from the Chicago Manual of Style 14th ed., which also refers to these systems as American and British. That should satisfy everyone that I am not inventing an imaginary national difference. If you know of any sources that prove that they are not British and American, please provide them.
We should not replace British punctuation with American. Then we'd still have the exact same problem except we'd be insulting and alienating British writers instead of American ones. We should allow both, as we already do with spelling. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:26, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose change to MOS quote guideline - Okay, I've read WP:LQ, and my opinion is that it is a valuable guideline. It is consistent with the goals of other MOS guidelines (promoting readability and uniformity) and it is rational. The MOS guideline adopts the "logical" convention for quote punctuation, which in my opinion is more readable than the other approaches. The fact that some articles do not adhere to the WP:LQ guideline is not relevant: "guidelines are sets of best practices that are supported by consensus. Editors should attempt to follow guidelines, though they are best treated with common sense, and occasional exceptions may apply" (from WP:Guidelines). The argument that "no one reads the MOS because there are too many rules" is not accurate: many editors, such as myself, perform "search" actions on specific keywords and successfully find the desired guideline. --Noleander (talk) 14:30, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
Not "many editors" compared to what it takes to maintain 5,554,910 articles. And even fewer editors know how to perform a keyword search that includes the Manual's subpages, not just the main page, and the need for subpages is a function of the number of rules. And performing a keyword search presupposes that you know somehow that there is a rule out there somewhere to be found. And if a new Wikipedian first encounters the Manual of Style and decides that its other-worldly expectations must have been written by people who never click "Random article", then he is unlikely to use ctrl-f to search it like scripture. Art LaPella (talk) 16:35, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
Okay, how do you feel about the idea that the MoS forces people to use punctuation that the majority of reliable sources say is wrong for pieces written in American English? Should the MoS be held to lower standards than regular articles? Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:05, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
There must be twenty accepted style manuals in use throughout the English speaking world. When the WP community, by consensus, adopts one particular guideline on one particular rule (be it punctuation, or grammar, or formatting) that decision is bound to conflict with some of the accepted style manuals. It is also likely that WP MOS guidance will conflict with actual style usage in many writing domains. Such conflicts are no reason to avoid adopting guidelines within WP. The MOS supports the laudable goal of presenting a uniform reading experience to WP readers. --Noleander (talk) 16:15, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
This isn't a case of twenty style guides that all say something different. Almost all of them, all the big ones except ACS, say LQ is wrong in American English. It's like writing "labour" in an article on American unions. You won't find American style guides that tell you to use that U. And why ban one style at all? We already accept both British and American spelling systems and both Oxford and non-Oxford spelling within British.
But back to the original question: Do you know of any problems, errors, misquotations, etc., that can be attributed to American English? You don't seem to believe that the ban should be lifted, but the reasons you give, personal aesthetic preference and the idea that Wikipedia can make its own rules, aren't the same as the ones listed in the MoS. What do you think about removing the rationale itself from the MoS and FAQ even if the ban stays in place? Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:38, 27 July 2011 (UTC)
I have no objection to removing supplementary rationale from the MOS. They important thing is that the MOS specify some standard, for the reader's sake. Every decent multi-author work, especially encyclopedias, forces their authors to adhere to one uniform style standard. It would be chaos to have every article with its own style. --Noleander (talk) 18:27, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia is not like other multiple-author works, though. A) We have no editorial board to enforce a standard. B) Anyone can edit (even anonymous IPs), so it's not limited to a small, selected group. And C) We already allow a variety of styles in differing articles; that's precisely what ENGVAR is about. This would be an extension (appropriate, in my mind) of ENGVAR to the style of punctuation. oknazevad (talk) 20:53, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
The WP:ENGVAR policy, correctly, permits articles to use country-specific vocabulary or spelling. It does not cover punctuation, formatting,or style (including quotation punctuation). Consistency in the formatting and style is what makes the WP articles uniform, and provides a pleasing experience for readers. --Noleander (talk) 13:27, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
Differences in spelling and word choice already create far more visible variation than consistency, and the English language Wikipedia is no worse the wear for it; indeed, it's understood that such variation allows Wikipedia to reflect the real, natural variation in the English language. But my main point is there's more differences between the major varieties of English than just spelling and a few different words. The fact is LQ is, outside of a few specialist publications, utterly unused in American English. We should reflect that, and allow people to use the AmEng that is, not the one a few people want it to be. Wikipedia is not a place to push language reform. oknazevad (talk) 14:01, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
But what makes vocabulary so different from spelling, Noleander, that it should be ignored? Look at it this way: If British punctuation is used throughout Wikipedia, then all the British English articles are correct and all the American English articles are incorrect. It is more important to be consistently correct than consistently tucked or untucked. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:36, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

If I may be so bold to quote myself... Taken from archive 113, on a previous discussion on the matter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope this covers enough that we can discuss the issue without resorting to ludicrous claims or talking past each other.

Which brings it to my view. I believe that American-style typographers quotes should be permitted, so long as the article is internally consistent. It's an ENGVAR thing; LQ is almost entirely unknown in American English, and if we truly respect the principles behind that so-well-respected-that it's-almost-policy guideline, both forms should be allowed so that the form of quotation that most naturally matches the other aspects of spelling and usage can be used. It's not as though quotations are a rarely used or largely misunderstood aspect of writing (unlike, say, dashes ;-) ). People should be allowed to write quotes in the form that is most correct for the version of English in use. For American English that it typographers' quotes. The only reason to ban it is a false consistency, which is ever the hobgoblin. oknazevad (talk) 06:39, 28 July 2011 (UTC)

  • Oppose – I would rather have one style, which is consistent throughout Wikipedia. Yes, we have two different styles for spelling and dating because there's no real reason why one should be used over the other. The reasons why logical punctuation is superior have been repeated countless times. However, if we do allow both systems, one thing that must always use logical punctuation is something like To add a non-breaking space, type "&nbsp;". Putting the full stop in the quotation marks would be confusing. McLerristarr | Mclay1 14:24, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
    The claims that LQ is inherently superior is disputed. No one has shown that it truly creates misquotations, unless one treats all quotations as merely character strings. That's not actual writing; that's data entry. oknazevad (talk) 20:53, 28 July 2011 (UTC)
    If there is "any real reason why one should be used over the other," McLerristarr, then please provide proof of it. Tony suggested that the Americanness and Britishness of these styles was only in my imagination, so I provided sources supporting the fact that they are not. Do the same for the claim that LQ is inherently better—or at least better for Wikipedia—than American style. But let's make this fair. I've been through this before, so I knew where to look. Do you need a couple of days to find something?
    Side note: American style guides actually say to do as you have done for data strings; they simply acknowledge that such cases are rare in general-audience writing. I could go through a hundred Wikipedia articles and not find one key-entry instruction. Allowing American punctuation would not require "&nbsp;." Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:32, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
    “[T]here's no real reason why one should be used over the other”... Well, it depends on what you mean by real reason. Spelling cheque like this makes it clear that you don't mean any of the other meanings of check. Hell, I took several seconds to figure out what the title of the film Paycheck meant. :-) Also, what would be wrong with type &nbsp;.? A. di M.plédréachtaí 01:12, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
If I were to write, “I’ll write you check,” would there be any question about what I meant? And I′m not quite sure I see how the distinction relates to quotation styles . . . The “real reason,” I suspect yet again, is personal preference. JeffConrad (talk) 02:25, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
That's actually a good example of what I mean by "real reason," A. di M. We permit "check" in American English because that is American English and "cheque" is not. We do this even though you have just given a real example of a time when "paycheck" caused some confusion. No one has ever given us a real example of American-style punctuation causing even one problem on Wikipedia. From what I can tell, it only causes errors and misquotations in people's imaginations.
There would be nothing wrong with putting commas outside the quotes when the quoted material is a data string. American punctuation explicitly permits it. However, such cases are very rare. If you go through a hundred articles, you might find one that requires this. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:12, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. There are lots of cases where a particular construction/spelling/whatever is theoretically better than another, but that's not a good reason to use it when it's unidiomatic in the variety of English we're writing in. Communication is a two-way process, and a distinction will only be understood when it's present in both the writer's and the reader's dialect. If I decided to spell nail as nale when I mean a metal spike rather than a body part, that wouldn't make my writing any clearer unless the reader somehow knew what I'm doing. Now, to a sizeable proportion of Americans (as well as a sizeable proportion of those who have been primed into reading American English), "this", John said doesn't communicate that the comma is not part of what John said – it communicates that the writer made a typo. A. di M.plédréachtaí 09:57, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
  • Keep logical punctuation  I was using logical punctuation before I knew it had a name, and I have American training.  IMO, accuracy in quoting the original material is more important than accurately following the American training.  Unscintillating (talk) 12:27, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
So you've seen American punctuation cause inaccuracy? This is exactly what this particular RFC is about: If American punctuation is banned for causing inaccuracy, but opponents of the ban are saying that under general use it doesn't cause inaccuracy anywhere but in LQ proponents' imaginations. Do you remember exactly where it happened? If it was on Wikipedia, could you link us to the article history? Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:33, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
So you refuse to stipulate that inaccuracy can exist?  How do you explain the existence of American style guides that call for logical punctuation? Unscintillating (talk) 23:13, 1 August 2011 (UTC)
Inaccuracy can exist under any system. What I'm saying is that in all the times this rule has been challenged, no one has offered even one example of American punctuation causing any problem of any kind on Wikipedia. I'm not saying this couldn't possibly happen. I'm saying that if it's so rare that no one on this page has ever seen it, then it's not a big enough problem to be worth making, keeping or enforcing a rule against it, especially a rule that requires people to write incorrectly. I'm serious about those questions, though. If you've seen a non-hypothetical error that can be attributed to American punctuation, you should post a link to it here. It's 100% relevant to the issue.
All the American style guides that I know of that call for LQ cover specialized types of writing, such as computer programming or technical writing. Wikipedia is a general-audience publication. Do you remember the names of the style guides you're talking about? Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:00, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
Not really that interested in doing research, like I said, I prefer being accurate to the quotation more than I prefer being accurate to a style guide.  Regarding the question about style guides, your quote above says, "The overwhelming majority of reliable sources on American English actively prefer American punctuation for general writing"—which means you already have a list of the "underwhelming minority".  Unscintillating (talk) 02:08, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
Using American style is accurate to the quotation. There is over a hundred years of practice that demonstrates this. Also, using American punctuation on AmE articles would make them accurate to both the quotations and the American English style guides.
As for your comment about lists, no, counting the majority doesn't also mean that I know which particular other style guide you've seen. Cards on the table: I wasn't before, but I am now asking you which style guides you're talking about, because you are now giving me the impression that you have never actually seen an American style guide that requires LQ. Look, if it's something you saw a couple of years ago and you don't remember exactly what it was called, then say that. There's nothing wrong with it.
Bottom line? It's one thing to use LQ yourself if you want to, but to make or support a rule forcing others to use it as well, you should be able to point to something other than your own personal preferences. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:38, 2 August 2011 (UTC)
So you are saying that you might have been wrong when you implied that there was an "underwhelming minority" on 02:41 26 July 2011, and you might have been wrong when you said recently, "All the American style guides that I know of that call for LQ cover specialized types of writing, such as computer programming or technical writing"; because you didn't actually check your facts, and you don't actually know of any such guides?

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Which do you think is better workmanship:

  • Regarding the question about style guides, your quote above says, "The overwhelming majority of reliable sources on American English actively prefer American punctuation for general writing—" which means you already have a list of the "underwhelming minority."
  • Regarding the question about style guides, your quote above says, "The overwhelming majority of reliable sources on American English actively prefer American punctuation for general writing..."—which means you already have a list of the "underwhelming minority..."
  • Regarding the question about style guides, your quote above says, "The overwhelming majority of reliable sources on American English actively prefer American punctuation for general writing"—which means you already have a list of the "underwhelming minority".

Unscintillating (talk) 01:19, 3 August 2011 (UTC)

No, Unscintillating, that is not what I implied. You said, "How do you explain the existence of American style guides that call for logical punctuation?" and I asked you which style guides you've seen that do that. For example, you might have once worked for a programming company that had its own in-house style guide. That's something that would be likely to call for British punctuation and that I would not be likely to have seen. It's also possible that you saw a British or Canadian guide years ago and only thought it was American. But hey, I could be wrong. Your sources might be better than I think they are. There's only one way to find out and that's to ask you about them.
If you don't remember which guide it was, why don't you look at the list of style guides at the top of this discussion page and see if anything jogs your memory? If the guide you're talking about isn't on that list, maybe you should recommend it for addition.
Regarding workmanship, that is not strictly speaking "my quote." It includes you reacting to something I said, so it should be written like this: "You said, 'The overwhelming majority of reliable sources on American English actively prefer American punctuation for general writing' —which means you already have a list of the 'underwhelming minority.'" You will notice how the fact that I changed double quotes to single does not in any way alter the text or misquote either person. It, like American punctuation, is understood to be part of the quotation process.
Getting back on the core topic of this RFC, I think it's safe to say that you don't want to lift the ban. I don't think either one of us thinks you're going to change your mind about that. What do you think about removing the rationale? If no one can show that American punctuation causes errors or misquotation, then the MoS should not claim that it does, regardless of what else it may say. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:26, 3 August 2011 (UTC)
In your new example, it seems you have moved the punctuation outside the first quote instead of following the basic rule for the internal punctuation.  Then by using the internal punctuation at the end, you've ended up with a combination single quote followed by a double quote, which is illegible on Wikipedia.  So in both cases, had we started with logical punctuation we wouldn't be left with questions to resolve.  As for my original question with three examples, I'll answer it myself, the first two attempts at internal style are truly "not logical", it shows that once you get past the tucking of a period or comma inside the quotes, that there is a new set of rules to learn.  So out of five examples (one set of three and one set of two), the logical punctuation was easier to use in every case, there weren't any ties.  As for your basic goal to turn this RfC into change at Wikipedia, I'd think you'd want to check the archives as to why this was originally decided, maybe the examples you seek are already there.  Unscintillating (talk) 03:34, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
Actually, the oldest reference to this rule that I can find mentions some kind of compromise, trading the mostly-American preference for double quotation marks for the mostly-British preference for British punctuation. It has nothing to do with any hypothetical or practical superiority or inferiority, and it certainly isn't what the MoS states as the reason for the ban, and none of the ban's supporters have brought it up for quite some time.
As for examples of real errors on Wikipedia, I've been spending time on the talk page for about four years, I've seen this rule challenged many times, and no one has ever provided even one example of any non-hypothetical error or misquotation. There have been a few "Well it causes confusion if I also chop off half the words," but nothing solid. I haven't seen any in any of my archive searches either. What it seems to come down to is that most of the people who hang out on this talk page just don't like American punctuation. That's not a good enough reason to ban it, though, and it's certainly not right to claim that the real reason was something else.
The single quote followed by the double quote is pretty standard for quotations-within-quotations. Its readability depends on the font. Sometimes a space is useful, like so: "She said, 'Hopscotch.' "Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:24, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
There's {{'"}} for that: "She said, 'Hopscotch.'" A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:07, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Comment from an outsider

Having been invited by RfC to consider the debate here, as best as I can make out, the arguments revolve around:

  1. a prominent lacuna about notions of audience;
  2. consistency;
  3. enforceability;
  4. cultural chauvinism; and
  5. desire for certainty.

If the English Wikipedia has a potential audience of anyone who can read and understand English, the likelihood is that grammar is a secondary considerations to the reliability of the information we present in the articles we edit. Jacob Lumbumbu in Kenya, Wong Chu in China, Gupta Singh in India, and Mehmet Riza in Turkey are probably blissfully unaware that this debate is going on at all, and wouldn’t care if they knew about it. Chances are, though, they learnt their English by studying British English.

As best as I can tell, if a single article adheres to a single style, we are already ahead of the game. To impose a single style on all articles would require a lengthy, very prescriptive manual of style, and continuous editing of all articles to keep pace with inevitable, progressive changes to the manual. If punctuation alters the meaning of a sentence, it becomes important. If it represents only personal preferences, comfort zones or chauvinisms, it is largely irrelevant, so long as a single style is maintained in a single article. Personally I have never yet objected to an editor coming in behind me to change my punctuation to accord with someone else’s assertion that an article has been designated as adopting American or British (or Venusian) English. So long as the meaning isn’t changed, and my name isn’t on a final product about grammar and punctuation, what do I care?

Enforcing any guideline as a rule at Wikipedia is like herding 50 cats towards anything. Good luck. It is, in fact so difficult that I think we are better off to involve ourselves only in disputes that count for something, like the veracity of sources, point of view debates, and malicious vandalism. Trying to make the manual of style more prescriptive has only one end: to make of it a weapon with which to beat someone else around the head. In my opinion the manual is already too prescriptive, and I’d hate to see it become more so. The original authors of the manual probably intended us to aspire to the most professional, exemplary standards we are capable of, which is a sliding scale across the vast numbers of editors here. The more prescriptive we become about form as opposed to content, the more elitist we become, and the fewer editors will actually stick around to be berated about punctuation. I propose that the last thing Wikipedia needs is more cops, and certainly not a new layer of punctuation cops.

The vast majority of English-speakers in the world are not American. India alone might have more English-speakers than the US. Even in nations where English is not a recognised national language, it nevertheless has currency as the pre-eminent international language. After 300 years of the overpowering effect of British and American money, arms, and culture on the entire world, not to know English is almost a disadvantage, like poverty or famine. To argue, contrary to Wikipedia’s stated universalist aspirations, that Wikipedia is exclusively by Americans for Americans is cultural chauvinism. The internet doesn’t recognise national boundaries, nor does knowledge. Once something is entirely beholden to a single nationality it becomes possible to perceive it as ideologically tainted, or propaganda. Already the Chinese, for example, have expressed misgivings about Wikipedia functioning as an instrument of ‘American imperialism’. Let’s not assist that argument by making it more easy to propose. I’m pretty sure that’s not what we aspire to. If there must be an argument about punctuation, let’s not make it one internal exclusively to the USA. In fact, if any debate within Wikipedia becomes exclusive to North America (sorry, Canucks), I, and many others like me, are gone.

As a sub-clause of the ‘Amerika’ argument, I hope it’s legitimate of me to assume that the founders of Wikipedia sought to leverage a clear technological and aspirational, idealistic US leadership in the world to give something to the world that isn’t proprietary.

Moving on, progressively sharpening the focus of the scope and prescriptiveness of a manual appears to me to be the quest for certainty, and the abdication of rational judgement specific to each and every concrete instance in which judgement is required. To do so risks stifling the content of Wikipedia articles for the sake of the form in which they are presented. In that sense the aspiration to develop a prescriptive, absolute set of rules governing punctuation approaches faith in the righteousness of a knowable cause. The idea that punctuation should be pursued with that kind of fervour strikes me as quaintly Oxbridge English and absurdly impractical.

It has already been said that we are not a professional or elitist organisation; we are all volunteers and we come from vastly different intellectual, educational and social backgrounds. Looking to the Wikipedia Manual of Style as a means of homogenising us seems not only misplaced, but also of such trifling importance when compared to getting the articles right that I am inclined to argue conservatively: let’s not make the manual any more prescriptive than it already is.

Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 02:20, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

Does that mean you consider allowing two punctuation styles to be more prescriptive than demanding only one? If not, then the proposal is to make the manual less prescriptive. I can't find the statistic usually quoted here, but I think it was about 45% of our readers are U.S. Art LaPella (talk) 03:35, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
Rereading the proposal, it doesn't come out and say logical punctuation in British articles, and U.S. punctuation (or whatever name is better) for American articles. But that's what he wants. Art LaPella (talk) 03:48, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
I’ll say yet again that despite all the ultimately unresolvable claims by proponents of either practice, it′s essentially a matter of personal preference. Though Tony may find a comma inside closing quotation marks jarring, most of us in North America do not. I personally find spaced en rules used for parenthetical a bit jarring, yet there is at least one editor who “hates em dashes” Personal preference, I guess.
I don’t see where Darkfrog24 has suggested that Wikipedia become exclusively North American. It would be nice to have one overall style for almost everything, but given the disparate makeup of WP readers and editors, I doubt we’d ever agree on much of anything. Especially spelling . . .
Though the rough breakout as “North American” vs. “British” practice is probably reasonable, it’s hardly absolute. The BBC web site uses “aesthetic” punctuation (and double quotation marks), for example. Of course, I’ll say as usual that with typewriter quotation marks, there isn’t any aesthetic. But that’s another topic for another time (probably many other times, actually).
As for the US/North American fraction of English speakers one could start with English language#Countries in order of total speakers and List of countries by English-speaking population. The trick is what to make of the data; for example, should Indians who speak English as a third language be treated the same as a native speaker from the US or the UK, or a non-English European who speaks it as a second language? If recent experience is any guide, I doubt we could discuss this in less than several gigabytes. And numbers alone don’t say a thing about punctuation practice. My impression has been that “aesthetic” punctuation is largely limited to North America, but I′ve never seen anything solid to back this up.
Finally, though I support allowing “NA”-style punctuation here, it’s far from my top priority, as I said earlier. But I don’t think Darkfrog24’s proposal is unreasonable. JeffConrad (talk) 08:27, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
I have to agree with Art, Peter S. You make a lot of interesting points, but I'm a bit in the dark about whether you would prefer to lift the ban or leave it in place.
This is probably the third time I've said it in this conversation, but I don't want to ban British punctuation. That would be just as bad as our current ban on American punctuation. I want to allow both styles, preferably linked to ENGVAR. Taking a guess from the rest of Peter S.'s comments, I'd suppose that he might like allowing both styles but might not like linking them to ENGVAR.
As for international readers, considering that most of them will be reading English as a second language, I'd say that we owe it to them to make their reading experience as correct as possible. No, teaching English isn't Wikipedia's main purpose, but it doesn't hurt either.
Going back to the RFC: The rationale behind the ban is the belief that American punctuation causes errors that British/logical punctuation does not. Any thoughts on this, Peter S? Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:03, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
Oh dear. You have me there, Holmes. My position is that we shouldn't ban anything as an absolute, but also that we shouldn't mess with the status quo. As a good conservative I should vote to do nothing. And yet my conscience says that we should also allow you to follow your own conscience. What am I to do? I'm with you, oh defiler of French delicacies. Overturn any ban on anything that isn't rational and clearly phrased. Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 20:55, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
Defiler of—oh God, does my username mean something wretched in French?
Back on topic, as for the status quo, you should probably know that American punctuation does get used on Wikipedia. In fact, it's been the predominant style in between 1/9 and 1/10 of the front-page featured articles posted since early April. Overturning the ban would simply ensure that people can't get brought up on AN/I for using American punctuation (which has happened at least once that I know of). Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:45, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
We can trade recipes for frog's legs later. In fact I might consider teaching a class about broiling or boiling the dismembered parts of your persona, but I suspect that even the French aren't gonna listen to what I have to say on that subject.
What I do have to say is that I agree with you if your ambit is to remove a ban on language. Peter S Strempel | Talk 22:10, 29 July 2011 (UTC)
We have three options: 1. Leave the ban in place and continue to require British styles on all articles. 2. Lift the ban, creating two allowed styles (as with the serial comma). 3. Lift the ban and tie punctuation to ENGVAR (as we do with spelling).
The third one is what I personally believe would be best for Wikipedia, but I could live with the second one. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:11, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
My hand is up to stop the ban (option two), and I'm sorry about culinary jokes at your expense. Peter S Strempel | Talk 10:05, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
I’d lift the ban, allowing either style. JeffConrad (talk) 22:45, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
I'd go with number 2 but “encouraging” number 3. (Note that we tie date formats with countries even though 31 July is far from unattested in AmE and so is July 31 in BrE. A. di M.plédréachtaí 01:04, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
“[C]onsidering that most of them will be reading English as a second language”... I don't think so. 65.6% of readers are from North America or the British Isles or the Antipodes, so, even if some of them are Spanish/French/Irish/Welsh/Māori/... native speakers, my bet would be that more readers are NS than are NNS. A. di M.plédréachtaí 01:04, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
I meant most of the English-speaking readers from countries other than those traditionally thought of as English-speaking, India and China and the like.
PS, no need to apologize. I was only concerned because I thought it might not be an entirely culinary joke. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:12, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Oppose. [Comments below this post please, not within it. –Noetica] I oppose any revision of WP:MOS to recommend any alternative to logical punctuation (also called "logical quotation"). I also oppose removal of the rationale as currently given; but I do support a rewriting of the guideline to adjust certain details.

This RFC is not orderly
Having successfully "clerked" an RFC using a tight framework (on a subpage structure for the Manual of Style; see recent comments below), let me speak from my experience. The discussion above is ill-structured and very hard to follow. I believe this has contributed to its being relatively ignored by "locals". Another factor may be the distraction of the long-running dash saga coming to a climactic conclusion so recently. This is regrettable. Any change on logical punctuation would be at least as momentous as changes concerning dashes and hyphens; and there are nowhere near enough editors involved for that.
Standard sources have been ignored
The linguist R.L. Trask's Penguin Guide to Punctuation (1997) is a major source for logical punctuation, and the term itself appears to originate with him. This was all dealt with early last year. See archived discussion, including this section and several other sections in the same archive. Trask is mentioned. Am I now expected to adduce such a source again? Why has no one other than Oknozevad cited that archive in the present discussion? If there is such a thing as forum shopping, perhaps there is also "occasion" shopping. A lot of ground was covered last year; why are we not benefiting from it now, and building on it? Another source to consider closely (referred to by Trask) is ["Punctuation and Human Freedom"], by Geoff Pullum – co-editor of CGEL, the major transnational English grammar of our time. He is an avid supporter of logical punctuation, and does not find that a choice between logical and other systems enhances freedom. On the contrary, he opposes the high-handedness of copyeditors who would alter the quoted text, infringing the free speech of those they quote.
Stability, consistency, and the avoidance of wasteful conflict
We have just endured a long ordeal with dashes (of all things!), brought on by a bruising conflict over just two (2!) RMs concerning the Mexican–American War. One thing to emerge is this: most editors are happy with a firm and decisive Manual of Style. Most in fact endorsed the dash guidelines in voting, and while there was disagreement about details, only a small minority favoured an "open" approach on questions that were put to them. We have no reason to assume that the community would prefer choices to be made at every damn article, or want a watered-down manual that merely lists options and says "do what you like" – or worse and most time-wasting, "work it out among yourselves."
Some changes are needed
In fact, the present LQ guideline is remiss. It gets some details wrong, so that the practice it endorses is not found anywhere in general English publishing, British or otherwise. It does reflect reasonable practice for computer programming and the like; but Wikipedia articles are not written like that. When there is time, I would like to address these refinements. There is not time now; and it is a separate issue.

NoeticaTea? 14:02, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Noetica, you've been very active on Wikipedia for a very long time. Do you recall any instances of American punctuation causing any non-hypothetical misquotations or errors in subsequent editing on Wikipedia? Even if happened a while ago and you only kind of remember, it would be 100% relevant.
Regarding the Penguin Guide to Punctuation: "The punctuation described here is the style which is currently the norm in Britain and the Commonwealth. Standard American usage differs in a few respects." [8] The Guide's section on quotation marks is explicitly not a source on American English usage.
This ban is in place solely because MoS regulars do not like American punctuation. The MoS should not claim otherwise and removing that claim would not reduce the MoS's ability to serve wikieditors in any way. Think about it: In what way does stating that American English is inferior help editors write Wikipedia articles? Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:43, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Darkfrog, there's an ownership problem here. It is not "American" punctuation. Internal punctuation is used by many newspapers, including the daily broadsheet I read, and websites that originate outside North America. Americans do not own it. Tony (talk) 15:20, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
And I just saw a movie at a "Leowe's Theatre" and drove past a sign reading "Town Centre." That doesn't mean that the -tre spelling isn't British. It just means that a few Americans occasionally write the British way and I wouldn't be surprised if a few non-Americans use American spelling and punctuation now and then. Even Noetica's Trask refers to these practices as British, American, Canadian and South African. American punctuation is no more or less American than American spelling. The overwhelming majority of American English sources say that leaving periods and commas outside the quotation marks is wrong. We shouldn't force editors to do something that is wrong within its context.
Upon further reflection, I notice that the Penguin Guide to Punctuation doesn't claim that American punctuation causes errors. The author only states that he doesn't like putting commas inside quotation marks. If that's good enough for him, then why shouldn't it be good enough for the MoS? Darkfrog24 (talk) 15:40, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
@Tony: The same applies to the Mmmm DD date format, but still the MoS demands Mmmm DD in US-related topics (and DD Mmmm in UK-related ones). A. di M.plédréachtaí 15:45, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
"Do you recall any instances of American punctuation causing any non-hypothetical misquotations or errors in subsequent editing on Wikipedia?"
No I don't. But:
  • Famously, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
  • I was never looking for such evidence on Wikipedia, or logging it.
  • The same question about evidence could be asked about innumerable points of punctuation or usage; but it is not uniformly asked. Evidence is a Good Thing; selective insistence on it is not.
  • Neither Google nor WP's internal search facility enables searching for such evidence. But COCA and its sibling industrial-strength corpora do. Selections from the huge number of hits for {end,"} (not the format one uses; and "end" is randomly chosen), in American English that does not use logical punctuation:
  1. "In the end," he said, "we think Iraqis will see their lives improving ..."
  2. "And in the end," Costas said, "something remarkable happened, the way it does ..."
  3. "In the end," she says, "the seed of resistance must come from ..."
  4. "But in the end," he says, "our moral obligations are what set us apart from ..."
  5. "The end," I tell her, "was his leaving here to find his way ..."
  6. "In the end," Greenberg wrote, "almost half the electorate threw up its hands, ..."
  7. The postmodern novelist can not avoid "facing toward an unthinkable end," just as he can not prevent himself from "looking over his shoulder ..."
  8. "In the end," Medak said, "we'll have about 40 percent more property ..."
  9. "There was a little risk reduction at the front end," said Gleba, "and larger bets on later rounds."
  10. "The age of the superpowers has come to an end," he said, "so military power does not translate to influence, ..."
  11. "I got a little paranoid when I got to the end," Michael says, "because it was real narrow, and I thought ..."
  12. "In the end," he says, "I won the day."
So Darkfrog, please show us the originals that are quoted in those twelve excerpts, solely from the report of the writer who does the quoting and without "correcting" the source to conform to some presumed standard. Then remind us why logical punctuation should be considered to have no intrinsic advantage.
NoeticaTea? 23:30, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Simple, because, in order to be absolutely certain that nothing had been removed, I would have to look at the original source regardless of the style of punctuation used. "In the end", he says, "I won the day" might originally have been "In the end of things I won the day." British/LQ gives me no information that American punctuation does not.
The answer, then, to "How often does American punctuation cause problems on Wikipedia?" is "not enough for a diligent, punctuation-savvy editor to notice even once in all his years on Wikipedia." The next question is "Is this often enough to merit banning a system of punctuation considered correct by almost every single American English source?" My answer is "No." A problem that no one has ever seen is more likely to be an imaginary problem than a real one. But if you want a source for that, here's one: The Chicago Manual of Style 14th edition states, "In defense of nearly a century and a half of the American style, however, it may be said that it seems to have been working fairly well and has not resulted in serious miscommunication." If there's anyone who does go around looking for instances in which a given punctuation system or other causes trouble, it's probably them. Here's a web site that quotes this passage: [9]
Considering the rationale itself. You have your reasons, Noetica, for wanting to keep the ban on American punctuation, but we can see here that "it causes non-hypothetical errors and misquotation" isn't one of them. In your case—and probably in everyone else's as well—that's not why the ban is here. Why should the MoS or its FAQ claim otherwise? Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:48, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Darkfrog: Er, no! That's a fundamental misunderstanding. With logical punctuation the case you use would go like this:

In the end I won the day.
"In the end", he says, "I won the day."

In the end, I won the day.
"In the end," he says, "I won the day."

But "American" usage would give this for both originals:

"In the end," he says, "I won the day."

So I do retain this among my reasons for preferring that MOS recommend logical punctuation exclusively: "it causes non-hypothetical errors and misquotation." And let me assure you: neither long-established habit nor national practice is among those reasons. Neither applies in my case. Can you say the same, for your own preferred guideline in MOS?
Finally, do not expect me to be impressed by CMOS's stated rationales – especially when the edition you quote is twice superseded. CMOS has its idiosyncrasies and habitual loyalties. (It is in fact an excellent case study in American insularity; but that's another story, and I never rely on that in assessing its deliverances.) The situation in CMOS16 is no better, and it still flounders on some core issues. But I use it! I have to.
NoeticaTea? 00:23, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
Both your examples of B/LQ could be omitting material. The first could have been "In the end of all things, I won the day" and the second could have been "In the end, despite my doubts, I won the day." Again, both styles are reasonably good but neither one provides absolute certainty.
I freely admit that I prefer the style in which I was trained and to which I am more used, but you will notice that I'm not trying to ban the other style. I have used British style in Wikipedia articles that were written in British English.
If it causes non-hypothetical errors under actual use, then show me one.
The sixteenth edition might not include this same passage, but it does not contain one that contradicts it. As a source for Wikipedia, it stands. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:22, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
This RFC is pointless, since there is no such thing as "American punctuation". Some American publications use logical quotation. Some British and otherwise non-American publications use typesetters' quotation. It's not a WP:ENGVAR issue, it's an encyclopedic precision versus sloppy journalistic/fiction writers' style issue, and that debate was settled years ago in a clear manner. No facts have changed. Per WP:CONSENSUS, rehashing old topics that settle again and again on the same consensus in hopes that you'll get lucky and finally get your way because of who happens to be participating in the debate this time around, does not magically mean that consensus is going to change, it's simply "asking the other parent" or "forum shopping" and is a tiresome form of tendentious, drawn out canvassing. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 04:52, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
PS: Just because someone can find a source somewhere calling these styles "American" and "British" doesn't mean these are accurate terms. I can find sources that say that Bigfoot is real and that astrology works. In various previous versions of the debate, we've shown for a fact that typesetters' style is used outside the US and logical style used inside it. I know this, since I dug up plenty of that myself. This perpetual soapboxing attempt at causing Americans like me to boil up a crap-storm of controversy about "prejudice" against "American" this or "favo[u]ritism" show to "British" that is basically just a bunch of trolling geared toward disrupting the MoS. MoS is a guideline. This means it steers people. This means not every single person will be happy with everything in it. Otherwise we wouldn't ever have to steer anyone, since we'd all be robots and all going in the same direction automatically. Of all the things to pick at, this is the least productive one to choose because it has nothing at all to do with national/cultural interests, at all, period (full stop). As has been explained again and again and again ad nauseam, it is only and entirely about accuracy. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 05:01, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't claim to understand all the history etc., but comparing style manuals including the Chicago Manual of Style to "Bigfoot is real" does create a credibility problem. Art LaPella (talk) 07:10, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
SMC, I live in the U.S. and I saw a movie in a "theatre" and drove past a sign that said "town centre." That doesn't mean that British spelling isnt' real.
Here's a thought. You don't believe the sources I provided that refer to British and American styles as British and American. I imagine that you think it's like the "French" in "French kiss." Well, there are many more sources that claim that Bigfoot is a myth than those that claim Bigfoot is real. Show us some sources indicating that the "British" and "American" tags are inaccurate. This is Wikipedia. We're supposed to value sources and logical arguments over sheer numbers.
Again, if banning American punctuation is about accuracy, then show me one non-hypothetical example of it causing any inaccuracy on Wikipedia. This is about taste, not accuracy, and that's not a good enough reason to force people to use punctuation that is incorrect relative to its context. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:19, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Summing up the take

So let's see if I have this: People who are explicitly in favor of removing the rationale, independently of LQ: Is it just myself and Noleander? People explicitly in favor of keeping the rationale: Is it just Noetica? Evidence presented showing that the rationale is justified: None. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:44, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

I'm unclear on the question. Are you proposing to remove "It is used here because it is deemed by Wikipedia consensus to be more in keeping with the principle of minimal change"? Dicklyon (talk) 04:18, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I just realized all this debate is about Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/FAQ, which is read less than once a day! Whoever gives in first gets a Golden Attaboy. Art LaPella (talk) 05:14, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Oh, is that it? And in this whole PFC, nobody linked it or referred to it explicitly? No wonder I'm confused. I nominate that page for deletion. Dicklyon (talk) 05:23, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
@Art LaPella: That FAQ is transcluded into the stuff at the top of this talk page (though hidden behind a [show] button), so there might be people reading it without accessing directly. A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:45, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I believe that we should replace WP:LQ with a rule expressly permitting both British/logical and American styles, but yes, Dicklyon, I am talking about removing those very words from the MoS and from the FAQ. The FAQ itself is referred to about three times.
"Golden Attaboy"? I don't understand. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:26, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
A better definition. But I was unaware of what A. di M.'s comment just above. Art LaPella (talk) 17:20, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I thought the term meant. I still don't understand what you mean.
For anyone who doesn't want to re-read the RFC the premise is this: 1. The MoS bans American punctuation because it is believed to cause errors and problems. 2. No one can recall even one instance of American punctuation causing errors or problems. 3. So we should remove the ban. 4. If we retain the ban for any other reason (such as its popularity), then we should remove the claim that errors are the reason for the ban. Darkfrog24 (talk) 23:14, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
The Golden Attaboy comment was based on a premise that turned out to be false, after A. di M.'s explanation. Are you asking me to explain why I would say that, even if I believed that premise to be true? Art LaPella (talk) 23:54, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
I was only mildly curious. If you don't want to, then never mind it. Any comments on removing the rationale? Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:59, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, OK. "The FAQ is referred to about three times" on this page, some unlinked, and all except the banners are soon to be archived; is that what you meant? When I looked at the top of this page, I found the direct link before I found "show", so maybe 2 people per day see the offending rationale. About 200 per day see this talk page, and about 1500 see the main MoS page. Let's not miss the forest for the trees.
Is it a "misquotation" if you don't know whether the comma was part of the real quote or not, and might even re-quote it with the punctuation changed? (Examples are easy to create: The newspaper said "never", and I believe it. Did the newspaper actually say "never," or "never", and how often would it matter?) Well, that isn't how I would use the word "misquotation", and dictionaries don't clarify that semantic point. But the FAQ says only that misquotation is some people's opinion, and some disagree. That seems true enough, so maybe I haven't followed your objection closely enough. Art LaPella (talk) 21:23, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
The rationale is also in the MoS itself, as part of WP:LQ, or at least the claim that American punctuation has anything to do with the principle of minimal change.
I believe that the rationale promotes two falsehoods 1. that American punctuation causes errors under actual use and 2. that actual errors or even the belief in such errors is the reason why the ban of American punctuation is here. I dug back into the archive and it seems that the original reason was a compromise between British and American English: using American-ish double quotation marks instead of single but British punctuation rules with periods and commas. From the past few discussions, I've gathered that the current reason is just widespread personal preference for British style. Either way, the rationale isn't the truth. If I had to guess, I'd say that the rationale is part of a revisionist agenda devised to foster what its proponents consider to be improvements in the English language. Think about it: Why would we provide a rationale for WP:LQ when we don't for most of the MoS? Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:23, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
So the text people are 750 times more likely to load (and maybe 100 times more likely to actually read) is "minimal change". Does "minimal change" promote two falsehoods?
1. sounds wrong; LQ does indeed create "minimal change" because it doesn't change the comma. It can't be blamed for people reading claims into those two words that aren't there. Do you mean a definition of "errors" that makes American punctuation an error just because it isn't British, or do you mean an almost equally meaningless "error" of representing a quote as "never," when he didn't actually write the comma?
Does 2. mean they preferred British style just because it's British? Although I was taught American punctuation, British punctuation seems simpler to me, perhaps because I do a lot of computer programming, which will malfunction or fail to compile without careful punctuation. Quote it all, without exceptions for the punctuation. So to me it's credible that their preference for British punctuation would be based on "minimal change", in addition to the compromise you described.
"revisionist agenda": Yes, wanting "minimal change" in an American article instead of American punctuation can be called revisionist. That is a good reason to remove the entire WP:LQ guideline, but not to remove "minimal change" as the reason.
"Why would we provide a rationale ...?" Certainly not because WP:LQ is the only part of the MoS we argue about! It is one of the most noticed parts of the MoS because it isn't on a subpage, not because it's the only part that's wrong. We don't provide rationales for my oft-cited contradiction list either, even though one side of each contradiction has to be wrong. Septentrionalis has often called for rationales for everything, and to my knowledge, he or anyone else is welcome to provide them; that's why we have the abandoned Register. Art LaPella (talk) 01:58, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
No, I don't think they like British/LQ just because it's British. I think they like it because it appeals to their sense of logic and because it's trendy. Now liking the new way isn't bad, but it's not a good enough reason to ban the old way. It's more logical to write "center" than "centre," but it certainly wouldn't be right, fair or even necessary to ban British spelling.
The revisionist agenda that I'm talking about is the idea that people are trying to replace American punctuation with British/LQ in the English language by pushing rules like this one on Wikipedia, rather than allowing any such change to happen on its own. This goes back to the idea that the MoS should reflect English as it is rather than English as people think it will be or English as people wish it were.
Sorry, but I think your sarcasm is clouding your point in that last paragraph. It looks like you're saying that while it is odd that WP:LQ has a rationale and other parts of the MoS don't, the answer is to add rationales elsewhere rather than take it away from WP:LQ. Is that right? Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:12, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't think any of your points are intended to refute my conclusion that there's nothing wrong with the rationale. So I suppose we have switched to discussing whether the entire guideline should be removed. I don't oppose that. I generally avoid advocating specific style issues; I have no easy access to style manuals, and Wikipedia has much more style debate than it is worth.
One meaning of "sarcasm" is that the intended meaning is the opposite of the literal meaning. I didn't find that in my paragraph. Concerning other meanings of "sarcasm", academics occasionally take offense when I say something too obvious. But if they don't like something like "You owe me another dollar in change", would they prefer me to make a calculus problem out of it?
"add rationales elsewhere rather than take it away from WP:LQ" Yes, that is what I meant. But on reflection, I have confused the consensus for rationales in the Register and the FAQ, with rationales in the MoS itself. However, I couldn't confirm that "WP:LQ has a rationale and other parts of the MoS don't". Search the MoS for these phrases: "Cultural clashes", "Modern editions", "Generally, the more", "This practice of", "which may clutter", "To prevent apostrophes", and "They are easier". I would call each of those phrases "rationales", and there are many more because I stopped looking when I got down to WP:LQ (about 40% of the way down). Art LaPella (talk) 22:27, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
Except that the same page that insists on "minimal change" here also supports repunctuating quotations to the style preferred by some obscure vote or other, and therefore this page is inconsistent. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 02:47, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
No, we should not mark WP:MOSQUOTE "disputed" just because someone pops up every few months and recycles an argument already covered by the FAQ. MoS has been remarkably stable on this matter for almost a decade. We use logical quotation because it is logical and reduces misquoting and ambiguities, and also prevents falsification of titles, innumerable broken links, subtle POV pushing, etc., etc., etc. The only reason to not use it is pure subjective aesthetics ("I think it looks better"). Aesthetics that pretty much everyone in the world except most but not all Americans and a minority of non-Americans don't find appealing to begin with. And I'm an American, so this isn't some pro-British position. Logical quotation isn't British anyway, it's just not particularly American, though it is preferred by many, and a growing number of, American technical/science publications. The whole "American vs British" business is a total red herring. Logical quotation is not any more difficult to proofread, either, but actually much easier, since it eliminates innumerable errors of over-inclusion automatically. Typesetter's quotation style doesn't really "make sense" in any context at all, but it is usually harmless in fiction and in journalistic writing, where precision is usually of minimal importance. But, WP:NOT. QED. Please move on and don't re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-rehash this same old long-settled topic. The equine corpse has been beaten all the way down to the earth's core already. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 04:40, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
No, we use logical quotation because a few people made a compromise years ago and a few more people have managed to stomp on any attempt to balance the MoS. If it really does reduce the misquotation rate, then show us at least one example of American punctuation causing a misquotation. This is a matter of taste, not accuracy.
We require ordinary articles to have sources. If we held the MoS to the same standard, WP:LQ would have been replaced long ago. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:12, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
Haha, I don't know how you've been able to repeat yourself for this long, Darkfrog. I still support your RFC proposal, but I stopped following it a long time ago because it's raising my blood pressure.--Jp07 (talk) 22:27, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
Heh! One gets used to persistent and opinionated on this discussion page! Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:00, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

Whatever happened to the (subpage) to /Subpage transition?

Why, despite the landslide consensus at the latest RfC about that, pages such as Wikipedia:Manual of Style (capital letters) haven't been moved to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Capital letters yet? A. di M.plédréachtaí 04:14, 5 August 2011 (UTC)

Two good answers for you to choose from:
  1. Because you haven't done it yet. ☺
  2. Because it is a good idea to work out how to do it best, and to take the opportunity to check for consistency and other desiderata as pages are brought one by one into the fold. But no one has shown the slightest interest in taking up that suggestion of mine.
Yes, there was a landslide consensus. It showed how a well-structured and orderly RFC could yield a clear outcome that can be "memorialised" (to use Greg's term), to implement when the time is right. Of course you must feel free to take things further: but preferably not in the undocumented way in which a random few have been moved recently.
NoeticaTea? 07:10, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
Well... Stage 1 was moving all the existing /Subpages (other than redirects) which wouldn't fit in the proposed scheme to somewhere else. Anyway, most of those pages are historical, so I wouldn't worry too much about them. A. di M.plédréachtaí 12:46, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
So you think the implementation needs no more discussion? I think it needs a lot. The "legacy" and miscellaneous subpages need to go somewhere rationally considered; and they do need to be out of the way so that searches in the relevant namespace (or with the relevant "prefix") will yield only guidelines. Similarly for contents of talkpages. To be revisited later, when people are ready to focus on it. The consensus will still be there.
NoeticaTea? 21:57, 5 August 2011 (UTC)
So the agreement is that notional MoS subpages should be moved to actual Mos subpages, i.e. take titles of the form Wikipedia:Manual of Style/XXX? But before we do that, we have to move all those pages which are currently of that form to some other place? That doesn't sound too difficult - anyone want to express any preference as to what that "other place" should be?--Kotniski (talk) 12:01, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
The ones which are actually polls to the Wikipedia talk namespace (e.g. WT:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Whatever), and if there's a meta-discussion currently in that place I'd move it to WT:Manual of Style (dates and numbers)/Whatever/discussion. Historical non-discussion pages (e.g. drafts) I'd move to WP:Manual of Style/historical/Whatever. (We could introduce a convention whereby subpages containing extra guidance start will eventually with a capital letter (WP:Manual of Style/Dates and numbers, WP:Manual of Style/Abbreviations etc.) and those used for housekeeping purposes with a small letter (WP:Manual of Style/register, WP:Manual of Style/reviews instead of the current WP:Manual of Style/Reviews etc.); what do you guys think about this? A. di M.plédréachtaí 13:13, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good, though it might be better to find a solution whereby only guideline subpages have the form WP:MOS/XXX, i.e. the housekeeping pages are given some other form of title (rather than merely being distinguished by the case of the first letter). Simply WP:Manual of Style reviews and so on might work.--Kotniski (talk) 13:24, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, that would be OK. A. di M.plédréachtaí 18:22, 6 August 2011 (UTC)

Actually, having thought about this, and in the spirit of my proposal above that we should write our page titles in something resembling English rather than in some software-imposed syntax, I don't like the whole slash idea after all. Slashes generally mean "or" in the real world; they don't introduce a subtopic. And since we've already got one subtopic marker in the title already (the colon after "Wikipedia"), why not carry on be consistent and carry on using the colon in that function: "Wikipedia: Manual of Style: Whatever subtopic". All right, ithis doesn't look a huge lot like English either, but at least the structure is more transparent. And it's even possible to make the "Wikipedia: Manual of Style: " bit display in smaller type, if we want to place more emphasis on what is logically the actual title of the page.--Kotniski (talk) 10:20, 7 August 2011 (UTC)

And with that, we come full circle, since "Wikipedia: Manual of Style (whatever subtopic)" already served this goal quite well, and the vast majority of such pages are already named in this format. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 05:08, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
I've moved quite a few pages (I seem to be the only one doing it) but I haven't bothered moving the pages with vast amounts of talk page archives. It's going to take a while if I do it myself. McLerristarr | Mclay1 03:03, 20 August 2011 (UTC)

Talking of rationalising the MoS ...

Does Lead section do anything useful? Tony (talk) 10:58, 14 August 2011 (UTC)

I think I added it during recent reconstruction, since leads didn't seem to be mentioned (or were mentioned rather opaquely) before. At the moment all the section does (apart from, most importantly, link to the relevant MoS subpage) is explain what a lead section is and that an article should have one; perhaps it could be expanded to say something more specific.--Kotniski (talk) 16:38, 14 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for your good work, but why not remove it and add a ref in "See also". Or better still, that box top-left that lists the MoS subpages could be expanded at the top level? BTW, why isn't MOSNUM at the top level: it is a crucial subpage. Tony (talk) 03:36, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure what you mean by "expanded at the top level"? And about the lead, maybe there doesn't need to be a separate section on it, but we should make it clear (maybe in the "section organization" section) that an article should have a lead, with an explicit "Main" link to the MoS subpage on that toipc.--Kotniski (talk) 10:08, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
The situation I constantly run into is the case where the lead contains unique information that does not appear in the body. Given that the style guide says the lead "serves both as an introduction to the article and as a summary of its most important aspects", placing unique facts in the lead seems to contradict this policy. Yet this does not appear to be clearly spelled out anywhere. Regards, RJH (talk) 17:49, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Proposition - Stop protecting [-st] inflection of prepositions under dialectal differences

To inflect words such as among and while so that they become amongst and whilst is grammatically erroneous, because these inflections are entirely excrescent, occurring without any grammatical justification. People who are learning English on a secondary basis are often confused by the appearance of these inflections, and are left with the impression that both forms of these words have individual context.

This is very different from, say, editors applying spelling differences between various dialects of English. (e.g., color, colour; realise, realize; jewelry, jewellery; et al.) These differences are precedented by intentional attempts at reformation — amongst and whilst are not.

It should be noted that the preposition against is also a victim of this error. Against is possibly a special exception, due to a lack of any other form of usage in Modern English. (if we want to be completely technical, we should possibly be using the archaic form againes) Amid[-st] and mid[-st] are less clear, because while they are very widely acceptable in Modern English, amid is also preferred by some people.

My proposition is that amongst / whilst should be regarded as misspellings, and therefore changed to among / while to avoid confusion; or perhaps further corruption of English in general. Wikipedia is accessed by millions of users. In some respect, we are influencing the grammar of our readers. I think we should try to set a precedent that will aid our readers in developing a better grasp on English. It's going to be difficult to do that when we inject so many excrescent word-forms into articles. (talk) 17:52, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

I figured those must just be British; but if the Brits are just as happy with among and while, then we should adopt those, per MOS:COMMONALITY. So who is "protecting", and have you pointed out that guideline to them? Dicklyon (talk) 17:59, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
Many people figure this is a dialectal difference at first, but these forms occur across many different dialects of English. It seems to boil down to being a bad habit.
I don't want to go around stepping on other editors' toes, though. I'm pretty sure that, should I go about removing the [-st] when I see it, said editors will get on my case. We aren't allowed to "correct" one another when it comes to mere differences in spelling / dialect. I'm hoping we can at least agree on what constitutes a dialect versus an outright misunderstanding of something like inflection. (talk) 18:12, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
The Wikipedia article "Inflection" begins with this paragraph.

In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case. Conjugation is the inflection of verbs; declension is the inflection of nouns, adjectives and pronouns.

Wavelength (talk) 18:48, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
Whilst and amongst are perfectly good (British) English words. It's not a matter of inflection. They are not misspellings. They are not a bad habit. So if you "corrected" them with a comment of that nature, people would probably be justified in feeling that their toes had been stepped on. However, I agree with preferring while and among, on the basis of WP:Commonality. In some British dialects, there may still be a difference between while (until) and whilst (during the time when)), but that need not concern us. --Boson (talk) 20:34, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
My impression is that they are now archaizing, even in Britain; but I see no need to roust them out. It is likely that they will be gradually amended to "until" and "during", which are also perfectly good British words, but if this does not happen, so be it. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:38, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
I could see allowing users to replace "amongst" and "whilst" as per WP:Commonality, but to ban them would be too much. The original poster mentions people who read English as a subsequent language. I assert that those people are best served by a Wikipedia that shows English as it is, not as it might be, used to be, or (in a few people's minds) ought to be. If "whilst" and "amongst" are acceptable but becoming rarer in British English, then that's what they should be in British Wikipedia articles. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:45, 18 August 2011 (UTC)
Not grammatically wrong; just odious nowadays. But this is beyond what the MoS should be talking about, unless it wants to provide friendly advice. The MoS is too long already. Tony (talk) 14:29, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines

I've gone through this verbose section, trimming and simplifying, but making no substantive changes. There is a pressing need for the MoS to be shortened where possible. That is why I've removed reference to being consistent within an article (really, does this need to be said a dozen times? It's an overriding principle, like not changing directly quoted material, another thing that MoS seems to want to repeat here and there.) I've trimmed back the length of a few examples. I've removed these examples, since they're covered by the section on capitalization, and seem rather obvious: Jesus and Muhammad are both considered prophets in Islam; scholars dispute whether Mary was a virgin for her entire life; his wife was his muse, but the nine Muses. Who's gonna write "Prophets":? or "Virgin"? It will soon be picked up if they do; overkill, don't you agree, in the MoS main page? The Latter Day Saints get a whole sentence in the opening bullet just because the relevant sub-page says to use "The" not "the"? I think this is sufficiently specialised that editors should not have to wade through it here. Any LDS article or reference is covered elsewhere.

Surely this point does need an example or two, though:

  • Pronouns for figures of veneration are not capitalized, even if capitalized in a religion's scriptures.

Please discuss here if there are problems with my edit. Happy to reverse if there are good reasons. It's down from 3434 ch. to 2600 ch, a drop of nearly a quarter. Tony (talk) 14:26, 21 August 2011 (UTC)

Spelled pronunciations

There is a discussion at User talk:Jimbo Wales#More on spelled pronunciations.
Wavelength (talk) 21:39, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

En dash: proposal to use them with suffixes to spaced compounds, not just prefixes

It is completely nonsensical to give pre–World War II aircraft as an example but to not accept a World War II–era cruiser. That would be an artificial distinction. If it was left out of the discussion it was a simple oversight. Any reason we should not expand the example to make that clear? — kwami (talk) 23:32, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

  • Support treating the non-prefix cases the same, with an en-dash. (I too thought this was logical and made a similar edit a little while ago but was also told it needed to be discussed here.) I can't really see a principled reason not to treat them the same in terms of style guide suggestions. Good Ol’factory (talk) 23:36, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
GO, you took it to my talkpage, where I wrote you a very thorough answer. Good if you had mentioned that. NoeticaTea? 01:19, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Why? You suggested I bring it up here on the talk page. I don't see the relevance to anyone else. (Any one else can correct me if they actually do care ...) Good Ol’factory (talk) 03:46, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Why? Because a reasonable inference from what you posted would be that there has been no substantial discussion since I said "take it to talk" (if I recall the exact words of my edit summary). Yet you thanked me handsomely for the quality of my reply, at the talkpage you preferred to take it to. No big deal; let's move on. ☺ NoeticaTea? 04:16, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm happy to move on, but I just don't get it. Why would anyone else care? If no one else cares, why do I need to announce it? If you know we had a discussion, and I know we had a discussion, why is it helpful for anyone else to know we had a discussion? Do I have to announce that I've discussed this elsewhere with another editor? I'm not that thorough even with my taxes ... Good Ol’factory (talk) 05:13, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose, unless a thorough and articulated analysis of the recent eight-week ArbCom-sanctioned poll on dashes can show support for the addition – or a new consensus can be shown. Voting and opinion divided only grudgingly supported even the prefix usage, and it is most likely that if the suffix usage had been put forward for a vote, the idea of the usage in general (suffix and prefix) would have been exposed as contrary to consensus. Style guides are even at variance on the prefix usage; it is, for a start, pretty well confined to American usage. And some that support the prefix version make no mention of the suffix version. Kwami speaks of an "artificial distinction", as if all of punctuation were not contrived for practical ends, as CMOS punctuation rules amply demonstrate, for example. The present guideline is a careful compromise, and guides in a way that will forestall disputes in RMs. Let it stand unless a strong show of consensus overturns it. NoeticaTea? 01:19, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Support – this one is more American than British; I'm OK either way, but being an American, I lean toward including the en dash with suffixes this way. I think we can take a pulse here rather than trying to infer it from the previous discussion. Dicklyon (talk) 03:51, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
After those months of wrangling, capped by those many weeks of consultation, discussion, and voting? I for one am not happy to "take a pulse here". The community input included a good deal about the use of the en dash with open compounds. Myself, I voted "oppose" on the question that was actually put (on prefixes); but I accepted it on the discussion subpage and later on this page, in the interest of flexibility, compromise, and a definite singular ruling. I am ready to reverse that acceptance, if the hard-won compromise is now to be lightly superseded. Dicklyon, with the greatest respect: the American way on this point has already had its concession. It is hardly fair to ask for more on insubstantial grounds. Substantial grounds? That's different. I'm waiting to see them. They do not include avoidance of "artificiality" in this case. NoeticaTea? 04:16, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I appreciate and respect that it was a compromise that took some working out, and that you don't like the en dash in this context. We can leave it this way, but if it turns out that most people really wanted prefix+suffix, they'll say so. As we said before, after the major rewrite, we can go back to normal processes of incremental adjustments based on consensus. No need to presume we're stuck forever based on how hard it was to get here. In truth, I don't expect to see a consensus to change it, but I think it doesn't hurt to ask. Dicklyon (talk) 04:43, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
To be clear: Of course we can revisit the issue, and we said so at the time, no one more definitely than me. We are indeed revisiting it, and of course the consensus can be refined or altered, or – to put it more accurately perhaps – better approximated (since by some stringent definitions we could never have consensus on this one). Far preferable would be another idea, which I pushed earlier: revisit WP:HYPHEN systematically, now that such good work has been done on WP:DASH. These guidelines are inevitably intertwined; we can tackle the present issue as effectively under the rubric of hyphens as of dashes, and adjust both sections as required with full consideration of every alternative. NoeticaTea? 04:54, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that would be a great approach. This is the case of an en dash in exactly the grammatical role of a hyphen, which is not the same as the main en dash roles that we agreed on. Considering it as part of an overall hyphen revamp would get my vote. Do we have the energy to start that soon? I guess that depends... Dicklyon (talk) 04:58, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

“The policy page Wikipedia:Article titles does not determine punctuation.”

  1. I can't find anything in said policy page to the effect that punctuation is to be treated any differently than any other issue in the choice of a title.
  2. If not through WP:Article titles, how the hell is one to determine that the title of the song "Finnegan's Wake" has an apostrophe and that of the book Finnegans Wake doesn't?

A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:09, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

A di M:
  1. You will find nothing on that policy page concerning punctuation tout court. It has traditionally had nothing to do with punctuation; and WP:MOS has traditionally had everything to do with it. The application of punctuation is one of the main roles of any manual of style. That's how it is for Britannica (to which we commonly compare this Project), and for all serious publishers. There is no reason for Wikipedia to be any different in this regard. The only instances of WP:TITLE mentioning hyphens and dashes in recent times were when a certain editor with an avowed anti-MOS agenda inserted them without consensus. That was fixed after due reversion and discussion.
  2. Finnegans Wake is a very special case indeed, as I'm sure you are aware. For one thing, Joyce was famously a minimalist about punctuation generally, and the omission of the apostrophe can be taken as a literary and linguistic quirk that matches the spirit of that unique experimental work. For another thing, a book title is like the name of a business, or any similar proper name. We have McDonald's, but Harrods – both matching the names that the companies themselves use. For yet another thing, the apostrophe is not representative of punctuation in general. It belongs as much with spelling as it does with punctuation as traditionally conceived. Some authorities on punctuation do not even discuss it, or they give it only a passing mention (like Parkes, in his great classic Pause and Effect). Some even treat the hyphen like that; and CGEL treats the en dash ("long hyphen") and the standard hyphen in the same word-bound or intermediate fashion. But because sources vary radically among and within themselves in the formation of quasi-nonce-compounds (like that one), and punctuate compounds from their own sources very freely so that they will conform to house style, Wikipedia is perfectly justified in doing the same (see some of this discussed for "crêpe" even in business names like "Solar Crêpes", in recent RMs at Talk:Crêpe). Last, true sentence-level punctuation scarcely occurs in article titles. It is convenient and rational for all punctuation to be dealt with at one location: MOS. This does not means that a name like Finnegans Wake would ever be interfered with. In fact, it would never be controversial as a choice at all, would it?
NoeticaTea? 10:44, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
WP:TITLE does control apostrophes:
Only because of how sources spell them. --Enric Naval (talk) 16:37, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
No Enric, WP:TITLE does not "control apostrophes". Both of the discussions that you link concerned the parsing of a word. First, is mother[']s in "Mother[']s Day" a non-possessive plural or a possessive singular? The second discussion was started to decide between "Burns Night supper" and "Burns supper"; then someone raised a question of parsing: shouldn't it be "Burns' night", taking the first word as possessive? The first question was resolved in favour of a possessive, and there was no move. The apostrophe was therefore retained according to the standard English practice as laid out in MOS guidelines. The second question left Burns without an apostrophe: it was a simple attributive use, not a possessive. These were not questions of punctuation, even if punctuation is thought unambiguously to include the apostrophe.
NoeticaTea? 23:24, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
OK, I hadn't thought of that perspective. I suppose that german state names was just a discussion on whether they are proper names or are compound names of independent entities? --Enric Naval (talk) 10:57, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Noetica, you have the story wrong:
WP:TITLE has mentioned dashes since May 2006, it linked dashes to MOS until around 2008 when PMA changed it. Tony edit-warred several times with PMA and with other editor to restore the link to MOS. The current consensus text does not link to MOS in purpose because "As explained on the talk page, rules on dashes in page names should not rely on the manual of style."
First introduced in May 2006 "For use of hyphens, dashes and hair spaces in page names, see Wikipedia:Manual of Style (dashes)." [10] PMA made a version that still linked to MOS, but said to use the rules in dash and to use reliable sources, June 2008 [11]. Thus followed a slow edit-war where Tony tried to restore the old wording: Tony July 2008 [12], PMA June 2009 [13] PMA 30 August 2009 [14] Tony August 2009 [15] other editor reverts Tony September 2009 [16] Tony September 2009 [17] other editor reverts Tony diff. In 10 September 2009 the policy is finally reverted to the stable version, the one that doesn't link to MOS "As explained on the talk page, reules (sic) on dashes in page names should not rely on the manul (sic) of style." talk page discussion. In January 2011 it was Tony who again tried to link to MOS [18], and it was PMA who proposed going back to the stable version.
So, the long-standing version mentions dashes but purposefully avoids linking dashes to MOS. This is an example of how WP:TITLE refuses to defer punctuation to MOS. --Enric Naval (talk) 20:17, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Again, that is a wildly inaccurate report of the history. Click on "show", at the right:
Enric, I advised you at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/Incidents/Pmanderson not to believe the hype; I now request that you not propagate it. Your account of history is at variance with the publicly available records and archives, to which I refer editors if they want to check the facts for themselves.
It is a nuisance to have to assemble such refutations. I do not appreciate the imposition on my time, and will have to dismiss any further inaccuracies with shorter shrift.
NoeticaTea? 00:58, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I think that nothing good will come from discussing this. I have already scrubbed half a dozen replies, and now I am going to drop it. People can read this and the following section and reach their own conclusions. --Enric Naval (talk) 14:38, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Indeed. Please don't report in a way can be seen as inaccurate, with biased selection from the dozens of relevant diffs. People will then not have to spend time refuting such depositions. I agree that anyone interested can read what you have just linked, along with the discussions that I link in the Navbox above. NoeticaTea? 01:06, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
My point is, the MOS alone doesn't always determine word-level punctuation (e.g. in proper names and titles) but WP:TITLE considerations are also needed, and sentence-level punctuation seldom occurs in article titles anyway, so why is all that emphasis on punctuation necessary? Couldn't that paragraph be reduced to its first sentence (“The Manual of Style applies to all parts of an article, including the title”)? (And even that isn't strictly true – the MoS doesn't apply to direct quotations, except MOS:QUOTE.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 09:47, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
We certainly ought to harmonize these two pages with each other, instead of giving in to the ridiculous politicking of certain editors who want to divide "areas of jurisdiction" between respective pages. The recent dashes poll showed that, in the case of hyphens and dashes at least (and presumably in any other disputed areas too), the vast majority of people want article titles to follow the same punctuation rules as apply in article bodies. This should be recorded at WP:AT.--Kotniski (talk) 10:03, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I agree with reflecting that in WP:AT. For reference dash-in-titles discussion in draft --Enric Naval (talk) 10:57, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it ought to be in WP:TITLE, reflecting what is already here in WP:MOS. That policy and this guideline do not contradict each other; and we should watch that they never do. NoeticaTea? 01:06, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Renée Richards, and Gender Identity

Hi all. I don't want to needlessly open up past arguments, but I'm having trouble with gender identity guidelines. I've noticed that the Renée Richards article does not conform to MOS guidelines. However, when I attempted to correct it, I was not happy with the result. Sentences such as "She was captain of her high school tennis team" are very misleading, as it suggests a girls' tennis team, rather than a boys' one. Similar problems crop up for the rest of her career and life as Richard Raskind, before transitioning.

The problem I'm having is that "Richard Raskind" is not notable only for being the person who became Renée Richards; he was also a person with notable achievements in his own right. This exacerbates the problem with the MOS guidelines in that it overemphasises the latest gender identity of the person in question at the expense of previous identities. And Richard Raskind was a genuine person — even to Renée herself, as I understand it.[19] So why should he be completely subsumed, in the Wikipedia article, into the person of Renée Richards?

Any insights from those with more familiarity with the issues would be welcomed. —Spudtater (talkcontribs) 12:46, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

My search for gender identity in the Archives found 37 results, beginning with the following 15 results.
Wavelength (talk) 15:28, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for those links. Of all the conversations, the only one I found that covered my question to any real extent was AlexR's comment in biographies/Archive 3, and he reached a conclusion contrary to the current MOS guidelines. News sources also seem to use the contrary guideline of "birth gender until start of transition, identified gender from then on". (With added complications for people who detransition.)
Wherever possible I'd like to avoid offending any given trans person, but as I understand it the current guidelines don't conform to how all — or even a majority of — trans people would ask to be described. Am I correct in this conclusion? —Spudtater (talkcontribs) 15:14, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
From my Google search for style guide gender identity, I found many results, including the following.
Wavelength (talk) 15:53, 24 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm curious to know how those people who not only agree with the current guideline but also think it should apply to fictional characters would handle the article on "—All You Zombies—". A. di M.plédréachtaí 16:18, 24 August 2011 (UTC) :-)
My Google search for coed sports team found some webpages about coed sports teams. Also, my Wikipedia search for coed sports found some articles about coed sports teams, possibly enough for a category, Category:Coed sports teams.
Wavelength (talk) 18:01, 24 August 2011 (UTC)

Navboxes & colors

Is there a place in the MoS other than WP:COLOR that discusses the use of colors in templates? Or is it solely an accessibility thing? Because I have to figure that these gaudy things are violating some sort of MoS guideline. I mean, in the first example the editors of the template seem to be changing the colors to match the artist's outfits and hair color, for pete's sake. --IllaZilla (talk) 08:06, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Ew. But, WP:IDONTLIKEIT-like arguments apart, I don't think any colour scheme is any less accessible than another, so long as there's sufficient contrast ratio between the text and the background (and in the Avril Lavigne one I think the [hide] button is too bright and/or the background too dark). And a few such boxes such as Template:The Simpsons have been that way for a veeery long time. (BTW, I can't decide whether I love or have the colour scheme of Template:Black holes.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 09:25, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
I strikes me as odd that WP holds UN-style debates about hyphens and dashes and yet the violence of template colour schemes passes almost unremarked. I expect I am under-sensitive to horizontal lines and over-sensitive to colours. Now, will a bot come round and correct my hyphens? Thincat (talk) 09:47, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Dagger symbol: help needed to resolve a debate

Okay folks, see Wikipedia_talk:Manual_of_Style/Icons#Dagger_.28typography.29 where we're trying to resolve the use of dagger symbol. Casliber (talk · contribs) 00:46, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

rename Help:List of Manuals of Style

At Help talk:List of Manuals of Style I've proposed renaming that page to follow the convention that all the pages together make up a single MoS, and to move it into the WP namespace. Please comment over there.--Kotniski (talk) 08:29, 26 August 2011 (UTC)


The box at top-right of the MoS: I merged "Wikipedia content" with "Content" (two of the three components were common to both categories); and I brought MOSNUM up to the top level (it wasn't intuitively easy to find, and it's a major style guide). I hope no one minds. It's been bugging me for a while. Tony (talk) 13:03, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Possessive apostrophes

I'd like to open a discussion about an incorrect practice.

This page currently says: "For the possessive of singular nouns ending with just one s (sounded as /s/ or /z/), there are three practices..."

Now it may well be that there are three practices, but that does not mean that any given one of them is correct. Taking the attitude that anything that's done is correct makes this page redundant! I'd like to propose that the Wikipedia Style Guide defers to sources like Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" and Fowler's "Dictionary of Modern English Usage" both of which state that (with a very small number of exceptions, sych as "Jesus" and "Moses") the correct form is simply to add an apostrophe and an S, regardless of what letter the owner's name ends with.

Not only is the lazy and ignorant habit of omitting the S when the owner's name ends with S technically incorrect, it is also illogical and inconsistent with other rules and conventions. For example, the rationale that adding apostrophe-S is "too sibilant" collapses when you look at examples like "wax" (which has a sibilant end) - would you put "The wax' colour..."? No, of course not! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:59, 15 August 2011 (UTC)

I vaguely remember the last conversation that we had about this. It was a while ago. I seem to recall that it wasn't a case of style guides saying one thing and people making two kinds of mistakes. There was inconsistency among the style guides.
The Wikipedia MoS should not compel all users to use just one style when others are equally good, formal, correct and accepted. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:55, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
New comment: Please see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 108#Recent changes to the "Possessives" section, and especially the four questions posed by Noetica.
Wavelength (talk) 15:32, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
[I am revising my message of 15:32, 15 August 2011 (UTC).
Wavelength (talk) 16:34, 15 August 2011 (UTC)]
New message: I am reproducing hereunder a portion of Noetica’s message from that archived discussion.
Suppose an editor comes to MOS wondering how to manage the four possessives in this sentence:
Sentence A. These are Doris'[s] copies of Morris'[s] books on Socrates'[s] and Descartes'[s] philosophies.
(Rewording would just be an evasion, and is to be thought unavailable.)
Question 1: What forms should MOS recommend for the whole of Sentence A?
Question 2: Why?
Question 3: How well and how clearly does the unmodified guideline settle things for the editor? (Explain in detail.)
Question 4: How well and how clearly does the guideline with modifications settle things for the editor? (Explain in detail.)
Wavelength (talk) 16:54, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
MOS should shut the [bleep] up, for once. This is a matter of taste and experience, which will differ between literate writers of English, partly on national grounds. For what it is worth, I would use Socrates' and perhaps Descartes', and terminal ses with the other two, but I like spelling as I speak; others don't have to. Therefore we should not "recommend forms," at all.
The claim about laziness and ignorance by the original poster is itself evidence of one of our besetting flaws; the OP does it one way, so everybody has to. It is above average that he has actually found a couple of sources. It may be that the only useful function this page can perform is to correct such errors.
While I look at it, our examples are flawed: Descartes and Illinois can both take the apostrophe without s; and Illinois's largest employer should not be encouraged. The largest employer in Illinois avoids arch personification. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 01:46, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
This entire debate so tiresome. Just settle on "always use apostrophe-s" and move on. Sheesh. 100% consistency, the end, please drive through. Folks, the MOS must be authoritarian or it serves no purpose at all. We cannot keep pandering to every preference as "valid". No, you are not "special", either. It doesn't matter what rule we make about anything, it will be a rule, and it will thus upset some subset of literate and quasi-literate humanity on every single point, guaranteed, by definition. Too bad, so sad. Welcome to real life, which is a giant exercise in compromise from before birth to after death. I am now going to go do something terribly shocking! I'm actually going to...edit an article. I mean the content in it. Like, to add new material, with reliable sources. You all should try that again from time to time. I've spent far too much time at WT:MOS and so has everyone else here rehashing the same blather. — SMcCandlish Talk⇒ ʕ(Õلō Contribs. 05:22, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
Someone's losing it! :) Good Ol’factory (talk) 05:27, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
100% consistency is not necessary on Wikipedia. It is better to acknowledge that there is more than one correct style.
If you're sick of this issue, SMC, then you don't have to participate. You could just watch or even sit it out entirely. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:24, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
New message: (¶1 of 7) I acknowledge from your contributions that you are relatively new as a contributor to this talk page. Although some veterans of this talk page are tired of many discussions about this issue, a skillful teacher does not tire of discussing an old topic again, with a new set of learners. Past experience can even sharpen a teacher's insight into explaining matters. Also, a skillful student does not tire of learning new things. Every skillful teacher is also a skillful learner, and every skillful encyclopedia editor is both a skillful teacher and a skillful learner.
(¶2 of 7) When I write English, I use a bare apostrophe after a noun of more than one syllable (Boris'), and I use 's after a word of only one syllable (Gus's). (This is in agreement with rules which I remember reading somewhere many years ago, but I have not found a supporting guide since that time, in spite of several attempts.) Correspondingly, I pronounce a possessive of the first type as having the same number of syllables as the non-possessive form, and I pronounce a possessive of the second type as having one more syllable than the non-possessive form. (Names such as Charles [which might be considered by some people to have one syllable and by other people to have two syllables] are few enough to be relatively easy to manage.) That is my personal practice (for material such as personal e-mail messages), but I am prepared to follow a different practice for instructors, employers, customers, and Wikipedia.
(¶3 of 7) Here are my answers to Noetica's four questions.
  • Answer 1: These are Doris' copies of Morris' books on Socrates' and Descartes' philosophies.
  • Answer 2: I recommend this version because of Noetica's assertion that "the third option is recommended as by far the most commonly used". However, counting syllables is easier than assuming pronunciation, so I recommend that the third option be revised to state:
  • Add 's or just an apostrophe according to the number of syllables in the non-possessive form: Socrates' wife; Moses' ascent of Sinai; Jesus' last words (and similarly for most classical and biblical forms), and Doris' opinion; and James's house and Gus's horse.
Also, I recommend that this option be the only procedure on all articles throughout English Wikipedia. (I recommend that examples of geographical names be included, to show that the same rule applies to them: the Ganges' banks; the Indus' tributaries.)
  • Answer 3: The unmodified guideline hinders matters for the editor, in two ways.
(1) It relies on the assumed pronunciation for some possessive forms, and different assumptions might be made by different editors or by one editor at different times.
(2) It requires that the editor examine an article to find what possessive form(s) (if any) the article already uses.
  • Answer 4: The modified guideline also hinders matters for the editor, in the same two ways.
(¶4 of 7) Here is another extract from (in this instance, a subsection of) the archived discussion to which I provided a link in my message of 15:32, 15 August 2011 (UTC).
The following are given names: Andrea (English female), Andreas (German male), Carlo (Italian male), Carlos (Spanish male), George (English male), Georges (French male). Therefore, the following statements are ambiguous.
  • These are both Andreas' books.
  • These are both Carlos' books.
  • These are both Georges' books.
The English language has many surnames formed by the simple addition of s to a male given name, for example, Andrews, Edwards, Peters, and Williams. Therefore, the following statements are ambiguous.
  • These are both Andrews' books.
  • These are both Edwards' books.
  • These are both Peters' books.
  • These are both Williams' books.
(¶5 of 7) One of the benefits of a manual of style is the recommendation of one of a number of (sometimes equally) correct ways of deciding a question of style. This does not (in itself) invalidate the usage(s) not favored, but it promotes consistency where the manual is applied. (See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 118#Acknowledgement and validation.) To appreciate this concept of disfavoring an option while not necessarily invalidating it, one is advised to suppress any contrary influence from polarized dramas publicized by the popular media.
(¶6 of 7) Different countries differ in regard to right- and left-hand traffic, but neither option is invalidated in itself. Also, people migrating to or visiting countries of different standards can adapt to the different standards. In each country, one option is chosen for consistency because consistency promotes efficiency.
(¶7 of 7) For me, consistency throughout all the articles of English Wikipedia is more efficient and easier to manage than consistency between English Wikipedia and my training or experience or preference. Incidentally, I prefer the abandonment of WP:ENGVAR and the adoption of spelling practice similar to what is described at User:Angr/Unified English Spelling. (See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 118#Guidelines which have consensus.) However, I accept reluctantly the status quo of the Manual of Style in regard to what are called "national variations", and I am not challenging the status quo in that regard (at this time, at least).
Wavelength (talk) 20:07, 16 August 2011 (UTC)
Easier to manage?!? Why are you attempting to "manage" it at all?
We are not consistent on this point; we have no reason to try to be (and given our size, little prospect of success in the endeavor); we do have reason not to (as you reluctantly admit, it's partly an Anglo-American difference). Leave well enough alone, and go find something useful to do. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:34, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
New message: (¶1 of 2) The second paragraph of Wikipedia:Manual of Style says: "Consistency in style and formatting promotes clarity and cohesion; this is especially important within an article." Improving guidelines for consistency in Wikipedia articles is a useful endeavor.
(¶2 of 2) If consistency applies to individual articles, but not throughout Wikipedia, then an editor needs to examine each article to ascertain which option (if any) has been applied to that article. For me, examining a word to ascertain the number of its syllables is easier to manage.
Wavelength (talk) 18:13, 19 August 2011 (UTC)
Re. Point 4, how is, say, Carlos' books ambiguous? It can only mean “the books of Carlos”; if it meant “the books of Carlo” it'd be Carlo's books, with the apostrophe before the ess. (Even in pronunciation, the former has a voiceless S (as though spelled “Carloss”) and the latter a voiced one (as “Carloz”).) A. di M.plédréachtaí 12:52, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Although it looks awkward, the constant application of ['s] does make English a little less confusing. That's one less exception we have to remember, or expect future generations to remember. I'm all for changes that bring consistency to English, because that's something our language desperately needs. On the other hand, I am guilty of continuing to drop the [s] from words / names that end with an [s] sound. I'm still trying to make sense of how this would impact pronunciation. It probably doesn't even matter, since most English speakers just glide right through the more verbose combinations of phonemes without stressing the individual sounds. (talk) 18:06, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

That's the point of the present text: you don't have to remember it. Do what is natural for you, and let others do likewise; be consistent within an article. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 21:34, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
New message: People can learn a new way of doing things, and the new way can become as natural as the old way. For each of us, editing Wikipedia was new when he or she began to learn it.
Wavelength (talk) 18:13, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

IIRC, the CGEL says that the bare apostrophe is common for classical and biblical names (e.g. Jesus) and names ending with a voiced consonant plus /z/ (e.g. James) but rare for modern names ending with a vowel plus /z/ or with voiceless /s/. A. di M.plédréachtaí 22:07, 22 August 2011 (UTC)

BTW, why is any choice necessary at all? The verb prove has two past participles, proved (pronounced /pruːvd/) and proven (pronounced /pruːvən/); likewise, the name Charles has two genitives, Charles' (pronounced /tʃɑrəlz/, the same as Charles) and Charles's (pronounced /tʃɑrəlzɪz/, the same as Charles is). The sky doesn't collapse if the MoS doesn't prescribe any choice between proved and proven; why is the situation with Charles' and Charles's any different? A. di M.plédréachtaí 12:52, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

comet names

Small bodies, comets, etc, have proper names that are listed in official catalogs. Comet names only allow spaces and hyphens as separators:

"When there are two (or more) independent discoveries of a comet, (...) 2. the discoverers' (or their teams') names are to be listed in the chronological order in which each discoverer (or team) found the comet, each individual name is to be separated by a hyphen (but family surnames with two or more words separated by either spaces or hyphens are to be distinguished in comet names by single spaces only between each surname word -- although, for simplicity, the discoverer shall in such cases also be given the option to choose one main word from his or her name to represent the surname on the comet, with such choosing strongly encouraged) (...)" Guidelines for Cometary Names, Committee on Small Body Nomenclature, International Astronomical Union


This is standard in other astronomical catalogs example example. Note that every source in the article uses a hyphen, including all NASA and observatory pages. Note that using a dash in Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 causes contradictions in the information of 105P/Singer Brewster and Astronomical naming conventions#Minor_planets.

Comets have proper names and WP:MOS says "By default, follow the dominant convention that a hyphen is used in compounded proper names of single entities, not an en dash."

All articles under Category:Comets were hyphenated until May 2011, when Kkwami dashed them. I can't see any prior discussion of the moves. I think that the moves were wrong (because of the above reasons) and need to be undone. --Enric Naval (talk) 11:29, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

I was following refs that dashed them. It will take some time to look them up again. I believe the conventions above are telegraphese, since the formatting of MP announcements does not support dashes. — kwami (talk) 11:58, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
The above from the IAU seems quite explicit - use hyphens. Surely the reasons for them choosing it is irrelevant, we should follow the IAU's conventions.Nigel Ish (talk) 13:42, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
If we want to carve out an exception to WP style to accommodate IAU style, let's propose that and talk about it. I think it might be OK to say use hyphens in names of the form 119P/Parker-Hartley, but to use en dash when using Parker–Hartley in other contexts (that is, in the article to talk about the comet in English using WP style, instead of in code using IAU style). Dicklyon (talk) 14:56, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
So you poropose to completly ignore the actual correct names for the comets, as defined by the IAU (who are the proper body for doing so) and instead change to an intentionally incorrect names. Do you propose to tamper with any other cited data at the same time?Nigel Ish (talk) 16:37, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
Certainly not. We definitely can use the "actual correct names". But that doesn't preclude using them in WP styling. Dicklyon (talk) 17:36, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

I wouldn't mind using hyphens if the lit used hyphens. But it doesn't, not any more than is usual for dashes. This discussion started on the article Talk:Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9, so I thought I would check that comet first. Lo and behold, the co-discoverer of the comet, David Levy, uses an en dash in his book on the impact, Impact Jupiter: the crash of comet Shoemaker–Levy 9.[20] This was the first book that came up. Check p. 29, where there is a hyphen in the IAU telegraph announcement, but an en dash in the caption for the announcement. Since Levy has discovered 22 comets and 25 named asteroids, and written 30 books on astronomical topics, I suspect that he may be familiar with cometary naming conventions.

Here's another one: "Lessons from Shoemaker–Levy 9 about Jupiter and Planetary Impacts", in Jupiter: The Planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere.[21] The authors include Deming from NASA (Goddard) and Zahnle from NASA (Ames). Also Crovisier & Encrenaz Comet Sciencekwami (talk) 15:30, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

Other sources have no problem using a hyphen[22] so it's a matter of their publisher/author having a different style. Now, it is not our problem that sources change the punctuation to comply with their own style manuals. Our manual style says to preserve the hyphenation of compounded proper names of single entities, and this part comes from the consensus draft made a few weeks ago. --Enric Naval (talk) 15:52, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
It's always a matter of formatting style. Some publishers use hyphens across the board. That's not an argument carving out an exception here: it's an argument to abandon dashes altogether.
The line about 'single entities' was for things like countries ('entity' is there because of the difficulty in defining the scope: some federated countries take dashes), and a dashed comet example is included in the consensus ("Comet Hale–Bopp or just Hale–Bopp"), so the MOS obviously does not require a hyphen for comets. Since the MOS as it stands does not support your argument, we'd need a reason to change the consensus. If this were a general exception you would have a point, but the lit does not support that. — kwami (talk) 15:56, 25 August 2011 (UTC)
You are confusing:
  • the Shoemaker–Levy comet, a descriptive sentence saying that it was discovered by Hale and Bopp.
  • Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, a proper noun assigned by the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature.
--Enric Naval (talk) 16:53, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── As Enric quotes from WP:MOS, "By default, follow the dominant convention that a hyphen is used in compounded proper names of single entities, not an en dash." (Disclosure: I drafted those words, and submitted the text for approval on this page, and to ArbCom via Casliber; the examples in that guideline have changed since the incorporation in MOS.) The qualifier "by default" is to be taken seriously. Defaults are called defaults exactly because they are defeasible; for example, immediately before the quoted text is an explicit general exception for compounding the names of joint discovers and the like, with comets specifically mentioned (in accord with several sources and guides). This general exception is almost universal in the style guides, and standard in practice; then there is an example of a company name ("McGraw-Hill, a publishing house") to show that this exception too is defeasible.

Some "lit" substitutes a hyphen for an en dash for specific purposes? That does not trump Wikipedia's considered preference. There are lits and lits. Compare people's preferred forms for their own names (perhaps keeping diacritics) with their entries in telephone directories; or certain names and titles with diacritics in books, but catalogued without diacritics. And note that MWC (appealed to as a core authority in CMOS) has not one en dash in any headword (well, it uses en dash to represent a hyphen in every case!); but MWC's brief style guide at the end calls for the en dash "in typeset material". Wikipedia is set out not as a telephone directory, not as a library catalog, not as dictionary entries, but as "typeset material" on the web.

Some sources never use en dashes? That settles nothing. Many do use en dash, in the very same cases. MOS has had close scrutiny from its community, for its present guideline – which is more than can be said for major style guides. Those guides are nevertheless accepted by publishers, who then apply or adjust punctuation accordingly. Wikipedia does the same with its own preferred guidelines.

NoeticaTea? 00:44, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

It says "use a hyphen" simply for matters of efficiency in cataloging and searching, as opposed use say, a slash "Comet Shoemaker/Levy 9". "Hyphens" are no more part of the "official name" than "α Centauri" is the "official name" of Alpha Centauri. Dashes belong here. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 00:52, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
That is not correct. 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko has both a slash and a hyphen, just as IAU's guideline specifies. This is the provisional designation.
On Alpha centauri, Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(astronomical_objects) gives it as an example of how to name stars, but the lead mentions the official designation "α cent" spelled correctly, and the text uses official designations like "ε Cassiopeiae" when referring to other stars.
Anyways, look at the lead of that article, it says "Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko, officially designated 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko". I think it's clear that the second instance needs to be hyphenated. Wikipedia can't be taken seriously as a reference work if we start altering proper nouns in this manner. For the sake of peace, even if the article is renamed, the first instance should keep a dash. And Comet Hale–Bopp wouldn't need to be renamed since that name is not an official designation.
Anyways, I just found Wikipedia:Naming_conventions_(astronomical_objects)#Comets, which says to use a hyphen in comet names. I had missed it the first time I checked Category:Wikipedia naming conventions. --Enric Naval (talk) 09:21, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
The latter naming conventions do not distinguish hyphens and dashes, which is quite common. It supports your point above, that we don't put a slash there, which is of course correct. You do have a good point about "officially designated"; the question is whether a dash should be considered a different orthography or merely a difference in style. — kwami (talk) 10:20, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Naming conventions (people) is a year older and it does defer hyphens and dashes to specific guidelines. Naming conventions (astronomical objects) doesn't. --Enric Naval (talk) 11:06, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Indeed, untouched since 2008 and badly in need of review and update. The example Comet Halley is in stark disagreement with the advice to use common names of well-known objects, for example (fortunately, that example is ignored in naming the article Halley's Comet; but so are our capitalization guidelines). Dicklyon (talk) 17:39, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
That's because WP:COMMONNAME is policy and trumps subject-specific naming guidelines, which was exactly the argument used in its move request. The guideline itself already makes reference to WP:COMMONNAME and makes it clear that it has preference. You are not the first person to notice this, but although this specific line could do with a bit of rewording, it is still correct and it still carries the correct meaning. Of course, nobody has said anything about the hyphen line needing updating, mainly because the IAU guidelines that justified the hyphen line are still in use.
Guidelines don't get automatically outdated if nobody has edited them in X years. I hope you are not saying that we should simply ignore it just because it wasn't edited recently. --Enric Naval (talk) 19:48, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
No, I'm not saying ignore it. I suggested that it might be a good time to review and update it, remove inconsistencies, etc. I'd like to see it connect with WP style on en dash, for one; I think we can accomodate both the usual WP text writing style and the encoding of offical names. Dicklyon (talk) 22:04, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
WP:COMMONNAME does not cover punctuation. WP:ENDASH does. Shoemaker–Levy is named after two people, hence requires an endash (likewise for Churyumov–Gerasimenko). WP:COMMONNAME would decide between different transliterations, like Churyumoff–Gerasimenko vs Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 22:40, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
"WP:COMMONNAME does not cover punctuation. WP:ENDASH does." +1 to that. Things like capitalization, punctuation, etc are things that we should just be consistent about. ErikHaugen (talk | contribs) 22:52, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
WP:ENDASH says to use hyphen in proper nouns of single entities. "Parker—Hartley" is a compound of two surnames, but "119P/Parker-Hartley" is a proper noun of a single entity. All according to our own manual. Unless someone wants to defend that "119P/Parker-Hartley" is not a proper noun, or that a comet does not qualify as "a single entity". --Enric Naval (talk) 03:09, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

I have replaced the comer example with one that distinguishes the grammatically-formed compound of two surnames from the official proper noun that was specific punctuation. It should be obvious that "130P/McNaught-Hughes" is not a compound of two names, unless one of them is called "130P/McNaught". --Enric Naval (talk) 03:40, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Enric, please don't do that, on this sensitive issue. It's premature and not consensual. You altered to this:

*Comet McNaught–Russell or just McNaught–Russell (discovered by McNaught and Russell), but not 130P/McNaught-Hughes (the official designation of a comet)

First, note that it would be 130P/McNaught-Hughes, with a "!" preceding the "xt" to make the text red. Second, that subsection is already very long, and there is no need to digress on avoidance of alleged "official names" of comets here. That might be appropriate in a more focused page of the Manual of Style; but this is the main page and its role is to cover general principles as lucidly as possible. There are many special cases for which to set out codicils and to mark exceptions, if we really wanted to – not just comets.
NoeticaTea? 04:39, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Excuse me, but I am not required to ask your permission to make bold edits that replace flawed examples, the draft version has already been altered at several places. The Hale-Bopp example was proposed by Kwami here without mentioning that 4 days ago he had dashed +300 comet articles without any prior discussion [23]. Now it's being used to argue that articles like 130P/McNaught-Hughes should use a hyphen because they are a compound of two names. If this had been known at that time, I would have contested it strongly.
Anyways, I have to ask: at what point the McGraw-Hill example becomes relevant? What does McGraw-Hill have that 130P/McNaught-Hughes doesn't? What sort of criteria distinguishes the proper noun "130P/McNaught-Hughes" from the proper noun "McGraw-Hill". Please help me understand this: the name of two founders can't be dashed but the name of two discoverers must always be dashed? Is that the only difference? That is the only criteria involved, that they are surnames of discoverers and not of founders? --Enric Naval (talk) 05:21, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
It's OK that you made a bold edit, and good that Noetica explained why he reverted it; now we're discussing. I think the difference is that a person or company can legitimately name themselves to have an individual compound name, but that when we name an object after its discoverer, we combine the names but keeping their separate identity. Anyway, cases. There's a whole page on style for astronomical objects, so any example we use here should be simple, well-recognized, and uncontroversial. (by the way, "criteria" is the plural of "criterion") Dicklyon (talk) 05:37, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Of course my permission is not needed; please don't suggest that it is. But you have not demonstrated to the satisfaction of editors here, I think, that the example was flawed. The discussion above has neither sufficient participation nor sufficient clarity to justify a change signalling that there is just one "official way" to manage these things. Yes, Kwami changed many titles for comet articles to conform to WP:MOS. One of them is Comet IRAS–Araki–Alcock, and that is exactly how it appears as an example in ODSWE's entry headed "Comet nomenclature" (though it misspells "Araki" as "Iraki"!).
Also please mark up accurately. Above you use "—" where you mean "–", which just confuses things. NoeticaTea? 05:50, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, The ODSWE entry is outdated: the IAU has not been using that nomenclature since 1995. If we are going to be citing RS for the correct names, then please let's use the official comet naming guidelines.
Kwami started making those moves under the assumption that Shoemaker-Levy 9 was not a hyphenated name[24], when in reality the name is officially spelled with a hyphen. Then he compounded his mistake by proposing it as an example in MOS. And now, apparently, I need consensus to remove it despite being demonstrably wrong. If we need an example of something that was discovered by two persons, why not simply use the old example of Michelson–Morley experiment or something that doesn't have an official name that explicitly uses hyphen? --Enric Naval (talk) 07:48, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
You misunderstand. "Shoemaker-Levy" is not a discoverer with a hyphenated name, it's two discoverers. — kwami (talk) 15:33, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
You are the one misunderstanding and making assumptions without researching anything. "Shoemaker-Levy" is three discoverers, which would make it "Shoemaker–Shoemaker–Levy". But the IAU's naming guidelines say that each surname must appear once, separated from other surnames by a hyphen, and ordered by date of discovery. --Enric Naval (talk) 17:08, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
And you are even wronger: 105P/Singer Brewster, carries a space because it's a single discoverer with a hyphenated surname. This article is linked in my opening comment. The IAU removed the hyphen to purposefully distinguish it from comets that had two discoverers, which is also in my opening comment, by the way. If comet names were surname compounds formed by grammatical rules this would undoubtedly carry a hyphen. By your reasonings, we could go and change its official proper noun and slap a hyphen on it (see comments below about official names). --Enric Naval (talk) 17:34, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I know all that. Perhaps you should read my comments before disputing them. But of course it's easier to assume stupidity or bad faith than to actually address the argument. — kwami (talk) 18:23, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Let me point out this passage in the MOS:

Official names
Official names (of companies, organizations, or places) should not be altered (St Thomas' Hospital should therefore not be rendered as St Thomas's Hospital, even for consistency).

Since the MOS mostly focuses on individual punctuation marks, and only peripherally on the type of thing represented by a noun, I argue that a comet is more nearly a place than anything else in the MOS where punctuation is described (the celestial body section is about capitalization). They certainly have official names. The guidance I quoted above suggests the punctuation should be slavishly copied if, and only if, there is an official naming entity that specifies what the punctuation ought to be. Indeed, to ease searching outside of Wikipedia, I favor slavishly copying punctuation in any proper name whenever there is an official naming entity that specifies the name to that level of detail. Naming entities that have limited typographic capabilities shouldn't count unless they issue a statement that their specified punctuation should be used in all typesetting environments. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:01, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Thanks, I had overlooked that.
Someone was erroneously claiming that the naming entity Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams used telegraphese in the names. The entity stopped using telegrams in 1992 but kept the name for historical reasons []. Their naming system started an overhauling in 1995, and it ended when the current naming guideline was approved in 2003. Since 2003 it has been using a dash to indicate a single frame in an unconfirmed observations [25][26]. Exceptions for "limited typographic capabilities" should be based on actual proof and not on someone making incorrect guesses because of a historical name. --Enric Naval (talk) 14:00, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
When they say "dash" they mean "hyphen", as show by the fact that they illustrate it with a hyphen: "with a dash (-) meaning a single image". It would therefore appear that they don't distinguish dashes from hyphens. Common enough, actually, but it does suggest the difference is of no importance to them. — kwami (talk) 15:43, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Plus their submission info says that only ASCII characters are allowed; they do talk about using TeX encodings for when a name needs an accented character or something, but they don't talk about the possibility of using dashes. In their pages, they use -- and --- for dashes, and call the hyphen a dash, as Kwami notes. On the output side they're probably not typographically challenged, but their instructions and web pages suggest they they don't know what dashes are. Anyway, hyphen may be their style, but it's not necessary the WP adopt the IAU style. Their guideline is done on a typewriter (or in typewriter style) and presented on their web page as preformatted typewriter-style ASCII. Their [ style guide] is a joke (they still link that page about hyphens from the 1989 manual, but it doesn't say anything about joining pairs of names; see listing); it talks about preparing camera-ready copy with a typewriter and "a thin pen". Dicklyon (talk) 17:29, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Oh, do they do care about dashes, they just don't seem to use them in the website. In the list page they use "--" to represent a dash in a sentence. Their printed material uses dashes. For example their 2000 report (in PostScript format) uses dashes for year ranges, but the transcription in their web replaces all dashes with hyphens. The IAU Circular warns that the email version is not the final one because it is in ASCII form and lacks diacritics, greek letters, and other characters. And that "Official citing should always be to the printed IAUCs, not the electronic versions." [27]. That means that they care about people using the correct typography that appears in their printed documents over the non-correct typography used in some of their documents for historical reasons.
And please, we have gone from "Naming entities that have limited typographic capabilities", to "They don't use dashes in their website so we should ignore all their international guidelines and printed material". --Enric Naval (talk) 17:08, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
That wasn't the argument. You do seem to be more interested in winning than in having a balanced debate.
This is a lot like US vs. UK spelling. Do we need to follow the preference of the IAU in that regard? This is a matter of formatting. Some organizations dash compound names, some don't. Some dash page or date ranges, some don't. It's not a substantial difference. — kwami (talk) 18:21, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia doesn't alter official names, as our own MOS says. It also preserves the hyphenation of proper nouns. And the comet example is flawed because there is an official body saying that it's a proper noun. We would be better served by going back to the old example Michelson–Morley experiment or a similar example like Oppenheimer–Phillip process that doesn't turn to be a proper noun a few weeks down the road. --Enric Naval (talk) 22:29, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
By the way Nature is willing to use the en dash in Shoemaker–Levy 9: [28]; so is NASA/JPL [29]; and IAP/ASA [30]; and Icarus [31]; and Planetary and Space Science [32]. Each of these has multiple different papers using the en dash styling. It is not ignoreing the IAU naming, it's just styling it differently. Similarly, WP doesn't ignore or mis-spell official names, but has a house style that helps make it clear when the names are two people, and when one. Dicklyon (talk) 17:42, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Also Earth, Moon, and Planet uses en dash, e.g. in this paper; you have to look at the PDF page preview, since for the web they just coerce it back to hyphen. Faraday Discussions also styles Hale–Bopp with en dash. Dicklyon (talk) 18:02, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Another issue with comet naming is capitalization. Like most specialist organizations, IAU and other atronomers like to treat their stuff as proper names and capitalize in things like "Comet Hale–Bopp". But in general writing, that's less often done. Halley's comet has lower-case comet the majority of the time, even before discounting titles and headings; in non-title, non-sentence-initial use, "comet Hale-Bopp" is about as common as "Comet Hale-Bopp" (from the book snippets, it's hard to see that many of them, like this one, actually say it with en dash). See related discussion at Wikipedia_talk:Manual of Style (capital letters)#When is something a proper noun?, where I link a related MOS guideline update and a current related RM discussion. Dicklyon (talk) 18:02, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Dickylon, as mentioned above, this is not a WP:COMMONAME argument, this is a style issue. --Enric Naval (talk) 22:29, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Exactly. And as a style issue, what the IAU does is irrelevant. — kwami (talk) 01:07, 29 August 2011 (UTC)


Replace the new example:

  • Comet Hale–Bopp or just Hale–Bopp (discovered by Hale and Bopp)

with the old example:

  • Michelson–Morley experiment (discovered by Michelson and Morley)

The comet example is a compounded proper name of a single entity, that our own MOS say that has to be hyphenated by default. In addition, it's also an official name, that our own MOS says that shouldn't be altered. In addition, our naming convention on astronomical objects has said for years that we should use hyphens on comet names. The old example serves the same purpose (showing a compounded name of two discoverers) and has none of these problems. --Enric Naval (talk) 00:08, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Oppose. Reasons:

  1. Enric, I think you mean Michelson–Morley experiment (with an en dash).
  2. I have explained about "default" (see above) and you have not assimilated or responded to what I said.
  3. You have also not tracked the subtleties concerning "official names", though I note your sweeping disparagement (as "outdated") of that eminent resource, Oxford's ODSWE (2009).
  4. You link to our naming convention on astronomical objects; but it would useful if you linked to the relevant section rather than making us work so hard. That section is complex, and reasonably to be interpreted as applying to technical discussions in astronomy, not necessarily to the naming of articles or to use in general articles. That section makes no mention of hyphens, by the way; and it is by no means settled that the authorities to which it refers have any interest in the differential realisation of a "logical hyphen" as a "normal hyphen" or as an "en dash" (CGEL's "long hyphen"). That is a decision every publisher and every encyclopedia makes for itself: according to its own manual of style, and as informed by such authorities as ODSWE and OED.
  5. The tired old example Michelson–Morley experiment is used ubiquitously and rather uninformatively. A manual of style that steers clear of the hard cases fails to settle the very questions users bring to it. Many style guides frustrate their users in that way; we should not.
  6. As your analysis at Talk:Halley's Comet shows, there are traps for the unwary in researching these things. We need to use rigorous methods, and report accurately. See also my response to your inaccurate reporting of the record of proceedings at WP:TITLE and its talkpage, above. Let's work more carefully together to get things right, OK?

NoeticaTea? 00:58, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I meant a dash. --Enric Naval (talk) 02:04, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose You can't use the MOS as evidence against the MOS. The two points were decided together, and were not seen as being in conflict. — kwami (talk) 01:07, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose—agree with Kwami and Noetica. Tony (talk) 03:09, 29 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment. Experiments are performed, not “discovered”. :-) A. di M.plédréachtaí 12:02, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Removal of county/region from bios

I am concerned with the removal of the region from the lead of biographical pages by a self-labelled experienced editor: [33], [34]. I did bring this up with him here, and followed his advice to remove silimar in other pages. Then I requested clarfication and have not had a response. Is this in sink with MOS and WP:OPENPARA? Chesdovi (talk) 13:33, 25 August 2011 (UTC)

In the first link, it is interesting that he does not remove "Syria", as Damascus was as certainly in the Ottoman Empire at the time as Gaza was. In general I'd find it sensible that the region instead of the country is given for large transnational empires such as the Ottoman Empire. Compare the infobox for Trajan, which says he was born in Hispania and died in Cilicia. Ucucha (talk) 02:07, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
  • Usually, I'd say take it out completely – as you rightly point out, these are details not encouraged in the opening paragraph, but people often put them in in sparse biographies. The problem all too often is that biographies list the entire chain of a person's birthplace that makes the opening paragraph look frankly ridiculous, and often linked to boot. Although Americans have this convention of xxx was born in City, State, USA as in "Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe, III, at Julia Chester Hospital in Hope, Arkansas", which is fair enough. When a precise birthplace is known, this can get ridiculous, with the name of the hospital, district, town/city, region, country (especially if the country no longer exists). Often, this gets applied with laughable results: "Boris Yeltsin was born in the village of Butka, in Talitsky District of Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russian SFSR." --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 02:47, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
    I can't see how “tak[ing] it out completely” would be useful – many readers have no idea where Butka is; Butka, Russia is OK. (Of course, the region given doesn't have to be the sovereign state – I'd rather say Armagh, Northern Ireland and Austin, Texas than Armagh, United Kingdom or Austin, United States.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 13:14, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Question regarding public service/public safety warnings

Do we generally include the above in articles? My understanding was that we didn't, and as a result I'm a little perturbed over the inclusion of a huge banner across the page at the Hurricane Irene page. Could I have some input here as to if it's appropriate? We're discussing it at Talk:Hurricane_Irene_(2011)#Current_storm_info_section. The Cavalry (Message me) 19:49, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

I can see nothing wrong with mentioning that some public agency issues some kind of warning for some storm. I can see everything wrong with doing so in a huge shiny box like that. A. di M.plédréachtaí 13:20, 29 August 2011 (UTC)

Use of non-breaking spaces with mdy or dmy dates

How should non-breaking spaces be used with dates such as "28 August 2011" or "August 28, 2011"? Should they be formatted as 28&nbsp;August 2011 or {{nowrap|28 August 2011}}? mc10 (t/c) 20:24, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Here is a recent, uncontested edit to that guideline. Although I don't know why nbsp in that situation is any more impractical than nbsps in other situations, whose popularity is pretty much limited to style pages. Art LaPella (talk) 21:30, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Until we have a convenient shortcut-syntax for non-breaking spaces, they'll be underused on WP. Tony (talk) 06:47, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
I don't support the use of the nbsp within date strings, as this renders the edit mode very clogged and makes dates nigh invisible. If you must, use the {{nowrap}} template. It's actually a lot of work for not a lot of benefit – you pays your money... --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 06:59, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
You "don't support the use of the nbsp within date strings ...", but "August 2011", which might be considered a date, is still in the WP:NBSP guideline. Art LaPella (talk) 03:42, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Strange box: "Suggested abbreviations for referring to style guides"

Can anyone point me to the discussion where it was decided to add the box that says:

  • "Suggested abbreviations for referring to style guides"

Lightmouse (talk) 17:24, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

It spread from this beginning without discussion or opposition. Art LaPella (talk) 22:38, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Yes, I made that list for use during the Great Dashfest of 2011, on 7 June. Then I put it at the head of this page, with an edit summary saying that it was provisional, that it might be better in Wikispace eventually, and that anyone was free to edit and improve it. It is annotated with instructions for doing so. Four editors have had a go at that, and some benefactor (I forget who) improved the presentation for this page. Myself, I could usefully double its present contents. It would be even better with links (wiki- or external) where these are available, or enhanced accounts of each item. Good plan?

Editors can put a version of it at their talkpages, or wherever, using this code:

{| class="navbox collapsible collapsed" style="text-align: left; border: 0px;"
! style="background-color: #99bbff;" | '''Style guides and other resources'''
<blockquote style="background: #e0e0ff; border:solid black 1px; padding:1ex"> {{User:Noetica/StyleGuideAbbreviations1}}</blockquote>

With this result:

NoeticaTea? 05:19, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

It's a good intention. I've no objection to the list existing in Wikipedia somewhere. I just don't it adds sufficient value for prominence on this page.
  • Using abbreviations without clarification at the point of reading is bizarre.
  • If an editor didn't clarify at the point of reading, they'd have to tell people to look at the box.
  • Clarifying at the point of reading is just as easy as writing that people should look at the box.
  • Those abbreviations are rarely used on this page.
  • Using the box takes effort and interrupts reading. The reader has to click away from the post (possibly several clicks), click 'show' and then click back (possibly several times) to read the rest of the comment.
Lightmouse (talk) 09:26, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, Lightmouse. It was just an experiment, and I don't mind too much if it is eventually removed. How about seeing what others think first? It doesn't take up much space, or too many bytes to download. In fact the abbreviations have been used; and they might be more often if we were to promote the idea. People do want to refer to guides in discussion on this page, but it is tedious to type their names in full every time. And then, editors typically refer to "Merriam-Webster", when they mean any one of about six resources from that publisher. "MWCD11" is at least unambiguously "Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition".
Alternative ways to facilitate such referencing, anyone?
NoeticaTea? 10:28, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
Before the Internet was available outside the military and universities, IBM had VNET for it's employees to exchange ideas in a way that would seem familiar to Internet users. A forum there discussed writing in the context of computer manuals, and evolved a similar set of style guide abbreviations similar to the set discussed here. The same solution appearing in two such different environments suggest to me it's a good idea. Jc3s5h (talk) 12:24, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
I find its present placement to be acceptable, but I also find acceptable its possible relocation to a new subpage (possibly called Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Style guides and other resources), which can be added to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Contents.
Wavelength (talk) 16:03, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
See Category:Style guides and List of style guides. Any Wikipedia article about a style guide can have a link to it from the corresponding entry on Noetica's list, if it is listed there.
Wavelength (talk) 20:55, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

Too much space used by headers

Too much space is used by headers on this page. Can the noise be reduced so we don't have to scroll two or more screenfulls to get to content? Suggested improvements include:

  1. Eliminate wasted space at left and right by making the headers full width.
  2. Put the archive list adjacent to the search archive box.
  3. Delete the low-added value box that says "This page falls within the scope of WikiProject Manual of Style, a drive to identify and address contradictions and redundancies, improve language, and coordinate the pages that form the MoS guidelines."
  4. Delete the low added value box that says "Suggested abbreviations for referring to style guides"
  5. Within the boxes, delete low-added value phrases and icons. For example
  • "Discussions on this talk page often lead to previous arguments being restated. Please read the recent comments, look in the archives and review the FAQ before starting a discussion. New topics for discussion are always welcome."
  • "This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Manual of Style page."
  • "Put new text under old text. Click here to start a new topic.

Lightmouse (talk) 09:15, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Huh... That's what the “Skip to table of contents” link at the top is for. Oughtn't it to be “to the table” by the way? On the other hand, I'm OK with the idea of reducing the bulk of that stuff. A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:38, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Yes, "Skip to..." is designed to jump over the "notes" so there really isn't an issue with the 'boxes being there. As for the rest...
  1. IIUC the templates do not allow for 100% width. Going larger would either require editing them to allow it or making "special" ones for this page.
  2. Would add to "dead space".
  3. Convention is that Projects are allowed to tag relevant, or what they see as relevant, pages.
  4. Having a common point of reference stated and available for quick use is not "low added value".
  5. With the phrases:
    • This is a valid statement, especially for editors who use this page infrequently or are using it for the first time. Removal would assume only "regulars" use the page.
    • {{Talkheader}} is almost standard on talk pages as a reminder of the purpose of talk pages. And frankly for this type of talk page it's needed and it's the mild reminder template.
    • Als with that template - IIUC, you cannot pick and chose the bulleted items. Removal would require altering the template (not a good idea) or a one-off for here (also not the best idea).
- J Greb (talk) 10:59, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
It would be nice to reduce the huge yellow thing at the top, so I wonder why on Earth we still need the "be polite" stuff? Being polite is a site policy everywhere. I don't think that part of the yellow mess makes the slightest difference to regulars, and has anyone discovered visitors who arrive and dump rude comments here? Tony (talk) 15:27, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

Units – chevaux

Some articles have european sources that quote figures in CV (ie metric horsepower) and Watts. When using Template:convert should I use hp or CV when converting from watts, and should I consistently use CV or hp or a mixture.

Example Heilmann locomotive (this article currently uses a mixture with footnotes..) Imgaril (talk) 21:17, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Americans will have no idea what a CV is. I would spell out metric horsepower and convert it to watts (which is not capitalized when spelled out, but is capitalized when using the symbol, W).
It depends on what units you find in the source(s). If the source give(s) measurements in metric horsepower, include this unit in the article. Don't bother converting to metric horsepower if the units isn't used in the source(s); it's not a well known/used unit amongst Enlish speakers. In general convert watts to US/imperial horsepower (only). JIMp talk·cont 04:47, 1 September 2011 (UTC)
You should almost never convert watts to English units; at least, not if it's talking about electrical power or lighting. Watts is the commonly used unit for such things, even in the US. Dicklyon (talk) 07:58, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
True, don't convert to English units if they're not used in the particular context. JIMp talk·cont 10:43, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
I would write "xx CV[Ref yy] (zz kW)" and add a reference noting that for 1 CV is approximately 0.985 HP the first time that you mention "CV" and add a Wikilink to the appropriate section in the article Horsepower from the reference.
Also, at least in Canada, Chevaux-vapeur is completely synonymous with the imperial horsepower. The unit is extremely ambiguous. One definition has it defined as 75 kg·m/s, or 735,7 W (often seen as 736 W). There's the cheval-vapeur = horsepower definition (~745,7 W). They can also be known as the European (metric) horsepower/cheval-vapeur (736W) or British (imperial) horsepower/cheval-vapeur (746 W). It should never be used, except in direct quotes. Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 10:52, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

The horsepower article doesn't mention these interesting points. Perhaps it should. Lightmouse (talk) 10:59, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Hyphen: "well(-)known"

A discussion about whether or not to hyphenate "well(-)known" is under way at Wikipedia talk:AutoWikiBrowser/Typos#Well-known (permanent link here).
Wavelength (talk) 06:42, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

I would have never guessed where that “under way” link takes. Best. WP:EGG. Ever. :-) A. di M.plédréachtaí 12:24, 4 September 2011 (UTC)


Watchers of this page may be interested in the new page Wikipedia:adopt-a-typo.
Wavelength (talk) 21:21, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

"Which" and "That"

At, we find a description of restrictive and non-restrictive relative clauses in English. After that description comes a header, "That or which", under which we find these example English sentences:

(1) The building company, which erects very fine houses, will make a large profit. (non-restrictive)
(2) The building company that/which erects very fine houses will make a large profit. (restrictive)

As I've been reading various articles in Wikipedia, I keep seeing examples that look like Sentence 2 above with "which", which seems patently incorrect to me (a speaker of a US dialect of English). I don't see any mention of the which/that choice in the style manual. Is there someplace else in the guides or policy of Wikipedia where editors are encouraged to coalesce around "which" to set off a restrictive clause? Can anyone explain why editors seem so consistent in following that usage?

--Jack Waugh (talk) 00:00, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

I don't believe that there is any place which encourages editors to use "which" for a restrictive cause. I think it's just an absence of any place insisting on the "that" alternative. Writers then left to decide themselves follow natural English usage ... as opposed to following some rule invented by some prescriptivist. JIMp talk·cont 01:09, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
As a US speaker, I find 'that' in (2) natural. But I've seen editors going around subbing 'that' for 'which' in all restrictive clauses, because they think it's a rule of English grammar, and some of the results seem quite unnatural to me. — kwami (talk) 05:40, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
This is one of the differences between British and US usage. In US usage, "that" is correct for a non-restrictive clause, and "which" for a restrictive clause; some authorities also permit the use of "that" for a person in a non-restrictive clause. In British English, the distinction between restrictive and non-restrictive is more fluid, and the difference between "that" and "which" has generally been stylistic: in formal style, as in an encyclopedia, "which" has been preferred to "that." On the other hand the distinction between people and things is firm, and "that" for a person is not accepted usage. But I'm seeing British-English articles, and quotations, here with some use of "that" for non-restrictives. I daresay this is why the question was left partly open: there's a traditional difference, but it's only codified as a "rule" on the US side. Yngvadottir (talk) 06:22, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Let me reveal a secret bias. I've always been completely on-side with the Chicago MoS's preference for "that" over "which" in that restrictive-clause function; and with their reasoning. I'm arrogant enough to claim that almost all good writers across varieties of the language have this preference, at least since the Plain English movement (in the 1970s, was it?). Old fogies like David Attenbrough are excused, I suppose: does he think it's elegant? Tony (talk) 06:45, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
@Yngvadottir: In British English, ... "that" for a person is not accepted usage. Well... There are 1226 instances of people that in the British National Corpus, and taking a glance at a random sample of them it seems that in almost all of them that indeed introduces a relative clause. A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:55, 30 August 2011 (UTC) A. di M.plédréachtaí 09:56, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Is the problem just that US authors tend to follow what prescriptive books still (wrongly) tell them? Can Tony provide actual evidence that "almost all good writers across varieties of the language have [Tony's] preference". (I rather like the distinction myself, but does it really matter?)--Epipelagic (talk) 10:32, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
FWIW, his own user page includes “staff at the University of Sydney who are applying for funding”, as opposed to “that are applying”. <gd&r> A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:44, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps the distinction is a little subtle to settle into collective awareness, meaning that if Wikipedia is to make an issue of it, then the battle will never end. Maybe we should accept this issue belongs to sideline connoisseurs, and leave it there. --Epipelagic (talk) 12:15, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
A di M: you say "his own user page includes 'staff at the University of Sydney who are applying for funding' ", but you don't say whose user page. It is Tony's, right? But then how is that relevant? Tony makes no claim here concerning who versus that for persons. Myself, I support the judicious use of the relative that for persons. Even more strongly I support the "American" distinction between that and which in general; I make it in my writing, and I draw it to the attention of clients – who are usually very appreciative. I share Tony's impression: "almost all good writers across varieties of the language have this preference", though I think the correlation is not as tight as he claims. I note the correlation in those I edit and read – especially British scholars that I edit and read. For what it's worth, Garner (in GMAU and elsewhere) makes the same claim, almost as uncompromisingly as Tony does. For an example of a fine British scholar using which wherever he can set that aside, see this book from Ralph Penny. Browse, and hunt the whiches. Class, what do we think of the comma preceding "which may be contrasted"? Can we be sure that the writer intends an unrestricted relative there? Does the comma (at a vulnerable spot, immediately after parentheses) clearly show unrestrictiveness? Would our assessment be more definite if this writer did distinguish the relatives that and which generally? NoeticaTea? 00:44, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Well, in that text mostmany of the whiches follow prepositions, where that would be outright ungrammatical (see Boson below), so I don't think changing those few whiches which* can be changed would improve the situation a great deal. (Well, you can use that if you push the preposition to the end, e.g. the thing in which blablabla happenedthe thing (that) blablabla happened in, but that'd be more informal and, if the clauses are too long, even less clear.) A. di M.plédréachtaí 13:41, 3 September 2011 (UTC)12:22, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
* I swear I didn't do this on purpose! :-)
A di M: I own a copy of that text, and I have studied it closely. Tell me: do you think that the author uses that or which predominantly in relative constructions where either would be "grammatical"? On the three pages surrounding the location that I link above, I find 24 relative uses of which, only 4 of which are preceded by prepositions. I find 0 relative uses of that. Somewhere in my records I have a note of one or two isolated uses of relative that in the text. Would you like me to look them up for you? Would you like to retract the assertion you make above? ☺ NoeticaTea? 01:13, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, I had mis-counted them. I stand by my overall point, though. A. di M.plédréachtaí 12:22, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Pretty drastic miscounting, when we go from "most" to 4 out of 24 (based on a three-page sample) ☺. Stand by what you will, but you present no evidence for your claim – against someone who has read the book. In particular you do not respond to my direct question (see above): "Can we be sure that the writer intends an unrestricted relative there?" Look at the text, and you will see that a restrictive reading is more likely; but we simply cannot be sure. More examples can be produced, if you are interested. NoeticaTea? 00:13, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
OMG, do I need “evidence” for the claim that I wouldn't find that page any clearer if all instances of relative which were replaced with that? That's a subjective fact (other people might find it clearer that way; it's not like everybody's brains process language the same identical way); what next, would you ask me for “evidence” if I said that I like Led Zeppelin more than Deep Purple? As for “Can we be sure that the writer intends an unrestricted relative there?”, we can never be 100% sure that someone made a typo somewhere, but if the relative clause were restrictive there would be no reason for the comma to be there, as far as I can tell.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:26, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
BTW, while relative that might resolve ambiguities, it might also introduce some (or at least some garden-path problems), as that is also used for non-relative clause, as in the claim that in my post above.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:30, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
No, you don't need "evidence" for the claim that you now claim to have made; but that is not the claim that you did make, which was this: "Well, in that text mostmany of the whiches follow prepositions, where that would be outright ungrammatical (see Boson below), so I don't think changing those few whiches which* can be changed would improve the situation a great deal." If you now mean only the ones on "that page", and you mean only something about your take on the text, then the case is now different. You have given a partial response to my direct question; but you appear to have missed the follow-up: "Would our assessment be more definite if this writer did distinguish the relatives that and which generally?" This writer hardly uses that as a relative at all, overburdening which. It is easy to find examples in his text where exactly this feature leaves the meaning uncertain. Same for many writers who overburden which. NoeticaTea? 11:54, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't think we should make the existing rule more specific unless some need for us to do so arises, such as users coming to this talk page looking for guidance (as they did with possessives) or problems out in the articles. Which/that differs across national varieties, albeit subtly, and there's a big "not wrong but not 100% required" issue with nonrestrictive clauses. So long as Wikipedia is working reasonably well, we should let it lie. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:15, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Agree with DF. Noetica, how could you endorse the illiterate "the doctor that treated me"???? Tony (talk) 15:24, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Well, the doctor that does sound awful to me, but it can't be just a matter of personhood because people that sounds completely OK to me. (I won't attempt a corpus search on this because it'd turn up way too much noise, of course.) IIRC, Geoff Pullum suspects that there's some kind of subtle semantic distinction between that and wh*, depending on how specific/generic the noun phrase being modified is. A. di M.plédréachtaí 13:41, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Tony, that for a person is extremely common, and always has been. In OED I find 307 instances of "he that is" and 71 of "he who is". If you think such usage illiterate, you must make your accusation not against me, but against Milton, Shakespeare, Bacon, Marlowe, Defoe, Hobbes, Locke, Fielding, Sheridan, Boswell, Johnson, Lamb, Paine, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Poe, Hardy, Dickens, Whitman, Stevenson, Melville, James, Conrad, Doyle, and Joyce. NoeticaTea? 01:13, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Presumably even acolytes of Strunk & White would accept that "which" can be properly used in restrictive relative clauses, e.g.
  • "A superclass is a class from which other classes are derived."
  • "Wind direction is reported by the direction from which it originates."
  • " . . . the primordial nebula from which our Sun formed . . . "
--Boson (talk) 20:02, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
All in all, sounds like something that's best placed in the article on which and that. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:11, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
That which does not kill me... A. di M.plédréachtaí 13:41, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
I have found an instance where that is necessary for disambiguation: “Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment, usually described as a paradox, that Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger devised in 1935.” (The comma before that would be there whether the relative clause was defining or not, usually described as a paradox being a parenthetical.) But 1) the non-definiteness of a thought experiment makes the semantic difference between a defining clause and a non-defining one practically immaterial; 2) that wording sucks balls anyway. (It sounds like the writer was trying too hard to avoid the passive voice, even though having the thought experiment rather than the guy who proposed it as the grammatical subject in an article about the thought experiment is a textbook example of a good reason to use the passive).
A. di M.plédréachtaí19:11, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Of course, A di M. That sort of thing happens all the time, and counts against any facile assertion that commas (or stronger punctuation) suffice to signal the difference between restrictive and unrestrictive meanings. There are also cases in which one wants to avoid a comma before unrestrictive which, because commas are used in the same sentence for another purpose. Consider:

"His colleagues at work, the friends that came to his aid, his family which saw him through thick and thin, his Masonic brethren – all of these he now remembered."

Should a comma be mechanically enforced after family in this case, just to make the which unrestrictive? Not necessary, especially after the author has used that as the default in a restrictive relative construction immediately before. CGEL acknowledges this flexibility with punctuation; but its joint editor Pullum does not always do so, because he is fanatically against the advice to distinguish that and which in the way we have been discussing. Never mind that in his own writing he almost invariably respects that very difference.
NoeticaTea? 01:16, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Still, we should not rely on the reader to assume a relative clause to be unrestrictive just because it's introduced by which, if the distinction is relevant. In this case the other interpretation is implausible (a person only normally having one family, etc.), but otherwise we could write:
  • His colleagues at work; the friends that came to his aid; his family, which saw him through thick and thin; his Masonic brethren – all of these he now remembered.
  • His colleagues at work, the friends that came to his aid, his family (which saw him through thick and thin), his Masonic brethren – all of these he now remembered.
  • His colleagues at work, the friends that came to his aid, his family – which saw him through thick and thin, his Masonic brethren: all of these he now remembered.
(Though I'm struggling to find a place where we'd want to use such a style in the first place. This is an encyclopaedia, not a novel: what would be wrong with “He now remembered his colleagues ...”?)
A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:26, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
A di M, I have not said that we should recommend anything on that and which in the Manual. Nor have I said that any single kind of distinction among "grammatically available" relatives can or should be pressed into service to avoid ambiguities between restrictive and unrestrictive interpretations. Nor have I proposed that an existing punctuation scheme be kept inviolate, for any reason at all. Nor is it necessary, in an abstracted discussion that has general background relevance, to furnish an example that is plausible for an encyclopedia (though of course that could be done, with a little time and ingenuity). I simply make a case for the "American" distinction between relatives that and which; and I think this is important to do, especially since such a heavyweight as Pullum makes a case against that distinction with such forcefulness but on such shaky grounds. His case is essentially that both are "grammatical" in restrictive use. But so what? Grammaticality is one thing (harder to define than is usually allowed); rational and practical stylistic choice is another. Pullum simply misses that point, though his own style is excellent evidence for it. NoeticaTea? 11:54, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Or maybe Pullum is a linguist rather than a copy-editor, so he's talking about what English is rather than what he'd rather it was. Saying that a linguist oughtn't describe a grammatically correct construction because it's not a “rational and practical stylistic choice” is akin to say a physicist oughtn't describe how it is physically possible to get energy from nuclear fission because that's not the most sustainable way to generate electricity. (The main difference is that there aren't many people claiming that nuclear power plants are physically impossible, whereas there are quite a few of them who do claim that which at the beginning of a restrictive relative clause is outright grammatically wrong, rather than just an inferior stylistic choice in a given context.)
A. di M.plédréachtaí 12:46, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
But of course, A di M. Pullum is a distinguished linguist – and co-editor of CGEL, which qualifies as the definitive grammar of English for our time if any grammar does. Of course he can write and post at his blog about what is or is not "grammatical" (understanding the term descriptively), and I for one will take notice. But again you attribute to me something that I did not say, with your analogy of the physicist. And who is saying that use of which for restrictive clauses is "wrong"? Not me! I, with most American style guides that address the issue, recommend a general policy of using that restrictively and which unrestrictively, where either is "grammatically available". And Pullum doesn't like that. Stridently and repetitively. He is the one mixing up domains. Look at what you link, above (with my underlining): "Nearly all American copy editors tend to have standing instructions to change which to that if it introduces an integrated relative clause. This is a tragic waste of many hundreds of people's time. It has never been the case that which is forbidden, or uncommon, in integrated relative clauses." This is just confused. What can be meant by "forbidden"? Pullum understands it as a matter of grammar; but it is rather a matter of adhering to a principle of effective writing. It would be "a tragic waste of many hundreds of people's time" if it were a matter of descriptive grammar, and made no difference to clarity. But that is not the case, and Pullum's continuation is unsupported by evidence: "It is quite uncommon for ambiguity to arise over whether a relative clause is integrated or supplementary, because flanking commas should always be used to mark off the latter; so insisting that only supplementary relatives are allowed to begin with which does hardly any work in reducing ambiguity." We cannot test this with his own writing, because he almost always observes the very distinction that he counsels everyone to ignore. Finally, what is the force of that should, in what I have just underlined? It reads as Pullum's own preferred prescription, and one that is widely ignored – as Pullum's own CGEL more cautiously shows. NoeticaTea? 22:43, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
At the outset, Jimp said "Writers then left to decide themselves follow natural English usage ... as opposed to following some rule invented by some prescriptivist." I find this hilarious, after editing WP for a few years. Writers left to themselves do all kinds of crazy things; it's up to the better editors to fix it up when needed. Fortunately, there are plenty of those, too, and their corrected results are closer to "natural English usage", whether they're following prescriptivists or otherwise. As fas as I can see, it's working; I don't understand the point of this whole discussion, unless someone is suggesting that we stop correcting flaky amateur contributions since they represent "natural English usage". Dicklyon (talk) 16:19, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
There are plenty of “better editors”, but there are also people choosing very weird phrasings for which the only explanation I can come up with is that they were unthinkingly applying some prescriptive rule. (My cynic side of me says that the former already know the rules so they don't need them, and that the latter would be better off if they didn't know them, but...) As for the point of this discussion, I thought it was to have some fun, wasn't it? (At least, I can't see any other one.)
A. di M.plédréachtaí 17:13, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
If that's the problem, why haven't we been looking at them? And even if they are writing junk that way, what can be done other than improve the writing? Are you suggesting we try to educate people to not apply what they think they know? Dicklyon (talk) 18:27, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Noetica did the legwork and found that there is at least one situation in which the writer must say "that" instead of "which" or risk losing clarity. However, there are many more situations in which it makes no real difference. I would say that we should keep the rule itself the way it is and simply allow better-skilled editors to correct such misused "whiches" wherever they may be found (rather than requiring that "that" be Wikipedia's only acceptable word in nonrestrictive clauses).
If it gets to be a problem, for example, if there are edit wars with people who want to keep the troublemaking "whiches" in place, then we could add a passage to the MoS explaining that there are some cases in which "that" is required for clarity. I wouldn't object to doing that now, but I don't think it's necessary. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:37, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Keep what rule? I thought we had agreed that we don't have a rule in place. Aren't we just speculating about hypothetical edit warring problems? Dicklyon (talk) 18:41, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree. Keep what rule? We don't have it, and I recommend that we continue not to have it. I would support an editor who does respect the distinction over one who does not; but not every principle of good writing needs to be explicitly included in a Manual of Style. NoeticaTea? 22:43, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Moving to subpages

In line with the agreement, I've moved all the MoS (...) pages to MoS/... (i.e. to use subpages). Except for a few, which either I couldn't move because they were move protected, or where someone moved them back for some reason. Do we have a link to the discussion where it was agreed to do this, so that we can point it out to any objectors?--Kotniski (talk) 11:37, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Nice work, Kotniski. Noetica might be able to find the discussion more quickly. Tony (talk) 12:59, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
See Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 123#Sub-pages and Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 123#RFC: Should all subsidiary pages of the Manual of Style be made subpages of WP:MOS? and its subsections and sub-subsections and sub-sub-subsections and sub-sub-sub-subsections.
Wavelength (talk) 17:40, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Seems to me the only remaining ones (needing admin attention) are Wikipedia:Manual of Style (lists) and Wikipedia:Manual of Style (writing about fiction). There's also the question of what to do about the various random (non-guideline) pages that currently have the form of MoS subpages (random example: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Chemistry/Elements/Draft). Do we want to move such pages to some other "namespace"?--Kotniski (talk) 17:26, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Moved, and bumped their protection down a notch, so you should be able to take it from here. — kwami (talk) 17:46, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Oops, forgot the caps. But you guys can take it from here. — kwami (talk) 18:22, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Another example of the sort of thing we would presumably want to move out of "MoS/" space: Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Biographies/Proposed interim policy for Honorific prefixes. A completely dead historical page; if we don't want this sort of thing (and the Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Chemistry/Elements/Draft I mentioned above) getting included in MoS search results, where should it be moved to?--Kotniski (talk) 09:53, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

Maybe the search function can be adjusted so that a person searching can choose the number of subpage levels included in the displayed results.
Wavelength (talk) 21:37, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Not that I know of. The developers would probably be able to program it, but I doubt they would be persuaded it's something they should devote their time to.--Kotniski (talk) 10:42, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Spacing between paragraphs

I've seen some articles where extra space between paragraphs has been added by means of blank lines or <br/>, without any justification from the specific layout requirements of the page. Is this issue addressed on this page? I can't find it. It should be mentioned, right? Zerotalk 03:59, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Manual of Style (layout)#Paragraphs: "Between paragraphs—as between sections—there should be only a single blank line; ..." Art LaPella (talk) 04:08, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
When using a skin without an appropriately configured js file it can appear in the preview window that no paragraph spacing exists, leading the editor to insert a coded break that might not be necessary. This answer occurs to me because it has happened to me. Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 10:58, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Thanks, I see it now. Zerotalk 11:24, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

Images after headings

In the past I've found a warning about placing left aligned images after headings, because they break text flow, but for the life of me, I can't find it now, when I need it. Does anybody know where this is (or was)? --AussieLegend (talk) 01:42, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

It's an important question. There's no intrinsic problem unless there are bullet points adjacent (screenreaders screw up). But it's a bad effect if there are right-sided pics or an infobox in the vicinity, because text-sandwiching often results. Please experiment by dragging your window-width down to fairly narrow and then to the widest possible (some readers use 27" monitors and set their browser to take up the whole screen, amazingly, with resulting stringy paragraphs and acres of white space below some images—unfortunately, we need to minimise the damage for a range of window-widths). Do other editors agree with what I'm saying? Tony (talk) 01:59, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
I'd certainly agree with the issue regarding bullet points; one of my jobs is as the IT manager at a local school where we have sight impaired kids and this sort of "fix" really screws them up, but even those without sight impairment are distracted by images placed immediately after headings, and it is/was in the MoS somewhere. --AussieLegend (talk) 02:11, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, BTW, a sight-impaired wikifriend pokes me if I insert even a right-side image within a sequence of bullets (in The Signpost, for example) without putting <br/> after it (also interferes with screenreaders, apparently). Both of these points deserve a brief mention in our image section, I believe; and WP:IUP should be checked out too for this—too major to be just tucked away in the accessibility guideline. Not sure I understand your point about distraction from a (right-sided) image immediately after a section title. Is this a problem visually? I have to say, I believe the safest way to avoid text-sandwiching over the range of window-widths (and font-size settings, etc) is to jam all or most of the image syntaxes at the top of a section; and that if it's a pretty long section, you can probably afford to insert further pics between paragraphs (not close to the others, though). It's tricky. Tony (talk) 02:40, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Right-aligned images aren't the problem after headings, it's those pesky left-aligned images that are the issue. --AussieLegend (talk) 03:48, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
Those with bigger monitors have more of a problem with displays. It's a shame it can't be made to work any other way. Some articles, with huge infoboxes that descend to near the bottom of an article's text, really cause problems when editors want to insert some images. If we use {{clear}}, the result is huge white space; if we use left-alignment, it messes with headings. --Ohconfucius ¡digame! 01:44, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Why would a left-aligned image under a header break the flow any more than a right-aligned one? SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 20:12, 27 August 2011 (UTC)
Probably because English is read left to right. Having the text start on the left immediately below the header reads more naturally and creates a stronger connection, whereas having the image there while the text is pushed to the right (as opposed to below the image) is interruptive. But ymmv. oknazevad (talk) 05:54, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Okay, thanks. I thought someone was making a technical point that left-aligned images actually broke the text in some way. SlimVirgin TALK|CONTRIBS 18:20, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Placing the image above the section hed

I wish I'd come to this discussion a little earlier. While we've never prescribed any particular pattern for image placements, I very much prefer to alternate them because I read a book by an Australian newspaper editor, Colin Wheildon (sp?) who did some studies and found that alternating images make the text in between more readable (There are exceptions, like in bulleted lists as noted above).

So, for the reason noted by Oknazevad above, when I've needed to juxtapose a left-justified image with supporting text that happens to immediately follow a section hed, I've always preferred to put the image above the header, in the preceding section. Some other editors seem to find this an absolutely impermissible violation of MOS, though the page here only says that images should be placed within sections, not that it must. But I have some professional experience doing layout, and no one with that would quarrel with doing this if it meant the image displayed without breaking the connection between header and text. I have seen this done in many other places, by other editors.

Should this be allowed? This has happened most recently in Hurricane Irene, where I just mooted the issue by right-justifying all the images for now, but it's going to come up again. I personally see nothing wrong with it, although I can see why maybe we'd want to not do it in articles about current events undergoing heavy edits. Any further thoughts? Daniel Case (talk) 03:39, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

But was the newspaper guy talking about websites in which the image sizes and location-anchors are static, irrespective of the window-width, font and font-size settings, and screen res? Grabbing the window corner and moving it out to full width and back to narrow is a sobering experience: text sandwiching, image overlap, and hectares of white space are our old friends. Left-side images make sandwiching worse, although they do reduce the risk of white space at the bottom of image-rich sections when wide window-widths are used. On balance, the text-squashing is a bigger problem with a left-side pics unless there's a good deal of vertical separation between it and right-side objects. I don't think placement above a heading is at all satisfactory on this count. Tony (talk) 04:47, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
(This is the book I was thinking about. I do recommend it)

It's something I generally prefer to avoid, I admit. When I do use it I am mindful of the other nearby images (Anna Wintour is probably the best example from articles I've largely worked on myself of this) but I allow that not all editors have some sort of layout background.

In a nearly perfect world, the software would be able to use the screen res info and adjust the image size or placement accordingly, and even adjust when the window is being resized. But so far we're stuck with having to edit for a happy medium (Although I have a widescreen 1920x1200 monitor, I edit in a window roughly approximating 1024x768 as I find it both easier to read and it helps me edit with that audience in mind. Daniel Case (talk) 05:38, 2 September 2011 (UTC)

This is a point worth considering: while someone with a 2048-pixel-wide screen can view Wikipedia in a narrower window if so they choose, there's no way someone with an 800-pixel-wide screen can use a wider window. I'm using a 1024-by-600 laptop screen and I find it wide enough for all purpose (though I sometimes wish it was taller), and when I used a wider screen I always had a bookmark side panel so that the web page itself was about 1024 pixels wide. In my view, if someone insists on viewing pages in a 1920-pixel window that's their friggin' problem. Personally, I find it very hard to read text when the average line is more than about 150 characters, and find that hardly believable that people do that deliberately. I think that page layout should be designed having in mind windows about 1024 pixels wide, and still be graceful when the window is anywhere from 800 pixels (even 640 if possible) to 1280 (even 1600 if possible), but I don't think considering what happens with a 2560-pixel window is a good use of time – even because I don't believe it is possible to have a good layout at all. Heck, I'd support setting the max-width: 1500px CSS property to the <body> element, if someone asked me. A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:27, 2 September 2011 (UTC)14:00, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
I have done this myself on a couple of occasions, where I thought it was the lesser evil, but having an image in the previous section can present problems. It goes against point 5 of Wikipedia:Accessibility#Images and can also be confusing to someone who edits the section that appears to contain the image. --Boson (talk) 14:23, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
Daniel, bring it on. Do you think the WMF techs could develop a way of tailoring image size to those other factors? Other sites seem to have less trouble on this front. A di M: I just don't understand why so many WPians use their full 27" monitors for WP windows. The paragraphs look like thin strings of one or two lines, and there's tons of blank space. Awful effect, counter-intuitive. But people I know really do it: when I ask why, they say it means they have to scroll down less, which is a point—but a bad trade-off, I think. Nevertheless, we need to consider readers out there who use the usual range of settings. Tony (talk) 15:21, 2 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm taking back my suggestion to force a maximum width because I can see a valid point to use wider windows (as opposed to “I can't be arsed to shrink it”); but still I think if someone chooses to do very bizarre things, it's their own problem if they get very bizarre results. A. di M.plédréachtaí 14:00, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
I would think it might be possible to define an image width as a fixed percentage of the page width, rather than a fixed pixellage. Certainly if my iPad can make that adjustment when I flip it from horizontal to vertical, the software can detect the widening of the window. And maybe even move an image from right to left as it is opened enough (so that an image placed less than optimally to avoid a long infobox could move once there's space). Daniel Case (talk) 19:15, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
Fact is, images are shrunk into thumbnails server-side, so for that to work, a thumbnail of the right size would have to be downloaded every time the window is resized. Not sure it's such a great idea. A. di M.plédréachtaí 19:59, 3 September 2011 (UTC)
A di M, are you pretty sure about this, technically, or should we seek developer opinion? (Or maybe you are a developer ...?). Daniel's suggestion seems good at first glance. Tony (talk) 16:18, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I've just saved the thumbnail of a picture in an article to my hard disk, and it does have the reduced size of the thumbnail. (Just having the browser download the full-sized image and shrink it when displaying it would also defeat much of the point of using thumbnails in the first place, when Internet connections are not that fast and/or the full-size image is very large.)
A. di M.plédréachtaí 00:33, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Adopt a guideline

Although there is not at this time a page Wikipedia:Adopt a guideline, editors may wish to check many articles consecutively, with a focus on applying a single guideline. An edit summary with a shortcut link to the relevant guideline can publicize the guideline. There is a time-saving advantage in using the autocomplete feature, or pasting a pre-arranged skeleton summary and modifying it for specific edits. Editors can check articles in lists and categories of special interest. See also Wikipedia:Vital articles, Wikipedia:Lists of popular pages by WikiProject, and Wikipedia:Database reports.
Wavelength (talk) 21:23, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
See also Category:Wikipedia 1.0 assessments.
Wavelength (talk) 21:48, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Systematic checking can be more efficient than sporadic checking, and can be performed on other namespaces besides the article namespace. (See Wikipedia:Database reports/Most-watched pages by namespace.) In particular, the Manual of Style and its subpages can be checked, as a subset of the project ("Wikipedia:") namespace. (See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Contents.)
Wavelength (talk) 20:05, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
[I am revising my message of 20:05, 6 September 2011 (UTC).
Wavelength (talk) 20:17, 6 September 2011 (UTC)]
In advance of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England, editors can check articles in Category:London and Category:London Underground. See also Wikipedia:WikiProject London (and Wikipedia:WikiProject London/Popular pages) and Wikipedia:WikiProject London Transport (and Wikipedia:WikiProject London Transport/Favourite pages) and Wikipedia:WikiProject England (and Wikipedia:WikiProject England/Popular pages) and Wikipedia:WikiProject Olympics (and Wikipedia:WikiProject Olympics/Popular pages) and Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Directory/Geographical/Europe#United Kingdom.
Wavelength (talk) 17:31, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Apostrophes and hyphens wrongly put in punctuation

Apostrophes and hyphens are wrongly put in punctuation. They are not punctuation. Hyphens are orthography, like letters. An apostrophe replaces one or several letter(s).

--Nnemo (talk) 21:49, 5 September 2011 (UTC)

They are not "wrongly" put in punctuation; they are put there because that accords with the dominant understanding of the term punctuation these days. In an earlier understanding, they were excluded. There are classic works on punctuation in English that exclude them, and many equivalent books in other languages continue that tradition. Note, by the way, that orthography is slippery too. It is normally taken to be a matter of spelling; but then, why speak of "orthographic sentences" as opposed to other kinds of sentences? We spell words, not sentences.
If hyphens and dashes were to be excluded from punctuation "proper" (relegated perhaps to word punctuation as opposed to sentence punctuation – a worthy distinction), why not also exclude the en dash when it functions like a hyphen? And why not exclude the period when it is welded to an abbreviation, rather than serving to mark the end of a sentence? There is much theory behind all this, including the definition of word itself (not trivial!), the distinction between types and tokens, and the distinction between punctuational functions and the marks that fulfil those functions.
NoeticaTea? 23:18, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Let's use the correct words as their correct definitions, not the dominant ones if they are wrong. Especially in an encyclopedia. In a lot of fields the most common understandings are wrong.
I don't know what you call an "orthographic sentence". In my native language I use the same word for orthography and spelling : orthographe.
The period is a punctuation sign, although you are right to say that its use in an abbreviation is rather special : it is not the use to end a sentence. Same goes for the period in 2.5 inches.
When does an en dash function like a hyphen ? I do not see when.
I consider the hyphen as not being a punctuation sign. The hyphen in check-in is part of the compound word.
Do you know how I easily tell the difference ? In a dictation, a hyphen error counts as one half-error, whereas a punctuation error does not count.
I propose that we call the section Punctuation and other signs. Or we keep its name Punctuation but we move apostrophes and hyphens to a more convenient place.
--Nnemo (talk) 18:53, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Unlike French, Nnemo, there's no such thing as a "correct definition" in English. There is only the "current definition", and the current definition of "punctuation" in English is "non-alphabetic symbols used as accessories to written words and sentences". Besides, if hyphens and apostrophes aren't punctuation, then what do we call them collectively? Powers T 23:24, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Nnemo, orthographic sentence is not my term, and it is not common – but it shows the fluidity of some of the terms that you appear to regard as fixed. You can find the meaning from the link that I provide. Note that the exact French equivalent, phrase orthographique, also occurs as a term of art in linguistics. There is no early etymological reason to exclude that sense of orthographic, though of course it has been more normally applied to spelling of words.
The case is similar with punctuation. Etymologically it could be used of any system of points, as OED shows with these less common senses:

†1. The pointing of the psalms; the pause at the mediation. Obs. rare.

2. The insertion of the vowel (and other) points in writing Hebrew and other Semitic languages (or those using a Semitic alphabet); the system of such points: = pointing vbl. n.1 2b.

[3]c. fig. The repeated occurrence or distribution (of something); something that makes repeated or regular interruptions or divisions.

Note SOED's first definition at the entry "hyphen" (my underlining):

A n. 1 A punctuation mark used to connect two words together, to indicate the division of a word between two successive lines, and to indicate a missing or implied element, and now represented as a short raised horizontal line. E17.

Note also that in French a trait d'union ("hyphen") falls not only between parts of words but between certain words, as Petit Robert reminds us: "... et entre le verbe et le pronom postposé (ex. Crois-tu ? Prends-le)".
Language changes. Here it is not sufficient to claim that certain understandings of words are "correct", or that others are "wrong".
NoeticaTea? 23:28, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree that in principle treating hyphens and apostrophes as part of spelling rather than pronunciation would make more sense; but that's not a common meaning of pronunciation in English, so doing that without changing the section titles (e.g. to “Sentence-level punctuation” or something) would be very confusing for readers, who would expect a section titled “Punctuation” to cover them.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 09:27, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Apostrophes could be treated in a section on grammar, spelling, orthography, or punctuation. Sometimes a call has to be made, and the current slotting doesn't seem a bad one to me, from the point of view of editors who come to MoS seeking guidance. It's all a bit semantic. Tony (talk) 13:25, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Advice on job-title capitalisation?

There's been a move request at Talk:Chief Mechanical Engineer to downcase the title, per WP:Job titles (part of the title policy), and the MoS section on the same point. The move request was notified at the UK Railways WikiProject (at variance with the generality of the article title, this article was intended to be specifically about chief mechanical engineers in British-related railway companies). At that stage, this was expressed in the one-line lead followed by a huge number of unreferenced examples of holders of such positions mostly in the 19th century. In trying to fathom the theme of the article, I failed to see that the title should have been more specific as well as downcased: the job title is used generically (still is) and the scope is restricted at the same time (not US-related, not chief mechanical engineers in power stations or on ferries or in aeronautics or factories).

Now, the railways editors really care about the notion of chief mechanical engineers—in good faith, like the wider phenomenon of corporate and professional upping of importance via capitalisation—but where will it all end? They descended on the RM and !voted en masse against downcasing.

Because I pointed out the shambles the article was in, an editor has kindly worked on it, adding references and expanding the information. But the theme is still scoped in relatively narrow terms, and in the main text it's not, for example, Joshua Smithers, Chief Mechanical Engineer, Northampton Railway Company.

I do think we need a centralised approach to this. Almost the entire category of transport occupations is in lower case, as are just about all other occupation categories. Why must this one stick out? And is it hogging the name-space of the generic article that probably should/will be created on chief mechanical engineers? (There are quite a lot of chief this and chief that articles, surprisingly.)

Your advice and comments at the RM would be appreciated—maybe I'm confused now. I'm leaving the same notice at WP:TITLE and WT:CAPS.

Thanks. Tony (talk) 16:10, 7 September 2011 (UTC) And PS, I see that another editor has just come in and downcased throughout the main text of the article, to negative reaction by at least one editor on the talk page. More reason wider advice is required. Tony (talk) 16:22, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Redundant MOS page?

Please see Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Footnotes#Merge. It seems that this page may be redundant to two (at least) other pages.--Kotniski (talk) 07:03, 8 September 2011 (UTC)


This is to make known to editors the recently started Wikipedia:Styletips and Template:Styletips.
Wavelength (talk) 18:36, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

Cool. Here's what Template:Styletips does (randomly, I presume?): Dicklyon (talk) 18:56, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Another styletip ...

Pluralizing abbreviations

Acronyms and initialisms, like other nouns, become plurals by adding -s or -es:

they produced three CD-ROMs in the first year; the laptops were produced with three different BIOSes in 2006.

As with other nouns, no apostrophe is used unless the form is a possessive.

Add this to your user page by typing in {{Styletips}}

"The less its effective"? Oh dear. I think that might be a typo for "the less effective it is" or "the less its effect." Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:50, 4 September 2011 (UTC)

You might edit Wikipedia:Styletips/25. At least "its" should be "it's" or the equivalent. Art LaPella (talk) 22:38, 4 September 2011 (UTC)
Fixed. I didn't care for the one the said "unit symbols/abbreviations...". Do we really need a slash, instead of saying "or"? How do you find the number to edit? Dicklyon (talk) 00:28, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Styletips/16. I clicked Wikipedia:Styletips for the list, and used old-fashioned patience to search the list one at a time. Art LaPella (talk) 03:02, 5 September 2011 (UTC)
Oh, I've just noticed this thread. I haven't sifted through the 35 or so tips I've created, so volunteer browsers/copy-editors are welcome. The idea is that the "tips" be short and informal morsels (I used contractives, for example)—bite-sized chunks of what is probably a daunting page for many WP editors when they look at it synoptically. The "Quotations: allowable typographical changes" tip is the longest, I think—too long for my liking, so perhaps it needs to be stripped back. Feedback is welcome. BTW, unlike the click-and-show tutorials, which are in my userspace, these are in mainspace. I guess I should write up brief instructions for how to add tips ... but where? At the template page or the WP page? Tony (talk) 13:45, 7 September 2011 (UTC) PS How embarrassing, the "its". Tony (talk) 13:47, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
If Template:Styletips in edit mode means what I think it means, then the first 30 in that code should be edited whenever you add a style tip, to keep that number 30 consistent with the number of style tips. Otherwise, you can't possibly get more than the first 30 style tips. Also, the "1 = 1" list should be similarly extended to keep it consistent. Art LaPella (talk) 00:56, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Isn't there some kind of “random” template/parserfunction/whatever which just returns a random number from 1 to n, rather than having to roll your own every time you need that?
A. di M.plédréachtaí 15:46, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Most recent archives

Can we get links to the most recent archives at the top of this talk page instead of the oldest ones? - dcljr (talk) 12:54, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

I asked for help in Template_talk:Archives#Stops_at_.22Archive_48.22. A temporal solution would be to restore {{talkheader}} at the top of the page for now. --Enric Naval (talk) 13:07, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
And Dcl, by coincidence, has just asked about where the consensus is for the changes to the MoS subpage status/organisation is in the archives. The MoS archives are so hard to search, I must say. It was recent. Tony (talk) 13:20, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
You can access links to the most recent archives from this version. Also, you can visit one of the first 48 archive pages, and change the archive number in the address bar.
Everyone can facilitate archive searches (afterward) by using short, informative headings (beforehand). The same applies to subheadings and sub-subheadings and so forth. Wikipedia:Talk page guidelines#Others' comments says: It is generally acceptable to change headings when a better header is appropriate, e.g. one more descriptive of the content of the discussion or the issue discussed, less one-sided, more appropriate for accessibility reasons, etc.
Choosing a short, informative heading requires some thinking. Usually three keywords (nouns, adjectives, verbs, or adverbs) are sufficient. In some cases, two or four might be better. Other words (prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns, or articles) might be added. Topical information is more helpful than attitudinal information. If I see a vague heading on my watch list (because someone has not spent time in choosing a short, informative heading), I might decide not to spend time in clicking to the section to find out the topic of discussion. (It might help to imagine that you are paying by the word or character for a newspaper advertisement.)
Please see Microcontent: Headlines and Subject Lines (Alertbox).
Wavelength (talk) 16:12, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
A link to a section can more likely be accommodated in an edit summary when a heading is short. If a link to a section is truncated, there is no link. See, for example, this edit summary, where the intended link to Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 123#RFC: Should all subsidiary pages of the Manual of Style be made subpages of WP:MOS? was truncated. (I hope that the author of that heading does not mind my using it as an example.) That editor faced a dilemma, between lengthy informativeness and possibly unclear brevity, as in "WP:MOS (x)" to "WP:MOS/X". Also, shortcuts to the Archives, such as perhaps WT:MOS/A123, would be helpful.
Wavelength (talk) 15:20, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
If you're linking from the parent page, you don't need the part before the slash: this link /Archive 123 goes to the right place.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 16:18, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia translations

Is anyone here able to enlighten me on the following -

When citing a foreign language source, and offering a translation by software engine, or a personal translation, what are the requirements to identify the process and veracity?

In other words, I assume the original source must be a reference, but do we also need to quote the original passage and the translation (including the source of that translation) in order for readers to make up their own minds about the accuracy and relevance?

Is this an issue that ought to be included in the manual, or elsewhere, or not at all? Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 11:07, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

I think it was fairly recently discussed at WT:V, and the matter is addressed at WP:V, if memory serves.--Kotniski (talk) 15:36, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

WP:Passive voice

If I remember correctly, we have quite specifically chosen not to have a policy on the use of the passive voice: it is no more encouraged or discouraged than any other way of phrasing one's text. Some time ago, I was surprised to find WP:Passive voice was a redirect to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch#Unsupported attributions, which includes a warning against one specific use. Is there any merit in A) keeping the link at all, and B) linking it to that rather negative treatment of the construct? Kevin McE (talk) 10:11, 9 September 2011 (UTC)

No. I see no merit in it at all. It redirects to a section that advises against phrases like "some people say", "many are of the opinion", "most feel", "experts declare", research has shown", "science says", clearly showing that lack of attribution has very little to do with the passive voice. So the redirect serves only to add to the obvious confusion in many people's minds as to what the passive voice actually is. --Boson (talk) 10:55, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Concur with Boson. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:19, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, it's too subtle and context-dependent for legistlation. Passivitis is not nearly as bad on WP as in the scientists' text I have to work on privately. Tony (talk) 13:23, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
I do tend using the passive voice a lot in scientific texts I'm not co-authoring with anyone else, because to me we sounds too presumptuous, I not formal enough, and I don't like the author. What would you suggest?
A. di M.plédréachtaí 17:49, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Another aspect is that when we summarize sources which use the passive voice it may be appropriate for us to do likewise.   Will Beback  talk  20:14, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
There's nothing wrong with the passive voice. This is a myth propagated by English teachers who recite rules learned by rote. On the Abraham Lincoln article, one would write "Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in 1865", while on the John Wilkes Booth article one would write "Booth killed Abraham Lincoln in 1865". Headbomb {talk / contribs / physics / books} 21:33, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Just to be clear, we're just talking about the redirect, right? There is no proposed change to the content of the target? --Trovatore (talk) 22:07, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
Pending deletion, I suppose one could redirect to English passive voice, which would be more useful. --Boson (talk) 11:12, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Ahem... That would be a little bit too ‘unelegant’ (for lack of a better word) IMO. (It might be mildly confusing to arrive to an article when expecting to get to a project page.) At least, if you want that, make it a soft redirect instead.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 19:08, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

A di M, perhaps I should be asking your advice, not the other way around. I can only test here what I advise scientists:

  • avoid the use of first person, particularly "I", in successive sentences;
  • avoid repeated passive voice ("will be trialled", "will be this", "will be that" becomes tiresome for the reader)
  • consider breaking up repeated passive voice by using a first person + active at least occasionally, favouring these locations: thematic points in the text (i.e. points of departure); text that expresses originality ("we hypothesised" ...); and where the passive is clunky, typically by shunting the verb right to the end of a loooong sentence.

What do you think? It's not MoSable, of course. Tony (talk) 11:52, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

I remember being taught in school that passive voice, while to be avoided in other types of writing, was ideal for scientific papers because it takes the focus off of the authors and onto the actions and results, which are the point. It is humble, not pompous. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:25, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
I think the motivation used to be that excluding the agents conveyed greater objectivity, but we always knew that someone had done the research and was writing up the paper. Readability, to me, has become more important, and I've never heard of a journal rejecting a manuscript because it didn't exclusively stick to the passive. Tony (talk) 14:29, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

I second the comments of Boson. The redirect should be deleted. This discussion, though, belongs at WP:RFD. JIMp talk·cont 04:48, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

I wanted to check opinion here before raising it at RfD: thought that a proposal there would carry more weight if it could refer to consensus here. Kevin McE (talk) 07:19, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
That makes sense. JIMp talk·cont 16:45, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

I've tagged the redirect for deletion. See the RFD discussion. JIMp talk·cont 05:23, 12 September 2011 (UTC)


The article Brouwer–Hilbert controversy has an interesting layout. ref tags are used for notes and then references are written inline. Would it be appropriate to put the references in ref tags also even though it will end up with notes mixed in with notes? (This use of notes is interesting enough that I'd consider requesting the addition of a feature to software for 'note' tag that works similarly to references but that go in a separate section, but I don't know if notes are used enough to make it worth the change.) RJFJR (talk) 13:26, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

All of these things are possible (though consensus ought to be sought before changing the system used in a particular article). See Help:Footnotes about splitting footnotes and references; and WP:CITE for ways of organizing citations.--Kotniski (talk) 14:05, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks! I never saw that 'groups' parameter before. RJFJR (talk) 19:28, 10 September 2011 (UTC)

Dating 'currently'

Not sure whether this is the right place to post, but nowhere else seems more appropriate.

When editing pages in which an author/editor said an individual 'currently' or 'most recently' did or does X, how can we phrase the prose to avoid dating the article if it has not been updated for a while. This becomes particularly complex if the subject of the article has passed away, or the dates of the last 'current' engagements are unknown and difficult to verify. Regards, Peter S Strempel | Talk 08:16, 8 September 2011 (UTC)

The MoS already advises against words like "currently" in favor of terms such as "as of September 2011." It's under "dates and time." Go ahead and correct those articles when you find them. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:08, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
DF, question I can't solve: how do you stop "as of 2011" implying that the subject took up the position just this year, in a stub where little context is provided: "He is currently a Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge". If we knew the year of his appointment, that would solve the problem; but we don't. Recent edit of mine. Tony (talk) 11:43, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
We add the context or we rephrase: "He is part of the 2011 faculty at the University of Cambridge Music Department." Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:27, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Actually, in that specific case, the one external link there says he joined in 2009. So just say that. I generally find simple past tense the usual case. If you say he became professor in 2009, and do not mention anything after that, it provides the information in the source and no more. W Nowicki (talk) 23:23, 14 September 2011 (UTC)


An editor in the computing/telecom area drew my attention to Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Computing, which I see has been changed over to the new solidus-inclusive title, but which nevertheless is in a moribund mess. It had the "essay" template at the top, which I removed (should I have?). It presents macro problems of theme and general organisation, is way short on a lot of details that apply to these fields, and probably needs to be merged with other information or even guidelines. It presents micro problems that are a little easier to iron out. I've left a note at the talk page after dipping in at the top and doing a light copy-edit.

These fields are mostly poorly written and uncoordinated in terms of structure, formatting, and style (I've encountered many horrors recently) ... not to mention many passages, even whole articles, that have the smell of cut and paste from books (even images and diagrams are often suspiciously like scans from books, uploaded some time ago by editors who claim they own them). I think it's a priority to give editors in the field something better to grip onto when they seek guidance. Feedback welcome. Tony (talk) 01:34, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia has Wikipedia:WikiProject Computing (with no style subpage that I found)
and Wikipedia:WikiProject Computer science
and Wikipedia:WikiProject Computer science/Manual of style (computer science).
Wavelength (talk) 02:53, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
[I am revising my message by inserting the underlined text.
Wavelength (talk) 03:30, 14 September 2011 (UTC)]
Something seems to be wrong: why does Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Computing have MoS in its name, then? And a box on the talk pages that says it comes under the WikiProject MoS? It can't be an essay and a MoS subpage at the same time, surely. Tony (talk) 06:37, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Computing was originated by User:FleetCommand, whom I have invited to participate in this discussion.
Wavelength (talk) 16:39, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
(Edit conflict) Thanks for calling me over Wavelength. Looking up the date stamp, it seems this discussion has taken place before me and Tony had our discussion in the Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Computing. I believe Tony is now satisfied with my answers. (Though if I was wrong or if you have changed your mind, dear Tony, just let me know.) I will keep working on that essay with the ultimate goal of proposing it as an official part of MoS. Fleet Command (talk) 17:17, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
I also made an attempt to add what we seemed to agree to. I would also propose merging Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Command-line examples perhaps. W Nowicki (talk) 22:02, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

Three Wise Men

Why are the Magi, or Three Wise Men, listed as "mythical or legendary creatures"? It seems a rather subjective judgement. Stroganoff (talk) 20:14, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

Couldn't you ask the same about any mythical or legendary being? JIMp talk·cont 00:43, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
P.S. the word "creature" is somewhat biased (assumes a creator), so, yes, it does seem a rather subjective judgement after all. JIMp talk·cont 01:03, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
Ancient etymology aside, the word no longer has that connotation. Powers T 02:08, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, yes, but our very own Creature article seems to agree: "A creature is a created thing, being or any product of creative action." I've already changed it to "mythical or legendary beings" but if anyone disagrees and changes it back, I'm not about to start a fight over it. JIMp talk·cont 04:41, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I shall assume good faith, and explain myself in more detail. If you place biblical figures in a "mythical or legendary" category with the Minotaur, Pegasus, and JRR Tolkein, are you not imposing your own subjective & personal conclusion of biblical inaccuracy? Stroganoff (talk) 22:56, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
I think he has a point, even though those who study myths and legends may use those words in a way that doesn't positively assert that they are false. That isn't how the public uses the words. All the examples are Christian, possibly Christian (like "priests"), or no longer have millions of serious believers ("Minotaur", "elf"). I think we need at least one djinn, loa, kami or something. Art LaPella (talk) 00:22, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Christian theological sources speak of Christian myths. You're right, the lay use of the word implies "imaginary", but we can't make that distinction without biased judgements about whose mythology is imaginary and whose is not. — kwami (talk) 00:33, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
MOS:COMMONALITY encourages commonality in regard to varieties of English, and commonality can be encouraged in regard to terminology for concepts in various points of view.
Wavelength (talk) 00:52, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
"mythical or religious"? We can agree that angels are religious without agreeing if they are imaginary. And it doesn't matter if we include indisputably real people like popes and the Mormon 12 Apostles, because they follow the same capitalization rules. Art LaPella (talk) 03:26, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Stroganoff, where are they listed (or categorized) as "mythical or legendary creatures"?
Wavelength (talk) 19:42, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style#Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines: in the "Broad categories of mythical or legendary beings" section. Modal Jig (talk) 22:30, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
Thank you, Modal Jig. The mention of the Three Wise Men was added at 01:34, 22 September 2007, so there might be a discussion about it in the archived page for that time.
Wavelength (talk) 00:35, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
The archived page for that time appears to be Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 92, and I have searched for three wise men or magi in that one and a few before it and a few after it, but without success. When I searched for magi in the search box at the top of this page, I found only one result, namely Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 109#Allowable typographical changes in quotations (section 26), of June 2009.
Wavelength (talk) 01:05, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
My search was a little different, skimming this, but I didn't find a discussion either. Art LaPella (talk) 01:28, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps for some people, the Bible record (or the interpretation of it) does not support belief in some of the beings mentioned in it. Perhaps for some people, the fossil record (or the interpretation of it) does not support belief in some of the beings associated with it, such as Archaeopteryx, Eohippus, and Heidelberg Man. In each case, the "nonbelievers" might use the expression "mythical or legendary beings" among themselves in referring to the beings whose existence they question. However, I propose that the Manual of Style encourage commonality and that it use (where to the extent possible) expressions which are acceptable to all readers and editors.
Wavelength (talk) 01:32, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
[I am revising my use of a dangling modifier.
Wavelength (talk) 01:54, 14 September 2011 (UTC)]
Oh something like that, while recognizing that the absence of consensus for treating Eohippus as mythical (I don't think that even describes what serious creationists believe about what you can see in a museum) has often been demonstrated. Art LaPella (talk) 02:50, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
I should hope not. Eohippus appears in no myths or legends. I would add the word "religious" to the list. Certain people might be offended at seeing religious beings listed as mythical without qualification. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:51, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Eohippus appears in biological macroevolution, which some people consider to be a myth.
Wavelength (talk) 15:55, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Evolution, Wavelength is an issue of science rather than culture or even history. People have shown evidence that it is not a myth in ways that would not work for the Wise Men or griffons or Saint Christopher. In this case, the "some people" who think it is a myth are wrong. I read a book called The Myth of Continents once. This doesn't mean that the things that those people said about Africa and Asia and Australia were true. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:01, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Whether believers or nonbelievers in religious stories (and in some beings mentioned in them) are right or wrong, and whether believers or nonbelievers in stories of biological macroevolution (and in some beings mentioned in them) are right or wrong, I propose the use of neutral language, in harmony with a neutral presentation of views (NPOV). (The article "Metageography" has a link to, which discusses The Myth of Continents.)
Wavelength (talk) 16:13, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
I took a look at that "Myth of Evolution" site and this person doesn't seem to understand evolution very well. He or she thinks that no part of evolution has ever been observed, when we can see bacteria developing antibiotic resistance all the time and there's that case of the dark- and light-colored moths in England. This person thinks that all species must change constantly for evolution to be true, when many species undergo stabilizing selection. Alligators and crocodiles, for example, have stayed the same for millions of years because they are already very well adapted to their niche. The average crocodiles and alligators survive and have the most babies, and the outliers die off. If I were working on the Wikipedia article on evolution, Wavelength, I wouldn't consider this person's web site to be a reliable source. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:11, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
The peppered moth evolution and the development of antibiotic resistance are examples of biological microevolution, which might be considered to be true by some people who disbelieve biological macroevolution. The two external links which I provided in my message of 15:55, 14 September 2011 are to pages with evidence that some people consider biological macroevolution to be a myth. For that purpose within this discussion, they are reliable sources.
Wavelength (talk) 16:13, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
The author of "Myth of Evolution" has shown him/herself to be under several misconceptions about how evolution works. (The concepts of punctuated equilibrium and stabilizing selection would dispel some of this person's doubts, but he/she doesn't seem to have heard of them.) That means that his/her blog is not a good source for information on evolution. The only reliable information that can be gleaned from these sources is that there are at least two people who think that evolution is a myth. This falls into the same category as people who believe in Bigfoot. Is it 100% certain that Bigfoot doesn't exist? No. But we still put our BF in with the cryptids, not the hominids. We acknowledge that there are people who seriously and sincerely believe in something, and we acknowledge that they're probably wrong. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:19, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
It bears pointing out that wikt:myth, wikt:mythic, wikt:mythical are terms with rich variations of meaning in English. The OED entry goes back to a 1610 translation of Saint Augustine's Citie of God. As such, one might reasonably ask if the term can safely be used in WP without clarification. Myth isn't always fiction, but some readers will always take that as the intended meaning.LeadSongDog come howl! 14:52, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
We can't control how people will interpret words, especially if our use of them is correct, as is the case here. Powers T 14:57, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
No, but we can choose language usage that is not easily subject to misinterpretation. If we mean "of mythic proportion", or "as described in [Norse] mythology", then we can say so. Using the term to describe a component of a currently-held belief system such as "the myth of Adam and Eve" is akin to trolling: it will almost certainly lead to a believer in the Truth of the myth taking offence at the usage, which does nothing to advance the project. It is far better to use terminology which does not give offence if that can be done without the loss of meaning or the insertion of an inferred POV, such as "the biblical story of Adam and Eve".LeadSongDog come howl! 15:30, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
The problem here is that the term is 100% accurately when talking about, say, the myth of Adam and Eve. It's a religious narrative story about the origins of the world with supernatural characters in a time before written history. There's no way that that story is NOT a myth in the encyclopedic sense. Changing the phrasing is dumbing down of the encyclopedia to appease ignorant people, and when we do that for ignorant Christians but not people of other belief systems that is widespread POV pushing of the Christian worldview. It's systemic bias in the project. Just because a significant portion of editors here are Christian it doesn't mean we should bias the whole site toward their peculiarities. If someone can't be bothered to click the link to myth to find out what the word means, they should not be editing an encyclopedia or complaining about its contents. DreamGuy (talk) 14:17, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
DreamGuy, you're talking about "ignorant Christians" and "ignorant people", which seems to stray beyond the focus of this discussion. This is not about ignorance, and I agree with what LeadSongDog says. The word "myth" has multiple meanings, not just one; and some of those meanings indicate that the subject is imaginary, fictitious or invented. I don't see why there would be a problem with using "the biblical story of Adam and Eve" instead of "the myth of Adam and Eve"; the former is both neutral and descriptive. In terms of the three wise men, it should be noted that the biblical passage in which they appear doesn't specify that there were three of them, nor does it give their names; those elements come from other traditions. Omnedon (talk) 14:31, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
♦DreamGuy, I support the use of language which respects (to the extent possible) the belief decisions by holders of all beliefs (religious, philosophical, and scientific). Such respect by no means promotes or endorses those beliefs. The guideline can include a wide range of examples. See Wikipedia:Wikipedians by religion (redirected to and Category:Wikipedians by religion and Category:Wikipedians by philosophy. The Three Wise Men (redirected to Biblical Magi) are mentioned in the Bible at Matthew 2:1–12 (
Wavelength (talk) 18:26, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Let's talk about Greek myths and Norse myths and Hindu religious figures and Biblical stories. One can argue that the story of Adam and Eve is not a myth, but one cannot argue that it is not a story. In common speech, the word "myth" strongly implies that the subject is not real, which will offend people. There are neutral words that are also 100% accurate, so let's use those. And let's stop calling Christians ignorant, please. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:11, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Wait, how come Greek myths are "myths", but Christian myths are "stories"? Why not treat all fantastical legends the same? Powers T 19:50, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
The biggest reason that I can think of is that it's pretty freakin' rude. Let's assume for the sake of argument that the things that happen in the Bible do fit the literal definition of "myth." Well, saying "Your religion is full of myths" is like walking up to a fat person and saying "You sure are fat." Yes, it's true, but there are other ways to say it that are just as accurate. "Morbidly obese" is one. "Overweight" is another.
The other reason is that one can make the case that they do not fit this or that literal definition of "myth." Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:55, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
First of all, it's not rude, as pointed out above; whether they're accurate or completely made up or somewhere in between, the word still applies. Second of all, you didn't really address my point. I can understand avoiding the word "myth" because some people might get upset about it, but why not treat all myths the same? Why is it okay to call Hades mythological but not Satan? Powers T 20:14, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Because Hades isn't taken seriously in modern times (except as a name for Hell). Hence my suggestion of including djinn etc. We shouldn't call them myths either. Art LaPella (talk) 23:21, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Ah, now I get it. From the edit summary, I thought someone was suggesting that the Three Wise Men might have been djinn. --Trovatore (talk) 23:28, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm not interested in trying to split hairs as to which mythological figures are "taken seriously" and which ones aren't. We ought to treat them all the same. Powers T 23:35, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
But we would be. "mythical [, legendary] or religious beings" covers the whole list, without specifying whether the Minotaur is any more mythical than the Wise Men. It's the existing version that asserts that a specific religion is false, depending on which definition the reader uses. If an article were discussing black people that can't speak, it wouldn't call them "dumb blacks", just because it fits the formal definition of the word "dumb". Art LaPella (talk) 23:40, 15 September 2011 (UTC)
Just because something is true doesn't mean that it's not rude. Christians and Hindus and Zoroastrians will be offended if we describe their serious beliefs with the word "myth." There are other terms that are just as accurate that we can use, "mute" instead of "dumb" and "story" instead of "myth." As LTP points out, anyone who might be offended by the idea that Hercules or Freya is a myth are long dead. Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:09, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
There are some Germanic neopagans who would be quite shocked to hear that they are dead. Powers T 16:46, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
If Germanic neopagans object to calling fairies a myth, then that is an additional reason to make the change. Art LaPella (talk) 20:34, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Three Wise Men: revised

The present version has the following guideline at section 3 (Capital letters), subsection 3.3 (Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines), point 5.

  • Broad categories of mythical or legendary beings start with lower-case letters (elf, fairy, nymph, unicorn, angel), although in derived works of fantasy, such as the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien and real-time strategy video games, initial capitals are sometimes used to indicate that the beings form a culture or race in a fictional universe. Capitalize the names or titles of individual creatures (the Minotaur, Pegasus) and of groups whose name and membership are fixed (the Magi, or the Three Wise Men, the Cherubim). Generalized references are not capitalized (these priests; several wise men; cherub-like).

I invite editors to post improved versions of the guideline in this subsection.
Wavelength (talk) 00:50, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

"Broad categories of mythical, legendary, or religious beings start with lower-case letters (elf, fairy, nymph, djinn, angel) ..." (changes: "religious", "djinn") Art LaPella (talk) 01:22, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
I share your concerns but I'm not sure religious being exactly captures this, as it could be interpreted as talking about the piety of the being, rather than whether the being is discussed by a religion. Are the djinn religious? Could be some are and some aren't. --Trovatore (talk) 03:07, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
The beauty of adding the word "religious" to the list means that people are free to believe that djinn and angels are mythical or that they are religious without thinking that the list is any less accurate. As for your concern, I see what you mean. How about beings from myths, legends, and religious narratives? Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:12, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, that's better. --Trovatore (talk) 03:16, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
OK. Art LaPella (talk) 03:18, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Minor point — all the others in that list are singular, but djinn is plural. Should maybe be djinni? --Trovatore (talk) 05:51, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
But "djinn" isn't supposed to be capitalized whether it's plural or not. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:43, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Sure, but that's not my point. It's not a parallel list of examples. Should be either elf, fairy, djinni or elves, fairies, djinn. --Trovatore (talk) 17:45, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
On another point, why capitalize cherubim? I don't know that I've ever seen it that way. I'm not sure exactly what "membership is fixed" is supposed to mean, but wouldn't that also apply to the djinn? I don't know that I've ever heard of a djinni being born or dying. If "fixed" means "we have an explicit list of all the members", that does not apply to the cherubim. --Trovatore (talk) 03:21, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
The lack of parallelism serves a purpose. By giving both plural and singular examples, we should that the capitalization rules apply regardless of whether the subject is singular or plural. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:10, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I suspect that "Cherubim" refers to the pair guarding the Garden of Eden, not cherubim in general. That's not at all clear from the example. But I think it's also a bad example: You would conclude that if the word were "guards", that should also be capitalized, because there's still a fixed number.
"I have heard it said, The seraphs love most—cherubim know most." (Byron) — kwami (talk) 03:33, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Suggestions for fixing it? Maybe just remove the example entirely? --Trovatore (talk) 05:50, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

I have a better idea: let's just cull this amount of detail away from WP:MOS. If I need WP:MOSCAPS, I know where to find it. Section “Capital letters” of WP:MOS is 50% the size of the whole WP:MOSCAPS itself, and an overview which is half the size of the unabridged real thing is obviously too large.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 10:29, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

It would make more sense to delete MOSCAPS and transfer any necessary information here. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:43, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Why, is 147,793 bytes in one page not enough?
A. di M.plédréachtaí 17:30, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I support MoS centralization because putting all the style rules in one place makes them easy to find. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:04, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Can REFPUNC be merged into PAIC?

Discussion at WT:Manual of Style/Footnotes seems to have converged on a decision to liquidate that page, and merge its contents to Help:Footnotes and WP:Citing sources. The only thing from that page that doesn't really belong at either of those places is the section that tells us to put references (and other footnotes, presumably) after adjacent punctuation (with a few exceptions such as dashes). This section is WP:REFPUNC. Does anyone object to moving that section to here, the main MoS page? The topic is summarized here already (WP:PAIC), and the summary is just about as long as the original, so moving REFPUNC here will hardly increase the size of this page at all.--Kotniski (talk) 09:39, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

  • Support — That seems a good place for it. We can refere to it from the help page. -— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 12:24, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

"first floor": Europe vs USA conventions: how help reader?

The article Castle Howard contains the phrase "first floor" and it uses it in the European way, so readers from the USA will misunderstand the article (USA readers will incorrectly conclude the article is talking about the ground floor). Does WP have some convention to ensure that readers from both USA and Europe will get the correct information. Maybe parenthesis: "... on the first floor (called the second floor in the United States) .."? I cannot find any discussion of this in the MOS talk archives, but it must be there somewhere. I know there is a WP guideline that says, when it comes to UK vs USA English (e.g color vs colour) either one is okay (although an article should use one term consistently), but those kinds of "either or" choices are harmless. "first floor" and "second floor" actually have two very different meanings in UK vs USA, so WP should not just let editors pick one and leave it at that. --Noleander (talk) 13:54, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Some other articles that have similar misleading issues (usually with "first storey") include Dolbadarn Castle (but does say "first storey, not at ground level", so not too misleading), Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church, Vrana Palace , Regent and Warwick House, Svetlin Rusev Donative Exhibition, 3–31 Northgate Street, Chester, Soholt Castle, Qutb complex, Pearl Bank Apartments . --Noleander (talk) 14:15, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
The same confusion once also existed within Germany. While nowadays the first floor is above ground level except perhaps in some dialects, usage was once mixed. (E.g. some public buildings in Baden still use the old local numbering system which has the first floor at ground level.) The solution in German is to speak of Erdgeschoss (ground floor) and n-tes Obergeschoss (n-th upper floor). As this usage is probably not common in English (yet?), I suggest the following for articles that use this floor numbering scheme:
  • "ground floor"
  • "first (upper) floor"
  • "second (upper) floor"
  • etc.
Hans Adler 14:52, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
That sounds an excellent solution, at least for articles written in British English. Not sure it would be acceptable in American English (but there, can we not get away with using "storey"? Now I've just realised I don't even know myself whether "second storey" means first or second floor in British English.) --Kotniski (talk) 15:16, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps because Seattle is so hilly, my experience is that literal ground level on the uphill side differs from the downhill side, hence floor names are somewhat arbitrary, and renaming them to fit a system would surely cause more confusion than clarity. (US English: "nth floor" or sometimes "story" but never "storey".) Art LaPella (talk) 15:23, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
That German convention of "first (upper) floor" does not make sense to my ears (or brain). As a life-long US resident, I've never heard that phrase. I only know "ground floor", "first floor", "first story", etc. So adopting that German convention would cause more confusion than it solves, at least to US readers. As for the Seattle issue, yes, perhaps floor numbering is a bit arbitrary in hilly areas, or in skyscrapers, but the fact remains that a few dozen WP articles are using the phrase "first story" or "first floor" to convey specific information to the readers. We should find a way to help readers from US and Europe get the meaning that the article authors intended. --Noleander (talk) 16:16, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Of course "first upper floor" is not idiomatic. That's why I proposed putting "upper" in parentheses so one can think of it as being a silent explanation of what is meant. Since there is only one sensible way of enumerating "upper floors", this should take care of the ambiguity. In the worst case a reader will be confused, but that's still better than when Americans read "He ran up the stairs to the first floor" and think the person in question must have started in the cellar (i.e. what they call a basement). This discussion is about making sure that our articles written in British English cannot be misunderstood by readers who only know American English. Using American English in articles about the UK or Ireland is not an acceptable option. Hans Adler 17:12, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
No, I was not proposing using US conventions in articles about UK buildings. I was thinking about something like "... on the first storey (second storey in the US convention)..." or something similar. --Noleander (talk)
I think that's rather clumsy for something rather unimportant, and personally I would prefer "on the first floor above the ground floor" or "on the second floor including the ground floor". Both conventions are spread over the globe, and we should not pretend that either of them is tied to any one geographic region.
We could also use linking, but this does not work in print. Contrived example: "The third floor in New York corresponds to the second floor in London and the first floor in Barcelona." (The last one would have to be written for the purpose.) Hans Adler 17:24, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
I guess if you're talking a lot about levels of buildings in a single article, then at the first instance you can be explicit and say something like (to take the example of a British English article): "on the second floor (i.e. the second upper storey[1])" with an even more rambling footnote saying "1. This article uses the British floor numbering convention; what is called the second floor here would be the third floor in the American system", and then just write the British way from then on.--Kotniski (talk) 17:45, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, those are the kinds of solutions I was looking for. So far we have either (a) parenthetical comment whenever it occurs (perhaps multiple times in an article); or (b) a footnote the first time it occurs, and explain in the footnote; or (c) parenthetical comment and footnote on first occurrence within any given article. --Noleander (talk) 20:39, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
We should not invent new conventions just for Wikipedia, adapted from German or otherwise. How about this? "The apartment was on the first floor (U.S. second floor)," for articles in British English and "The apartment was on the second floor (U.K. first floor)" for articles in American English. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:12, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Number sign plural

Is there specific advice regarding the use of the number sign as a plural? Even in the Numero sign article, I can't find any specific advice about how to use the No. symbol in plural form. Is the abbreviation Nos. appropriate? e.g. discussing a sports trade involving two draft picks, could this be formatted as "in exchange for draft picks Nos. 36 and 53". Whatever the solution, I think it is worth including as a specific example in the MoS. Aspirex (talk) 01:42, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

It's not the Spanish wiki. Use #. Problem solved. ;) — LlywelynII 02:30, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
It's not the exclusively US wiki either. Kevin McE (talk) 11:21, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Are you aware of WP:NUMBERSIGN? Art LaPella (talk) 06:08, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I, for one, hadn't been: thanks. But that page offers no specific answer to Aspirex's question about a plural. Kevin McE (talk) 11:21, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
It does now. Lightmouse (talk) 18:02, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Was there an established style that you had in mind in making that unilateral change? In my experience, Nos is more common. Kevin McE (talk) 07:45, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
It seems to me that by default, singular spelling can be used for plural. If that's not the case, feel free to revert. Lightmouse (talk) 18:13, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Or rather than editwar over it, we can discuss here what would seem to be the correct policy to post, based on reliably sourced good practice. Kevin McE (talk) 18:19, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Poll on ArbCom resolution - Ireland article names

There is a poll taking place here on whether or not to extend the ArbCombinding resolution, which says there may be no page move discussions for Ireland, Republic of Ireland or Ireland (disambiguation), for a further two years. Fmph (talk) 20:20, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style — archived discussions


From the page Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style, some interesting discussions as recent as 8 days have been removed and moved to "Archive 125". This archive page says :

This is an archive of past discussions. Do not edit the contents of this page. If you wish to start a new discussion or revive an old one, please do so on the current talk page.

This is a bad idea. A lot of discussions started 8 days ago or even 2000 years ago and are still relevant and are being hotly discussed today.

Furthermore, on the Talk page there are links to archives only until "Archive 48", there is no link to the "Archive 125". --Nnemo (talk) 22:16, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

The second issue was mentioned, at 12:54, 7 September 2011 (UTC), in a discussion now archived at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 125#Most recent archives. —Wavelength (talk) 22:56, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
If we never archived, we would have collected about 15 megabytes of discussion on this page, which would cause technical problems when trying to load it. See also WP:Archive, paragraph 1. Art LaPella (talk) 23:19, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
If needed, let's split this page regarding subject, not regarding date. --Nnemo (talk) 23:50, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
A general journal records transactions according to date, whereas a ledger records transactions according to account. Bookkeepers use both types of record. —Wavelength (talk) 00:03, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
And we don't. It would be silly to keep two complete, separate archives and the time-dependent one (if ever needed) is maintained by the page's history log. — LlywelynII 02:24, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I whole-heartily agree with Nnemo's suggestion. See WP:REFACTOR. The current system for this page is woefully inappropriate. — LlywelynII 02:24, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I think Nnemo's suggestion is to reorganize all the archives by topic, not what WP:REFACTOR describes. The Search box below the Archive 48 link can also be used to find archives that fit a specific topic, so I'm not sure another system would really be used. However, if anyone thinks we need another set of archives sorted by topic, I think they would be welcome to volunteer. Art LaPella (talk) 06:06, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Isn't this what WP:Manual of Style/Register was supposed to be for? That page has received only one non-minor edit so far this year, so if anyone has time they want to devote to topic-based archiving, that might be a place to start. But I rather suspect that no-one has. Realistically, we just have to accept what the automated tools can do for us, and then use the Search function to search the archives for specific topics. --Kotniski (talk) 11:23, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Nnemo, the bot archives discussion based on the date of the last contribution, not the first. No discussion that has had any contribution within the last week gets archived. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:18, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Week !? That's way too short.
--Nnemo (talk) 15:01, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
The set of links to the archived pages was removed at 11:31, 3 September 2011.
Wavelength (talk) 23:23, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I am revising the heading of this section from Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style : archived discussions to Links to archives of this page, in order to enable the function of the arrow link in the page history and in watchlists. The colon between spaces in a section heading seems to cause technical problems, and I used this opportunity to shorten the heading also. Simply removing the first space or using parentheses produces a heading which might be mistaken for the talk page of a subpage.
Wavelength (talk) 14:39, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
The archive box with links to the first 48 archive pages was added at 12:39, 6 September 2011. I do not know why it has only the first 48.
Wavelength (talk) 16:54, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Following here of this discussion. --Nnemo (talk) 15:32, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

What's the process for deciding which pages become part of MOS?

I notice that Wikipedia:Trinidad and Tobago Wikipedians' notice board/Style guide says it's part of MOS. What's the process for deciding which pages become part of MOS? Lightmouse (talk) 08:19, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

See this exhaustive discussion (and summary of previous discussions): Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 123#RFC: Should all subsidiary pages of the Manual of Style be made subpages of WP:MOS? By the way, this is Archive 123, and the navigation box to the archives at the top of this page only goes to Archive 48. —— Shakescene (talk) 11:59, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. For me, the archive search box is the best way to access archives. Unless you know the content of the numbered archives, they're redundant. Lightmouse (talk) 13:16, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
"Hidden" MOS pages such as this can cause problems, especially if someone is adding an article to a whole series of countries, for example "Geology of XXXX". Are they expected to look for an article that is part of the MOS, even if it is not a subpage of WP:MOS? I think it desireable that all parts of MOS be subpages of WP:MOS and part fo the WP:MOS structure. Martinvl (talk) 17:00, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
It certainly does cause problems: I've discovered quite a few of these little corners that have helped themselves to a MoS badge. Tony (talk) 13:45, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Should there be a paragraph at the start of WP:MOS that explicitly gives the scope of the MOS and all of its subpages, emphasising that anything in WP:MOS or its subpages takes precedence over MOS pages that might be hidden somewhere in Wikpedia itself? Alternatively, a note that any editor who wishes to verify the "House style" need look no further than the WP:MOS and its subpages? Martinvl (talk) 16:44, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

Numeric archives

I find archive search boxes useful. I've never discovered a function for lists of numeric archives. We have not one, but two numeric lists! What proportion of users know the contents of archives by number? Lightmouse (talk) 13:57, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

On less busy pages they can be useful. In pathological cases like here they are obviously less so. I've tidied them a bit. Chris Cunningham (user:thumperward) - talk 14:23, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
They can be useful, for example, for finding recently-archived threads (which will be in the last few archives, and if you know how long ago they were archived you can guess which one).
A. di M.plédréachtaí 00:00, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Sections and subsections

The section on subsections does not indicate whether or not an editor should create a single subsection under a primary section header. Standard APA style says that if you have 1 subsection then you must have at least a second subsection, otherwise there shouldn't be a reason to separate the information from its primary header. Now, I thought that Wikipedia primarily followed the APA style of writing. Either way, I see inconsistency across articles with this, some have single subsections (which to mean looks ridiculous) and some don't. I think this is certainly something that needs to be specifically addressed.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 21:31, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Such subsections sometimes make sense. To isolate a particular subject of the section. In a section HIV, I can write first general stuff about the virus, and then a subsection AIDS.
Furthermore, every Wikipedia article is perpetually in progress. I can make today a first subsection, for one particular subject, and 6 months later someone else, or me, can write a second subsection, for one other particular subject. Don't demolish the house while it's still being built.
--Nnemo (talk) 23:44, 16 September 2011 (UTC)
Articles might be a work in progress, but when an article is up for FA status such work shouldn't be in so much progress by that point. As for your example, why would AIDS be a subsection of HIV when AIDS is a separate disease. HIV may cause AIDS, but they are not the same disease and thus makes sense to separate them out. APA style, which is the primary style articles are written in, even states that there shouldn't be a reason to say "1a" without a "1b" because if you're "writing general stuff" about something then that should be a subsection itself on "general stuff", with a second subsection on "specific" stuff.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 00:26, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
As I have just indicated on your talk page after your recent edits, it is perfectly acceptable to have a single sub clause as it is a method of isolating study of one particular element over other, less important factors. Whilst Wiki broadly follows APA, it does not do so slavishly and allows some flexibility within the system. - SchroCat (^@) 04:22, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Again, it makes better sense (as APA style even explains) to identify the other information under a second subsection. Not only is this better organization, but stylistically it's far more appealing to look at.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:40, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Putting systematically the "general stuff" in a subsection would be heavy. How to call it ? General stuff ? Not very happy. Sometimes, this is only a few sentences giving general info on the subject. So transform this into an Introduction subsection ? Really heavy.
--Nnemo (talk) 14:57, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
If the "general stuff" was only a couple of sentences then why separate the next information at all and just have the "few sentences" acts as the opening of the single section? By separating a few sentences and creating a subsection for the meat of the overall section then you just look like you don't know how to organize content. Just to provide some perspective, I brought this up after contention was raised at Dr. No. If you look at Dr. No (film)#Casting you'll see that we're not talking about "just a few sentences". The stuff I separated into "Secondary cast" was actually the start of that section and "James Bond" was a single subsection. You're saying that structurally, it made better sense to leave it like this?  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 12:59, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
Frankly, I prefer the section like this. "Secondary cast" is really not a nice name. In the intro, short or long, let's talk about the casting of the film, including, but not limited to, the non-007 roles. And, in subsection "James Bond", we make a focus on the casting for the 007 role. We can also have no subsection at all. But having a "James Bond" subsection helps the reader who wants to learn specifically about 007's casting. Especially, s/he can jump from the article's table of contents to the "James Bond" subsection.
--Nnemo (talk) 20:11, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── There's way more information on the other cast for it to be considered an "intro". You don't have to call it "Secondary cast", you can name it whatever you want, but the point is that the original way is really just the singling out of one specific character. You don't typically find that in other film pages. Batman (1989 film), Spider-Man (film), Batman Begins, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween (1978 film) don't isolate their main characters in the casting section like that, and those characters are just as iconic as James Bond. I'm sure there are pages that do it, but it's not typical because it is not only asthetically unappealing, but doesn't even make organizational sense. If you have to separate him out so that "readers can jump right to it", then separate it as its own section under "Production", completely separate from "Casting". The point is, rarely are you ever going to find a reason to disregard APA style and have a single subsection, and even when you do there is probably a better way to present the information than that.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 23:18, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Been away for a while and only just picking up on this. Bignole, I seriously think you're in danger of throwing out the bathwater with the baby just to try and force this through. Try and ignore the Dr. No point for a while and think of an article where there is sufficient information for a section in its own right, but 90% of which is focussed on a specific point. Are you seriously suggesting that there should be a sub-section for perhaps one line and another sub-section for the remaining 2-3 paragraphs? That way madness lies, I'm afraid. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a section heading, a paragraph or two and then one sub-section dealing with a specific element.
I should also add that the aesthetics do not enter into the equation – they are, after all, only skin deep. If they did enter into the argument, then personally I really hate seeing:
2.1 Smaller title
To me there should be something there by way of introduction or explanation - aesthetically if nothing else. All something of a moot point as aesthetics are not something upon which an encyclopaedia should be basing its layout.
I should also add something about putting Casting under Production: why?! There is more than enough information about the casting process to justify its existence, so why would you merge it with another large section? Or are you suggesting having a Casting section (for the "secondary" cast) AND a section in Production about the casting of Connery? Even worse! - SchroCat (^@) 19:39, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
If 90% of the information is about one subject then why separate it at all. If you label it say "Casting" then you're going to assume that's what you're going to talk about. If most of the casting info is about 1 person (in the case of "Dr. No", more info may be on Connery's role, but not compared to all the casting information as a whole) then so be it. You don't need to separate that one person out just because most of your information is about them. It seems odd that you would single out just one aspect of the topic if it was so disparaging in percentages. If it's a 50/50 split, then separate them into 2 subjects. If it's a 90/10 split then why separate it at all in the first place? This is not a case of a brief summary of the section that precedes a subsection. This is about a section that discusses specific elements where only one gets separated simply because there is a bit more information about that one element. In the case of Dr. No, the other casting information is neither a summary nor is it "general" information. It's just as specific as the info on Connery, just specific to each of the other roles.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 22:25, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
You're still missing the point: ignore Dr. No. You're saying that in all articles, if a section has a sub-section, there must be two, not just one of them. Why must there be two (or more)? Things don't always fall neatly like that and sometimes having a small intro putting something into context, or dealing with one or two minor points before moving on to the main, bigger point necessitates having just one sub-section and doing otherwise is simply adding an increased level of formatting just to fit in with a hypothetical context and not the realities of what is being written. You ask why separate if 90% is about one subject: it's for exactly that reason. If only a line or two are akin, but not directly pertinent to, a subject then of course they should be in the same section, but logically cannot be in the same sub-section - they are different enough that they need to so separated somehow, but still fall within the larger aegis of the full section. - SchroCat (^@) 00:31, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Ignoring Dr. No and it's 50/50 split of information (which seems to me to perfectly fit a rationale for separating into 2 subsections), the reason in general is because it's about organization of content. If you're talking about planets, and for some reason you an equal amount of information on Saturn as you do on the other planets it wouldn't make sense to separate Saturn out just because of that. The entire section is devoted to planets as a whole. Saturn is a planet just as Earth is a planet. The fact that Earth is talked about for 1 paragraph and Saturn for 3 paragraphs doesn't mean that Saturn needs or should be separated into its own subsection. The point of a subsection is to discuss a similar, but not identical aspect of the overall subject, not simply to separate information that is merely "long". For instance, Jason Voorhees#Concept and creation discusses the make-up work used to create the character, the casting of the actors/stuntman, and the specific writing that went into creating the character. It wouldn't make sense to leave one of those sections without a subheading just because it was smaller than the other. It's a specific topic under that overall theme. Now, if you go down further, "In popular culture" is 1 single section. I wouldn't separate television information by itself just because there's 2 paragraphs for it, and then leave musical impact, merchandising, and other pop culture items stuck together because individually they don't have 2 paragraphs worth of information like the television stuff does. If I was going to separate TV, then I'd separate the others, because they are still distinct topics, even if they don't have as much info as the TV topic.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 02:59, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
You're still not seeing the bigger picture and still concentrating on those sections where there is or may be an equal division of information to spread between sub-sections whilst ignoring any other possibilities. Let's look at Transformers (film) – an FA standard article. A main section on Cast and a sub-section on voices. Why? Because it makes sense to do it that way. The same things holds true for the 9 Release and reception / 9.1 Accolades subsection on Alien (film) and the 5 Release and reception / 5.1 Box office subsection on Chicago (2002 film). Sometimes having a single sub-section just makes sense within the framework of an article and if you start imposing an overly-constraining framework on articles then they will end up as a morass of sections and sub-sections that will be unwieldy and over-complicated. The single sub-section allows a sensible, professional level organization to the content whilst retaining a readable flow throughout articles. - SchroCat (^@) 08:28, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Same thing. Why is it that on Transformers you cannot separate the other information as "Actors" and "Voices"? With Alien, "Accolades" can easily just be a primary section all by itself. With Chicago, that should be separated as "Critical reception" and "Box office". For the majority of your examples, the framework actually provides a better avenue through the addition of another subsection. So again, that is even why APA says avoid it if possible and provides suggestions to either find a way to create a second subsection or leave it all under the primary umbrella. If absolutely necessary, use a single subsection, but each your examples show how you can create a section subsection and actually create a better organization of the information.  BIGNOLE  (Contact me) 13:22, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm going to leave you to keep going on at this because it seems like we're just not going to agree on it and we're going over the same ground. For example, Accolades could be a section in itself, but fits more logically in the Release and reception section. Again "Box office" could be in a separate section, but having a two and a half line section is stretching the concept of sections to breaking point and so it sits better as a sub-section. Although Wiki is based upon the APA it does not slavishly follow it (otherwise the Headings, for example, would be done on a completely different basis). APA is a flawed style (they all are in one way or another, to be fair) and to slavishly try and force things where they don't need to go leads to an unnaturally flowing article that becomes stilted and bitty. - SchroCat (^@) 13:42, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Quite often, we have a section about some event, and, at its end, a subsection about its consequences : "Consequences", or "Aftermath". Or "Media reactions" ; thus separating fact from comment. Or the section explains a theory, and at its end, we have a subsection dedicated to what some people think of that theory, like "Criticism". Or "Controversy", or "Opponents' viewpoint".
--Nnemo (talk) 21:58, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Now suppose there is only planet, Saturn. That makes sense to isolate it, doesn't that ?
--Nnemo (talk) 21:58, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
"If it's a 50/50 split, then separate them into 2 subjects."
But what if it's a 10/5/5/10/5/5/10/50 split ? Some presentation of the matter, general stuff, and a bunch of small bits of info about specific aspects of the matter, and then a big subsection about a specific aspect of the subject, an aspect about which there is a lot to say. Usually, in this case, we put directly in the section everything except the big subsection, and then the big aspect in its own subsection. I find that neat. Instead of the stuff directly in the section, you want a zillion of tiny subsections, including one poorly-named "General talk" or "Presentation" or "Intro" ? Or, for the stuff that lies directly in the section, you want a first subsection called "Bunch" ? ;-) That would make reading rather cluttered, just to follow a rigid rule that I had never heard about and whose rationale I don't see.
--Nnemo (talk) 21:58, 21 September 2011 (UTC)


See Wikipedia:MOSQUOTE#Block_quotations - specifically - currently it says "and especially avoid decorative quotation marks in normal use, such as those provided by the template:cquote template, which are reserved for pull quotes" - this advice is being ignore on a wide scale, and some editors seem convinced it is wrong. (For more details of how this came to my attention see Wikipedia:Templates_for_discussion#Template:Cquote (September 18 2011)

It's clear than many people like template:cquote in article space. I think the MOS may need to be revised or some working practice decided on. I also note that there may well be too many quotation templates, and some re-organisation and culling required , see Category:Quotation templates.

My personal view is that it doesn't make sense having some articles using ccquote while the rest use the plainer template:quote. Maybe we could decide on best practice.Imgaril (talk) 16:51, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Just off-hand, I would concur that {{cquote}} is not appropriate for normal run-of-the-mill blockquotes. The large quotation marks are too eye-catching for that purpose. However, I'm not sure restricting them to pull quotes—that is, quotations that are already found elsewhere in the text—is necessary either; there could be a role for more decorative inline quotations. Powers T 17:14, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
I would personally recommend template:quotation - there appears to be a demand for a 'better looking' quote than template:quote - the template could be a good compromise - I would imagine those who like the use of cquote would have no issues with it - here is an example of it in use Augustine_of_Hippo - it puts a nice box around the quote, looks tidy, and avoids issues which some have (I understand the objection) with those big quotation marks.
As for 'decorative use' - perhaps the use could be suggested as restricted to Aphorisms and Epigrams ? something like that - ie memorable quotes probably in public collective conciousness - something like that??Imgaril (talk) 19:09, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

While the main aim of a Manual of Style is to be prescriptive of styles, in a collaborative project like Wikipedia that can't be absolute. A provision which is so widely ignored has been vetoed by the community and can't really stand as part of the Manual of Style. I think that is so with the use of {{cquote}}. Sam Blacketer (talk) 18:26, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

There is the possibility that people are just using it in error - also the deletion procedure we saw tends to draw attention from those who have already used the template in articles they are involved in. I don't actually have any real objection to it's use though I would like better standardisation. What I would like to know is if people who used the template would be bothered if it were replace by template:quotation. That's my basic thoughts, I'll try to refrain from hogging the discussion and see what others say.Imgaril (talk) 19:09, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
Honestly, I find {{quotation}} even worse. Boxes should be reserved for pull quotes, as the solid border cuts the content off from the rest of the prose. Powers T 20:30, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
Well said, Sam. I concur. — Hex (❝?!❞) 00:02, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Sam, all style guides are both prescriptive and descriptive. Tony (talk) 06:53, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
...but some are more descriptive than others, and some are more prescriptive than others.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 23:10, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

I'd be wary of confusing ignorance of a guideline with non-acceptance of it. Part of the reason I've been trying to cut down on the sheer number of different quotation templates we have ({{quote box}} had about five forks at one point) is that with seemingly endless choice as to which template to use, editors are naturally going to think they're at their leisure to choose whichever template has the prettiest colours. By using a finite set of well-defined quote templates we can endeavour to teach editors by example which template to use in which situation, and thus better track inappropriate uses (for that reason I'd actually much prefer for {{pull quote}} to be labelled as such). Chris Cunningham (user:thumperward) - talk 13:28, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

What Chris said. Do we need a sub-page to list and review all the quotation templates? Perhaps with a centralised discussion? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 14:49, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I'd fix template:pull quote now as it is mostly unused. Possibly a sensible idea to simply duplicate "cqoute" at "pull quote", and then ask those that are using "cquote" as a true pull quote to swap over - this separates the wheat from the chaff.
I'm not that keen on wading into this potential quagmire. Please feel free to take this forward - I generally support a cull of the templates, and will support that sort of thing - if only so that a consistent style usage can be easily maintained. As for cquote , my feeling we need to follow what people can agree on, I don't have any strong feelings on whether using a "pull quote style" for a non-pull quote is right or wrong.Imgaril (talk) 19:46, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

I've updated the MoS to reflect current practice, it's a nonsense to act as if something there's no consensus for is actual policy. (talk) 16:46, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure that change is yet valid - it's clear a lot of people use cquote, but more people have used a "correct" template - what also needs to be seen is if those people using cquote insist upon it, or are unaware that in terms of "standard typesetting practice" (outside wikipedia) they have done it wrong. I reverted your change for now.
It should be noted that so far the majority of people who have commented (ie at the "template for deletion" discussion) - are mainly those that have been using cquote in articles - a very unbalance selection if we want to get community consensus (it's like asking at wikiproject:pokemon if Pokémon Organized Play is a notable topic - that will produced skewed results.)
NB scare quotes are not used to imply judgement, simply to qualify parts that may be subject to debate. Imgaril (talk) 19:31, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
When there's controversy, and it's uncertain what'll happen, the guideline should reflect that by being permissive. We could note that there will be discussions about it, but what we shouldn't do is write the guideline as if it WASN'T controversial at all. There's certainly no consensus for taking a hard line on this. (talk) 00:15, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
I've placed a template:under discussion on the page over the prior guidance. Kindly don't arbitrarily change things. The recent discussion was closed to not delete the cquote/rquote templates; it was not a dicission to change the guideline. Fact is, people are mis-using these template. As I said, there is more then a century of typographical convention to use the decorative form of quotation for pull quotes. You can't change that by any wiki-discussion; it just /is/.  —Portuguese Man o' War 03:10, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

NO Internal consistancy

"An overriding principle is that style and formatting choices should be consistent within a Wikipedia article, though not necessarily throughout Wikipedia as a whole. Consistency within an article promotes clarity and cohesion." I noticed internal consistency has been removed along with the used MOS:CONSISTENCY and WP:CONSISTENCY links. Is that deliberate? We can now refer to something by different variations of it's names within the same article even the same sentence. That's going to improve quality - NOT. Regards, SunCreator (talk) 21:49, 20 September 2011 (UTC)

I don't think it's deliberate: the new text still contains the sentence "Consistency in style and formatting promotes clarity and cohesion; this is especially important within an article". I just think Tony went a little too far in trimming the content. If anything we need a header and shortcut for this particular point, for ease of reference. Chris Cunningham (user:thumperward) - talk 06:42, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Against widespread complaints that the MoS is too long (a sentiment with which I agree). The opening had exploded into a mass of subsections, most of them bloat. It needed to be expressed in a short, tight lead. If an editor wants to refer to the within-article consistency principle, why not just refer to "the lead of WP:MOS"? Better than having to learn four shortcuts, as there were before, don't you think? Tony (talk) 06:51, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Here's a thought. Tony trimmed what he thought was fat. If you, SunC, think Tony hit something that was flesh instead of fat, then just put it back. Collective improvement is how WikiP is supposed to work. But since you were kind enough to come here and check, no there was no discussion and decision that intra-article consistency should be removed from the MoS. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:35, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Cutting the general principles because the MOS is too long strikes me as akin to shaving someone's head because they are overweight.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 23:17, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Infobox templates

A majority of pages (whether it is a biography, company, organization, etc) that contains an infobox template, in the location field specifically, guidelines clearly state: city, state and country (for the United States). Along with other countries (Canada, Spain, England, Germany, etc), these articles would most likely use the city, province and country inside the box, or city and country. Some examples: Best Buy, Target Corporation, Bayer, Jim Carrey, Jessica Alba, etc. A majority of pages on here use this format (Manchester, England; not just Manchester, or Paris, France, or Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.). For the United States, WP:Place talks about using the city and state only, without mentioning the US in the body of the article. It does NOT state anywhere, that the term US should not be included inside the article's infobox location field. Any thoughts? Tinton5 (talk) 19:50, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

I believe the country needs to be specified in the infobox. As you have mentioned elsewhere, if it is omitted, then that can cause formatting problems with some infoboxes. Then, too, in an international encyclopedia, I feel it's reasonable to specify the country and not assume that the reader is going to know this. Omnedon (talk) 21:13, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Separate from the infobox issue, I may well be missing something, but does WP:Place actually address omitting the country from the body of the article? It's primarily about naming conventions. Omnedon (talk) 21:43, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
Omnedon, I couldn't find anything explicit in PLACE when I was reading through it. My guess is that it's targeted towards article titles only. I glanced at several major (and some not-so-major) city articles, and I'm seeing the country mentioned in the article fairly early, plus mentioned in the infobox. I don't see a problem with mentioned the country in articles when a specific place is key to the article subject (company X is headquartered in A, B, C) and support having the country in the infobox as a general rule.
Tinton5 has been in a dispute about this with Jojhutton and requested some help at WP:DRN. I'm hoping that Jojhutton will comment here and a collective approach can be determined. Ravensfire (talk) 23:13, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
My main concern is that including all three levels often exceeds the available space and causes unaesthetic wrapping (e.g., Target Corporation). Powers T 23:20, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
(Disclaimer: I've come here from the DRN thread.) I am in favour of including the country in the infobox. We can always fix the formatting problems that come with omitting the country, so that doesn't seem so important to me. The argument that I find the most persuasive is that our international readers may not be familiar with US states, and I can't see that there's any guarantee that such readers would click on the state link to enlighten themselves. The wrapping issue doesn't bother me all that much - I think that putting transparency before formatting is a worthwhile trade-off here. — Mr. Stradivarius 07:51, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I think that should be decided on a case-by-case basis, depending on how well known the state is. All but a non-sizeable minority of readers will know that California is in the US, so Santa Cruz, California will suffice, but a non-negligible number of readers will have no idea what country Nayarit is, so Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico would be entirely justified.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 09:38, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, case by case. There's a certain sense that place-names on WP (whether in infoboxes or main text) are like addresses on postal envelopes. I see many examples of convoluted, clunky full addresses where just "Los Angeles" or "New York CIty" or "San Fransisco" will be known to every English-speaker, and many others besides. Who wants to have to wade through "Los Angeles, California, United States", or "New York, New York, US". Give the readers a break. Tony (talk) 10:08, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure that including the nation in the infobox will involve the reader in "wading through" very much. Surely the nation should be specified somewhere. Omnedon (talk) 14:39, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
Note: User:Tony has been removing this information as well. It certainly is not clunky or cluttered information. I mean, it is not like we are adding in an entire saga here, it's just a simple piece of text that will help readers identify where the location is, regardless if it is in the US or not. We cannot assume that every reader will know where Seminole, Florida is. They may be living in another country. Adding the country is more thorough. Tinton5 (talk) 18:10, 7 September 2011 (UTC)
And "San Marino, Europe" is more thorough than just "San Marino", so should continents be a rule also? The thought is that Florida is better known internationally than San Marino, even though the latter is a country. Art LaPella (talk) 01:06, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Wow, you make a great point. Hadn't even thought about the continent. If necessary, that example would surely influence someone to clarify where that location is. Tinton5 (talk) 04:07, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
The real point is that general rules don't work. You wouldn't write "Seminole, Florida, United States, North America, Earth, Solar System ..." and perhaps Florida, U.S. has the same problem. Art LaPella (talk) 05:10, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Another logical point. That would be considered clutter. Tinton5 (talk) 16:00, 8 September 2011 (UTC)
Generally, we should put the country in the infobox unless it appears early in the article text. Deciding case by case is a good approach. California is well known, but Delaware is not. And beware of touchy US states like Washington or Georgia.
--Nnemo (talk) 23:10, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
I agree about Georgia, but if someone doesn't know that there is a US state called Washington distinct from the District of Columbia (and several thousand miles away from it), writing Aberdeen, Washington, US isn't going to help.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 09:55, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Yep, Washington state is at the other end of the US. That is why we say and would write Washington state and Washington DC, no, to distinguish them ? We definitely need to write geography from a global point of view. I had never heard about an Aberdeen outside of Scotland.
--Nnemo (talk) 12:46, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Isn't there a rather big city named Angeles in the Philippines ? If an infobox just says Los Angeles, what about a young teenager, who has never travelled outside his native Philippines, reading the article ?
--Nnemo (talk) 23:08, 9 September 2011 (UTC)
I think they are overwhelmingly likely to have heard about a major city in the US called Los Angeles (and would make similar assumptions for most of the cities listed here), though people should never underestimate the ignorance and stupidity of fellow human beings.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 09:55, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
Let's look at a more minor (and perhaps more typical) example. Grace College is in Winona Lake, Indiana, USA. If the "country" field isn't populated, it leaves a hanging comma. As Mr. Stradivarius points out, issues like that could be resolved within the template; but it seems entirely reasonable in an international encyclopedia to specify the nation somewhere in an article like that. I also don't see that wrapping causes a problem here. Omnedon (talk) 14:03, 10 September 2011 (UTC)
A college in a lake ? So this is an underwater college ? ;-)
Yes, it's better to write the country. If there is just "Indiana", the reader can think it is in the country India.
--Nnemo (talk) 09:45, 11 September 2011 (UTC)

Note: There is no policy or guideline, nor has there ever been one, stating that city names in the United States "must" be accompanied by the country name. Removing "United States" from any article is not, nor has ever been vandalism, despite Tinton's and Omnedon's incessant insistence over a two year period that it is. There are thousands of articles across wikipedia that are correctly formatted as City, State. Tinton and Omnedon have constantly hounded me over this for over a year. Both of them taking it upon themselves to search my edit history periodically in order to revert any edits in which they personally do not agree with, even when those edits do not violate any guideline or policy. I have evidence in which both of them have routinely ignored the (City, State) format on other articles in which they have edited, while seeming to make a special effort to revert on articles I have edited on. Tinton has even accused me of not getting consensus on the talk page for these edits, even on pages in which I created. (If the page was formated originally (City, State), by his standard, wouldn't he need to get consesnsus the other way)? As far as I know though, every single edit doesn't need consensus on the talk page. That would be ridiculous. Tinton has accused me of edit warring and threatened to report me to AN3, while seeming to ignore his own edits on the same page. Tinton Has threatened me with ANI if I didn't stop, even though there is again, no policy or guideline that says that (City, State, Country) is how it should be done. Omnedon, on the other hand, has in the past, shown up at unrelated discussion pages, only to go against me with opposite viewpoints, even though he had never shown interest on those topics before. In order to help alleviate some of the harassment against me by these two, I regulated my (City, State) edits to the small number of pages in which I edit regularly, but have in the past two weeks now been followed there by Tinton, who had never edited those pages before, nor shown an interest, but now accuses me of not getting consensus for my edits and of edit warring. His only interest, it would seem, would be to change my perfectly fine, and within the guideline edits, in which he personally has a pet peeve against.--JOJ Hutton 20:32, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Yet you keep edit warring with anonymous editors (e.g. Poway High School, Westview High School (San Diego)), despite the notice on your talk page saying you won't edit war... can we please get some consensus on this. I personally agree with A. di M.​plé​dréachtaí that this is quite necessary on places people may not have heard of, and a US state may not be enough to delineate that a location is the US. The feelings are obviously strong on this issue, and no one seems to want to back down. Mbarrien (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 05:57, 17 September 2011 (UTC).
First you are confusing MOS:FLAG with the topic of this discussion. Second, places, like people, should have the least amount of disambiguation as possible. Only enough to disambiguate the place from one another.--JOJ Hutton 12:57, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
JOJ, you are conflating naming conventions with content issues. Disambiguation has nothing to do with infobox templates. The point here is that the nation in which a place exists should be specified in that article, so as to make that immediately plain to the reader. That is the point here; let's focus on that. Omnedon (talk) 13:42, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
That's your "Opinion", and there is "no guideline" that agrees with your opinion. Not having it in the infobox or anywhere else is "not vandalism", despite your insistence that it is. Nor do I need to be "Told", not to do something that is not, nor has ever been against any poicy or guideline, especially when there are plenty of other articles that do not include the uneeded disambiguation of "United States". If you can quote one that agrees with your opinion, then that would be different, but that fact is that you cannot. Its just not how US places are refered to, and those places do not need to be disambiguated any more than (City, States), because there is no other Houston, Texas anywhere else in the world. Once the place has been identified, there is no reason to continue identifying it with more information than is necessary. If every single snippet of information was included on every single article in an attempt to "make that immediately plain to the reader", the articles would be convoluted with much more information than would be necessary to the subject or to identify the subject.--JOJ Hutton 14:33, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I do not call your edits "vandalism", though you do edit-war. I merely state that it is reasonable to specify the nation in the article as well as the state, for reasons I've given before; the nation is a necessary piece of information which you insist on removing. This has nothing to do with the name of the place, or the name of the article; it is simply an important detail for a geographic article in an international encyclopedia. Minimal disambiguation has nothing to do with infoboxes. Omnedon (talk) 15:15, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I always find it amazing how edit warring always is perceived to be one sided. If making perfectly fine and within guideline edits on a page every couple of days is edit warring, then I guess we are all guilty of that. I do, however, find wikihounding to be a much more serious offense. How often do you search my edit history in order to revert edits that I make that are not vandalism and are not against policy? How many times have you just happened to show up at discussion pages in an attempt to confront me or to argue against me? I remember a saying from Sunday School when I was a child, "Before complaining about the splinter in someone else's eye, you should first remove the chunk of wood from your own." (Paraphrased).--JOJ Hutton 19:09, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
Have you anything substantive to contribute here? We're not here to discuss your perception that you are somehow being persecuted; we're discussing the "nation in the infobox" issue. Omnedon (talk) 03:00, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Since you brought up substantive contributions, is there a policy or guideline that you would like to see amended or created? Because all I see now is you and Tinton complaining about something that I am doing, that is perfectly within guidelines, and is NOT vandalism. I even regulated my editing on this topic to the small number of pages in which I regularly contribute so as not to upset you, but that wasn't good enough. You, and especially Tinton lately, have decided to declare all out war on me and my edits. As it stands right now, there are no guidelines that say that City, State, Country is the preferred method in or out of the infobox. So searching my edit history in an attempt to impede my within guideline edits is stalking. Showing up at various unrelated talk pages in order to argue against me, is stalking. Reverting, within guideline, edits on pages that I normally contribute in order to begin an edit war with me is stalking. You should probably read it.--JOJ Hutton 21:01, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
I don't know the rest of the story, but you have said "not vandalism" four times, and two of them were after Omnedon said "I do not call your edits 'vandalism'". Is this one-sided debate with someone else besides Omnedon? Art LaPella (talk) 22:35, 20 September 2011 (UTC)
Agreed, I see no compelling reason not to specify the country. Huwmanbeing  08:32, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Putting the country is not only disambiguation. It is also precision. There may be only one "South Dakota" in the Universe, but the reader may have no idea what a "South Dakota" is. Ergo South Dakota, United States, or even South Dakota, United States of America.
You come complaining as persecuted. But you are the destroyer. Even if precising the country is useless, does it harm ? No. If we delete from Wikipedia everything that is not necessary, we delete all Wikipedia. A priori, in an edit war between someone who puts some stuff and someone else who deletes this stuff, I'm inclined to side with the first one.
--Nnemo (talk) 14:48, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Wow, the Destroyer? Lets back that up. Really? I mean really? Sounds like a personal attack to me. To compare another editor to a God that is know to be "terrible" and "frightful", and "is a fierce form associated with annihilation".
Want to redact that before a WP:WQA is opened in your honor?--JOJ Hutton 18:56, 19 September 2011 (UTC)
User:Jojutton has been warned in the past, and I remember him saying he will leave this content alone. We did not state your edits to be vandalism. They are simply unconstructive and you should realize there are these templates that read City, State and Country. For the secondary school templates, if no country is listed, then there is a comma hanging off, <<<<like that (this is a broken record, because this has been mentioned previously). Jojutton, the consensus for several editors on here, including me, feel that the country should remain and be included in the info box. Your "opinion" is not valid. Wikipedia is about consistency, where each page should follow standard formatting. I agree in terms where the country may not need to be included in the lead of the article, or anywhere else in the body of the page. The info box is a separate matter. We cannot assume, we cannot, I repeat, that everybody in this world who reads this English Wikipedia, will know where Duluth, Minnesota is, or Bonhamtown, New Jersey. Sure, major cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. may be well known worldwide...may be known. But pages about companies based in the US, and biographical pages, should include this information, regardless if the city is well known. Never assume. We should provide as much information as possible. It is an encyclopedia for crying out loud. Furthermore, on this user's talk page, he states in Q1: "In many cases, the country name is already placed in the info box, making the addition in the body of the article redundant." So why is this guy removing the country from the infobox? Tinton5 (talk) 19:45, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
Warned? Warnings are reserved for vandals and those who are not adhering to policy. Is there a policy that says "Country" is preferable? You know as well as I do, that there are plenty of articles that are formated without it. Somehow the people reading those articles survive. You say that readers may not know that a place is in the US? Where is the proof that this has been a problem? I don't see a huge mob of readers who are lost at this information not being in other articles. Seems that the problem may not exist. I disagree with your assessment that we must give more information than is need to identify the subject. Once a geographic place has been disambiguated from another one, there is little need to continue identifying it to death.--JOJ Hutton 03:12, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
  • No, there is no policy or guideline to my knowledge, that requires U.S. states to have their country identified. I think Wikipedia has bent over backwards too far, to accommodate non-Americans on this issue. We almost never say "Luxembourg, Europe" and every U.S. state has more area, population, and presumably international recognition, than Luxembourg.
  • However, the warning I found here doesn't mention vandalism, nor does it claim removing "U.S." is against a policy; it claims edit warring, and removing content without consensus, and we do have a policya guideline about that – although I haven't studied it enough to determine who should be called tendentiousdisruptive. But I will ask you again to get over the vandalism issue, unless you can point out someone who considers you a vandal. Not a tendentiousdisruptive editor, but a vandal.
  • Furthermore, you are accused of removing "United States" from templates where omitting the country causes the result to having a hanging comma; is that true? If so, then shouldn't you be trying to fix the template instead? Art LaPella (talk) 04:19, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
WP:Tendentious editing is an essay, not a policy.
--Nnemo (talk) 21:10, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Oops, you're right. Substituting WP:Disruptive editing, which is a guideline. See also Wikipedia:Blocking policy#Disruption. Art LaPella (talk) 22:57, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
“I disagree with your assessment that we must give more information than is need to identify the subject.”
We must or not ? That can be discussed. But surely we can.
--Nnemo (talk) 21:10, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

I do have a definite view on this infobox issue, so I would not claim neutrality. However, I do feel we need to focus on the style issue itself here, not the conflict. Unfortunately, Jojhutton did not participate in the discussion at DRN, but some of what is now being said should have been said there, rather than here at the MOS talk page. Omnedon (talk) 20:09, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Em dash

Unspaced—is ugly and at variance with common usage. I agree we should have a common policy, but the current one is misguided. Add me to the pages and pages of argument in archives trying to change consensus on it. — LlywelynII 02:30, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

That's a spaced em dash you've used there—this is the spaced one. Some US publishers use the spaced em dash at the sentence level, as an interruptor—surprisingly even a few narrow-column newspapers, where the spaced em dash frequently wraps in a disruptive way. US publishers also use the unspaced em dash, as do many writers in all varieties of English. The alternative is the spaced en dash – like that. Tony (talk) 06:33, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Of course what he means is—this is the unspaced em dash. Art LaPella (talk) 20:38, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
I wonder if what we really need are a few templates that by default display a good old dash or minus sign, whatever they are used. But a registered user can set a global setting to display the real character and all print versions would display the real character. Could make everyone, except the editors who have to insert the template, happy. Vegaswikian (talk) 21:02, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
What real character? Using the alt-code method or many other methods (see Wikipedia:How to make dashes), the dash itself is the real character. Using some other methods, the real edit text is several characters, not one, so what real character? Art LaPella (talk) 21:28, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
All of these various and sundry characters. Many readers don't care or notice how they appear on the screen. For them seeing the plain simple dash always is just fine. It's only a group of editors who are concerned with the various characters and their meanings. Why not display all of these by default in a way that most readers would be happy with? I'm not arguing that all of those variations are not correct and don't serve a purpose, but does it matter for most readers? Clearly it matters in print and for some readers. Why spend so much time on discussing this? What's wrong with considering a different approach? I'm not saying I'm right, but it is a different option that I don't think we have considered. If I'm all wet, then so be it. Vegaswikian (talk) 21:55, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
It's not that you're all wet and it's not that I disagree, it's that I don't understand your proposal. All of what various and sundry characters? When I enter an en dash, for instance, I usually use alt+0150, but it shows on the edit page and also in the actual article as – (about the same as a hyphen on the edit page, but longer in the article). Anybody who looks at my dash, the newest reader or the most sophisticated dash expert, will see – on both the edit page and the article. So when you say the real character, do you mean alt+0150 or – ? Art LaPella (talk) 22:22, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps you refer to my unspaced em dash comment above. "Unspaced" just means that there is no space before and after a dash. Spaced — em — dashes. Unspaced—em—dashes. And an em dash — is longer than an en dash – . Art LaPella (talk) 22:27, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

I'm wondering if LlywelynII was saying that the unspaced em-dash is ugly compared to the spaced em-dash. If so, I'd agree. I use the unspaced one where MOS says I should, but I don't particularly like it. Is that the gist of the original message? Omnedon (talk) 22:31, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

Yes. Of course LlywelynII may speak for himself, but I believe I have no trouble understanding LlywelynII's post: he wants to change the WP:EMDASH guideline that currently says "Do not use spaced em dashes." It's Vegaswikian that I don't understand. I do understand LlywelynII. Art LaPella (talk) 22:46, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, the negative portion of the original comment is clear; I'm just not certain what alternative is being suggested. As to the other issue, some people prefer to put the actual character into articles (like you, I use alt+0150), but others say that using the HTML markup is better from the perspective of editors, where it's clear at a glance what character is intended. As long as the end result is the same, I don't see a problem either way. I'm also not sure what the concern is there. Omnedon (talk) 22:52, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
  • You're right; I assumed the alternative to an unspaced em dash is a spaced em dash, but he didn't make that explicit.
  • Many alternative ways of entering an en dash, including alt+0150 and HTML markup, are discussed at WP:How to make dashes. Art LaPella (talk) 22:59, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
The is one of the most separating punctuation signs and people in English often write it without space. Go figure !
--Nnemo (talk) 15:08, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Spaced em dash is free, and open, and readable, and, well, beautiful. Unspaced em dash looks crabbed, and spaced en dash looks either cheesy (your regularly scheduled em dash has been shorted due to budget cuts) or like a mistake (meant to write an em dash); and neither is as easy to read as a spaced em dash. I seem to recall (terribly memory, could be misattributing it entirely) that when Knuth studied the typesetter's art to design TeX, one of the basic lessons he learned was 'don't stint on whitespace'. --Pi zero (talk) 15:53, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Counterpoint: Knuth uses unspaced em dashes. :-) —Bkell (talk) 18:42, 18 September 2011 (UTC)
Lol. Knuth holding both those positions at once seems somehow representative... :-)  --Pi zero (talk) 22:30, 18 September 2011 (UTC)

In my experience at least, unspaced em dashes are relatively uncommon in Britain and spaced en dashes are relatively uncommon in America, so I wouldn't object to recommending spaced em dashes on WP:COMMONALITY grounds — though, among these three formats, this is the only one the MOS currently doesn't allow. (As for what is “ugly”, that depends (as well as on the eye of the beholder) on details of the typeface: on some fonts the em dash is absurdly long so “a  b” looks bad; on some fonts the en dash is very short and/or the space very wide so “a  b” looks bad; on some fonts the em dash has too little kerning so “ab” looks bad; and so on. And compromises such as hair spaces are way too complicated to implement in a way that all browsers will handle gracefully. So, I don't think there's any completely satisfactory way of handling aesthetic concerns.)
A. di M.plédréachtaí 23:55, 20 September 2011 (UTC) 20:59, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

The MOS doesn't allow spaces around  ? Why ? If so, it has to change to allow them.
--Nnemo (talk) 22:12, 21 September 2011 (UTC)
It doesn't allow spaces around a long dash, no. I've never really understood why. I'd like to see it change to allow them; I quite like the reasoning suggested by A. di M., which has a certain political elegance — although, personally, I've never encountered a typeface in the field that didn't make spaced em dash look better than these other alternatives.
I always figured unspaced em dashes were an anomaly of paper, where real estate is at a premium. At last, I thought, in the electronic medium we can unfetter our em dashes. And then I heard WP:MOS had just taken the position that em dashes should be unspaced. My mind boggled. (I think I read somewhere that spaced em dashes were already quite popular on Wikipedia when the MOS took its stand against them.) --Pi zero (talk) 18:56, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Perhaps here. Art LaPella (talk) 19:16, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
In the default sans-serif typeface of LaTeX beamer (IIRC), the “em” dash (the one you get by --- in the source) was absurdly long (nearly 2em). With ‘sane’ fonts I usually use spaced em dashes (when I can be bothered to) in my own writing outside Wikipedia, but I just couldn't look at that. (Imagine “this —— and that”, pretending the two dashes to connect if they don't.) I ended up using spaced en dashes (which in that font were actually longer than 1en, too).
A. di M.plédréachtaí 20:59, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
Editors can read about em dashes in other style guides by visiting
Wavelength (talk) 19:14, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

OK, so does anybody have a good rationale to discourage spaced em dashes? (“[T]he spaced em dash frequently wraps in a disruptive way” also applies to the en dash, and can be fixed in both cases the same way — like this.) If not, I'm going to remove that from the MOS in 48 hours.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 21:06, 23 September 2011 (UTC)

Yes A di M, there is a good rationale for retaining the existing guideline for dashes at the sentence level: use spaced en dash or unspaced em dash, consistently in an article. Reasons:
  1. Wikipedia style needs stability and simplicity. Editors quite rightly complain when the Manual alters its recommendations according to the latest drift of opinion. (See a conversation with Carcharoth at my talkpage for this; and the matter comes up at WP:FAC.) A manual of style that is unstable fails in its role of maintaining quality.
  2. Editors come to WP:MOS and the other MOS pages for guidance, not to be shown an inventory of possibilities, or a list of the options used by diverse sources. Very many editors made this clear in their comments during the Great Dashfest of 2011. We all suppress personal preferences one way or another on Wikipedia, for the greater good. Most editors are happy with that arrangement; but some (including in this discussion) take their own preferences as axioms that any clear-seeing editor ought to share. That is unhelpful.
  3. The guideline in question was settled after extensive discussion, including here and here in 2007, and here in 2008. Such a long-established settlement is not to be lightly overturned, even if it is shown that the fullest consensus was never achieved: but in this case, there was indeed a definite preference for limiting the recommendation to two choices.
  4. In fact the spaced em dash is less supported in publishing, and major style guides reflect this: CMOS16 and NHR among them. If some publishers implement the em dash with a special thin space or hair space, that is not something to emulate in HTML-based work, especially collaboratively edited work. Far too complex. Wikipedia is not print; nor is it email text or SMS text. The present guideline for sentence-level dashes is a reasonable, and reasonably consensual, compromise between libertarian complexity and constrained, elegant simplicity.
Please do not alter the guidelines for dashes without a strong consensus to do so. Such an alteration would of course be reverted.
NoeticaTea? 01:29, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Consensus, of course, can change. Unspaced dashes are hideous. If we must specify a style, it would be better to ban unspaced dashes than to require them. --Trovatore (talk) 01:32, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Of course consensus can change! But it needs to be shown to have changed. The evidence would need to be substantial – with a basic element of punctuation like this, for 5,554,910 articles. Hideous? I happen to agree. I can't stand the unspaced em dash, and always prefer the spaced en dash (on typographical grounds, and agreeing with Bringhurst). But I accept that others see things differently. NoeticaTea? 01:39, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Thanks for the links to archived discussion; this answers the question of whoever asked why the MoS says that. (Of course, consensus can have changed if it's four years old, but in absence of evidence one usually assumes it hasn't.) BTW, hair spaces wouldn't be that complicated if implemented in a template, but I agree that simpler solutions are preferable.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 11:07, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Mdash template

Assuming that If the consensus remains to use the unspaced em dash, would it be sensible to point out here that the Mdash template should not be used for parenthetic em dashes—and to alter the template documentation to make it clearer that the template is not intended for such use. Mdash adds spaces around the dash. I see from the archives that the template has been mentioned before, but I couldn't find any productive discussion or decision.--Boson (talk) 09:26, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

The assumption “that the consensus remains to use the unspaced em dash” is wrong. In fact, I gather that the consensus wants spaces around .
--Nnemo (talk) 10:59, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
There is absolutely no consensus to change a very long-standing provision, which passed almost without comment comment during the recent set of RfCs on dash usage. Tony (talk) 11:18, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
I suppose it is unwise to make any assumptions; so I have changed "Assuming that" to "If". --Boson (talk) 13:44, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

New template requested — Discreet abbreviation


See this discussion.

--Nnemo (talk) 23:12, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

Blockquote: minimum length

  • Format a long quote (more than four lines, or consisting of more than one paragraph, regardless of number of lines) as a block quotation, which Wikimedia's software will indent from both margins.

The issue of "more than four lines" is vague and has led to some mild disputes. The number of lines taken up by a block of text is wholly depended on screen size and resolution. A quotation might take up six lines on an iPad but only three lines on a big monitor. Also, "more than four lines" means four lines plus at least one word on a fifth line. So the definition could be restated "five or more lines". Is there any way of restating this into a more objective criteria? Perhaps using the number of words or characters in a quote?   Will Beback  talk  23:32, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Chicago leaves it to the house style; APA says 400 words or more. Here is a handy word count tool.[35] ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 00:47, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
While it's been in the guideline since 2006, it appears that it was added without much thought.[36] Back then, 15" and 17" monitors were common. Here's 400 words:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec ac arcu libero, non dictum nibh. Aenean porta commodo tempor. Sed dapibus, metus sit amet rutrum interdum, velit velit sollicitudin nisi, in tincidunt ipsum quam ac ligula. Ut scelerisque lacus ut lectus tempor malesuada ut at mauris. Aenean gravida nulla id massa interdum pellentesque pretium eget lacus. Quisque orci erat, auctor sit amet vehicula eget, mattis ac quam. Nunc sit amet purus eget nibh pretium porta. Phasellus fringilla eros eget elit facilisis a suscipit nibh commodo. Duis quam purus, luctus blandit varius a, gravida id urna. Nam aliquam ornare quam, eget gravida nibh commodo volutpat. Nunc tincidunt luctus varius. Fusce facilisis nisl quis tellus laoreet blandit. Phasellus dignissim aliquet mollis. Donec id mauris in quam consequat pharetra id eu orci. Proin in lorem sed sem hendrerit luctus. Cras hendrerit commodo tortor, sed sagittis nisi pulvinar at. Maecenas imperdiet ante ac tortor laoreet sit amet vestibulum nunc posuere. Nullam volutpat tincidunt lectus ut rutrum. Curabitur vestibulum nunc in felis porttitor vulputate. Fusce massa mi, accumsan eu vulputate semper, dictum non dolor. In vulputate elementum mollis. Nunc turpis est, tempor id vestibulum vel, placerat sit amet dolor. Vestibulum adipiscing mi id mauris hendrerit eget hendrerit ligula ullamcorper. Nulla eget turpis nisi. Vestibulum ut turpis felis. Quisque orci nisi, sagittis et tempus nec, ornare a leo. Praesent urna nisi, gravida nec gravida non, sagittis nec quam. Nulla at velit enim, non tincidunt urna. Vivamus quis justo magna, vel fringilla dui. Nam ac lectus urna, at iaculis leo. Nunc imperdiet odio vitae nulla porttitor non ornare neque aliquam. Curabitur vel eros risus, at mattis mauris. Phasellus urna sem, scelerisque et mattis at, fringilla in justo. Ut quis gravida nunc. Duis rhoncus augue feugiat sem porttitor sodales. Donec rhoncus placerat sem eu semper. Mauris mattis pulvinar erat, in viverra massa lacinia in. Mauris aliquet porttitor nibh non dapibus. Quisque eu nulla eget ante tincidunt eleifend. In neque neque, dapibus in volutpat eget, elementum quis metus. Duis sit amet tortor quam, et bibendum purus. Quisque tristique leo et lectus pharetra sit amet bibendum nunc ultricies. Ut sit amet lorem ut eros adipiscing scelerisque. Aliquam cursus tempor lobortis. Ut a dui mauris, et egestas quam. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Proin elit quam, elementum eu consectetur hendrerit, sagittis eget eros. Quisque aliquet ultricies tellus ac adipiscing. Maecenas dictum porta sapien.

On my screen, set at 1440x900 resolution with the browser at full screen, that takes up 13 lines. I don't think we'd want to use that as a standard. At this resolution, the first four lines comprise 108 words. So 110 words would be "more than four lines". OTOH, this is probably an unusally wide screen, so 100 words is probably more reasonable and is also a round number. Would anyone object to changing the definition from "more than four lines" to "100 words or more"?   Will Beback  talk  03:39, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Sorry, APA states 40 words.[37] Don't know how the extra zero slipped in. MLA states 4 lines.[38] Do we want to mention <poem>...</poem> to maintain formatting? ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 12:03, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Just for the sake of completeness and comparision, 40 words would look like:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec ac arcu libero, non dictum nibh. Aenean porta commodo tempor. Sed dapibus, metus sit amet rutrum interdum, velit velit sollicitudin nisi, in tincidunt ipsum quam ac ligula. Ut scelerisque lacus ut...

- SchroCat (^@) 12:15, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
40 words seems about right, and we have a source for the guideline. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 13:29, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
I'd go with “more than a few hundred characters”. No need for anything more precise. You don't want to show two in-line quotations then two blockquotes then another in-line quotation in the same section because they happen to be 39, 36, 41, 43 and 34 words respectively, do you?
A. di M.plédréachtaí 19:40, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
As for “Back then, 15" and 17" monitors were common”, whereas larger desktop monitors have since become more common, so have laptops/netbooks, mobile browsers, and stuff like that.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 19:46, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
All the more reason to move away from a line-based definition. I also agree that we should avoid saying this is a precise limit. I say that based on past discussions, which point out that shorter blockquotes are fairly common on Wikipedia, so the guideline is not describing the reality.
So it sounds like editors here would support "(more than about 40 words or a few hundred characters, or consisting of more than one paragraph, or structured text like poems)". Any objections?   Will Beback  talk  20:27, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
It's a bit wordy but I like it. (Anyway, really short quotations of poetry and stuff like that can be inlined, by denoting line breaks by / and paragraph/stanza breaks by //.)
A. di M.plédréachtaí 20:51, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
We should probably deal with poetry in a separate sentence or even paragraph. Perhaps something like, "Poetry may be quoted inline, if short, or presented in a blockquote. If inline, line breaks should be denoted by / and paragraph or stanza breaks by //. In blockquotes, the <poem>...</poem> template can be used to format line breaks."   Will Beback  talk  21:59, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
<poem>...</poem> isn't a template; it can be used to preserve spaces and line breaks for any formatted text such as poems and lyrics. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 22:37, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
OK. So maybe the poetry part would be better worded like this: "Poetry, lyrics, and other formatted text may be quoted inline, if short, or presented in a blockquote. If inline, line breaks should be denoted by / and paragraph or stanza breaks by //. In blockquotes, the <poem>...</poem> extension can be used to preserve spaces and line breaks." Better?   Will Beback  talk  23:13, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
I've made the proposed edit.[39] Reading the material on formatting blockquotes, I think we may want to make further edits. I'll start a fresh thread below: #Formatting inside blockquotes.   Will Beback  talk  04:59, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Formatting inside blockquotes

Current material

Poetry, lyrics, and other formatted text may be quoted inline, if short, or presented in a blockquote. If inline, line breaks should be denoted by / and paragraph or stanza breaks by //. In blockquotes, the <poem>...</poem> extension can be used to preserve spaces and line breaks.

Wikipedia's MediaWiki software does not render multiple paragraphs inside a <blockquote> simply by spacing the paragraphs apart with blank lines. A workaround is to enclose each block-quoted paragraph in its own <p>...</p> element:

<p>And bring us a lot of horilka, but not of that fancy kind with raisins,
or with any other such things—bring us horilka of the purest kind, give us that
demon drink that makes us merry, playful and wild!</p>

<p>—[[Nikolai Gogol]], ''[[Taras Bulba]]''</p>

This will result in the following, indented on both sides (it may also be in a smaller font, depending on browser software):

And bring us a lot of horilka, but not of that fancy kind with raisins, or with any other such things—bring us horilka of the purest kind, give us that demon drink that makes us merry, playful and wild!

Nikolai Gogol, Taras Bulba

The {{quote}} template provides the same semantic HTML formatting, as well as a workaround for the paragraph spacing bug and a pre-formatted attribution line:

{{quote|And bring us a lot of horilka, but not of that fancy kind with raisins,
or with any other such things—bring us horilka of the purest kind, give us that
demon drink that makes us merry, playful and wild!|[[Nikolai Gogol]]|''[[Taras Bulba]]''}}

This will result in:

And bring us a lot of horilka, but not of that fancy kind with raisins,

or with any other such things—bring us horilka of the purest kind, give us that

demon drink that makes us merry, playful and wild!

Blockquote formatting discussion

This seems very complicated. The <poem>...</poem> extension seems to cover some of the formatting issues. We just added that material based on the discussion at #Blockquote: minimum length. Can we streamline this, or is this as clear as it should be?   Will Beback  talk  05:14, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

I was just going to suggest the same. It cleanly replaces a lot of markup and noting it would really shorten this section. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 11:34, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Could you take a crack at it?   Will Beback  talk  20:16, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Done. I will probably copyedit a bit later. Used a different example to show retention of leading spaces. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 03:15, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Filename extensions

Forgive me if this has been asked and answered, but I haven't been able to find an MoS page with a guideline or consensus. How should filename extensions be written? I've seen both <tt> and <code> used, which produces .jpg and .jpg respectively. Does it matter? And even if it doesn't, for consistency's sake which should we use? --danhash (talk) 19:07, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

We are moving towards HTML5 eventually, which does not support <tt>, but browsers will support it forever. <code> denotes computer code, which is probably more appropriate to file names and extensions. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 00:36, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Would it be appropriate to create an MoS entry for this, with a link to make it easy to find? --danhash (talk) 21:28, 22 September 2011 (UTC)
Yes, it would. Chris Cunningham (user:thumperward) - talk 11:07, 23 September 2011 (UTC)
To whish section or MoS page should I add it? Thanks. —danhash (talk) 20:26, 28 September 2011 (UTC)

Evaluating published usage

I present these questions in the form of a list.

  1. How should we evaluate English usage in the various publications available for consideration?
  2. Does each one frequently showing a particular usage have one affirmative vote for our purposes?
  3. Does each one frequently avoiding a particular usage have one negative vote for our purposes?
  4. Does a freely accessible publication have the same value as one with a paywall or one in print?
  5. Does a general publication have the same value as one in a specific field of study?
  6. Do publications from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, England, Hong Kong, India1, Ireland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the United States, and Wales all have equal value?
  7. Does a major publication (for example, The New York Times) have precedence over a minor one (for example, the newspaper of a small town of 1000 inhabitants)?
  8. Does any publication have no vote at all?
  9. Do publications have precedence over style guides?
  10. Should there be a subpage (possibly, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Evaluating publications), explaining how they should be evaluated? It would be a metaguide, a guide to the Manual of Style.

Wavelength (talk) 05:57, 28 September 2011 (UTC) and 17:00, 28 September 2011 (UTC) and 18:39, 28 September 2011 (UTC) and 21:29, 28 September 2011 (UTC) and 115:10, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

4) A newspaper article in print should have equal value to its online counterpart. However, certain types of publications that are more or less only found on the web should be given less weight. For example, blogs, Tweets and Facebook entries are usually very informal and often off-the-cuff and unedited. Wikipedia is written in formal, edited English, so formal, edited sources should be given the most weight.
5) General publications should be given more weight than specialized publications because Wikipedia is a general-English publication.
6) Publications from primarily English-speaking countries have more value for our purposes than those from countries in which English is a secondary language. The English in English-speaking countries is more real and organic than the school-taught and film-copied English heard elsewhere.
7) Yes.
8) I'd say that Tweets, emails and other extremely informal publications have no or next to no relevance here. Let's say that anything that the author would not be expected to have edited should be considered irrelevant to Wikipedia.
9) No. This MoS is a style guide, so style guides are more relevant to our purpose here. Style guides are less likely to contain errors than publications. In most cases, style guides should trump usage. However, usage can and should be used to decide issues on which style guides are divided or silent. (Also, let's consider that the content in the style guides gets there after it's been in usage for a while. We should consider the content of style guides to be usage that has been vetted by time and by professionals.) Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:27, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Quotation marks - clarify

section MOS:QUOTATION_MARK#Quotation_marks. Generally I understand the MOS. However I'm not 100% sure about this bot edit - the issue here is that the "french style" quotes (Guillemet) are not within the main text, and are from a 'copy paste' of an external article's title used directly (for accuracy) in an inline reference. So maybe they should not be altered?? Imgaril (talk) 11:14, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

It is pretty standard to make this kind of change, converting double quotes to single for a quote-within-a-quote, for example. It's not considered a misquotation or inaccuracy. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:48, 24 September 2011 (UTC)
Of course they must not be altered. Especially in our case : the " quotes had landed inside " quotes.
--Nnemo (talk) 23:11, 24 September 2011 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The guillemets ought to be converted to the standard quotation marks as used in English. The converse is what the French routinely do to " ": they convert them to « ». Absolutely normal, and provided for in WP:MOS under Allowable typographical changes:

In quoting text from non-English sources, replace non-English typographical elements such as guillemets (« ») with their English-language equivalents; replace guillemets with straight quotation marks, and so on.

A guideline of long standing. As for the nesting of quotes, that should go as normal in English too. If the guillemets come to fall between " ", they are converted to normal second-level quote marks: ' '.

NoeticaTea? 06:27, 25 September 2011 (UTC)

I have just read the section Quotations. It is way too unrespectful. It even tells to correct errors !
--Nnemo (talk) 15:01, 25 September 2011 (UTC)
@Noetica: Is that really the standard practice? To me, seeing [guillemets|single inverted commas] within [English|Italian] text looks quite weird, even if said [English|Italian] text is being quoted by an [Italian-language|English-language] publication. A. di M.plédréachtaí 17:20, 1 October 2011 (UTC)
A di M, it is normal in current French publishing to substitute guillemets for the quotation marks actually used in an English source. See this example (2002). Same in Italian publishing, as in these footnotes (1992); and in this poetic text (1999), which has the Italian translation on the facing pages. Of course, if a quotation is already flanked by guillemets, the quotation marks in the source will not be rendered as guillemets: an example (2010). I don't say that such practices are universal; but they are standard, and those instances were easy to find. NoeticaTea? 03:01, 2 October 2011 (UTC)

Linking within quotations

I'm puzzled by this (from WP:MOSQUOTE):

As much as possible, avoid linking from within quotes, which may clutter the quotation, violate the principle of leaving quotations unchanged, and mislead or confuse the reader.

I understand re potential clutter (I'm a conservative linker myself) but how in the world can links "violate the principle of leaving quotations unchanged, and mislead or confuse the reader"? Will readers mistake the link for part of the original quote? I don't think it's a big deal, but I thought you lovers of MOS esoterica might want to mull this over. EEng (talk) 02:55, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Occasional exceptions apply; you made a good case for ignoring MOSQUOTE in the Malcolm X article. However, I feel that this guideline makes good sense in the majority of cases. Joefromrandb (talk) 03:28, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
I approve of the questioned wording. Quotes should only be linked (and pipe-linked) when the reference is not immediately apparent to the casual reader. For instance, one might choose to link Paris to Paris, Texas, if the quote is about Paris but the context is not clear that Paris, France, is not being discussed. Binksternet (talk) 04:26, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Hmmm... These comments raise an aspect of the links-in-quotes problem I hadn't thought of before. It seems to me links are for allowing the reader to find out more, but must not be essential to a basic understanding of the text. The text on its face should be such that a reasonably informed reader will not be misled -- the reader should not have to click (or hover) to find out that the straightforward reading is incorrect. Suppose food critic John Smith wrote in 2007:

"I've searched the world for the perfect chili, but Paris still has the best."

Unless the surrounding context makes it clear to which Paris Smith was referring, then the article text might be:

"I've searched the world ifor the perfect chili, but Paris [Texas] still has the best," food critic John Smith wrote in 2007.

or maybe

"I've searched the world for the perfect chili, but Paris still has the best," food critic John Smith wrote in 2007, referring his Texas home town.

or (if we really dislike links in quotes)

"I've searched the world for the perfect chili, but Paris still has the best," food critic John Smith wrote in 2007, referring his Paris, Texas home town.

But I think the article should not read as follows:

"I've seached the world for the perfect chili, but Paris still has the best," food critic John Smith wrote in 2007.

In this last version the reader must hover or click to avoid being misled (unless, as already mentioned, the makes clear Paris, TX is what's meant -- in which case Paris, Texas was probably already linked anyway, and need not/should not be linked again).

Thoughts? EEng (talk) 17:33, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

To me, best of all would be to move it outside the quotes:
"I've searched the world for the perfect chili, but Paris still has the best," food critic John Smith wrote in 2007, referring to Paris, Texas, his home town.
This has no link inside the quote, and it has no WP:EGG either. It does link to a redirect, which is completely fine and should not count against it in any way (I explicitly did not pipe "Paris, Texas" to Paris (Texas), and I would remove such a pipe if I found it). It's a tiny bit wordier than some options, but that's OK. --Trovatore (talk) 21:43, 30 September 2011 (UTC)
(Oh, actually, Paris, Texas is in fact the direct link, not a redirect, and I should have known that. No big; doesn't change my point.) --Trovatore (talk) 21:44, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

Evaluating style guides

I present these questions in the form of a list.

  1. How should we evaluate the various style guides available for consideration?
  2. Does each one supporting a particular usage have one affirmative vote for our purposes?
  3. Does each one forbidding a particular usage have one negative vote for our purposes?
  4. Does a freely accessible online style guide have the same value as one with a paywall or one in print?
  5. Does a general style guide have the same value as one designed for a specific field of study?
  6. Do style guides from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, England, Hong Kong, India1, Ireland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the United States, and Wales all have equal value?
  7. Does a major style guide (for example, one for The New York Times) have precedence over a minor one (for example, one for the newspaper of a small town of 1000 inhabitants)?
  8. Does any style guide have no vote at all?
  9. Do style guides have precedence over published usage?
  10. Should there be a subpage (possibly, Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Evaluating style guides), explaining how they should be evaluated? It would be a metaguide, a guide to the Manual of Style.

Wavelength (talk) 05:56, 28 September 2011 (UTC) and 16:58, 28 September 2011 (UTC) and 21:28, 28 September 2011 (UTC) and 115:08, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

(1) 2 & 3) No. They should be weighted by respectability, value, acceptance and relevance. For example, CMoS and the official MLA handbook should have more votes than, say, a style guide written especially for scientific journal articles. This is because they are more widely used and specifically designed for the kind of writing that we present on Wikipedia.
4) Print vs. electronic should have no bearing on respectability, but level of formality, reputation, range of use and specialization should.
5) No. Wikipedia is a general-English publication, so general style guides should be given more weight than specialized style guides.
6) Style guides from primarily English-speaking countries should have more weight than style guides from countries in which English is a secondary language. For any given article, the variety of English with the closest ties to the subject matter should be given the most weight, per WP:ENGVAR.
7) Yes.
8) Yes with a caveat. For example, the NASA style sheet is mostly a copy of CMoS. It should not constitute an additional vote for CMoS per se, but it should be used as an example of how widely accepted CMoS is; the fact that NASA copied CMoS indicates that CMoS should be given more weight than style guides that are not so copied.
9) Yes.
10) Not unless some need for one arises. At present, the MoS itself serves the Wikipedia community. It isn't perfect but it's pretty darn good. Darkfrog24 (talk) 00:20, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

I wouldn't frame this as a “vote”; otherwise, I agree with Darkfrog, except that I'd say one shouldn't be disappointed if a style guide available online for free is given more weight than another, unless one's willing to provide extensive direct quotes of the latter.
A. di M.plédréachtaí 17:31, 1 October 2011 (UTC)