Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 140

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Trans woman terminology

It's clear that "She fathered her first children" can be replaced by "She became a parent for the first time." But does anyone know what can replace "her testicles"?? Georgia guy (talk) 14:42, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

If it's somebody identifying as a female and she has testicles, "her testicles" works fine for me. SchreiberBike (talk) 19:34, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, this is certainly one situation my eighth-grade English composition teacher never contemplated. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 19:51, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Not sure, exactly, if this is technically correct, but how about "her gonads"? AgnosticAphid talk 19:54, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
    That would do, after looking up the definition of the word in Wikipedia. Georgia guy (talk) 19:55, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

How about "[Name] had testicular replacement surgery"? Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:03, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

We don't want to alter statements about trans woman using a method that points towards the statement that they are a "third gender", do we?? Georgia guy (talk) 20:08, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
Christine Jorgensen again? If memory serves, "his testicles" was a direct quotation, which you absolutely can't change to "her testicles".
The main problem with "her gonads" is that everyone has gonads, and "her gonads" normally means "her ovaries", but Joregensen, who was biologically and genetically male, never had any ovaries. I'd try something like "the testicles were removed" or "Jorgensen's testicles were removed". WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:32, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
Trans women have always had their brain structures female. Is brain structure not a biological property of people?? Georgia guy (talk) 20:07, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
"Five parameters are commonly used to classify a person’s biological sex: chromosomal sex, gonadal sex (ovaries vs. testis), hormonal sex, the internal reproductive structures, and the external genitalia" (ISBN 0306486733). Brain structure isn't on the list.
Some Western trans women say that their "brain sex" is female. AFAIK, there is not much evidence for this or any agreement about how this might be measured in terms of brain structure. The theory seems to have appeared about the same time that western societies quit accepting spirituality or souls as an explanation for psychological issues. Previously, back when we didn't expect a physical/hard-science explanation for everything, trans women commonly said they had "women's souls in men's bodies" (and since the soul was vastly more important in Western spiritual and philosophical thought than the body back then, then this was a culturally appropriate claim that they were truly female). WhatamIdoing (talk) 00:02, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
The reason that brain anatomy is not commonly used is because it must be assessed using either a functional MRI, exploratory surgery or an autopsy, not because it is not relevant. I expect that list will be revised as the technology improves, at least for assessments performed on adults.
That being said, brain structure is indeed biological. It should not be ignored, even if caveat sentences are used on Wikipedia: "Trans individuals often maintain that their brain structure matches their gender identity, but the way gender differences affect or are affected by the brain is not yet fully understood by the medical community." Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:32, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
By definition, if a person's biological characteristics do not (all) match the person's assigned gender, then the person is not "transsexual", but is instead "intersexed". It is not possible to be intersexed (==to have biological characteristics at odds with the originally assigned gender) and to be transsexual by definition. WhatamIdoing (talk) 02:47, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
It seems that an exception is made for presumed brain anatomy in the actual usage of the word "transsexual." Darkfrog24 (talk) 03:12, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Individual trans people are very keen to find a biological basis for their gender identity, but the professionals do not consider them to be intersexed or to have a biological sex that differs from their assigned gender. The "brain sex" idea (that the "wiring" in the brain is different in some unknown and unproven way) is not part of the definition of intersex and never has been.[1] Even those support groups that subscribe wholeheartedly to the "brain sex" concept say that the claim that transsexualism is an intersex condition "is, quite simply, incorrect." WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:34, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Glaring grammar error in a policy here (WP:LQ)

Who exactly is coming up with all these grammar policies for Wikipedia? Is it just random people writing policies in? I have to question Wikipedia's credibility when I'm directed to this page by a user who wants to place periods and quotations outside of quotations. I have my Master's Degree in journalism. The way I've always been taught throughout my entire college experience and in my many many maaaany papers I've had to complete was that periods and commas always go inside the quotations, no exceptions. There's one exception for the question mark, but not so with the period and the comma. I have had Ph.D. professors throughout my Master's program even tell me this.

Not only that but whenever I look online at professional websites, they're stating to do the same thing I've learned as well. This is the only place I know of that states the acceptable use is to place periods and commas outside the quotations if it's not someone saying something. This goes against the rules of at least United States English grammar. Now I understand there are certain inconsistencies in this regard between how certain European countries write and how we write here in the U.S.

That being said, many articles here at Wikipedia are American-based and rooted, such as the ones I frequent. So in these articles in particular, it's only logical for the American grammar rules to be used. To just completely dismiss the grammar rules of America and let the grammar rules of another country overrule in all areas of Wikipedia even with articles in which focus is on American makes no sense to me. The grammar will look foreign to most American readers, at least the ones well-versed in American grammar rules. When I see periods and commas outside of quotations, this screams incorrect to me based upon my years in college. And mind you, the article I was writing was in relation to an American subject to boot. AmericanDad86 (talk) 18:14, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

I reverted your removal of this question because I think it merits some discussion. You had removed your question on the basis that you found a part of the MOS that says it's okay to use the American punctutation-of-quotations rule in articles about American subjects. I don't believe that's correct. I think we're always supposed to use Logical Quotation, even for American subjects. It's preferred to use American spellings in American articles, but that's a different rule. I'm not an MOS expert, though.
You can read more about the choice of MOS:LQ here at the Wikipedia quotation mark-->punctuation page. Or you can read some of these. I have some sympathy with your view; I'm American myself. But this has already been discussed quite extensively and I think you'll have to respond to prior arguments before you see much interest in changing the rule.
Maybe we should make this rule more clear in the MOS since it seems to have caused some confusion and come up repeatedly? AgnosticAphid talk 18:34, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
Not wishing to be (too) pedantic, but this isn't a matter of grammar but punctuation. In the long run the answer may be to adopt the style of many printed works, i.e. place the quote mark vertically over a comma or full stop, which I think looks better and avoids choosing one style rather than another, but this isn't well supported on web pages at present.
Returning to logical quotation, this has been discussed extensively and is well established, as AgnosticAphid says, and isn't likely to change soon. Peter coxhead (talk) 19:56, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
If you ask a PhD in English or other writing-intensive subjects about what style rules to follow, I'm pretty sure they will tell you follow the rules of the publication in which your writing will appear. Wikipedia has adopted logical quotation style.
As far as I know, other aspects of grammar and style that differ between various national varieties of English would follow the style for the variety of English used in the article, since Wikipedia has not, in general, adopted any particular variety of English. However, any specific rules adopted by Wikipedia would prevail, such as only using "." as a decimal point and never using "," for that purpose (outside of direct quotations). Jc3s5h (talk) 19:57, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
I'm American but I support logical quotation, because it really is more logical. The purpose of punctuation is to make clear the logical structure of a written utterance. From that point of view, there is little rationale for moving a comma inside a trailing quote mark — the purpose of the quotation is to set aside a piece of text as being quoted, whereas the purpose of the comma is usually to separate one phrase from another. Given that the phrase being ended by the comma includes the quoted text as a unit, it makes sense to put the comma afterwards. I think the reason it has prevailed here is that we have a lot of software people, who are likely to see things in those terms, or because we have a lot of people who cut their online teeth on USEnet, which had a lot of software people. --Trovatore (talk) 20:16, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────I feel it should be noted that this thread appears to have originated as a result of a discussion at Talk:American Dad!#Periods and Quotation Marks. In fact, I came here planning to ask editors to offer opinions there. Doniago (talk) 20:51, 14 May 2013 (UTC)


I would query one of the examples given: in UK English, Martha said, "Come with me", and they did. would be considered wrong. I think that what we tend to follow here follows the same style, albeit under a different name. Final punctuation of the speaker, that is not the end of the sentence, is usually represented by a comma inside the speech marks: Martha said, "Come with me," and they did. A similar, more blatant, case occurs in our article on the issue: "Hello, world", she said. as an alleged example of British non-fiction, which should, I contend be rendered "Hello, world," she said. Kevin McE (talk) 22:21, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

But we don't use the punctuation rules of UK English, we use logical quotation instead, and one of the differences apparently deals with the punctuation of quotations that are fragmented sentences, which you can see here.AgnosticAphid talk 22:28, 14 May 2013 (UTC)
"Come with me and we'll raid the pantry" -> "Come with me", she said, "and we'll raid the pantry". Tony (talk) 02:22, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

Agnostic Aphid's link leads to an article that states, "The prevailing style in the United Kingdom and other non-American locales—called British style and logical quotation—..." thus identifying the two approaches as the same, and invalidating his claim that "we don't use the punctuation rules of UK English, we use logical quotation instead." I'm not sure what point Tony seeks to make with his unannotated examples: "Come with me and we'll raid the pantry." should not be split, while "Come with me, and we'll raid the pantry." should be split as "Come with me," she said, "and we'll raid the pantry." Kevin McE (talk) 06:08, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

The name “British style“ should not be taken to imply that it’s universal, or even prevalent, in UK English. Sources vary considerably in how they categorize and label the various treatments of punctuation with quotation marks, but apparently “British style” is widely used to designate what’s also, more descriptively, called “logical quotation”.—Odysseus1479 (talk) 06:59, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
Right, I think we should drop the terms "British style" and "American style". British texts used so-called "American style" until not so long ago, and plenty of Americans use LQ, on the grounds that it really is "logical". As a contradistinction to "logical quotation" we could say "aesthetic quotation"; I don't really know what's aesthetically superior about it, but aesthetics does seem to be the main reason that some people still prefer it long after the original technological grounds no longer apply (assuming that story is correct about the movable-type machines). --Trovatore (talk) 08:23, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, it's not the most clear article, and you're the expert on British usage, not me. But it does say, "When dealing with direct speech, British placement depends on whether or not the quoted statement is complete or a fragment" and "According to the British style guide Butcher's Copy-editing, American style should be used when writing fiction. In non-fiction, some British publishers may permit placing punctuation that is not part of the person's speech inside the quotation marks but prefer that it be placed outside." I'm no expert on LQ but I don't think that those rules about fiction vs. non-fiction apply here. I'm pretty sure we always put it where it would logically be put which is usually outside the quotation marks. It seems that the "wrong" example about Martha you chose may illustrate this distinction. AgnosticAphid talk 17:01, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

LQ keeps getting discussed over and over because it is a bad rule. It directly contradicts the established rules of American English. It directly contradicts the respect for the diversity of the English language embodied in WP:ENGVAR. It directly contradicts the overwhelming majority of reliable sources on style, writing and punctuation. No one has ever offered a shred of non-hypothetical evidence that it prevents problems or improves the reader experience in any way. The only reason that it is still here is because it is popular among contributors to this page. It should have been fixed years ago. Verifiability is supposed to matter more than a few people's preferences.

As for terminology, "British style" and "American style" are 1. how the established sources refer to British punctuation and American punctuation, and 2. accurate. So yes, "British" should be taken to mean that it's prevalent, because it is more than prevalent. The great majority of professional and professional-quality writing out of Britain uses British style and almost all such writing out of the U.S. uses American style. Sure, a minority of writers on each side of the puddle use different systems, but if 100% compliance were required, we wouldn't be able to call them "American spelling" or "British spelling" either.

In the absence of any observable differences in performance, "The British way is more logical" boils down to "I like the British way more." That is why so many people prefer American style: because there is no material reason not to. There is nothing logical or illogical about using a style that does not improve the reader experience. (Chicago MoS 14th edition: "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.") Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:06, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

I've always assumed that Wikipedia uses logical quotation because computer programmers do and we have a lot of computer-oriented users. (Computer geeks use LQ for good reason: if you're telling people what to type on a command line or in code, it really matters whether the code includes a bit of punctuation at the end). WhatamIdoing (talk) 06:07, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
That's a nice point, yes. It really does not boil down to what one likes more. Anyone who deals with formal logic (programming languages being a special case of formal logic) is going to see that LQ is more natural. Formal logic is of course adaptable enough to deal with TQ ("typesetters' quotation" -- I've decided to call it that, because calling it "American" offends even my minuscule patriotic sense, kind of like "American cheese"). But there's no reason to, and it's an obvious hack. Darkfrog is correct that, when reporting natural language, it's generally unlikely to result in confusion, but it is definitely not "logical", at least in the sense of "conforming to what is natural when developing formal logic". --Trovatore (talk) 06:34, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Darkfrog, does your view boil down to "I don't like it" too? There are very good reasons not to do "this kind of thing," where the comma is clearly part of the highest rank and not part of the quotation or marked text within quotes. And italicising a comma, just because it's adjacent to italicised (text,) is just (weird.) However, neither LQ nor Chicago's way (16th edition, please, not 14th), can be entirely consistent. There's no perfect solution. Tony (talk) 07:54, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
No, my view does not boil down to "I prefer U.S. English" and here's why: It boils down to "1. All the sources say that this tucking commas in is correct American English and leaving them out is incorrect. 2. ENGVAR establishes that we're supposed to treat national varieties of English equally. and 3. Yes, I also prefer U.S. English." But I also have zero problem using British English in articles written in British English. In fact, I've gone into British English articles and changed U.S. punctuation to British where appropriate. So yes, I have personal preferences like everyone else, but they are consistent with the sources rather than contradicting them. We might not have a perfect solution but we do have a proven one: ENGVAR. WP:MoS is not here to improve the English language, not by making it more consistent nor in any other way; it's here to tell people how to use it properly.
That wouldn't surprise me, WhatamIdoing. That's my guess for how this rule got here in the first place, but I also dug through the archives and heard something about a compromise between U.S. and British English: Wikipedia would require double quotation marks, believed to be American even though British English uses both, while it would require British punctuation.
Trovatore, what you refer to as "formal logic" does not improve the Wikipedia reader experience, so it's generous to call it a personal preference. It appeals to you personally, but that's it. Correct punctuation does improve the reader experience in that it's more educational and inspires confidence. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:25, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
It's not that it appeals to me and that's it. It really is more logical. If you were designing a punctuation system from scratch, and you do anything with logic or programming, there's just no way you would even consider moving the comma inside the trailing quote. It makes no sense; it's just weird.
Story I've heard is that it somehow made dies in movable-type machines less likely to break. I don't fully understand why that would happen, and I'm not sure it's true, but if true it would at least be a decent rationale, if you're using movable-type machines. But when you're not, I just don't see one at all.
This is not like spelling. We all understand that English spelling comes from dozens of sources and doesn't fit into any single rational scheme, and that's fine. But punctuation is specifically there to mirror the logical structure of a sentence. --Trovatore (talk) 15:24, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
I endorse DarkFrog's comments throughout the thread above, almost to the word. The traditional American English quotation conventions are the overwhelming majority practice in the largest English-speaking country in the world, with over 60% of all native English-speakers. Yes, there are a small minority of Americans who either because of a specialized profession or personal choice use LQ; the overwhelming majority of Americans and mainstream U.S. publication do not, and LQ is not taught as standard punctuation in American schools and universities. Likewise, there remains a sizable plurality, if not a small majority who continue to use traditional quotation conventions in the UK and other Commonwealth countries. What is better, or "more logical," from the viewpoint of LQ advocates should be irrelevant in the face of overwhelming practice in American English per ENGVAR.
No, I do not expect MOS's adoption of universal LQ to change today, tomorrow or next month, nor do I plan to challenge this MOS "orthodoxy" anytime soon because I see it as a divisive and time-consuming black hole for my Wikipedia efforts. Nevertheless, LQ advocates need to understand that this will remain a recurring bone of contention with the overwhelming majority of new good-faith American editors who were raised and educated with the overwhelming majority quotation practices in the United States. As I have often said before, MOS works best when it tracks the majority practices prevalent in the real world, not when it attempts to reform the English language and/or impose the preferred grammar and punctuation practices of Wikipedia editors. The ongoing controversy and constant challenges from newcomers are the prices to be paid for MOS imposing a prescriptive rule in the face of the majority practice in the real world. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 15:20, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
The thing is, there's really no objective benefit to requiring adoption of the of American or typesetters' quotation rules. The only thing that can really be argued is, "I like it more because I'm used to it since I'm American, and I think readers will too, since they're probably American." But that's not really much of an argument since many non-American readers could say exactly the opposite about their home punctuation rules. And the US is not the center of even the English-speaking universe. (I'm American too, don't worry.) The only real option would be to just say, "let's use whatever punctuation style we want!" But I fear that would make the encyclopedia seem sloppy. And there is a comprehension and accuracy benefit to LQ, even if it's not major. If we are going to pick a punctuation rule it should be one that makes sense. AgnosticAphid talk 16:59, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

There is a good analysis at User:SMcCandlish/Logical quotation that makes it clear that LQ is a style choice, not tied to American or British. It may not be the most common choice in either country, but is used in both, and preferred by many guides, because it conveys meaning better and respects quotations better, as opposed to the alternative which is more about just the "look" of the marks, as preferred by typesetters. Dicklyon (talk) 16:31, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

I read through SmC's essay. It's better described as a rant than an analysis, and the bottom line is that SmC is wrong. British style is British and it does not convey meaning better. You'll notice that SmC provides no material evidence that American style causes misquotations or other problems—because that is so rare that it's safe to say it doesn't happen under ordinary circumstances.
Punctuation, like spelling, has been documented in many, many sources, yes "dozens," as Trovatore calls it. As for T's question, if I were designing a punctuation system meant to be read by machines, I would probably either do it the way T is describing or program the machines to read properly, but Wikipedia's target audience is human readers. The human brain does not process text the same way computers do. For humans, the limiting factors are the subjective flow of the text and the way the eyes track the marks across the page. I wouldn't be surprised if American style were slightly easier on the eyes (literally), but I don't know that any side-by-side study has been done on how comma placement affects reading comprehension. I find it so, but that could just as easily mean that people process the punctuation system that they were raised to read more easily than a new system. To go back to SmC's essay, one of the main arguments is the assumption that quoted words and text are string literals, and they're not. We're writing words and sentences for human beings, not code for computers.
Anyone who doesn't know that the quotation marks do not indicate that the closing comma or period was not necessarily part of the quoted material has not yet finished learning how to read, just as people who don't know that "centre" and "theatre" are not pronounced "sen-treh" and "thee-treh" has not yet finished learning how to read. They are best served by being shown correct English practices.
Yes, many people find British style to be more logical, but it makes no measurable difference to the reader, so there's no logical reason to prefer it in a writing system meant for human readers. It's appealing to computer programmers and logicians rather than advantageous to Wikipedia or the people it serves. American style does have an advantage in that it is easier to learn, implement, and copy edit with multiple users, but other than that, it's like the choice of spelling systems; it doesn't make that much difference. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:53, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Thank you, Dicklyon, but most of us have already read the essay linked. Oddly, I really have no desire to open this discussion in the near future, but the MOS LQ advocates overstate their case by half. SMcCandlish's essay is an advocacy piece in favor of LQ; it is not an even-handed analysis of what the real world practice is. No amount of argument, by him or anyone else, can change the simple fact that traditional American quotation conventions are the overwhelming majority practice in the United States among American writers, publications, universities and style guides, and no amount of argument based on "logic" or "better practice" can alter that. To the best of my knowledge, there is not a single American national or regional newspaper that uses LQ, nor a single mainstream American style guide that advocates its general use. LQ may or may not be a "style choice," but MOS has chosen to disregard the overwhelming majority practice in the country of which 60% of all native English-speakers are citizens. Again, MOS works best when it tracks the majority practice in the real world and does not attempt to impose its own choices in the face of actual majority practice. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 17:10, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
This amounts to a very weak WP:JDLI argument. What about all the people who speak English as non-native speakers or the 40% of native speakers who aren't American? As I pointed out just above, there simply is no objective benefit to using typesetters' quotation rules. AgnosticAphid talk 17:17, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
AA, my take is that "JDLI" is a not-so-subtle attempt to discredit the overwhelming majority practice in the United States. Whether you, I or anyone likes the "traditional" quotation convention is irrelevant. It is what it is, and the MOS has consciously chosen to disregard that majority practice, which leads to never-ending talk page arguments among good-faith editors. Furthermore, the remaining 40% of the English-speaking world does not uniformly use LQ, either. While it is in greater use in Commonwealth countries than the United States, it is unclear whether it is the present majority practice in the UK or anywhere else. My perception is that LQ is still the minority practice in Canada. As for non-native English readers, we do not write our Wikipedia articles for Chinese computer programmers. And, no, I do not advocate imposing American practice on anyone; quite the contrary. This should be an ENGVAR issue, and quotation conventions in American English articles should be consistent with the overwhelming majority practice for a given form of English. The clear "objective benefit" to using traditional quotation conventions in American English articles is greater article stability, fewer unnecessary talk page arguments, and a quotation convention that all literate American writers understand and regularly uee. Again, MOS works best when it tracks the majority practice in the real world, not attempts to reform the language. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 17:32, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
It's not WP:JDLI; it's WP:V. One side just doesn't like American style and the other side doesn't like having to follow rules based on the other side's whims. When both sides can be construed as JDLI, go with the sources: The sources say to tuck in the commas in U.S. English. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:34, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
Dirt, it doesn't seem to warrant engvar status. Newspapers outside North America often use [a type of] internal punctuation, although they're often not entirely consistent (and as well, as I pointed out above, there's no magic system for every context). And some US academic journals insist on LQ, apparently for similar reasons to WP: respect for precision in quoting sources. Tony (talk) 04:44, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
Tony, the use of traditional quotation conventions in American English doesn't warrant ENGVAR status according to whom? The handful of American academic journals that "insist on using" LQ constitute a small percentage of all American academic journals, and a fraction of a percent of all American publications. At the end of the day, it is simply undeniable that traditional quotation conventions are taught in virtually all American secondary schools and universities, virtually all American regional and national newspapers and magazines use them, the overwhelming majority of American style guides continue to use them, and the overwhelming majority of American academic journals use them. Traditional quotation conventions are not some archaic or eccentric usage in American English; it is the way it is done. The rare American publication that uses LQ is the eccentric exception to the rule; the use of LQ among American writers and publications is rarer still than American writers and publications who use DMY format dates. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 06:05, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
So, to be clear, your proposal is that the English Wikipedia should change its policy to include quotation conventions within ENGVAR rather than requiring a common style?
One objection I can see to this is that it increases the difference between the "correct" styling of different articles and thus increases the chances of disputes between editors, particularly where it's not clear what ENGVAR either is or should be used for an article. Another is that the LQ policy has been in existence for long enough to ensure that very many articles using US English would then be using the "wrong" quotation convention. Are the advantages of such a policy change enough to make it worthwhile? If you think they are, then start an RfC on such a policy change.
(I'm not sure if you intended a comparison, but I would note that this is very different from the date issue. A date like 5/3/2013 isn't acceptable in an international publication because it's ambiguous. LQ by contrast does produce a minor improvement in precision of quotation, but it's mostly a matter of custom and aesthetics.) Peter coxhead (talk) 10:25, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
"Oh but this rule has been around forever!" Yes, but hardly anyone follows it. This rule has far, far lower compliance than other rules. Yes, many American English articles need their punctuation corrected, but if you hit "random article" or even "featured article," you'll see that lots of them used American style on their big day.
And I have to second the "according to whom?" Almost every single style guide refers to these practices as British and American. How many sources of similar quality can be shown to indicate that they're not part of the national variety?
No, it doesn't produce a minor improvement in precision. It produces a hypothetical and imaginary improvement. There is no material difference in the reader experience. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:00, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
Darkfrog is correct and has been hitting the nail on the head with each of his posts. And quite frankly, I find the usage "logical" punctuation to be disrespectful. Having these policies unilaterally favoring one country's methods over the other and in all areas of Wikipedia like this reeks of constant controversies, constant confusions, constant mix-ups, and constant frustrations and hassles, etc. Unless you enjoy going in circles and circles with this debate and people always coming here with contentions, you all are encouraged to make the policies more reasonable. And use of the word "logical" only adds to these plights especially if you're a longtime student of American educational systems.
The least the policies could do is distinguish between articles rooted and set in American subjects and articles rooted and set in the subjects of other countries as has been done with terminologies. If it's been deemed necessary with terminologies then why isn't it deemed necessary with punctuation. There's no difference. Punctuation relates to grammar just as terminologies relate to grammar. American Wikipedia editors should not have to be required to change up everything they've learned in regards to punctuation because Wikipedia has customized itself to the rules and customs of another country. AmericanDad86 (talk) 17:12, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
You don't have to think logical quotation is "logical" in the sense of being the "rational choice"; that's not what the name means. It's "logical" in the sense that it directly reflects the logical structure of the grammar. (Well, in the cases most often disputed, anyway — true logical quotation would get rid of the limits on the count of terminal punctuation, and allow things like John said, "We're done here."., with the first period terminating John's sentence and the second one terminating the larger sentence.) --Trovatore (talk) 19:27, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
I'll see if I can make my meaning more clear: No matter how much British style appeals to anyone's sense of logic, because there is no logical reason to use it in American English articles, the policy WP:LQ is not itself logical. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:27, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
While the "American style" (for want of a better phrase) looks like a bit of a dog's dinner to me, I have to say I don't see why it can't be used for American subjects and by American editors, in the WP:ENGVAR way. If I were required to use it through some official marginalisation of the "British style", I would object most vociferously. I have every sympathy with the OP, and Darkfrog et al. Bretonbanquet (talk) 17:59, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
The use of "logical" quotation looks anything but logical to me. Every time I read an article consisting of American subject matter with British-style punctuation it looks like a glaring error, making the article more difficult and less pleasing to read. For the vast majority of native English speakers, British-style punctuation will continue to look and continue to be, grammatically, WRONG. Imposition of one nationality's grammar system on all others is an appalling error and needs to be amended with haste. Sweetmoniker (talk) 20:23, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

I would like to interject a bit of reality here - let's not conflate the article writing process with the article editing process. When writing an article, no one can force you to write in a style you are not familiar with. The writer can do what ever comes naturally (which is likely to be the style that the writer was taught in school). THAT'S OK. It is not a "violation of the rules" for an Englishman to use UK styling ... even in an article about an American topic. Nor is it a "violation of the rules" for an American to use US styling ... even when writing about a British topic. In fact, the article writers can completely ignore the MOS if they wish to... as long as they understand that others... article editors are going to come by and "correct" their work so it conforms to the MOS. Blueboar (talk) 15:38, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

That's all true, Blueboar, but it may be a distinction with little meaning. We are ignoring the role of the reader, our consumer and target audience. For 320 million American readers, reading an American English article about an American-specific subject, LQ is an odd and unnatural convention. Contrary to the statements made by several LQ advocates above, LQ is a distinctly minority practice in the United States. Virtually no major American publications use LQ, no mainstream American style guides support the use of LQ, virtually no secondary schools and universities teach LQ, and the handful of academic journals that use it are a minuscule minority. That's a bit of reality that LQ advocates seem determined to ignore when prescribing its use in MOS.
In short, LQ is an eccentric punctuation oddity to the overwhelming majority of literate American readers. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 15:54, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
I don't disagree... but remember that it goes both ways.. American styling is an eccentric punctuation oddity to the overwhelming majority of literate non-American readers. I don't think we can base this on readers, since the number of American readers (who think LQ looks wrong) is about equal to the number of non-American readers (who think American usage looks wrong). "ENGVAR" isn't perfect, but it is the closest we can come to a compromise.
To my mind it all comes down to this... Writers should simply write articles, without overly worrying about the issue. Editors may "correct" the punctuation when appropriate (the question being whether the "correction" is appropriate in a given context). And everyone needs to understand that no matter what you do, half of our readers are going to think we are doing it right, and the other half will think we are doing it "wrong". If we accept these three basic truths, the rest is just a matter of reaching compromise and consensus. Blueboar (talk) 02:08, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
Blueboar, I do remember every time I touch an article written in British/Commonwealth English. With six years of high school and college French and a year of graduate work at a British university, I have no problem with Norman French spelling and British punctuation, even if I do miss an idiomatic UK phrase now and again. Regarding ENGVAR, the compromise solution is obvious: allow articles written in American English to use traditional quotation conventions. Oh, and by the way, to the extent the articles are written in Canadian English, the same should probably apply to them. I checked a half dozen major Canadian newspapers since my last comment, including The National Post and The Toronto Star, and none of them use LQ, as I suspected was the case. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 12:51, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
IIANM they’ll all be following the Canadian Press Stylebook; a broader survey of Canadian books and literary publications would probably show some variety. The Canadian Encyclopedia uses American style, in both the on-line version and the formerly printed books. The government’s Translation Bureau website also recommends the stops-inside-quotes style. I‘m in favour of LQ myself, but if we‘re counting national noses I have to admit that Canada’s lines up with the USA’s. —Odysseus1479 07:41, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
I don't purport to be an expert on the quotation conventions used by Aussies, but I do note for the record that The Australian, Canberra Times and Sydney Morning Herald all appear to be using traditional quotation conventions in today's online editions and not LQ. If LQ is, in fact, the minority practice in Australia, it would appear that MOS has consciously chosen to make Wikipedia one of the odd men out in the English-speaking world by prescribing LQ in all national varieties of English. Again, MOS works best when it tracks the majority practice in the real world. Perhaps ENGVAR should be applied to quotation conventions for American, Canadian and Australian varieties of English. Do we have any Kiwi or Irish participants in this discussion? What is the prevalent quotation convention for the Irish and New Zealanders? Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 12:51, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
So, what is the underlying question here?
If the question is "Should we require LQ?" then I think the consensus is clearly no.
If the question is "Should we allow LQ?" then the consensus is clearly yes.
And if question is "Should we change the punctuation of an article from one style to another?" the consensus is more mixed... because the real answer is an unsatisfying: "Sometimes yes, sometimes no." Figuring out whether to change from one punctuation style to another (or not) depends on a host of sub-issues. It is a decision that has to be made at the article level, through discussion and consensus. It isn't something that the MOS can make a "rule" about.
However, the MOS can give flexible guidance to help editors make that article level decision... our goal should be to help editors understand when and why to use each of the various punctuation styles. Blueboar (talk) 12:36, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
Blueboar, I appreciate the flexibility and willingness to compromise you bring to the discussion. Admittedly, I am reacting to your statement immediately above and thinking out loud . . . perhaps I should ask some questions before I react. How would article-level decisions regarding the quotation convention to be used work? What if it's an American-specific article in American English, say about the U.S. Congress, and one author insists on maintaining the use of LQ? Conversely, what if the article subject is the Scottish highlands, it's written in standard British English, and a plurality of editors insist on using traditional quotation conventions. How do those article-level discussions get resolved? Are you suggesting an article-by-article approach to determining what quotation conventions are used? Would there be a default system for particular national varieties of English? 12:51, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
I have to agree with Blueboar on most of these points, with one addition: Yes, a good chunk of the readers will assume that the punctuation is wrong no matter which style they see, but if we use the punctuation that is correct relative to its variety of English, then we educate them instead of just annoying them. Wikipedia is where I found out that the British had a different punctuation style, that leaving commas untucked wasn't just an extremely common error.
As for "Should we change the punctuation of an article from one style to another?" I'd go with "Yes, where appropriate." My personal plan would be to go the talk page of American Civil War, mention that the rule had been changed, wait a day or two, and then correct the article's punctuation if there were no objections. Since almost no one but us cares about this rule, objections will probably be rare. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:51, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
I am fine with "Yes, where appropriate". Of course that leaves open the question of "when is it appropriate to change the punctuation style and when is it not?" I think basing appropriateness on ENGVAR makes the most sense (it isn't always perfect, but it is a good compromise)... However, we also need to understand that there may be factors affecting a specific article that ENGVAR does not cover. They are rare, but they exists. That's why this has to be written to give editors some degree of flexibility (something I wish the MOS did more often)... phrased as flexible guidance and explanation as opposed to being phrased as inflexible "rules". Blueboar (talk) 16:18, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
The editors participating in this discussion are reasonable people (or so we would like to think). Personally, I'm not going to start changing the quotation conventions of articles on which I don't work regularly; and, if a a majority of the regular editors of a given article want to use a particular style of quotation in that article, I would be inclined to acquiesce. I can even imagine American editors of American English articles on certain topics preferring LQ for those topics (e.g., computer-related, or that group of linguists who insist on using LQ in the one American academic journal that uses it). If we are serious about doing this, I just want to make sure that the rules of engagement are clear and well understood. I don't want any MOS change allowing for ENGVAR-based flexibility to lead to warring camps of American editors (or those of any other nationality). This change should lead to greater article stability after the transition, not edit-warring over gnomish edits. In fact, I think the gnomes should be politely asked to avoid the issue for some grace period to allow for a conflict-free transition at the article level. I think there should be a default for each national variety of English, with the understanding that a clear consensus can select one or the other at the article level. More than anything, we should all want to avoid creating more arguments than we already have on point. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 18:45, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
As for exceptions, how about use British style in any case in which the quoted material is chemical formulae or strings of characters (as in "Type in 'XKG.43%'.")? Most American style guides already make exceptions for such cases anyway. However, I don't see why there would be any need to write the whole article that way.
I don't see why the gnomes should be told to avoid the issue. At most, they should be advised that people have fought about it.
I'm thinking something simple like, "In nonfiction, most national varieties of English use one of two systems regarding the placement of periods and commas that are adjacent to closing quotation marks. In American English, periods and commas are placed inside. In British English, periods and commas are treated the same way as question marks and exclamation points; they are placed inside the quotation marks if they apply to the quoted material and outside if they do not." Then maybe a list of which other national varieties use which system and an example or two. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:21, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
That seems both sufficient and clear to me (except to note, pedantically, that in British English periods aren't placed anywhere). The discussion above suggests there is a consensus to alter the MOS in this way, so is this going to be done? Peter coxhead (talk) 19:33, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I don't think there is a consensus to change WP:LQ. I still don't see how it's legitimate to change the rule because "Americans think LQ is weird" when LQ as used on Wikipedia isn't even a British thing. I don't see how allowing a mishmash of punctuation styles accomplishes anything but make wikipedia look sloppy. I don't think that the alternative of fighting over whether or not topics are or are not sufficiently connected to a particular country to warrant an exception to the general LQ rule is an improvement over the current system. I feel as though if a dramatic change is going to be made to the MOS on this point that there should be an advertised RFC and not just a discussion among half a dozen people here. AgnosticAphid talk 20:11, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Allowing this aspect of punctuation to follow WP:ENGVAR would arguably be more consistent and produce less surprise and unproductive churn for new US editors, but I agree there ought to be an RFC before an about-face in such a long-standing part of MOS. William Avery (talk) 20:25, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
I agree with Avery. It's not that Americans think it's weird, AgnosticAphid. It's that it directly contradicts almost all the reliable sources on correct American English. The rule is only there in the first place because many of the people who work on this page consider American English punctuation to be weird. Using American spelling but requiring British punctuation in the same article is far more of a mishmash than following ENGVAR is. Those articles look sloppy now. Changing the rule would allow editors to fix them.
If you feel an RfC or village pump mention would be merited, go ahead. It probably shouldn't be me because I posted the last RfC on this subject a few years back. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:50, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I think it is kind of a gross oversimplification to say that "the rule is only there in the first place because many of the people who work on this page consider American English punctuation to be weird." It seems to me that LQ was adopted as a compromise between AE and BE w/r/t the issue of punctuation. Or maybe it was adopted because of the minor comprehension benefit, or perhaps it was a combination of the two. It certainly wasn't adopted because people from the UK decided that they thought it'd be sweet to impose their own cherished punctuation style on everyone else. That wouldn't have been a good reason to make the rule and it's not a good reason to change the rule. I think that perhaps someone who actually supports this proposal would be a better person to create an RFC. Unless you want the RFC to be, "here's all the reasons I don't think we should change anything!" AgnosticAphid talk 21:13, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Just to be clear, AA, I for one am not setting this as an "us against them" or "US vs. the Commonwealth" debate. In my personal experience, the most vocal and adamant MOS proponents of LQ have been American editors; perhaps being in a minority among their compatriots makes them such strong advocates of their pro-LQ position. Maybe they're natural contrarians. I do know that many, if not most British editors take the attitude of Blueboar and Odyssey above. That is, if it's important to American editors and readers, then they should not be forced to use a minority punctuation practice that is foreign to them. That's completely in the spirit of ENGVAR; let national varieties of English thrive, and let's stop using MOS to try to change the English language. The beauty of the language of Shakespeare is its flexibility and adaptability. The whole debate above about which quotation convention is "better" is pointless; it makes no more sense than arguing about whether Noah Webster's simplified American spelling or Norman French-influenced British spelling is better. Whether we spell "labour" with three vowels or two, there really is no reason to belabor the argument. At its core, this ongoing debate is not about what's better; it's about respecting the spelling and usage differences between national varieties of English in the spirit of the ENGVAR guideline, and in this particular case, respecting the predominant punctuation differences between them, too.
And as I pointed out above, LQ does not appear to be the current majority practice in either Canada or Australia. It may be that three or four national varieties of English will employ the traditional quotation conventions on Wikipedia if an ENGVAR solution is implemented. But let's allow English to be the flexible old girl we all know and love, instead of continuing to wrap her in a straight jacket. And once again, I conclude with my refrain: the MOS works best when it tracks the majority practice in the real world. In this case, let it track the majority practices within each national variety of English per ENGVAR. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 21:52, 20 May 2013 (UTC) Okay, I'm climbing off my soapbox now. I'll meet you at Speaker's Corner, and we can all wander down to the pub for a pint after. Any of you fellas any good at darts?
If we're going to follow ENGVAR, does that mean UK related articles would use single quote marks instead of double to indicate quotation? I think there is something positive to be said for consistent use of LQ in Wikipedia as a compromise between American and UK styles. SchreiberBike (talk) 00:13, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
I agree. There's a lot to be said for WP having a consistent style. As an American, I have no problem accepting, understanding, and applying LQ, and the Brits seem to have no problems using double quotes. Not broken, so don't fix. Dicklyon (talk) 00:24, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
The difference, SchreiberBike, is that British English allows either single or double quotation marks so long as one is consistent, kind of like how it allows the serial/Oxford comma to be either used or omitted or how it allows -ise or -ize (but not -yze) spelling. If you're writing in British English and you use double quotes, then you've chosen one of two acceptable styles. Standard American English requires American punctuation. If you're writing in American English and you use British punctuation, then you're wrong, just like if you'd written "harbour" with a U or if you'd written "analyze" in a British work. In context, those words are misspelled. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:08, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Please consider these points made by Noetica in February 2010 (Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style/Archive 113#Noetica's advice).
The facts as I see them:
  1. Few sources independent of WP call the system "logical quotation", and none in print I know of do so. "Logical punctuation" is the far more common term, though this is normally used with broader meaning than our "logical quotation". An example of this broad use (from a fine book, of which I own a copy): "Logical+punctuation"

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

    And most importantly, the relevant excerpt from the most pertinent source of all (Trask's "Penguin Guide to Punctuation", 1997): [2] (R.L. Trask was an academic linguist who wrote authoritative reference works in linguistics, and much more. That excerpt is not quite the same as the printed version.)

  2. The WP article that Logical quotation redirects to is Quotation mark, which gives no source for the term "logical quotation", nor any source that sets out the rules.
  3. Discussion of the topic at WT:MOS hardly ever gives sources. It is full of opinion on both sides.
  4. Logical quotation is decidedly more British than American. This is a real shame, since even many Americans who are willing to examine its claims dispassionately find it difficult to do so. And this British bias surely makes for poisoned politics.
  5. Rigorous logical quotation is intrinsically better than the other extreme (the "American" or "conventional" system), but its implementation would need slight adjustment for robust and stable acceptance. Trask finds that British publishers apply it with "one curious exception". Well, my research shows that not all apply it with Trask's exception, and some of the best apply it with a different exception. Anyway, there is no reason WP should not also apply it with reasonable exceptions, except for the practical difficulties in expressing these in a Manual of Style.
Wavelength (talk) 00:37, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
Wavelength, you are as always thorough and dispassionate, which I appreciate. I must object to your point #5. No proof that British/logical punctuation is "intrinsically better," here defined as providing any material or non-hypothetical advantage to the reader, has ever been provided here. (If you have any, go ahead and provide it.) Its proponents have shown how it can appeal to a person's sense of logic but not that it improves reading comprehension or prevents errors in subsequent editing. American style, however, has some advantages that can be seen easily: It's easier to learn and implement. Articles written in American English can be copy-edited without any need to constantly re-check the source material. I can understand why proponents of the British system would think that the extra effort was worth it—I'd certainly be willing to do the extra work if I were punctuating a British English article—and it's more of an advantage to editors than to readers, but it is an advantage. Of course, if you want to refer to #5 as an opinion rather than as a fact, then proof is not required, only useful.
Wikipedia has a very good reason not to use British punctuation in every article: Not every article is written in British English. Correct punctuation is as valuable to Wikipedia as correct spelling.
EDIT: Request clarification regarding point #2. Quotation mark has many tagged sources that describe the rules of punctuation, including the APA style guide, Chicago, and Butcher's. Did you mean something else by "the rules"? Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:48, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
As I said, "these points" were "made by Noetica". Point #5 is his point and not mine. However, I can illustrate one advantage of the so-called "logical quotation".
  • "Acrobats" said the circus manager, "who are easily distracted", and the clown added "are prone to physical accidents."
  • "Acrobats," said the circus manager, "who are easily distracted," and the clown added "are prone to physical accidents."
In the first example, the relative clause "who are easily distracted" is obviously restrictive, limiting the quoted statement to only those acrobats who are easily distracted, and excluding any who are not.
In the second example, with "logical quotation" it must be non-restrictive, but with so-called "aesthetic quotation" ("esthetic quotation"), the question of restrictiveness is ambiguous. The quoted statement might refer to all acrobats (and mention parenthetically that all of them are easily distracted). Likewise, it might refer to easily distracted acrobats and not to any who are not easily distracted.
Point #5 is another point made by Noetica and not by me. His point seems to refer to the rules for using what Wikipedia calls "logical quotation".
Wavelength (talk) 03:14, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
I see. I was interpreting the "I" in "the facts as I see them" as referring to yourself. As for the example you gave, I guess that's a slight advantage, but only if the reader knows to look for it. I wouldn't say that something like this makes the British system "intrinsically better" than the American system when weighed against the U.S. system's ease of use. It's certainly not reason enough to use incorrect punctuation in American English articles. Now, if anyone could show a non-hypothetical example, like a sentence in a real Wikipedia article whose meaning was preserved by the British system or muddled by the American system, then we might have something to work on. Darkfrog24 (talk) 12:59, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
  • The intrinsic benefit is a minor accuracy benefit. We are an encyclopedia. We could make the process of writing articles a lot easier for everyone by doing away with all sorts of grammar, punctuation, and reference rules. But I don't think that's what we want. The question is whether that minor accuracy benefit plus the consistency benefit outweighs the unexpected surprise for new American editors, not whether there even is an accuracy benefit. Surely we can at least agree on that. AgnosticAphid talk 16:05, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
The "accuracy benefit" is so minuscule as to barely merit the term. Imagine that there's a car that requires extra training to handle but this allows it to get much better mileage ...but only when it drives on brick roads. Since brick roads are so rare, it makes more sense to just buy a regular car that requires only regular driver's ed. If some people like doing the extra work and saving the extra tenth of a gallon per year, fine for them, but don't make a law banning the use of regular cars just because a few people have what boils down to a personal preference for the other ones.
As to your question, no Wikipedia is not here to fix the great flaws in the English language. It would make more sense to spell "cat" with a K, but then we'd look stupid. As for consistency, it would make far more sense to just write the whole encyclopedia in British English. However, as long as ENGVAR is in place, we should commit to it. Either allow the articles to be written in American English or don't, but right now, Wikipedia is pretending to allow writers to use American English, that that is what's really making people angry. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:58, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
The use of "logical quotation" does not require extra training, but actually requires less training. I have used both styles in composing prose. Although it is easy enough to learn to tuck commas and periods (full stops) inside quotation marks, and to leave semicolons and other punctuation outside quotation marks, "logical quotation" is certainly easier and more straightforward. Incidentally, mathematicians do not tuck commas or full stops (periods) inside superscript numerals.
  • The formula for the area of a circle is A = πr2.
Familiarity is not the same as simplicity. For many people, simple options (for example, Esperanto, the International Phonetic Alphabet, the metric system, and the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard) are unfamiliar, but they are simple in comparison to the more-familiar alternatives. With a little effort spent in learning them, they can become familiar also.
Wavelength (talk) 16:12, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
American punctuation: "Tuck commas and periods inside adjacent quotation marks all the time." British punctuation: "Tuck periods and commas inside the quotation marks if they apply to the quoted material but leave them outside if they do not. We will now undergo a lengthy lesson to show when they apply to the quoted material and when they don't..." I've seen enough young writers struggle with the American rule about question marks and exclamation points to know that this does require more training than "just tuck them in." Saying that the British system is not prohibitively difficult is one thing, but yes it is harder to learn than the American system is.
If we're going to acknowledge a benefit so minuscule as the British system's treatment of restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses, then it's only fair to also acknowledge that the American system is easier to teach, learn and use. Darkfrog24 (talk) 18:39, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Once again, as many previous MOS/LQ discussions have before, this discussion thread has wandered into the weeds and is in the process of becoming lost in the minutia.
The use of the traditional quotation conventions in American English articles should have nothing to do with whether it is easier or harder, better or worse, or has some marginal benefit or detriment. This discussion should be focused on what the majority practice in the real world is, not what a handful of MOS participants think the majority practice should be. Why in heaven's name would we force the overwhelming majority of American readers and editors to use a punctuation practice that is foreign to them? Moreover, that same majority practice apparently holds in both Canada and Australia, and it is unclear what the present majority practice is in the UK. When MOS adopted this distinctly minority practice it set itself in conflict with every new American editor who is functionally literate in his or her own national variety of English. Ditto the Canadians, and apparently the Aussies, too.
Assuming for the sake of argument that Wavelength is correct that there is some small marginal benefit to LQ, that small marginal benefit does not outweigh the annoyance, inconvenience and conflict that the mandatory use of LQ in American English articles causes. Wikipedia is a voluntary project; therefore in the majority of style practices, it must rely on editors' voluntary compliance with the MOS, most of whom are unaware of the MOS' existence. When MOS adopts a minority practice, it creates a compliance problem, rather than resolving one.
So long as MOS requires the use of LQ in American English articles, we can look forward to revisiting this issue over and over again as new, good-faith American editors arrive at this talk page, and are told by LQ advocates about the innate superiority of LQ over the quotation punctuation that all Americans were taught in secondary school and university. And that, my friends, is quite illogical when ENGVAR offers the obvious resolution. Similarly, I think Noah Webster's simplified American spelling is simpler, more intuitive and easier to learn than the French-influenced British spelling, but I would never presume to impose it on articles written in other national varieties of English. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 19:19, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
I find this to be rather alarmist. There is no deadline and no "problem." Nobody is forcing anybody to punctuate anything in a particular way. Nobody will be upset if someone "violates" the LQ "rule." There is no reason for anyone to be annoyed or inconvenienced, or to start fighting, over whether or not they were aware of Wikipedia's punctuation rules. Nobody will berate editors for being newcomers unfamiliar with the MOS. Nobody will force those newcomers to fix the punctuation "problem" themselves. If such things happen, it's the fault of the BITE-y experienced editors, not the LQ policy. At the very worst, some new American editor will create an extensive new article all by themselves and be surprised when (months? years?) later someone changes the location of certain periods and commas in their writing. I fail to see how this is such an alarming result. If you are so concerned about repeated arguments on this page, then perhaps we can create an FAQ at the top that pre-empts such arguments. Your statement ignores the consistency benefit to our punctuation rules and you don't address why grammatical consistency across articles is an invalid concern.
Moreover, and most importantly from my perspective, the ENGVAR policy is hardly a model of harmonious cooperation and fuzzy warm feelings. It creates problems and conflicts because it is not always perfectly clear when articles are or are not related to particular varieties of English (how about the War of 1812?). Also, because it has exceptions it leads to a lot of squabbling over whether or not articles are using the right variety of English. For instance, the whole yogurt/yoghurt debacle was an enormous waste of everyone's time that persisted for years. I find it difficult to believe that adopting ENGVAR more widely is the route to less conflict and vexation on Wikipedia. AgnosticAphid talk 20:25, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
DL is right. While it might be fun to have an academic discussion of whether the British style or American style confers more net benefit to the reader or writer, the bottom line is that Wikipedia isn't supposed to be about our own opinions or conclusions. It's supposed to be about what reliable sources say. The overwhelming majority of reliable sources on American English say that American punctuation is required.
EDIT: AgnosticAphid, I got brought up on AN/I for using American punctuation in American English articles, and the person who reported me did seem pretty upset about it. So yes, as far as Wikipedia forces anything, I was forced to stop using correct American English. ENGVAR may not be perfect, but it's better than the "British punctuation is logical and good and American punctuation is bad and stupid" that we have mucking up the system now. More importantly, using incorrect punctuation makes Wikipedia look amateurish and sloppy. Darkfrog24 (talk) 20:28, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Care to divulge the result of that AN/I? I can't seem to find it in the archives but I'd be willing to eat my hat if an administrator berated you for using the wrong punctuation or ordered you to do anything. If it's some blowhard that wrongly dragged you to AN/I for making an innocent punctuation mistake, that was their bad and not LQ's fault like I already said.
I am sorry you feel that LQ was chosen for nationalist reasons. I am also sorry that you feel that those who support LQ are impugning the quality of American punctuation rules. I would note that you provide no basis for your statement above that SMcChandlish's rather extensive essay on this point is wrong and that LQ is British because "British style is British," a circular statement if I've ever seen one.
At any rate, your premise is flawed. What reliable American sources like the Chicago Manual of Style have to say about punctuation in American publications isn't relevant. Wikipedia isn't an American publication and American publications don't have to consider the competing values implicated by Wikipedia's international focus. What is relevant is what reliable sources say about punctuating international encyclopedias. That's a completely different question; it's one that could well be enlightening to answer, but one that requires less parochial sources. Moreover, if we are going to base our style rules solely on reliable sources than we'd better not change to something like ENGVAR, because I can pretty much guarantee that reliable sources on style don't allow for haphazard spelling (or punctuation) choices. AgnosticAphid talk 20:53, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Style guides are relevant enough to use as sources for the rest of the MoS. LQ should not be an exception solely because it's popular. The current rule on Wikipedia is not to use some artificial form of presumed standard international English—none exists in the real world—but to use more than one national variety. American style guides are reliable sources for what is and isn't correct American English.
For the level of consistency you're describing, Wikipedia would have to pick just one national variety of English. I personally would find it far less offensive if Wikipedia were written solely in British English, but it's not. Allowing real British English but pretend American English is what's really causing the problems here.
The AN/I: [3]
Sources showing that British punctuation is British and American is American: [4] [5] [6] [7] This takes about two minutes in Google and doesn't even count print sources. Darkfrog24 (talk) 21:04, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
You were brought to AN/I because you were deliberately avoiding compliance with a style rule you don't like. I don't think that's improper and I don't think that that shows that anyone is forcing anyone to do anything. They simply asked you to stop making incorrect punctuation changes. With regard to reliable sources, it sounds like you want to use reliable sources when it's convenient to your point of view (what American usage is), but not to determine the more inconvenient underlying question of whether we should use one punctuation style or two. With regard sources supporting your "British style is British" statement, the sources you provided say simply that commas and periods belong outside the quotation marks. They do not say that the punctuation belongs inside when it belongs to the quotation, which is the exact point made in SMC's essay (which points out that the British rule "is not the same as logical quotation at all..., and is little better than TQ's opposite insistence on always putting the punctuation inside"). Finally, I'd be interested to know whether you think that if we did switch to an ENGVAR rule we would also allow the use of single rather than double quotation marks, which is a British style that's also prohibited here. AgnosticAphid talk 21:21, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
I did make any incorrect punctuation changes. I made correct changes that were forbidden by WP:LQ. That distinction is the point of this conversation. I brought up the AN/I to refute your claim that no one would get upset if editors used correct American punctuation. No, I am not free to use correct punctuation, not if I don't want to be censured or blocked.
Before you accuse other people of only respecting sources when it's convenient, take a look at yourself. You don't like my sources, but they do show that reputable organizations like Chicago and the APA refer to these practices as American and British. Can you provide any that support your position that they are not American and British? SmC did not.
While we're on the subject, I have seen a quality source or two that refers to the British system as "logical," but I've never seen one that refers to it as TQ. "American" is the correct term. Almost every single American style guide requires that periods and commas be tucked inside the quotation marks. Why should the MoS forbid editors from doing what is required of them? Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:34, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
In the debate of over 100 years ago, it was cast as between the "aesthetic compositors" and a "completely logical system". And between the "question whether the printer's love for the old ways" and the "writer's and reader's desire to be understood and to understand fully". I don't know when compositors and printers got recast as typographers, but the connection is clear enough. This was all at Oxford. Dicklyon (talk) 02:54, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, one sentence from one guy who refers to "a [adjective] system" as if in passing doesn't quite cut it for "that's its name" in my book. Does he refer to the two systems as aesthetic and logical throughout the work? As for the "desire to be understood fully," allow me to quote Chicago (again): "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. Whereas there clearly is some risk with question marks and exclamation points, there seems little likelihood that readers will be misled concerning the period or comma." Over the past 150+ years, the American system has been found to meet the need for understanding. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:49, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
Your last sentence doesn't quite accurately represent the source; Chicago says that it works "fairly well", has not resulted in "serious" miscommunication, and that there is "little likelihood" of misleading readers. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of the system in terms of understanding. The argument for tucking in commas and full stops is aesthetic, not semantic. Peter coxhead (talk) 16:01, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
There may be only mild evidence of absence, but there's also a complete absence of evidence that British style performs better under real-world or Wikipedia conditions. Considering this, there is no logical reason to require a style that almost all sources on American English declare to be incorrect. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:42, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
One more thing: The fact that the first major work to advocate what we're now calling British style was The King's English, which was written by two British guys about the British variant of English also supports the conclusion that said style is in fact British. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:55, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
I think we can agree that the system originated in Britain and has had somewhat more uptake there than in America. But even in 1950 there were Americans using it and arguing its superiority, too. Dicklyon (talk) 07:17, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, neither system has 100% compliance in either country. However, originating in Britain and being used by the great majority of writers there and not used by almost all professional writers in the U.S. is sufficient to call the two systems "British" and "American," as we see in most sources that discuss the subject. Darkfrog24 (talk) 13:30, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
As far as single quotes vs. double, there are a few things that make this issue different from the ban of American punctuation: 1. British English explicitly allows either, so at no point is anyone forced to use punctuation that is incorrect in British English. It's more akin to either requiring or forbidding the serial comma. 2. One of the reasons why single quotes were banned is completely non-hypothetical. It messes with search functions. People suppose that single quotes might be mistaken for apostrophes (though that seems plausible), but anyone can run a search and observe that they interfere with search functions in some browsers. The ban is based at least in part on fact rather than on supposition, imagination or opinion. At no point has anyone ever demonstrated that American punctuation has ever caused even one problem on Wikipedia, not in usability, not in reading comprehension, not even one error introduced in subsequent editing. This issue has been put up for discussion many, many times, and none of the supporters of the ban—many of whom appear to hate American punctuation with a passion—have offered even one case from a real article, not one. In related news: Have you ever seen one?
My opinion of single-vs-double is the same as it was the last time I participated in a discussion on the matter: Browsers get better every year. The minute that the technical issues become a thing of the past for the majority of Wikipedia users (acknowledging that people in poorer countries may use older browsers), the MoS should lift the ban and allow either single or double in articles written in British English. If someone wanted to lift the ban while the technical issues were still a problem ...well... I wouldn't say I'd have any personal objection to that, but I don't know how vehemently I'd support it. Darkfrog24 (talk) 02:47, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
This conceptualizing of the MOS's style guidance as in including "bans" is not productive. There is good reason that we years ago achieved consensus on having a WP style, and on what that style includes. We are writing a world-wide English encyclopedia for world-wide readers, not a collection of articles for British readers and a collection of articles for American readers. If writers find themselves inconvenienced by the style guidance, they are free to ignore it. Style gnomes may eventually come around and make the article conform more closely to the recommended common style. It works well. I'd hate to see us split up into American versus British – I don't care for it much on spelling, either, but in that case there seems to be little alternative. Since we have achieved a degree of consensus around a single style, let's not be proposing a giant leap backwards that will fragment our style. Dicklyon (talk) 03:44, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
Dicklyon, when there's something that people are not allowed to do, that's called a "ban." This definition is independent of why the ban was put in place. I know you like to phrase things nicely, but "ban" is a relatively neutral term for WP:LQ. We have a ban on title case in headers and on single quotation marks too.
I wasn't free to ignore it when I got brought up on AN/I for using American punctuation in American English articles. Yes, this rule has low compliance, but that's just all the more reason to improve it. And in American English, correct punctuation isn't "recommended." It's required. This isn't a tradition; it's a rule. We do not have a consensus on a single style; we have a consensus on allowing multiple varieties of English. Using correct English instead of requiring incorrect English isn't a step backwards; it's a step forwards. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:06, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
I've never heard of anyone being taken to AN/I for using a style not in accord with the MOS. If you violate a ban, then yes, you get some kind of block or enforcement action. You must have done a lot more than use the wrong punctuation order to get brought to AN/I. What was it about really? Ah, here it is. They say you were "deliberately converting correctly-styled material to incorrect style" even after being asked to stop. And the guy who brought the charge subsequently admitted that "there is nothing in any policy or guideline that sanctions changing to an explicitly dispreferred style"; yes, your tendentiousness was obnoxious, pointy, and anti-cooperative, but there was no AN/I case there. Dicklyon (talk) 06:44, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
What you're saying is that I shouldn't have been brought up on AN/I, but I was. The complaint that was brought against me was that I used American punctuation in my edits, even if what the people who accused me were really upset about was that I disagreed with them on a talk page. And no, I hadn't ever been asked to stop before being brought on AN/I. One correction: At no point did I use wrong punctuation. I was brought up on AN/I for using correct punctuation instead of wrong punctuation. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:45, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
I accept all these arguments as broadly true, though it must must be said that my background makes me biased. My problem is that enforcing this causes a continuing conflict with new editors. That said, I am also mystified by anyone who claims to be a professional journalist then has such a problem with the elementary discipline of complying with a style guide, or claims to be highly educated, but instead of thoughtfully enquiring 'How has this unexpected circumstance arisen?' goes all stampy-footy. William Avery (talk) 08:16, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
Well said. It's a pity that this discussion seems to have got bogged down in nationalist arguments. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:46, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, we should be following the sources instead. Darkfrog24 (talk) 16:42, 23 May 2013 (UTC)

Vote with sources: Which AmE sources endorse WP:LQ?

At this point in the conversation, someone usually takes a tally and counts up what contributors to this conversation think. What should try is voting with sources instead of with people. (It worked out pretty well in New York Theater District.) Let's give it a shot. The main argument against WP:LQ in its current form is that while the practice itself isn't wrong in all contexts, it conflicts with the requirements of American English. In layman's terms, it requires editors to do it wrong. Unlike the case of single vs. double quotes, no evidence has been offered that there is any non-hypothetical problem on Wikipedia that banning American punctuation would solve. Let's see how many reliable sources on American English agree and disagree with this idea. I've got a few, but feel free to add to this list as necessary and to place entries in order of importance. Style guides that are about varieties of English other than American are not relevant at this time. Please provide links and page numbers where possible, but if all you have is the name, that'll do for now. The organization's own official site is preferred over secondary sites and newer editions trump older ones. Darkfrog24 (talk) 19:49, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

At this point, Darkfrog's solution seems the only logical solution to me and a pretty good one at that. Will provide some sources supporting the use of American style shortly. AmericanDad86 (talk) 21:30, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Well I hope you'd be willing to post sources that require B/l style if you happen to find one. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:08, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
This is becoming an echo chamber between a miniscule number of editors who are missing each others' points and talking past each other, in my view. I stand by all of the comments I've previously made about why ENGVAR is not a reasonable solution to the "problem" of WP enforcing a non-parochial punctuation system (LQ). AgnosticAphid talk 22:11, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Or, possibly, you don't like that a rule that appeals to you is based on whims and not on sources. It might be only a few people who object to LQ on this talk page, but far more people simply ignore WP:LQ in favor of correct punctuation, and this damages respect for the MoS. How about you provide some sources that support your position instead? Even I found one, and I don't even approve of WP:LQ. Darkfrog24 (talk) 22:39, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
But this response just illustrates why this discussion is pointless: I already explained that LQ isn't British, even per your sources, but you ignored me, and I also pointed out that purporting to rely on "sources" when you're just looking at American style guides rather than sources that deal with encyclopedic usage for a worldwide audience is unenlightening – because it doesn't address the actual question here, which is what style guides recommend for international encyclopedias – but you demurred. Plus you just unilaterally excluded any discussion of British usage from the scope of your inquiry. I stand by my statement that if this important rule is going to be changed, it should be through a widely publicized RFC and not by six people on this talk page. Finally, undeclared post-hoc editing of your comment is unhelpful and violates WP:REDACT. AgnosticAphid talk 22:51, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
I didn't ignore you. I just don't agree with you. If you want to change that, provide some sources. Are there any style guides that deal with encyclopedias written for worldwide audiences? If so, feel free to discuss them here or add them to the list. The question is "Does American English require American punctuation?" Style guides that do not deal with American English cannot answer that question. We don't need British style guides because no one is questioning whether the punctuation system required by WP:LQ is acceptable in British English; the sources show that it is.
Why shouldn't I edit my own comments if no one has replied to them yet? Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:11, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
Errrm ... of course there is such a style guide. It is WP's MOS: easily the most comprehensive and well-founded public style resource for developing an encyclopedia. What's more, it is easily the best and most used guide for collaborative writing and editing on the web. This attempt to smash our cohesive style guide into national pieces has little basis in logic. It should be dropped now. If you want to loosen the so-called LQ guidance, that would make for an interesting debate. But Darkfrog's obsession with accentuating some notion of nation-based style has gone quite far enough. It is not useful. Tony (talk) 06:08, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
We're not supposed to use Wikipedia as a source for Wikipedia, Tony. We're supposed to use reliable, outside sources. No one is trying to "smash" the MoS. We are trying to improve it by making it consistent with real English rather than imagined English.
My "notion" that punctuation differs across national lines is based on evidence and sources, Tony. Show sources that it is not or stop claiming that I'm making it up.
It is WP:LQ that is not useful. Requiring incorrect punctuation makes Wikipedia look stupid and it provides no added value to the reader. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:22, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I think the MOS was the answer to a different question you ask: "Are there any style guides that deal with encyclopedias written for worldwide audiences?" This is not an issue related to content sourcing policies. WP does create it's own stuff, just not original article content. Our policies, guidelines, etc., exist for real, on their own, and are not taken from sources. We make them up. We define WP best practices based on lots of stuff, including what others have defined before us, but not limited to that. So I'd ask, "Are there any other style guides that deal with encyclopedias written for worldwide audiences?" Dicklyon (talk) 03:57, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
In that case, why shouldn't the MoS require that "freight" be spelled "freat"? Why shouldn't it require that question marks go at the beginnings of sentences rather than at the end? Why not put any old flight of fancy in place and enforce it as a rule? Because that would make us look like jerks and the whole encyclopedia look amateurish and stupid. The MoS is different from regular Wikipedia articles, but because it affects so many other articles, it should be held to a higher standard of verifiability, not a lower one. So yes, if there is a reputable, professionally compiled style guide that deals with international English encyclopedias, then it would be valid to consult it, but for the most part, we're not professionals here. We owe it to the Wikieditors who actually bother to consult the MoS to provide them with the highest quality guidance reasonably practical. That means pulling material from sources, not out of the air. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:11, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, those suggestions do make you look like a jerk. We've done a good job of assembling best practices from existing guides, and we have a respectably professional-looking encyclopedia as a result. Let's not screw that up. Dicklyon (talk) 06:50, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
I agree that MoS is pretty good, but it could be better. The ability to be improved easily is one of Wikipedia's best features. Let's do the opposite of screwing up the MoS and replace a whim-based rule with a source-based one. Darkfrog24 (talk) 11:51, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
AA, could you provide a link or reference for what "style guides recommend for international encyclopedias?" Like the unicorn, griffin and sphynx, I question whether any such animal as a style guide for international encyclopedias now exists (or ever has). And that is the point: MOS, in the form of WP:LQ, requires non-standard punctuation for Wikipedia articles written by American editors, in American English, on exclusively American topics. Furthermore, apparently a majority of Australian and Canadian publications follow the same quotation punctuation rules as American English; thus, MOS requires Australians and Canadians to write in a form contrarty to their majority practices. No one has yet denied this. Can you not see how illogical it is to impose the minority quotation punctuation conventions on the majority of Wikipedia editors? You argue the purported marginal benefits of LQ while ignoring the fact that the majority of the international English community does not use the quotation conventions you advocate. Good grief, man. It's the elephant in the parlor which you refuse to acknowledge. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 23:06, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
I cannot, but I'll freely admit I haven't tried. But my point is that it is disingenuous to say "follow the sources!" when you are just cherry-picking sources written for American readers of American publications in a dispute about whether an international encyclopedia should mandate, prohibit, or allow parochial usage. You may think I'm playing up the benefits of LQ and downplaying the annoyance of American editors, but I think that you're minimizing the hostility engendered by ENGVAR, overemphasizing importance of American punctuation to American readers, and simultaneously minimizing the ability of American readers to understand the (admittedly somewhat complex) reasons that WP chooses a punctuation style with which they may be unfamiliar. In my view, normative questions like these call for a wide discussion and are not susceptible to easy or unanimous resolution. YMMV. AgnosticAphid talk 23:34, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, but check out the hostility caused by WP:LQ. It isn't about whether American readers will be unable to understand what they're reading. If that were an issue, they'd need translators for all the articles written in British English. It's about whether or not using British punctuation in an American English article is wrong, the way spelling "harbor" with a u is wrong in U.S. English.
I was able to find sources supporting my position in about four minutes (I have done it before, though). If you can't find any supporting yours in a reasonable amount of time, then perhaps your position isn't correct. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:18, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
What hostility? Yes, an editor was confused at the beginning of this, but it wasn't hostile, and I don't think it's fair to get worked up about something and then just turn around and complain that it's causing hostility. I see no evidence of hostility. If you want hostility, let's talk yogurt versus yoghurt. Also, you can find sources because you're just trying to show that American publications written for general American audiences use American stylistic choices. Surprise! AgnosticAphid talk 21:00, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
There's a lot more to it than that, AA. It has been stated or implied by several MOS/LQ proponents that LQ is an acceptable mainstream style "choice" in the United States. It's not; LQ use here is a tiny minority practice, limited to a small handful of low-circulation journals. LQ is not taught in American secondary schools and universities, and it's not endorsed by any of the mainstream American style books. In short, most literate Americans have no reason to ever encounter LQ in an American publication. It's also been suggested that the use of traditional quotation punctuation and LQ varies among the populations of the major English-speaking counties (U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand). Well, in the case of the United States and Canada, at least, its use is not "varied." Apparently LQ is a distinctly minority punctuation practice in Canada as well. So, we are gleaning some new information from this review of the sources on point, and that begins to reveal this issue in a somewhat different light, that is, LQ is not just one style choice among several alternatives that are more or less acceptable in all of the major English-speaking countries. A review of the sources strongly suggests that LQ is not an acceptable mainstream punctuation practice in the United States or Canada. That is important information to have on the table when we are discussing this matter.
As for the whole yoghurt vs. yogurt controversy, I never understood what that whole darn debate was about. There were two perfectly acceptable alternative spellings, and one of them was going to be a redirect and mentioned as a secondary spelling in the lead of the article, regardless of the outcome. That debate could have been quickly and honorably decided by a coin flip. In the case of this "controversy" over quotation punctuation, it affects literally hundreds of thousands of articles throughout Wikipedia, but there is an easy alternative resolution: let the quotation style follow the national variety of English in which the article is written, just as we already do for vocabulary, spelling, grammar and date formats per WP:ENGVAR. That's all. It would represent zero net change to articles written in British English, Irish English and New Zealand English, but would permit articles written in American and Canadian English to follow the overwhelming majority punctuation practice in North America. At the end of the day, American and Canadian editors and readers would be happier, and other Wikipedia users would barely feel a ripple. I see no reason why such a change regarding quotation punctuation would create any more arguments than the choice of which national variety of English to be used in a handful of articles already does. Quotation punctuation would be an afterthought after the issues of spelling, vocabulary and date formats were resolved for a particular article, and would follow naturally and with very little further discussion. MOS would not be undermined in the least, and 99% of all style and formatting would remain uniform across all Wikipedia articles. You, I and many others, as knowledgeable volunteers, would continue to edit articles across all national varieties of English without controversy. There is no reason why resolving this must be the proverbial Big Deal. There is ample precedent for the rational, reasonable, and -- dare I say it? -- logical resolution of this issue per ENGVAR. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 23:03, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
AA, so you don't consider this discussion to involve hostility? Good to know. (Things got pretty mean a few of the previous times this rule was challenged.) As for the fact that American style guides require American English, this exercise is meant to show that Wikipedia's current MoS does not reflect correct American English and should therefore be changed. As DL puts it, some proponents of the current rule have said, "Banning American punctuation is not a problem because it's not really American/not required by American English." The list exercise is meant to show that this is not true—or that it is, depending on what everyone digs up. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:34, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
AA, on one thing we clearly do agree: this issue should be resolved by an RfC that attracts the widest possible input from Wikipedia editors of all nationalities and all topic areas. MOS can become a source of controversy when a small handful of editors attempt to impose practices on the rest of Wikipedia, but especially when the prescriptive MOS provisions imposed are contrary to the majority practice in the real world. And given the far-ranging implications of this debate for Wikipedia, if there were six votes in favor of making quotation punctuation an ENGVAR issue, and none opposed, I hope I would say the exact same thing. I may be a lot of things, but I try to be consistent when it comes to procedures and fairness. It's an occupational hazard, I suppose. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 23:47, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Darkfrog24, When you frame the issue that way, there's no question that American style quotes will dominate. An equally valid way of framing the argument would be to compare a list of style guides that allow a single format for quotations with style guides that allow two or more formats for quotations. There's no question that style guides with one format for quotations would dominate.
Reliable sources are the way to resolve questions of fact, but they are not the way to resolve every disagreement. The question is, what should the style be in Wikipedia? That question isn't addressed by sources outside of Wikipedia.SchreiberBike talk 23:43, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Good point, Schreiber, but you're missing something. You seem to be assuming that Wikipedia must have just one punctuation style, but it doesn't. It doesn't even have one spelling style. The argument against WP:LQ is that it requires punctuation that is wrong, the way spelling "freight" "frate" would be wrong or, more accurately, the way spelling "harbor" as "harbour" would be wrong. The question is "Is the punctuation system required by WP:LQ wrong in American English?" That is what this list is meant to answer. We don't need British style guides here because no one is asking whether WP:LQ is acceptable in British English; it clearly is.
But if you know of a style guide or other relevant that applies to either American English or that specifically applies to international Internet-based encyclopedias and requires British-style punctuation, go ahead and vote with it. It would be relevant. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:06, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
If the question is as you say "Is the punctuation system required by WP:LQ wrong in American English?", the answer is "of course!" and I don't think anyone would argue otherwise. It just doesn't seem like a terribly relevant question to help determine the style which should be used in Wikipedia. SchreiberBike talk 04:34, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
1. People have indeed been arguing otherwise, largely by saying that American style isn't really American, British isn't really British, etc. 2. Of course it's relevant to what we should do on Wikipedia. Otherwise why bother using correct punctuation at all? Why use correct spelling at all? Why have an MoS with rules in it at all?
From your perspective, the question seems to be "Why should Wikipedia require articles written in American English to use punctuation that is incorrect in American English?" No one's ever shown that American punctuation causes problems on Wikipedia or that either style is better or worse reading comprehension, only that they happen to like the supposed logic British way more. Darkfrog24 (talk) 05:30, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

Comments moved from list section to discussion section by Darkfrog24. This comment originally made by AgnosticAphid in response to the addition of the ABA journal American Bar Association to the list of sources requiring American punctuation.

  • I'm not sure about that. In 1950 the ABA Journal declared that they "prefer the logical system of punctuation." We could probably resolve this dispute with "The ABA Basic Guide to Punctuation, Grammar, Workplace Productivity, and Time Management," which "answers questions such as: Where do I put the comma in a sentence? Does the end-of-line punctuation go inside or outside the quotation mark?", but it's not free. AgnosticAphid talk 22:58, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Please read the quote from the linked page; the style guide that the ABA uses for attorney submissions to the ABA's own publications. It makes clear that the ABA relies on the CMOS. I am quoting the linked ABA style guide from 2013; you're quoting something from the ABA in 1955 1950 (58 63 years ago). Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 23:11, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Thanks for the link, AA. I plunked down my $19.95 (plus shipping and handling) for the book, which means I'll have it in time for the next MOS/LQ debate. LOL I don't know if you read the full book description, but here's an interesting quote: "The latest mistakes seem to be 'I had went,' 'I seen,' and 'I have went.' Constant streams of 'You know,' 'Like,' and 'I mean' pepper the conversation." Given the quoted passage from the book's description, it would be ironic in the extreme if the book were advocating the use LQ punctuation. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 23:19, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
  • As a practicing attorney and a long-time member of the American Bar Association (ABA), the statement in SMcCandlish's essay that the ABA had adopted logical quotation for its publications raised a red flag for me. For those of you who follow the links, you know this was discussed in a series of letters to the editor of the ABA Journal, the monthly magazine of the ABA, in October 1950. It is apparent from reading these letters to the editor that the ABA Journal had adopted LQ as part of its internal style in or before 1950, but such usage was immediately questioned and contested by ABA members. I have been unable to piece together the 63 years of history between 1950 and 2013, but it is apparent that the ABA does not require nor use LQ in the ABA Journal or its many practice guides and other publications in 2013, and has not for some time (I've been in practice since 1998, and have copies of the ABA Journal and other ABA publications that are at least that old).
As of 2013, the ABA does not maintain a separate internal style guide for its publications, but on its webpage for attorney submissions for publication, it makes a crystal clear statement that it relies on The Chicago Manual of Style "for all style, punctuation, and capitalization matters in written text as well as general rules of book making." (Please see [8].) I also provide two links to current ABA Journal articles that clearly demonstrate that the Journal is using traditional quotation punctuation in its flagship monthly publication, and not logical quotation. (Please see [9] and [10].) Anyone who wishes to further verify this is welcome to browse other online articles of the ABA Journal from the links provided.
Some of you may believe that I am belaboring this point, but I think that it is important to correct inaccurate information that has been previously provided in support of LQ, and upon which past MOS style decisions may have relied. Much rhetorical hay has been made over the ABA's purported adoption and use of LQ, as somehow bringing LQ into the American mainstream by a major and widely influential American national professional association. This premise is patently false, and so is the equally false assertion that quotation punctuation "varies" in the United States. If American quotation punctuation "varies" at all, it does so at the extreme margins. The underlying assumption that LQ is a widely accepted (or even widely acknowledged) alternative to traditional quotation punctuation has little or no basis in American sources, style guides, publications, or actual real world usage among American writers, editors and publishers. Logical quotation is not taught in American secondary schools and universities. It is an inescapable truth that the use of logical quotation in American English is an eccentric, quirky and weird practice restricted to a tiny minority of American publications.
Moreover, from our review of current Canadian references, it is now apparent that traditional quotation punctuation is also the accepted standard practice in Canada, too.
The bottom line is that logical quotation is not a widely accepted nor commonly used practice in either the United States or Canada, and assertions that such usage "varies" should be disregarded in the absence of any substantial supporting references. I note for the record that American English and Canadian English represent roughly 350 million of the approximately 450 million people whose primary language is one of the six major national varieties of English. That the MOS requires articles written in American and Canadian English, regarding American and Canadian-specific subjects, and mostly edited by American and Canadian editors, to use logical quotation is one of the most eccentric remaining style choices of the MOS, and one that rightly deserves to be questioned and challenged. In my opinion, WP:LQ is contrary to the spirit of WP:ENGVAR to the extent it forces the largest and third largest national varieties of English to use a minority punctuation practice that is contrary to their own widely-used standard practices, with a Wikipedia-wide impact on hundreds of thousands of articles. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 16:07, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
So take it to an RfC – otherwise all the effort expended here is just wasted. No-one has put forward any convincing reason why this essentially rather trivial punctuation difference should not be bundled in with other ENGVAR differences. Peter coxhead (talk) 20:26, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Peter, I think this three-week discussion has served several useful purposes in terms of drawing out the better arguments both pro and con, as well as exposing several of the weaker ones, but I do agree with your premise. I think the time is drawing closer to where a well-advertised Request for Comments and a formal determination of consensus are the logical next steps in this discussion. Properly preparing an RfC on a controversial point of discussion is not a down-and-dirty undertaking, but I think the time to begin preparing it is near. Before I'm ready to venture into those waters, I want to complete my own hard-copy library research to include a file of all major references, pro and con, on point. I live in an Atlanta, which is fortunate to have several major university libraries and a large public library system. When the time arrives, I will make PDF copies of the relevant sections of all references available to anyone who requests them. Undoubtedly, however, I will need the help of other editors to assemble a wider variety of non-American hard-copy style books and other references. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to read the actual references, and not be forced to rely on another editor or some random website's summary of what these references actually say. More information is invariably better. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 21:24, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

[break in moved comments]

Well, apparently we do need to stop calling it the "American style"; perhaps calling it the "North American style" would be more accurate. According to a list compiled by an agency of the Canadian federal government (Department of Public Works and Government Services, Translation Bureau), placing punctuation and periods inside quote marks is the standard practice among our well-mannered cousins in the Great White North. (Please see link.) Among the publications cited as authority for this being proper punctuation in Canada are:

[break in moved comments -- listed Canadian sources have been moved to section below]

So, who's going to find the references for Australia, New Zealand and Ireland?

[end moved comments]

No we do not. "American" is the correct name of this punctuation style. I have shown sources to this effect. Please either show sources of equal or better quality showing that it is not correct, or cease making this request. I've been more than willing to reciprocate: I don't happen to like that British punctuation is also called "logical," but that is one of the things that reliable sources call it, so it would be petty of me to ask people to stop. Darkfrog24 (talk) 04:00, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I was making a joke, DarkFrog, but for what it's worth the Canadians apparently don't call it "American style." To the Canadians, it is simply correct punctuation. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 04:06, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps the so-called "British" style should be called the "European" style; it is recommended in this European Union style manual (p. 20), which claims to document "the standard usage of Britain and Ireland". Peter coxhead (talk) 06:19, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I've always been in favour of a unique/unified vocabulary here on WP instead of the tolerance for multiple codes of English, and I don't particularly care what the spellings are, so long as they are consistent. So I regret this LQ debate is being made out to be a case of American vs English (vs International?). By doing so, we are negating our own, and our unique strengths. WP is truly international. WP is global. We have our own panel of international experts and best practices. It's fine to have differences vis a vis other publications – it would be a boring world if everyone liked the same thing and everyone agreed on everything. Instead of knocking it, or saying "why can't we follow Strunk & White?", WP editors ought to start defending our home-grown style manual more strongly. -- Ohc ¡digame!¿que pasa? 06:36, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
What Wikipedia has embraced is allowing more than one national variety of English. British, American, New Zealander, Irish, so long as each article is internally consistent. What Wikipedia has embraced is verifiability; do what the sources say, not what you believe in your heart to be true but can find no evidence to support. In its current form, WP:LQ is consistent with neither of these. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:19, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I know. Maybe I wasn't clear. As an editor who is more comfortable with British English spellings, I have always said I would prefer to see one code of English (and one date format) used here universally on WP, even if it were American. I prize universal consistency, and feel that to tolerate a consistency only at article level gives the outward appearance of eccentricity at best, or schizophrenia at worst. -- Ohc ¡digame!¿que pasa? 15:55, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I feel similarly. I wouldn't mind if Wikipedia were written in British English all the way through, even though I prefer American, but as long as ENGVAR is in place, we shouldn't require editors to use punctuation that is explicitly banned in the variety of English in question. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:45, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
  • The various elements that comprise the manual of style are a set of editorial preferences that have evolved over the years. The rules are sometimes based on logic, mostly on best practice, and sometimes (as in the case of WP:ENGVAR) to keep the game afloat by accommodating two opposing sets of editors. They usually have little to do with verifiability, and I feel it is a mistake to 1/ cast this discussion in nationalistic terms, and 2/ insist that the WP:V is applied to the issue.

    And above all, the most gravest mistake of mistakes is to fight the battle by apparently categorising LQ as "incorrect punctuation" – how dare you!. -- Ohc ¡digame!¿que pasa? 16:02, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

I dare to call LQ incorrect because that is exactly what it is. What I haven't done is tossed my personal preferences into the MoS and expected everyone to take my word for it and treat them like gospel. I've provided sources showing that leaving commas and periods untucked is flat-out wrong in American English. Either provide your own sources showing that I'm wrong, or leave your indignation elsewhere. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:49, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
Respectfully, OC, I have removed the "collapse" box from the list of American and Canadian sources that support the use of what DarkFrog calls the "American style" of quotation punctuation. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion regarding the merits of a synthesized international style, but collapsing the list of sources minimizes their importance, and defeats its purpose, which was to attract the contribution of more sources from other editors. You also inaccurately mislabeled it as "DarkFrog's analysis." At least three editors contributed to the list, which Peter Coxhead attempted to point out in his edit summary. As for the merits of the synthesized international style which you support, I can only point out that this is inconsistent with the present ENGVAR guidelines that require the consistent use of national varieties of English (and spelling) throughout Wikipedia. Those of us who are arguing for a change in WP:LQ want ENGVAR to apply to quotation punctuation as well. What is rapidly becoming apparent from the sourcing exercise below is that traditional quotation punctuation (or "American style") is actually the standard form of punctuation in the United States, Canada and apparently Australia. Logical quotation (or "British style") is accepted in Britain, but it is unclear to what degree it is the standard or required. Ignoring the standard punctuation preferences of the largest (American English), third largest (Canadian English) and fourth largest (Australian English) varieties of national English is inconsistent with Wikipedia's established ENGVAR guidelines and its status as an international online resource. A discussion of the sources that support the use of various quotation styles in national varieties of English is a relevant and worthwhile exercise in this discussion and should not be minimized or dismissed. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 12:44, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
No, usage varies in all of these countries. You are going down a rabbit hole, Dirt—you and Darkfrog—trying to jam square pegs into round holes. Nationalism has no place in this context. Tony (talk) 12:48, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
Not really, Tony. It is perfectly clear that the overwhelming majority of American style books require traditional quotation punctuation (a.k.a. "American style"). It is also perfectly clear that this is the standard practice taught in American secondary schools and universities. American style books and sources that use LQ are the eccentric exceptions, not the rule, so characterizing American use as "varied" is a misrepresentation of reality in the United States. At least one source previously cited for LQ use in the United States, the American Bar Association, has stopped using it. As for Canadian usage, no less an authority than the Canadian federal government has stated that traditional quotation punctuation (what Darkfrog and several American stylebooks call "American style") is the standard in Canada. (Please see link to Canadian government website here.) Attempts to call quotation practice "varied" in the United States and Canada are misleading at best, and border dangerously on outright misrepresentation of the sources at worst.
This is not, and should not be about "nationalism" or any other dirty name we want to ascribe to it. This discussion should be about the correct and proper application of quotation punctuation styles consistent with the use of national varieties of English as already required by WP:ENGVAR. To my knowledge, no one deprecates WP:ENGVAR as "nationalistic." The only people waving the bloody shirt of tawdry nationalism are those who support the prescribed use of LQ, which is a non-standard practice in the United States and Canada, and apparently in your homeland of Australia, too. If you want to authoritatively contradict that, I suggest you start finding Australian style guides and other sources to support your assertion of the varied quotation practices down under. My non-scientific survey of online Australian newspapers suggests that traditional quotation punctuation predominates in Australian newspapers. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 13:12, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
If nationalism has no place here, then why do whims have a place, Tony? The choice isn't "Follow the sources" or not. It's "Follow reliable sources compiled by experts" or "Follow what a bunch of contributors to the MoS talk page made up because they felt like it." I don't see why I should have to use incorrect punctuation just because a few other Wikipedians find correct punctuation annoying.
You don't like that I oppose this rule? Prove me wrong. Show me evidence that American punctuation causes non-hypothetical problems on Wikipedia or show me sources that support your position. I haven't just sat here and expected you to take me at my word or to value my preferences over your own. I've shown proof that they aren't only my preferences. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:19, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

Lists of sources

American sources that require American style
  • American Bar Association (contrary to an assertion in SMcCandlish's essay) uses the Chicago Manual of Style "for all style, punctuation, and capitalization matters in written text as well as general rules of book making," and cites The Elements of Style favorably as "the bible of the economical, careful writer." [11]
  • AP Stylebook [12] (general rule stated in excerpt at Purdue Owl; full online edition by subscription only)
  • Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), §§ 5.11–5.16 [13]. Includes a specific discussion of "British versus American style" in quotation punctuation.
  • The Elements of Style (4th ed.), pp. 36−37.
  • Garbl's Style Manual [14]
  • Garner's Modern American Usage (3rd ed.) [15]. Specifically discusses the differences between quotation practices in American English and British English.
  • The Gregg Reference Manual (9th ed.) [16] [17]. "Periods and commas always go inside the closing quotation mark. This is the preferred American style."
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.), § 3.7.7.
  • Modern American Usage (1st rev. ed.), p. 248 [18]
  • Modern Language Association Style Guide [19]
  • National Geographic Style Manual [20]
  • The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (Rev. ed. 1999), pp. 277–79.
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.), §§ 3.34, 3.36, 3.37 and 5.13 [21]
  • Purdue Online Writing Lab [22]
  • Style Guide of the American Medical Association [23] 10th edition, p. 341
  • The Yahoo! Style Guide [24]. Purports to be a style book for "international" usage, adopts American style quotation practices, but includes a specific exception for "character strings." The linked page also includes a discussion of "American style" vs. "British style".


American sources that either do not require American style or require British style/logical quotation
  • Style Guide of the American Chemical Society [25] (req. Br/L)


Canadian sources that require American style
  • The Canadian Press Stylebook (2008) [26]
  • The Canadian Style (1997) [27]
  • Editing Canadian English (2000) [28]
  • The Gregg Reference Manual (Canadian ed., 2006) [29]


Australian sources that use/require British style/logical quotation
  • Editor Australia Style Guide [30]
  • Style and Production Guide 2012, University of Queensland, School of Journalism and Communications, pp. 53−54 [31]. Does not specifically require it, but all examples given use British style quotation punctuation.


British sources that require British style/logical quotation
  • The Economist Style Guide [32]


European Community sources that require British style/logical quotation
  • English Style Guide, European Community Directorate-General for Translation, § 3:31 [33]. Apparently applies to documents written in both British English and Irish English, without distinction.


New Zealand sources that require British style/logical quotation
  • Budget 2012 Style Guide, p. 19 [34]
  • Guide to Style [35]
  • New Zealand Law Style Guide (2d ed.) [36]


Is this a case of trying to impose Wiki-wide uniformity where uniformity is not wanted?

Why not simply admit that there is more than one acceptable style on this issue?... I would suggest that the MOS explain the different styles, and intentionally NOT make rule choosing between them. Leave the decision as to which of the acceptable style to follow to the editors at the article level... Say that an article should be stylistically uniform internally (ie within itself), but does not have to be stylistically uniform externally (ie with other articles). Blueboar (talk) 13:50, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

I don't believe that incorrect punctuation should be endorsed, but that would be an improvement over the current situation, where incorrect punctuation is required. Darkfrog24 (talk) 14:12, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
Darkfrog24: in this context, using "correct" and "incorrect" is not helpful and does not contribute to a rational debate. Is the occurrence of the sequence of characters ", in an article in a journal of the American Chemical Society "incorrect"? No, because it's the required style for that publication, regardless of its American connection. The issue is not correctness, but whether in this particular case it is sensible for Wikipedia to mandate a single style for articles written in different ENGVARs. I think that it is not sensible, since the difference between the styles is, as you have repeatedly noted, of no significance in the overwhelming majority of real examples. However, in other cases, it is sensible for Wikipedia to mandate a single style, even though this produces forms that would be incorrect in a publication written in a particular ENGVAR style. (Examples are the requirement to use double quotes where single quotes would normally be used in British English; and the preferred spelling of "aluminium sulfide" which is wrong in both American and British English.) I would hope that we could all agree that:
  • Given the nature of the English Wikipedia, it will sometimes be necessary for the MOS to mandate uniform styles which are not normal in some ENGVARs or in some topic areas.
  • Such mandating should be rare, well motivated, and require the highest degree of consensus.
At present, contrary to Tony et al., I think that the MOS tries to impose too much uniformity and needs to change. However, this doesn't mean that Wikipedia shouldn't ever have style rules which would be "incorrect" according to the norms of a particular ENGVAR. Peter coxhead (talk) 15:40, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I disagree that the terms "correct" and "incorrect" are not relevant. The purpose of the MoS is to instruct users on correct usage. Why else would we bother to have one. I might feel that it's more logical to spell "freight" as "freat," but I'd be wrong. Wikiarticles written with incorrect spelling and punctuation do not inspire confidence in the reader.
You've cut right to the core of it when you say that it's "it will sometimes be necessary for the MOS to mandate uniform styles which are not normal in some ENGVARs." Fine. Show how requiring British punctuation in American English articles is necessary. So far, no one has shown that using American English punctuation has ever caused even one problem on Wikipedia, so you'd be the first. Darkfrog24 (talk) 17:42, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
If you read what I actually wrote, you'll see that I entirely agree with you about punctuation in American English articles, and that I don't believe that requiring another style of punctuation in such articles is either desirable or necessary. It seems that we also agree that sometimes the Wikipedia MOS will have to over-rule a style which would be normal in one variant of English, although it should not do so in this case.
The purpose of the MoS is to instruct users on correct usage. Yes, but not on correct usage in American English, British English, Indian English, Australian English, or any other national English; only on correct usage within the English Wikipedia. Simply asserting "but it's not correct in my variant of English, so I'm being made to write incorrectly" doesn't get us anywhere. Peter coxhead (talk) 22:24, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
As far as Wikipedia explicitly endorses the use of multiple variants, yes, the purpose of the MoS is to instruct users on how to use those variants. Why wouldn't the fact that something is incorrect in a particular variant be relevant to a system that explicitly endorses the use of multiple variants? What I don't understand here is why we don't care about variant-correct punctuation but do care about variant-correct spelling.
I wasn't being rhetorical earlier. If banning American-style punctuation is necessary, go on and show how. EDIT: Everyone, please consider that an open request! It's completely relevant. Darkfrog24 (talk) 01:34, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

Query: Do any of our Australian editors own a copy of the Style Manual: For Authors, Editors and Printers (6th ed. 2011)? It's apparently an official publication of the Australian government, published by John Wiley & Sons, and is likely the single most authoritative source for mainstream quotation punctuation practices down under. If someone doesn't own a copy, presumably it would be available at every university library and most, if not all public libraries in Australia. It used to be freely available online, but that changed with the debut of the new sixth edition. Any input on point would be greatly appreciated. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 23:22, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

Questions in headers?

MOS:HEADINGS says headings should not contain questions. Well, I want to do a section on an issue that has been formulated as a question, and not formulating it as a question is to take sides. I have not found any discussion on this, so I ask: is this a hard and fast rule? Are there any particular reasons for it? Or should I just cite WP:IAR and run with it? ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:02, 24 May 2013 (UTC)

If the interrogative word in the question is "where", then the heading might be "Place" or "Place of …" or "Location" or "Location of …". Similarly, for "when", the heading might be "Time"; for "who", "People involved" or something more specific; for "what", "Things involved" or something more specific; for "how", "Method" or "Means"; for "why", "Reason(s)" or "Cause(s)"; and for questions of the "yes-no" type, "Question of whether …".
Wavelength (talk) 22:19, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
But if you don't see a good way to rephrase it, go ahead and use a question; if someone else does see a why, or doesn't like it, there will be specifics to discuss. Dicklyon (talk) 23:03, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
I think Wavelength and Dicklyon are giving good advice. The general rule is that questions in headers should be avoided, but I can think of the occasional example where a section header phrased as a question is the best way to convey the meaning of the following section of text. Likewise, one-sentence paragraphs should generally be avoided, too, but the one-sentence paragraph can be used for dramatic emphasis on rare occasions. Still, these contra-examples should remain the exceptions, not the general rules.
J. Johnson, can you link to the article where you would like to use the question section header? That would give us an opportunity to evaluate whether it is appropriate in the context of the actual article . . . . Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 15:00, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
Sure. See this edit which changed the last section of Earthquake prediction from "Is earthquake prediction impossible?" to "Problems with predicting earthquakes" (discussion at Talk:Earthquake prediction#Merely difficult? Or inherently impossible?). The scientific issue is not about "problems with", but whether, or not, a solution is even possible. This has been neutrally stated, in a debate and several papers, in the interrogative form. I think that the current header is misleading, but also that any positive formulation of the issue tends suggest one side or the other. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 19:07, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
"Impossibility or otherwise of earthquake prediction" seems to me to convey accurately and neutrally the sense of "Is earthquake prediction impossible?". Whether it's a better title is another matter; I incline to think not. Remember WP:IAR! Peter coxhead (talk) 20:10, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
In this revision, I changed the heading to "Difficulty or impossibility", thus referring to the contents of the section without using a question and without "taking a side". Also, the new heading is in agreement with MOS:HEAD, by not referring redundantly to the subject of the article.
Wavelength (talk) 21:00, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
I appreciate your effort there, but that header seems rather a dud. I was thinking of "Merely difficult versus impossible", but even that falls flat. Hmmm, I want to savor this a while, but possibly "Whether prediction is merely difficult, or impossible"; that seems to capture the proper sense. Though I still think the original header is best. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:44, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
Maybe just "Possibility". The question of whether earthquake prediction is theoretically or practically possible, versus impossible, is still being debated... or something like that. Dicklyon (talk) 00:41, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Or something like “Questioning the possibility of prediction“.—Odysseus1479 00:57, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
The heading could be "Unproven technical feasibility", where the word "technical" specifies technical efforts as distinct from animal behavior.
Wavelength (talk) 01:41, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Wow. Nothing like a concrete example to give the commentators something to discuss. I may be the odd man out, but I think the original question as section header was pretty darn good at conveying the central issue. If I might make a suggestion, in the spirit of IAR: "Is earthquake prediction technically possible?" Just a thought. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 02:50, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, lots of fun! And so far no one has gotten hurt. :-)
I wouldn't go with "technically" as I have never heard distinction between "technical" and otherwise. Practical, yes, but that is not the nature of the issue. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:41, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
How about Possibility of earthquake prediction, Possibility of predicting earthquakes, Predictability of earthquakes or just Earthquake predictability? JIMp talk·cont 09:33, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
"Possibility of" also suggests a quantification of the possibility. Which could be taken as strictly zero (i.e., impossible), or non-zero, but that seems too sophisticated where "impossible" works and is plain. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:57, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
MOS:HEAD says "Headings should not refer redundantly to the subject of the article, or to higher-level headings, unless doing so is shorter or clearer."
Wavelength (talk) 15:42, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I was wondering about this. If there was an article on (say) "Teachers", would headers of "Best teachers in New Zealand" or "Teachers in space" be disallowed? Something like "On the impossibility of this topic" doesn't refer redundantly to the subject, thus might be allowed on this point, though it certainly is a self-reference. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 21:57, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
I feel like "In space" would be the appropriate choice because it clearly means "teachers in space" while the New Zealand example is more confounding. ("Best in New Zealand" is a bit ambiguous and not a great choice. Fortunately this isn't a likely topic!). But I don't think that "...of this topic" is any better than redundantly using the topic word again. In fact, I think it's usually worse, because it's both redundant and excessively wordy (with pithily titled articles). I kind of like "predictability" even though it has connotations of predictable-as-"regular" rather than "able to be forecasted." It's kind of the same regardless in this instance because asking whether the timing of the earthquake can be forecasted encompasses asking whether they occur irregularly. AgnosticAphid talk 01:39, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

Drop-down boxes

I think there used to be guidance on the use of drop-down boxes. Does it still exist if so where is it? -- PBS (talk) 09:00, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

What do you mean by a "drop-down box"? I didn't think that editors could create such things. WhatamIdoing (talk) 23:11, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
See Template:Category tree.—Wavelength (talk) 23:24, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
You possibly mean WP:COLLAPSE and the [hide / show] function? (If you're thinking of their new usage for entire infoboxes, then there's a recent TfD and a gigantic discussion that you'll want to look through.)
The phrase "drop-down box" (or pop-out list/menu) usually refers to a more specific type of interface, eg. as Twinkle uses. –Quiddity (talk) 23:47, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── Thank you Quiddity it was the section "Scrolling lists and collapsible content" that I was looking for,— in a talk page proposal I saw recently it was suggested that two articles be merge and the sections from the merged article be placed into collapsible box.

As a side issue does anyone know if there has there been any discussion (other than this one) about {{ahnentafel top}} (as used in articles like Judith of Swabia) to include and hide ancestry information and whether this is MOS:COLLAPSE compliant? -- PBS (talk) 22:04, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Collapsing was a compromise solution to deal with articles that had a multitude of (or bulky) navboxes. Collapsing should never have escaped from its use in navboxes. It's being used in infoboxes, and to hide article sections like this, for entirely the wrong reasons - akin to the perennial suggestion that we put "spoilers" in a collapsed section - purely because some editors don't want to see [the content], or believe [the content] to be of lesser importance (carrying undue weight by being visible).
More examples: Ada Lovelace#Ancestry and Elizabeth II#Ancestry (compare with the 1-step larger version at Ancestry of Elizabeth II#Ancestry chart - size limits would make practical sense, eg "If bigger than 5-levels deep, then use a collapsed version").
Non-ahnentafl examples: Standard Model#Theoretical aspects (1 instance) and Standard Model (mathematical formulation)#Detailed Information (4 instances) use collapsed tables.
I've just looked through about 100 random FAs, and I only found the string "[show]" used in navboxes, except for California Gold Rush#Maps (which seems like it should be changed/fixed, I will do so).
That's all I can think of, for now. –Quiddity (talk) 00:32, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I and The Emperor's New Spy (talk · contribs) (then Queen Elizabeth II's Little Spy), were most active in pushing to make certain ahnenatafeln collapsible by default (if and only if the extra Template:ahnentafel top is added above an ordinary one like Template:ahnentafel2) because the uncollapsed (and at one point uncollapsible) ancestry boxes were playing havoc with many articles about royalty, and made Grandchildren of Victoria and Albert essentially unusable and unreadable by non-experts. However, ancestors as well as descendants are important for many royal and noble families, so it's very helpful to have the information readily available to an interested reader without having to jump off the current article to other ones. (An example would be Queen Victoria's descent from George III on one side, and on the other from the grandparents of her husband Prince Albert.) See Template talk:Ahnentafel top#Please default to uncollapsed or let users do so and the afore-cited Template talk:Ahnentafel top/Requested Comments 1. ¶ But just this week I had the opportunity, which I think I used appropriately, to use the collapse templates in a context that didn't involve ancestry, talk pages, or the technical apparatus of infoboxes, etc. See New York City#Global outreach, which has grown from the original dozen Sister Cities to over seven dozen "Global Partner Cities". In an already long (though Featured and Good) article, this seemed like WP:Undue Weight — as if I'd listed all of New York's Fortune 500 companies in New York City#Economy instead of just the top 12. Collapsing all the new Global Partner Cities into a box seemed like a good way of retaining the information without overloading or unbalancing the whole article. Collapse boxes can certainly (like many features) be misused or abused, but they can serve as the best solution in some non-specialized cases. —— Shakescene (talk) 08:28, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
@Shakescene: Those are 2 good examples, thanks for mentioning them and giving more detail.
Template documentation: I'm very glad there is mention somewhere, that the Ahnentafel template should default to uncollapsed, but it needs to be more prominent/discoverable. Could it be added to the template documentation itself, and anywhere else relevant (Wikiproject style guides, etc) ? I'm not familiar with that area, so would hope to leave that to you? Much thanks if you can.
Re: The NYC example: I understand the perspective, and almost agree with, hiding the Global Partner Cities information in a collapsed box, but then I see another collapsed box at New York City#Demographics, and I worry about further items being collapsed.
Re: The Grandchildren of Victoria and Albert example: I can totally understand and agree with the practicality of hiding the multiple instances of Ahnentafel in that article (and the desire to keep them within the same article rather than splitting them off to a side-page). However, I do worry about the hiding of the Portraits in that same page. Yes, it's awkward layout-wise to fit them into the page if there isn't a paragraph for them to be floated next to, but making them large-and-hidden seems like a really bad precedent (and identical to the "California Gold Rush#Maps" example I mentioned above). If all articles had large-and-collapsed images, in 1 or 2 (or 5 or 20) locations, it would be a disaster. (I've talked to a lot of casual-readers who've never even noticed the [show] buttons. They look identical to [edit] at a glance, and their eyes just skip over it). Hence I'm worried.
Hope that all makes sense. –Quiddity (talk) 17:26, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
I had some of the same doubts, while they were being created, as you now do about both NYC demographic tables and those huge, wonderful, informative and relevant but very hard-to-manage portraits on V&A's Grandkids. In the latter case, they increase the size of an already-long list-article that's slow to load on dial-up connections and weak computers. Because the pictures are à propos as well as decorative, I don't know how you could better place them (although each of V&A's nine children has some prose text that might abut a thumbnail). Opening thumbnails, like "show" icons, is non-intuitive at first sight to the uninitiated (and, unlike uncollapsing boxes, can interrupt reading the rest of the article). And where to put them in such a long scrolling list is also difficult. Were the article shorter, a gallery at the top, bottom or middle would work, but you've got multi-screen tables for nine of Victoria's children plus their parents. Someone looking at Grandchildren of Victoria and Albert#Children of Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and Grand Duchess Marie wouldn't notice a gallery, nor take the trouble to scroll to it on the off-chance that it might show a relevant portrait. ¶ Collapsing demographic tables at NYC was basically the idea of a single enthusiast who thought collapsing tables, lists and maps could solve a lot of problems (he's not so active today). No doubt what's needed is some tough judgements about which tables are worth keeping, which have become outdated or surpassed by something more relevant, and which deserve just a link. —— Shakescene (talk) 20:41, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
  • A plea from the disabled - pls limit the amount of information that is hidden and thus causes more steps to derive serviceable information from articles. Millions of our readers cant use a mouse and/or use touch screens - I invite all to press tab till they get to the "show" tab then press enter to see the small text - just image our frustration that we have to do this. We are trying to make Wikipedia more accessible not less - Wikipedia:WikiProject Accessibility - See also: What is accessibility?. Moxy (talk) 18:32, 8 June 2013 (UTC)

Application of template:cquote?

Is the use of template cquote correct in Espinasse's Reports according to the MOS? RJFJR (talk) 20:12, 6 June 2013 (UTC)

Two pronoun genders for one antecedent

Today's picture of the day is in the article "Bananagrams", whose first paragraph has a link to Scrabble variants#Take Two (version of 14:26, 7 April 2013), where this sentence is found.

  • When a player successfully uses all of her face-up tiles, he shouts "take two", and every player takes two more tiles.

The antecedent "player" is represented by the feminine possessive pronominal adjective "her" and by the masculine subject pronoun "he".
Wavelength (talk) 03:59, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

The anomaly was introduced at 04:48, 14 November 2010 (UTC).
Wavelength (talk) 14:44, 5 June 2013 (UTC)

I changed "her" to "his" for gender consistency, at 15:54, 11 June 2013 (UTC).
Wavelength (talk) 15:58, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

En dashes and suffixes

Regarding this 29 October 2011 edit, to En dashes: other uses #3—it doesn't make sense to me to use en dashes for prefixes of compound phrases, but exclude them from suffixes when the Dash article as currently written specifies the use of en dashes for both (in general use, as opposed to Wikipedia specifically). I'm probably missing it, but the appropriate Talk page archive does not seem to mention this change. if possible, would someone please explain it to me?—DocWatson42 (talk) 04:00, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

Well, this discusses the issue, if a bit impenetrably. You might be able to glean more information from part 5b of this exciting discussion.
I think that the reason the dash is suggested instead of the hyphen for prefixes is that otherwise you might be confused about whether or not the hyphenated modifier modifies the whole following phrase or just the word it's linked to. (For instance, I guess if you didn't know much about prime ministers or Margaret Thatcher you might think that "ex-prime minister Thatcher" means the current minister Thatcher who used to be prime, whatever that means, not the old prime minister Thatcher.) I am not exactly sure why suffixes are different, but perhaps it's that you're less likely to be confused, or perhaps it's that it's more reasonable to just use a plethora of hyphens (credit-card-sized?). Maybe it would be helpful if the MOS told you what to do with the forbidden "but not credit card–sized" example, like it does with the other two. AgnosticAphid talk 00:19, 5 June 2013 (UTC)
Anyone else? What about examples such as "Academy Award–winning", in which rewriting to avoid an en dash would result in a rather cumbersome phrase? For the record I disagree with the rule as it stands, and IMHO it should be changed to reflect punctuation as used in the wider Anglophone world.—DocWatson42 (talk) 05:44, 11 June 2013 (UTC)

Gender-specific pronouns referring to ships

Hi all, I'm writing to discuss the use of "she" in reference to ships, a practice that the page manual of style states is, at this time, acceptable. I am not an authority on either ships or grammar, but I am sensitive to seemingly senseless asymmetries in the English language.

To my mind, this is simply not correct. (1) Inanimate objects generally do not have genders in the English language. Why make frivolous exceptions when they may be percieved as offensive? (2) As stated elsewhere on WP, the origins of this use are unclear, on the decline, and not recommended by the Chicago Manual of style. (3) This use suggests a connection between women and objects, and objectification of women really hasn't been acceptable in neutral information sources for at least 40 years now. This final point is NOT merely oversensitivity on my part; the connection was overtly stated by at least one retired navy admiral in what appears to be a sexist joke. Or is it a joke?

As far as I am aware the only argument for the use of gender-specific pronouns in reference to objects is tradition.

I mean no disrepect to anyone who attaches personal meaning to the historical use of "she" in reference to ships, and feel free to do so in your personal writing. However, its use seems antiquated and inappropriate for WP. I think we need to constantly re-evaluate tradition in the name of humanitarian progress. Please consider these points and weigh in. Maffearleo (talk) 00:24, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

The Associated Press Stylebook, 2004 edition says "Use it, not the pronoun she, in references to boats and ships." The US Navy Style Guide says "Ships may be referred to as 'she' or 'her.'" What do other style guides say? SchreiberBike talk 03:50, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
Under Gender-specific pronoun#Ships and countries it says the use of she is advised against by the Chicago Manual of Style. (I haven't checked the source.) Victor Yus (talk) 06:22, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
I'd like to see WPians use "he" and "him" for ships. Then the shoe will be on the other foot. The current practice of conceptualising vessels as females to control, to ride, is downright sexist and shouldn't be tolerated. Tony (talk) 07:32, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

Suit yourselves on this one. It strikes me as infliction of personal hangups on the English language. I am a bit T'd off with such preciousness, having just wasted a lot of time arguing the topic of acceptable and unnatural terminology for suicide. Someone who feels so strongly about imagined sexism in language that they refuse to call the vessels "Sarah Ship" and "Bill Boat" anything but "it" (which I could hardly care about) or let anyone else do so either (which I could well care about) needs a few screws tightening. If you want a more serious problem confronting humanity, how about the good ship "AnnAndBob"? Call it "them"? How about the horrendously sexist problem of referring to a neutered pet or eunuch as anything but "it"? This is an unintended consequence of weaknesses in the language, as well as tradition; no sense we should flush our brains away with the rest of the detritus. Incidentally, in a 19th century novel by a naval man (Marryat?) I read that a ship was referred to as "she" unless she was a man-of-war, in which case she was a he. And if that doesn't prove it, what does? JonRichfield (talk) 08:17, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

I see we have found another perceived linguistic controversy about which we are trying to work ourselves into a politically correct controversy. I do sail regularly and often, and I refer to my craft as "she" and "her," and I am not alone in doing so. So do virtually all other sailors whose first language is English; in fact, I've never met a lifelong sailor who refers to his or her vessel as "it." It is a time-honored maritime tradition, and it has absolutely nothing to do with controlling, riding or getting inside a watercraft, or somehow manipulating and oppressing it (or any other demeaning sexist characterization you choose to imagine).
Crews often spent more time with their vessels than their wives and sweethearts -- and they relied on their vessels to bring them home alive. In this context, such anthropomorphism was not, and is not surprising. There is also the common tradition of working fishermen naming their craft in honor of their wives and daughters; such usage is hardly sexist. Characterizing it as such displays an ignorance of the maritime traditions involved, and demonstrates a post-modernist hypersensitivity to perceived gender slights.
For those of you who are language scholars, the modern usage of referring to ships as feminine in character apparently does not derive from the Old German, Anglo-Saxon, Middle English or Norman French assignment of gender to nouns. In fact, most Anglo-Saxon words for boat and ship were either masculine or neuter. The French word bateau is masculine. Nevertheless, the sailors of the United State Navy and the Royal Navy (and all of its Commonwealth derivatives) have referred to their warships as "she" and "her" for several centuries and continue to do so to this day. That's the actual naval and maritime usage in the real world, and Wikipedia should reflect real world language conventions; it is part of the proper terminology of the topic area. Frankly, if you're attempting to rationalize the usage, perhaps you should consider how powerful an aircraft carrier or nuclear submarine is; that's imparting empowerment to the female gender, not powerlessness.
So, please stop looking for "sexism" where there is none. If you think the usage is "precious," don't use it, but don't be surprised or angry when regular Wikipedia editors of articles about vessels, navies and sailing correct your incorrect usage. From my perspective, I see editors bringing another imagined "problem" with the English language to the MOS talk pages for resolution where none is needed. Frankly, no one should presume to set new MOS rules that are contrary to usage which predominates a particular subject area, whether that subject area is naval history or astrophysics. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 00:40, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

I understand that the use of "she" and "her" for ship is a common standard in naval circles, then it's perfectly natural to keep that usage. If there is something wrong in that standard, then those naval circles should decline it first, and then Wikipedia should change the terms. Wikipedia is always one step behind the real world, and should reflect the common usages, not try to impose other ones. Cambalachero (talk) 01:30, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

FWIW, the last time this was brought up a few months ago, it was fairly strongly opposed. This is starting to get into WP:PERENNIAL territory. See here for the discussion. As far as I'm concerned, Cambalachero is correct. What we do on Wikipedia is to reflect common usage, not to right great wrongs. If things are indeed trending to use "it" rather than "she", that's fine, but we don't change our policies on what might become the standard in the future. Parsecboy (talk) 02:02, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

As far as I'm concerned, referring to vessels as "she/her" in the English language is traditional, common usage. This usage has occurred for many, many years, and is still used today. Hence, I would prefer to maintain the status quo, as opposed to making rash changes based on "it's potentially offensive" and "muh feelings" arguments. What next, prohibiting the word "mankind" from being used on Wikipedia? Renaming woman to womyn? -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email 02:22, 28 May 2013 (UTC)


So to recap, we have opinions that the use of "she" in reference to boats may be sexist, and strong opinions (predominantly from contributors displaying ties to the military) that it is not. Undisputably "she" is a part of maritime tradition and the US Navy Style guide prefers "she". On the other hand, the Associated Press Stylebook and Chicago Manual of Style—often followed for journalistic and non-journalistic professional writing—both prefer the use of "it". The popular vote on the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange went overwhelmingly to "it". So it seems that the usage of "she" has faded or is fading from professional writing, but understandably not from military/maritime community writings, where tradition is elemental.
Apologies for bringing this up again if consensus had been reached in the past. I originally posted here because I thought it was unprofessional that the Titanic was referred to as "she" throughout its article. For an article aimed at the general readership, the use of "she" still strikes me as alienating for many. I just don't understand all the resistance to changing "she" to "it"; it simply doesn't seem "rash" to me... more like "accurate". Just my 2 civilian cents. Maffearleo (talk) 03:28, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Unprofessional? Then you will have to rewrite most of English language nautical literature and many, if not most professional nautical related pieces. Oh well, if rooted out here there go the cut 'n paste Dictionary of American Fighting Ships (DANFS) pieces here. Personally I would ignore such ridiculous political correctness (if that is what it is rather than pure innocence in the field) and most likely just quit contributing anything to an organization that would do such a thing. And by the way, for most of us with some real sea time ships are just not "it" and very animate and personal. I wouldn't call my dog or cat or friends "it" and I won't call ships and vessels larger than rowboats and such "it" here. Palmeira (talk) 04:29, 28 May 2013 (UTC)


Hi Maffearleo, I just created close to a hundred articles on boats and found I used she almost all the time. Since I have no strong feelings in this matter (and I don't feel aroused when looking at ships), you are welcome to change she to it in these articles any time. On the other hand, since most ship-related articles seem to be created or edited by people who seem to come from a maritime tradition, I am not sure calling them backwards and militaristic is the best way to convince them to drop the female pronoun.
Incidentally, I came across an article in the Guardian this morning which only uses its once and avoids any pronouns completely. My 0.02€ ÄDA - DÄP VA (talk) 05:10, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
As Parsecboy notes, this was discussed recently, and the consensus was that using Gender-specific pronouns is OK, as is not using them. I'm personally in favour of using them, and this remains the usage in many recent books. Thanks to Maffearleo for their polite comments. Nick-D (talk) 06:13, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
I agree with the use of "she" or "her" as it is common usage. To ban it is to subject Wikipedia to artificial political correctness. Bermicourt (talk) 06:53, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
  • It is offensive to most women to read an article (like Titanic) where the vessel is repeatedly referred to as "she" and "her". It's true, then, that almost all sailors are males, is it? So when it's not "rum, bum, and the lash" on the lower decks out of public view, it's symbolically portraying the vessels they ride as female? Tony (talk) 07:04, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Tony, please produce a reference or a link to the survey of women in one or more English-speaking countries where it has been found that "most women," or even a large minority of women find the use of the female gender to refer to vessels as "offensive." Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 07:26, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
  • As a master mariner with 28 years of sea service in navy and merchant ships, I have probably read about 5000 articles and books which referred to specific ships, and all of them used the feminine pronoun (she) to refer to the vessels. There is affection and respect in the term, and nothing offensive at all. The word "it" is entirely wrong, and looks so on the page and to the ear. Incidentally, at the height of this kind of gender absurdity I was serving on a vessel named the MV Abel Tasman. As a small gesture of protest, we on board, both males and females, unofficially renamed the ship the Abel Tasperson. Rumiton (talk) 08:27, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Ridiculous. The feminine has always been used to refer to ships (and, indeed, to most other forms of transport). It is used by sailors, by military and merchant navies, by the media and by those of the general public who actually know what they're talking about. I see no evidence that "most women" find it offensive and, frankly, even if true that is no reason for Wikipedia not to use the standard terminology. "This use suggests a connection between women and objects" - God give me strength! Are you going to tell that to people who speak a language which divides almost all words into masculine and feminine? No, English usually doesn't, but in this case it most certainly does. -- Necrothesp (talk) 09:33, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
    • I would call the above a clear consensus for retaining the feminine pronoun (yet again). Can we declare the subject closed? Rumiton (talk) 10:00, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
    • So how come all the (general) style guides quoted above recommend "it"? And a quick look at an article in Britannica implies that they also use it? Could it be that, in spite of the specialist usage, good style in the general English to which Wikipedia aspires is to use it rather than she? Victor Yus (talk) 10:04, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
      • No it is not "specialist" usage - it is normal usage. It is a modern obsession and misunderstanding of language to argue that all instances of "he", "she", "man", etc., must only be linked to their usage in referring to male and female human beings. Of course, "she" often refers to the female gender, but it has also long been used in other, non-gender, contexts. Wikipedia is not the place to push a misguided, PC agenda. Perhaps our style guides need amending to conform to normal English usage. Bermicourt (talk) 10:29, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
        • Or perhaps to conform to other professional (though not specialist) style guides, which seem to recommend it? I don't know what their reasons are, but I don't think it's necessarily political; my own main reason for preferring it would be that ordinary people (perhaps not sailors) tend not to use she, and are more likely to be confused by the apparently incongruous use of the gendered pronoun for an object, than anyone would be likely to be confused by the (also potentially incongruous, to them) use of the neuter pronoun for a vessel. But as has been said, it's Wikipedia's job to follow rather than lead, so if it is indeed the case that general style guides are recommending it (I haven't checked), then that's what we ought to be following. (In fact, to do otherwise could be said to be pushing an agenda - of trying to force a now largely specialist usage back into the general language.) Victor Yus (talk) 10:56, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
          • I'm not sure style guides are authoritative sources (more like secondary sources and Britannica BTW is a tertiary source), but feel free to research and cite them in support of your case. That aside, referring to ships as "she" is definitely not specialist usage - they've always been referred to that way. Even I, as a mere landlubber, know that. Bermicourt (talk) 11:42, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── "of trying to force a now largely specialist usage back into the general language" I don't know how one can come to that conclusion when The Sun Britain's most widely read newspaper and famous for using simple English has headlines like "Sad last voyage for Mighty Ark as she sails to scrapyard" by Felix Allen (20 May 2013) Just to show they they are not the odd one out the Mirror another popular paper ran a similar article about the decommissioned Ark Royal on May 11 2013 and they too use "she" within the article.-- PBS (talk) 11:59, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

  • Opose in the strongest possible terms any attempt to forbid the use of she for ships (unless we are talking of Russian vessels, which are referred to in the masculine by the Russians). The guideline allows the use of "it" at the article creators' discretion, but it doesn't force the use of the neutral gender. Let the status quo remain. Mjroots (talk) 12:04, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Oppose: maintain status quo. Although it is true that some general style guides now favour it/its, and some journalistic publications (even, controversially, the venerable shipping newspaper Lloyd's List) have adopted it as the norm, the use of she/her predominates in historic sources and, from my observation, in current writing on maritime matters, even by non-specialist writers. Only if and when it/its has come to predominate would WP be justified in modifying its style guide. Arguments that the use of she/her are offensive strike me as largely spurious, usually coming from those who look for offence; citations to support claims that "most women find it offensive" are conspicuous by their absence.Davidships (talk) 13:25, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Does anyone at Wikipedia even care what women think?118.175.184.102 (talk) 15:09, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
    • What does that question even mean?? Georgia guy (talk) 15:31, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
    • "Anyone"? Certainly. I do for one. Frankly, if I knew of a general preference with real confidence, I would generally comply. But which women in particular? Does anyone in WP undertake to speak for them all? Most of the women I have discussed such matters with (educated females who know their own bloody minds and don't need my help in that sort of thing thanks!) reject such trivialities outright. As for particular women on WP, one can rarely tell the gender from what we see on the screen. And how about men? Should we all speak of a man-of-war as a person-of-war? And call the ship "it" instead of "he" in case we hurt Jon's feelings? Face it: we use a rotten language with hundreds of thousands of inconsistencies and infelicities, including more gender anomalies than you could shake an admonition at, but niggling about this sort of triviality is not the way to fix it; IMO it is more likely to stand in the way of improvement. JonRichfield (talk) 15:36, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Strongly discourage mandating either form; this seems a situation analogous to AD/CE, and best solved with the same treatment. Andrew Gray (talk) 20:09, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Oppose mandating either form. How many times do we have do go over this? And when will people stop making assumptions as to how women feel about the use of the feminine pronoun in relation to ships. Manxruler (talk) 20:33, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Oppose as per Manxruler.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 23:01, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
    • Oppose as per above and maintain status quo until the practice disappears from the English language outside Wikipedia. Tupsumato (talk) 11:24, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Strongly Oppose and question why we have to go though this discussion every month or so. Let the article creator decide what form the article should take...if editors want to use the term "it", then let them produce the articles...it doubt if very many would be written. Most sailors would use "she" or "her" and I would advance the theory that they are the ones that mostly write articles about ships. Cuprum17 (talk) 00:38, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Strong oppose mandating her, him, or it. As stated above the common practice within maritime and naval publications is to use the feminine pronoun, except in Russian (as stated above) which prefer the masculine pronoun. Editors should not get into an edit war over such things at individual articles IMHO, and should go with the the common usage of the reliable sources regarding the subject of those articles. As a personal preference, although not a Sailor (yes Sailor, Marine, Airman, Soldier, Coast Guardsman are recommended to be capitalized by most armed forces' style guides), I use the feminine pronoun when referring to a ship.--RightCowLeftCoast (talk) 13:55, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Weak Oppose. First off, we can't pick "it" just because "she" is sexist because Wikipedia's role isn't to Right Great Wrongs. There's some competing concerns here. On the one hand, I won't lie, I like stylistic consistency both across and within articles. That suggests mandating something. But at the same time, we can't make a decision for arbitrary or moral reasons. And while I don't think the collective style choices of mariners are particularly relevant for the reasons discussed in this essay – in short, Wikipedia is a general and not a specialist source so we should make style choices based on general and not on specialist sources – here it appears that the generalist sources are divided on the she-versus-it question. Absent a cogent basis for making a choice one way or the other, I support the admittedly haphazard status quo. AgnosticAphid talk 02:07, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

(Warning RANT) Rubbish. This is just political correctness run amok. Ships are of course female (unless you are Russian in which case they are male). For those who believe otherwise, fine, write as you wish. But KEEP YOUR POLITICALLY CORRECT DICTATES TO YOURSELF! These Ivory Tower twits need to find another hobby beyond passing judgments on things about which they clearly know nothing. I wonder how many of these over educated cap and gown clowns have sailed beyond the sight of land? Let me be clear (in case anyone has failed to discern my perspective), this has nothing to do with grammar or good English. This is an attempt to impose a form of socio-political censorship. And if Wikipedia accedes to it, I would be forced to reconsider my continued participation on the ship's page and maritime articles. -Ad Orientem (talk) 01:03, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

  • Absolutely oppose - Wikipedia follows the sources, to do otherwise would be a violation of WP:NPOV and WP:PROMO, we are not an activist publication. Roger (Dodger67) (talk) 07:44, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Usage in reliable sources

Though I'm not sure all below would count as reliable, they are the first six search results as described.

I'll leave drawing conclusions to others. I will note that the two US based news sources which used the ship and neither her nor its seemed to me to be making a style choice to avoid either use. Thanks, SchreiberBike talk 21:10, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Ships which have been decommissioned and are awaiting scrapping are no longer referred to as females. They are hulks; they are dead things, and the word "it" is appropriate. This applies also to small or temporarily manned vessels, such as lifeboats, fishing boats and midget submarines, and probably tugboats as well, unless the tug is on a voyage somewhere. Ships are "she" when they are alive. Then they are the sailor's home, and they are providing nurture. Rumiton (talk) 03:50, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, buoyancy. Do sailors also refer to their homes on shore (or the shops or cupboards from which they obtain their food) as "she"? If this "she for ships" thing really is based on an assumption that ships are alive, then that to me is another reason for Wikipedia not to do it - we don't buy into weird belief systems. In the same way, I don't believe we should capitalize "he" when referring to God or Jesus, even though we know that in certain types of text it is normal to do so. Wikipedia doesn't engage in worship; nor should we engage in personalization or fetishism (though that said, I don't really have very strong feelings about the she for ships thing, it just seems that it would be preferable). Victor Yus (talk) 04:59, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for the research SchreiberBike. It looks like we should allow both she and its. Maybe some years from now it'll be different. Sailors will probably use she for a long time or forever, which is fine. Editors (which is what matters to use) will probably turn to using its more and more as the years go by. Herostratus (talk) 05:22, 29 May 2013 (UTC)
  • I don't believe this post, just above: Ships decommissioned and awaiting scrapping "are no longer referred to as females. They are hulks; they are dead things, .... Ships are "she" when they are alive. Then they are the sailor's home, and they are providing nurture." Enough to occupy a whole psychology conference. This, if nothing else, suggests that a compromise needs to be expressed in our guidelines:

    "While "she" and "her" are acceptable references for a ship, editors should consider instead using "it", or "the ship", or the actual name of the ship; often judicious rotation of these items works well. Even where female pronouns are used, rotating the reference to avoid repeated use of the pronoun in a single article is advised." Tony (talk) 11:05, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

    • Using "she" is an accepted and longstanding stylistic choice; using "it" is likewise fine. This is said as much in our guidelines. I'm not sure why any more words need to be thrown at it. Der Wohltemperierte Fuchs(talk) 11:34, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
    • I share your doubts on the post hoc etymology, but I don't think recommending rotating usage within a specific article would solve anything - it'd be very much out of step with every other language-variation issue on Wikipedia, where we aim for consistency within specific articles regardless of overall variation. Andrew Gray (talk) 19:01, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Wikipedia is not the place to right great wrongs or try to change the world. The simple fact is that ships are routinely referred to as "She" in the English Language. It does not matter whether we agree with this practice or not... our job is to remain neutral on the issue, and reflect usage in the real world. Blueboar (talk) 11:36, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Don't ever learn German, Tony. You would find it upsetting. Johnbod (talk) 11:39, 31 May 2013 (UTC)
  • Strongly disagree with Tony above, and not only because he has inferred that my preference for feminine pronouns springs from psychological dysfunction. Judicious rotation of females never works. I have experience in this. Rumiton (talk) 00:02, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

*Strongly OPPOSE referring to ships as women. What a freak show this is, starting with the American navy captain's grossly offensive statement that ships are "well-stacked" with "an inviting superstructure", up to the little kid in his mother's basement bragging above about his "rotation of females". No wonder female editors stay away from Wikipedia in droves. And then there's Dirtlawyer's circular argument "Wikipedia has never asked women whether or not they find this disgusting, therefore there is no study proving this is offensive to women, therefore Wikpedia should continue to maintain its the toxic environment to women." What a lot of vitriol has been expressed above, and what a conspicuous absence of comments from female editors. And what about the adult males who find this offensive? Are there no adult males on this thread? 118.175.184.102 (talk) 04:41, 2 June 2013 (UTC)

    • Comment' 118, you'd best not listen to the Liverpool version of "Blow the man down" then. That sea shanty compares prostitutes to ships! Mjroots (talk) 20:31, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Comment. I concur with Dirtlaywer1 (way at the top) and Blueboar that Wikipedia should reflect the world, not fix it. Not that referring to ships with feminine pronouns makes them female or makes females ships, or is disgusting. I point out that in other languages (Russian, I believe) ships are referred to as masculine. ~ J. Johnson (JJ) (talk) 22:37, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
    • So exactly what part of "the world" do you think a professional online style guide should reflect, J.Johnson, the kind of professional English appropriate to public usage, or the backroom kind of pejorative, exclusionary language you can hear in bars and playgrounds? Apparently only the U.S. Navy style guide is still living in the 18th century. It has already been pointed out above that AP Style guide and CMOS do not believe ships are women, or engage in "sailor language". Perhaps it is Dirt and Blueboar who are trying to "Right Great Wrongs" by trying to impose gender stereotypes and enforce their worldview where fathers are not allowed to nurture even their own children and women are nothing more than appliances for servicing men. 118.175.184.102 (talk) 05:18, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
      • You and Tony both seem to feel that this usage for ships embodies turning women into sexual conveniences. I think you're wrong. Guess who has the burden of proof? You do. Prove it or shut up. --Trovatore (talk) 14:21, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
        • they're gonna prove it, any day now, they're just working on their arguement, I'm sure of it! (not holding my breathe) 69.198.206.106 (talk) 18:31, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
    • 118. And what about the adult females who do not find it offensive? You seem to be claiming to speak for all women, but I have never known a woman who finds the usage offensive and I frankly don't see why they should. No offence is intended and none should be taken. Your comments that Wikipedia is a toxic environment to women are ludicrous. If you look to be offended then doubtless you will be, but I very much doubt that most women find Wikipedia offensive. -- Necrothesp (talk) 15:48, 4 June 2013 (UTC)
  • In the light of the rather nasty comments above concerning my advice to "rotate" or somehow "ration" the use of "she/her" in ship articles to avoid the kind of repetition that is all too prevalent in bad writing (this is just a basic copy-editing matter, quite separate from the other issues involved in casting ships as women), see this diff of a DYK nom that I've just run through. You'll see, for example, that the "she ... she ... she ... her ... her" in quick succession has been edited to avoid this density and number of repetitions. Ship articles should be written with this in mind. Tony (talk) 07:53, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
  • In spite of whatever the U.S. Navy style manual might say, in this article here [37], which is quite encyclopedic in tone, the navy writer does not use "she" at all, but rather "it", while also repeating the name of the ship quite a few times. 203.81.67.115 (talk) 17:05, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
    • As established at WP:SHE4SHIPS, that is perfectly acceptable on Wikipedia, as is the use of the feminine pronoun (she). Mjroots (talk) 19:50, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Just to clarify for the angry "activists", the etymology of 'she' for ships goes back through French (where everything is 'he' or 'she' there is no 'it') and before that to the Latin navis, navis, f - a/the ship. Because in these languages ships were grammatically feminine (which is different from biologically feminine, stop lording your non-inflected-language privilege and your ignorance of linguistic history over everyone else), they were given female names to be grammatically consistent (if 'ship' is feminine but the name of the ship is 'Michael', do we use masculine or feminine adjectives?). Get over it, not everything (in fact I'm going to go ahead and say just about nothing) is an attempt to offend and oppress women. I hope you've all enjoyed making nuisances of yourselves on the internet. 69.198.206.106 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 18:29, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

  • Actually, that is factually incorrect, and it was already addressed above. The most common French words for boat (le bateau) and vessel (le vaisseau) are both masculine nouns. You have to dig pretty deep to find "barque" (la barque), a once common, but now obscure sailing vessel to find a French word for any form of boat/vessel/ship that is a feminine noun. Typically, the simplest, most common words in modern English originated from Anglo-Saxon, not Norman French (or Latin), and all of the Anglo-Saxon words for boats are gender-neutral. As for the sentiment that not everything that is tangentially gender-related is somehow sexist, well, that I agree with. Dirtlawyer1 (talk) 19:39, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

Soft hyphen overkill

There has been no clear consensus on the use of soft hyphen (­) in Wikipedia in general, but can we at least agree on the following: excessive use like in this case is not recommended by WP:MOS, hence should be avoided. It obviously makes sense to include one or two ­ in a word like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, but for short words like "compensating" (com­pen­sat­ing), "representing" (rep­re­sent­ing), or "particular" (par­tic­u­lar) it is simply counter-productive. After all, we want to keep the article source code readible to human eyes, too. And maybe I'm wrong here, but I can't think of any plausible scenario in which those words need up to three line-breaks on a display. How does the community think about this? --bender235 (talk) 13:52, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

What the community thinks IIIII dunno, but I am unsure whether to hope that the Gage text was a joke or not. Maybe some editor had a run-in with a crowbar through the left prefrontal, severely enough to think it was funny enough to be worth the trouble? As in another remark, I regard such things as childhood diseases. Let's outgrow them. JonRichfield (talk) 07:03, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
I'd say that they are generally undesirable with a couple of exceptions (very long words/names & in certain table column headers as mentioned above/before). JIMp talk·cont 07:39, 1 June 2013 (UTC)
Okay, you two might take it for a joke edit, but the soft hypen overkill has actually been restored by User:EEng, referring to "no consensus" on MOS. Go figure. --bender235 (talk) 07:37, 2 June 2013 (UTC)
bender235: I agree with your original post—soft hyphens should be used with restraint.—DocWatson42 (talk) 06:46, 7 June 2013 (UTC)

I dunno about "no clear consensus". The mood of the discussion linked to was largely against these soft hyphens (except in a few specific cases). JIMp talk·cont 03:46, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Having looked at the history this doesn't seem like a joke. EEng, I believe, thinks he's doing the right thing; however, I disagree.

  • These ­s make the edit box text very hard to read.
  • Breaking a word over two lines impedes reading (unless it's a long & less fimiliar one).

Where columns are narrow it can be useful to break a word up, this is why you see this in newspapers, but WP is not a newspaper. Whether to use these should be based on a balance between the width of column & the length of the word. I'm looking at that word, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", above, that's a long enough word to justify (a) soft hyphen(s), but for average-sized words, even for largish words in article text I don't believe breaking them over lines is worth the impediment to readability. The question is how long a word should be before you'd consider ­ing it. For normal article text I'd suggest a cut-off at something like 20 to 30 letters. Where space is tight, though, shorter words may be worth ­ing. An example where this might be would be in tables (especially, as mentioned before, where the word is in header of a column whose longest entry is shorter than the word in question). Another place where they might be useful would be in infoboxes but I reckon we'd generally be better of keeping words intact where possible. I was just looking at the history of the article in question where Bender235, you write "soft hyphen overkill is simply ridiculous. There is no plausible scenario in which, for instance, the word 'com­pen­sat­ing' is split over four lines, requiring three breaks (as implied by current source code).)" and EEng, you reply "Multiple s-hyphs allow flexibility in line breaking--nothing to do with breaking 1 word over several lines. ..." It is true that multiple ­s aren't about breaking a word over several lines (though they could, of course, do so) but about having multiple breaking points; that said, though, it's still true that the "soft hyphen overkill" on the page in question is ridiculous. Some of the words ­ed have no more than five letters. Imagine if we stuck soft hyphens into every word of five or more letters on every article. But there are longer words on the page in question without soft hyphens, so, I wonder, EEng, what's the plan? Shall we have soft hyphens everywhere we could possibly put them? Is it time we add some guidance here at the MOS about where in might be appropriate to use these? JIMp talk·cont 02:21, 4 June 2013 (UTC)

While in talk page I have recommended both to Bender and EEng to calm down, I do think that there is an exccesive use of soft hyphens in the article.--Garrondo (talk) 14:09, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
I have to agree that the use of soft hyphens in the Phineas Gage article is wildly excessive. It has the most unfortunate effect of intimidating all but the most intrepid writers from editing the Wikisource, by rendering it nearly unintelligible. Apparently, MoS needs a clear guideline advising against this overuse of an obscure formatting tweak, which should be reserved for use in special situations only. If a precedent is set, and soft hyphen overkill becomes widespread, Wikipedia editing will be effectively restricted to a small, dedicated group of editors willing to wade through thickets of unreadable Wikisource to make even minor changes. This is not a sacrifice worth making, to get a modest cosmetic formatting improvement at best. Reify-tech (talk) 13:20, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
It does look excessive, and let's consider the poor newbies (and even experienced WPians) who have to hunt through a forest in edit-mode. I agree with Bender and Jimp. To Jimp's list of possible exceptions might be added text that wraps to the side of a large image, but even then it's hard to know how much text is vertically adjacent to an image on each reader's settings. I think I'm in favour of a soft guideline (no pun intended!). Tony (talk) 14:09, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
I took them out of Phineas Gage; all 707 of them. A better placement of images would be a good idea, too. Dicklyon (talk) 14:49, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
And user EEng has reverted their removal four times—twice by bender235 and twice by Dicklyon. I agree about the excessive use of soft hyphens (and wiki markup in general) in the Phineas Gage article, as well about the images, especially given the excessive white space created in the "See also" section in wide browser windows. I've edited the article to resize most of them, but am not sanguine that the changes will stick.—DocWatson42 (talk) 06:17, 11 June 2013 (UTC)
707 soft hyphens is definitely overkill. I agree with JIMP. Bin 'em (here, and everywhere). -sche (talk) 04:47, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

EEng has twice reverted guidance regrading appropriate use of soft hyphens added to the MOS on the basis of this discussion. EEng's edit summaries for these reverts (his only contributions to this MOS discussion) are as follows.

Griping about one editor's unusual practices, absent proposal of particular MOS text for discussion, is not "consensus" for insertion of text to MOS. Talk about WP:CREEP! Propose some text, and explain why it solves an actual project-wide problem.[38]

I, and I am sure many other editors, had no idea anyone was proposing any specific change to MOS. Propose some text and I'm sure many more will want to discuss. Who knows? You may very well be able to smash this particular nut with a MOS sledgehammer.[39]

I would put to EEng that what we have here is consensus. There has been a thorough discussion of the topic. The discussion here has been unanimously against the liberal use of soft hyphenation (the only editor who seems in favour hasn't contributed here). The inserted text reflects the conclusions so reached. No, the exact wording was not posted on the talk page first but no rule says it must be. Yes, this discussion was spurred on by "one editor's unusual practices" but how does the reason for this discussion diminish its conclusion? No, this has not (as yet) spread into any project-wide problem but (to my knowledge) there does not exist any size limit on MOS issues. On the contrary, I'd suggest that it is quite appropriate that the MOS tackle issues before they spread into a site-wide problem.

If EEng was unaware that a specific change to the MOS was possibly immanent, that's unfortunate; however, he/she had been invited to this discussion at least three times (twice on the Phineas Gage talk page and once on his own that I know of). It's up to all editors concerned with the guidelines to make themselves aware of how the MOS works. MOS updates are discussed here constantly and made regularly. Sometimes a specific addition, deletion or rewording is posted first on the talk page; sometimes it's not. Any user is free to put the page on his/her watchlist and join in the process. That's how things work; I think they work well; anyone who disagrees is free to mount a challenge.

Here is the text in question.

Soft hyphen: A soft hyphen is used to indicate optional locations where a word may be broken and hyphenated at the end of a line of text. Use of soft hyphens should be limited to special cases, usually involving very long words or narrow spaces (such as captions in tight page layouts, or column labels in narrow tables). Widespread use of soft hyphens is strongly discouraged, because it makes the Wikisource text very difficult to read and to edit, and may have the effect of intimidating editors from working on an article (for example, in­tim­i­dat­ing ed­i­tors from work­ing on an ar­ti­cle).

Is it creepy? Is it too sledgehammer to bust these nuts? It does let editors know that these exist and gives advice on when they may be appropriate. Isn't that helpful? Perhaps it's too long-winded. Could it be better to cut the last sentence ("Widespread use ...")? On the other hand, does it even say enough? One valid reason to avoid these is that in breaking words up hyphenation makes the text (not just the source) harder to read. Should that be mentioned?

(EEng, if you're reading this, forgive my writing about you rather than to you, but you have been conspicuously absent from this discussion in spite of having been explicitly invited ... and, of course, being the one who kept adding the soft hyphens back).

JIMp talk·cont 06:49, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

  • support the text as proposed by Jimp, for the reasons already stated. In addition, apart from difficulty reading the source, it would be impossible for most words to use the same search string to search in display and source (I often highlight some non-wikified text in the display and search again to find the corresponding place in the source). --Mirokado (talk) 07:02, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
  • support, but how about "translating" the hyphenated text after it: would make clearer the problem of overuse (took me a minute to read it). --Garrondo (talk) 10:13, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
  • support the proposed text, which I wrote in a fit of WP:BOLD. I added it, because there was a clear consensus of interested editors, including from a previous archived discussion on "soft hyphen", but nobody had yet stepped forward to condense the discussion into a form usable in the MOS. I strongly agree with the preceding remark by User:Mirokado; I also use the same search technique to navigate quickly through the Wikisource. I also share User:Jimp's concerns about the readability of the final displayed text.
I had tried several versions of the proposed text, including a longer example (with a "translation") and leaving it out altogether, but settled on the one used, as a compromise between length and effectiveness of the explanation. Omitting the example leaves it unclear how badly soft hyphen saturation impedes readability, while the tediousness of decoding the example (which the reader gradually realizes is an echo of the essential point) helps drive home the claim that readability is very seriously impaired.
The proposed text consists of 3 sentences. The first introduces the soft hyphen, gives a brief definition, and Wikilinks to a longer explanation. The second describes its usefulness in the context of Wikipedia editing. The last sentence cautions against its overuse, with what I think is the strongest argument, and drives that point home with an apt example. Discussion of whether the proposed text should be longer, shorter, or modified is entirely appropriate here, and I welcome comments from interested editors. Reify-tech (talk) 15:04, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Support. There already has been clear consensus, and the twice reversion of the addition is purely POINTy. Mirokado's point is also very important. Frankly, being that Wikipedia is not a print newspaper, breaking words at the end of a line is unlikely to be needed much anyway. We aren't trying to justify to fit into a column. Their use is very limited here, and the Phineas Gage usage is beyond ridiculous. oknazevad (talk) 16:20, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Support, for the reasons enumerated above.—DocWatson42 (talk) 04:08, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Support per Oknazevad & others.—Odysseus1479 04:38, 15 June 2013 (UTC)